How Mitt Romney Deflated the Mormon Moment

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Before we get too far into this week’s Democratic National Convention, let me get off my chest something about last week’s, something that I’ve alluded to in other places before, but now, having watched and read up on all the Mormon-centric stuff that came out of Tampa last week, I’m more certain of than ever. The speeches given last Thursday, culminating in Mitt Romney’s speech accepting the presidential nomination of the Republican Party wasn’t just a “climax” for the Mormon Moment–it was the effective sublimation and emptying of it as well.

Of course, my friend McKay Cobbins was surely correct when he observed in a Buzzfeed story that “a survey of 100 Mormons would likely yield 100 different interpretations of what Romney’s nomination will mean for their religion.” After all, the whole idea of a “moment” for something as broad and as personal as a religion is itself kind of weird, and its meaning certainly difficult to nail down. If one wishes to speak only historically, than a “moment” for a religion would presumably be any point of crisis or change or expansion, any time when the religion in question encounters the public (or multiple publics) differently than before. From that perspective, as historians like Philip Barlow and Laurie Maffly-Kipp have observed, there have been multiple “Mormon moments” over the years, as my faith has gone from being small and persecuted, to defiant and oppositional, to corporatized and mainstream, and now to global and perhaps something else. But for all that historical and subjective variety, this particular moment–the one which really began in 2011, as the formal start of Romney’s presidential campaign coalesced along with a host of references to Mormonism in popular culture into something larger than the sum of its parts–has nonetheless, I think, had at least one constant theme: just where does Mormonism fit into, or intersect with, America’s political culture? (Yes, it’s a question about the United States; for a truly international Mormon moment, we’ll probably need to wait a few more decades at least.) The answer which one cultural observer after another, both smart and stupid ones, tended to touch on was consistent: one way or another, it all came down to dollars and cents. And Romney–no doubt unintentionally, but with genuinely sincere belief too, I warrant–really didn’t prove them at all wrong.

The list of speculations from the past year about what the Mormons think of money–speculations both from those of us within the Mormon church and from those outside of it–is too long to thoroughly document. But consider: we’ve heard from Adam Gopnik and Ross Douthat. There’s been cover stories in Business Weekly and Harpers (which was atrocious, by the way). Even the much praised essay by Walter Kirn (the author of the original “Mormons Rock!” Newsweek piece), which was a long personal reflection and defense of the religion that he once called his own, couldn’t avoid making as its climax an extended anecdote that revealed us Mormons (admittedly, to our own pleasure….but I would also unapologetically say quite honestly) as much given to cooperation and collective help–in other words, it presented a consideration of how Mormonism creates its own small communities and economies amongst the faithful. We just haven’t seemed to be able to get away from it. You could argue that Romney is the primary reason for this–as, with the sole exception of Ross Perot, the wealthiest man in post-Industrial Revolution times to make a plausible run for the presidency, perhaps it is inevitable that the questions turn in this direction. Or perhaps it is simply the times: in a time of economic recession and frustration, my church’s long history of  providing welfare to its poorer members–extensively reported on in major news outlets–again make make understanding Mormonism’s relationship with money seem crucial. Either way, it’s pervasive; when a group of ten faithful and scholarly Mormons put together a collection of concerns and questions about Romney’s candidacy, lots of stuff came up, from same-sex marriage to Romney’s likelihood of being guided by the Holy Ghost. But the most frequent comment, if you go through and count the lines, was simply: where do, or how do, Mormon beliefs fit into the economic choices which would face a president today?

