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

Newt Gingrich is a Big, Fat Idiot (duh)

Alright, admittedly, I made the mistake of clicking on a CNN headline about Newt Gingrich and "atheists".  Atheists is in quotes there because CNN seems to only share that word when it's in quotes.  I know better than going to CNN, and I know better than reading stories about Newt Gingrich, and I really should know better than to read any story about "atheists", but I couldn't help myself.

Ol' Newt is worried that the country is going to become a "secular atheists country"  overrun by "radical Islamists."

Now, I know Newt isn't stupid, he's just a craven ass.  And I'm allowed to say that because we went to the same undergraduate institution.  Newt must know that being an atheist and being an "Islamist" are mutually exclusive positions.  Unless he fears the domination of this country by those fundamentalist atheist Christianists.

HEADDESK

On the other hand, it's refreshing to see how far we've come as a nation to think that being a Catholic is American and not indicative of a political devotion to papistry that will lead this nation into the fiery pits of hell.  Because, as we all once knew, Catholics aren't proper Christians, and Merka is a Kristyen Nayshun.

I'm sorry, it's just the dumb appeal to the lowest common denominator.  It burns.  It burns because I know that it works.  I know that someone is reading that stupid CNN article and thinking, "God, you know, that Newt Gingrich has a point.  This country is under threat of Muslim Atheists.  And hell, the only thing worse than a Muslim, is an Atheist, and the only thing worse than an Atheist, is a Muslim one."

Excuse me while I go weep.

5 random things I’ve been thinking about

1. Toilet seat sheets.  If you’re too grossed out to sit on the toilet, is a sheet really going to make it better?

The show I’m working on, these two women who were otherwise not like high maintenance said they would never use a toilet that wasn’t their own without a toilet sheet.  What?  Seriously?  Was I raised by weirdos because they never said don’t put your butt on the toilet?

2. Ableism and online dating.  Particularly in the mental health department, but also in general.

Now I appreciate that online dating attracts a somewhat skewed group that has the semi-anonymity of the internet to make unusual demands, but I have seen so so many guys profiles where they say they don’t want to date “anyone who’s ever been on anti-depressants” or “I don’t want to date anyone who has had any health problems”.  These are not necessarily guys who, in my opinion, have girls knocking down their door and they’re just trying to filter out some people by being picky.  And I realize we’ve all got things where we aren’t able to have a nuanced viewpoint, but here are guys lumping in people with asthma with people with cancer, or people with well-treated depression with untreated schizophrenics.  I get how taking on a significant other with terminal cancer or an untreated illness might be difficult, but are we going to scratch out every one with a health quirk?

At first I thought, oh it’s just this one guy who had a bad experience, but I’ve seen it so many times I just don’t know what to think.  Is it really that awful to date someone who at some point in their life was depressed or has some other chronic illness that’s well under control?

3. Also related to online dating, why do guys who are super Christian message me advertising their good Christian morals when I state that I am an atheist?  I mean, I know why, they don’t read, but I mean really.

4. Equating religion with race.  There’s a super long thread over at Pharyngula where people are accusing PZ of being a Nazi for posting a picture that a cartoonist drew of Muhammed because there are people in Europe who are racist against Muslim immigrants.  I’m just not sure “racist” is the right word.  “Religionist” maybe?  Anyway, critiquing a religion isn’t a violent act, no matter how crudely done, and I don’t understand how blasphemy is racist.

5. How difficult or impossible it is for the religious to understand that there is value and meaning to life regardless of whether there is an afterlife.

Useful Links:

Dirty Toilets

PZ

Sully on Tragic Atheism

The most horrifying thing ever:

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