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Joel Kotkin
It’s Mormon in America « Back to Story

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I won't get into a discussion of theology herein--it's only counter-productive and I imagine my comments on the topic would be overly provocative toward Mormons.

However, to the crux of the article, I too have found SLC--and Utah overall--to be an amazingly hospitable place to visit and do business. I've had the opportunity to be there for work on a number of occasions over the past 7 years and have always enjoyed SLC. Great restaurants, a thriving craft brewing scene, wide clean streets, friendly people.

I don't have any insight into the LDS church, its business practices and won't take any cheap shots. But it does speak to some inherent goodness in people who have a functioning community and have been able to not only have their city and geographic region thrive economically, but also maintain their culture and religious beliefs.
The first paragraph already made me sick: It is a symptom of a great nation disintegrating when members of sects grow to prominence in public life. Mr Kotkin seems lost in the subject.
I was on assignment in Salt Lake City twice in the mid-80's, once for a month, again for two weeks. I was impressed with the LDS people - they call themselves LDS, not Mormon. They were down to earth, just plain nice, industrious, with fine family values. No one in my firm tried to convert me - they were sophisticated people. One lady in my building did try to introduce me to an LDS bachelor, which I viewed as missionary work. Overall, I had a wonderful experience among the LDS in Salt Lake City. They seemed quintessentially American to me, the best of what I consider "American" - straightforward, straight talking, friendly, and even cultured. They took me to, and were touchingly proud of, the Utah Symphony. Nonetheless, there was a foreignness in the air, especially around the Temple area. You knew you were being considered a potential convert among the young people who shepherded you around the Temple enclosure. But I never experienced any conversion hints in the professional environment of the firm I worked at. In fact, my boss, speaking of the lady who was trying to win me over, observed, "She's an enthusiast."
What kind things to say about Mormons. In referring to the State of Utah you forgot to mention three excellent, and I mean excellent, universities. Utah State in the northern beautiful Cache Valley, University of Utah in Salt Lake City with it's excellent medical school, and (my favorite) Brigham Young University, the nations largest private university. If you like sports, these three universities field nationally known and, most times, nationally competitive teams in the big two sports. Utah is multi-cultural and it's indiginous populations is multi-lingual due to sending missionaries all over the world.
Mormons do not call non-mormans "Gentiles" Where in the world did you get that crazy idea! Seriously,if you know a LDS person you will know that they are great down to earth people! Mormons are devoted,hard working,focused,family oriented Christians.No more- no less.
What a nice article. It was pleasant to read an article that was truthful, open and honest. :)
Fantastic and fair article. Thank you!
The fact of the matter is that Mormon's seem to be good people (or at least seem to try to be good). I am weary of all the mean language directed to them. In spite of their church being different then others, it can't be too bad in teaching them how to be good citizens.
Desde España, un reportaje muy bien hecho!!
Thank you for such a positive and uplifting article!
Just to clarify. A non-Mormon in Utah probably hasn't been called a Gentile since the 19th century. Long time non-Mormon residents like to call themselves that in mockery of the Church.
Very nice article. Thank you.
This is a good article which is 99% accurate but which misses the bottom line. Mormons practice what they preach in the four gospels but they in their politics they refuse to preach what they practice.

I am a practicing LDS, with a completed home mission, three years in a bishopric, ten years as a temple worker and I totally love my LDS brothers and sisters. They are the best people in the world. I know that if I were in distress, they would not hesitate to come to my aid. In fact, I have been and they did!

