Romney’s Mormonism: Socialism, Progressivism, Xenophobia

A caller on Diane Rehm’s NPR show (I think it was October 11) offered an insightful observation. And the two guests, mainstream talking heads, were utterly clueless in typical fashion.

The caller commented on how Ryan spoke of Romney’s charity. The caller thought that charity was great and that it was great that Mormons take care of their own, but he wondered how much Romney donates to charities that aren’t Mormon.

In a president, you want someone who will be concerned about everyone, not just those seen as part of their group. This is the fundamental problem about Romney honestly admitting that he thinks 47% of Americans are unworthy of his concern and compassion, that therefore he is genuinely only interested in representing the upper classes and other groups of people he happens to personally identify with.

What really caught my attention was something else the caller said. He pointed out that the Mormons are socialist within themselves. This is common on the right. Conservatives are fine with socialism for people within their own group, but not for those not part of their group.

This is where the cluelessness of mainstream talking heads comes in. They denied this was socialism. How can smart people be so ignorant about such basic issues. Of course, it’s socialism. Just because it doesn’t fit Cold War anti-communist propaganda doesn’t mean it can’t be socialism. Most early socialists in America were religious and limited their socialism to the in-group.

This is clueless in another way. The guests argued that the Mormon church isn’t a government. Of course, the Mormon church is a government.

Mormons have always kept their church governance closely tied with political governance. In Mormon Utah, the church essentially is the government, in fact originally tried to create a government separate from the  United States. You move to a Mormon town and you will be forced to follow Mormon-based laws. Furthermore, tithing is a tax, not a choice if you want to be a Mormon just as federal taxes aren’t a choice if you want to be American, although both being a Mormon and being American are choices that one can always choose otherwise. Mormons don’t even have a choice in how their church government spends their money, certainly less choice than an American citizen for at least democracy allows for one to vote in or out one’s leaders.

Besides, the right all the time uses the government to fund their religious programs. Churches get tax exemptions and many religious organizations get government funding. For example, the religious right voted in Bush who then rewarded them by funding abstinence only sex education. Compassionte conservatism is ultimately religious ‘socialism’ being implemented in secular politics (‘socialism’ in the broad sense as defined by conservatives).

This is all made clear by looking at history. Back when immigration was low and there were fewer foreigners\outsiders, Mormons were strong supporters of the social welfare programs of Progressivism. Now that immigration is at a high point, Mormons vote against the very programs they once voted for. Such xenophobia is sadly predictable, and it is equally true for the rest of the religious right.

2 thoughts on “Romney’s Mormonism: Socialism, Progressivism, Xenophobia

  1. Harkening back to your previous post on Evangelicals, what’s really striking to me is how Romney seems to be collecting every single Evangelical vote that George Bush did in 2000 and 2004. Prior to Romney, I’m pretty sure that just about all Evangelicals who had an opinion would have agreed that Mormonism was a cult. After all, these are the same people that consider Catholics heathens, rather than kissing cousins, right?

    The political strategy seems to be to play up Romney’s religious enthusiasm, while downplaying (actually ignoring) the bizarre differences between Christianity and the Mormon religion to which his extremism is directed. I think the Evangelicals are encouraged to see Romney as “very religious, just like me.” Contrast this with their disdain for President Obama, even though he’s a practicing Christian, loyal husband and father, and leader of the political party which aligns themselves with the social welfare policies of Jesus Christ. Of course, these are the same people that often hate all Muslims because they’re regarded as religious extremists, so once again we can see the usual hypocrisy and doctrinal expediency that is becoming the hallmark of the Evangelical crowd. For a group that defines themselves by their reliance on the Bible as the divine authority around which to organize their lives, it seems rather obvious to me that they have allowed themselves to become a social and political movement, rather than a religious one. How ironic is it that the Evangelicals, by continuously attempting to inject religion into politics, have achieved exactly the opposite.

    • It is very interesting.

      What unifies the religious right isn’t Christianity or any particular set of beliefs and values. Rather, it is radical righteousness that unifies them. That can forgive someone being a heretic, but they can’t forgive someone for not being radically righteous.

      If fundamentalist Christians were to be honest, they’d have to admit that Mormons aren’t Christians. Sure, Mormons believe in Jesus. But then again, so do Muslims. Give the fundamentalist Christians long enough and you’ll see them aligning with the fundamentalist Muslims.

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