November 18, 2011

"I’m a Mormon" — the Mormon PR blitz.

After determining that Americans tend to use terms like “secretive,” “cultish,” “sexist,” “controlling,” “pushy,” “anti-gay” to describe Mormons, 2 big ad agencies are hired.
[T]he church’s campaign could prove to be a pivotal factor in the race for the presidency. The Mormon image problem is a problem not only for the church, but also for Mr. Romney. For all their success professionally and financially, Mormons still face a level of religious bigotry in the United States equal only to that faced by Muslims.
Let's be fair. There's a much lower-polling religious category, one held in such abysmal esteem by the general populace that no mainstream presidential candidate admits he or she belongs to it, though I'm sure — they're so secretive! — many do.

ADDED: Here's a Gallup poll demonstrating my point.

71 comments:

GulfofMexico said...

Probably money well spent.

Nathan said...

Sadly true. I long for the day when an openly atheist politician can be a realistic candidate for national office.

Paco Wové said...

"Morman"?

Ann Althouse said...

@Paco Ugh. Fixed. I even checked over the post to see if I had that lapse anywhere.

It's like "merman"... like it's a kind of man.

BradK said...

Sith

rocketeer67 said...

I actually doubt there are any atheist mainstream Presidential candidates. Agnostic, however - that I could certainly believe.

WV: tractmen. I kid you not. Does Jack Chick generate verification words?

madAsHell said...

I've never met a Mormon that I didn't like.

Hmmmm....now that I think about it. That's really creepy!!

Joanna said...

Mormons still face a level of religious bigotry in the United States equal only to that faced by Muslims.

I dunno. Could anyone get away with writing this kind of musical about Islam?

Calypso Facto said...

There's a much lower-polling religious category...

Mormon v. ... Mammon? Many of Mammonist faith in politics.

Bob Ellison said...

"Bigotry" seems like too strong a word in this context. Most people with opinions probably know at least a little about most major Western religions. It's difficult to learn and think about Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, and the like without forming a few opinions about them. Professed religion is part of a candidate's character, and fair game for judgement on that basis. It's not like four in ten voters are out there burning temples and mosques.

bagoh20 said...

I'm not religious, but I find religious people less scary than most atheists. They generally seem less...religious. Most religious people seem to be able, and even prefer, to keep their religion personal, but the new agers and atheists are always evangelizing.

ricpic said...

Ooh those traditional values Mormons better hurry hurry advertise how withit they are, yeah that's the ticket for image polishing, NOT.

Ralph L said...

they're so secretive!
I think we can find the Progressive Jews. We have a sniffer for that.

ErnieG said...

Based on the survey, a 72 year old black lesbian Jewish atheist wouldn't stand much of a chance.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Well said, Bob Ellison.

I might have a problem with an "atheist" candidate, because, like Bagoh20 said, they so often just seem so religious about it. Also, the level of sureness bothers me. (I realize that religious candidates state their sureness all of the time, but it does bother me more from an atheist. Something about risk managment, I think.) I don't think I'd have a bit of a problem with an agnostic, even one who pretty much ignored religion entirely, though.

Bob Ellison said...

Professor, that Gallup poll you added is laughable. 96% to 99% of respondents gave binary answers to "would you vote/not vote" for a well-qualified candidate of x religion? What percentage refused to answer or asked "can't I say it wouldn't affect my vote"? Worthless.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Mormons are secretive and controlling?

I know a lot of Mormons. They have the biggest and nicest church in our area and are a big presence in the community.

My daughter's best friends in school were Mormon and even though she was not of their religion, they frequently invited her to various church activities and outings. There was NEVER any attempt to convert her or proselytize.

While the focus of the Mormon's in our area seems to be mostly church and family centered (how horrible!!!) they are also very prominent in Rotary, Chamber, charitable organizations of multi secular origin.

They aren't trying to take it over, control the organization and turn it into a Mormon 'cult'.......unlike a lot of atheists who just can't resist trying to control everything from Christmas to to a moment of silence at a football game.

Given a choice between leaders who are Mormon or Atheist.....I'll take Mormon anytime.

At least we know we will be well fed and they are planning for the future.

:-D

Joe said...

