Still Outside

November 7, 2012 | 60 comments
By

As a Mormon, I’m saddened that Mitt Romney lost his bid for the presidency. He tried so hard, for so long, but just couldn’t quite pull it off. I have many friends, neighbors and relatives who have fasted and prayed for Romney, and I am sure they are hurt and disappointed.

We don’t have a Mormon president now. But I honestly think that’s just as well. Part of our cultural narrative is that we are outsiders. We converted to the truth and were rejected by everyone else less spiritually enlightened. We were driven out of the United States and built our own kingdom of God in Deseret under Brigham Young. We were comfortable in the state of mutual rejection.

We became used to being despised and rejected, even making it a point of pride, a sign of our sacrifice and commitment to the truth. But cold comfort of being the exclusive excluded wears thin, especially in face of the temptation of being accepted by the country at large. We enjoyed the attention of the Mormon moment. We love that we are mainstream enough to be considered mostly Christian by other Christians (or Christian enough to be preferable to a Democrat). But if Romney had won, then we would have lost our outsider status.

I grew up in rural Texas. I was the only LDS kid in my graduating class. Being Mormon made me different. It defined me to myself and to others. But when I went to BYU as an undergrad, suddenly being Mormon was nothing special; I was just another LDS girl. Something that had made me unique and special now made me common. I hated it. My personal identity as a Mormon outsider reflected the Mormon narrative I had been taught about persecuted pioneers and the latter-day elect who had been given special access to God and His truth.

If Romney had won, Mormonism would not suddenly have become the dominant religion of the United States. It would not have been equivalent to my personal move to Utah. But if the leader of our country were LDS, then we would not seem so exotic anymore to ourselves (which is part of what I liked about growing up a minority Mormon) or to others. We would be less a peculiar people and more just another flavor of Christian. Not only would our religion appear more mainstream, but it would become more mainstream in practice. (I’m not sure if this is a hope or a fear.)

And so I, as a Mormon, am relieved that Romney lost. We Mormons are still safely in the tributaries on the outside of the main stream America Christianity. On the borders here, in the world, but not of the world, we are free to work to improve our nation or bemoan its decline. Sure, we wanted the seat at the table, but perhaps we can find some comfort in familiar rejection.

60 Responses to Still Outside

  1. Kent Larsen on November 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Rachel, as someone who also grew up outside of Utah, I agree. Being an outsider has advantages–but then so does being an insider.

    I worry about what being an insider might mean. The majority generally isn’t as tolerant as it should be, and I don’t think Mormon history demonstrates that Mormons are that much of an exception. Perhaps if I believed that Mormons could handle it well, I could be more positive about the idea of Mormons becoming insiders. Perhaps if we as a people followed the gospel better….

    “I have many friends, neighbors and relatives who have fasted and prayed for Romney, and I am sure they are hurt and disappointed.”

    No doubt. We should note that the Church’s response after the election was to ask members to pray for those elected. They made no such request beforehand. So I will start praying for Charley Rangel, who I have voted against every two years since 1988.

  2. Meldrum the Less on November 7, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I reject his idea that it is good to lose. Sorry Rachel. Nothing personal.

    We can learn from mistakes and make the best of bad circumstances.

  3. Belle on November 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

    The era where Mormon’s were outsiders is over and is never coming back. We’ve had a candidate for President and as of right now over 57 million votes were cast for him.

    I am wondering if the Church will do some serious soul searching just as the Republican Party will need to if they want to ever win an election again. Both entities simply need to find a way to appeal more to women and to minorities. I think softening the stances on abortion and gay marriage would go a long way. The Republicans need to find an effective narrative on immigration, otherwise they will never make inroads into the Hispanic vote.

  4. Sam Brunson on November 7, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Interesting thoughts, Rachel. I do have one fundamental quibble though: I don’t think we are outside, and I don’t think we have been for a very long time.

    I realize that we’re still invested in the narrative that we’re outsiders, and that it’s us against a very wicked world. But the facts on the ground belie such a belief. Sure, we’re a religious minority. But we’re significantly represented in government, in the legal and business fields, in sports, in entertainment. That I’m Mormon didn’t prevent me from getting a job at a white shoe law firm in New York, the way that it prevented Catholic and Jewish attorneys from getting those same jobs half a century ago. Nobody prevents me from drinking at the same drinking fountains or otherwise participating in any part of the American experience. And there’s no indication that Romney’s Mormonism somehow cost him the election—he appears to have handily won the Southern evangelical vote, while, as a Republican, he didn’t have a shot at the Northern secular-progressive vote, Mormon or not.

