A new study has confirmed what Via Meadia readers already know: as Mitt Romney’s candidacy has progressed and his political star has risen, anti-Mormon sentiment among liberals has also increased. BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins reports:
Americans’ aversion to voting for Mormons has spiked since Mitt Romney’s first presidential bid in 2007—and . . . the people most wary of Mormon candidates are not Evangelicals, but rather political liberals and non-religious voters, according to new research from a leading scholar of anti-Mormon attitudes. . . .
According to the paper, concern about Mormonism has remained relatively stable among Evangelicals, with 36 percent expressing aversion to an LDS candidate in 2007 and 33 percent doing so in 2012. But among non-religious voters, that number shot up 20 points in the past five years, from 21 percent in 2007 to 41 percent in February. There were also substantial increases in Mormon-averse voters among liberals—28 percent in 2007 and 43 percent in 2012—as well as moderates, who went from 22 percent in 2007 to 32 percent this year.
These findings are as unsurprising to us as they are disturbing. Via Meadia has documented a depressing array of instances in which anti-religious smears against Latter-Day Saints have been voiced by prominent members of the fashionable left. Partisan writers who would normally condemn such bigotry if directed at Muslims or Jews have found themselves unable to resist deploying the same odious rhetoric when it suits their political prejudices.
And these aren’t isolated incidents of partisan excess. A quick recap finds such utterances to be as prominent as they are perverse:
- In the pages of the New York Times, Yale’s Harold Bloom warned of an impending Mormon theocracy should Romney be elected. So did Salon‘s Sally Denton, relying on innuendo and a spurious “prophecy” most Mormons are wholly unaware of. (Never mind that the LDS Church barely even has a lobbying apparatus.)
- Also at the Times, columnists Charles Blow and Maureen Dowd mocked the faith’s ritual undergarments (the former, to his credit, has since apologized).
- Over at liberal stronghold MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell sensitively explained that Mormonism’s founder invented the faith to legitimize his own adultery by religiously sanctioning polygamy. This was, as Time noted, spiteful, ahistorical bunk.
- Million-dollar Obama donor and talk show host Bill Maher has repeatedly called the LDS Church a “cult” and “stupid” on national television.
- Democratic Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer tried to insinuate that the LDS Church’s prior practice of polygamy should somehow hurt a Romney candidacy, as the Governor’s family, he said, came from a “polygamy commune in Mexico.” Never mind that the practice has been banned by the Church for more than a century and has absolutely nothing to do with Romney, his life choices (and his 40-year marriage) or the 2012 election.
And this is just the beginning of the campaign.
Team Obama, for its part, has stated that “Attacking a candidate’s religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don’t think others should either.” But the campaign still takes Maher’s money and has turned a blind eye to the bigoted statements of its cheerleaders at the Times, Salon, MSNBC, and elsewhere.
The administration’s failure to censure these sentiments is deeply disappointing. After all, as a candidate and president, Obama has himself been opportunistically maligned as a crypto-Muslim by political opponents seeking to cash in on religious bigotry. Of all people, he should understand the cost of letting such hateful ideas go unchecked in the political discourse. If Obama can’t find it in himself to denounce blatant religious intolerance, who will?
Let’s hope this study demonstrating the alarming rise of anti-Mormonism on the left serves as a wake-up call to the many decent and sensible liberals of this country who know that bigotry is wrong, no matter one’s politics. Some, like Walter Kirn, have already begun commendably calling out their own. Here’s to hoping he will soon be joined by many others.