November 14, 2008

Mormons as conservative New England Puritans

An irony of the furious displays of hatred by SWPLs toward Mormons over the last ten days -- in the demonology of the conventional wisdom, "outside agitators" from mighty Utah hijacked the democratic process in tiny, impoverished, defenseless California and brainwashed white Californians into voting against gay marriage -- is that the Democrats had had a chance to make inroads with Mormons, which they've now blown. Indeed, the GOP share of the Presidential vote in Utah fell by something like 9 points from 2004 to 2008. I suspect, perhaps without much evidence, that the rude handling of the Mormon paladin Mitt Romney in the GOP primaries last winter had something to do with Utah's decline in enthusiasm for the GOP.

But, the possibility of sizable long-term Mormon defections to the Democrats, which seemed plausible on the morning of November 5th, is likely now gone for decades, now that Mormons have taken on the Emmanuel Goldstein role for SWPLs.

On GNXP, Razib has a thought-provoking post on more fundamental issues about Mormons. The comments are excellent, too. In general, Mormonism functions as a sort of Swedish welfare state without the state for church members.

Mormon America is a representative of the New England Puritan cultural tradition in "Red America." ...

When I say Mormons are "Puritan," I'm not saying this as a figure of speech; Mormon America is to a great extent both a direct cultural and genetic descendant of New England Puritanism! The proportion of "English" ancestry in Mormon America is somewhat exaggerated by the fact that missions were sent to England and so you had direct migrants from Europe to Utah. But this can't explain the whole of the phenomenon, American Mormonism began as a religion of Greater New England. First in upstate New York, and later in northern Ohio. Its relocation to the Midwest was problematic for a host of reasons, but the fact that they were often neighbors of people whose origins were in the South and they were quite clearly Yankees probably exacerbated tensions.

Mormonism is a very communitarian religion, not unexpected from a faith with Puritan origins. Mormon settlements in Utah were laid out like New England towns, as opposed to isolated yeoman farmsteads. Brigham Young socialized water usage to optimally allocate resources for irrigation. A tendency toward campaigns for temperance and high fertility were features of New England society. Mormons are famously fertile (relatively) and do not drink. Â In Wisconsin administrators preferred Yankee settlers because they were more likely to be willing to raise money for pubic goods such as schools than migrants from the South. Mormons may be low-tax Republicans, but those in good standing tithe a very large proportion of their income obligately in their private life (10% from what I recall), while the church runs itself like a corporation which has economies of scale.

Unlike evangelical Christians in the South, Mormons do not acceptwith resignation that many youth may "raise hell" before settling down. Mormons do not accept the Protestant contention that salvation is through faith alone. Behavior matters. Social pathologies and the personal disorder which has been a feature of Southern cultural life since its inception are not features of Mormon America, which reflects Puritan fixation on public order as a check on private liberty.

Over the past generation Mormons and Southern Protestants have entered into a de facto alliance because of their social traditionalism. The recent controversy over Proposition 8 in California will likely result in even more esteem for the Mormon church from structurally suspicious evangelicals (they do not believe Mormons are Christian, and resent that they claim that they are Christian). In other ways Mormons have come to identify themselves with conservative Protestant America, which to a great extent means Southern America. There are data which show that while 70% of Brigham Young University students rejected Creationism in 1930, 70% now accept it. I believe this is due to cultural influence from evangelical Protestantism, with whom Mormons are now politically allied.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

31 comments:

Robert said...

"Its relocation to the Midwest was problematic for a host of reasons, but the fact that they were often neighbors of people whose origins were in the South and they were quite clearly Yankees probably exacerbated tensions."

Nauvoo, IL is in a part of the Midwest that was settled primarily by people from the south (as opposed to other parts of the Midwest that were settled first by New Englanders then by Northern European immigrants). Nauvoo is of course the place that the Mormon settled before moving on to Utah and were met there with quite a bit of hostility.

travis said...

