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When Bill Clinton Took Missionary Discussions (+ What He Has to Say About Mormonism)

Bill Clinton a Mormon?

Believe it or not, that became a very real possibility when Clinton was growing up in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

It was there Clinton was approached by missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to an interview with BuzzFeed.

In September 2012, President Clinton also told a group of reporters that he had attended "recruiting presentations" for the Church in Arkansas.

Clinton spoke highly of the missionaries' efforts as well as of the Church, saying he admired the high ethical standards Mormons keep as well as their belief in a celestial kingdom.

But it turns out that belief was also what convinced him not to join the Church. In "recounting the different degrees of heaven as was explained to him 50 years ago, [Clinton described] it as a pyramid with many levels that put Hitler and Stalin at the very bottom, faithful Mormons on top, and everyone else in between," writes Zeke Miller.

But this idea offers a simplified and incorrect view of LDS doctrine. As Mormon Newsroom states, Mormon's believe "every individual has the opportunity to dwell with God after this life in a state of eternal joy. . . . Latter-day Saint teachings state that where we go after this life depends primarily upon the degree to which we accept and follow Jesus Christ, as well as on the desires of our hearts and how we translate those desires into works. . . . As all human beings inherit different circumstances, Mormons believe that a just and merciful God will account for our varying degrees of knowledge and access to truth."

Clinton's misunderstanding of LDS doctrine (which fails to take into account temple work as well as the potential for people to accept the gospel in the spirit world) ultimately led Clinton to steer away from the Church.

“I didn’t want to leave all these other people behind,” Clinton told reporters, speaking of his friends and family.

But one has to wonder. If Clinton had come to understand LDS beliefs about heaven and the hereafter more fully, would he still have gone on investigating the Church?