March 1, 2008


The intensity of anti-Mormon feeling displayed during the defeat of Mitt Romney must have come as a shock to Mormons. They put up the most competent-looking Presidential candidate, and he gets kicked around. In a very recent poll, 32% said they wouldn't vote for a Mormon for President, compared to only 4% who wouldn't vote for a black.

That must send a wake-up call to Mormons. For generations, they've assumed that because they have a weird religion, they will have to be the most normal of Americans. But now, being a normal American is considered weird.

It will be interesting to see how Mormons respond.

The next test of the strength of anti-Mormonism in the U.S. will come in the "American Idol" voting, because a 17-year-old Hispanic Mormon kid from Utah named David Archuleta appears to be more talented than anybody else. Here's a video of his rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," in which he somehow turns the most hackneyed song in the world, the quasi-national anthem of Brussels Eurocrats, into a thing of beauty. The kid won "Star Search" at age 12 and appears to be a professional singer, so it's kind of like a 17-year-old Stevie Wonder competing against a bunch of amateurs ("Hey, Little Stevie, weren't you in all those Beach Party movies with Annette Funicello four years ago?" "Shhhhh.")

But the anti-Mormon Evangelical demographic makes up a big chunk of the phone-in voters on "American Idol," so it will be interesting to see if anybody can upset Archuleta.

By the way, it's fun to compare Archuleta's slight reworking of Lennon's limited melody to contestant Jason Yeager's attempt to make up his own melody for Henry Mancini's exquisite "Moon River." Check out the video beginning 45 seconds in, when Yeager gets a proud smile on his face as he unleashes on humanity the new tune that he's dreamed up for the line "Two drifters off to see the world."

Take that, Henry Mancini, I totally pwned you! Next, I'll do a couple of songs I like to call "The Purple Panther" and "Baby Hippopotamus Walk."

Yeager looks like Val Kilmer doing an American Idol parody on Saturday Night Live.

Also, I didn't find much on Archuleta's ethnic background, but if I had to guess, I would bet he's descended on his father's side from settlers who entered what's now the American Southwest under the King of Spain's rule many centuries ago. There's a county in Colorado named "Archuleta" down on the border with New Mexico, and most of the Archuletas in genealogical databases are from that general area.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

What about the fact that half of Americans wouldn't vote for an atheist candidate? Just shows what a group of religious wingnuts most Americans are.

meep said...

Well, it's not like the evangelicals hate the Osmonds.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I thought Jason's rendition of "Moon River" was pretty good.

Wikipedia says that David's mother is from Honduras, but doesn't say where his father is from. David was born in Miami, Florida. Could he be of Cuban descent?

Michael Carr - Veritas Literary said...

There are a lot of Mormons in Latin America due to Mormonism's "convert the world, invite the world" strategy of growth. The Book of Mormon teaches that indigenous Americans are "Lamanites," or descendants of Jews who were cursed with dark skin for rebellion against God.

Unlike older Christian sects, the LDS church's origins are well documented, and thus lead to certain, uhm, challenges for thinking members. Joseph Smith was convicted of fraud, declared himself king at one point, and married other men's wives.

(I will now be contradicted by Mormon apologists.)

Anonymous said...

I was a Romney supporter back when he was polling under 5% and Giuliani was considered the Inevitable One, sort of like Hillary was at that point (funny how times change). I didn't have any "reincarnated Reagan" worship or anything... he just seemed like the best of the lot.

But frankly, I'm not sure how determinative the anti-Mormon stuff was. It seems a lot of people really did look at him and see a guy who just recently bought himself a brand new Conservative Suit because he saw that's what was required of him to be president. My view of Romney was that, even taking into account that his recent rightward movements were weather-vaned rather than held with conviction, he seemed to me like the type with enough integrity/smarts to stick with those choices. But the people's (often immature) obsession with some vague sense of "authenticity" won out over any concern with, you know, issues, and so the Mav got the nod.

Anyway, then there's the Mormons themselves. How will they react? Well, one thing I've learned about Mormons is that they retain, in their theology, culture and historical traditions, a deep and abiding sense of persecution. Apparently, the rest of the Christian world hates them and is out to get them. This extends to the fear of real organized violence. One modern example is Orson Scott Card, the sci-fi writer and a Mormon, who, for instance, often includes stuff like this in his books. He wrote a book called "Folk of the Fringe," a series of short stories about a post-nuclear/bio war America, and he described how once society was threatened the first people who were rounded up and executed were the Mormons. It was almost comical. Mormon eschatology is apparently shot through with that kind of stuff.

