Are Mormons the new conscience of the GOP?

(RNS) — “Unfit.” That’s what Mitt Romney said late last week about Roy Moore, the controversial former state judge who’s on the ballot as the GOP Senate nominee for Alabama’s special election on Dec. 12. Moore is under fire for allegations that he had sexual and romantic contact with girls as young as 14.

Romney said Moore should step aside, and that he believed the accusers. It wasn't until Monday (Nov. 13) that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell followed suit without hedging his criticism by saying that Moore should drop out of the race “if” the accusations are true. On Monday, McConnell took a page from Romney’s playbook, saying he believed the women, and that Moore should leave the race, full stop.

But Romney said it first. And as I wrote in October, he’s not the only Mormon Republican leader to publicly criticize members of his own party in these unusual times. U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., denounced President Trump’s administration from the Senate floor, saying he could not be complicit in Trump’s irresponsible and vengeful behavior.

 READ: As a fellow Mormon, I’m proud of Jeff Flake

And that’s not all.

Orrin Hatch, the Senate’s longest-serving member, sharply criticized Trump’s handling of Charlottesville: "We should call evil by its name," he tweeted. "My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."

Hatch did support Trump’s candidacy in 2016 — but plenty of high-profile Mormons did not. Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah; and others either withdrew their endorsements after Trump’s “grab 'em by the pussy” comments became public or never supported him in the first place.

So ... are Mormons becoming the new moral conscience of the GOP? Only halfway. Here’s why.

  1. Do you notice a pattern among most of the LDS GOP politicians who have spoken out against Moore, Trump and other unconscionable members of their party? Many of them are either out of power already (Romney), choosing to relinquish power because re-election would be a challenge (Flake, Chaffetz) or planning to retire (Hatch). The ones who are still in power, like Mia Love – the only black female Republican in all of Congress – have been oddly quiet about Moore and other recent scandals.
  2. Why do Mormon Republicans seem most apt to speak their minds when it’s concerning a question of sexual ethics? Moore has done some outrageous things in his career, like refusing to follow the law to such an extent that he lost his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court not once but twice. And the news is filled on a near-daily basis with ethical violations of Trump’s administration, including the ongoing and ever-expanding investigation into possible collusion with Russia.

Just last week, several Mormon GOP leaders voted in favor of giving a federal judicial seat to an untested 36-year-old who has never even tried a case. (However, as a blogger, this nominee openly denounced Hillary “Rotten” Clinton and background checks for prospective gun owners, which may be more than enough to qualify him in the mind of Trump.)

Where was the Mormon conscience then?

I don’t expect LDS Republicans to suddenly abandon conservative values and start voting for health care or against tax cuts. They have to vote their principles and represent their constituents.

I do, however, expect them to call out injustice when they see it, even if that injustice is being perpetrated by members of their own political party. And apart from these high-profile reproofs primarily about sex — an issue that Mormons still care about in their politicians, even if evangelicals have rapidly abandoned the idea that politicians’ personal immorality will spill over into unethical behavior in public life — Mormon GOP leaders have kept pretty mum.

Where we can see profound moral leadership right now is less in the cadre of (mostly male) LDS politicians but in the vibrant new group Mormon Women for Ethical Government, a bipartisan organization founded in the wake of Trump’s election. Whether it’s mass shootings or immigration or sexual violence, these women have no shortage of reflections on putting Mormon faith into action.

And in an era when Republicans and Democrats can’t seem to countenance one another, it’s heartening to see on the MWEG Facebook page that it is still possible, in 2017, for passionate members of diverse political persuasions to come together on causes that matter.


  1. “Are Mormons the new conscience of the GOP?”
    Ummmmm. No. they voted for 2Rump, overwhelmingly. Besides, they GOP has no conscience, just a clean up operation.

  2. By way of apology and/or explanation, my understanding is that the overwhelming Trump vote you refer to was the Utah vote, NOT Mormons nationwide. Utah is part of the Intermountain West culture which includes a lot of LDS folk who in values and actions are less devoted Mormons than they are “rednecks”. Saddling the rest of us with that narrow Mormon stereotype is inaccurate and, to us, deplorable.