    I realize that experiencing Mormonism may be different in Texas than it was growing up in suburban Southern California (where there were ~150 Mormons in my school of ~2,500). But I’ve never had anybody think twice about my Mormonism as an attorney in New York, as a judicial clerk in D.C., or as a professor in Chicago.

  5. Naismith on November 7, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I always try to hire a woman whether it is a doctor, car salesperson, plumber, whatever. But the female orthodontist that we went to was a spoiled, materialistic, horrible example for my kids.

    So we switched to a male orthodontist who was a great role model.

    Along those same lines, I would like to have a Mormon US president, but Romney’s views were not something that I could support (particularly on healthcare).

    I loved the church’s statement on the election.

  6. Sam Brunson on November 7, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Mahonri, of course. (I blog and occasionally read comments sections in news articles before I remember why I don’t do that.) And of course, some people think we’re strange. But strange =/= outsider—if my (long-ago) teenage years are any indication, everybody can claim outsider status if our criterion is that somebody says some darned thing about them. But IRL, my Mormonism doesn’t prevent me from doing almost anything, and its preventing me from becoming, e.g., an Episcopal priest doesn’t equate, I think, to any kind of outsider status.

  7. jennifer reuben on November 7, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I have to support Sam’s statements about LDS people not being outsiders. I have had more remarks made about my less than petite size than I have about my religion . I have found myself on the outside more because I am a women than I am a Mormon. Mostly people seemed to care about my abilities and qualification and even personality than my religion.

    Addressing the main article- any move to another cultural requires adjustments and Utah especially BYU has a very unique culture which sometimes is not comfortable to us outsiders even if we for LDS.

    Prayer and fasting for your guy to win an election? not good form

  8. jks on November 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I think the significant thing is that my children who like me are growing up as the only Mormon they have in all their classes at school do NOT feel as alien as I did. Feeling so incredibly different shaped my identity. Because of Romney, everyone knows something about Mormons now and it is not quite so strange/different/weird/unknown. My kids are having a very different experience of what it means to be viewed as Mormon.

  9. Christian on November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    May God bless and keep Obama, far away from us.

  10. Chadwick on November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I have experienced both of what Sam and Mahonri experienced. Doors were actually opened to me professionally, not closed, due to my affiliation with BYU and by extension my faith. But I’ve also sat at tables where people didn’t know my religious preference, who have made disparaging comments about whether or not I’m a Christian (luckily that doesn’t really bother me) and how they learned so much about Mormonism from that horrible play on Broadway (which I have not seen, and which I most likely will not see). Is it possible we are on the fringes of the inside, still fighting to prove ourselves?

    I saw a post on FB (gotta love it) about how someone’s daughter prayed to Heavenly Father Mitt would win. Now she was wondering how to break the news to her ten year old that her prayer went unanswered. That’s a tough one.

  11. Sarah Familia on November 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I agree that we’ve already lost our “outsider” status. Although we continue to have moments of personal persecution, it’s just not universal enough anymore for us to claim it as an identity. I enjoyed Joanna Brooks’ article today: http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/joannabrooks/6594/the_speech_mitt_romney_never_gave/. Maybe we have more in common with everyone else than we think. Personally, I like the solidarity angle better than the outsider angle, but that’s just me.

  12. Kent Larsen on November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Mahonri (6), our comment policy requires that you use a valid email address. Please correct this on future comments, or those comments will be deleted.

  13. Steve Smith on November 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I think that the fact that there were three individuals with Mormon background (Romney, Huntsman, and former Mormon Rocky Anderson) running for president just shows how integrated Mormons have become. Sure in many parts of the US Mormons are the weird outsiders. And being an outsider can have its advantages. I have certainly felt greater solidarity with other LDS in many different places that I have lived as a result of being an outsider. But in so many ways and different environments I feel like I am part of the group. For being a Mormon is only part of my whole identity and doesn’t define me in many areas of my career. In some ways declaring myself Mormon without acting as a missionary has helped me feel as an integral part of non-LDS communities.

    I am also relieved that Romney wasn’t elected, but for other reasons.

  14. stephen hardy on November 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Chadwick: Her prayer was answered. That is what needs to be explained.

