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While in college at Idaho State some years ago, I wrote a column for the school newspaper entitled "Support Your Local Land Swap." It dealt with a proposal in which the LDS-owned Institute of Religion building (which had been on campus for years), would be given to the university in exchange for a bare plot of land elsewhere on the campus. As a Democrat and Unitarian, I was expected to oppose this on the grounds of separation of church and state. Now, while I was then (and am now) a fierce supporter of separation, I supported this proposal. In the aftermath, I shocked the "liberal" community, received anonymous letters of support and met with the campus bishop. Anti-Mormonism is Idaho's dirty little secret.

Idaho’s Dirty Secret: Anti-Mormonism

While in college at Idaho State some years ago, I wrote a column for the school newspaper entitled “Support Your Local Land Swap.” It dealt with a proposal in which the LDS-owned Institute of Religion building (which had been on campus for years), would be given to the university in exchange for a bare plot of land elsewhere on the campus. As a Democrat and Unitarian, I was expected to oppose this on the grounds of separation of church and state. Now, while I was then (and am now) a fierce supporter of separation, I supported this proposal. In the aftermath, I shocked the “liberal” community, received anonymous letters of support and met with the campus bishop.

Anti-Mormonism is Idaho’s dirty little secret. While there’s anti-Mormonism everywhere there’s Mormonism, it seems to be particularly malignant here. One reason has its roots in the founding of our state over 100 years ago, in the form of an opportunistic politician named Fred Dubois, who I’ll call Uncle Fred.

Uncle Fred was a tireless champion of Free Silver, a position that was very popular in the West in the late 19th Century. Uncle Fred was also shamelessly racist (especially when it came to Filipinos and Chinese) and arguably the most virulent anti-Mormon activist of his day. It was Uncle Fred who in the 1880s engineered a successful drive to disenfranchise Mormons and prevent them from holding public office in what was then Idaho Territory (elements of those laws remained on the books until 1982). In 1886, Uncle Fred ran as a Republican for the Congressional delegate seat from Idaho Territory on a platform of Free Silver and anti-Mormonism, and won.

Four years later, when Idaho Territory became the State of Idaho, Uncle Fred was instrumental in the creation of the state’s constitution and first government. Late in 1890, he won election from the Idaho Legislature to the United States Senate.

By 1896, Uncle Fred had split from the main Republican Party to become a leader of the Silver Republican faction. As such, he supported the Democratic pro-Free Silver presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, over the East Coast-establishment Gold Standard Republican candidate, William McKinley. McKinley won, Uncle Fred lost reelection to the Senate, and the Silver Republicans began to die out quickly.

Four years after that, Uncle Fred convinced a Democratic pro-union Idaho Legislature (imagine that), to send him back to the Senate as a Democrat, which they did. It was a decision they’d long regret. Uncle Fred spent the next six years railing against Mormons and foreigners. He even tried to convince the Senate to expel Reed Smoot of Utah (later of Smoot-Hawley Act fame) on the grounds that he was a Mormon.

Meanwhile, the reaction in Idaho was predictable. By this time anti-Mormon voting laws were unenforced, and Mormons cast anti-Dubois votes for Republicans in droves. By 1906, due in no small part to Uncle Fred’s constant anti-Mormon rhetoric, a solidly Republican Idaho Legislature was in place. They predictably elected a Republican to replace Uncle Fred in the Senate. That Republican was a progressive Boise attorney named William E. Borah, a man who would scarcely recognize the Republican Party of today.

In the meantime, infighting between pro-Dubois and anti-Dubois factions within the Idaho Democratic Party destroyed what had been a strong coalition of union and agricultural support. By 1910 Idaho Democrats had exorcised most of Uncle Fred’s legacy within the party, but the damage was done. Idaho Mormons were now Idaho Republicans.

