16 June 2012

Salt Lake City--Some Local Thoughts on the Election

I've been in the wonderful town of Salt Lake City for the last week.  I must say that of all the larger cities in America (or Europe, or Africa) that I've visited, Salt Lake is by far the cleanest.  The streets are wide, and, although I've been in the downtown section of town, I think I've seen about one cop all week.

I've been on the light rail, and it's clean.  The hotel I've been in has a wonderful, helpful staff.  Everyone has been really nice.  The setting of the town is amazing with mountains in just about every direction you can look.  To the east are the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains, even though it's been around 85 degrees all week (another plus is the dry air--no sweating, even after walking about half-a-mile to the convention center).  Salt Lake hosted the Olympics a few years ago (2002).  I have little bad to say about the city as far as cities go.

The Mormon Temple--A Large Wall Encompasses Much of the Property
From a religious historian's point of view, however, it is quickly apparent that the LDS are still quite important in town, although not as all-encompassing as I might have earlier thought.  In one discussion, I found that the majority of town is not Mormon.  The importance of Mormonism to the town's history is evident in that the town's street grid is centered not upon the state capitol building, but on the Mormon Temple.  A couple of my historian friends were going to the Temple's genealogy center to do some research since we had an afternoon free today.  I didn't, but I did take a couple of pictures of the Temple grounds, which was only a block from the Salt Palace.

The Salt Lake Tribune had a couple of articles related to Mitt Romney's religion and the presidential campaign this year.  The first argued that his run was a positive and negative for the LDS.  They are looking at this as a "chance to clarify and educate" people regarding the religion.  Of course, the article concedes that questions regarding the status of African Americans and a polygamous past will come up in any discussion.  One wonders if Mountain Meadows or some other negative events in the church's history will also come up.
Note Moroni at the Top of the Temple
Apparently, some Mormons were concerned earlier this year about persecution if Romney won the nomination (LDS "Apostle" David Bednar).  Apparently, Mitt's Mormonism is not a big issue to many that had a problem a few years ago, however.   As we get closer to the election, we shall see if the Mormon question affect's Romney's bid.  Of course, President Obama's tie to liberation theology is not much closer to traditional orthodoxy, either.  Therefore, the place of religion in the election, especially among evangelicals who voted for people like Jimmy Carter or George W. Bush precisely because of their affirmation of evangelicalism, will be interesting to watch.

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