    Mahonri: Follow the rules like everyone here. T&S has it’s reasons for the rule. It has nothing to do with “protecting” Rachel. This site IS Kent Larsen’s (and other permablogger’s) business.

    Living a religion as a “minority” vs as a “majority” person is a very different experience. I have enjoyed my Mormonism much much more in the minority status. It would be hard for me to move back to the Great Basin. Mitt’s loss allows us to return to relative obscurity.

  15. Rachel Whipple on November 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    So we’re not outsiders anymore, not really, but the outsider role is still a part of our narrative. So how long after we realize that that notion does not align with reality will we continue hold onto it?

  16. Euthyphronics on November 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Rachel, I grew up Protestant, but the outsider narrative was strong in our faith community. (It was all about how “real Christians” were a minority even hated and feared in the US). If that’s anything to go by, the answer to your question is “forever”.

  17. Cameron on November 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Mainstream is tempting, but I think we shouldn’t seek after it. Not because it would be bad, but because I don’t think it will ever be attainable. We need to accept that there is a special opposition team countering the church and that will never go away, nor was it meant to. We will always be minorities until you know who comes back.

    I don’t seek minority status, but I have realized after setting my hopes on things I thought ‘would be good’ for the church and sharing the gospel, that such hopes are vain and unproductive.

  18. Jax on November 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I only wish we were outsiders… we are supposed to be peculiar and “set apart”. I think by definition it is hard to be set apart from something you are integrated into.

  19. Raymond Takashi Swenson on November 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    When you get almost half of all votes cast for president, you personally are no longer an outsider. I am going to assume that the Romneys will use their notoriety in support of positive social causes like education (charter schools, vouchers), support for people suffering from cancer and MS, etc. For most people in the US, when they find out YOU are a Mormon, they are going to ask you if you know the Romneys.

    Back in 2008, some Evangelical Christian pastors worried that if Romney were the Republican nominee, it would “legitimize” the Mormons, and tear down the walls they have tried to build between their congregants and the Mormon missionaries. For most Evangelicals now, there is no reason to fear Mormons or hate Mormons. They may still be heretical, and so much so they are not fully “Christian”, but the Mormons now are inside a boundary line that includes people who are entitled to be part of the community of those who hold to “Christian values.” The people who still hold onto their religious prejudices and let them spill over into their relationships with neighbors and fellow citizens now know that they are in a real minority, and that the majority of people in Protestant and Catholic churches disagree with them.

    Of course, the secular Left is confirmed in its prejudices, but they have declared themselves enemies of Mormons on so many levels, that I don’t care whether they accept me or not. The important thing is that we have crossed a threshold that had divided us from people of other denominiations with whom we share common standards and goals for our nation and communities. This is a watershed moment. It may have broken down barriers to investigators, but more importantly it breaks down barriers to Mormon participation in common enterprises with many Evangelicals.

  20. Chadwick on November 7, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Cameron:

    So we’ll be on the outside until Voldemort comes back? =)

  21. Chadwick on November 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Raymond “When you get almost half of all votes cast for president, you personally are no longer an outsider.”

    Or, you got half of the votes because, given the options to vote for a Mormon or for a Democrat, slightly less than half of the population chose what they deemed the lesser evil (to coin a Mormon phrase). I’m not sure if this is the correct litmus test for insider status, but am open to suggestions.

  22. Rachel Whipple on November 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    RTS, someone else brought up that same point (that we are now accepted by evangelical Christians in a new way) in another conversation I had today. He said “Democrats” and you wrote “secular Left”, but both statements neglect the fact that there are liberal, left-leaning and Democratic Mormons. Where do they fit in your picture? Because as far as I can tell, Mormons are not a completely homogenous bunch.

  23. Sam Brunson on November 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    RTS, do you have any firsthand experience with this faceless Secular Left that is unredeemably prejudiced against Mormons? Because in my last two jobs, almost everybody I’ve worked with is either secular or religious left, and none has had or exhibited any prejudice toward me or toward Mormonism in general. While there are certainly individuals on the left who are prejudiced (Andrew Sullivan and Bill Maher leap to mind), I don’t think they get any right to represent the left generally, unless you’ll let me stereotype the right generally by reference to Akin and Rush Limbaugh. Which is to say, you’re fighting a straw man.

