Monday, June 11, 2012
Mitt Romney and Mormons in the Spotlight
I'm not going to get political on this blog, not now and not in the future. I have a lot of reasons for not doing so and I won't get into them right now. I am going to touch on something that borders on politics, but I am not endorsing anyone for the presidential election.
Mitt Romney is about to become the official Republican candidate for the President of the United States. I live in Utah, which is the capital of Mormondom. In case you have missed all the media buzz around the primary election cycle, Mitt Romney is Mormon. I was, too, until a chain of events lead me in a different direction.
Let me just be clear: I don't give a fuck if you do or don't like Mitt Romney's politics. This blog post is more about the effect his running for president is having on the Mormon church and Mormonism as a culture and people. When Mitt Romney first ran in the Republican primary four years ago, I remember that so many Mormons were so happy. They looked forward to a Mormon in the White House for many reasons, one of which was the perceived promise that a Mormon president would lead to greater acceptance of Mormons and Mormonism.
I have been on the other side of the fence, a good little Mormon girl who felt like the whole world hated me for what I was. Mormons really do carry a huge persecution complex around with them, as noted in this Salt Lake Tribune article I just read. I grew up always hearing about how mean everyone was to Mormons, from the foundation of our church onward. The explanation? Well, I always heard it was the Devil raging in the hearts of men.
Imagine my dismay as I read later that much of the persecution faced by early Mormons came from them bragging about how the area of Missouri that is now Kansas City was going to be swept clear of all Gentiles and given only to Mormons for their righteousness. Early Mormons also made a huge deal about how their beliefs were far superior to the beliefs of others. I have known and currently know quite a few modern-day Mormons with these same attitudes, and guess what: nobody wants to be around them! They are mean, nasty people with a huge superiority complex, who at the same time whine that people weren't nice to them well over a century ago.
The funny thing is these same people who were applauding the possibility of a Mormon in the White House might not be so enthusiastic once this fall rolls around. The heat is turning up on Mormons as people try to figure out exactly what they are all about. After all, everyone wants to know who could be their country's next leader. Mormons have plenty to squirm about, including the fact that early church leaders practiced polygamy and even went into hiding when the government tried to bring them to justice. The Mormon church also fought against the Equal Rights Bill while saying that racism was evil, and it only gave the priesthood to black members in 1978. Early leaders have taught things ranging from that all blacks are descended from Cain, to that the lost tribes will come back to Earth from space on a comet that is the missing landmass that used to occupy what is now the Gulf of Mexico and that plural marriage will be practiced in heaven (even though mainstream Mormons don't practice it anymore). I'm not saying whether these things are true or not, but just that they will be scrutinized more now than ever before.
My prediction: whether Romney wins the presidency or not, Mormons are going to feel the heat more than they ever imagined. The result? I think some will start to see why people like me have become so disillusioned with the faith, while others will curl up in little balls, cry and want others to feel sorry for themselves. I almost wonder if some will want to isolate themselves from the world as a knee-jerk reaction to the situation.
I think the increased scrutiny will do some good and shine some light on subjects many people in high places in the Mormon church are trying to kick under the rug.