Lots (probably way too much) has been written about Mitt Romney and his "Mormon problem," which Mike "I'm With Jeebus" Huckabee rode to victory in Iowa last week. However, there was a really interesting article in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine that takes a historical view of Mormonism and its place in Republican politics. Along the way, it makes a point that I've wanted to make from the get go:
Still, even among those who respect Mormons personally, it is still common to hear Mormonism’s tenets dismissed as ridiculous. This attitude is logically indefensible insofar as Mormonism is being compared with other world religions. There is nothing inherently less plausible about God’s revealing himself to an upstate New York farmer in the early years of the Republic than to the pharaoh’s changeling grandson in ancient Egypt. But what is driving the tendency to discount Joseph Smith’s revelations is not that they seem less reasonable than those of Moses; it is that the book containing them is so new. When it comes to prophecy, antiquity breeds authenticity. Events in the distant past, we tend to think, occurred in sacred, mythic time. Not so revelations received during the presidencies of James Monroe or Andrew Jackson.The real problem with Mormonism is that it's of recent enough vintage that it's woo can be much more easily debunked than older forms of woo. The mist of the eons has a way of clouding folks' perceptions when it comes to such things.