Not that I attended many church socials, but I never heard anyone talk about Romney's religious beliefs in the weeks leading up to the South Carolina primary. I think most people didn't know what to make of him. He flooded the air waves with commercials, including one where he's wearing shorts and sneakers and running up a mountain. Such behavior strikes your average southerner as peculiar, so most of the people who might have been inclined to support Romney voted for the more leisurely and dignified Fred Thompson.

Jim Bowery said...

A while back I went out to a beach neaer LA, with a recent winner of the Miss Las Vegas title. There was a huge crowd of Indians on the beach.

She looked at them and uttered one word almost under her breath: "Lamanites".

miss marple said...

I wasn't aware that evangelicals were Protestants. I guess that's why I see so many streets with multiple churches from similar denominations: Evangelical Lutheran vs Lutheran, Evangelical Episcopal vs Episcopal, etc. Not to mention those Evangelical Unitarians, those guys are scary as hell.

Thanks to Razib, I'm now aware of a truth about my own culture that was obscured.

All Christian churches that aren't Catholic are simply based on heresies of the original Catholic theology. There are no other sources of Christianity other than the Catholic church.

Oh yes, all Southerners are originally Scots-Irish Catholic heretics as well. There weren't any other gene pools represented in say Texas or Louisiana other than the Scots-Irish until WWII. The man is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

On the political issue, the liberals have really blown it, haven't they? The black vote in Florida just happened to be the same as in California: 70% versus 71%.
In Florida, the anti-gay marriage completely phoned it in because the result was such a foregone conclusion.

BTW, I read somewhere that in California, blacks made up 10% of the electorate versus 6% four years ago.

This sure gives Mormons good conservative cred. Did Catholics wimp out or something?

I looked at Romney's ancestry during the beginning of the election as he bore a strong resemblance to George H.W. Bush with whom I share common ancestry. Romney also happened to share the same ancestors that I did with Bush (I'm holding a squirming baby and will look more into this later). Anyways, Romney is not unique at all amongst Mormons and I've shared Razib's observations since studying Romney's and others and the myriad ways people left and built and shaped new societies.

Anonymous said...

I dug up and found the following on Romney's ancestry and am using him since he seems to be a pretty emblematic Mormon as well as being famous (plus Razib used him, too). (http://www.wargs.com/political/) Please note, the person states up front that it was a rough draft.

He is American as apple pie. He can even claim Mayflower
ancestry.

One notable ancestor is Rebecca Towne Nurse who was killed in
the Salem witch trials.

Common ancestry w/ Bush is Rev. John Lathrop and Hannah House of
Barnstable Massachusetts.

According to this site also, he shares common ancestry w/
Presidents Nixon and Carter:
William Almy and Audrey Barlow of Portsmouth

Common ancestor with President Harding is Phillipa Greene
of Rhode Island
(doesn't say who husband is)

The following is a comparison of the admixtures (on paper of
course) of Bush, paragon of New England Wasp, and Romney. If this were correct and traits descended equally from parents (which they don't), they would be extremely similar with Romney perhaps having a little more Celtic influence. As it is, I believe my lying eyes: these two men would fit in together in any family photo.

George H.W. Bush is
39.099 121 093 75 % English
25.585 937 5 % Unknown(presumably English)
12.109 375 % German
4.687 5 % Unknown (presumably German)
3.906 25 % Unknown
3.747 558 593 75 % Welsh
3.173 828 125 % Irish
2.075 195 312 5 % French
1.660 156 25 % Scottish
1.562 5 % Italian
0.781 25 % Unknown (presumably Scottish)
0.732 421 875 % Dutch
0.390 625 % Moravian
0.390 625 % Unknown (presumably Swedish)
0.048 828 125 % Belgian
0.048 828 125 % Swedish

Romney's ancestry is a rough draft and not nearly as exhaustive
as Bush's, but is pegged at:

40.625 % English
28.125 % North American Colonial
18.75 % Scottish
12.5 % German

With "North American Colonial" being "probably" mostly English.

Harry Baldwin said...

