Nina's Stillwater Calendar

Friday, December 7

Mitt Romney: Mormon for President

Republicans finally get an intelligent, articulate, personable, successful, and good-looking person with a beautiful and close-knit family to run for their presidential nomination. And all they can talk about is the fact that he's Mormon. There are news articles detailing the political contributions from Utah. There are news articles detailing bits of obscure Mormon doctrine, that I, as a practicing Mormon, had never even heard of. There are news articles on underwear. Reading these obscure bits in the news is boring enough for me, a believer. Why would anyone else care? Has the writers' strike really cut that deeply into American entertainment options?

The gist of all these news articles is 1) Mormons are weird; and 2) Conservative Republicans won't vote for Mormon-style weird. For the first point, no journalist pulling up obscure bits of doctrine that nobody really cares much about can possibly grasp how truly weird Mormons are. We sit through 3 hours of (often boring) church services every Sunday. We don't drink coffee even during finals week. We donate 10% of our money to the church instead of going on a Spring Break ski trip like every normal college student. Many of us drop everything for two years to go to rural Brazil, learn Portuguese, and teach people about Christ. And, as anyone who has ever chosen to be baptized as a Mormon and then changed their mind already knows, we show up smiling on the doorsteps of people we don't even know wanting to see how they're doing. Journalists sitting at their desks googling "Mormon" have no idea what weird is.

For the second part, well, they may be right. There may be people who won't vote for Obama because he's black or Clinton because she's a woman, but at least they know saying so is completely beyond the pale. In the Republican primary however, any religion question is apparently fair game. From the debates we've learned who believes in creationism and who believes the Bible. (yawn.) There's a news story about Mitt Romney's taste for Vanilla Coke and whether good Mormons can drink Coke. (I don't personally think so. I stick to Dr. Pepper.) There was even a reporter's question about his sex life. (If there is one thing I am pretty sure I don't ever want to know about my President again, it's the details of his or her sex life.) Then there's Mike Huckabee calling himself a "Christian leader" and claiming that real evangelicals have to vote for him. Which seems to be working.

So, while a Democrat like me won't be voting in the Republican primary, I feel a little torn about the outcome. As a Mormon, I'd like to think that this country has gotten past the sort of religious bigotry that would keep Mitt Romney from getting the Republican nomination just because he's a Mormon. (Sort of the same way I'd like to think that evangelicals have developed enough to tact to stop trying to "save" Mormons by telling them they are going to Hell.) On the other hand, I happen to think many conservatives really are religious bigots (and haven't developed much tact either) and I'd like for them to reaffirm my personal prejudices by voting that way. So the Republican primaries are bound to make me happy either way. Too bad that probably won't be the case in the general election.


Jill said...

I think that every presidential candidate should have to answer questions on religion is Mitt Romney has to do so. ;)

iPhilip said...

nice article

David said...

Are Mormons odder in their beliefs than certain Christian groups which previous Republican candidates have had links to? Odder than those candidates who have had links to Scientology? I personally may think that a man's faith is nuttier than chocolate hazelnut spread, but if his faith leads him to courage, wisdom, tolerance and a passion to do the right thing, the tenets of his faith matter a lot less, than how his faith inspires him to action.