Fast forward 100 years and that adage still holds true. But I believe today’s Idaho Republicans take the Mormon vote for granted much more than they should. Consider that the Idaho Republican Party is increasingly dominated by evangelical Christian extremists, a community which just happens to be known to preach against Mormonism as a godless, heretical cult. Ironically many Idaho Democrats, particularly the more liberal elements, are openly disdainful of Mormons because they lump them in the same boat as the aforementioned Christian extremists.

Increasingly Mormon voters are left with a Hobson’s Choice: continue to support the Republican Party, which is more and more dominated by people convinced they’re going straight to Hell, or support the Democratic Party, which they perceive as a cabal of liberals hostile to their faith.

Of course, the latter is not entirely true. Mormon Democrats have served with distinction in state and national politics for decades. The current Senate Majority Leader is Mormon. The Idaho Democratic party chair is Mormon. I believe Idaho Mormons vote Republican more out of habit these days, not conviction.

Consider the Bryan Fischer/Brandi Swindell/Bill Sali strain of evangelical Christian socialism will never truly succeed in Idaho without Mormon support. They’ll never get lasting Mormon support until they prove they’re not out to discredit Mormon faith. To date they’ve done a terrible job of that; this is their fatal flaw. Uncle Fred’s ghost haunts them too.

As for Democrats, while we can debate at length the validity of Mormon theology, the fact is Mormon culture in Idaho is very real. As our experience with Uncle Fred 100 years ago shows, we ignore that at our own peril. Whoever drops their prejudices first has a lot to gain. We’re in a much better position to do it. Indeed, I believe we have a moral obligation to ourselves, the Mormon community, and Idaho in general to do it.

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28 comments

  1. Wow….Good article, although it does have a bit of Pork Fat and the lack of mention of the Know-Nothing Party…The Old West t’was indeed look’n for leaders..
    Thumbs up here William Lane…

  2. I’ll worry about anti-Mormonism when I can get a beer and a bump in the Salt Lake City airport.

  3. Hmmmm. I suspect a party’s perceived prejudice provides little impetus to Mormon’s voting or for whom they vote. And during the time of statehood Mormons were pretty much disenfranchised everywhere in the US due to unfortunate calamities back east arising as a reult of the seductive nature of the religion and the insular and unorthodox practices of its leaders and which continues to contribute to a lesser degree to the prejudice of which you write. In fact disenfranchisment was a condition of Idaho statehood imposed I thought by a Republican Congress. So while you may blame Uncle Fred I think he was riding a wave of popular sentiment that didn’t begin to wane until years after the church withdrew from the practice of polygamy, about the time Fred was unelected. The conventional wisdom is that Mormons vote Republican because the party is more oriented to social conservatism similar to the dictates of the church. I find that explanation more plausible than Democrats are rooted in anti-Mormonism.

    I am also a strong believer in the separation of church and state but I have no problem with the land swap, it does little to further “the establishment of religion.” I am unsure how that segue’s into anti-mormonism.

  4. W. Lane Startin

    The segue is pretty simple: in the mid-90s, if you were at Idaho State and not Mormon, you were assumed to oppose the land swap “just because.” The deeper issues were simply not considered. Even I was guilty of that at first. It was (and still is) very much a stick-it-to-the-man mentality.

    Dubois’ antics made Republicans out of Idaho Mormons in the first decade, and for the most part Idaho Democrats did little to combat it later. The reasons you suggest certainly had a lot to do with that. One notable exception was Frank Church, who was so good with working with Mormons that he was occasionally (and incorrectly) referred to as an elder.

    In fact, given such a large Mormon population, it’s telling that no Mormon had ever been elected to the Senate from Idaho until Mike Crapo less than 10 years ago.

  5. There was a time in recent memory that Democrats could pull 40% of the Mormon vote. Maybe that had to do with better candidates like Church. The way the first paragraph reads, the root cause of being opposed to the land swap was because of a firm belief in the First Amendment, not necessarily anti-Mormonism.

