the eve of the 2012 presidential elections, both Islam and Mormonism are
becoming increasingly politicized in the public sphere. For President Barack
Obama, the myth of his secret Muslim
identity is ultimately “coded into political ‘otherness’ – he's a socialist,
he's dangerous, maybe a Muslim.” GOP Candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, by
contrast, is a way for many Americans, particularly secular and non-religious
voters, to distance themselves from the candidate: “Mormonism becomes the lens
through which they can paint their critique.” However, with the presidential
election less than a month away, Billy Graham a leading evangelical figure in
the U.S., cut out the word “cult” from his association’s description of
Mormonism, although the move was seen as partisanship by some conservative
since its founding, Mormonism, the first American-born religion, has been
portrayed as a foreign religion and often defined in opposition to the
Protestant majority. Even today, 16% of Americans say that they would not vote
for a Mormon presidential candidate due to their suspicion of the religion’s
influence on the country.
although having been in the United States since its founding, has also been
denigrated culturally and politically in similar ways. Muslims belong to the
country’s least favorable religion, and 42% of Americans claim that they would
not vote for a Muslim presidential candidate. Since their earliest days in this
country, both religions have been the object of theological comparison. In
fact, Bruce Kierney once declared Mormonism to be “the Islam of America.”
policy brief informs Mormon as well as Muslim lay, academic, and clerical
leaders about the causes and persistence of prejudice toward their communities
and how collaborative undertakings between them can be strengthened.
Recommendations for policymakers to ensure more effective engagement in the
civic and political process are also offered.
This policy brief is published by ISPU, DISC, ISLAMiCommentary and the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.