There are many ways in which Romney could have dodged all of this, and frankly that’s what I expected him to do, when I commented a couple of weeks ago, in reference to his then-upcoming convention speech, that I assumed “his experience as a leader in the Church for the last 40 years will be totally ignored.” Clearly I was wrong there; Romney and his campaign instead surprised me and many others, by finding a politically palatable way to tell the story of his (and my) faith. But neither did he challenge or rebut the pre-occupations of those who see the Mormon story today as just another tale of a once-utopian, communitarian and egalitarian faith accepting mainstream economic norms. On the contrary, if Romney’s acceptance speech, coming at the end of a day in which speakers made repeated references to his long history of compassionate church service and administrative experience, was meant to climax an argument–even if just an implicit one–about how this huge part of his life ought to add to his value as a presidential candidate, then we Mormons should be sad, not ecstatic. Because in the end, as I read his speech, Romney’s triumphant stand at the top of the Mormon moment saw him pointing towards a narrative which sublimates all that economic speculation to as ordinary and as ideological a message as one can imagine a Republican politician in America today giving: that his religious faith was part of what makes him American, and as a good American he embraces business, because business growth is what all God-fearing, authentic America’s truly want and deserve.

Let’s break this down:

First, there was his constant invocations of “America” (it or its cognates were mentioned more than 90 times in the speech, meaning he referenced it on average nearly three times a minute). America is a country of people of faith–particularly, faith in the future. The freedom of religion which plays such a huge role in our civil religion is put on the same level with the freedom to build a business. This is the “essence of the American experience”: to experience, and to expect, a faith in the wide-open opportunities which the future presumably holds. Both the “riches of this world” as well as the “richness of this life” are identified with a freedom to grasp the future:

We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better. They came not just in pursuit of the riches of this world but for the richness of this life. Freedom. Freedom of religion. Freedom to speak their mind. Freedom to build a life. And yes, freedom to build a business. With their own hands. This is the essence of the American experience.

Second, there was his conviction that this freedom to grasp the best that the future offers is “deserved.” It is something inextricably entwined with being American, and with having faith in America. In what was–on the basis of my repeat viewings, anyway–his most earnest and impassioned state of the night, Romney insisted:

I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn’t something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something. With your help we will do something. Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, “I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better! My country deserves better!”

Third, his way of talking about what he and his wife Ann built as their lives in Massachusetts unfolded–with its touching and no-doubt heartfelt words about congregations growing and helping each other, and the civic strength which such mutual service imparts to us all–moved easily, and almost without a beat, talking about how that same strength was most obviously revealed through the construction of businesses and the creation of jobs:

That is the bedrock of what makes America, America. In our best days, we can feel the vibrancy of America’s communities, large and small. It’s when we see that new business opening up downtown. It’s when we go to work in the morning and see everybody else on our block doing the same.

Which finally, and fourth, leads to his primary claim against President Obama: that he doesn’t understand business, which presumably means he doesn’t understand the real religious faith in the future which animates this country, which therefore also presumably means that he doesn’t really understand America itself either:

The President hasn’t disappointed you because he wanted to. The President has disappointed America because he hasn’t led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business.

Let me give credit to the defenders of how my church has grown to become one of the wealthiest religious bodies in the United States. In the face of all the (I think often entirely legitimate) criticism of the ways the Mormon church has institutionally embraced a growth-and-investment-oriented mentality in regards to how it deals with its financial holdings, it remains the case that all this economic activity, however much of departure all this is from the communitarian and egalitarian Zion which my and Mitt Romney’s church once tried to build, nonetheless is still about maintaining and extending the influence and mission of the church. In short, it may just be capital, but its consecrated capital. Obviously you almost certainly won’t ever see such a perspective endorsed by any major political candidate in our pluralistic political society. And yet, someone coming from that perspective could still talk about money in connection with service, as something secondary to self-justifying economic goals could they not?

I’m going to assume that Romney most certainly could–he just chose not to, and by so doing, extinguished one of narrative lights which the Mormon moment kept lit. On the basis of Romney’s speech, the preferred mode of economic activity is entrepreneurial and individual, rather than collective; it is grounded not in a vision of congregational stewardship, but is part of the fabric of America itself; and its clearest distillation is to be found in an expected promise of profit and growth, not in providing succor to others. That’s taking much of all that has been speculated about Mormonism in the mass media over the past year and aligning it with America’s civil religion of progress, its individualistic and capitalistic culture, and its moralization of business as the purest sort of financial activity. Some of those things I like, and some I dislike….but like it or dislike it, the one thing it most surely did is take the political distinctiveness out of our moment, and it’s probably not going to come back.