As much as I would love to see a priesthood holder in the WH, not Brother Romney; perhaps the most mendacious, shallowest, candidate for president in recent time. His greed in making millions off the backs of the working people is exceeded only by his candid and chronicled lack of empathy and lack of respect for the 47% from whose backs he wrenched it.
Thank you for actually looking at the facts before printing information about the "Mormons". If more people would take the time to either come to Utah and learn about the church or even just go to www.mormon.org and learn about our church and our belifs, they would realize we are "normal" people who live everyday lives and have a sincere belief in God and our Savior Jesus Christ. We try to let that belief determine how we act and what we do. Thank you again for your interest in getting the facts.
Nice piece. I would only differ from your summary in that Mormons as a whole do not refer to non-Mormons as "Gentiles". You will find some who do, but I think most of us would find that appellation offensive. Secondly, you are incorrect in your inference that the LDS do not drink caffeine. We do not drink Coffee or Tea. Not because of the caffeine, but because we believe a revelation was received from God that these substances are not for man's consumption. You will find many Mormons drinking Coke and eating chocolate, both of which contain caffeine. And only Excedrine, which has caffeine will get rid of my headaches.

Finally, LDS are seen as cosmopolitan the world over, not just in Utah. Because so many young people serve a two-year mission, many of these abroad, in my congregation of 300 in Texas you will find people who are fluent in no less than 20 different languages. In High School, they are over-represented in Student leadership, in the fine arts, and in the upper 20% of their class ranks. In the community, there are many high tech Mormons, many in finance, many lawyers, because life-long learning is emphasized.

Thanks for the article. Well done.
Marc Brenman: "Also forgotten is the fact that 1/3 of all Boy Scout troops are sponsored by the LDS Church, and the Boy Scouts are one of the largest anti-gay holdouts. ... Next time, Joel, try for a more balanced column."

That's right, Joel, next time you write about the positives of the LDS Church, be sure to balance that out by mentioning that this horrid Church commits unspeakably evil acts such as sponsoring the Boy Scouts!
Thank you Joel....

Good to see someone finally getting it right. If you are correct, I can only hope we are up to it.

thx again...
This was very good and written in a respectful
manner and I thank you for that!
Rational people do not accept fiction as fact. I have seen more small business fraud committed by Mormons running scams than any other group of people in my life.
I'm in the biz op industry which is has a history of scams and frauds and from my observations the faithful of the Mormon Church lead the way
Persecuted Mormons had to flee into the desert for decades, merely to survive — and then eventually triumph.
Remind you of another persecuted people?
(If not, you probably are the recipient of an American public school education.)
Marc Brennan, next time you want to sound off about the Mormons, I suggest you do a little more research from reliable sources. The Church as an organization report about $3,000 toward the Prop 8 campaign and that was for airplane tickets between Salt Lake and San Francisco where church leaders went, at the invitation of a Catholic authority, to talk about the issue of the election that concerned them. Any money contributed by individuals went straight to an organization supporting the ballot measure and not to or through the church.

The church has a zero toleration for groups which claim to be an off shoot of the main organization because they believe members are supposed to still be practicing polygamy. Anyone belonging to such an organization is subject to having their membership cancelled.

Back in the late 70's, a female member of the church was asked to meet with her bishopric to discuss her open criticism of the church because of the position on the ERA. When she continued to insist that her activities were acceptable, she was excommunicated. This wads not because she supported the ERA; it was because she was denigrating the church widely and openly. More recently, any others who have openly advocated positions that are contrary to church doctrine or practice have also been similarly counseled or disciplined. The attitude of the church leaders about the positions of women in the church was most accurately explained by the late Pres. Hinckley who responded to a question about the church's attitudes toward women by saying that when they decided to do something, "We get out of their way". The vast and varied contributions of women in the church are often acknowledged and valued.

I doubt that very many of the current members of the church have any idea about the White Horse Prophecy, either by name or by content. We listen to the counsel of prophetic men and capable women which encourages us to basically practice what is preached and personally behave in such a way that we would be comfortable in the presence of the Savior and our Heavenly Father.

