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To the editor: Authoritarian social structure
is questionable

My concern with Mitt Romney's religion lies not in its tenets, but in the authoritarian social structure of the Mormon Church. Authoritarian structures have attributes that threaten freedom of thought and violate our notions of ethical leadership, attributes we have already seen in the Bush administration.

I do not believe one should fear that a Mormon president will try to make the United States into a giant Brigham Young University campus, full of smiling, obedient citizens who never walk on the grass. Certainly, a Romney administration will not "excommunicate" citizens with contrary opinions.

However, authoritarians do not tolerate divergent ideas and opinions. They refuse to test their beliefs against "real world" facts. Worse yet, authoritarian leaders apply an end-justifies-the-means ethos to their actions and feel justified violating rules they expect others to follow.

Consider the Bush administration's attitude toward torture. It chose torture despite the long established fact that torture is an ineffective way of getting information from a prisoner. The administration chose to torture despite our laws, as well as international law, feeling completely justified in giving itself a special status. Unquestionably, it believed the ends justified the means.

I recommend two books for a fuller discussion of the above, John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience" (Penguin, reprint 2007), and regarding the nature of the Mormon church, "Under the Banner of Heaven" (Doubleday, 2003).

I have no problem with a person choosing the Mormon faith with its tenets and social structure. On the other hand, as we have seen with the Bush administration, I have great concerns about giving a person from such a structure, not just Mormon, the most powerful office on earth.

- Roy Evritt, Oxford