‘Mormon Moment’ RIP

GETTY IMAGES Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romneyconcedes the race on Nov. 7, 2012 in Boston. Thank goodness that the Mormon … Continued

GETTY IMAGES

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romneyconcedes the race on Nov. 7, 2012 in Boston.

Thank goodness that the Mormon Moment has finally come to an end. It’s been six months—a year, maybe—and what with all the Broadway musicals, billboards and radio ads, magazine spreads, the op-eds and the letters responding to the op-eds, the television news stories, the daytime pundits, the night-time pundits, the op-eds responding to the pundits and the letters excoriating the op-ed responses to the pundits, this Mormon is exhausted.

Now that the country has voted the highest Mormon in the land back to Boston or Wolfeboro or wherever, I’m looking forward to a well-earned break from the country’s daily construction of my identity.

For the past several months, I’ve hardly been able to leave my house without encountering some new and disparaging theory about what I am, why I am, and how I am. From moment to moment, lo, these many months, I’ve been a dolt, a savage, a dupe, a bigot, a heretic, a criminal, a prude, even a communist, a traitor, a miscreant, a rogue, and a wastrel. And my protestations have meant that I’m also a liar.

This bedlam of accusations came from every direction while the Nominee was on the trail. The religious right , of course, was already ready when the Moment began. Evangelical America has been flogging Mormonism as Satan’s own retail outlet for decades. But the suddenly ubiquitous appearances of the word cult on the eleven o’clock news and in ostensibly serious political conversations in the early primary days gave legitimacy on the national stage to the characterization of me as a glassy-eyed, reclusive loon from whom the neighborhood alley cats run in fear.

As the other candidates faltered and fell, the evangelical criticism of my character coupled with the paranoia of political factions. I found by way of the national press that I am not only Christian America’s nightmare, but also a politically conservative ideologue who hates gay people, resents the federal government, wants all minorities to go home or to remain in poverty here, would put women back in the kitchen and the kitchen back in the church, and, besides all that, would have dodged the draft had there been a war during the late eighties. All this because, everyone is certain, my religion says so.

As I have objected to being thus pilloried, on the grounds that I’m actually a selective-service-registered socialist in favor of gay marriage, opposed to plutocracy, and a big fan of eating out, many of my fellow Mormons have joined the public throngs that seem to know me better than I. So, not only have the strangers worked hard during this Moment to determine who I am, but so have my fellow weirdos. The outsiders have been sure they knew me for a religious zealot, but for many of the insiders I must be a former Mormon, one of the disaffected who has left the church and is now only out to exercise my antagonism to a religion that cannot accommodate my ungodly politics, because, they are certain, their religion says so.

As campaigns tend to do with complicated issues, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s march toward the White House worked to reduce Mormonism not only to the simplest possible configuration, but the configuration that best promoted the interests of the candidate. The Mormonism that was on display on the trail was a grotesque caricature of a widely accommodating worldview, divested of its more compelling parts and flattened into “moral values” necessarily shared by the voting blocs most needed by the nominee. Like civil rights, immigration, tax equity, foreign policy, and the federal government’s role and responsibility—matters of great complexity and import oversimplified to suit a strategy—religion was beaten by this campaign into a trinket both ugly and useless.

Perhaps more significantly to the national story, the construction of Mormon identity over the past year is an index of what makes America increasingly impotent. The insistence that our neighbors—Mormons and Muslims and Jews and Sikhs, nones and atheists, the middle class and the other classes, the politically conservative, the obstinately unaligned, and all the others—think this and do that, regardless of what those neighbors each say of themselves demands that the country stop at the limit of our own vision.

Now, perhaps, I can have my religion and myself back. Without a national figurehead, Mormonism can retreat into the obscurity that vivified it and nurtured its breadth and variety. And without a representative icon, perhaps the nation will allow me to represent myself.

At least until 2016 when Huntsman comes again.


David Mason is an associate professor at Rhodes College in Memphis. He is the author of “Theatre and Religion on Krishna’s Stage” and “My Mormonism: a primer for non-Mormons and Mormons, alike.” Follow him on Twitter at @fatsodoctor
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About

David Mason David Mason is an associate professor at Rhodes College. He is the author of "Theatre and Religion on Krishna's Stage" and "My Mormonism." His biography of Brigham Young will be available later this year from Routledge. Follow him on Twitter: @fatsodoctor.
  • PhillyJimi1

    What? Romney’s religion wasn’t a factor in this election. To the people who consider the religion of the candidate to be very important they considering him to be running against a Muslim.