  24. Jeff Hoyt on November 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Sam;

    I know you asked RTS, but I can answer from my experience. First, when you have a multiple Tony winning Broadway play that ridicules our faith, that is revered almost exclusively by the secular left, I think you have good evidence. One of my business partners, a Catholic, went to the play. He told me that he found it to be entirely lacking in any edifying quality, and frankly felt badly that as a friend of mine he had participated in something that hateful.

    Second, I once attended a pro-abortion rally with my then small children, protesting their position of course. I let it be known that I was Mormon. Try that some time if you need to be convinced that the secular left hates us.

  25. Rachel Whipple on November 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Jeff, I think that you’d get that reaction protesting against a rally even if you weren’t Mormon, wouldn’t you?

  26. stephenchardy on November 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Several have included in their comments here that we supposed to be a “peculiar” people. This may be true, but we ought to make sure that we know what we are talking about.

    Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9 the following:

    “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”,

    similarly, the King James Version of the Bible says in Titus 2:14:

    “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

    Peculiar in both instances had a very different meaning when this was translated into the KJV. Peculiar is a financial term, with a similar root as pecuniary, as in a pecuniary interest, which is a financial interest.

    Peter is not saying that God’s people are weird. He is saying that members of the church belong to God. A peculiar people is an owned people, owned by God.

    Here is the netbible translation:

    2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

    So, it is OK to insist that we, as LDS, are supposed to stand out, or are supposed to be odd, that we are supposed to be different. This may be true. But don’t use Peter’s reference to a peculiar people to support that idea.

    Just one of my peeves. I hate it when we misquote scripture because we hold on to out-dated translations.

  27. Suleiman on November 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    We shouldn’t be too hasty in declaring the conflict with evangelical Christians over.

    See this NY Times Graphic:

    http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/results/president

    Click on “Shift from 2008″ and examine the Bible Belt. For some reason, while Romney carried the Southern states, the percentages shifted in the direction of the Democrats across the Bible Belt. Weird, eh? I hypothesize that a portion of white evangelicals could not bring themselves to vote for a Mormon, even if the alternative was an African-American liberal.

  28. Sam Brunson on November 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Jeff, a couple things: (1) Have you seen Book of Mormon: The Musical? I haven’t yet; that said, I’m entirely sure it makes fun of the Church. It also makes fun of Africans, as I understand it. In fact, Parker and Stone are pretty catholic in the objects of their ridicule. That said, they sincerely like Mormons, even as they find our beliefs puzzling.

    (2) How are people at an abortion rally representative of the “secular left”? For that matter, how do you know they were secular or liberal? There are religious people, conservatives, and libertarians who support the right to abortion.

    There is no monolithic “Secular Left.” There are liberals. Some of them like us, some don’t. Such is life.

  29. stephenchardy on November 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    RTS: “This is a watershed moment. It may have broken down barriers to investigators, but more importantly it breaks down barriers to Mormon participation in common enterprises with many Evangelicals.”

    It has been unclear to me for some time whether our church is growing; or at least what rate it is growing. I worry that we keep fishing in the same hole. We are pretty good at getting conservatives interested in our church. I can’t believe that the thing that we are missing in the church today is a more full embrace from evangelicals.

    Certainly we have a lot in common with them. But I think that we have a lot in common with people on the other end of the religious and political spectrum as well. I am not sure that there are that many fish left in the conservative white movement for us to reach out to.

    The barriers that I am interested in are not those erected by extremely conservative old-testament-oriented-eye-for-an-eye evangelicals. I am more interested in the barriers we have between us and Catholics (which we also are breaching right now) and barriers between us and “social justice” Christians.

    The Mormon Moment has allowed inroads and conversations on both sides of the religious spectrum. The Broadway play has allowed us to be looked at with more sympathy, acceptance, and understanding from that side of the spectrum. (I say this having not seen the play; I have only read about it.)

  30. Sam Brunson on November 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Rachel (15),

    the outsider role is still a part of our narrative

    That is absolutely true; it’s a narrative I hope that we can drop. To me, the more interesting narrative, and one that I believe better aligns with reality and with the direction the Church has been taking, is the narrative where we work alongside each other and those whose beliefs differ from ours to build a better, more Christ-like society. To the extent we hold onto the idea that we are outsiders, I believe, we sell ourselves and others short and, more saliently, we get in the way of our fully engaging and improving the world.

