I don’t know how it works in other cities, but Washington, DC is definitely a town with a well established Mormon Mafia. What this refers to is a network of Mormon professionals — lawyers, lobbyists, Hill staffers, and the like — who are acquainted with one another and tend to help out with professional advancement. I have to admit that I am a beneficiary of this “system.” I have now secured two jobs at least in part because of networks Mormons. I am of two minds about this phenomena.
On one hand, I can understand those who worry about the intrusion of professional life into Church life, the mixing of God and Mammon and all that. Of course, my sympathy for this point of view is not incredibly deep. I actually like the Mormon Mafia. I enjoy my Mormon tribal identity, and there are numerous other tribes out there vigorously advancing their own. I take the Mormon Mafia as a healthy sign of communal identity and solidarity. (I really do care about such things Russell, promise…) Furthermore, much of the Mafia acts outside of formal church circles. You find out who the Mormons are in your law firm. You know who the Mormons are in the firm next door. You know which Senators, Representatives, and Committees have Mormon staffers. You know who the Mormon journalists are, and which think tanks have Mormon employees. You don’t meet these people at Church. You meet them at law firms, on the Hill, or at events at the Cato Institute when you are getting a free lunch. Mormonism becomes a powerful — and often unstated — point of connection and the Mafia continues to grow. Indeed, in DC the Mafia is strongly enough entrenched that the Gentiles have been catching on. For example, for many years, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has been run by a high ranking coterie of Latter-day Saints. (The Mormon head of the AO even clashed with Alex Kozinski, a prominent federal court of appeals judge in California over pornography on court computers. Kozinski has a strong libertarian streak, and vehemently objected to the Mormon’s suggestion that court IT employees monitor downloads from objectionable sites.)
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jeron Paul — a friend of mine from college — has even give the Mormon Mafia an online home. Jeron, along with some other Harvard business students, set up The Hive Network (notice the reference to Deseret) as an online site for Mormon professional smoozing. The site is modeled on similar networks set up by Indian entrepreneurs in America.