This was a fairly accurate and well thought article. I only need to clarify one or two things-- Mormons do not refer to those not of their faith as "Gentiles." As a matter of fact, in the strictest sense, most Mormons (if not of Jewish decent) are also "Gentiles" as they recognize Christ's distinction and differentiation between "Jew and Gentile." "Gentile" is not an everyday term for Mormons. To mark differences, Mormons either specify for example, "he is a Catholic," or "he is a Baptist" or in cases where another religion is unknown, "he is a 'non-member'" (of the LDS faith.) I have never heard anyone refer to "non-Mormons" as "Gentiles." As far as the Mormon health code, or "Word of Wisdom", is concerned- restrictions include alcohol, tobacco, hot drinks--which was later interpreted by Church leaders as coffee and tea. Restriction of the use of caffeine is a personal choice of individual church members as they feel it is appropriate, but is not specifically part of the restriction in the health code. However, LDS members are encouraged to avoid addictive substances, and do all things in moderation. For more information you may consider checking the LDS Church's website on mormon.org or lds.org
All in all however, this was a very informative, accurate, and interesting piece with a unique perspective on Utah and the Mormons.
Great article! Everything appears to be accurate, and as an active LDS person I appreciate seeing that. It's an exciting time for Mormons right now. Thanks for "praising" instead of denegrating the people and tenets of my faith.
Finally!! Thanks for a scholarly and unbiased look. Community service and charity are a very important part of our makeup. We are not uneducated 'hicks', and we tend to vote with an eye to the personal integrity as well as the platform of political candidates. Thanks again for your 'vote' of 'normalcy' for Latter-day Saints.
Why not, we now have a Muslem in the White House....
What is Harry Ried besides a Traitor
Catch up libtard
I live in Utah, but was born in the Los Angeles area. I found this article to be well written and accurate overall. In addition to its points, Mormons also enjoy some the best health and longevity rates in the United States, and divorce rates that are lower than the national average.
Thank you, Mr. Kotkin, for your excellent story! It is refreshing to read an article like yours that has been well researched and is honest and upbeat. Let's have more journalistic integrity in our media - keep up the good work!
Thank you for your article. I would offer just one correction: Mormons generally refer to those not of our faith as "non-members" not Gentiles.
"...Mormons drink neither alcohol nor caffeine." This is not a true statement. Caffeine is not has never been the issue with Mormons. A correct statement would be, "Mormons drink neither alcohol, coffee or tea."

Also, "the church banned black men from its priesthood until the late 1970s" is not a true statement. The ban from the priesthood had to do with pedigree or heritage of certain lineages. It never was about skin color as there were many "white people" who were part of the restriction. Many men of black colored skin held the priesthood during this time.

In an attempt to portray the LDS community in a better light than most published articles it is, however, important to get the facts correct.
"Whether or not Mitt Romney makes it to the White House, his candidacy signals that Mormons have arrived in American political life."

What about Senate majority leader Harry Reid and the 14 other Mormons serving in Congress?
To Marc Brenman: What's your problem?

By the way, I've heard many times how the Las Vegas casinos prefer to hire Mormons, because of their overwhelming honesty. Can you imagine anyone wanting to hire BHO or Biden for their honesty?
In 1994, Professor Joel Kotkin wrote a book called "Tribes: How Race, Religion and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy" in which he offered a paradigm for the future of the global economy, asserting that ethnic solidarity has been and will continue to be an important force in world business. While Kotkin focuses on five groups: Jewish, British, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian, he also included Mormons as an emerging tribe. In trying to explain the material success of these particular "tribes," he emphasizes historical patterns common to them all: a strong ethnic identity that allows the group to undergo economic and political changes without loss of essential unity; a global network based on mutual trust and communal self-help; and an open-minded approach to the adoption of scientific and technological innovations. http://www.amazon.com/Tribes-Religion-Identity-Determine-Success/dp/0679752994
Dicentra: Good comments. My work involves visits to Salt Lake City over the past couple of decades and I’ve become acquainted with several Mormons among my business associates. One became a close friend and others I’ve known for 20 years. Hard-working, honest, decent and intelligent is how I would characterize them. And although it’s moronic to generalize observations based on a small sample, the Mormons I know personally make for the very best of citizens.

But, of course, this has nothing to do with Mormonism, it’s all about Romney the candidate and just another surrogate battlefield in the Romney vs. Obama comedy which passes for enlightened American politics. As a pre-employment screening process, our presidential elections leave a lot to be desired. Obama sailed through our previous employment screening despite his dubious qualifications for elected office. And now that he has fully lived down to anyone’s rational expectations concerning his projected job performance, Americans tell various pollsters they’ve lost confidence in him. Why we should have had confidence to begin with goes unasked.