    That is, if we’re an embattled minority, why do we want to help the rest of society? Moreover, how can we rally them to our side to build a better society? But if we accept (at least in the U.S.) that we’re fully participating, on at least equal footing, we recognize the leverage and influence we can have for good.

  31. jeff hoyt on November 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Rachel – the comments were specific regarding disdain for Mormonism. I did get hateful and threatening comments in abundance, but when I revealed my faith the comments became specific.

    Sam – (1) No I have not seen it. I think Parker and Stone do have a healthy respect for Mormons if not our faith. My comment related to the reaction of my friend, who felt badly for his Mormon friends after being subjected to the show, which he felt was vile.

    (2) Really? A pro abortion rally is just a random cross section of people from acroos the political spectrum? Lots of evangelicals I guess if I would have bothered to ask. And many secular leftists are pro-life I suppose. I beleive pro-abortion rallies are disproportionatly attended by secular leftists because I have an above averge amount of wisdom. That is really all it takes.

  32. Brian on November 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    I think any claim to outsider status went out the window when Harry Reid and Mitt Romney engaged in a very public political flame war and little or nothing was made of the fact that they are both LDS. When the two most politically prominent members of the Church can call each other names on national tv and the primary media narrative is simply Democrats vs. Republicans, then we’re beyond peculiarity in a very peculiar way. I’m saddened that this transition occurred along a political front because I really believe we should be Mormons first, and Democrats or Republicans or whatever second (or later).

  33. Rachel Whipple on November 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    stephenchardy-Thanks for the primer on peculiar. I’ve certainly never run into that explanation before. It makes me wonder if I am unusual for having that gap in my knowledge or if my misconception is representative of a larger common misunderstanding.

    Thanks for the clarification Jeff. But I still have to wonder if they just became more specific because you gave them something specific to hold on to. For example, if you had said you were Texan, or Catholic, or any number of other things, would they have found a way to turn those innocuous categories into insults?

    Sam, I want to be part of the narrative you describe. I’m thankful we live in a pluralistic society.

  34. mapman on November 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    The way I see it, we are digging a hole for ourselves by trying to get to sit at the kool kidz table of the religious right. Evangelicals still don’t like us, and having us aligned with the Republican Party in the public’s mind obviously isn’t going to help. It doesn’t have to be this way. We are hindering ourselves when there is demonizing of Democrat Mormons. We are hindering ourselves when the only serious outreach we do is to conservative Christians. If we want to stay relevant, we need to learn to have dialogue with people like Muslims, secularists, and liberal Christians as well as Evangelicals while being more confident in our identity as a non-traditional Christian religion that has unique things to bring to the world.

  35. Suleiman on November 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    “…I really believe we should be Mormons first, and Democrats or Republicans or whatever second (or later).”

    That’s a wonderful ideal, but you’ve obviously never stood in the shoes of a Utah Democrat.

  36. jeff hoyt on November 8, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Rachel – You are correct that had I said I was Catholic they would have responded similarly, as i saw ample evidence that they hated Catholics as well. I doubt their hatred extended to Texans; that seems kind of silly, but I guess I could not prove it based on that days experience.

    Mapman – you are correct that evangelicals do not like us, but it does help at the margins that we share similar values. The point of course is not to get them to “like us”, but to advance Christ’s teachings. As to demonizing Democrat Mormons, I had two people today ask me how the Church would handle Harry Reid lying about Romney’s non payment of taxes. I did not have a good answer, but it surely seems wrong to publicly lie about a brother.

  37. jill on November 8, 2012 at 1:26 am

    I’m thrilled that nearly half the country voted for a guy who happens to be LDS. I see that as progress. It would also be progress for Mormons not to vote, let alone fast and pray and expect “our righteous will be Thine”. We all see through the glass darkly here but thankfully, God isn’t one of us. Be Still and know that He’s very much in charge.

  38. jill on November 8, 2012 at 2:06 am

    It’s appropriate to fast and pray for the one who IS the President of the United States. And we can fast and pray for wisdom to choose best–if there is a best. And the best choice won’t always be the person who happens to be LDS.

  39. Euthyphronics on November 8, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Suleiman @ 27:

    Another hypothesis is that changing demographics led to even higher black turnout in those regions than in 2008, shifting the vote leftwards. (That path of blue counties was there in 2008; it’s just got a bit bluer. See

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/10/02/162163801/obama-s-secret-weapon-in-the-south-small-dead-but-still-kickin

    for a fascinating discussion of that particular blue band.)

