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I’m Proud of Mormons Standing For #NeverTrump

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Journalists like Nate Cohn from the New York Times have documented how Mormons are overwhelmingly against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol joked on Twitter that if Trump gets the nomination and conservatives opt for an alternative candidate, “The name of the third party: The Latter-Day Republicans.” That’s a nod to the official Mormon Church’s name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My fellow Brigham Young University (the Mormon college) journalism grad McKay Coppins has a great piece at BuzzFeed about what’s driving this trend, including Trump’s persecution of a religious minority (e.g. Muslims), a fact that doesn’t sit well well with Mormons, another religious minority hounded since the Church began in 1830. Some Americans don’t realize Mormons headquartered in Utah because they were driven by haters to a desert wasteland that wasn’t even part of the mainland States in the 1840s. There’s also Trump’s inaccurate, negative depiction of immigrants, which doesn’t sit well with the immigrant-friendly Mormon Church, a body with more international members than domestic. Trump’s verbal abuse of women, racial minorities and others also doesn’t sit well with mild-mannered Mormons who don’t swear or watch R-rated films.

I was raised in the Mormon Church, and as the descendant of Mormon pioneers who suffered and died on their trek from Europe and the East Coast to settle in Utah, I can understand why Trump is morally objectionable to LDS people. Mormons love the narrative and mythology of the Church’s founding, they dress up like pioneers and reenact pioneer treks to remind each other of staying grounded in the memory of pursuing a dream and cause bigger than yourself. It is a culture of self-denial, of egalitarianism and common sense. Mormons have the WASP work ethic on steroids. They’re also incredibly culturally conservative–if you go to a supermarket in Mormon-heavy Utah County, often magazines like Cosmopolitan have a plastic plate to block their covers for the checkout customer who might be offended by an actresses’ cleavage.

Trump, cleavage connoisseur, is the antithesis of Mormon culture. He is a creature of rich, post-industrialized, reality TV culture. Where Trump is fantastical, Mormons are pragmatic. While Trump bombastically trumpets his wealth, former GOP candidate and Mormon Mitt Romney, a very wealthy man in his own right, shops at Costco (with big families, Mormons adore stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.). While a young Trump was chasing skirts and bashing about the elite Manhattan party circuit, a young Romney–and countless other young Mormon men and women–were serving as celibate missionaries abroad. Mormons are heavily involved in international development through the Perpetual Education Fund and other initiatives. They are often among the first respondents to natural disasters around the globe, including Hurricane Katrina. I don’t recall seeing reports of a “Make America Great Hat” anywhere near The Big Easy when the levees broke.

For many reasons, some which I explained in The Washington Post and USA Today, I’m no longer practicing and officially left the Church. But I still count many friends and family members in the Mormon Church, and I’m proud to see Mormons standing up in the #NeverTrump movement to protect civil discourse and work to see that Trump doesn’t become the mouthpiece and face of the Republican Party. Mathematically this is a possibility, and my guess is that should Trump pull off a nomination victory, we’d see many Mormons ready to be modern-day pioneers. It wouldn’t be a geographic trek this time, but a philosophical one out of the GOP and into a third party.

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