Mormons still face a level of religious bigotry in the United States equal only to that faced by Muslims.

Oh, bullshit. I was an active Mormon the first forty years of my life until the turn of the century and lived all over the US and nobody gave a shit.

If anything, this crap comes from a small group of Mormons who desperately want it to be true--they have a persecution complex. (This is a similar group who ignore the amazing accomplishments of the Mormon trek west and concentrate on the very small number of tragedies--a number that is far less that typical of the general westward migration. It's a "trail of tears" syndrome.)

Amazingly, I now live in Utah as a completely inactive Mormon and nobody cares.

Finally, there is nothing about Mormonism that you can't find out in thirty seconds on the web. The religion simply isn't that deep (which, I think, is part of the appeal.)

Anga2010 said...

The fascinating thing about that poll is that "Muslim" scored so poorly (beneath Athiest, even) that the percentage did not even register. It must have been like .00000001% orso.

Marilee said...

Those who would attack a politico for his religion should be reminded of the church Obama attended for twenty years. Don't think the Mormons "Godamn America".

Oligonicella said...

bagoh20 --

"... but the new agers and atheists are always evangelizing."

What bullshit. Religious people proselytize more than anyone, both in numbers and frequency. For every loud-mouthed and obnoxious atheist you can find, I'll spot you two loud-mouthed and obnoxious Phelps types.

lyssalovelyredhead --

"... but it does bother me more from an atheist."

Kind of the core definition of bigotry. You cannot accept the exact same (as per you) actions from an atheist as you can from a theist.

Dust Bunny Queen --

"...unlike a lot of atheists who just can't resist trying to control everything from Christmas to to a moment of silence at a football game."

Yeah. Just like those who introduced "In God We Trust" where it hadn't been before.

Look. There's a fringe nut group to each and every movement/belief/yada yada.

That people believe these edge-nuts have any significance other than publicity says way more about them than the actual massive percentage of the group the aspersions are being cast upon.

Jana said...

"The religion simply isn't that deep (which, I think, is part of the appeal.)"

Many deep thinkers have thought long and hard about Mormon theology.

I'm looking forward to hearing Richard and Claudia Bushman, two incredibly deep thinkers on Mormonism this weekend.

edutcher said...

The Mormons have been doing TV ads for about 20 years, so it isn't that bad, but most people haven't got the foggiest notion of what Mormonism is.

Joanna said...

Mormons still face a level of religious bigotry in the United States equal only to that faced by Muslims.

No, Catholics still have them both beat.

After 165 years and having proven our loyalty in countless wars, we're still second-class citizens.

jimbino said...

Way down on the list of possible presidents would be scientists and mathematicians, since some 60% of them are atheists, biologists and mathematicians being the least likely to have faith in a god. Indeed, among the "greater" scientists, only 7% believe in god.

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

Germany has a scientist at the helm, as did Britain under Thatcher. Amerika's religiosity, aversion to science and thinking in general make Chinese hegemony almost guaranteed. This is as it should be: religion ruins everything.

Scott M said...

Amerika's religiosity, aversion to science and thinking in general make Chinese hegemony almost guaranteed.

A statement which discounts the incredible strides in science and engineering that Americans have accomplished.

Joe said...

Jana, being a "deep thinker" doesn't make a religion deep. A big problem with Mormonism are the intellectuals like the Bushmans who turn molehills into mountains.

Nothing in Mormonism has the complexity of a large chunk of Catholic doctrines, which has 2000 years of intellectuals turning molehills into mountains, versus about 200.

Dad29 said...

Umnnhhh....

Only the Left brings up religious association of political candidates loudly and regularly.

Jana said...

"Jana, being a "deep thinker" doesn't make a religion deep. A big problem with Mormonism are the intellectuals like the Bushmans who turn molehills into mountains."

A declarative statement that says, basically, nothing at all to support your supposition. But, you live in Utah, I'm sure you're an expert.

jimbino said...

The Steven J Gould website article on non-belief among scientists is at:

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

Shanna said...

I find the 'i am mormon' commercial ridiculous. I would also find 'I am Baptist' or 'i am catholic' equally dumb. At least the old commercial used to be all about helping people or something. These are just 'i garden, i'm a mormon'. What on earth is the point?

