It seems weird to me, but last week I was driving along Sepulveda Blvd in Los Angeles on a main street in what Angelinos call “the valley. It is not far from the epicenter of the 1994 earthquake, and to my great surprise, the banners on the light posts all had banners advertizing the irreverent musical called The Book of Mormon. It pokes obscene, offensive fun at Mormons and their peculiar religion and belief. On the other side of the street, opposing light posts advertized the Donny & Marie Osmond Christmas Special.
It has only been a few days since the general presidential election here in the United States; Mitt Romney lost his bid for the White House. Some called him the Mormon menace, others the possible Mormon JFK.
Either way, it seems Mormons are front- and- center in the social dialogue these days. This time Catholics, Mormons, Protestants and even Evangelicals seemed to all be on the same page. Many support a conservative social agenda that respects dignity of the human person, marriage between a man and a woman, and freedom of religion.
It is not to say the process did not get a little messy or uncertain, Evangelicals have long claimed Mormons were not really Christian but cult members. We still do not agree theologically, but we now have a Christian accord that just a few years ago seemed impossible. In the end, we Christians, Mormons included (most people now realize Mormons really are Christian), unsuccessfully tried to put Romney in the White House. Now we are in the trailing days of what some term “The Mormon Moment. “
When all is said and done we will stand behind our president and move forward. Romney even invited the media to attend church with him and we have all heard the testimonials about Romney’s volunteer service as a lay leader in the LDS Church. There does not seem to be a backlash against Mormons now, at least to the same extent as was the case when Mormons and Catholics were said to be pulling the strings behind the successful passing of proposition 8, opposing same sex marriage in California. Now prop 8 seems to have gone by the wayside and it looks like the LGBT community has outsmarted and out maneuvered the Christian Right and left in favor of a secular definition of marriage.
The day after the election of November 7th, the LDS church released a statement congratulating President Obama. The statement asked the nation to pray for him, and thanked Romney “for engaging at the highest level of our democratic process.”
“Romney’s candidacy may have increased the degree to which Mormons are associated with the Republican Party (even though the nation’s second most powerful democrat, Senate majority leader Harry Reid is also a Mormon. Reid is number 3 in line for the Presidency of the United States if something were to happened to Obama and his vice President.) What happened is a partisan polarization in attitudes towards Mormons. Campbell co-authored a book called American grace: How religion divides and unites us.
This article was written by Mel Borup Chandler, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mel Borup Chandler lives in California. He writes about science-related topics, technological breakthroughs and medicine. He is a former member of the Los Angeles Press Club. Additionally, he has also served an LDS Mission in Argentina during Argentina’s “Dirty War.”