One of the creepier corners of Mitt Romney's uncannily flawless life story is the fact that he not only drew his bride, Ann Romney, over to his weird religion: He converted her entire family as well. This despite the fact that Ann's father, Edward Davies, was a committed atheist who insisted on raising his children without religion.
The story of how Mitt Romney infiltrated and colonized his future wife's family for Mormonism is known, but it bears repeating. Edward Davies, Ann Romney's Welsh father, was an engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur who worked on designs for the Gemini space program and helped outfit aircraft carriers. He eventually became the mayor of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He was also a resolute atheist who insisted that his family be raised without participating in an organized religion. "He would say: 'I'm a scientist, show me the proof'," a former co-worker told the Telegraph. Davies thought of religion as "drudgery and hogwash," according to Boston Globe, and his son Roderick told the paper that Davies "considered people who were religious to be weak in the knees."
So it must have broken his heart when, after his only daughter began dating Mormon scion Mitt Romney, she converted to his religion with the help of Mitt's father. From the Globe:
[W]hen he wasn't crisscrossing the country, George Romney was guiding Ann Davies through her conversion into the Mormon faith.
With Mitt away, Ann told George she was interested in attending Mormon services. The governor headed straight for the Davies home. He asked Ann's parents for permission to send some US-based missionaries to meet with Ann. Her mother was an easy sell. But getting clearance from Ann's father, whose rejection of organized religion ran deep, would be a much tougher challenge.
Ultimately, Edward Davies and George Romney shook hands on an agreement: George could send the missionaries, provided Ann's mother sat in on the discussions.... The missionaries came for six straight sessions, sitting with Ann in the family room on the lower level of the Davies' split-level home, taking her through the Mormon conversion process....
Before long, George Romney was picking Ann up and driving her to services at the Mormon chapel, and Ann began bringing Jim along. When she decided to be baptized, she asked Mitt's father to do the honors. Dressed in white, she followed George into the baptismal font, where she was immersed while he said the prayers.
It didn't end there. Edward Davies didn't allow Ann's little brother Jim to sit in on her conversations with the missionaries Mitt's father dispatched, but he stood outside the window to listen in. Within months, Jim decided that he, too, wanted to join the Mormon faith. George Romney oversaw the process.
All the while, Ann's older brother Roderick was studying abroad in England. But Mitt arranged for missionaries to intercept him there and he, too, agreed to convert. "Thanks largely to Mitt Romney," the Globe reported, "in less than one year the entire progeny of anti-religious Edward Davies had joined the Mormon faith."
Still, it didn't stop. Edward Davies never renounced his atheism and died in 1992. A year later, as his wife lay dying, she asked her sons to convert her to Mormonism. Romney had successfully claimed the entire family of a staunchly irreligious man for one of the most organized and all-encompassing religious movements on the planet.
Mormons, of course, are known for their habit of posthumously converting dead souls. They also believe that families are reunited in eternity after death. So the incentive for Ann Romney to convert Edward Davies in death so that they may one day frolic together in the interplanetary afterlife was presumably fairly powerful. Did she posthumously baptize him, despite his belief while he lived that such a baptism and the beliefs that undergird it are pure "hogwash"? I have asked both the Romney camp and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints in the past; both declined to say.
But the list of baptized Mormons is available, as I understand it, to certain of those in the faith. So if any renegade Mormons out there feel like checking their Mormon computer to see if the soul of Edward Roderick Davies, who was born in June 1915 and died on September 8, 1992, has been claimed for the One True Church and rescued from the pits of Hell, do let us know.
[Photo-illustration by Jim Cooke; image via Getty]