    But I take your point about being reflexive. And congratulations for letting your better judgment see through the issue. I am sometimes guilty of making snap judgments. I spent my formative years in a society dominated by the religion which, like others, is insular, secretive, exclusionary, monolithic and absolutely arrogantly convinced of its own supremacy. These attributes make for poor governance in a democratic society. My bigger concern is over quashing debate on the negative attributes of such an entity because it would be perceived as politically incorrect. People who criticize Israel are simply labeled anti-semetic as a method of avoiding debate. If I gripe about not getting a beer and a bump in the SLC airport I don’t want to be labelled a bigot.

    I very much appreciated your article. Thanks for the discussion.

  6. Oh I just love it when Democrats in Idaho act like they know what is going on in the Republican Party. Based on the results of last Novembers elections… errr you just keep thinking that way!!!

    The true bigotry in this state and around the nation is the hatred most Democrats have for Mormons. Al “Tawana Brawley” Sharpton gave that fact national attention last week with his bigoted comments towards Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

    For the record I am part of that “strain” of those Evangelical Christians you rail against. I love how liberals can get away with words like “Strain”. Can you imagine a Republican using “strain” when referring to homosexuals, african americans or other “liberal” friendly groups? Democrats would call for their heads.. and get them. It just proves my point that being a liberal means never having to say you are sorry.

    Furthermore, it is amazing how you contradict yourself. In one paragraph you say the Idaho Republican party is “increasingly dominated by evangelical Christian extremists” (extremists!! ROFLMAO… You know just like Muslim Extremists) yet a few paragraphs later you say “Consider the Bryan Fischer/Brandi Swindell/Bill Sali strain of evangelical Christian socialism will never truly succeed in Idaho without Mormon support. ” Evangelicals hardly dominate anything in Idaho Politics…

    No the Idaho Republican Party is a big tent… something Democrats cannot claim. Have you ever been to an Idaho Republican Convention? It is a very diverse crowd with a multitude of interests represented.

    The ONLY reason Bill Sali won the GOP primary was because there were 5 candidates in the race and he did get the Evangelical vote that totaled a little over 20%.

    With that said this Evangelical Christian gave the maximum political contribution allowed to Keith Johnson, a Mormon who ran against Sali. I also maxed out my contributions to Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Luna another Mormon and worked tirelessly on his campaign.

    I am also big supporter of both Mike Simpson and Mike Crapo. Seeing that Mike Simpson gets 75% of the vote and Mike Crapo got 99% of the vote in his last race I think that it would be safe to say that Evangelical Christians have done their fair share to support Mormon Candidates. So do us all a favor and go try to resurrect the ghost of Uncle Fred somewhere else… and if you want to look for the bigots towards Mormons look at your own party.

  7. W. Lane Startin

    Sharpton has made a career of making stupid comments. This is just the latest. If you really think Sharpton is representative of Democrats in general (and Idaho Democrats in particular), frankly you need to get out more.

    My statement is not a contradiction. The evangelical Christian element is becoming more dominant in the Republican Party, but in order for it to become dominant in in Idaho in general (remember, even in Idaho at least 40 percent of voters don’t vote straight party line), it needs Mormon support. Given that said evangelicals tend to come from the same groups that distribute anti-Mormon literature, that’s a challenge for them. I don’t mean to imply all evangelicals are anti-Mormon bigots, but it’s an element that simply can’t be ignored.

    There are indeed strong anti-Mormon sentiments in the Idaho Democratic Party, and the Republicans do a better job in Idaho of putting together coalitions. Well, duh. I saw the election results too, you know. Idaho Democratic organization has been sub-par at best. Local groups tend to be cobbled together haphazardly (if they even exist at all), campaigns are understaffed and underfunded, and the messages are weak, which makes it far too easy for you guys to define us as, well, Al Sharpton clones. The end result is predictable.

