I’m feeling almost giddy, like a schoolgirl, that Mitt Romney has secured the Republican presidential nomination. Publicly I’ve kept my preference for political candidates out of my writings and conversations, and have avoided advocacy of any kind. And frankly, I prefer to keep it that way. However I’m going to seemingly make one exception with this milestone for Mormonism, and what Romney’s personal advancement mean to not only individual members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but for the LDS Church in general. Also important, in my opinion, is what this victory says about Americans.
Although I’m politically conservative, when Barack Obama was elected our country’s first black president, I found myself shedding a few tears of joy at such progress. As a Mormon woman, to think that this country could very well elect Mitt Romney, a Mormon, for president — before even a woman would hold that office — well, that’s just astounding.
For so many reasons, as a Mormon blogger, I feel that having Mitt Romney considered a serious candidate during the primary presidential race, has, overall, been positive for our community. Even in the face of much criticism of Mormon beliefs, history, and practices, people are searching to know more about what Mormons actually believe and are much more apt to find credible information, online. Not only have more Mormons taken to blogging and engaging in online discussions about their faith, but the caliber of good reporting by conscientious journalists have significantly improved. One has to believe that such progress is not only a positive for Mormonism, but also a vote of confidence in the good people of this country to not be manipulated by the sensational, and instead do their own honest research.
With the 2012 presidential election candidates now clearly identified, there is no doubt we are entering a final electoral phase like no other in U.S. history. For the conservative Mormon, issues such as abortion, self-reliance, defending traditional marriage and religious freedom, among others, are considered moral issues. Scripturally Mormons feel responsible to seek political candidates who will uphold and defend these Christian values. To a majority of Mormons living in the United States, Mitt Romney is considered a positive representation of, and in harmony with, Mormon teachings relating to these issues — making him a strong consideration when deciding for whom to cast one’s ballot come November.
Going forward over the next few months leading up to the election, and into the very real possibility of having Mitt Romney serve as president of the United States, members of the LDS Church are a bit apprehensive with how their Mormon faith will be perceived by others. Rightfully so. While critics of Romney, alongside of anti-Mormon advocates, will continue to use this opportunity to exploit the sensational and misunderstood aspects of Mormonism, in order to discredit him, Mormons themselves want people to know of their love for Jesus Christ and their families. When it comes down to what Mormons believe and cherish, their faith that teaches them that families can be together forever is what sustains them and motivates them to want to share that message with others. Faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share a common desire, not to be popular or mainstream, but to teach others about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
I don’t know the Romneys personally but from what I’ve observed they do seem to have a fairly traditional Mormon family that maintains a religious lifestyle similar to my own. As Mitt Romney’s run for president continues to bring ongoing attention to Mormonism it can be a good thing, if people are able to recognize the goodness in how the Romneys live their personal lives as a reflection of their personal Mormon beliefs — as opposed to their politics. The LDS church makes it very clear that they are politically neutral, and therefore would not want people to presume any one individual’s politics are church-sanctioned — even if that person were POTUS, and a Mormon.
Kathryn Skaggs writes on her personal blog, A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman. When she’s not writing she can be found enjoying her nine grandchildren.