Now, does all this mean that Mormons are going to take their Republican ball and go home? No idea. They're a weird mix of American common-sense and wackiness.

Anonymous said...

It is too bad. I kind of liked Romney, oddly enough. Interesting how there are all these sorts of bigotry that never make the news.

Incidentally, what are your plans? McCain, Obama, or protest vote?

Anonymous said...

Archuleta's performance was full of all the atrocious and cliche'd curlicues and flourishes that black female singers have been putting out since Whitney Houston and before.

Professional-quality voices ruin anything they touch, if their owners don't have taste. Compare:

kurt9 said...

Even though I am a militant atheistic libertarian, I was disgusted with how Mit Romney was kicked about during his campaign. Although there are things I disagree with him on (like his health care plan in Mass), I considered him a worthy contender and far more qualified than either Huckabee or McCain.

Despite my militant atheism, I consider Mormonism a plus, not a minus, in my book, and would vote for a Mormon over most other religious denominations.

The Mormons tend to be more educated, business-savvy, and successful than evangelicals, baptists, or catholics. They have much more the entrepreneurial work ethic (the founder of JetBlue is a Mormon). They also share the same family values as the evangelicals and Christian right claim to profess. The difference is that Mormon husbands and wives actually seem to like and respect each other and have more functional relationships than do members of the other religious denominations. I consider Mormonism to be a distinct improvement over conventional Christianity.

Perhaps, deep down, the Christian right voters agree with me on this and are, thusly, envious and resentful of the Mormons. There is validity to this notion. Memes that are most closely alike are often the most competitive with each other. The Nazis and the Communists hated each other intensely during the 20's and 30's. The Soviet communists and the ChiComs hated each other most intensly during the 60's and 70's.

On the other hand, maybe the Christian right kicked Romney around simply because the Christian right is made up of arseholes.

Which explanation does Occam's razor favor?

Anonymous said...

Apropos of nothing to do with this article, has anybody read Peter Brimelow's eulogy (if that's the right word for it) of William F. Buckley at Vdare?

He doesn't come to bury Caesar, but to throw his still-warm corpse to the jackals.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Mr. Brimelow seems to insinuate that WFB was a drunkard, a pill-popper, and a closet-homo, in addition to being an insincere dilletante and an and unscrupulous social-climber.

He didn't say anything about kicking cripples or drowning kittens.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Mitt win the evangelicals in a lot of states? I'm puzzled that Mitt didn't win the nomination as well. He had an amazingly impressive resume. The problem is nobody seemed to know his story.

Another problem is that Fred Thompson and even Huckabee split the conservative vote, as well as McCain's freakish luck in winning so many winner take all states. So, yes, anti-Mormonism played a part but you may be over reaching a bit. I think the 30% number you've quoted is too high. I know a lot of people who didn't want to vote for a Mormon other thigns being equal, but didn't have a problem voting for one when Romney was so obviously the better candidate.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if going on Mormon Mission were equivalent to a Muslim going on jihad. What if Mormons taught their children to hate the outsider like Palestinian parents teach their children to hate the Israeli, or like black parents teach their children to hate whitey?

Perhaps then the non-Mormons would have a good reason to dislike Mormons.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised at how many of the red state fascists over at free republic openly admitted that they wouldn't vote for romney because he's mormon. then they all freaked out when mccain won the nomination.

Anonymous said...

Most of the time I absolutely cringe when I hear that song! I’m an atheist, so I have no problem with the lyrics personally. But how can it be that this song is repeatedly trotted out as a non-controversial feel-good anthem for all people??? Is that how John Lennon intended it? I don't think so!

To sing "imagine no religion" as though it were the most desirable thing in the world has got to be horribly offensive to anybody who actually has a religion and takes it seriously (i.e., most people!). If the offense were deliberate that would be fine – let’s get it on! But to give offense again and again and not even know you are doing it only makes you look like a fool, and it never ceases to embarrass me when this happens.

Anonymous said...

I thought Archuleta's performance was atrocious. Too much warbling, interrupted notes, and "emotion" singing rather than just singing pure notes. If he's the best this year, (which I doubt), then that's sad.

Anonymous said...

"Well, one thing I've learned about Mormons is that they retain, in their theology, culture and historical traditions, a deep and abiding sense of persecution."

That's because the first Mormons were persecuted. That's why they fled west to Utah.

- Fred

Anonymous said...

"Imagine" is a wonderful song, but its unifying ideology is so opposed to Steve's that he can't help but hate it.