    I am a none myself so I consider all religions to be strange.

  • NativeCowboy

    Waaaahhh ! I am a commie traitor and I hate it when people discover this about me.
    — David Mason

  • ldsdanz

    many of you are taking this “mormon moment” issue way out of context. as a 50 year member of the church, i can honestly attest that there was no such thing because our church leaders encouraged no such focus on any particular candidate and asked for no political discussions in our church meetings. as for some of your mormon doctrinal assertations, they’re waaaaaaaay off base and should be explored in better forums; that is, more tolerant open minded ones. funny how lberals claim to be open minded and yet they’re some of the biggest god-haters on the planet. Haters go home. Oh wait, this is the post …. you ARE home. god bless america.

  • Paika

    Either your religion defines you or it doesn’t. Make your choice and have a lovely day.

  • slbpitc

    It;s a Cult. Any Cukt that thiunbk they can become equaly to God is not only a bunch of fools but must also have amental contation. There’s one thing all Christian religions have in common is we believe in the trinity. Of course, Mormons do not. So, stop saying mormons are C

  • laurelmd65

    Perhaps then it was a missed opportunity to share with the world all that is good about mormonism since it does remain mysterious to many. But frankly when a potential president says that his faith drives all of this decisions i certainly would want to scrutinize that faith. So how would he react in case of a potential global nuclear conflict if it may be interpreted as an ‘end of days’ scenario or second coming of the lord to ‘split the mount of olive’.

  • lollyikens

    I too am tired of all the back and forth news about Romney. I am happy it is over with. I thought religion was not supposed to be in politics. I find it irritating that it has been a reason for certain policies of Romney and Ryan and others.

  • el guille

    When a person says “that his faith drives all his decisions” I would like to scrutinize the person and then his faith, in that order and if I have time. Since I’ve never have time, I just continue to do whatever business I have to do with that person, and then end of the conversation!

  • lollyikens

    Idsdanz plese do not lump all liberal in the same group you are claiming are God haters. If you are true to your religion you should not be name calling. I find your comment offensive and not true. Maybe you should go home. Now you have a nice day and God bless America!

  • michaelfairbanks

    Mormons. I know them well. My mother was born in Utah and raised Mormon, and she was an awesome woman. She was, as I reflect, a model Christian. She wasn’t perfect, but she would truly go the second mile, turn the other cheek (many times), and give the shirt off her back along with her coat (but not literally).
    Mormons are Christians who believe everything the Bible teaches, but also believe additional information that isn’t in the Bible. They believe, in short, that Jesus came to America after the resurrection and continued to teach and instruct.
    They believe that God communicated messages through Joseph Smith, a man from New York. Mormons believe Smith to be a prophet. In essence, Smith (like Moses) took instructions from God and disseminated that information to others. Smith’s followers called themselves the Latter-Day Saints (LDS), and are also known as Mormons.
    If one looks at religion historically, over a 4000-year period, one concludes that Joseph Smith’s claims weren’t any wilder or extreme than any other religion’s. In essence (according to Mormons), Smith was one prophet from a long line of prophets who received messages from God and taught lessons based on those messages.
    As with other Christian denominations, Mormons choose what to believe, what not to believe, and how the Old and New Testament should be translated. They also have a third book called The Book of Mormon. This shouldn’t be seen as shocking, extreme, or even unusual since Christians also added a new book to the Bible (the New Testament). Jews can say the same about Christians as many Christians say about Mormons: “You added words to the book not God.”
    Some day we all will find out (or not) who is right and who is not. For now we must each believe what we choose to believe and let others believe what they choose to believe.
    In terms of referring to Mormonism as a cult, that is a bit extreme or accurate, depending on your own interpretation of that particular term. Webster’s Dict

  • michaelfairbanks

    (Continued from below…)