    I’m glad to hear of the group, Mormon Women for Ethical Government, because sexual immorality is only the tip of the iceberg that needs to be addressed.

  3. In that election of 2016 in Utah, Donald Trump received 45.5% of the vote which means 54.5% of the about 72% of the registered voters who voted, cast their ballots against Donald Trump! Unfortunately that vote against now President Trump was split with 27.5% voting for Hillary Clinton and 21.5% voting for Evan McMullin. In the Republican Primary held earlier that year in Utah, Trump received less that 14% of the vote (see,_2016 ). Unfortunately a lot of people (including probably most Mormons) who cast their ballots for Donald Trump were voting against Hillary Clinton, and unfortunately we are left with President Trump. 🙁

  4. Has anyone ever asked Romney which planet he is going to become god on, yet? Just wondering….

  5. not interested, thank you, but I am interested in what planet he is going to be god on. Thanks anyway

  6. IIRC, in Utah McMullin’s Mormon vote was ~33%, up considerably from the 21% he got overall. Either way, If Trump hadn’t won we would have unfortunately been left with President Clinton. There weren’t any good choices, and a lot of Mormons chose to go with the least bad instead of following God’s instruction in the D&C to vote for candidates that are honest, good and wise.

  7. Do you have anything to say that’s actually relevant to the column?

  8. Yes, Jesus was such a fraud — just ask the Pharisees of his time.

  9. I think my one question shows a lot about the mormons. If you want to follow someone who thinks they are going to become God almighty on their own planet, well, I suppose that is your choice, but, it’s about as reliable as a little girl being a boy. It ain’t gonna happen.

  10. Same as you, Ben. You just have difficulty seeing the forest for the trees at times.

  11. Is that the same kind of overwhelmingly as Trump’s overall overwhelming victory? Which is to say, not even a majority? If so, I’m not too worried about how they voted.

  12. Sandi, if you can’t even bother to get the theology right, why make such a fuss?

  13. My theology is good which is why I can show the silliness of some assemblies.

  14. No one cares about your theology, but when you describe others’ theology, you should do so accurately.

  15. A good analysis.

    Any individual of any faith, denomination, etc, who claims to have high morals or ideals, and then fails to speak out when he sees other, prominent individuals behaving hypocritically or downright immorally, brings disrespect upon himself and his faith.

  16. A Pew analysis of exit polls, covered in Jana’s column from almost exactly a year ago, found that Trump got 61% of the nationwide Mormon vote. That is a solid majority, though certainly less overwhelming than the 80% George W. Bush got in 2004 (he actually beat Romney, who got 78% in 2012).

  17. I have a hunch you might do well to read some commentary or analysis of the Pharisees by JEWISH scholars.

    From what I have seen, a few times, the interpretation of events portrayed in the OT and NT differs significantly depending on whether a Jewish scholar or a Christian scholar is doing the interpreting.

  18. Wayne would have done well to give you something more than a link to the standard apologetics. I have the feeling it would work as well on you as any of yours work on me. Nevertheless, don’t say you’re not interested, you did ask the question. Or were you just being mockulatory?
    Mormons do, as far as I understand, believe in deification or theosis, the idea that humans can become like gods. They also assert that this belief was held by early Christians and isn’t new. But while Brigham Young said something along the lines of men becoming powerful as gods, and a god is able to create a planet, I don’t believe it’s ever been stated that people will actually receive their own planet to rule as a god.

  19. completely mockulatory Arb. I confess, all I wanted to do is show some of the silliness of their beliefs.

  20. Nope, you haven’t, as has already been pointed out to you.

  21. Which would be more convincing if you actually understood those beliefs. This is like me mocking you for the silly hat you are wearing right now.

  22. Is that not awful! Prayers…..we need to continue to pray. Blessings Arb

  23. I don’t need to, Bart Ehrman’s already written an entire book on the question. You might want to check it out.

  24. Please provide tangible evidence that Alexander the Great existed. No wish-washy nonsense, no pointing to the obvious impact he had on world history, no pointing at the statues the people CLAIM are him, not histories written centuries later, tangible evidence. I suppose some form of DNA evidence would suffice.