Assuming he loses, that is. Obviously if Romney wins the presidency, then the slate (the Etch-a-Sketch?) is mostly wiped clean as far as the media is concerned, and a new political narrative will be spun, one in which Romney’s own shaping of the message from the White House could result in tensions, questions, and insights which would make what has appeared to me to be the relentless–and frankly kind of banal–pre-occupation with economic questions that we’ve seen this election season seem silly by comparison. But the latest polls suggest that my old prediction is going to be wrong, and Romney will go down to defeat in November. So here, as a reward for anyone who has read all the way to the end, is one of the few reasons I wouldn’t be too unhappy if Romney wins: because it would mean that events would force Romney to continue to speak out, and hence at least occasionally make use of his background of faith, as an influential political leader. And that would mean our moment, in the public imagination, wouldn’t be nearly so stranded as Romney left it in Tampa.

Comments

  1. I can imagine a much different speech that talked about shared sacrifice, working together, and helping each other out, that could have been the basis for his acceptance, but it was not in the cards. But then again, neither were Clint Eastwood’s bizarre ramblings.

  2. “Give me your entrepreneurs, your multi-level marketers, your huddled masses yearning to buy stocks…”
    I have teared up upon seeing the American flag, but it was indeed my sense of my particular community, my family, my ideals, and a belief that my ideals could move across the globe and lift others. I’m guessing that the Dem Con will focus on Romney’s business sense as well–and it won’t be flattering.

  3. The most disturbing theme of the Republican Convention was “We built it.” a reference to a statement of President Obama’s that was taken totally out of context. The pride of the speakers who lauded their self-made wealth reminded me of Korihor’s teachings when he proclaimed that “every man afared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength.”

    I spent the past year carefully reading all of the Standard Works was impressed by how consistently the Lord scolded his people for ignoring and not caring for the poor. For example, in Ezekiel we read, “Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

    With former Govenor Romney’s wealth, I am disappointed that he has not done more to create a foundation to help the needy in our country. Aside from his fast offering contributions, he could do so much to make a difference in the nation and in the world by making health care more affordable as he did in Massachusetts.

    With that said, I have heard nothing from either candidate about controlled skyrocking drug costs and insurance fees since both parties are beholden to these corporations for campaign donations. Thankfully, President Obama is working to make health care available to everyone in our nation, something that is long overdue, and to stop insurance companies from denying insurance to those with preexisting conditions.

    I own a successful business and have felt a responsbility to reach out to those who are less fortunate, the sick, the dying, and those who are neglected or abused. Churches alone cannot address the needs of these people, but it will require the concerted effort of churches, NPO’s and the government to create a real safety net for those who are suffering and poor. I believe we individually will be judged on how well we have served and blessed the poor among us. Over half of Christ’s parable teach that principle. Although we must curb wasteful and fraudulent spending by service providers to those in need, we must also find ways the make certain that no one in our nation dies because they lack access to health care, and we cannot expect emergency rooms to be the sole provider of medical services to the poor, for that will bankrupt our hospitals, as is happening in California and Texas.

  4. Democrats either really hate John Kerry or the have selective opinions on what is considered wealthy and out of touch. Because John Kerry is worth about the same as Mitt Romney and he didn’t even earn his money, he married it. So make sure you include Kerry in your article above.

  5. I just don’t see enough of Mitt really coming out and giving us some tough medicine. He needs to be a bold. He needs to speak of America as a God fearing country and echo back to words of our founding fathers. Here is what I would put out as a solution to our economic crisis if I were running for president – http://goodlypearls.com/

  6. How Mitt Romney Deflated the Mormon Moment

    He lied. That’s how. A former stake president who every week asked members of his stake “are you honest with your fellow men” has made a mockery of that question.

  7. Professorgubler (#4),

    John Kerry is worth about the same as Mitt Romney and he didn’t even earn his money, he married it. So make sure you include Kerry in your article above.