    . If the quota isn’t met, the member loses privileges and access to some functions of the church. Plus, until the late 1800s, members of the church were allowed (and in many cases encouraged) to engage in plural marriage (polygamy). While this practice was abnormal in the Christian religion, it’s still practiced in most of Africa, half of Asia, and is actually recognized in many Christian nations (if the ceremony originated in another country. For example, the United Kingdom recognizes plural marriage in terms of immigrants and others who move there or work there).
    These irregularities of the Mormon church are not very extreme if taken in the context of thousands of years of religious practices worldwide. Therefore, to classify them as a cult or to discriminate against Mormons isn’t logical unless you are, I suppose, a strict atheist.
    My experience with Mormons has been mostly positive. Throughout my entire childhood I spent a lot of time traveling from California to Utah in order to visit relatives in Utah, all of whom are Mormon. I always enjoyed these time and still do. They are a people that certainly think and behave differently than most other Americans, but in a wholesome, caring way (based on my experiences). They believe in marriage, family, church, and clean living. They are far less judgmental of others in person and are the least likely to be engaged in criminal activity. They are not immune to the problems of violence, drugs, alcohol, theft, etc., but their rate of illicit activity is far below the rest of America (save, perhaps, the Amish).
    My only complaint with the Mormons in my family is that they don’t have Coca Cola in the refrigerator, don’t serve coffee in the morning, and they take that Sunday thing very seriously. I see the day of rest as a time to have fun and engage in recreation. That is restful to me. As a child I wasn’t allowed to go fishing, swimming, or even play. I was expected to attend church for

  • popelikr

    And I find your reply offensive….I find most of these comments and replies offensive.

    I am not Mormon, I believe in God and Jesus or maybe I don’t. I believe in ‘ faith’..

    And MANY times Gov Romney said this is NOT about being MORMON!!!!
    The Kennedy’s are the NOT Catholics ? But that is okay?

    I don’t vote Dem or Rep or Ind..I vote with knowledge and values and what makes sense.

    I Believe !

  • popelikr

    Thank you. That is my view too… He actually would get upset when people tried to have him talk about his religion…This was a race for President not for Religious.

    I Believe…there is a higher person, etc but I am not sure who it is, it is a ‘feeling’.

    And I would like to say that I respect Gov Romney for at least saying he is a Mormon and I think Sen Ryan is a Catholic….Obama…he isn’t sure from day to day what he is…A Muslim, I mean Christian

    I don’t care, it is the fact that Obama is always hiding something….if he can’t tell the truth about his religion(I dont want to know his beliefs and how the sound of hummmming is the most beautiful sound ever!) but if he would just say Yes, I am a Muslim. then on with bigger and better things, but he won’t….

    And thanx for letting me talk.

  • Vanka

    It is not over for Mormons!

    The entire Mormon movement is a dark conspiracy trying to worm their way into political power at the highest levels. This Mormon Dominionism is a direct threat to religious and political pluralism, as well as to separation of church and state.

    Of course, not all Mormons are conscious and deliberate theocrats like their leaders. Indeed, the seriously theocratic component of Mormonism may be a minority – but we also know that a minority can have influence far beyond its numbers, especially when that minority is in power in the organization and has scriptural mandate for Dominionism on its side!

    Like some radical Christian Dominionism and Islamic Dominionism, Mormon Dominionists will use every nasty trick in the book to obtain and maintain their hold on our political and governmental systems.

    In a recent NY Times article, Yale Professor Harold Bloom articulated a valid concern regarding LDS Dominionism: the idea that the LDS Church is ordained and chosen by God to “fill the whole earth” and the current ecclesiastical authority will become the political, social, and economic authority to usher in and rule the millennium”.

    A disproportionate number of Mormons arrive at the higher levels of the CIA, FBI, military intelligence, armed forces, and all levels of city, state, and federal governments, including the Senate, Congress, Cabinet, and White House Staff. They give the impression of being sincere and loyal citizens, but most of the general population is unaware of the secret (sacred?) and “prophetic” ambition of The Brethren. So we lull ourselves into a false sense of security: What could be better than having such patriots as these serving in strategic areas of government and national security?

    Unfortunately, as we have noticed, the real truth lies hidden beneath the seemingly ideal image of patriotism presented by Mormons in public service. In fact their very presence in responsible government positions, particularly in agencies dealing with na

  • Vanka

    Lds dans must have learned to lie at the same Mormon Sunday school as Mittens.

    The Church-owned Deseret News, as well as Mike Otterson, the official Church PR spokesman, have been gushing about “the Mormon Moment” since before 2008, at which time they spent a fortune launching the “I’m a Mormon” PR campaign to take advantage of the Romney candidacy!

    I truly believe if common Mormon members really understood what their leaders really believed, and really did, the remaining 1/3 of “active” Mormons would fall away.

  • kraznet

    mormons beong to a cult, not a religion. cults have secret rites, religons do not.
    cults are full of people who are not allowed to think for themselves or dissent, from the church’s worldview, without punishment–much like totalitarion china.