  40. Don on November 8, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Sorry if I find most posts here amusing. It sounds like my local Republican coffee klatch trying to figure out what happened. The enemy has won — again! Not to worry, over there are liberals, omg! And some of them like us! omg! Here is the newsflash that so many who exist in the great conservative echo chamber are missing: some of them are us!

  41. Sarah Familia on November 8, 2012 at 8:49 am

    #40 – YES! As a liberal Mormon, I find much of this conversation fairly obtuse. 21% of Mormons voted for Obama. Romney 2012 got a smaller percentage of the Mormon vote than Bush 2004. And Evangelical Christians were more staunch in their support for Romney than Mormons were.

    It’s time to stop seeing Mormons as a homogeneous block. Once we recognize our own diversity, perhaps we’ll be able to find a way to fit into society in a cooperative and complementary rather than adversarial way.

  42. noel on November 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Big Bird lives – still!

  43. Brian on November 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    “That’s a wonderful ideal, but you’ve obviously never stood in the shoes of a Utah Democrat.” As it turns out, Suleiman, I am a Democrat who grew up in Cache Valley. Perhaps part of the trouble is that so many things that are “obvious” really, in fact, aren’t.

  44. R on November 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I am so relieved on so many levels that Obama was reelected. Add to that that God sent a hurricane to tip him over the line. How can we not see the hand of God in his reelection?

  45. R on November 8, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    As to being on the outside, try being an anti 8 in a CA ward where the bishop had a gay dad.

  46. Ben H on November 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks for these remarks, Rachel, which speak eloquently to some important facets of what is apparently now the not-a-Mormon-after-all moment. Commenters who suggest that we have not been on the outside for a long time apparently weren’t paying attention to the primary battle, or to the fact that it was big news when Billy Graham came out in favor of Romney, or when he spoke at Liberty University.

    I agree, though, that there may be an upside. I’m not sure we are really ready to maintain our distinctiveness if mainstream society tries to include us too wholeheartedly, or even if just the more conservative and religious half does. I do think Mormons have a lot to offer, though, including a distinctive talent for constructive, directed pluralism that could be vital for addressing the deep divisions in America in coming years. Evangelical turnout and statistics on their support for Romney show that there are more openings for Mormons to engage constructively now than there were a few years ago, and we need to continue to be in the world, not just in the desert doing our own thing.

  47. Cameron on November 8, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    “I do think Mormons have a lot to offer, though, including a distinctive talent for constructive, directed pluralism that could be vital for addressing the deep divisions in America in coming years. […] we need to continue to be in the world, not just in the desert doing our own thing.”

    Bullseye!

  48. Suleiman on November 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Brian (#43):

    When was the last time you sat in a priesthood meeting in Utah? In the last few months, the meetings in my ward have come to resemble chapters of the John Birch Society. Members calling Obama the “anti-Christ,” saying that Mitt Romney was “at least a righteous man,” promoting the film “2016” in priesthood lessons, and one lesson even included quotes from Ayn Rand.

    Sunday, I expect more comments on food storage, emergency preparedness and thinly veiled comments about Obama starting the apocalypse.

    Was that part of the Cache Valley experience of your youth?

  49. Brian on November 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Suleiman, of course. I was told from the pulpit to by a gun, that liberals were damned, etc., etc., etc. The rhetoric in Utah hasn’t changed in 30 years, at least.

  50. Jim Donaldson on November 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I am blessed to live in an inner city ward where the political interests are sufficiently balanced that no one feels comfortable making even the most indirect political comment. No one can take anybody else’s politics for granted. All it takes is a walk through the parking lot and noticing the diversity of bumper stickers. So it just never comes up inside. You can only imagine how wonderful that is. We actually discuss church related things—not always intelligently, but I’ll take that any day.

  51. Steve Smith on November 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    I second Sam (23). I work in a secular left environment and have felt practically no prejudice against me for being Mormon. Oddly enough I have been openly discriminated against by Evangelical Christians, but never a secular leftist.

  52. Steve Smith on November 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Interesting to hear that Ayn Rand, an avowed atheist, was quoted in Sunday School (#43). The ward that I’m in consists of the whole political gamut. So politics hardly ever enters the chapel. In fact I never heard anyone once advocate for Romney.

