Archive for June 13th, 2012

Anti Mormons

June 13, 2012

Now that Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee for President, he faces an uphill struggle to win the election. I know that this has not been a good week for President Obama, and he is likely to have more bad weeks in the immediate future. Still, it is hard to unseat an incumbent president. One of the difficulties Romney is likely to have is overcoming prejudice against his Mormon faith. It seems that evangelical Christians, in their usual close-minded, intolerant way, are reluctant to vote for him and are becoming even more anti-Mormon in their attitudes.

Oh, wait. I read that wrong. Evangelicals are just fine with Romney’s Mormonism. It is the open-minded, tolerant Liberals who won’t vote for him based on his faith.

Americans’ aversion to voting for Mormons has spiked since Mitt Romney’s first presidential bid in 2007 — and that the people most wary of Mormon candidates are not Evangelicals, but rather political liberals and non-religious voters, according to new research from a leading scholar of anti-Mormon attitudes.

The overall increase in anti-Mormon attitudes among liberals may be an unanticipated consequence of the “the continuing candidacy of Mitt Romney and Mormon activism against same-sex marriage,” the study suggests. And its findings may be alarming to the Romney campaign because among the study’s other findings is that voters’ perceptions of Mormonism are closely tied to whether they’ll vote for him.

According to American National Election Studies, nearly 35 percent of national respondents said in February they were “less likely” to vote for a Mormon. That’s up nine points from 2007, when Pew found 26 percent of voters expressing concern about pulling the lever for a Latter-day Saint.

The uptick in anti-Mormon voter attitudes may come as a surprise to those who predicted Romney’s candidacy would have a mainstreaming effect on his faith. But as University of Sydney scholar David Smith, the paper’s author, writes, just as President Obama’s successful candidacy didn’t put an end to tense race relations in America, Romney’s political assent hasn’t cured the country of anti-Mormonism. In fact, as the data shows, Romney’s rise may have lead to increased anxiety about his religion among his natural political opponents.

According to the paper, concern about Mormonism has remained relatively stable among Evangelicals, with 36 percent expressing aversion to an LDS candidate in 2007 and 33 percent doing so in 2012. But among non-religious voters, that number shot up 20 points in the past five years, from 21 percent in 2007 to 41 percent in February. There were also substantial increases in Mormon-averse voters among liberals — 28 percent in 2007 and 43 percent in 2012 — as well as moderates, who went from 22 percent in 2007 to 32 percent this year.

“Aversion to Mormons is still an important force in American public opinion, and one that seriously affects Romney’s chances even if he ultimately overcomes it,” Smith writes in his paper, available online here.

Smith is the author of a detailed analysis on anti-Mormonism in the 2008 election, which suggested that the belief that Mormons aren’t Christian was tightly linked to opposition to Romney among Christian conservatives.

I don’t have much use for Mormon theology, but the fact is, that Mormonism, like the more conservative Protestant sects and Catholicism, at least in theory, is a religion that makes demands on its adherents. That is to say, it teaches that some actions are right and others are wrong, regardless of what might be popular or expedient. Liberals, whether Christian, Jewish, or nonreligious have long ago given up the worship of God for the worship of the State and the idea that there should be any standards above that of the state or of the whims of the moment is simply hateful to them.

There are some Conservatives who are wary of voting for a Mormon.

Perhaps most potentially distressing to Romney’s campaign is the study’s finding that conservatives who said they were less likely to vote for a Mormon were much more likely to say they were undecided or would not vote at all in a contest between Obama and Romney. Pundits have been predicting for months that anti-Mormon Republicans would stay home in November; this study reaffirms that idea.

The paper comes with an important caveat: the survey data was collected in late February and early March — in the heat of the Republican primaries. At that point, Romney was the clear frontrunner, but far from the presumed nominee. Since his opponents dropped out, Romney has earned plaudits from Republican operatives and activists for uniting the right behind him with his combative campaign style.

I hope they will come around. As I said, I have little use for Mormon theology and don’t really consider them Christians. But, as Martin Luther is supposed to have said, “I would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian”. Whatever you might think of Romney’s religion, he has to be a better ruler than that fool we have in the White House now.

Swedish Tweeter

June 13, 2012

In Sweden, they allow ordinary citizens to have control of the country’s official twitter account for a week at a time. I simply cannot imagine how that could be a good idea. According to this report in Yahoo News, it isn’t.

Sonja Abrahamsson, describing herself as a “low educated” single mother of two from Goteborg, in Sweden’s west, provocatively asked what makes a Jew a Jew, and used crude language.

“What’s the fuzz with Jews” she asked in one tweet on the @sweden account, suggesting it’s hard to tell them apart from other people and then went on to joke about Jewish circumcision.

In another, she said not even the Nazis could tell the difference: “In Nazi German(y) they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never (k)now who was a Jew and who was not a Jew.”

She also asked whether the Nazis sought to find the difference in the Jewish religion, or whether it was a “blood-thing” for them.

The reactions were immediate. One tweeter wrote “in one day @sweden went from global Twitter superstar to PR embarrassment.”

Another suggested the Swedish chef from the Muppet show might as well assume control over the account, while others defended Abrahamsson’s courage to raise her voice in such a frank way, politely answering her questions and sending her links to read more. One tweeter, who said she was Jewish, said she hadn’t been offended at all.

Later, Abrahamsson apologised if she had offended anyone, saying that was not her purpose. “I just don’t get why some people hate Jews so much,” she added.

Maria Ziv, marketing director at Visit Sweden – a Public Relations agency that set up the project – said the Twitter account would not be shut down just because some people had been provoked.

If Abrahamsson’s comments had been racist “we would have taken them down,” she added.

The project allows different citizens from various walks of life to curate the account each week. Tweeters have so far included both a female priest and a lesbian truck-driver.

The tweets are not pre-read or censored, but personal political opinions are to be followed with the hash-tag myownopinion.

Maybe they should let him handle their twitter account

In her defense, I suppose Ms. Abrahamsson’s statements did not seem particularly hateful, especially when you consider the very real anti-Jewish hatred in some portions of the population in Sweden. I suppose if she were a Muslim and had advocated burning down synagogues, no one would have said anything.

Still, Sweden is lucky in that it is a country with a small, homogeneous, mostly sensible population. Imagine what kind of nut cases would turn up if we tried something like that here in the US.

 


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