The EU anthem is Beethoven's Ode to Joy, not Imagine. Anyway, it's short-sighted to mock the EU, which has at least for now brought peace to the heartland of Western civilization after millenia of constant war.

If the offense were deliberate that would be fine – let’s get it on!

Obviously John Lennon knew very well what he was doing with that song, which is consciously and deliberately radical. The fact that it has been adopted in various anodyne settings is a testimony to how capably the song sugar-coats its radical message. The balance between the simplicity of the fairy-tale, nursery-rhyme melody and the uncompromising radicalism of the sentiment is
part of the depth of the song. The point is that we will have to go back to childhood, pre-conscious, pre-rational committments of the imagination to reach real peace. Which is a very challenging thing to really do. "I wonder if you can" is the most important line in the song.

Despite the anti-religious lines in the song (which are genuine), the song goes back to early Christianity in its call for a radical, pre-rational, absolute committment to opt out of violence and division. Early Christianity is the source of a lot of Western egalitarian ideology.

Anonymous said...

I'm an active Mormon. I had huge problems with Mitt Romney as a candidate. His previous view on abortion, among other things, made me question his integrity. His comments on polygamy and the priesthood seemed pathetically contrived.

That being said it is not surprising to me at all that evangelicals won't vote for a Mormon. Their animosity towards Mormon theology is quite open.

I don't begrudge them this. I think the right Mormon could be a good president. There is nothing in the religion that prevents this. But if one carries the typical evangelical beliefs about Mormons, they shouldn't vote for one. Just as I would never vote for certain individuals because they hold beliefs that I think are incompatible with republican--not the party--principles.

What's really the most interesting to me about the Romney candidacy is the support he received from many who are hostile to Christianity in general. They seemed to be trying to use the Mormon to attack other Christians, and to diminish the importance of religion in general.

Kingm, not so much contradicted as called out for making false statements. I'll give you credit though, I don't think I have ever heard the king accusation before.

Muswell hillbilly, I don't agree that Mormons still walk around with a persecution complex, but it's funny how little things like an extermination order can stay with a people.

Anonymous said...

MQ -- The EU has peace because the US and USSR Cold War prevented a hot one, and now the US provides for all European defense. Clinton had to bail NATO out in Kosovo (stupid move but the point being NATO could not fight it's way out of a paper bag).

Imagine is a stupid, naive, idiotically utopian song that somehow imagines we'll re-engineer human nature. That has not worked out so well: Stalin, Pol Pot, Mussolini, Mao. At the very best you can say if the US provides all the security EUtopians can play EUtopian nonsense games until cities and suburbs start burning down because of a cartoon, play, movie, or something the Pope said. I don't think Muslims will imagine a world without religion. Without infidels, well yes.

Steve I read in the WSJ that 42% (IIRC) polled would not vote for a Mormon. Among respectable people it's a respectable prejudice, most folks probably thing they still practice polygamy like on "Big Love." I voted for Romney. Thought he was the best guy. But Identity Politics is Identity Politics -- Evangelicals went for their own in Huckabee just like Blacks go for Barack Hussein Obama.

Commenter above -- McCain won not "freakishly" but with vets in winner-take-all NH and SC and other states heavy with vets. He won because he proposed to win in Iraq and painted Romney as semi-defeatist Democratic almost. Not true but it stuck. Jeez I hate McCain. But I'll have to vote for him. Obama's latest Che-type video is truly frightening. Seriously it's like Cruz Bustamante's on steroids. Half of the speakers in Spanish screaming Obama! Obama! Obama! Like the Andrew Lloyd Weber Evita! musical.

Steve I don't think that the Evangelical voting demo overlaps much with American Idol. Sanjaya? Ring any bells? AI is for pre-teen Hannah Montana girls, and overaged haus fraus like Peg Bundy (but not as hot). It doesn't seem to have much of a male audience. Or pull much Evangelical voters even among the "Peg Bundy" set. [Admittedly, my knowledge of AI is limited to what Kevin and Bean on KROQ ridicule on morning drive time radio.]

Anonymous said...

We majority don't dislike Mormons. We just want to know what the "sacred underwear" is all about. And just what "arcane" symbols are embroidered on them?

You can Google, and find the listed in catalogs where you can buy them, but you first need permission from the local Temple.

Unknown said...

I'd hesitate to call him the "most competent-looking." The man consistently came off (to me at least, and not a small number of my friends) as a snake-oil salesman. He's a corporate CEO and politician, two groups that IMNSHO can die in a fire. They contribute very little (if anything) to the people they purport to serve, and more often than not end up lining their pockets and covering their ass.

