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Is being Mormon a problem for Mitt Romney?

I am taking a class this semester on intersectionality and, unsurprisingly, despite the fact that the class is about Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, it has also become significantly about religion.  You’re welcome.  It has also focused on the election a great deal.

One thing that has come up is the idea that Romney’s religion has functioned to oppress him, perhaps not to the extent that Obama’s race or Clinton’s gender might have impacted their lives, but caused problems for him.  This despite poll after poll that shows the Christian Right is happy to vote for him.

I struggle with the idea that Romney’s religion creates a significant change on his overall social status. The Church of LDS is considered, inaccurately in my opinion, a sect of Christianity, which is very much in the majority in this country. They have a state that is basically entirely their own and they are overrepresented, slightly, in the US government compared to their population percentage; 2% of the population has 5 senators and 11 congressional members. Compare this to the religiously non-affiliated who are currently 20% of the population and have not a single representative or senator — there is one atheist in congress, and he is a Unitarian Universalist. Self-identified, “hard” atheists, incidentally, make up more of the population than Mormons at 2.5%.

Add to that that the religion is almost exclusively white, middle to upper class, male dominated, married households and it is difficult to interpret the Mormon faith as something that is oppressed. Add to this that being part of the club means that you get massive financial and man-power resources at your command because the church wants to expand its power. Consider that 70% of the money that successfully overturned gay marriage in California came from the Mormon church. No, they haven’t had a president, but I don’t think that is symptomatic of disenfranchisement. The Mormon church is undoubtedly less savory to many Americans than being a Protestant, but it is much more savory than other (non)religious traditions as well.

Sally Quinn wrote an article for the Washington Post last week about the presidential debate and pointed to the fact that Romney’s religion is actually a huge boon for him because he’s part of God’s Own Party and has claimed God as his ally in the debates in a way that Obama has not. And, according to her, that matters because “Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian.” In fact, one of the problems Obama has had has been not seeming Christian enough. 17% of the population still thinks he’s Muslim; being Muslim is much worse in the eyes of the American public than being Mormon.

But then, I am undoubtedly bringing my own perspective very heavily into this discussion because I live in a state with this enshrined in its constitution: “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.” My identity comes very strongly from that background, and I am sure Governor Romney’s comes very strongly from his Mormon background — but I suspect his rich white maleness is the more important identifier.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/mormonism-voter-enthusiasm-concern-evangelicals-17435665#.UHTen_l25v0
http://www.pewforum.org/government/faith-on-the-hill–the-religious-composition-of-the-112th-congress.aspx
http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/romney-captures-the-god-vote-at-first-debate/2012/10/04/e897f44c-0de3-11e2-bb5e-492c0d30bff6_story.html
http://www.scstatehouse.gov/scconstitution/a17.php

Comments

  1. LeftSidePositive says

    And, frankly, is it really “oppression” if you believe something silly and people call it silly? Are Scientologists oppressed, too?

  2. says

    Mormonism is not Christianity, and the Southern Baptists for one will be holding their noses as they cast their ballot for Mitt on Nov 6.

    That said, it is not a problem.

    Why? Because the other guy has dark skin. Those shallow enough to reject Mormonism are shallow enough to reject the black guy even more.

    Besides Mormonism scripture which has been retroactively purged had definite references to the inferiority of the black man, and actually helps Romney. The wingnuts appreciate the overt yet subverted racism, and the “moderates” see Mitt’s silence on the matter as a sign of, uh, moderation.

  3. StevoR says

    Is being Mormon a problem for Mitt Romney?

    Yes. Of course! Give us a hard question next time please! ;-)

  4. StevoR says

    Mind you, probably Mitt Romney’s biggest problem is that he *is* Mitt Romney!

    What an unpleasant, unlikable, nasty, self-obssessed, gaffe-prone, completely out of touch and date, surely unelectable fool & tool he is.

  5. lpetrich says

    It seems to me that some people would *love* an official Church of God the American, as I like to call it.

    Yes, from the apparent belief of many Americans that God Almighty, Creator and Ruler of this Whole Wide Universe, is a card-carrying American citizen.

    Failing that, they have created a de facto Church of God the American, one that includes all religious sects deemed respectable. I think that Mitt Romney wants to show everybody that the Mormon Church is worthy of being counted as part of that de facto church.

  6. StevoR says

    Recall seeing news footage of at least one voter telling Mittens to his face that he won’t be voting for him because he’s a Mormon.

    Faced with a choice between a “Muslim” and a Mormon it seems clear that a certain (hopefully quite significant) percentage of republican bigots won’t vote at all.

    I also think that’s a good thing and am enjoying the schadenfreude of the Rethuglican party’s own religious bigotry helping to defeat their poor excuse for a candidate.

  7. says

    When I was heavily involved in fundamentalist Christianity in Tennessee (back in the late ’70’s through ’82) I remember packaged Sunday school lessons about Mormonism as a false religion and a cult. But let a self-identified Christian get elected who isn’t conservative, and suddenly you find out how flexible that assessment can be.

    Then the fireworks start when conservatives realize they’ve been accused of racism. How dare we suggest such a thing? The color spectrum of their leadership is just coincidence.

    I say Obama “isn’t conservative” instead of calling him a liberal because as a liberal he is pretty weak tea. Yes, he dedicated a monument to Cesar Chavez, and you’d never see Romney do that. But Kennedy or Johnson, he ain’t.

  8. Steve R says

    In American politics, anything can happen. After all, John Kennedy put the Constitution before his cult, and somehow convinced the People Who Count that he would not be the Pope’s man in Washington. If he’d failed at that, he would never have made it into the primaries.

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