I just listened to "Science and Religion," by Prof. Lawrence M. Principe, one of those "Great Courses" lecture series on CD you can borrow from the library. It mentioned that evolution was far more widely accepted among Christians 80-90 years ago than it is today. Unfortunately, as it's an audio course I can't give the precise percentages he quoted.

Henry Canaday said...

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., called his Massachusetts ancestors "a small band of provincial heretics." Maybe that is what American exceptionalists have always been, functional crackpots.

From Scandinavia to England to New England to Utah. You would need independence of thought, but a willingness to conform to group rules and control weak or self-destructive impulses to survive.

The only Mormon I know, of the Jack persuasion and Scandinavian parentage, is unsentimental about his country and the human race, but fiercely loyal to family and friends, even though these are non-Mormon. I guess the tribal instincts endure even after the tribe has been left behind.

Razib said...

miss marple, yes, i'm brilliant, and you're either dull or incoherent ;-)

georgesdelatour said...

Sociologist: "So, who did you vote for, x or y?"
Human: "I voted for x. I think x has the better policies for getting us out of the recession. That's why I chose x."
Sociologist: "No, that's not why you voted for x. We sociologists know for certain that's not why you voted for x. We know that people of your age, ethnicity and social class will always vote for x's party. It's a sociological generalization that admits of no exceptions. You think you have free will, but you don't. You are, in fact, a drone. If, instead of x, x's party had put up a pantomime horse as a candidate, you'd have voted for the pantomime horse."
Human: "No, no. I really really took the trouble to research both candidates policies, and I was perfectly prepared to vote for y. It was a close call. I even liked y's policies on some issues more than x's. But on the economy, I genuinely thought x was more likely to sort out the mess".
Sociologist: "These are just post hoc rationalizations you construct, to hide the fact that you are a zombie."

Dyork said...

Indeed, the GOP share of the Presidential vote in Utah fell by something like 9 points from 2004 to 2008. I suspect, perhaps without much evidence, that the rude handling of the Mormon paladin Mitt Romney in the GOP primaries last winter had something to do with Utah's decline in enthusiasm for the GOP.

More likely it's just the increased Hispanic vote and black turnout vote.

Utah will be less White and less Mormon every year.

miss marple said...

"miss marple, yes, i'm brilliant, and you're either dull or incoherent ;-)" - razib

So John McCain won primaries in Southern/Scots-Irish territory. This is why Romney wasn't the Rep nominee?

In what area are you brilliant, razib? Because it's obviously not theology, sociology or politics.

"Such behavior strikes your average southerner as peculiar, so most of the people who might have been inclined to support Romney voted for the more leisurely and dignified Fred Thompson."

Really, Travis, you're being too credulous by giving this post a serious response. Razib has come up with the most preposterous history of US settlement patterns based on very loosely observed and poorly understood cultural/religious differences. Yet because he has a blog somewhere, we're supposed to take him as an expert.

Trust me on this, we voted for a Catholic when JFK ran for office so we're more than capable of voting for Mormons who are slightly less weird than those idol worshipers.

BTW, I think it was the dog strapped to the roof of the car that destroyed Romney's presidential campaign. Southerners love animals and probably wouldn't even poke the furry Razib with a stick if he were to wander around these parts.

Anonymous said...

Razib, as usual, makes Greg Cochran look the epitome of charm.

Anonymous said...

"Not that I attended many church socials, but I never heard anyone talk about Romney's religious beliefs in the weeks leading up to the South Carolina primary. I think most people didn't know what to make of him. He flooded the air waves with commercials, including one where he's wearing shorts and sneakers and running up a mountain. Such behavior strikes your average southerner as peculiar, so most of the people who might have been inclined to support Romney voted for the more leisurely and dignified Fred Thompson."

Many fundamentalist types on FreeRepublic.com openly stated that they wouldn't vote for Romney because he is a Mormon.

Anonymous said...

Are mormons of European ancestry destined to be the most successful people in the USA over the next 200 years?

It is pretty well known that almost every high IQ group today living in the USA has low fertility compared to the lower IQ groups.

