Gene Expression

Mormons in The Corner

David points out that they are talking about Mormons in The Corner today relating to Mitt Romney.

Jonah thinks that the Mormon thing might help
An evangelical who is married to a Mormon thinks that it isn’t a big issue
Anti-Mormon readers weigh in
A Mormon comments on the anti-Mormons
Mormonism is a falsifiable cult
Another Mormon emailer

I posted something very long on Mormons last year. I am skeptical that Romney can make it past the Republican primaries, because ceteris paribus he just can’t match up. I can’t believe that the Republicans can’t produce a convential Christian with Romney’s policy stands and competence. I won’t review the mismash with various issues relating to Mormonism, the main problem is that the religion was invented in the light of history, and its theology is very bizarre to most Christians.

Comments

  1. #1 dougjnn
    November 23, 2006

    Razib–

    Interesting heads up on that Corner dialog.

    I read all your links, albeit quickly.

    I think Jonah’s spot on.

    Mormon is no problem, but rather an asset, for the religious right. Not compared to their ideal Baptist for sure, but they don’t look at all likely to get that choice. He’s a Christian man of faith. Let he whose sect, ummm, I mean faith, has no glass walls throw the first stone….

  2. #2 chet snicker
    November 23, 2006

    Mormon is no problem, but rather an asset, for the religious right. Not compared to their ideal Baptist for sure, but they don’t look at all likely to get that choice. He’s a Christian man of faith. Let he whose sect, ummm, I mean faith, has no glass walls throw the first stone….

    will all do respect, you don’t know what you’re talking about. saying that he is ‘christian’ totally indicates you’re ignorant. evangelicals don’t consider mormons christians. neither do catholics.

  3. #3 dougjnn
    November 23, 2006

    Razib
    will all do respect, you don’t know what you’re talking about. saying that he is ‘christian’ totally indicates you’re ignorant. evangelicals don’t consider mormons christians. neither do catholics.

    With all due respect, you seem to have forgotten what you were once wisely talking about.

    Wasn’t it you who said that most theological complications were pretty much a crock for most people, or nearly all people, other than as a hook to hang their likes and dislikes upon?

    That was an insight that had an impact upon me. I thought you were right. I’d seen and figured things like that around the edges, but nothing so bold.

    As for “not knowing what I’m talking about” re: Mormon theology, I didn’t talk about it, I know next to nothing about it, and I think I know not much less than most capital C Christians of the religious right variety. I also don’t think they’re going to get widely “educated” against Romney’s “sect” during the primary campaign. As against near socialist atheist pretend believers such as Hilary Rodham, do you really think the evangelical ministers are going to try to wipe the field clean of weird Christian sect by apparently clean living and good guy Romney, so the dubious McCain has an uncontested field? I think not.

    I’m tempted to just say you’ll see. Or to ask you to make a bet with me. Trouble is of course there are too many other variables.

    But I insist. Man of colorable Christian faith, hell even probably a man of Jewish faith if he and his circle seemed friendly to Christians, trumps a man of uncertain faith for the religious right any day — on the cultural wars issues that is. Not on absolutely everything.

  4. #4 dougjnn
    November 23, 2006

    Razib
    will all do respect, you don’t know what you’re talking about. saying that he is ‘christian’ totally indicates you’re ignorant. evangelicals don’t consider mormons christians. neither do catholics.

    With all due respect, you seem to have forgotten what you were once wisely talking about.

    Wasn’t it you who said that most theological complications were pretty much a crock for most people, or nearly all people, other than as a hook to hang their likes and dislikes upon?

    That was an insight that had an impact upon me. I thought you were right. I’d seen and figured things like that around the edges, but nothing so bold.

    As for “not knowing what I’m talking about” re: Mormon theology, I didn’t talk about it, I know next to nothing about it, and I think I know not much less than most capital C Christians of the religious right variety. I also don’t think they’re going to get widely “educated” against Romney’s “sect” during the primary campaign. As against (in the view of religious right leaders) near socialist atheist pretend believers such as Hilary Rodham, do you really think the evangelical ministers are going to try to wipe the field clean of weird Christian sect by apparently clean living and good guy Romney, so the dubious McCain has an uncontested field? I think not.

