Is being Mormon a problem for Mitt Romney?

I am taking a class this semester on intersectionality and, unsurprisingly, despite the fact that the class is about Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, it has also become significantly about religion.  You’re welcome.  It has also focused on the election a great deal.

One thing that has come up is the idea that Romney’s religion has functioned to oppress him, perhaps not to the extent that Obama’s race or Clinton’s gender might have impacted their lives, but caused problems for him.  This despite poll after poll that shows the Christian Right is happy to vote for him.

I struggle with the idea that Romney’s religion creates a significant change on his overall social status. The Church of LDS is considered, inaccurately in my opinion, a sect of Christianity, which is very much in the majority in this country. They have a state that is basically entirely their own and they are overrepresented, slightly, in the US government compared to their population percentage; 2% of the population has 5 senators and 11 congressional members. Compare this to the religiously non-affiliated who are currently 20% of the population and have not a single representative or senator — there is one atheist in congress, and he is a Unitarian Universalist. Self-identified, “hard” atheists, incidentally, make up more of the population than Mormons at 2.5%.

Add to that that the religion is almost exclusively white, middle to upper class, male dominated, married households and it is difficult to interpret the Mormon faith as something that is oppressed. Add to this that being part of the club means that you get massive financial and man-power resources at your command because the church wants to expand its power. Consider that 70% of the money that successfully overturned gay marriage in California came from the Mormon church. No, they haven’t had a president, but I don’t think that is symptomatic of disenfranchisement. The Mormon church is undoubtedly less savory to many Americans than being a Protestant, but it is much more savory than other (non)religious traditions as well.

Sally Quinn wrote an article for the Washington Post last week about the presidential debate and pointed to the fact that Romney’s religion is actually a huge boon for him because he’s part of God’s Own Party and has claimed God as his ally in the debates in a way that Obama has not. And, according to her, that matters because “Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian.” In fact, one of the problems Obama has had has been not seeming Christian enough. 17% of the population still thinks he’s Muslim; being Muslim is much worse in the eyes of the American public than being Mormon.

But then, I am undoubtedly bringing my own perspective very heavily into this discussion because I live in a state with this enshrined in its constitution: “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.” My identity comes very strongly from that background, and I am sure Governor Romney’s comes very strongly from his Mormon background — but I suspect his rich white maleness is the more important identifier.–the-religious-composition-of-the-112th-congress.aspx

Is being Mormon a problem for Mitt Romney?

The Student-Blogger: A Life

Kate here.
It’s been absolutely ages since I had a place for more personal blogging, so some of this may happen occasionally. Most of you readers don’t know me or much about what I’m up to outside of this little space, so here’s a bit of why my posting has been a bit haphazard. Currently I am:

  • Writing here
  • Writing very occasionally for Friendly Atheist and Teen Skepchick (a few times per month)
  • The Volunteer Military Campus Organizer for the Secular Student Alliance
  • The Communications & Marketing Intern for Foundation Beyond Belief
  • President of our university’s Secular Student Alliance
  • The teaching assistant for a weekend astronomy class for gifted children.
  • A third year double major in Human Development & Psych Services and Psychology

I’m really not sure how or if I’m managing to make this work. To some extent, I survive by knowing that my internship and TA position expire at the end of this quarter of school. There’s simply no way I could keep this level of constant productivity going. I also got really good at packing meals. (I’m actually writing this post over Indian food I packed for dinner, eaten quickly and while still too hot in the grad student lounge between class.)

I like to pretend I still know how to wake up early, but I usually stop snoring around 9:00. Over coffee and fruit, I plow through the stuffed inboxes of four email accounts. I read every comment on my posts, respond to student group issues, co-coordinate planning of Carl Sagan Day Chicago, figure out what articles and chapters I have to read for the day, submit a proposal for a required three-month internship, deal with payments and rent for the house I live in with 11 other students, and talk to everyone on the Teen Skepchick back channel (best people. Ever.)

Two hours later, my coffee is cold and I’ve done most of the fiddly little things on my to-do list. I’m impatient and have too much energy, so I walk into town to grocery shop and find a different location to set my computer.

Laptop open, and back to work. I usually write two or three pages of essay assignments and read a few book chapters and research papers for various classes. Northwestern runs on quarters–three ten week sessions in the time most schools have two semesters. While it’s wonderful to be able to double major without taking on extra courses, in practical terms, quarters mean that every three weeks I have two weeks of finals or midterms. Stresstastic.

My classes are in the evenings, so by the time I finish, its getting dark and I want nothing more than to curl up in bed. I do, quite happily, but spend the first hour of communing with my pillows in intern work, transcribing or writing.

I love all of my [volunteer] jobs. There’s not one I would give up for more free time. This movement is a glorious one–one that doesn’t demand years of experience or anything but a will to make something change. So it takes a little less sleep, a little more coffee to make this work? It’s worth it.

The Student-Blogger: A Life