Mormons may be the only large group where this is not true - if bill gates were mormon i assume he would have ten or eleven children by now. Importantly, each of his children would have ten or eleven and thus Bill might wind up with more than 100 grandchildren.

I mean no disrespect to the majority of the readers of this blog, but i have to predict that most of us will have very little of our genetic material floating around in 100 years - while they typical high IQ mormon who is too busy supporting his kids to be spending time on this blog will have plenty of his genetic material floating around in the future

Are there any (ANY) other high iq groups in the usa that have very high fertility or are the mormons of european ancestry the only ones?

similarly, are there any high iq groups in europe or asia that seem to have lots of kids?

anony-mouse said...

I disagree with the notion that New Englanders were procreation oriented like the Mormons have been:

1/ 'Maiden aunts' were a fixture of most families.

2/ The Shakers, a sect which essentially forbade sex period only existed in New England.

3/ When Catholics came to New England one source of opposition to them was their large families.

4/ None of the many New England sects would ever countenance polygamy.

Φ said...

It may be that Mormons perceive Romney to have been "roughly handled" (do we have polling data?) but, honestly, I don't see it. I don't recall any of the other candidates making his religion an issue. I do recall the Evangelical leadership being on the cusp of endorsing Romney before Huckabee caught fire.

To the extent Romney had an uphill climb with social conservatives, it was because the timing of his embrace of their issues was so opportunistic. It had far less to do with his religion.

Tod said...

A more important stream of of the Puritan tradition provided many Unitarians Of course the public goods of the Puritans included public violence.

Tod said...

"But the key to Puritanism as a group strategy, like other strategies, was the control of behavior of group members. As with Calvin’s original doctrine, there was a great deal of supervision of individual behavior. Historian David Hackett Fischer describes Puritan New England’s ideology of “Ordered Liberty” as “the freedom to order one’s acts in a godly way—but not in any other.” This “freedom as public obligation” implied strong social control of thought, speech, and behavior. Louis Taylor Merrill describes the “civil and religious strait-jacket that the Massachusetts theocrats applied to dissenters.” The authorities, backed by the clergy, controlled blasphemous statements and confiscated or burned books deemed to be offensive. Spying on one’s neighbors and relatives was encouraged. There were many convictions for criticizing magistrates, the governor, or the clergy. Unexcused absence from church was fined, with people searching the town for absentees. Those who fell asleep in church were also fined. Sabbath violations were also punished. A man was even penalized for publicly kissing his wife as he greeted her on his doorstep upon his return from a three-year sea voyage.


Both New England and East Anglia (the center of Puritanism in England) had the lowest relative rates of private crime (murder, theft, mayhem), but the highest rates of public violence—“the burning of rebellious servants, the maiming of political dissenters, the hanging of Quakers, the execution of witches.”

Based in New England, Transcendentalism was closely associated with Harvard and Boston—the very heart of Puritan New England. It was also closely associated with Unitarianism which had become the most common religious affiliation for Boston’s elite. Many Transcendentalists were Unitarian clergymen, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, the person whose name is most closely associated with the movement in the public mind. The intuitions of the Transcendentalists were decidedly egalitarian and universalist. “Universal divine inspiration—grace as the birthright of all—was the bedrock of the Transcendentalist movement” (p. 18). Ideas of God, morality, and immortality are part of human nature and do not have to be learned. As Gura notes, this is the spiritual equivalent of the democratic ideal that all men (and women) are created equal.
Not surprisingly, this philosophy led many Transcendentalists to become deeply involved in social activism on behalf of the lower echelons of society—the poor, prisoners, the insane, the developmentally disabled, and slaves in the South".

quoted from
American Transcendentalism:
An Indigenous Culture of Critique

Stopped Clock said...

I just wanted to post this. It's a story I read more than a month ago which, among many other things, predicted that blacks would help pass Proposition 8:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/164656/page/2 (go to the last paragraph)

It was probably just a lucky guess on his part, but a quite good one I would say.

Ronduck said...