And perhaps this author should check his definition of “cosmopolitan” and “sophisticated” against the American electorate in general because the stereotypes he refers to are held by the bigoted and ignorant among our citizenry. I’ve heard all the Mormon jokes, the most amusing coming from Mormons themselves. And what is this sick fascination non-Mormons have with your underwear? Still, the negative comments expressed here regarding Mormonism aren’t as crudely conceived and phrased as those I’ve read elsewhere. Perhaps we are making real progress as a nation and we can all be considered “cosmopolitan” and “sophisticated” in 3 to 400 years, give or take.
Hear! Hear! As a first generation adult convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I heartily endorse your fine article. Following the doctrines of our Mormon faith has given me a wonderful wife, life, and family full of so more pleasures than I can name. Life is too short not to search out for the best it has to offer. Truth is inviolate, no matter what our critics have to say and who can deny the loftiest vision of our purpose in this life and the next. Man is that he might have joy.
Dennis Tkach
Chilliwack, BC Canada

Here is something to think about. The settlement of the American Colonies, and the creation of the United States of America was to preserve the rights of its citizens, which includes the right to worship how, where, or what they may.

So why were "The Mormons"....

-mocked and ridiculed
-homes, businesses, and temple burned and destroyed
-land taken away
-men tarred and feathered
-prophet murdered
-forced to find refuge in Mexico, of all places, where they couldn't find it in the great United States of America. (In 1847, when the Mormons arrived in Salt Lake City it was apart of Mexico Territory)

If this isn't persecution I don't know what is.  I know that there are other US groups that faced more persecution and discrimination then The Mormons did, and maybe the US Government didn't slaughter 81 Mormons.  However the Federal Government did not intervene when hundreds and thousands of Mormons were discriminated and persecuted. 
I am a resident of Utah, and I have never heard of someone from the LDS Church refer to someone else as a "Gentile". I understand the saying comes from an ancient biblical term used to identify anyone who was not a Jew, but it is not a term used by members of the LDS faith.

There is no official LDS Church position on drinking caffeine. Members of the LDS Church choose not to drink alcohol and coffee or tea in obedience to a commandment given in a revelation to the prophet Joseph Smith in the 1800's.
The phrase "most persecuted" is in odd juxtaposition to the US Government's wars against Native Americans, many of which were defending what they believed to be sacred ground. Comparisons (most, more) are lame here. I make a simple plea to remind ourselves why Native Americans were "threatening" to outsiders.
I want to add - only shaky to me - don't mean to disrespect anyone's beliefs...especially this religion where from what I see is amazingly successful at producing happy, well adjusted people....I really wish CJ had an editing function......
Always thought it kind of cool that there could a home grown American religion, even if the basis and tenents are a bit shaky. But then again, you could make that claim about any religion. Oddly enough the actual South Park episode on Mormons presents a fairly balanced picture of the bads and goods.

