• Gilbert Cantlin

    There’s nowhere near the rise of any form of “new” religion in this country as there is a rise in non-association with religion altogether. If the louder, mean-spirited political evangelism of the religious right, especially in the South, is considered any break from Protestant hegemony or growth in respectable religion of any form, that’s the proverbial counting of the chickens before they hatch. Let us hope, let us demand, that literacy, respectability, and a genuine reflection of Jesus, not a hatred of differences, be the core of any serious growth considered Christian.

  • gilhcan

    In the past election they became even more hateful and un-Jesus-like than ever before. It is long past the time when those who claim to be followers of the Palestinian preacher begin acting more according to the precepts of their leader and less like the uncharitable, dishonest, crude, and cruel followers of Constantine who added politics and slaughter as a way of resolving differences of opinion and belief in the early churches.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    I agree that the millions of Evangelical Christians who voted for MItt Romney is a positive sign of religious tolerance toward a minority group. Many pastors had expressed the fear in 2008 that a Romney nomination, and even more a Romney election, would make Mormonism “legitimate” (see an interview recorded in Hugh Hewett’s book on the Romney candidacy). Whatever “legitimacy” comes from having the approval of almost half of American voters has certainly been achieved, but I don’t see it as having negative consequences for other Christian denominations, except perhaps for those pastors who persist in vocal denunciations of Mormons and their beliefs. Their congregants appear to be more tolerant than many of their pastors.

    The fear of some pastors that a “legitimate” Mormonism would be more threatening to them is unlikely to be true. The barriers to a Baptist becoming a Mormons are mostly on the Mormon side, which asks new converts to not only make commitments to very distinctive theological propositions, but also a major change in lifestyle, including abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea, strict sexual morality within marriage, and major contributions of personal time and financial resources in a church that is run by part time amateurs right up through the regional leadership. Discarding irrational prejudices against Mormons is not going to lead to a leap in Mormon conversions.

    However, what is likely to make a difference is the surge in the number of Mormon missionaries that is taking place as the minimum age for mission service has been lowered to 18 for young men and 19 for young women, inviting many more to enter missionary service immediately after high school rather than in the middle of college or careers or military service. Within 5 to 10 years the number of Mormon missionaries will likely double, and with it the number of people converted to Mormonism each year. Along with the much higher Mormon birthrate, it is likely that the number of Mormons in the US will more than double by 2030 to 12 million, and double again to 25 million by 2050, possibly becoming the largest single denomination in the US as Catholics, Methodists and Southern Baptists continue shrinking. Some pastors will become alarmed at this trend, even as they find that the growing number of Mormons in their communities forces them to be more friendly to a group that has political clout.