    I agree that accusations against Romney which present his wealth itself as an argument against his candidacy (who is making those, exactly?) should logically have applied to Kerry in 2004 as well. But I still don’t think Kerry could have quite fit into the above post–which is about, as the title says, the “Mormon moment”–because 1) Kerry ran for president eight years ago, thus missing out on any opportunity to either contribute to or derail that Mormon moment narrative, which her very likely couldn’t have done anyway because 2) he wasn’t (and, tragically, still isn’t) Mormon. I’ll keep your point in mind, though.

  8. I do not think that speech says what you think it says. I’m not even voting for the guy and I had to rereax the dumb speech to figure out if I had missed something. Didn’t like the deserve line.

    I really like the work and give concept.

    i didn’t like the replace obama care…i’d be happy to just repeal it.

    It makes not a shred of sense to me that the mormon moment has been deflated…IMO it has just been made more challenging for some to explain how Mitt’s politics aren’t all “mormon”. So maybe some members feel deflated but i seriously doubt there will be less interest in the church. The people who won’t vote for him anyway won’t change their perspective on mormonism becasue the republican moderate sounds like a republican moderate.

    My understanding of zion doesn’t involve a republic, but a theocracy and choice….so saying people independently work to succeed doesn’t take away from zion for me. Choosing to give is a major part of zion to me, and that was frequently mentioned. giving everyone an opportunity to work is zion like to me.

  9. It seems that this election is shaping up to be predominately about the struggle (antagonism?) between labor and capital.

  10. Central Standard says:

    I’ll put it this way – if the D’s were to run a ferret wearing a pink feather boa, I still wouldn’t vote for Mitt.

  11. I agree with a lot of what you write, Russell, and I respect you greatly.

    I disagree with a lot of things in this post – not because I love Brother Romney as a candidate, but because I simply have a different perspective on the convention and the speech.

    Bottom line for me:

    Mitt is a pragmatist, and the economy is the hot-button issue right now. Highlighting his business experience vs. Pres. Obama’s lack thereof is a no-brainer for this campaign, imo. It’s humanizing him as a caring person and not a robber baron that is critical, since that is the most damaging claim being made against him. I think the “pastor” testimonials defused the religion issue within the Republican Partry and humanized him among undecided Independents, which was critical – but they won’t do squat with straight ticket voting Democrats, especially those who are bitter about the LDS Church’s involvement in Prop 8.

    Finally, I am happy if the convention and speech really did deflate “the Mormon Moment”. I want it to be deflated.

  12. professorgubler says:

    #7 I agree John Kerry really has nothing to do with the the Mormon moment. You just make it sound like Mitt is the only rich guy to ever run for President in our modern day. You mention Perot, but fail to mention Kerry. Just wanted to point that out. And many people are trying to point out that Mitt is rich and this is bad. Just look at the First Lady’s speech tonight. It was a very good and well delivered speech. But, I walked away knowing Mitt is rich and not like us. He doesn’t want to help people he wants to make money. (So there is your example of people making that point).

    So that is beside the point of the Mormon moment. But on that note. Entreprenuial and collective economic activity are not mutually-exclusive things.

  13. Business experience is not an inherent advantage in a political context. Along with the benefits it provides, it also provides with a whole host of trusted former colleagues who now act as lobbyists and potential crony clients. The best politicians would set aside or alter those old relationships, I suppose, but most don’t.

    I’m curious as to where folks argue that God endorses entrepreneurship. There is some endorsement of speculation, along with a host of other ways to make money, in the parables. There is the “make friends with Mammon” comment, which I take to mean that even good people (the best person) can have cynical moments. Along with the elevation of entrepreneurship, I don’t see where the scriptures come out against collective action. So I’m curious as to what those who hold these beliefs tie these notions to.

    RAF, I think you’ve gotten it about right. After a night spent discussing how Mitt was a good Mormon and a good Mormon is a good person, Mitt pretty much said, “I’m right for the job, because I used to help run a buy out company. President Obama has never done that.”