Plus those Mormons I have known are universally good people. Compare that to some others which I won't name.
Great article! Only I would never call anyone a Gentile, as we are all children of the same Heavenly Father :-) My great-great-grandfather, William Luke and 3 of his sons immigrated from Manchester, England to the Great Salt Lake in 1850. Sadly, William lost his life in an Indian raid and most of this family remind in England. My Dad was born in Provo, I was raised in Los Angeles. Thanks to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I was invited to visit Norway as a missionary in 1977. I learned quickly to love the hard working and family oriented poeple here and was sad to leave them. While serving in the US Army in Germany I returned to Norway in 1984 and met my wife Margaret. We have raised our family on an island near Bergen and have been married over 25 years now, with 3 children and one grandchild named Maverick, a reminder of our old western roots. Salt Lake City may be more cosmopolitan, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more international than ever, yet, at the same time, we are still just one big family, very thankful for the Good News Gosple of Jesus Christ, and very happy being down to earth mormons, where ever we live! Thanks again for telling America a little more about my Dads "backyard"! We love visiting this unique city between the Rocky Mountians on the west and the salty Lake on the east and all the good people in between! Kindest Regards from the Luke Family in Norway
Great article! Only I would never call anyone a Gentile, as we are all children of the same Heavenly Father :-) My great-great-grandfather, William Luke and 3 of his sons immigrated from Manchester, England to the Great Salt Lake in 1850. Sadly, William lost his life in an Indian raid and most of this family remind in England. My Dad was born in Provo, I was raised in Los Angeles. Thanks to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I was invited to visit Norway as a missionary in 1977. I learned quickly to love the hard working and family oriented poeple here and was sad to leave them. While serving in the US Army in Germany I returned to Norway in 1984 and met my wife Margaret. We have raised our family on an island near Bergen and have been married over 25 years now, with 3 children and one grandchild named Maverick, a reminder of our old western roots. Salt Lake City may be more cosmopolitan, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more international than ever, yet, at the same time, we are still just one big family, very thankful for the Good News Gosple of Jesus Christ, and very happy being down to earth mormons, whereever we live! Thanks again for telling America a little more about my Dads "backyard"! We love visiting this unique city between the Rocky Mountians on the west and the salty Lake on the east and all the good people in between! Kindest Regards from Luke Family in Norway
God does work in mysterious ways to accomplish His plan.
Interesting article, apart from what appear to be willing acceptances for yet another authoritarian religion and for cult-related elements within Mormonism such as the White Horse Prophecy.

Authoritarian practices always end with abuse. The Roman Catholic Church and child abuse. The military and rape of adult women, where there is a pitiful 8% conviction rate. LDS abuses the moneys it receives by building up riches, never issuing an accounting. All lack independent quality control.

"One Mighty and Strong" has been Mitt Romney's nickname since he was in the Cougar Club at BYU in Provo. That comes from "Doctrine and Covenants," but it is only applied to a living individual within the cult that has formed up around White Horse Prophecy. Romney had come back from France claiming to have survived a car wreck caused by a "drunk priest." He got people to believe that Bishop Jean Vilnet would have gotten sauced on sacramental wine, just prior to driving two women home from Sunday Mass. (He used the name "Albert Marie" for the bishop and invoked substantial lying for the Lord to keep himself out of trouble.) Now Mormons have been hammered to fork over millions to fund his run for the presidency.

There seem to be more ex-Mormons now than Mormons. The social patterns of Mormon and ex-Mormon families are a delight. Gentleness and sobriety have much to recommend them. The legacy of Joseph Smith, not so much.
One minor disagreement with an otherwise good article. Dont look for Huntsman to have any impact at the national level in repub politics. It became far too obvious in the last primary campaign that he was a huge rhino, and most of his support came from dem leaning collumnists. I doubt if many rank and file repubs will support him. But the article is right about Mia Love, she has lots of tea party cred, and is a real up and comer, provided she wins her present race.
"... No religious group has been more persecuted by the U.S. government..."

The federal government killed 81 Branch Davidians in 1993. The U. S. government hasn't slaughtered Mormons (yet).
"the methodical Mormon way, which stresses education, ambition, and charitable giving"

I would swap out "ambition" for "goal-setting," if only because "ambition" often connotes power-seeking for its own sake.

'"Gentiles," as LDS members call them'

That term died out with my parents' generation. "non-Mormon" or "non-Member" is what people say now, with "non-Mormon" deemed the more sensitive term.

"Mormons aren't the wide-eyed, naive people of stereotype; they’re increasingly cosmopolitan and sophisticated."

Many of us have served LDS missions to foreign lands; Utah has the highest concentration of second-language speakers in the country. In my own family, I speak Spanish, my brother speaks Italian, and my brother-in-law speaks Portuguese. Most other families have similar linguistic configurations.

Thanks for a good article that neither demonizes nor idealizes us.
"Few of the non-Mormon Salt Lake City residents with whom I spoke—“Gentiles,” as LDS members call them—found the city’s atmosphere oppressive."

