Would a Romney presidency be good for the Church?

Despite Pres. Obama’s improved performance in last night’s debate, I continue to predict, as I have for months, that the United States will elect a Mormon president in November. The stagnant economy continues to be the primary issue on peoples’ minds, and Romney offers a hope of a different course.

Mormons have been debating for years the issue of whether a Mormon in the White House would be a good or bad thing for the Church. There is some new information to consider that may make for worthwhile discussion. My take: there are potentially good things for the Church about a Mormon president, but also many potential things to worry about.

First the good news: there are signs that the religious right is unifying around the Romney candidacy. Billy Graham has even scrubbed a reference to Mormonism as a cult from his web site.

Clearly, the majority of right-wingers see Obama as even worse than a Mormon. The more cynical among you may point out (perhaps rightly so) that the true nature of right-wing anti-Mormonism has only been put on hold and that it is only a matter of time until it displays itself again.

But I would say there has been a subtle shift in the right-wing world that is really quite remarkable. I listen to a *lot* of talk radio, both local and national shows. Five years ago, the environment was very different regarding a Romney candidacy and the subject of his religion. Mike Huckabee played quite successfully on anti-Mormon bigotry in his campaign, and very few people called him on it. It was an ugly scene.

But the disastrous Obama administration has united the right-wingers against the larger threat, ie, four more years. So now right-wing talk show hosts rush to defend Romney against any attacks on his religion. They are quick to pan any hints of anti-Mormonism (quite rightly) as bigotry.

I would argue that a politically conservative world defending Mormonism during a Romney presidency is clearly a positive thing for the Church. It makes the Church more of a mainstream entity and helps us get over the “weirdness” factor that has interfered with missionary work since the 1830s. More people will be willing to at least be open to learning about the Church if it is seen as more mainstream.

On the other hand, there are many reasons to worry. There are always hazards for the Church with being associated with a particular political viewpoint. A “right-wing church” will potentially turn off a lot of people. The Gospel of Jesus Christ transcends politics, and a Romney presidency risks linking the Church to politics. This is why I must admit having Harry Reid as a prominent Democrat helps provide some balance (as much as I am embarrassed by Brother Reid’s many, many ill-advised comments and political positions).

Many people have forgotten how incredibly ugly the political environment was during the Bush presidency. Let’s be frank: the left absolutely despised President Bush and expressed it in extremely hateful ways. (In retrospect, I would like to point out that a lot of the left’s criticism of Pres. Bush was spot-on — I am talking about the environment created and the uncivil way the the criticism was expressed). Given that a President Romney would be ousting a progressive hero in President Obama, I expect the left to get even uglier.

So, with a Romney presidency we can look forward to a hateful left-wing mob continually and relentlessly using every possible tool to take down a man they will attempt to turn into Lucifer himself. Bill Maher has already shown us what to expect: endless “jokes” about Kolob, garments, the temple, Heavenly Mother and on and on.

I predict that such bigotry will become more mainstream during a Romney presidency. Now it is mostly on the fringes, spewed by Maher and Lawrence O’Donnell and a few other Mormonophobes. Soon it will be on the Daily Show and Rachel Maddow and will likely creep into the editorial pages of the NY Times and elsewhere. A Mormon president Romney means the normalization of left-wing anti-Mormonism.

Foreign policy thus becomes a critical issue for Pres. Romney. The left will forget all of the warmongering of the Obama administration, the drone attacks, the increased number of troops in Afghanistan and the killing of innocent 16-year-old Americans without due process. Unfortunately, a Pres. Romney is likely to continue such policies. Just wait for the outrage from the media elites when a Mormon president prosecutes the war on terror with the same fervor as Presidents Bush and Obama.

It seems inevitable to me that many wonderful, sacred things about the Church will be dragged through the mud in the next four years. The prophet will inevitably be insulted and the temple will be verbally desecrated.

Overall, it is difficult to argue that a Mormon president will be a “net positive” for the Church. And, once again, I marvel that anybody would want the job given all of the ugliness out there.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

12 thoughts on “Would a Romney presidency be good for the Church?

  1. Someone said it best last time around. Romney will disappoint as most presidents disappoint. If he tacks to the right, the Democrats will block him; if he tacks to the middle, the right-wingers will block him. BTW, if you’re going to make an assertion such as Obama has been disastrous, don’t say it as perceived truth, let’s have the facts to back up what you say.