Mormons still face a level of religious bigotry in the United States equal only to that faced by Muslims.

I think this is nonsense too. The only reason Muslims face any 'bigotry' to the extent they do, is because a bunch of them have made habits of trying to kill Americans by blowing up buildings and such. That's going to make an impression.

With Mormons, maybe some christians may not agree with their relgious beliefs, but the answer to that is generally simply to chose not to be a mormon, which is hardly 'religious bigotry'. Sheesh.

I've never met a Mormon that I didn't like.

I sure have! It wasn't because he was a mormon, it was because he was a jerk.

Scott M said...

Way down on the list of possible presidents would be scientists and mathematicians, since some 60% of them are atheists, biologists and mathematicians being the least likely to have faith in a god.

As I've gotten older, the mere fact of the existence of math has lead me to believe there's more to understanding than what science can tell us. Math is just there. We don't invent it...we discover it. Sure, we come up with the symbols and definitions, but the square root of a given number is the square root of a given number whether we ever figured it out or not. This has always seemed to me to form a gridwork that underlays everything and too perfect to be anything other than engineered.

jimbino said...

Smug Scott M needs to know that the Chinese are about to overtake Amerikans in publication of scientific articles:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/mar/28/china-us-publisher-scientific-papers

though I'm sure it will take some decades for this information to reach those who rely on news from the US News & World Report.

traditionalguy said...

The Mormon is a faith different from Christian faith, but Mormons are qualified as good and moral people that will and do serve us in leadership positions without fear.

The media exposes of Mormon heresies will be quickly used against Romney, but Mormons are used to that and will overcome it.

Romney will be OK unless he is sucked into arguing that the Mormon heresy as superior to Christian tradition.

Scott M said...

Smug Scott M needs to know that the Chinese are about to overtake Amerikans in publication of scientific articles:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/mar/28/china-us-publisher-scientific-papers


Why would you assume that I think differently? I'm appalled at every single advantage we give away and frontier we're not at the forefront of pushing back.

What's disturbing is your readiness to hang this decline in American scientific achievement on religion. Are you utterly positive it has nothing to do with the rush to mediocrity in almost all aspects of our society we've been doing for the last 30 years? How about the morphing of nationalism or patriotism (ie, the desire for American to excel)into something evil or at least suspect?

We are shooting ourselves in the foot and it has very little to do with religion. We achieved the heights we used to command with the same, or more, people calling themselves actively religious.

edutcher said...

jimbino said...

Smug Scott M needs to know that the Chinese are about to overtake Amerikans in publication of scientific articles:

The voice of someone who can't wait.

Just like the idiots who used to hijack planes to Cuba so they could hang with Fidel and ended up chopping sugar cane 14 hours a day in the blazing sun.

PS Red China's going to implode economically long before they come close to us.

Paul Zrimsek said...

So far today, I've learned that America's religiosity, aversion to science and thinking in general mean that China is destined to take over scientific hegemony currently held by... uhh, America, that religious place with the aversion to science and thinking in general.

raf said...

I find religious people less scary than most atheists. They generally seem less...religious

Indeed. Committed(devout)atheists are the most religious people there are; they have to be in order to see religious symbols everywhere.

Shanna said...

We are shooting ourselves in the foot and it has very little to do with religion

Absolutely (although I wouldn't use the publishing of papers as the measure of concrete scientific achievement personally). It all goes back to education, drive, and making an environment in which innovation can thrive. I don't think religion has been the issue in any of that.

jimbino said...

Scott M:

Your statements on math betoken your misunderstanding of science. Math is the language of science, not a collection of facts or algorithms. Just as Middle English is the language of Chaucer. You can't really appreciate the poetry without mastering the language it's written in.

Belief is per se inimical to the agnosticism required by science. Science rejects belief in believing.

Scott M said...

Math is the language of science

Math existed before the first written symbol was ever conceived of by mankind.

Chuck66 said...

I would say in relation to their membership and status in society, Catholics face the most hatred and discrimination.

I see Illinois has declared war on Catholic Charities. And watch any story in a newspaper about a Catholic or the Catholic church and then read the comment section. Its right out of the KKK views of Catholics.

Chip S. said...