LOL!! I've NEVER called ANY of my Non-Mormon friends 'Gentiles' - or any other Non-Mormon, for that matter. As far as I know, a 'Gentile' is someone that's not a Jew. That'd make me a 'Gentile' too!

Guess we're all in the same boat together.
Well done. Thank you.
Ummm - I have to take issue with MH's statement that an "ex-Mormon" sight will give anybody the "broader view" about anything. That's like saying an ex-pat will give you the "real" perspective on being an American in America. People leave because they don't like the fit - or because someone has offended them. Ever found yourself the offending party in an ex-relationship? Broader view. Uh-huh. Why do we always feel like the disaffected in any case have a truer view, while the folks who stick with something and make it work are somehow only capable of doing this because they're drinking the kool-aid? Not a very solid analytical approach to research, I'm thinking.
To be completely fair, there are plenty of us LDS Utah people who are NOT in love with development, who are tree-hugging, farmer adoring open-spacers who are fighting to keep all those shiny developments out of our areas. And the lucky fact that there's plenty of alcohol available (mostly in Salt Lake, but creeping out over other valleys) only looks to us like an increase in DUIs and the idiot behavior so easily associated with that kind of availability. But I will say this: I've lived all over the country, from coast to coast (Dad worked for TWA) and I've never found a place with such a great sense of community, community service, kindness and general honesty. Not to say that everybody participates in those things.

We work hard. We love family and art and music and horses and dogs and education and messing about in boats. And we love God and trying to do what he would do with our lives. Yeah. Generally, I really like LDS people.
ha ha... After posting my first comment I continued to read... ha ha... MH and Mr. Brenman are complete sourpusses... ha ha... lighten up folks... as Raymond points out, membership is voluntary, people are rarely excommunicated and the church, while it yields a good amount of political influence, does it legally through the contributions of its members... Prop 8 was overwhelmingly passed by the racial minorities of the state who can be considered fairly orthodox Christians in their own right... forget about Mormons specifically, parents generally, appreciate that the BSA has concerns about homosexuals in leadership there... as a society, its time we stopped kowtowing to this extremely radical 3% of our population who so vehemently attack our most principled institutions...
For the record, Mormons don't really use the term "gentile" any more and haven't for decades (except in jokes we tell aimed at making fun of ourselves). Probably part of the cosmopolitanization you described.
Well, Mr Kotkin, this was an acceptable effort... two things really... First, our scripture talks about 'gentiles', but we don't... those who are not members of the church are simply referred to as "non-members" by those who are... second, Jon Huntsman is not representative of our faith.
This is a very well written and accurate article, though I would like to make one clarification: there is no restriction on caffeine. Mormons do not drink coffee or tea, but the church has never said that it's because of caffeine. You will find many Mormons drinking caffeinated soda.
Absolutely wonderful article. Just one point: Mormons haven't really referred to non-lds as Gentiles in about 50 years. Not offended, just a point of fact. Very accurate article though.
One of the reasons Mormonism has grown is because it's culturally indistinguishable from evangelicalism, and because it's abandoned many of its very peculiar early beliefs.

When speaking of fundamentalists who "continue to rail against Mormonism," though, it's worth remembering that the vast army of Mormon missionaries are, in fact, fundamentalists who rail against 1840 years of Christianity they deem apostate, declaring Mormonism to be the one true church.

With most of Christendom (not just fundamentalists), I consider Mormonism a heretical Christian sect (Their church requites that by deeming Catholics and Protestants apostate). That hardly means I hold Mormons in contempt in society, and it certainly doesn't reduce my enthusiasm for the candidacy of Mitt Romney. Secularists could learn a thing or two about how people who differ profoundly can still get along and support each other.
Ray,ond Takashi Swenson October 19, 2012 at 5:22 AM
The LDS Church lacks the means to coerce anyone. Participation is voluntary. All local and regional keaders serve as unpaid, parttime pastors(as Rombeymdid for ten years). There is no financial incentive for Mormons to serve or lead. It is an ethic of love and service.

