Can social conservatives assimilate the LDS into their movement?
In 1898, B.H. Roberts, a high-ranking member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was elected to represent Utah in the House. At the time, Americans could grudgingly accept a Mormon politician as long as he wasn’t too Mormon. But Roberts still lived with the three wives he had married before the LDS church ended polygamy. Protestant ministerial associations and newspapers like the New York Evening Journal petitioned Congress to refuse Roberts his seat. The voices of rectitude delivered 7 million signatures written on 28 scrolls wrapped in the American flag to the Capitol. The House voted 268-50 against Roberts. His seat was given to a one-woman Mormon whose faith could be glossed over.
Over a century later, assertive Mormonism may find its political home in the conservative movement. The faith that once seemed like a threat to Christian values is increasingly viewed as an ally by social conservatives looking for recruits in the culture war. As Mormons have stepped forward to lead efforts against gay marriage, the enmity of liberals to the LDS church has increased. But evangelical hostility to Mormonism seems to be melting into acceptance, even admiration.
This detailed article by Michael Brendan Dougherty in the current edition of The American Conservative is not a quick read, but it makes a number of enlightening observations and provides some precious historical perspective. Read the rest of it at www.amconmag.com/article/2009/feb/23/00014/.