    I’m tempted to just say you’ll see. Or to ask you to make a bet with me. Trouble is of course there are too many other variables.

    But I insist. Man of colorable Christian faith, hell even probably a man of Jewish faith if he and his circle seemed friendly to Christians, trumps a man of uncertain faith for the religious right any day — on the cultural wars issues that is. Not on absolutely everything.

    (I for one think that anti abortion and stem cell research are more proxies for traditional morality than anything else. Once they’re argued passionately for a long time they take on a life of their own, but the primary passion i

  5. #5 chet snicker
    November 23, 2006

    Wasn’t it you who said that most theological complications were pretty much a crock for most people, or nearly all people, other than as a hook to hang their likes and dislikes upon?

    think harder. or, read my old post (there’s a thought, check out the links i provide).

    1) i said (say) most people. there is a small minority which obsesses over these things. that minority is the hard-core of the relgious right in the republican party

    I also don’t think they’re going to get widely “educated” against Romney’s “sect” during the primary campaign.

    2) there is a whole literature devoted to mormons, and a large line of videos (DVDs now i suppose) about the mormon “cult.” these are common in western towns, and salt lake city is a mission center.

    3) i said: because ceteris paribus he just can’t match up

    did you read what i wrote? why comment if you didn’t. i don’t think mccain has a shot either. there has to be a cookie-cutter conservative out there that they can find in the next 2 years. all the person needs to be is a ‘good enough’ solution to accrue themselves enough of the nutso vote who won’t vote for a mormon. if not given any other choice (e.g., romney vs. clinton), yes, he has a shot. but in the primaries he will be facing conventional christians who won’t have to deal with the cult propoganda.

    4) i grew up around mormons. and evangelical christians. i know the dynamics. in 1990 an anti-gay measure in idaho failed precisely because mormons voted against it because the group who sponsored it also was a backer of extreme anti-mormon videos. matt salmon in arizona has faced problems reputedly because he is mormon and some of his most likely supporters are evangelicals. they obviously don’t socialize on sunday, and that is an issue.

    5) yes, don’t forget that people don’t care about theology, on average. and in their day to day life. but presidential primaries are quick silver events which hinge on small differences, snow ball effects, and marginal changes which signal “momentum” shifts.

    6) the biggest problem that evangelicals have with mormons is that mormons say they are christians when they don’t consider them christians. evangelicals don’t have these issues with jews since jews are what they are. at some point in the future evangelicals might accept mormons as christians. but i don’t think it will happen in the next 2 years. perhaps a generation, or two.

    7) so again, you might bridle at my tone, but i know this shit to a decent degree. i could be wrong based on what i know (my own personal opinion is that romney would probably be a good president) on this case, but i’m skeptical. if the republican party can’t produce anyone substantive than mccain, or as exotic as romney (for all his competence) then the party is in trouble to begin with.

  6. #6 chet snicker
    November 23, 2006

    also, re: theology, i think it is important to make an important point: theology doesn’t matter on a deep level insofar as people don’t really understand it. no, it matters as a notional marker. people kill each other over theology all the time, because it marks “us vs. them.” that is the problem with romney’s mormonism, it confuses the “us vs. them” dynamic. his character is above rapproach, but he doesn’t repeat the “magic words” (e.g., the gibberish about trinity, or monotheism, etc.).

  7. #7 John Emerson
    November 23, 2006

    To Bible / Jesus Christians, Mormons are a special problem, because they have an additional scripture and an additional prophet, with significant new extra-Biblical doctrines. They don’t just have a different Christology or a different Bible-interpretation. The differences are massive.

    The Moonies are also conservative, but their doctrines are evn more massively heretical and unBiblical, and Moon directly calims to have precedence over Jesus.

    These two sects are comparable to the Druze, the Baha’i, and various extinct sects in the Mideast which claimed new prophets after Muhammed.

    Only terrible fear of liberalism plus a degree of confidence of attainment of an important political goal can cause conservative Catholics, evangelicals, Mormons, and Moonies to work together. If evangelicals lose their confidence that the Republicans are going to be able to come through, or if they come to doubt that the Republicans even want to come through, these political alliances we collapse into mutual hatred. Normally each of those four groups demonizes all the others.