Excommunication or loss of membership is reserved for those who commit grievpys moral sins, and for the few people who actively try to undrper,ine the LDS Church. There are few such people, and there are no "regular"
excommunications.

Polygamist groups are enemies of the LDS Chuech. They claim that the LDS Church is illegitimate. The Church does not tolerate such grpups.

If you want to get acvurate information abput Mormobs, ask real Mormons, at Mormon.org, and the Chirch curriculum site www.lds.org. FAIRLDS.org is an unofficial website where attacks on the Chirch are responded to.
Raymond Takashi Swenson October 19, 2012 at 5:08 AM
A coupke of corrections: The LDS Churchmdid not give any funds to the Proposition 8 campaign. All such Mormon donations came durectly from individual Mormons. The opponents of Prop 8 actually spent MORE on ads than the suppirters. The majorities that passed Prop 8 were Hispanics and blacks, while most whites voted against it. The Mormons made up only a coupke percent of voters in California.
Raymond Takashi Swenson October 19, 2012 at 4:58 AM
Contrary to the image that many people have of Mormons, we are increasingly citizens of the entire nation and the world. In my personal case, I was born in Japan, raised in Utah, served as a missionary in Japan, joined the Air Force, earned a law degree, and served in Colorado, Washington, DC, Tokyo, Nebraska, San Francisco, and then practiced law in California, Utah, Idaho and Washington State. Mormons collectively have connections all over the world, within a few degrees of separation. I have one acquaintance who served with Mitt Romney as a missionary in France, and several others who attended Harvard Law School with him. Through my church I know an economist at the International Monetary Fund and people in the State Department. A worldwide network of people with language skills and specialized knowledge in law, business, science, and government, who can be trusted to be ethical, is a huge asset for the world.
Is Romney a Mormon? A Mormon friend says none of her friends are voting for him . . .
Http://www.thecriticalmom.com
Go to sites from ex-Mormons to get a broader picture. Read about what happens to people who try to leave the LDS church. Read about the crazy theology (crazier than other Christianities mainly because it is so recent and much of what really happened is more available to scholarship) and about the roles for women. Mormon communities vary. Some are indeed stuffy, oppressive and intolerant while others are more liberal - while all of them put on a sunshine face. Underneath the surface of hard work and right living is often enough an oppressive, hiearchical, intolerant substratum. It it too mainstream to have the tight-knit control of a cult, but there are narrow expectations for how to live and a system of social control that would make many libertarians think twice about it.

Polygamy is no longer mainstream Mormon theology for _this_ life, but it is still part of the theology for the afterlife. So ladies, when you die, you might have to shar hubby with a few other wives on your husband's planet in the so-called Celestial Kingdom.

I am not sure what to think of Romney getting such a free pass on his Mormonism. We should be tolerant of religious beliefs, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about them. If his Mormonism doesn't matter, than what kind of a religion is that? Is it just an irrelevant label? If his Mormonism _does_ matter, shouldn't we be talking about it more and know mroe about it?
This column paints an extremely rosy picture of Mormonism. Forgotten is the $8 million the LDS Church spent in California, in violation of tax exemption rules for separation of church and state, in fighting same sex marriage in California, for example. Also forgotten is the fact that 1/3 of all Boy Scout troops are sponsored by the LDS Church, and the Boy Scouts are one of the largest anti-gay holdouts. Also left out is the fact that, while official LDS policy is anti-polygamy, the Church shows a great deal of tolerance for "traditional" Mormon sects that continue to practice polygamy. Also left out is the fact that the LDS Church has little tolerance for free thought, and regularly excommunicates women who don't toe the line. Next time, Joel, try for a more balanced column.
Nice PR fluff piece for the Mormon Church. Did 'the brethren' proofread your text first?
Dang I should have been born a mormon :(
Great article. Very accurate except the part about Mormons calling non-Mormons, "Gentiles". That's not true. We call call them non-members.
Great article! Just a small quibble, Mormons can drink caffeine, we just don't drink coffee or tea.