Many South Carolina Republicans got a bogus holiday greeting card this week, purported to be from White House hopeful Mitt Romney, that cites some controversial passages of the Book of Mormon.
"We wish you and your family a happy holiday season and a joyful New Year. The Romney family," the card says.
The last page features a photograph of a temple above a box that says "Paid For By The Boston Massachusetts Temple."
Romney's campaign said it had nothing to do with the cards, postmarked Thursday from Columbia with a 41-cent stamp, and Boston Temple President Ken Hutchins said Saturday he first heard about the mailing Friday from a woman in Charleston.
Hutchins said the temple had nothing to do with sending mail to South Carolina Republicans, who go to the polls on Jan. 19 in a key early primary.
"It is sad and unfortunate that this kind of deception and trickery has been employed," said Will Holley, Romney's South Carolina spokesman. "There is absolutely no place for it in American politics."
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson said he intends to "contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Elections Fraud Division and other appropriate authorities, provide them the copy of the mail piece delivered to South Carolina Republicans and ask for a thorough investigation into this matter."
There was no indication how many of the cards were mailed, but Dawson said he got calls from several people who reported receiving them.
"I think it would be nice if somebody got to the bottom of this," Hutchins said.
The card contains passages that underscore some differences between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and those of denominations that are prevalent in South Carolina.
"We have now clearly shown that God the Father had a plurality of wives, one or more being in eternity by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His first born, and another being upon the earth by whom he begat the tabernacle of Jesus, as his only begotten in this world," reads one passage from Orson Pratt, cited on the card as an "original member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles."
The card also cites a passage on Mary's virgin birth that underscores her race. "And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white." On the card, "fair and white" are in a bolder, larger font and on a separate line.
Hutchins said the mailing hurts his temple, which, like the parent Mormon church, stays out of politics.
"They have no business using that name or referring to the temple," Hutchins said. "It's a very hurtful thing and creates a misleading impression in peoples' minds." Hutchins said he alerted Tagg Romney, one of Romney's sons, and church authorities about the mailings.
Romney's faith has been a recurring issue in South Carolina, where Christian conservatives dominate the GOP primary. Romney overcame some of those doubts this fall when he picked up an endorsement from Bob Jones, the chancellor of Greenville-based, Christian fundamentalist Bob Jones University.
Such a mailing isn't surprising for South Carolina politics, a state known for political mudslinging and backdoor maneuvering.
Those tactics backfire, said Warren Tompkins, a political consultant who ran George Bush's 2000 campaign in South Carolina and now is Romney's top consultant in the state. "Anything this outrageous and childish and nonsensical would have a significant fallout on whoever did it and on whose behalf it was done," Tompkins said.