  2. I know most people in the 1st world outside of the U.S. really disliked GWB, even before his first term ended, mainly because of his war with Iraq. The main reason I dread a Romney presidency is that I think he’ll start a fight with Iran–which will in turn make missionary work that much harder, as the most famous Mormon will also be considered a warmonger in much of the world.

  3. Tim, agreed.

    Don, I could spend the next 10 hours listing why I think Obama has been a disaster, but you would still just consider it *my opinion*. So, let’s just leave it at that.

  4. John Mansfield made a good comment here:
    about how there will be a window of opportunity for missionary work as many people in the world take interest in the American president’s religion.

    I think this may be a major factor in the age changes for missionary service. There will be a big surge as 18 and 19 year old men go out on missions together, and the surge will subside as that group comes home off their missions together, and then things will even out for male missionaries ( with a likely small but noticeable uptick in the overall number and percentage of men serving due to the new lower age allowing more flexibility, and less “loss” of men due to inactivity between their 18th and 19th birthdays).

    The age change for women will not only cause a huge surge, perhaps a tripling, due to 19, 20, and 21 year old women going out at once. But even more than a temporary surge (due to adding in 19 and 20 year olds all at once), a much larger percentage of women will elect to serve because now they can get in their 18 month mission, and still get home and marry by age 21 if they so desire.

    This age change for women will also go a long way to removing the “can’t get married by 21” stigma from the go-or-don’t-go-on-a-mission decision.

    So yeah, a Romney presidency will be a HUGE factor in new investigators and converts, and I think the Brethren took that into consideration in regards to the age changes.

    I joined the church in the early 80’s, when Donnie and Marie Osmond were past their popularity peak, and I encountered a few “Osmond converts”, and heard stories on how investigators and converts surged in cities after their concerts. A Romney presidency will have an even bigger effect.

  5. I see it this way, based on Mitt winning.

    If he does a bad job, no Mormon will be considered for president for another 50 years.
    If he does a mediocre job, no Mormon will be considered for president for another 25 years.
    If he does a great job, he will open doors for Mormons everywhere, as people will look to his ascendancy in the presidency (with his tenure as bishop and stake president) as a positive. People may not consider Mormons Christians, but they will see us as capable people to elect into office. Just as Howard Hughes never joined the LDS church, but loved hiring Mormons because of their ethic, so we could also see this happen with America, overall. (Harry Reid as an exception to the rule).

  6. ” A Mormon president Romney means the normalization of left-wing anti-Mormonism.”

    Yeah, you’re probably right.

  7. The obvious difference between the Osmonds and Romney is that the Osmonds were not polarizing figures. Romney is.

    Romney’s presidency and potential presidency may elevate the Mormon church in the eyes of about half of all Americans, but it lowers the Mormon church in the eyes of the other half. His comments about the “47%” and his slights against women–imagined or not–aren’t helping things.

  8. Tim, true about Romney being polarizing, but every national candidate is polarizing these days. Moreover, the church and the gospel are polarizing anyway with our moral stance, especially modesty, chastity, WoW, homosexualtity, SSM, self reliance, even basic stuff like the 10 commandments.

    These are the days that were prophesied to be like Sodom and Gomorrah, and therefore anyone who takes a stand for gospel principles will be seen as polarizing compared to society at large.

    The church’s position on SSM was/is very polarizing even among church members.

    Polarizing is not a bad thing in and of itself, if one is on the Lord’s side of the divide.

    “Who’s on the Lords’s side? Who? Who? Who-who?”

    (I always hear the Baja Boys in my mind when we sign or mention that hymn.)

    I also notice that is always the progressives/liberals who use the word “polarizing” as an epithet as if it were a bad thing in and of itself.

  9. I know not to believe everything I read but a Time magazine article about Romney was disappointing-all he cared about was money. And he keeps liquor in his house for his drinking friends/guests. Hmmm, can’t serve God and mammon but boy he sure was blessed.
    The article about killing innocent 16 year old Americans: unfortunately every administration has something to hide. During war it is ugly what is hidden. The Obama administration is not the first nor will it be the last where something like this happens.
    A Mormon president will mean all members will be judged according to what he does. Oh wait, we already are. According to someone who had dealings with Romney and Mormons in Utah, all Mormons are “liars, thieves, and scoundrels”. Sigh. Hey, at least people will find out the LDS church is not going to take over the country/government if Romney is elected.

  10. A very dark hypothetical scenario I have not seen addressed in the bloggernacle: Will terrorist organizations realize that they can easily target teenaged missionaries to strike back at “President” Romney? Many are not even U.S. citizens. Is this the “Achilles heel” of a Romney foriegn policy?

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