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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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Evidence From The Margins

Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:26 am, December 4th 2012     —    2 Comments »

When last we looked at evidence of anti-Mormon bias in the defeat of Mitt Romney for POTUS, we were noting that conservative voting on social issues performed better than Romney.  That evidence was strongly indicative, but not conclusive of an issue with Romney’s faith.  That was hard data.  But there are also things like “tone.”

Consider this story on Romney’s rejoining the Board of Directors of Marriott:

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has rejoined the board of directors of Marriott International, the parent company of one of the world’s largest hospitality, hotel chains, and food services companies, owned by a devout Mormon family.

[...]

Marriott International, known as the Marriott Corporation until 1993, was founded in 1927 by John Willard Marriott, a close friend of Romney’s father. At the age of 19, Marriott, from the Mormon faith, undertook the traditional missionary work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two years in New England.

Romney, who is also from the LDS faith, served on the board of Marriott International from 1993 until 2002, when he quit to serve as Massachusetts governor. He joined the company again after an unsuccessful run for president in 2008. He served until January 2011, when he resigned to be in the race for the White House.

The current chairman of the board, Marriott, Jr., is also a devout Mormon. In 1997, he was appointed as an Area Authority Seventy and member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy. After its split in 2004, Marriott joined the newly-created Sixth Quorum of the Seventy, serving until his release in October 2011.

In the eight paragraphs of a business story about a former presidential candidate joining the Board of Directors of a company, fully four paragraphs are devoted to the Mormonism and church work of the people involved.  That’s not informational, that’s obsessive.  It is also worthy of note that our “Mormon chatter” has dropped to level far lower than it did even after Romney got out in 2008.

It seems clear the so-called “Mormon Moment” that lead up to the election was politically driven.  All the coverage, discussion and examination was not because of a general interest in Mormonism, but becasue there was a candidate for the presidency that was Mormon.  Had the interest been general, there would still be some discussion.

Furthermore, given the conspiratorial tones of the article just cited it seems that the massive amounts of coverage, while not ostensibly about Romney, nor overtly prejudicial, did have a prejudicial effect on the electorate.  At a minimum it was a constant reminder to the electorate that Romney was, as the Ohio ad said blatantly, “Not One Of Us.”

What is truly sad to this observer is that the conspiratorial tones of the article cited above, the implied accusations of Mormons only dealing with Mormons, are the same accusations that were used to justify the casting out, and in some cases murder, of Mormons more than a century ago.   Is it not somehow deeply selfish that disagreement seems to result in such?

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