    Historians are not scientists, and so what they consider evidence is of a radically different nature. As I said check out Ehrman’s book for all the proof any historian needs of Jesus’ existence..

  25. If you can’t be bothered to check out the case made by one of the world’s foremost scholars on early Christianity (and fundamentalist Christian turned “agnostic athiest”) for the existence of Jesus, there’s no point continuing. You might as well argue a question in physics, and then when someone points to Steven Hawkings Say you can’t be bothered to check it out.

  26. I’ve read Ehrman’s work and found it wanting. No real proof is offered, just wild speculation. Also, if you can prove existence, then we’ll proceed to the question of divinity / supernatural / paranormal attributes.

    And I can only assume you’re referring to Stephen Hawking, as I have no idea who Steven Hawkings is.

  27. If you consider Ehrman’s book to be wild speculation, then you might as well give up on almost all history before, say, the High Middle Ages. There are a few eyewitness accounts, like much of the Acts of the Apostles, but most is no better sourced than Jesus when it isn’t worse. A good example is the Battle of Cannae — one of the most famous battles in history, and the earliest accounts of it we have were written generations later. We aren’t even certain where it happened.

  28. Ehrman did it for me. If you’re going to insist on a standard of proof for Jesus that no historian would apply to any other ancient figure, I don’t see any point in wasting my time. As I said, the Battle of Cannae and Alexander the Great. Put up, or shut up.

  29. The republican party at this point in time is broken. They actually do not have real values. They say they believe in tax cuts but want to give it to the top 1% off the backs of the sick and poor. This is the party supported by an overwhelming percentage of U.S.members.Romney spoke out against Moore but voted for Trump and came groveling to Trump when he thought he would be secretary of state. Trump played him so he could humiliate him. I am still waiting to see what Flake does on this tax bill. No, we are not the conscience of the republican party. In fact McCain has stood up even more times and he is not mormon.

  30. While I have a lot of respect for Romney, he seriously jumped the gun when it comes to Judge Moore. Was Moore attracted to women considerably younger than him? Absolutely, he dated one and married her when she was only twenty-four and he was thirty-eight, and they’ve been happily married for thirty-three years without a hint if infidelity that I am aware of. When it comes down to he-said/she-said decades after the alledged event, with no corroborating evidence on the part of the accusers, deciding who to believe pretty much comes down to the character of both the accusers and the accused. And unlike Clinton, Trump, Weinstein, etc. (and etc., and etc., and etc…), I haven’t learned of anything so far to convince me that Moore might be a pedophile. So no, IN THIS CASE, Mormons aren’t the “new conscience of the GOP.”

  31. No, Romney didn’t “come grovelling to Trump.” Trump requested Romney speak with him about the possibility of becoming Secretary of State, Romney spoke with him but refused to give the retraction of his anti-Trump statements during the campaign that was demanded, and was dropped from consideration. His refusal was a sign of wisdom as well as integrity, since I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Trump people had intended to accept the retraction then give the job to someone else.

  32. Spoken like a true republican. Deny everything and protect the abuser. Nice going!

  33. “Moore originally called the whole story “fake news.” But he didn’t offer specific denials, while his accusers offered names, places and dates that Post reporters corroborated in two dozen other interviews. Then Moore went on to suggest that some parts of the story could be accurate.”

    ” The accusers and witnesses are identified by name, with on-the-record allegations, corroborated by contemporaneous accounts.”

  34. Probably somewhere next to the holy squared cube city planet claimed in Revelation.

  35. As opposed to someone who thinks a snake and donkey literally talked to people and that they will live forever in a square city made of gold that ascends from space?

  36. I wonder if your question is inspired by Harold Bloom’s condemnation of Mitt Romney. I think the better term is “world,” not planet. We are all in the business of making a world, as Harold Bloom well knows — he does much the same in his reading of Paradise Lost, in which he, Bloom, creates a world of perception which takes a departure from Milton’s. The Anxiety of Influence. It’s worth reading. CS Lewis knew what he (Lewis) meant when he said of a boy he’d known at boarding school who enjoyed torturing cats — (I paraphrase) what did he (the boy) know about making a friend, much less a world? What is the name of Mitt Romney’s world? Who cares what it’s called, the better question is what kind of a world is Mitt Romney making? What kind of a world am I making, or you?