  14. prof gubler,
    I think the thing that ties Mitt to Perot, and not to Kerry, is that, in spite of similar wealth, Kerry never claimed that he accumulated wealth as a result of his personal business dealings. He also didn’t use the accumulation of that wealth as a means of demonstrating his qualifications for the job. Perot explicitly did (his business acumen was his selling point; it’s the reason he felt empowered to talk deficits). Romney doesn’t make the point exclusively (he really doesn’t like to talk about the specifics of how he accumulated his wealth), but he does make frequent reference to his business acumen and the proof of that is his wealth.

  15. Every time I hear a Romney pitch or speech I think of Bruce Barton.s 1925 book, The Man Nobody Knows, wherein Christ was a successful businessman. It is as if the Bible was replaced by a Bain profit loss sheet tand Gordon Gekko is the President of the “Greed is Good” Church. When you hear all government programs for the poor or middle classs be dismissed as a “dole” or an “entitlement,” the Mormon Monent loses its luster..

    I just wonder where the U.S. would be right now without the GI Bill and the massive infrastucture investment especially under President Eisehower? Where would we be if there were not federal loan guarantees for college students in the 70’s and 80″s. ? Where would the older generation be without Social Security and Medicare?

    I fear one hundred years from now this moment will be looked upon as a resurrection of both the Know Nothing Party and Flat Earth Society. The anti science, anti immigrant and the anti working man nature nature of the moment will be tied to Mitt Romney and by exrension the Church. How sad, if at that time we have to say we had a chance and we blew it.

  16. I don’t see Romney as the great Mormon politician, primarily because of his pandering to the extremists of his party,but that’s just my lonely voice in the wilderness. To me, the significance of Mormons in politics will come when we are no longer seen as a one-party church, when we have more towering figures in both parties capable of engaging in spirited, intelligent political debate on all the major issues. The perception of Mormons from where I sit, and I don’t live in Utah, is that we remain a provincial people who all think alike, who all vote alike, and who do not really engage with the broader community unless it suits our narrow interests.

  17. It troubles me when people suggest that either a larger welfare state or a more free-market orientation are somehow more consistent with Christianity. What is required of us as Christians is that we care for the poor. We can we do that by taxing and redistrubiting or by growing the economy and letting people give on their own. I don’t believe that mormonism (or even chistianity more broadly) has much to say about it. Using religion to justify economic policy doesn’t really work.

    Even if the income distribution is out of whack in this country (which it is, and which I think Christianity does have something to say about), that fact doesn’t suggest a solution or justify a particular economic position. It either suggests that we have a moral problem (we should share more) or a policy problem (we should tax more). My only point is that I’m not sure Mitt detracted from “the moment” by aligning with one of those two positions, because neither position is particularly aligned with Mormonism as far as I can tell.

    As for the comments in 15, I hadn’t heard Mitt speaking against the various successfual policies of the past (GI bill, infrastructure invesments, federal loan guarantees, etc.). That’s all motherhood and apple pie stuff. And I’m not sure I’ve heard much anti-science, anti-immigrant, or anti-working man rhetoric either, so why would any of that get hung around Romney’s neck.

  18. RJ I agree. IMO the only way for there to truly be “no poor among them” is for every single person to lift where they stand…to love the people closest to them, their neighbors, their family and friends. No organization of any kind could ever be so thorough as to allow for NO poor. It has to come down to an individual choice to love.

    I can see people voting for either party with an intent to help the poor. the intent is far more important to me than the particular methods they think will best bring it about.

  19. LessonNumberOne (#18),

    IMO the only way for there to truly be “no poor among them” is for every single person to lift where they stand

    And I really don’t disagree with that at all–the only point of contention (and I’m not sure we necessarily have one, though I’m guessing from your comment that we probably do) is how to best organize and/or liberate society so that every single person can do some lifting. The individual choice to love is stymied, or at least complicated, when there are no jobs that people could be potentially trained for, or no common resources that could be shared during the bad times, etc., etc. I happen to believe that a kind of democratic socialism is the best way to make such a truly participatory Zion possible (assuming anything can make it possible short of Jesus’s return), but those are arguments that can never finally be resolved.