  53. Suleiman on November 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    It happened in priesthood meeting. It was followed with a recommendation for all to read “Atlas Shrugged.” I kept pinching myself, thinking I was part of some anti-Mormon’s warped dream about the Church. That lesson was taught only one hour after our Bishop read the First Presidency’s statement on political neutrality.

    So I commend Brian’s vision of placing our membership in the Kingdom first, but after this election I wonder if the majority of members are capable of differentiating between Christian practices, religious principles and political ideology.

  54. Don on November 11, 2012 at 7:42 am

    No offense to anyone, but I find the idea of fasting and praying for Romney a little bizarre. Shouldn’t we have been praying for our country instead without telling God who the better candidate was?

  55. Sharee on November 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I was one of those who wanted Romney to win, but I didn’t fast and pray for it. The voters of the United States all have their agency to vote as they choose and God would not want to change that. Although I am not an Obama fan, I believe he is a good, decent man, a lot better than some politicians we have seen who don’t know how to keep their pants zipped. What we need to do now is pray that Obama will do what is best for this country. od bless America!

  56. Bryan S. on November 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    I’ve been in Provo during the election and the past 6 years (last 2 being non student wards) and at least in my ward (half family half newly-wed students/recent grad) no one really brings up politics aside from mentioning that there’s a Mormon running for president from time to time. In fact, all the horror stories I’ve heard about Utah I’ve yet to really experience. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky, or maybe as people seem so ready to accuse “I’m part of the problem.”

  57. SMS on November 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    (Re: #48, 53) The love affair with Ayn Rand that “informs” the political economy of too many Mormons (and other Christians) is simply a deja vu seduction–the latter-day version of God’s perpetual complaint against His chosen people (as detailed in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nephi, etc.). A condensed version of Rand’s philosophy can be found at Alma 30:17. For the looong version read John Galt’s radio address from “Atlas Shrugged.” Or if you have the time and endurance, read the book and monitor the skill of seduction. Then do your own comparative; (mine is at http://www.dejavu-times.blogspot.ca/2012/11/comparatively-speaking.html ).
    Considering the enduring influence of Rand, maybe more of us need to be informed enough to protest the co-mingling of Rand and God, which I suspect is anathema to both.

    A digital PDF version of Galt’s speech can be found at pp. 767-814, http://www.mises.ch/library/Rand_AtlasShrugged.pdf

  58. Jax on November 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    We’re still on the Outside??? Not according to this HuffPo article

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-mansfield/the-mormonizing-of-americ_b_2083125.html

  59. JR on November 17, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    My Stake President, who is a Judge, ALWAYS talks politics when he speaks. He rails against gays, Obama, and liberals over the pulpit. Very inappropriate. Where is the message about Christ?
    And I am tired of reading from members that if any member in the Church is a Democrat they are not a good member and not Temple worthy.

    The Church has stated, and wish they would emphasize again and again, that various political parties have moral values compatible with the Gospel. It would also be nice if Church leaders would come out and say it is alright for members to belong to other political parties besides the Republican party, and still be good members. Modern Church leaders who are/were Democrats include Elder Marlin Jensen and Elder James E. Faust and I am sure there are more.
    Elder Jensen said in 1998 that members saying good members can’t be Democrats needs to be obliterated. We need to respect one another because we are LDS first, and accept one another regardless of party affiliation.
    I have been discriminated against my whole life because of being LDS and being Caucasion. Living in a small town now in Arizona that is about 50% LDS I am discriminated against. Non-LDS hate the Mormons and members see me as an outsider since I am not from here and have no family/pioneer ties here the way all the LDS here have. Being a little liberal has not helped me in the town’s LDS community.

  60. Cameron on November 18, 2012 at 1:07 am

    JR, I’m sorry for your situation. Sound like you need to share a few quotes with people.

    I have been fortunate to never have such overt politics from a local leader, having lived in Utah Valley, Oregon, Washington, and now a conservative part of Southern California.

    I think a lot more members would be democrats if the party were more similar to how it was 50 years ago, but it has evolved on several principles that members see as dealbreakers that they can’t compromise on.

    I suspect that what Elder Jensen and other leaders desire is that member be accessible to all political parties and leadership, so that they can be an influence for good no matter the political landscape of the moment. This means claiming membership in a diverse group as a means of influencing it for good, rather than putting up barriers that isolate ourselves from being a light to the world.