Kathleen Flake, professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt University,
. . . [W]e the Latter-day Saints are again being invited by presidential politics to dither about Mormonism. Is it Christian? Is it American? Is it safe?
In 2007, when [Mitt] Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, made a presidential run, many people seemed to answer no to those questions. Polls showed that a majority of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of Romney’s church. According to a 2007 Gallup survey, the only people less likely than Mormons to be put into the Oval Office were homosexuals and atheists.
What is it that people dislike about Mormons? Flake’s column proposes that it is the church’s teachings on modern-day revelation, among other things, that make modern-day Gentiles grimace when the word “Mormon” comes up. While I agree with Flake that Mormons are often unfairly castigated for their “weird” beliefs while other American religions get a pass on their strangeness simply because those beliefs are so much more common in our society, I want to offer my own speculations on the PR plight of my LDS friends.
I suggest that the general public is prone to dislike for Latter-day Saints because:
- Mormons are overwhelmingly conservative and traditional, which grates on the left-leaning faction of the population.
- Mormons specify that the beliefs of their Christian cousins are abominations in the sight of God, which causes a theological divide that grates on their fellow religious conservatives.
- Mormons have a proclivity for failing to own up to the foibles of their religion, which grates on just about everyone. Flake’s column could even be considered an example of this.
I am not commenting on whether these are valid reasons for disliking Mormons. I am only speculating on what is.