How Long Can Romney Keep Quiet About His Mormonism While He Panders to Evangelicals?
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Kimball wrote those words in 1977, the same year in which the Church, in opposing the Equal Rights Amendment, worried that it would “stifle many God-given feminine instincts.”
“Too many women,” Kimball scolded, “spend their time in socializing, in politicking, in public services when they should be home to teach and train and receive and love their children into security.”
Kimball, Benson declared 10 years later, “spoke the truth. His words are prophetic.”
Tresa Edmunds, a co-founder of the feminist group LDS Wave and a blogger at Feminist Mormon Housewives, told me this week that in Mormonism, motherhood plays a divine role in nurturing souls for eternity. “Over the years, Mormon women have felt — I would personally say a backlash is too strong a word, I would say, some friction, about their role in motherhood.” For Mormon women who work, she said, there is still “static” and “stigma” over it.
Given that so much of Mormon teaching on marriage and family — the core of the religious right’s incursion into politics — is in line with Republican orthodoxy, one would think that Romney would jump at the chance to demonstrate a Mormon-evangelical-Catholic alliance.
As Kathryn Joyce, author of the book “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement,” which details the anti-contraception, uber-mothering movement within evangelicalism, has reported, such an alliance already exists. Religious right doyen Francis Schaeffer, an important driver of the antiabortion movement, advocated for ecumenical “co-belligerency” decades ago, and anti-feminist, anti-secularist religious activists have heeded the call. “A chief example of this,” Joyce has written, “is ‘The Natural Family Manifesto’ … [an] ecumenical call to arms [that] extols a conservative lifestyle where fathers lead and women honor their highest domestic calling by becoming ‘prolific mothers’ of ‘full quivers of children.’”
The unanswered question here is how much Romney adheres to his church’s teachings, and whether he agrees with the relationships some Mormons have forged with conservative Catholics and evangelicals on matters relating to the family, gender and sexuality. So far he’s jumped on the most obvious bandwagons of religious right causes. But as the campaign drags on, both progressives and conservatives will no doubt want to know more about where his own faith fits in the hot-button debates his party has placed front and center in the campaign.