My Facebook friends are a diverse lot, including Obama voters and uncommitted types. I am glad for it. It helps keep me honest.
I never trust a person who cannot be friends over the political divide!
However, a small (but not insignificant) number of people I know from religious and non-religious backgrounds feel that there exists a Mormon conspiracy to seize control of the United States. The Church in Salt Lake City is using her influence and money to dominate. Mr. Romney is the chosen candidate for this plot.
At times this claim is supported by concerns that Mr. Romney’s public presentations sound a great deal like those of Mormon missionaries. I am also told that there exist former Mormon leaders or “insiders” who can testify to the truth of this grand conspiracy. The fact that amongst Anglos, Mormons have a high rate of second-language skills is also part of the problem according to these folk.
“How much,” I am asked, “of the CIA and Foreign Service is Mormon?”
My first reaction is to wonder if Mormonism isn’t, for some, a “fill-in” for the old Jewish conspiracy. Of course, nothing is equivalent to the foul fruit that came from that festering sour, in part because it was allowed to continue (and exists still) for centuries. There exists a personality type always looking for someone to blame (“the gays,” “the Jews,” the liberals,” the Religious Right) by attributing to them diabolical cleverness and power.
But let me, for the moment take is seriously, since it seems to be held by voters on the right and the left (with more on the left). In a close race, it might matter. No less a writer than Sir A.C. Doyle compared Mormonism to the Mafia, so this idea has a long pedigree.
There are five reasons to doubt this view or dismiss it as a worry.
First, one assumes that the Mormon truth believes in the truth of Mormonism. They wish all of us to believe this truth and so “conspire” to spread the good news. This “conspiracy” to change my mind, at the very highest levels of the Church, is not only not surprising, but welcome.
If I were a member of the LDS Church, I would naturally want to see my values and beliefs represented in the highest levels of government. Mormons that die for their country in the Armed Forces also have the right to be Commander in Chief. Mormon evangelistic success would, in a republic, lead to eventual electoral success. The existence of Mormon persons in both parties show that this has happened.
And so much evidence of a Mormon “conspiracy” will be conflation of legitimate desire to evangelize and enjoy the fruits of citizenship with more evil goals. This is obviously wrong and allows non-Mormons to demonize the community. Of course, this is obvious to me because many on the Left make the same weird claims and errors about Evangelicals.
Most “evidence” of Mormon plots turn out to be evidence of Mormon evangelism or participation in the two-party system.
Second, if Salt Lake City has been seeking a take over of America, then their global evangelistic campaign makes little sense. The LDS Church is becoming much more global than American.
Third, I assume that a Mormon sub-culture exists and that Mr. Romney is a product of it. He will “sound Mormon” for the notable reason that he is Mormon, grew up Mormon, and was educated by Mormons.
However, Mr. Romney also shows speech patterns and reasoning influenced by Harvard. Is there a Harvard conspiracy to govern America? If so, it has been more successful than the Salt Lake City conspiracy and (arguably) more damaging to the United States. I am confident Harvard University wishes to place her graduates in positions of power and know they plan on doing so. Whole departments of Harvard are dedicated to furthering this quest.
Fourth, what would Mr. Romney do for Salt Lake City if elected as part of the Conspiracy? The President of the United States is one member of government. Would the vast bureaucracy be turned out and Mormons put in the place? Would the Congress become supine in the face of dictats from the Apostles? Would the Evangelical dominated GOP go along with the plans of the conspirators?
Finally, absent overwhelming evidence of vast Mormon patience and centuries of planning doesn’t Mormon ability to run Utah and participate in several other states in a republican manner doom the entire idea. Salt Lake City has allowed Salt Lake City to become majority non-Mormon. What kind of conspiracy is this?
In short, Mr. Romney often sounds like a Mormon missionary because he was one. Sadly, he more often sounds like a Harvard grad because he is one (twice!).
The notion of a Mormon conspiracy is, therefore, unworthy of Christian voters in a republic. We should reject it strongly with apologies to our LDS neighbors. As for speakers making the claims we should demand extraordinary evidence for their extraordinary claims.