Mormons Feeling Stung By Their ‘Moment’

Suzanne Sataline, the Wall Street Journal’s crack religion reporter, filed a front page piece today in the Journal titled “Mormons Dismayed by Harsh Spotlight.” Although I spoke with Ms. Sataline several times over the writing of her piece (and am lightly quoted near the end), I was still surprised at the depth, breadth, and understanding of Mormonism it managed so gracefully. Mormons licking their wounds this morning as they contemplate the beating their religion took over the last year may find some small consolation in this sympathetic piece. (more…)

We’ll be right back . . .

Just wanted to leave a note to say that posting will be light this week.  Yeah, I know it’s about the worst possible time to abandon this project, as things are heating up all over the place.  Unfortunately, that includes my life, and there’s just way too much to get done this week for me to spend time reading the 30 stories a day I have to read to feel current on every relevant issue.  As always, pertinent guest posts will be accepted.  I’ll be back soon, and if I don’t show up before then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

High Quality Links

A few worthwhile articles have popped up in the last few days, which you faithful readers may enjoy:

First, the Economist spends a week in Utah investigating Mormonism.  It’s a somewhat surprising piece, because the short, punchy writing leads one to expect to see a few below the belt punches or factual flubs.  Neither appear.  The writer is fair-minded and willing to give the benefit of the doubt where deserved.  It’s a short and entertaining read, one that informs on America as much as on Mormonism.

Second, highly respected LDS scholar Terryl Givens has a short blog post musing on the meaning of Romney’s run for the presidency over the background of the paradoxes of Mormon culture.  Also well worth reading.

Finally, a breathtakingly open inquiry into the wide diversity of life within Mormonism, by Mathew N. Schmalz writing in Commonweal (“A Review of Religion, Politics, and Culture”).  Schmalz details a multitude of facets of Mormon life, showing again and again how varied Mormons are, and how willing to think critically, dissent, and break with orthodoxy when moved upon.  I strongly disagree with some of the opinions expressed by Mormons in this piece– but that’s just the point, isn’t it?  Kudos to Schmalz, who joins Dr. Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp in the club of outsiders who really seem to ‘get’ Mormons.

Of Note

In the past few weeks there have been a lot of things happening related to the topics of this blog– Romney and Mormonism. Most of them, however, are the type of thing more deserving of a link than the full-fledged-RomneyExperience-bloviation treatment. Here are some of the items most worthy of note:

First, there’s a very interesting, and somewhat high-profile battle going on over at the Fray, Slate’s discussion forum, regarding how Mitt Romney’s religion may or may not disqualify him from holding the Presidency. There have been a lot of intelligent comments from those who know Mormonism from this inside, and one of the Fray’s editors specifically invited R.E. readers to join in. As long-time readers of this site may know, Slate has not been particularly friendly to the rights of Mormons-running-for-president, so this invitation is a pleasant surprise. So please, make your way over there and give ’em what for. (And by the way, RomneyExperience hopes to post by tomorrow a full response to the insipid comments that started it all off, so check back soon).

Seeing the spike in interest brought on by the Romney candidacy, the LDS Church (decidedly neutral as to Romney) has ramped up its own outreach: launching a Public Affairs YouTube Channel, hosting a national online press conference, and announcing plans to send senior leaders to make presentations to newspaper editorial boards nationwide.  Perhaps taking their cue from this blitz, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and Kansas City Star all follow with positive, in-depth stories about the LDS Faith.

Elsewhere (and I’m really late on this, but in the interest of completeness . . .) lots of stories on how Romney may well be picking up traction among that mysterious, monolithic, absolutely homogenous group of people referred to as “Evangelicals.” Could it be that the media has found a new narrative for the next month?

Of course, what sparked the flood was this five-page letter by Mark DeMoss written to scores of prominent evangelical leaders, asking them to support Romney after considering the (inferior) alternatives. Given the buzz that letter started, and if its effects continue to snowball into real support throughout the ranks of the Christian right, it may go down as one of the most influential pieces of presidential propaganda in our lifetimes. Needless to say, it’s worth reading.

Regular bloviating to resume shortly . . .