    The Crapo reeelction is a prime example. He got 99 percent of the vote not because he’s that popular, but because the Idaho Democrats couldn’t get organized enough to put anyone on the ballot. That’s not a representation of Republican power; it’s flat out incompetence on the part of the Democrats. I was living in Vegas at the time, but had I been here I would have been calling for some heads, as you put it. They wouldn’t be Republican heads, either.

    Democrats have a big tent too, but I agree with you in the sense that we could stand to trade in for a larger model. A bigger tent in turn means a shift in some policy stances, which turns off some of the more liberal Boise Democrats because they don’t want to deal with the “spud-puckers” (as I was recently called; I’m from Twin Falls). Well, if we’re going to change these results, we need the “spud-puckers.” They need to shut up and deal.

    However, when Democrats do get it together (like they did in Ada and Bonneville Counties), they can be competitive. If you looked at the election results, you’d note there are six more Democrats in the Idaho House than there were last year. that’s no accident.

    You’d also note that Mike Simpson was dropped to 62 percent in 2006 thanks to a relatively decent campaign by Jim Hansen. I suspect if Hansen was running against Bill Sali instead, he’d be in Washington right now.

    Richard Stallings walked into a flat out mess when he took over as party chair. There’s obviously a long way to go, but he’s going in the right direction.

  8. Big tent. That is funny Tracy. I see how representative your big tent is when I look at your party’s slate of presidential candidates. Have you been to a Democratic Convention? It is a very diverse crowd with a multitude of interests represented, many of whom are there for the simple reason that they got relegated to the Mohammed, Jagdish, Sidney, and Clayton section of the Republican frat party.

    And thanks for making the point about the similarities between Muslim and Christian extremists, their common tocuhstone being their intolerance, not only for each other but for anyone who disagrees. They both desire to ensconce their dogma into law, have government be the servant to religion thus endangering the freedom and liberty our forefathers fought for. Funny how you don’t get the wisdom behind keeping religion and government separate avoiding the religious warfare that plagued western civilization for centuries.

    Your pretty quick with the labels there yourself. Since you’re such a good Republican you must have gone to Ann Coulter when she was asked to speak to the State Republicans. Did she refer to Democrats as traitors again. Question our patriotism? How about faggots? Did she refer to any presidential candidates as a faggot? Did she threaten to kill any Supreme Court Justices? Methinks thou doth protest too much over the word “strain” or Al Sharpton. Tell you what, you repudiate Ann and I’ll repudiate Al.

    It seems silly to antagonize an article and its author on points in which you agree. And Lane the party could use more workers and doers and a lot fewer apologists.

  9. Lane,

    Thanks for the response… Al Sharpton is a problem for Democrats even in Idaho… At least the GOP shuns our nuts and gets rid of them. Tom Foley was gone the minute it hit the public…( I wish he was gone sooner) Democrats have had and still have worse offenders in power (Barney Frank) and they get a free pass. Sharpton says what he says and until DEMS will condem him it will continue to poison the rest of the party.

    As for the Sali race, Larry Grant was no push over… I am not sure Hansen would have beat him. I think until the Democratic party quits sacrificing itself at the alter of abortion and until a pro-life, pro 2nd amendment candidate steps forward I see nothing changing here.

    I live in Blaine County so I know all about liberal politics and I agree with you… the Dems in Idaho are a mess… they cannot even get all the legislative races filled.

    Good luck Lane… I feel your pain… Being a Republican in Blaine County is like being a Democrat in the rest of Idaho.

  10. Excellent article, Lane, and good rebuttal to Tracy L as well.

    Three thoughts:

    1) Last year, Meridian blogger Bubblehead, who is LDS, repeteadly tried to get Bill Sali to answer whether he agreed with most fundamentalists that Mormonism is a cult. Sali refused to answer.

