Though Trump easily won Arizona’s crucial winner-take-all primary, he lost badly in Utah, mostly because of Mormon voters. Opposition to Trump by Mormons was also a critical factor in his losses to Cruz in Wyoming and Idaho [Mormon Voters Really Don’t Like Donald Trump – Here’s why, by McKay Coppins, Buzzfeed, March 24, 2016]. A recent poll suggested Utahans would actually vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump in a general election, flipping the state to the Democrats for the first time since 1964. [Poll: Utah would vote for a Democrat for president over Trump, by Lisa Riley Roche, Desert News, March 21, 2016]
Columnist Michael Brendan Dougherty suggests Utah’s relative success as a society makes it impervious to Trump [Why Utah was impervious to Donald Trump, The Week, March 24, 2016]. While Trump attracts white voters facing social chaos, economic turmoil, the costs of globalization, and diversity, Utah remains overwhelmingly white (almost 90%) and prosperous, with low unemployment and high social cohesion. Utah also has a high fertility rate, making it a state where Steve Sailer’s concept of Affordable Family Formation is already in effect. Dougherty write: “Utah lags the rest of the nation in its diversity. But it is a low-crime, economically healthy state with stronger-than-average marriages.”
Dougherty also cites studies showing frequent attendance at religious services is an indicator of opposition to Trump. But he ignores the specific policies and religious doctrines now being pushed by the LDS hierarchy.
In a nutshell, the LDS Church, like the Catholic Church, appears to be dissolving its alliance with the historic American nation. It is now opposing attempts to stop mass immigration from Latin America or even from Islamic nations. Part of the shocking evidence: Russell Pearce, president of the Arizona Senate and hero of the SB-1070 controversy, was defeated in his surprise recall election and in his comeback effort by fellow Mormons who clearly had the Church’s blessing.
According to a recent survey, more than a quarter of Mormons now support more immigration to the United States. They are surpassed only by American Jews in their desire to replace the population of the country with other people [Mormons’ immigration stance reveals some surprises, by Jana Riess, Religion News Service, November 12, 2014]. 68 percent of Utah Mormons favor giving illegals citizenship if “certain requirements” are met [How Donald Trump Could End the Republican Lock on the Mormon Vote, by Jack Jenkins, The Atlantic, March 22, 2016].
The Mormon Church has even issued an official statement which implied criticism of Donald Trump following the candidate’s call for a moratorium on Muslims’ traveling to the United States—the only statement the Church has made on the election so far [LDS Church releases statement on religious freedom as Donald Trump’s Muslim controversy swirls, by Tad Walch, Deseret News, December 8, 2015]. Governor Gary Herbert of Utah—needless to say a Mormon—also implicitly condemned Trump because “I am the governor of a state settled by religious exiles who withstood persecution after persecution, including an extermination order from another state’s governor.” [Governor Herbert's Facebook, December 8, 2015 ·]
The Mormon Church’s claim to victim status comes as it tells its members to do more to welcome Third World refugees. [Leaders invite Latter-day Saint women to reach out to refugees, by Sarah Jane Weaver, Deseret News, March 27, 2016] Just like the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormons apparently see their faith as having a future in the Third World, as its missionary efforts in Western nations have largely failed.
Thus Mitt Romney was about as successful converting Frenchmen to Mormonism during his time an LDS missionary as he was convincing blacks to vote Republican as a presidential candidate [Romney’s turbulent missionary days in France, France 24, June 11, 2012]. But Romney has relatives in Mexico, descendants of Mormon missionaries, where the faith has spread to over 1.3 million members. Worldwide, the LDS church grew by more than 45 percent between 2000 and 2010, with the number of Spanish-speaking congregations doubling [Growth of Latino Membership Shows Mormonism’s Surprising Diversity, by Dawn Megli, Annenberg Media Center, May 5, 2012]
As missionary efforts to the Third World spread, “Mormons are… transitioning away from being a heavily homogeneous religion centered in the American West to a more global group, with members of various nationalities.” According to Matt Bowman, author of The Mormon People, “In a decade or two, Spanish will be the first language of the Mormon world” . [Mormons detest Donald Trump. Here’s why. By Kira Lerner, Think Progress, March 22, 2016]
Several doctrinal factors are helping the LDS church prioritize converts among Latin Americans. Many Latinos, especially migrants, identify with the Mormons’ historical experience of being pioneers, traveling from one culture to another to start a new community [Latino Mormons: The LDS Church’s Fastest Growing Group, by Monica Campbell, PRI, October 22, 2012]. There’s also the Book of Mormon’s tales about the “Lamanites”— whom Mormons believe were the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
This allows missionaries of the new “global” Mormon faith to appeal to the ethnic identity of a “chosen people,” a conversion tactic specifically endorsed by LDS church [What is a Lamanite? By Harold Brown, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Ensign Magazine, September 1972, accessed online March 27, 2016]. Not surprisingly, LDS Latinos who immigrate to America then justify their relocation to America as part of a “divine plan” whereby the chosen will gather in the U.S. [Immigration & Revelation, by Naomi Zeveloff, Salt Lake City Weekly, June 11, 2007].
Of course, the LDS hierarchy’s push for Amnesty and more immigration is far from unique [LDS church reaffirms stance on immigration, by Tad Walch, Deseret News, April 15, 2014]. Most organized churches (including many self-appointed evangelical leaders) also want more Third World immigration. And Pope Francis has been notoriously vocal about his desire to flood Europe with Muslim migrants.
But the LDS church is in a class of its own when it comes to imposing conformity on its members. Post Vatican II, many American Catholics don’t feel compelled to obey the Magisterium on matters of doctrine, let alone the hierarchy’s happy talk about immigration. And evangelicals, despite Russell Moore’s best efforts, simply do not have a centralized leadership that can compel the laity to obey—and they don’t.
But the LDS Church’s centralized leadership and strong hold on its members makes it far more effective in pushing pro-immigration ideas on its members from the top down.
Of course, as the LDS Church takes on more of a Third World character, that effectiveness will weaken. Already, the Church is under pressure to explain away or apologize its own scriptures in order to make it more acceptable to a “diverse” congregation [Mormon Church Finally Says Dark Skin is Not a Sign of God’s Curse, by Valerie Tarico, AlterNet, December 12, 2013]
In many ways, what is happening to the Mormon Church is a microcosm of what is happening to the Conservative Movement—and the U.S. generally. It was built almost entirely by Northern Europeans and race was explicitly acknowledged as a relevant part of the institutions. The same is true of the Conservative Movement (witness William F. Buckley’s defense of the 1924 Immigration Act and even segregation)and of the United States. [What the Founders Really Thought About Race, by Jared Tayor, National Policy Institute, January 17, 2012].
However, each institution decided to take on a universal mission and deliberately severed the religious or ideological tenets binding it to a specific group of people.
And inevitably, in the long run, the quest for growth will undermine the foundation underlying the institution’s original success.
If the LDS church gets its wish, its current heartland in the West will become less white, less reliably conservative, less prosperous, and more divided.
The good news: the deeply conformist LDS culture is clearly very susceptible to pressure. This, after all, is a religion that abruptly abandoned polygamy, and its exclusion of blacks, to fit in with contemporary American society. All it needs is a good immigration patriot whack on the snout.
The bad news: Mormons may not vote for Trump this time around.
But if the LDS keeps moving in its current direction, the next American nationalist might not be a real estate developer from New York City. He might be a betrayed white Mormon—or former Mormon—from Utah.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.