Reading Razib's article it is obvious that he admires the Puritans, which most Americans do, but it is also obvious that he disdains the Southern Whites and their culture. Granted, Southern culture can be disorderly, but right now it is the only bulwark against liberalism. The rest of White America that is sane looks to the White part of the South for guidance on race, morality, and politics to a degree that most people (and most conservatives) are not willing to admit.

I feel that Razib identifies his tribe (Hindus in America) with the successful Puritans, while looking down on the working class conservatives that hold this country together.

Ah, the Blessings of Diversity.

n/a said...

"Henry Canaday" writes: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., called his Massachusetts ancestors "a small band of provincial heretics." Maybe that is what American exceptionalists have always been, functional crackpots.

The correct quote, in context:

It may be that we are to be replaced by other races that come here with other traditions and to whom at first the great past of Massachusetts seems, as they sometimes proclaim it, but the doings in a corner of a little band of provincial heretics. But I am bold to hope that the mighty leaven that swelled the hearts of the founders of this Commonwealth still works and will work even under altered forms, -- that their successors will keep the state what the founders made it, a hearthstone for sacred fire.

Bold to hope, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Anony-mouse said: "I disagree with the notion that New Englanders were procreation oriented like the Mormons have been:"

Nowadays white New Englanders are a sterile bunch, but in colonial times Puritan teaching was fanatically anti-contraception. I believe in Fischer's Albion's Seed, he notes that in colonial times Puritan New England had some of the world's highest fertility rates.

"To the extent Romney had an uphill climb with social conservatives, it was because the timing of his embrace of their issues was so opportunistic. It had far less to do with his religion."

Couldn't agree more. I'm saddened that some people would vote against a man simply because he's Mormon. I tend to admire Mormons for their social conservatism and industriousness. I wasn't a Romney fan during the primaries though. This was because of the phenomenon known as "Multiple Choice Mitt". If you at his stances as a presidential candidate, his stances as governor, his stances back as a '90s Senate candidate....he seemed to shift positions every time he ran for a different office. He just seemed too packaged and slick.

-Vanilla Thunder

jbday said...

Straight SWPLs have blamed Mormons because it's the safest target for them. These people they are unwilling to make any critical remark of any minority group that is perceived to be oppressed.

Gay people, who have more ability to speak their mind without the PC Police going after them, have been able to blame African-American for Prop 8's victory. "Gay is the new black" is a sign that has been seen at some rallies and there have been many reports about gays in Los Angeles yelling racist remarks at random African-Americans.

travis said...

Many fundamentalist types on FreeRepublic.com openly stated that they wouldn't vote for Romney because he is a Mormon.

Certainly enough wouldn't vote for him to prevent a victory in South Carolina, that should have been understood. If Romney couldn't win any of the first three primaries, especially considering he competed in all three states and thus couldn't use the Guiliani's "I didn't try, so it doesn't count" excuse, he had no chance to win the nomination. It was a selfish decision for him to hang around, even on his own dime, with the result being a McCain candidancy. Maybe we should thank him. Now we know a moderate Republican can't win.

Trust me on this, we voted for a Catholic when JFK ran for office so we're more than capable of voting for Mormons who are slightly less weird than those idol worshipers.

Look what that got us: the Civil Rights Act and a "special relationship" with Israel.

Anonymous said...

"Are there any (ANY) other high iq groups in the usa that have very high fertility or are the mormons of european ancestry the only ones?

similarly, are there any high iq groups in europe or asia that seem to have lots of kids?"

Orthodox Jews in NYC are the fastest-growing group in the Western Hemisphere and probably in the world. As any New Yorker will tell you, they have a lot of kids. How many per woman? I'd guess 7 or 8 on average, perhaps more. I haven't seen any official statistics, so I'm guessing.

They are without doubt the most religious people on Earth. Wahhabi Muslims are libertines in comparison. Married women shave their heads (for modesty; they then wear wigs), they forbid TV and other signs of modern culture, women wear floor-length impossibly-conservative clothing, their leadership is completely hereditary, their sects are run as monarchies, etc., etc. Everything you'd expect.

Anonymous said...