    More relevantly to the original post, I would have loved to have heard Romney use the phrase “lift where you stand.” Or indeed, to make any kind of faith-based observation about service and involvement. But on my reading of the speech, unless I missed something, every time he spoke of how we, the American community, can assist those who struggle, it lead back to “freedom” and “business.” For those who cared to take his words seriously, I think Romney mainly asserted that his religion was just like the American religion, and the American religion was primarily about enjoying the freedom to pursue the economic blessings which this land promises us. No Zion there, that’s for sure.

  20. professorgubler says:

    What RJ said. Great point.

  21. John Mansfield says:

    It calls to mind when Roger Reid, BYU’s basketball coach, was fired after telling an LDS recruit who chose Duke over BYU that he had disappointed millions of church members. We had this Mormon moment rolling, and then . . . the Republican nominee gives a Republican acceptance speech and blows it for the whole church?

  22. It seems to me that most candidates come from fairly elite and rarefied environments. I mean Obama isn’t in the John Kerry or Mitt Romney stratosphere but he’s hardly had a hard life. He attended exclusive private schools, travelled extensively, and ended up in Harvard. Joe Sixpack he is not.

    I’m not saying Presidents have to come from the regular people, although I think avoiding the rarefied ivy league graduate type would be a nice change. How many recent Presidents fit that mold? Clinton definitely did to a degree coming from a very humble background although he did attend Georgetown & Yale. Reagan was rich, but due to his post-education career. His initial life was pretty humble. He got his degree in economics from Eureka College. Before Reagan we had Carter who did Georgia tech although he came from a very comfortable background in terms of wealth.

    I guess while I think there’s a lot of value in the types who go to Yale and Harvard it’d be nice to have a bit of diversity like Reagan and to a lesser extent Carter brought.

  23. The Other Professor Gubler says:

    Sorry for the interruption, but since I’m the first search result when you google “Professor Gubler,” can I just make clear that I (Zack Gubler) am not the one who is posting under that name on this thread? I felt compelled to say something since I’m not sure that I agree with the points being made by my doppelganger. Glad I got that off my chest.

  24. RAF…we can pretend there is a point of contention since this is the election season.

    Really I don’t think there is. I just choose to NOT come down hard on anyone for the way they choose to help the poor. If that means providing lots of jobs, taxing and using programs to help the poor…fine. If that means providing lots of jobs and encouraging people to charitably meet the needs of the poor…fine. Both require jobs…and there are diverse ways people think that should happen. Both require that we actually care about the poor. Both potentially COULD provide beautifully for the poor. Both could involve lifting where you stand…without ever having to say it.

    I’m glad there are those differences of opinion because they remind us of the need and open our minds to different ways of meeting that need.

    That you have a preferred way of meeting the need does not make Romeny’s preferred way unmormon, or wrong, or incapable of building zion. That was my real point.

  25. For my comments in 15 . In trying to be brief, I did not make myself clear. The current Tea Party, Koch Brothers, Evangelical Fundamentalist Moment, if you will, contains all of these aspects I mentioned. Mitt Romney is trying to ride these groups to victory. He molds his opinions on how not to disturb them and keep their support. The net effect is that he is Mr. Etch a sketch, a man of many ideas that can change in a moment. Whether he likes it or not, he is going to be tied to those attitudes and positions.

    It is hard for many of us to recognize the Republican Party today because it is not our fathers Republican Party. The party once supported the GI Bill, now it (and Congressman Ryan) opposed one for the Iraq war veterans Romney apparently never considered it important enough to take a position for it. I will give Romney a possible huzzah for indicating he would approve a waiver of out of state fees for returning veterans ( I write possible because we will have to see if he changes his mind again).

    An aside. The Private College Lobby, the one that promises you training for a job and rarely delivers, is a big supporter of Republicans and Romney. Both are for for continuing to subsize their rip-offs and not trying to regulate them. A key example is the” gainful employment rule,” which would require these schools to have a good employment record for students in order for them to get Federal Aid. To Romney it is harmful to require them to do what they claim to do (Let’s hold teachers accountable but not private schools that give to my campaign).