    2) As a Boise Dem who lived in Twin for 15 years, I understand and applaud your comment about needing the “spud-puckers.” Demands by single-issue activists (be it immediate withdrawal in Iraq or abortion on demand) have hurt the Democratic Party just as surely as they have the GOP. I think many if not most Democrats realize this and are working hard not to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

    We truly *do* have a big tent, while I see the GOP splintering in at least three somewhat overlapping constituencies: religious extremists, free market zealots, and fiscal watchdogs. But the GOP seems far less likely to be able to unite its warring factions than we Dems, which is why – just years after Karl Rove predicted a permanent Republican majority – we are in fact seeing a schism that will ensure widespread GOP defeats next year … maybe not here in Idaho, but certainly elsewhere.

    3) I agree Big Al S is hardly in the mainstream of Democratic thought. I think most people outside Utah and Idaho simply don’t understand the Mormon faith. But most of us here in the Intermountain West value Mormonism for its positive attributes – dedication to family and community – and we don’t sweat the small stuff (temple garments, secret ceremonies, etc). Can Bill, Bryan, and Brandi say the same? Can they agree that all religions have positive attributes, and that there are many paths to the holy?

    If so, I want to hear them do so – in public.

  11. Great article. I am reminded of what a Jewish friend told me when she heard the virulent anti-Mormon attitudes then prevalent at the University of Washington. She said “this reminds me of what people were saying about my faith in the 1930s”. A bigot is a bigot, even if pop culture, fundamentalist Christians or the far left does not acknowledge the validity of the victims.

  12. Another thing I love about liberals…like Tom von Alten… they are so intellectually superior… so sure of themselves… I live up here in the Peoples Republic of Blaine County and you should hear the things I hear said about Mormons from loving, compassionate and tolerant Liberal Democrats… Democrats are loving, compassionate and tolerant as long as you don’t say anything they disagree with… as evidenced of the things being said about Jerry Falwell today by the left… The left would have nicer things to say about Osama bin Laden…

    Thanks for the laughs.

  13. Sorry Tracy L, there are no liberals “like” me — I’m just me, responding to your expressed sense of superiority and self-certainty.

    In tennis, when you purposely make a bad call, it’s called a “hook.” Some hookers go to the next level with the reverse hook–accusing their OPPONENTS of making a bad call. I can see you know the ropes of that. Tennis has a Code calling its participants to gentlemanly behavior. Too bad there isn’t a similar document we could agree on for politics or online discourse.

    I try to build my opinion of individuals, whether they be Mormon, Christian, or whatever, based on what they say and do. I just met you here, today, and I’m sorry to say my opinion of you is pretty low. Got nothing to do with you being a Republican, even.

  14. Tom,

    Not looking for validation from you. I grew up in a 600 square foot apartment a block from one of the toughest housing projects in Los Angeles next to the Los Angeles Harbor, was a busboy in a resturant when I was 12 and lived in my Volkswagen van my last two years of high school… so please forgive me if I don’t get your liberal elite tennis analogy regarding “hooks” … the only hooks I know anything about were the ones I threw in the probably 100 fist fights I was in by the time I was 15.

    When you are thirteen walking down the hall of your school and you hear POP POP POP and Julio Del Carpio is on the ground in a puddle of blood you realize that in the real world Sylvester does catch Tweety-Bird, and Dorthy, we’re not in Kansas anymore… Sorry for the brutality but that was just a fact of life where I come from.

    When I was 18 I registered as a Republican and voted for Ronald Reagan. I saw first hand the devastation liberal policies have on the human soul. 28 years later I am a successful businessman, devoted husband and father of three. This article is about Anti-Mormonism in Idaho by Evangelical Christians. Sorry if I won’t swallow your liberal pablum.

  15. Tracy, you’re scary. Stop acting like a troll and make better use of your time.

  16. sorry henry…. the author is the troll…..

  17. Julie in Boise

    Tracy, you are in Blaine County, probably still the most Democratic in Idaho. That explains your siege mentality. You came to Idaho expecting a land of monolithic Christianity and free-market fundamentalism (and perhaps a little less, uh, diversity), and you find you are sharing airspace with Teresa Heinz Kerry. The horror!