I have been doing genealogy of a line of my family that goes back to a number of English families, mostly from the Ringstead area, who settled in Connecticut about 1635. Because someone had already done a lot of work before me, it was very easy to find all the data--marriages, children, etc. And I can tell you, typically these families had 10 children and all their children had 10 children. It is easy to see how a small number of Puritans soon populated the northeast. Not only that, but health wise they didn't do too bad. Most of these children seem to have grown up and reproduced and many people lived into their 70s and even 80s.

Anonymous said...

i agree with you

plenty of fertility in the past
but today severe lack of fertility

what about higher iq evangelical christians - what is their fertility rate ?

Tod said...

I get the impresion Mormons tended to find most of their converts among the common people of Engish descent, is this correct?

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Indeed, the GOP share of the Presidential vote in Utah fell by something like 9 points from 2004 to 2008. I suspect, perhaps without much evidence, that the rude handling of the Mormon paladin Mitt Romney in the GOP primaries last winter had something to do with Utah's decline in enthusiasm for the GOP.

Living here in Utah as an ex-Mo, I can assure you that:

1) There was no enthusiasm for McCain. None. In the last, oh, six months, I've seen literally hundreds of Obama stickers and perhaps six McCain stickers (and one Romney sticker).

2) Mormons were overwhelmingly for Romney in the primaries, giving him 94% of the GOP primary - and record amounts of money.

3) This was not just an "a Mormon is running for president" sort of thing. Orrin Hatch ran for president back in 2000 and pretty much no one here cared.

4) My guess is that the increase in support for Obama was due to slight demographic changes, slightly diminished GOP enthusiasm for all the obvious reasons, and some Mormons going for him because, after all, Mormons do have one thing in common with Obama supporters - they believe in MAGIC!

More likely it's just the increased Hispanic vote and black turnout vote. Utah will be less White and less Mormon every year.

That doesn't explain this year's results, but the change can't happen soon enough. Take the rose tinted glasses from Mormon eyes, drop them on the ground, and crush them to bits. No Republican state is so overwhelmingly pro-illegal.

Not that I attended many church socials, but I never heard anyone talk about Romney's religious beliefs in the weeks leading up to the South Carolina primary.

I doubt there is anything that can explain the disproportionate support FOR Romney in Mormon areas but Mormon tribalism; and nothing to explain his disproportionately poor performance in evangelical areas but anti-Mormonism.

Orthodox Jews in NYC are the fastest-growing group in the Western Hemisphere and probably in the world...They are without doubt the most religious people on Earth.

Yes, but what's their IQ? Are they just dumb Jews?

And I can tell you, typically these families had 10 children and all their children had 10 children.

My own genealogy and that of Professor Samuel Huntington would serve to back that claim up. That's the result of a very religious people, in a land with no night life to speak of, where a single musket could "buy" several acres of land from the native tribes.

Someone should mention that to all the people saying that we need foreigners because "Americans aren't having enough children."

It was a selfish decision for him to hang around, even on his own dime, with the result being a McCain candidancy.

Who would've won, if not McCain or Romney? Fred and Rudy sure as hell weren't lighting any fires. Ron Paul? Mike Huckabee?

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

It was a selfish decision for him to hang around, even on his own dime, with the result being a McCain candidancy. Maybe we should thank him. Now we know a moderate Republican can't win.

Ronald Reagan: 1976: lost nomination to Ford. 1980: won nomination

George H.W. Bush: 1980: lost nomination to Reagan. 1988: won nomination

Bob Dole: 1988: lost nomination to George H.W. Bush. 1996: won nomination.

John McCain: 2000: lost nomination to Bush. 2008: won nomination.

It's pretty clear (I think) that Republicans reward guys with name ID, who've run in the past, who stand by their party. They like the familiarity.

Soooo....

Steve Forbes: 1996: lost nomination to Dole. 2000: lost nomination to Bush.

Question: is Romney like Reagan, Bush, Dole, and McCain, or is he more like Steve Forbes?

We'll find out in 2012. But one thing is certain: McCain probably did Romney a favor by beating him in a down year for Republicans.