RomneyExperience on Fox News, Friday September 28

SECOND UPDATE: You can view the video here.

UPDATED: Fox Says the story will likely be the second piece played, so look for airing around 6:04 Eastern Time.

Just a note for loyal R.E. readers, I was interviewed today by Fox News’ Major Garrett for a piece he’ll be filing tomorrow. I believe the focus is on the Rally for Romney that’s being held in Salt Lake tomorrow, but my comments were all regarding the Romney-religion angle.

I’ll post further details about exact air times tomorrow, but I’m told the piece will be shown during Special Report with Brit Hume, which I believe comes on at 6:00 Eastern. More details tomorrow.

Also, I hope to participate at tomorrow’s Romney for Rally in Salt Lake City. Send an email if you plan to be there, or would be up for receiving a fundraising call from me tomorrow.

Posting Update

Just a notice for our faithful readers: posting on RomneyExperience may be light this week, due to a recent arrival in the Bell family (it’s a girl!).  Normal posting will resume next week, but in the meantime keep checking back for posts by possible guest contributors.

New RomneyExperience Features: Resources and Attacks

Several new features have been added to RomneyExperience, accessible from the navigation bar at the top of this page.

First, the resources page offers various web and print resources that will be helpful to the public and the press in understanding Mormonism in the upcoming campaign. This page will be updated regularly. Tips or suggestions welcome. (Please forgive the temporary formatting problems).

Second, the attacks page is also up. This contains links to all of the most prominent attacks made on Mitt Romney’s religion over the course of the presidential campaign. Readers may click through to the attacks made by Jacob Weisberg, Damon Linker, and Garry South, among others. Over time, this page will come to be an extensive catalogue of the intolerance leveled at Mormons in the political sphere. Hopefully it will not grow too much larger.

RomneyExperience will also be responding to each of the attacks on that page. The first RomneyExperience rebuttal has been posted, refuting Damon Linker’s claim that a Mormon President would be a puppet for the Mormon Church. You can find it here. Other responses will be posted shortly.

And of course, look for new features coming in the days ahead.

Why RomneyExperience?

In the dialogue surrounding Mitt Romney’s candidacy, there’s a hole.  There are plenty of people saying things about Romney’s faith- that it disqualifies him, that it doesn’t, or that it shouldn’t come up at all.  But in the middle of the noise, there’s a vacuum of information about that faith.  Most of Romney’s defenders want to avoid the topic because to offer details about the Mormon religion in this context would legitimize the faith-based attacks.  This is partly true.  And yet, if the debate goes on without any real light being shed on what Mitt’s Mormonism really means, that black hole may grow large enough to swallow the momentum Romney’s campaign has so far enjoyed.  It has also become clear in the early stages of this campaign that members of the mainstream media find it difficult to locate reliable sources and information on this topic.

RomneyExperience was born to fill that void.  This site will offer general support of Mitt Romney in his candidacy for the white house, but more specifically, it will provide focused information meant to counter the ever more frequent misinformation being published in the political sphere about the LDS church and its beliefs.  It will also act as a clearinghouse for reporters and others seeking accurate sources of information on LDS topics.  The objective is to answer the question “What does Romney’s religious experience mean for his judgment, character,  policy positions and leadership style?”  Hence the name of this site (which also refers to Romney’s most valuable asset, his unmatched experience leading organizations to success).

This is not a Mormon apologetics blog.  Detailed doctrinal defenses may be found elsewhere, and RomneyExperience will happily point curious readers to such sources.  Rather, this site will provide accurate descriptions of Mormon beliefs designed to counter bigoted and inaccurate sources speaking in the political arena that seek to use this religion to tear down Romney’s campaign.  And if recent history indicates what’s to come, we can expect to see many more such attacks.

 We do not believe that Romney’s Mormonism should be paid any more attention in the present campaign than Giuliani’s Catholicism or McCain’s Episcopalianism.  However, as long as others continue to raise the issue and spread untruths about Mormonism, RomneyExperience will provide quick and accurate rebuttals and analysis.

 If you come across a story you believe deserves a response, please send a tip to [email protected]