@jimbino--I'm pretty sure that if we could get a single index of American religiosity, economic growth would be positively (or at least, not negatively) correlated with it. So I don't think you can blame religion for the fact that the US seems to be pretty bad at teaching math.

E.M. Davis said...

It's really convenient for the media to not plumb the depths of Romney's religion until after he has the nomination.

You know, when he needs some well-timed controversy.

jimbino said...

Chip S:

Amerikan education is the pits because it is public. Amerika instituted public education because of the threat presented by vast immigration of the Catholics, who needed to be "socialized" to conform to the prevailing Amerikan religion. Amerikan RC parents were making the mistake of teaching their kids morals until Horace Mann came along to fix that.

It takes a gummint-imposed morality to countenance outlawing child abuse while allowing (even encouraging) male circumcision.

Scott M said...

Amerikan education is the pits because it is public.

Our public education system was doing just fine up until the left seized it with both hands and started dumbing it down.

Paul Zrimsek said...

the real reason we're losing the lead in science is that we keep clinging irrationally to our 60-minute hours and 60-second minutes.

sorepaw said...
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caplight said...

E M Davis said:
"It's really convenient for the media to not plumb the depths of Romney's religion until after he has the nomination. "

Absolutely. They want Romney to run and be defeated and they will use Mormon belief and history to do it.
Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven) will be on non-stop talking about Joseph Smith and Mormon history the day after Mittens secures the nomination as will stories about the Warren Jeffs, the FLDS survivors etc.

Chip S. said...

jimbino--I don't think that the Chinese are publishing in scientific journals at a high rate b/c so many of them attended private schools.

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jimbino said...

Southpaw:

You hit the nail on the head when you said

When all of their scientists and engineers who could find a way to do it have emigrated?

The great hope for this country is to open immigration to the best and the brightest around the world. Most of them are Chinese or Indian.

As it is now, we inhibit their entry and deny them rights to stay on after getting the PhD at Stanford, while at the same time open immigration to any idiot spouse, child or parent of an Amerikan resident in the name of "family reunification."

When and if the brightest Chinese physicists emigrate, it will have to be to Iran, Venezuela or Cuba, I fear. Hell, we used to invite even Nazis like von Braun here to do physics. Winning the Cold War has turned into a bitter pill for Amerika.

Jane said...

Here's the thing: I have no beef with Mormons personally. Their moral code is just fine. They're lovely people, for the most part. But it is a bit hard to understand how they believe in the Lost Ten Tribes coming to the U.S. and founding a civilization of which there is no archeological record. This sort of thing doesn't exist in mainstream Christianity -- Jesus fits into a specific historical context.

How does an intelligent Mormon not leave upon recognizing the fact that the Book of Mormon just doesn't make sense? Most likely, he/she surpresses these questions because it would completely uproot their relationships with family and friends, in a way that swapping Baptist for Catholic wouldn't.

That's probably true for Romney, too. And this intellectual "flexibility" is probably not unrelated to his "flexibility" around political issues that translates into flip-flopping.

Chip S. said...

It's not the Mormons I fear. It's the Myrmidons.

Scott M said...

It's not the Mormons I fear. It's the Myrmidons.

You have to go for the ankle. You've got a 50% chance of getting it right.

jimbino said...

Yo Jane,

You say

How does an intelligent Mormon not leave upon recognizing the fact that the Book of Mormon just doesn't make sense?

but do you think that talking snakes and donkeys, assumptions, immaculate conceptions, virgin births and transubstantiations, not to mention resurrections, angels, escaping from the belly of a fish and whacking off the tip of babies' peckers to cement your covenant with a malicious god, make sense?

sorepaw said...
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Joe said...

Seriously Jana, that's the extent of your argument? You do realize that your argument cuts both ways--I suppose since you are going to listen to the Bushmans you must be right!

You miss the point. Mormonism is actually a simple, elegant religion with some rather extreme silliness thrown in. That's not good enough for a minority of Mormons, including Farms and Sunstone--they want something that has all the answers, they want a sophisticated religion. This isn't unusual; all religions have to deal with this and all religions get into problems because of it (theologically, they usually end up painting themselves into a corner.) On top of that Mormon leaders also can't resist tinkering--the notion that we really are and must be free agents is too darn inconvenient when it comes time to dictate the Mosaic-like law.

jimbino said...