    In the last few days we just saw his flexibility with beliefs and truth as he repudiated his recent statement that he supported a woman’s right to an abortion because of her health. It appears that he was “misquoted” once again as the religious right challenged him on it and now he is once again against it. .

    Romney was once for indexing the minimum wage to the cost of living. The Right wing spoke. He is now against raising it. Going along with his belief in right to work laws and getting rid of Davis Bacon, he is strictly anti-labor. He could not even bring himself to support the Lillie Ledbetter Act. When you combine that with his proclivity at Bain to seize pension money, cut wages and off shore jobs, you do not have a pretty sight.

    Molly Ivins left us with a poltical saying, “you gotta dance with the one who brung you.” Mitt Romney was brought to the electoral dance by the anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-immigrant minions of the far right. His ability to change his opinions to fit the policies of the wings of ignorance and greed of the GOP is self evident, It indicates that he will continue to dance with them that brung him if elected.

    This is the Mormon Moment we want to be remembered by?

  26. Stan Beale 25 I completely agree. I am numbered among those who were dragged “kicking and screaming” into this Mormon moment.

  27. if I have a question for all those so ardently opposed to Romney because of a difference in position on various issues. I realize that you support X and think it should be law, but don’t you think in a federalist system it would make sense to have more decisions by the states?

    Take the issue Obama/Romneycare. One superseded state laws ans required states to do things they may not have wanted to do, while the other was a state deciding how to use its own tax revenues (both state and federal taxes). Before Obamacare there was nothing preventing any state from saying what MA did is good and should be emulated. But now you have dozens of states where a majority of the citizens don’t want Obamacare being required to go along with it.

    The issue repeats itself on guns, etc. I realize we may disagree on the issues, but if the citizens of MD think there is a problem with X then they can correct that through state legislation. On the other hand, if host UT citizens don’t see a problem with it, they can choose a different solution or none. As it is now, its impossible for UT to make another decision because they are compelled to do so.

    What would be so terrible for the people in the states to decide what they want instead of the people in CA of NY having a huge say in what gets done in AZ? Put it this way, if Obamacare is overturned, MAs law does not go away. And nothing but its citizens vote is dropping CA from enacting its own Romneycare.

    I feel that spending so much time battling over federal programs is ruining this country, when it need nor be so.

  28. he’s hardly had a hard life.

    In this day and age it is pretty difficult to spend one’s youth in a coal mine.

  29. I guess I also don’t’ see the mormon moment as totally and completely isolated and defined by Romney’s politics. We have the Book of Mormon play. There are a variety of things creating the media buzz and more intense focus. the focus and buzz to me are “the moment”. I’m glad Romney is not talking too much about his religion, it allows other people to step in to remind the world of the obvious variety of opinions among members of our religion.

    Peter I think in any age it’s pretty difficult to spend one’s youth in a coal mine. -sarcasm font-
    That said, perhaps you mean in this location it’s difficult to spend one’s youth in a coal mine. If you are the right color and gender and live in South Africa it’s quite easy to find your youth spent in a diamond mine.

  30. If you are the right color and gender and live in South Africa it’s quite easy to find your youth spent in a diamond mine.

    True. Obama’s life just got a whole lot easier.

  31. #29 – that is a bizarre reply regarding the coal mine. We’re talking about an American being elected as President. A child born into poverty in South Africa would most likely be ineligible to be President of the USA. The focus on race and gender in South Africa is the bizarre part of your comment. As if poor white children don’t suffer in parts of Eastern Europe living in poverty.

    President Obama was born in the USA, grew up as a child in the third world, and still didn’t have a hard life. (insert dog meat joke)

    What makes you think color has anything to do with a hard life in brutal labor? Are there no white people in abject poverty in parts of asia and Eastern Europe who have brutal jobs as children? Are there no asian people facing the same? And yet we focus on Africa if the blight of humanity is race (or gender as you point out) and not a combination of poverty and liberty.

  32. I was talking about mining in general…not USA mining. I was talking specifically about South Africa in which color still REALLY matters. A LOT. really. Not everyone moved once apartheid is over. 99.8 percent of the mine workers are black. I wasn’t even talking about obama at all. I was solely talking about mines in south africa. If you poll the world I suspect color might still correlate with hard work. Yes I agree it’s absolutely related to freedom and poverty.

