by Max Brantley
Mormonism has been in the news in Little Rock recently.
So the timing is good for an op-ed in the NY Times by a Brigham Young University history teacher on the roots of anti-Mormonism. In short, he writes, "Making Mormons look bad helps others feel good." He opines that secular liberals are put off by Mormons' overt religiosity and thus they serve as a stand-in for general aversion to religion.
Anti-Mormon attacks by evangelicals have betrayed anxiety over the divisions in their movement and their slipping cultural authority as arbiters of religious authenticity. Some big-hearted evangelicals have recently reached out to Mormons with genuine understanding, but they must now fend off charges of getting too cozy with Satan’s minions. Because evangelicals are hard pressed for unity to begin with, and because they have defined themselves less and less in terms of historic Christian creeds, their objections to Mormonism might carry less and less cultural weight.
The good news for Mormons?
Many conservatives, in fact, seem more concerned with Mr. Obama’s political heresies than with Mr. Romney’s religious ones. It may be that Mr. Obama’s unpopularity will prove a key factor in Mormonism’s continued mainstreaming.