Anti-Mormonism, Past and Present

John Turner

In a contemporary application of his long-awaited and now soon-to-be published A Peculiar People, Spencer Fluhman discusses bipartisan anti-Mormonism in today's New York Times.

Fluhman begins with a concise discussion of nineteenth-century anti-Mormonism, then turns to Mormonism's current place within American politics. As he explains, political anti-Mormonism today finds finds a home on both the Left and the Right:

For the left, Mormonism often functions as a stand-in for discomfort over religion generally. Mormon religious practice offers a lot of really, well, religious religion: ritual underclothing, baptism for the dead, secret temple rites and “clannishness” (a term invoked in the past in attacks on Catholics and Jews) … When a perceived oddity is backed by Mormon money or growing political clout, the left gets jumpy … Liberals were outraged by Mormon financing of Proposition 8, the 2008 ban on same-sex marriage in California. They scoff at Mormonism’s all-male priesthood and ask why church leaders have yet to fully repudiate the racist teachings of previous authorities.
The Republican Right has a more complicated relationship to anti-Mormonism. Some conservatives also dislike Mormonism for its perceived strangeness, while others admire the contemporary church's pro-business image and social conservatism. A few evangelicals understand that secular liberals view them with as much condescension and derision as Latter-day Saints typically receive from such quarters.

Still, Fluhman is correct that "evangelical hatred has been the driving force behind national anti-Mormonism." At the same time, I think he's also correct that because "evangelicals are hard pressed for unity to begin with, and because they have defined themselves less and less in terms of historic Christian creeds, their objections to Mormonism might carry less and less cultural weight." [I thought evangelical anti-Mormonism was a major potential problem for Mitt Romney until President Obama announced his evolved stance on same-sex marriage].


Edward J. Blum said…
wonderful. can't wait to read this book!!!