  37. What contemporaneous accounts? You’re conflating two different issues. Moore has categorically denied any sexual contact with minors, and declined to do the same with the report that he’d dated teenagers. As I already pointed out, the second is certainly believable considering the age difference between him and the woman he MARRIED. What I haven’t heard is any “corroboration by contemporaneous accounts” of the accusations of sexual assault.

  38. No, that would be the Democrats. Of course, a surprising number of Democrats are suddenly announcing that they believe the charges against Clinton so I suppose the Republicans could follow the Democrats’ example — wait some thirty years until Moore’s political career is over and he’s shifted from being an asset to a liability, then throw him under the bus.

  39. “Moore has categorically denied any sexual contact with minors, and declined to do the same with the report that he’d dated teenagers. ”

    So five verified accusations vs. one denial.

  40. “Please provide tangible evidence that Alexander the Great existed”

    He appears in mundane records at his time, was described in negative terms by contemporaries and is recorded by his foreign enemies, had contemporary images made of him, and they found his grave a few years ago.

    None of which exists for Jesus, nor likely to. Given his peasant social status, the overall lack of non Roman mundane records in Judea surviving and lack of contemporary interest by the Roman leaders to be worth noting.

    Jesus is assumed, not established. Nor will be proven short of time travel.

  41. Ehrman is not an archaeologist. He is wildly speculating off of records and writings you admit are inherently unreliable. He has no physical evidence nor was likely to look for credible mundane records as proof.

    Roman histories (and literature) are notoriously unreliable due to heavy political influence. From Julius Caesar onward, Roman leaders knew about spinning public opinion in print.

  42. “If you’re going to insist on a standard of proof for Jesus that no historian would apply to any other ancient figure”

    …Other then those historical figures who wrote their own works, were discussed in mundane and derogatory ways by contemporaries, were buried in known tombs, left physical evidence of their works, had death masks, images made of them in life, were on coins issued during their life, or turned up in archaeological sites….

    Cannae: Both Romans and Hannibal wrote about the battle from both sides of it and there is physical evidence of the battle. It was so well recorded we know exactly what tactics were used by the winning and losing side.

    Alexander: see my prior comment.

  43. One more point on this topic. Last night Orin Hatch, who is supposed to be a good member lied through his teeth about the tax break for the upper 1%. How is that being a conscience of the party? Disgusting! This man either does not read scriptures or does not follow them

  44. Not really, they voted for Trump in the election fully knowing he was sexually assaulting women, all because their tribalism makes it impossible for them to vote for a democrat. This is most likely another PR piece put out using their multi-million dollar PR budget.

  45. Their testimony is convincing to me and many in Alabama…considering the polls.

  46. We’ll see how the polls go once Moore’s defenders, including women that have known him for years if not decades, have a chance to be heard and the problems with the stories come out. That that will have to be through the state and local media, since we can’t really expect our Daily Prophets to cover them.

  47. How Ironic. While I was growing up in a conservative church, we were taught that Mormonism is a cult. In fact, when Romney was running against Obama, the Billy Graham website took off their Mormonism is a cult piece.

  48. An appointment to the United States Supreme Court or one of the US Courts of Apoeal requires formidable intellect. It does not, however, require trial skills. Those are appellate courts.

    Elena Kagan, for example, is a fine Supreme Court justice whose work there has been quite good. Her experience as an appellate lawyer when she served as solicitor general likely serves her well. But in her career she most certainly never oversaw a trial as a judge, and may, in fact, have never tried a case as “first chair” herself.

    Is the 36 year old nominee referenced in this article seeking placement on an appeals court or a trial court? If it’s the former, I think the criticism leveled against the nominee for lack of trial experience is misguided.

  49. I have determined that the referenced nominee is seeking a seat on a federal trial court. Accordingly, I agree with the author. He’s unqualified for the job.