    Let me clue you in, since maybe you haven’t been in Idaho that long: Most people here – Republicans, Democrats, Independents – believe in live-and-let-live. You’ll be happier if you can join us in that frame of mind. Good luck.

  18. Well, only about 100 years of history left out, including the fact that Idaho Democrats were very competitive in Mormon areas of the state. Indeed, the two Idaho governors who happened to be LDS, Arnold Williams and John Evans, were both Democrats. Even as late as 1960 JFK managed 46 percent of the vote here (there was something of an affinity between Catholics and Mormons at that time given a shared sense of being persecuted over the decades).

    I think the real break came in the late 1960s with the rise of the federal welfare programs and the 1970s with abortion, issues that gravitated LDS church members towards the Republican Party (this is what I was told by guys I know who lived in Rexburg). And it’s been explained to me before, but now I forget how Larry EchoHawk, himself LDS, managed to lose the Mormon vote in 1994 even when largely aligned with politically conservative positions on the issues.

    It is certainly a curiousity that Mormons and Evangelical Christians find themselves aligned in the same political party despite the wide gulf that exists in their competing religous doctrines. While that factor may repel, it is outweighed by a shared aversion to Democratic Party policies on many issues, something like “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

  19. Oh Julie…. ROFLMAO…. I don’t know if I have laughed this hard in a long time… FYI I have lived here 10 years and my wife and I have had two children born here… one in the old Sun Valley Lodge Hospital in the old cafeteria.

    I just love bigoted liberals who spew bigoted rhetoric towards Christians.. Using the word “Strain” to describe Christians as if they were some “Strain” of black plague or malaria…. Then they make up a story about “Idaho’s dirty little secret” that does not exist. Sorry to rain on the liberal love fest going on here… but hey being a liberal truely does mean never having to say you are sorry.

    I love when someone like Julie trys to throw “diversity” at me. Gee honey… have you lived in Boise your whole life? Now there is a diverse place for you! If it wasn’t for the neighborhood I grew up in Boise State would not have a football team….

    I grew up in a neighborhood that was about 1/3 white, 1/3 black and 1/3 hispanic. The “White” portion included many 1st generation American families from places like Yugoslavia (my step father), Croatia, Greece, Italy and Portugal. I played ball with and against guys who have played for championship teams in Super Bowls, the World Series, NBA, NCAA…. they all grew up in my neighborhood.. I also could write two or three pages of names of guys I grew up with who are in prison or dead…

    I was in the concrete business for 15 years and had 50 employees… 25 of which were black… My shop was at 135th and Normandie… the epicenter for the Rodney G. King riots was at Florence and Normandie which was at about 115th Street… that was one week of everything for miles getting burned to the ground. The people I grew up with were tight… white, black, mexican… we liked good people and we all hung together… Julie… diversity to you is just a word… Go down to Compton or East Los Angeles or the LA Harbor Area for a week then come back and talk to me about diversity…

    Again thanks for the laughs!

  20. I don’t agree with the author’s point of view that anti-Mormonism is particularly rampant here in Idaho. Like Tracy, he seems willing to draw broad inferences about what all of “them” think from relatively little evidence. This is stereotyping, and ironic, given that the complaint is about some “them” who are prejudiced and stereotyping a group of people.

    The source of anti-Mormonism is an understandable reaction to a secretive and cliqueish social system. It’s been a remarkably effective system for its adherents, but any religion that insists it is the One True thing is going to create significant opposition. The Mormons I have had the closest friendships with were either ex-Mormons or those who were questioning the insularity of the group. That’s just me, of course. I don’t relate well to people to have magical thinking as part of their core beliefs, in general. (That doesn’t meen I can’t get along with them, it just limits the depth of our interaction.)

    I’ve heard my share of complaints about favoritism, but I treat them as specific observations, to be tested against my own experience. I’ve seen some; I didn’t see reason to extend the inference to suppose there’s a systemic problem with Mormons, or non-Mormons.