I swear, I could feel the sleaze of subtle manipulation every time I heard him speak.

Anonymous said...

Since we're checking out music and social commentary, we should keep
this one on file.

Michael Carr - Veritas Literary said...

Kingm, not so much contradicted as called out for making false statements. I'll give you credit though, I don't think I have ever heard the king accusation before.

From Wikipedia:

The "clerk of the Kingdom", William Clayton, recorded that exactly one month later, Joseph Smith was "chosen as our Prophet, Priest, and King by Hosannas"

It is somewhat ironic that Mormons are seen as hyper-patriotic, given that Brigham Young moved the membership to Utah, which was part of Mexico at the time in order to get out from under the thumb of Federal Law. Googling "Utah War" and "Mountain Meadows Massacre" will be instructive to see LDS attitude at the time.

And mine is not an outsider's perspective. One of my ancestors was governor of the state and I have ancestors who were Danite bodyguards of Joseph Smith, with secret oaths, etc.

Anonymous said...

Imagine is a stupid, naive, idiotically utopian song that somehow imagines we'll re-engineer human nature. That has not worked out so well: Stalin, Pol Pot, Mussolini, Mao.

LOL. Except for the "no religion" line, "Imagine" espouses exactly the same ideals as the Sermon on the Mount. Which I agree is naive and utopian, but it has had a lot of influence as a work of art.

Neither one has much if anything to do with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. "Revolution" was the Beatles answer to that bunch.

Anonymous said...

My affection for Mormons waxes and wanes. I was raised Mormon, left it, but still have numerous friends, co-workers, and family members (one the head of a congregation) who belong.

I now realize that Mormons are more clannish than I previously thought, and more manipulable(?) than a lot of others.

Blacks are voting for Obama at a rate of around 80%, yet Mormons voted voted for Romney at rates well north of 90%, despite somewhat less concern for the one issue that differentiated Romney from McCain - illegal immigration. Utah is perhaps the state most generous towards illegal immigrants, despite having a legislature 4-1 Republican.

A proposal was on the table this year to take away driver's licenses and in-state tuition from illegal immigrants. Early polls showed 63% of Utahns supporting that effort. Then the LDS Church came out calling for "compassion" towards illegals and support dropped to 47%. That's how easily Mormon voters can be manipulated by their blind faith in Church leadership.

In the end I don't think much good can come from a group that, in large numbers, prefers blind faith and blind obedience to independent thinking and belief in science and logic.

Anonymous said...

It is somewhat ironic that Mormons are seen as hyper-patriotic, given that Brigham Young moved the membership to Utah.

And Utahns are currently near the bottom in rates of military service. Mormons are somewhat more likely to become militay officers - BYU, the U of Utah, etc all have large ROTC programs - but enlistment rates in Utah are very, very low.

Shallow, jingoistic, sunshine patriotism is alive and well in Utah. Remember how Mitt Romney said his 5 sons were serving their country?

Anonymous said...

Have those polls that say "30+ % won't vote for a Mormon" been cross-tabbed by party / ideology? I assume that a significant percentage of evangelicals voted against Romney for religious reasons, particularly when Huckabee made it a point of contrast between them. But it would be interesting to see how many of the respondents are just secular leftie types who are pigeonholing "Mormon" into the "social-conservative religious" category, and who would respond the same way to a, "Would you vote for a evangelical Christian?" question.

Anonymous said...

FYI all you non-Massachusetts residents, Romney had to deny a good number of beliefs to get elected here in the People's Republic. His latest campaign was more in line with his true beliefs.

It's too bad that he got no traction for POTUS, as I think he was the best choice for all those out there purporting to be "religious" or "moral". Nice guys DO finish last.

Dutch Boy said...

Nutball religions are as American as pecan pie - my real prejudice against Romney was the fact that he had been governor of the People's Republic of Massachusetts.The same folks who voted Romney in think Teddy Kennedyis peachy! Ugghh!

Anonymous said...

To throw out that he declared himself king, without explaining the theoretical and symbolic nature of the quote you cite is misleading. The fraud charge has not been proven either, but as an "insider" I'm sure you're well aware of this.

Half Sigma said...

"And Utahns are currently near the bottom in rates of military service."

Who has time to server in the military when you have to devote two years to a Mormon mission?

That was one of my complaints about Mitt. All of his sons did missions, none did military service. This makes Mitt a better candidate for president of the LDS church than for president of the United States.