  50. Here in Nevada, my “poison” was “None of the Above.”

  51. How do you give a tax cut to someone who does not pay taxes?

  52. How can the Word of God be displayed with different interpretations?

  53. Please provide evidence of any individual that lived 2000 years ago…

  54. Good point. The one year we do have of Trumps tax return, the only reason he paid taxes was the alternative minimum tax. Republicans want to do away with that. It seems Trump is in the presidency not to serve but to serve himself and play lots of golf.

  55. No, mormons are a dangerous cult that needs to be watched and destroyed.

    Jeff Flake is a mormon too — that explains a lot. Wonder if he’s picked out his planet to be god of yet. lol

  56. The reason democrats are coming out of the closet and condemning the Clintons is that it gives them the moral high ground to accuse Tump too. It’s all a well thought out plan.

  57. A plan, yes, but not exactly well thought out since the hypocrisy is so obvious. But it’s the best they’ve got if they’re to have any chance to beat Moore at all.

  58. I know wayne that you wanted Open borders, let all illegals become legal, abortion on demand in the USA, Utah as a sanctuary state, more money for Iran, and a sitter for the “first man/lady – however you want to identify Bill if Hillary were president. A female president sent to China to tell China what they should do – joke. Spend money on global warming until the problem is solved, sell more uranium to Russia to fill the money making Clinton foundation money pot, more speeches in the country of Russia for Bill to put millions more in his pocket, and denial that North Korea is any kind of threat, and to please the dictator if necessary, as your friend Kerry demonstrated, send them about 3 billion in cash in the middle of the night. And of course Hillary would never build up our military and would give no support to South Korea. At the present time how would Hillary react to the world press about Billy boy’s behavior with all those women, especially when she meets with the Arab Muslim countries.

  59. Interest reply, Steve Weber!

    1) When we write, “I know that you think, …” or “I know that you want, …” we are almost always engaging in fortune-telling cognitive distortions and logical fallacies!

    2) I do Not favor fully Open boarders. I favor effective and reasonable boarder and immigration control (see Utah Compact — also see ). I do favor a robust Dream Act for those who came to and were raised in the U.S. as innocent children as long as it is coupled with significant vetting to protect against assuming all such children who have become adults will automatically become loyal American citizens.

    3) I don’t live in Utah, so I voted for Hillary as what I believed was the lesser of the available evils although I would never have voted for her under normal circumstances. I believe she a intelligent and highly skilled individual that is tragically likely to lie whenever it suits her purposes in difficult circumstances, which is a massive and malignant flaw. However, unfortunately in spite of this flaw, I believe she would have told massively fewer lies than President Trump and governed better. FYI — I pray for President Trump nearly every day.

    4) I have no problem with the idea of a female President who is qualified and ethical, but I am opposed to unrestricted abortion on demand, more uranium for Russia, and more U.S. money for Iran. While I morally oppose almost all abortions, I do support legal abortion only in the first trimester in the cases of rape, incest, when the health or life of the mother is judged to be jeopardy by competent medical opinion, and in some cases of severe and soon fatal defects to the child within the womb (see ). While I certain don’t trust Iran and its overall policies, I do believe that the multinational Iran Nuclear Agreement is working effectively on nuclear weapons and should continued to be honored (with continuing robust and careful monitoring) by countries who agreed to the deal.

    5) Your predictions of what Hillary Clinton would have done regarding the military and South Korea are additional examples of fortune-telling fallacies. North Korea nuclear and ICBM capacities are an extremely difficult problem to which I see no current particularly good solution forthcoming from most any source. Sadly, our current course of actions seem has hopeful as any.

    6) I have always stated that Bill Clinton was a very intelligent and skilled political leader who should certainly resigned in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal which gave contextual credence to earlier charges about his sexual escapades. I have always said that the Senate should have removed him from office through the impeachment process started by the House of Representatives. I wish Hillary Clinton would now cease her comments on these issues (and most others) especially given her track record.

    Thanks for encouraging me to further think about and try to clarify my views on the issues I have mentioned. 🙂

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