  21. Julie in Boise

    Tracy, I grew up in Pittsburgh. I’m white, but my Mom volunteered weekly at a church preschool in the Hill District, the city’s most black neighborhood (and I usually went with her in the summer). I now make much of my living going to inner cities and writing about small-d democracy projects launched by, uh, liberals.

    And, wonder of wonders, I live here on the Boise Bench with an African American family on one side of me, a Native American man on the other, and a biracial couple two doors down. We have many Somalian regugees in my neighborhood as well. These aren’t the mean streets of LA, I’ll grant you that, but Boise is an increasingly diverse place. That’s why we left Twin to move here.

    My point was: You left LA to come to Idaho. You expected to find one thing and found the reality perhaps not quite so simple. Good day, my friend. I’m sorry to say I get the sense you’d be unhappy anywhere.

  22. W. Lane Startin

    A few points:

    -For what it’s worth, I’m more libertarian than liberal. Just in the last month I’ve taken stances on Wal-Mart in Twin Falls (support), growth on the canyon rim in Twin Falls (strongly support), and a moratorium on CAFOs in Jerome County (oppose). All positions that ruffle the feathers of those of a more contemporary liberal bent. The CAFO debate in particular earned me the “spud-pucker” moniker. I don’t read the Democratic Party “talking points,” and more importantly I sincerely don’t care about them. I freelance all my own work.

    -As far as I’m concerned, you can be as Bible-believing, Word-preaching, soul-witnessing and Jesus-freaking as you wanna be. All I ask is that you keep it out of public policy, because frankly that’s un-democratic. It’s people who have a problem with that who I refer to as the “strain” in question.

    -Not two days ago as I was heading north on Eastland Drive in Twin Falls, passing the LDS Temple under construction there, I quite clearly saw a truck passenger in the southbound lane flip off the building. What’s more, I didn’t find that particularly unusual. There have been more than a few people in Twin Falls publicly lament how the LDS Temple already dominates the skyline as one drives into Twin Falls from the north, and about how the building will be the city’s tallest. So the notion that anti-Mormonism in Idaho isn’t rampant, sorry, it’s rubbish.

    -To Tracy: If anti-Mormonism isn’t prevalent in the evangelical community, how come more than a few evangelical churches openly demonize them? What’s wrong with a little institutional tolerance? We all know Mormons have a fervent “one true church” belief too, but to their credit I have never seen any sort of organized campaign on their part to go after evangelicals in a similar manner.

    -To Tom: I have to agree with Tracy in that many liberals are guilty of anti-Mormonism too, albeit usually in a more subtle manner. From a pure public policy standpoint, who cares what their theology is? One should be respectful of them. Not all liberals do this, mind you, but enough to notice.

    -To Julie: Thanks for your comments. Incidentally, over the past 10 years I’ve lived in Chicago, Philadelphia and Las Vegas, so I’m somewhat familiar with the outside world too. Especially in Philadelphia, I’d say a clear majority actually believe Mormons still practice polygamy.

  23. Lane: your expressed opinion is that “While there’s anti-Mormonism everywhere there’s Mormonism, it seems to be particularly malignant here.” You’ve provided ample evidence that it does exist, and I’m not questioning that claim.

    What I have a problem with is the sweeping “seems to be” statements that are so easily produced as opinion, and supported by a parade of anecdotes. If we’re talking religion and politics, the facts are out there for the taking. How do Mormon and non-Mormon candidates do in different parts of Idaho? What better way to answer the question than by the popularity contest of the voting booth?

    Of course there will still be those voting not just no, but HELL no to support your thesis that “many liberals are guilty.” All men are sinners, as they say.

    If you want to generalize, the obvious generalization is that liberals are more tolerant of diversity than conservatives, whether you’re talking economics, politics or religion. If you want to argue that this conventional wisdom is topsy turvy based on somebody flipping off a stake house, knock yourself out.