Yo Joe,

You say,

That's not good enough for a minority of Mormons, including Farms and Sunstone--they want something that has all the answers, they want a sophisticated religion.

"Sophisticated religion" being an oxymoron, weren't you looking for an adjective more like "byzantine," "kafkaesque," "reason-defying" or "totally unbelievable"?

damikesc said...

How does an intelligent Mormon not leave upon recognizing the fact that the Book of Mormon just doesn't make sense?

I ask the same of AGW advocates on a regular basis.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Math is the language of science"

Math existed before the first written symbol was ever conceived of by mankind.

Math is likely the Galactic language in which we will be able to connect with alien beings (if they exist or even want to converse). The fibonacci sequence is the same no matter what language you speak.

Some say that God is the original mathematician.

Scott M said...

Some say that God is the original mathematician.

That was my point.

The Crack Emcee said...

After determining that Americans tend to use terms like “secretive,” “cultish,” “sexist,” “controlling,” “pushy,” “anti-gay” to describe Mormons,...

Now why would anyone do that?

Wait a beat. Wait for it,...

The Crack Emcee said...

lyssalovelyredhead,

I might have a problem with an "atheist" candidate, because, like Bagoh20 said, they so often just seem so religious about it. Also, the level of sureness bothers me.

Incredible. So if I'm sure - 100% positive - more people strap their families in old cars to risk crossing the ocean for a shot at life in America, than Americans taking the same risk to go the other way for "free" healthcare, you get terrified?

Rush Limbaugh makes this point often - how someone's certainty can set the less sure (less intelligent?) on edge. Even when presented with clear and verifiable evidence. It's like we're captives to your own insecurity - which you'll refuse to acknowledge.

I can say - without a second's doubt - there is no God. Not now, never was, and never will be. I's just a bunch of rubes yappin' about feelings of transcendence they're not bright enough (or interested enough) to explain or explore fully.

What's scary is - even in the modern era with so-called educated folks - believers won't stop talking about it, not the replies of atheists, finally, after these thousands of years of societal indoctrination.

The Crack Emcee said...

raf,

Committed(devout)atheists are the most religious people there are; they have to be in order to see religious symbols everywhere.

While I wouldn't consider myself a "Committed(devout)atheist" (I'm not in the Dawkins camp) I have to agree, no, there's no reason - after thousands of years of societal indoctrination and monuments built to this delusion (churches, temples, mosques, etc.) there's absolutely no reason for atheists to see anything at all, anywhere.

Where do you guys come up with this stuff? Are you so blind to the world around you to make such a statement? Dissing atheists for being aware of the madness around us - and the totems you've erected to it, as well as all the crosses, crystals, astrology in the papers, and other BS you carry around to prove you're "down" with it - is to be aggressively delusional yourself.

I think the problem isn't atheists being aware of their surroundings, but your own unwillingness to look in the mirror to see if a fool is staring back.

The Crack Emcee said...

Chip S.,

I don't think you can blame religion for the fact that the US seems to be pretty bad at teaching math.

Science, yes, but not math. 2+2 = 4. That thing in the sky?

A sign Jesus is returning,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Jane,

Here's the thing: I have no beef with Mormons personally. Their moral code is just fine. They're lovely people, for the most part. But it is a bit hard to understand how they believe in the Lost Ten Tribes coming to the U.S. and founding a civilization of which there is no archeological record.

Then, Sister, you do NOT understand religion itself. I don't care what era it was supposed to have happened in, if you don't buy that Jesus walked on water, or fed a multitude with a few loaves of bread and fishes, then you're "lost."

That's how it "works."

Joseph Smith's yammerings are no better or worse. Actually, I guess they are better because they're more easily debunked.

The Crack Emcee said...

Joe,

You miss the point. Mormonism is actually a simple, elegant religion with some rather extreme silliness thrown in.

Oh, please. I own a Book of Mormon and it's a jumbled collection of all the world's major religions, cobbled together as though held with duct tape.

And some extreme silliness thrown in.

sorepaw said...
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Wide Mouth said...

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