    I just read the comment and it struck me as ridiculous. Apparently the sarcasm font didn’t go well.

    the mormon moment. For me the mormon moment boils down to people asking my husband about his magic underwear at work. I’m pretty sure that isn’t because Romney is this sort of politician or the other…I think it’s just because the media has gone crazy. I’m pretty sure if Romney were a little more conservative or a little more liberal it still wouldn’t matter, it’d still be lots of magic underwear talk.

    ****This post does not represent deep thought or philosophical angst. It is not in response to the thread in total or life in general…it’s just thoughts related to some replies and the “mormon moment” try not to take it too seriously.

  33. Good post, RAF.

  34. As a person of color once I was reminded how racist and screwed up Mormon Scriptures were and still are today, the Mormon Church moved in my mind from mainstream to more of a cult-like community. Any practicing Mormon would not be fit to be President, especially in a multi-cultural country.

  35. Left Field says:

    Perhaps you are right, but it turns out that the most racially-problematic passages of Mormon scripture are in the Bible. And somehow we’ve managed to do all right with Bible-believers in the White House.

  36. Sorry I missed the section of the Bible that focuses on being ………….white and delightful……………..

  37. #36 – Then you probably should read it again – a little more critically. All ancient peoples, collectively not individually, were racist – and it’s in all our scriptures from ancient days. Doesn’t mean it’s right or the will of God, but it would be surprising not to read it in any of them.

    Frankly, the most racist actions in all of our canonized scriptures are in the Bible – and it’s not even close.

  38. Also Historically America’s record on race relations has been terrible and those eras were lead by Christian Presidents who were not nearly as involved with their religion as Romney is with the Mormon Church. Just how far up the Mormon ladder is the position of Bishop?

  39. Ray If the leaders of the Mormon Church today would speak of their prophets in the same way you just did or other ancient religions, things would be different.

  40. Ray

    Also the Book of Mormon is not a “ancient text”, it is not thousands of years old, it is not even 200 years old!! Your comparisons with ancient religion is not really valid.

  41. “Just how far up the Mormon ladder is the position of Bishop?”

    Not very.

  42. William, this is not the place to continue your threadjack, so I will say only that the time period chronicled in the Book of Mormon is circa 3,000BC – 400AD. That period matches the Biblical time period very well – and, interestingly, there are no racist statements in it that are dated after the death and visit of Jesus Christ.

    Again, the most racist actions in all of our canonized scriptures are in the Bible – and until you can see and acknowledge that, your entire thesis, as expressed in your comments, is deeply flawed and illegitimate.

    As to the part of your comments that is relevant to this thread, Bishop is just about as low on the authority totem pole on the Mormon “ladder” as it is possible to get and still be considered an actual rung on a metaphorical ladder. Stake President is one rung higher – but it has no authority whatsoever outside a geographic area that, in some places in Utah, for example, can be measured best in square blocks.

  43. Ray I can write about things that happened a million years ago, but that does not change the fact that I wrote it today. Religious Writings have existed for thousands our years. There may not have been many until the printing press was invented, but they existed. The Book of Mormon came to being around 1829 AD.

    The answer the question of this article– “Mitt Romney Deflated the Mormon Moment” by bringing Mormon beliefs into the focus of the public nation wide. Most people of color will focus on the racism in Mormon beliefs. Some Christians will object because Mormonism often diverts from mainstream Christian beliefs. Mormons would be far better off if Romney was not a Mormon.

  44. It’s not worth responding to the first paragraph, since we obviously are coming at it from two very different paradigms.

    “Mormons would be far better off if Romney was not a Mormon.”

    Hogwash. End of discussion for me.

  45. Ray It is total denial to think that Mormon Ideology does not have negative issues that Mitt Romney being in the limelight brings to the forefront. Every time I mention them you divert the conversation by pointing the finger at other religions.

  46. lol – I said end of discussion. I meant it.

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