  24. W. Lane Startin

    As far as politics go, consider the US House districts. The 2nd District seat has been continuously held by a Mormon for decades. The last non-Mormon to hold the seat was John Sanborn in the late 1940s. This is not surprising given most Idaho Mormons live in the 2nd. However, in the 1st CD, I don’t believe there has ever been a Mormon elected.

    As I mentioned earlier, Mike Crapo has the distinction of being the first (and thus far only) Mormon ever elected to the United States Senate from Idaho.

    I think anti-Mormonism is more prevalent in Idaho than other states because of the Dubois legacy, but also because there is much more parity between Mormons and non-Mormons than in other places. It creates an us-vs-them attitude, which I and many other native Idahoans grew up with.

    As a whole, are liberals more tolerant than conservatives? Well, depends on what you’re talking about. On social issues, the answer is a clear “yes.” On economic issues, my feelings are mixed. What’s the general Democratic stance on estate taxes, for example? Why do Idaho Republicans support state-run liquor stores, which is blatant socialism?

    Religion? Well, many times it’s a debate between “all religions suck” vs. “all religions except mine suck.” I’d have to say that one’s a wash, too.

    I don’t recall saying all conservatives are anti-Mormon, or all liberals are anti-Mormon. My contention is (1) it is an issue in Idaho and (2) both sides are guilty of it to some degree. Thus far I haven’t seen anyone seriously challenge either point.

  25. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Thanks for the history lesson. I think the 20th Century deserves a little more attention, though. Utah was pretty evenly divided between the two parties until the Democrats were taken over by the McGovern supporters and adopted abortion and anti-military thinking as litmus tests. Utah Democrats are mostly pretty conservative within their party, and it used to be possible to find conservative Democrats across the US. The Democrats basically bought into the liberal materialist dream, and it turned off normal Americans who believe in God and divinely laid down standards of behavior.

  26. W. Lane Startin

    Utah is a very different scenario. There’s a long history of anti-Mormonism there too, but because the LDS faith is unquestionably the dominant one in Utah – and has been since Brigham Young – I don’t think it’s ever been near as contentious overall as it is in Idaho, at least not recently. Your comments RE McGovern Democrats in Utah are well-taken (wasn’t it, um, Moss who was a longtime Democratic US Senator from Utah back in the day?). That said, how do you explain Rocky Anderson?

  27. BIO DUBOIS, Fred Thomas, (1851 – 1930)
    http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=D000509

    Polygamy in relation to Oregon, Washington, Idaho Territories, & Idaho.
    1-1856, The new Republican party selected for it’s national platform a call to abolish the “Twin Relics of Barbarism, Slavery and Polygamy”.
    2-1862 July 8, Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law, signed by Abraham Lincoln.
    3-1879, Morrill act of 1862 was declared valid by the supreme Court.
    4-1882, Edmunds act, an amendment to strengthen the Anti-Bigamy Law of 1862.
    5-1885 Idaho’s Test Oath Law disfranchises Mormons.
    6- 1890 February 3, United States Supreme Court Sustains the Idaho Voting “Test Oath”.
    7- 1890, April The United States Supreme Court sustained Edmunds-Tucker Bill.
    8-1890, Test oath incorporated in Idaho Constitution.
    9- 1987, Test oath removed from Idaho Constitution.
    10-2004, Utah Attorney General issues report identifying Mormon polygamous colonies in Rexburg and Boundary CO. Idaho

  28. Telson makes the point. No thought, no consideration, nothing but vitriol and accusation. What if there are differences between Mormonism and Evangelicalism? Is Christianity not just a big Jesus Cult? The claims of people like telson give Christianity a black eye, and hardly fulfill the mandate from Matthew 22 to love others as we would be loved.

    Heretic cult is what Christians were called all around asia major during the 1st and 2nd centuries. One wonders where all the name-callers back then find themselves now. You’ll see them, Telson, and then you can let us know.