Martin Longman of Booman Tribune wrote a post yesterday called “Why There is No War on Mormons,” and in it, he explains how the left responds to disputes with religious groups, particularly Mormons:
Mormons are a conservative lot and, for a lot of reasons, they’re a natural fit for the Republican Party. We shouldn’t forget, though, that the most powerful Mormon in the country is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat. When it comes to politics, I don’t like to critique people’s religious beliefs. Ask me what I think of a particular religion in a private setting and I’ll tell you, but I don’t want to try to score political points by running down someone’s private faith. I understand that a lot of Democrats (e.g., some in the gay community) feel like the Mormons are trying to oppress them and are very willing to fight back with tough language. I sympathize. I do. But even Democrats who fight back against Mormons do so with mockery and snark, not with incitement to fear. Even when Howie Klein, in the above cited piece, cites some history to show that the Mormons have been interested in winning the White House ever since Joseph Smith ran for the White House, he doesn’t say “egads, the Mormons are all out to get you and turn this country into a theocracy.” Yeah, Joseph Smith wanted to do that, but that doesn’t mean that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman have the same intention. Nor does it mean that Harry Reid will switch parties to support a fellow Mormon’s presidential campaign.
There’s not a “war” on Mormonism for a few reasons. Most American conservatives have no clue what Mormons believe. Also, there’s a reason the Florida Family Association hasn’t called for advertisers to dump TLC’s Sister Wives as they have All-American Muslim, a show on the same network: the family depicted on Sister Wives still fits the white, heterosexual family mold. What All-American Muslim has done successfully is highlighted a national concerted effort to marginalize Muslims here in the US. No matter how normal or ordinarily they’re depicted on television, conservative groups will still protest the program. No matter how quietly and privately they worship, conservative groups will still protest their right to build new places of worship. No matter how lawfully or peacefully they live their lives, many conservatives will still claim they aren’t doing “enough” to curtail religious extremism. The Republican party nominating Mitt Romney, a Mormon, won’t be a step towards religious tolerance on the right if it’s done merely in response to someone they believe is of questionable religious affiliation or a straight up covert Muslim. Because as the response (and lack thereof) to All-American Muslim and Sister Wives shows, it’s not what’s on the inside that matters.