  8. #8 dougjnn
    November 23, 2006

    Razib said-
    theology doesn’t matter on a deep level insofar as people don’t really understand it. no, it matters as a notional marker. people kill each other over theology all the time, because it marks “us vs. them.”

    Right.

    And you think Romney’s gonna get counted as a them. I say he’s gonna get counted as an “us”. One of the religious who cares about traditional values, rather than being at risk for being buffeted about by multiculturalist mumbo jumbo, without traditional moral grounding.

    I remain with Jonah.

    How much you know about Mormon theology, having grown up among more than a few and having studied their creeds and being a rather bright sort and all, is by your own guidelines, rather besides the point. The details don’t matter whatsoever. He’s a Mormon. That’s what the marker says. He makes no bones about being a Mormon. There are lots of them in this country and by the lights of the religious right they tend to live rather better “godly” lives than most people, even if their creed is bizarre and, well, wrong in important essentials. Mormons seem permanently stuck in the 1950s sort of image, with all the horrors that implies to feminists, etc., which is just hunky dory for much of the RR.

    that is the problem with romney’s mormonism, it confuses the “us vs. them” dynamic.

    Naah. Not how it’ll play out politically I don’t think. If the question is, is Romney a traditional Christian, then I guess from what you say the answer among the RR will be no. But he does look traditionally religious. (If THAT gets revealed as hypocracy, or if HE ever condoned polygamy, that could be WAY different. He’s then a gonner.)

    I really doubt it goes much further than that, unless a gaggle of ministers want to start evangelizing against Romney on the basis of Mormonism being nuts and outside the pale. Educating the public along the lines you’re talking about. I simply think that’s highly unlikely. For one thing the national media would come down on them for intolerance like a ton of bricks and I suspect on that one much of their flock would tend to rather agree – which would not be a happy position for a leading evangelical minister to be in.

  9. #9 mjb
    November 23, 2006

    Mormonism has secret doctrines and ceremonies that most people would find profoundly disturbing. Its not a matter of abstract theology. dougjnn could do some research and see if he still has the same opinion, otherwise, he just doesn’t have any idea what he is talking about.

  10. #10 John Emerson
    November 23, 2006

    I am genuinely uncertain about how the Mormon-fundy thing will work out with Romney. The report on the recent election is that fundy turnout was as good as ever, and the fundy move to the Democrats was slight — so their loyalty to the Republicans survived all the recent scandals. At the same time, just because the dam hasn’t broken yet doesn’t mean that it never will.

    I think that this is a good place to remind ourselves that science is empirical, and that social science is only weakly predictive. At this point, neither outcome would surprise me — fundys staying at home because they hate Mormons, or their voting for Romney. (It would surprise me if they voted for a Democrat.)

    If the dam breaks, I think that it will because the Christians no longer believe that the Republicans will eventually deliver. I doubt it will be primarily because of scandals or sectarian difference. But once they start doubting the effectiveness of Christian politics, the other things will start bothering them too.

  11. #11 dougjnn
    November 23, 2006

    Mormonism has secret doctrines and ceremonies that most people would find profoundly disturbing.

    Like what?

    I don’t know about them and I’m not disturbed. You’re saying the southern electorate knows a whole lot more about the secret Mormon practices than I do?

    You’re saying that the terrible truth about all this will come out in the primary and Mormons will all just have to hang their heads and slink into the corner?

    Doesn’t seem real likely to me. But since I don’t know what I’m talking about re: Mormons and it seems you think you do, why don’t you spill the awful truth?

  12. #12 John Emerson
    November 23, 2006

    Dougjinn, Razib knows and I know that fundamentalists ahve been actively preaching that Mormonism is pagan or Satanic for decades now. There’s a whole genre of anti-Mormon literature, just as there’s a whole genre of anti-Catholic literature (Whore of Babylon, Anti-Christ, etc.) There have been people all these years making their livings entirely by telling people that Mormons are evil pagans.

    One bizarre doctrine of the Mormons is that after death each Mormon will become the God of his own universe. Not only is that non-Biblical, it’s the sort of Gnostic man-is-God kind of belief that conservative Protestants hate most (it sound New Age or pantheistic.)

