United Brethren has retired.

Are Mormons ready for a Mormon president?

Here's the partial transcript from Orrin Hatch's recent Hardball appearance. Chris Matthews asks him whether America is "ready" for a Mormon president. Hatch says it is:

MATTHEWS: Mitt Romney has been making some noises. He's a very impressive fellow. He's a Republican governor of Massachusetts, and that‘s an accomplishment in itself for a Republican.
He's an LDS member, a member of the Mormon Church. Do you think the country is ready to make that change, to say, well, how about a Mormon for president? We've got Harry Reid, who is the Senate Democratic leader, who is LDS. Do you think the country is sort of open now in saying, yes, let's - no problem there?
HATCH: Well, I hope so, because LDS people, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are really good people. They're honorable, decent people that you can rely on.

...MATTHEWS: Are we at that magic moment of change, like we did in 1960 with a Roman Catholic candidate, that this could be the time that a Mormon does make the presidency?
HATCH: Well, I don't think anybody from any religious persuasion, and especially the churches that are among the top 10 in this country, and the Mormon Church is now the fifth largest in the country... I don't think anybody who is honest, decent and competent should be stopped from serving this country just because they may have differing beliefs.


I'm not sure Hatch is right (that America is ready), but Romney might be the man. I'm wondering, however, whether Mormons are ready for a Mormon president? That would really signal our coming out of obscurity, but the wilderness is a comforting place to hide from the glare of an unforgiving world. If a Mormon president was utterly useless, terribly unpopular, or embroiled in some kind of scandal, it would reflect very badly on the Church in a way that it wouldn't for presidents from other denominations. And can you imagine the fallout overseas? Imagine Bush was a Mormon? Baptisms in Europe would grind to nothing!

Or maybe I'm wrong: if the president's Mormonicity was common knowledge, then it would do wonders for brand recognition that years of missionary work and PR could not even come close to.

I suspect that most if not all Mormons would be delirious if Mitt was president. But we should not imagine that such a prospect would bring only dividends: there might be a high price to pay for such exposure.

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Comments

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 18, 2005 4:41 PM) 

It would be interesting to know how much JFK's Catholicism had a positive or negative impact on the Catholic Church's progress or lack thereof in the world.

I suppose the Church could protect itself by publicly avowing neutrality in a presidential race with an LDS candidate. The question is whether the world would listen or hold the LDS Church responsible for an LDS president's decisions. 

Posted by danithew

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 18, 2005 4:48 PM) 

The question is whether the world would listen or hold the LDS Church responsible for an LDS president's decisions.I would expect the latter. And I'm wondering outloud here on my own behalf: how would I - often a political liberal - deal with a conservative Mormon president whom I found disagreable? Mormon liberals' reaction to ETB in the 1960s is probably our closest model.
 

Posted by Ronan

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 03, 2005 2:07 PM) 

Another model to look at may be the formor Governer of Arizona, I don't remember the name, but in the early 90's, Arizona had a mormon governer who was impeached and removed from office.

Looking up news articles from the time may give an idea about how lds and non-lds reacted to the issue.

A bishop in AZ actually told me this was the issue that lead to Steve Benson's apostasizing. 

Posted by Karl Butcher

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 04, 2005 4:00 PM) 

Evan Meacham was the governor of Arizona who was ousted back in the late 80's. He had small group of loyal supporters. My guess is they were mostly mormons.  

Posted by Anonymous

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 9:07 AM) 

Meacham, then, is proof that Mormon politicians aren't always helpful to the church. Thanks for that. 

Posted by Ronan

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (June 23, 2005 7:40 AM) 

interesting discussion, i do believe that the Churches profile would be enhanced and that should the LDS President prove unpopular later only those with weak testimonies and those that judge the Church by worldly standards would be affected. The old quote is always true "All publicity is good publicity" and if a public debate on the virtues of a particular member examined their standing, the Church values would no doubt be brought to the fore. So go for it , lets rattle some cages and start a few ripples. 

Posted by George

 

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