  • swanieva

    You may have your religion back, but NEVER FORGET that John Smith and Brigham Young were FAKES, and nothing will change people’s belief that your so-called “church” is, IN FACT, a CULT.

    Have a nice day . . . .

    ./

  • swanieva

    You forgot to mention that there is NO ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE to support ANY of John Smith’s words – none.

    No Black Sea scrolls in this religion. In fact, NOTHING exists.

    Besides that, ANYBODY who believes that God walked on the earth, that God had a wife (Mary), and that Mormons (if they are “good” little boys and girls) can BECOME A GOD.

    A little more to absorb:
    Joseph Smith taught, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man . I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute the idea.. What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father.. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-48).

    There is nothing else I can say.
    ./

    ./

  • swanieva

    A former Mormon “prophet”, who supposedly talks to God said:

    Paris, France –
    In a surprising admission during last month’s three nation European speaking trip, Mormon president Gordon B. Hinckley stated that the Christ he believes in is not the same Christ as the one followed by those outside the LDS Church.

    Hinckley quoted unnamed critics of the LDS Church who claim that Mormons do not believe in the traditional Christ and then he agreed with them. The LDS Church News reported: “In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ. No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness [sic] of Times’” (June 20, 1998, ).

    Nothin’ else to say.

    ./

  • swanieva

    Try this on for size:

    Paris, France – In a surprising admission during last month’s three nation European speaking trip, Mormon president Gordon B. Hinckley stated that the Christ he believes in is not the same Christ as the one followed by those outside the LDS Church.

    Hinckley quoted unnamed critics of the LDS Church who claim that Mormons do not believe in the traditional Christ and then he agreed with them.

    The LDS Church News reported: “In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ. No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness [sic] of Times’” (June 20, 1998, ).

    Nothin’ else to say . . . .

    ./

  • swanieva

    Over the years I have been in UT over five times and my son was married to a Mormon girl in Provo on the grass OUTSIDE the temple.

    The last time I was there was July 2009, and the owner of the B&B I stayed at asked me directly if I ” . . . was LDS?). My answer was “No, I am a Christian.” He silently turned around, walked away, and we never spoke again.

    PS – my daughter-in-law has NOT been in UT since moving to VA with her husband . . . .

    ./

  • God Fearing Christian

    To ignorant commentators like ‘Swanieva’ and ‘kraznet’ and vanka, please get some facts right. In other words, try studying Mormonism, read the Book of Mormon, (also in the title, please note, it is ‘Another Testament of Jesus Christ’.) Swanieva, it is Joseph Smith, not John Smith. Brigham Young is called by historical scholars (note: not religious scholars) as “The American Moses”. You should be so gifted as people like Joseph Smith Jr. who, if you would read and ponder (that is the key word, you hate mongering anti-everything Christianity espouses) Ponder biographies such as ‘Rough Stone Rolling’ you might get an insight into how remarkable men such as he truly were. Just don’t fall on a pin because you would blind yourself in both eyes, you are so narrow minded and myopic in your perceptions. Political conspiracies? Cult? Give your head a shake. You are little people, minions of the great Adversary, always seeking to tear down rather than build up. You ignore the historical facts, the rich and invaluable contributions given the world through Mormon scholars, scientists, doctors, professors, and yes, even politicians. If I were to make a list of all the positive contributions given us by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I would run out of paper. In times of global tragedies, the Mormons are always on the front line of relief. Superstorm Sandy immediately had 500 young men and women, Mormon missionaries released from regular duty and sent into the damaged areas for disaster relief. Before you pick at the mote in other’s eyes, perhaps you would do well to remove the log from your own. As a scientist and a young adult, with no religeous preconceptions (other than being raised to believe in a higher power) I studied many religions, including Islam, before choosing that evil fake cult that thankfully, so few of you hate, that religion you think you know something about. It has given me a lifetime of pleasure, a great path on which to trave

  • sbrian

    David Mason, consider it small pay back for the years of being told by the Mormon Church and Mormon missionaries who we are and what we believe; how the beliefs of the rest of us are not good enough; how we the Gentiles (“non-Mormons”) have incomplete faith, and you have the one true church; how we need to follow your leaders, your teachings and your ways or we can’t have happiness or go to heaven. You’ve been in our faces for over 150 years, so a few months is not much to bear. Why don’t we all live and let live, and not keep focusing on differences. I’ll trust the Mormon Church’s sincerity when they show respect for our heartfelt beliefs, by not trying to convert us to theirs.

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