    I don’t quite understand the vigor of your argument here. Razib and I are saying that, for the reasons I just said, Falwell and Robertson will have a lot of work to do if they end up trying to deliver the fundy vote to Romney. I’m not saying they won’t be able to do it, but there’s a massive problem there. Even in the general it would be a tough job, and I don’t see how they could do it in the primaries if there were any other conservative at all in the race.

  13. #13 chet snicker
    November 23, 2006

    I don’t know about them and I’m not disturbed. You’re saying the southern electorate knows a whole lot more about the secret Mormon practices than I do?

    1) on average the southern electorate does. they don’t know much, but it isn’t hard to beat nearly zero

    2) they’ll find out more. just like john mccain’s ‘black’ daughter….

    3) i think john is right & wrong to use a catholic analogy: the evangelical attitude toward mormons is like the protestant attitude toward catholics, but several generations ago….

  14. #14 Al Mujahid for debauchery
    November 24, 2006

    Test

  15. #15 John Emerson
    November 24, 2006

    Pat Buchanan’s career was severely damaged by his Catholicism, since he’s a nativist and a high proportion of nativists are anti-Catholic. (We’re talking about bullet votes within bullet votes — i.e., within the right wing of Republican primary voters.)

  16. #16 dougjnn
    November 25, 2006

    John–
    I think Buchanan’s political career was primarily hurt by a rather massive liberal, Jewish led, hit campaign against his nativism, primarily in the main stream media (MSM). You don’t cross Jewish passions there if you know what’s good for you, for absolutely sure, which has a rather large influence on the majority non-Jewish journalist professional group there, especially since they share so many liberal beliefs. You go along with that one, and some other ones, etc.

    It’s been a Jewish passion to dilute out Christian nativists dating from before the fights over the 1924 immigration restriction legislation (then in the form of Protestant nativism in the US) and certainly leading up to the 1965 immigration legislation opening wide the floodgates without regard to trying to mirror the then existing US population. Jewish American leaders have felt not without some reason (but grossly paranoid today in my view) that the Christian Right lower middle and middle class could turn into American Brownshirts of Nazi infamy. Hence dilute them with multiculturaly derived immigrants as much as they can manage.

  17. #17 John Emerson
    November 25, 2006

    I doubt that Buchanan’s problems in the Republican primaries were caused by Jewish media. His adversaries were other Republicans.

  18. #18 dougjnn
    November 26, 2006

    This substantial article entitled “Can a Mormon be President” in the middle brow Time Magazine will be of interest to readers of this item and these comments.

    I’d summarize it by saying the writers think there is discomfort among evangelicals which Romney will have to overcome, but it’s likely doable, and he’s already made a decent beginning at it.

  19. #19 dougjnn
    November 26, 2006

    Oh, and the funny underwear thing came up. And in fact Romney’s dealt with questions about that.

  20. #20 Mark
    December 5, 2006

    I doubt that well-known christian fundamentalist spokesmen are going to endorse a mormon. You may not be aware of it, but fundamentalists have a very strict view of religious correctness. According to them, anyone who does not believe exactly as they do about certain issues will go to hell. That means catholics will go to hell. Unitarians certainly. Mormons, too. Fundamentalist republicans will welcome the support of the hell-bound, but I seriously doubt they will support them for elected office.

  21. #21 Julie Stahlhut
    December 6, 2006

    Most of the “secret” rites of LDS temples are posted all over the web. In general, this material is posted by ex-Mormons, since active Mormons consider it offensive to do such a thing and never-Mormons have no experience of temple ceremonies. So, of course, the usual caveats about “web-say” by the possibly disgruntled apply — but the accounts are remarkably similar.

    I’ve always been struck by one thing: Yes, I find accounts of the temple ceremony strange, but the rites of most other religions seem equally alien if one has no belief in nor experience of them. I agree that Mormon Christianity is vastly different from Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but really, I see only two differences between Mormonism and most of the “major” religions out there:

    1. The aforementioned secrecy, which can’t fully survive the pervasiveness of the Web anyway.

    2. While many religions are based on claims of divine revelations, the Mormons rely on claims that are less than two hundred years old rather than many hundreds to thousands of years old. Somehow, for many people, a belief in old revelations seems much less strange than a belief in new revelations.

    Incidentally, Mitt Romney’s father, a former Michigan governor and once a presidential hopeful himself, was a centrist Republican with some distinctly progressive ideas.