Anyone else getting a little tired of how the media assumes that Mitt and Ann Romney are important to Mormons? Or maybe I should say, how the media assumes Mitt and Ann Romney are “important Mormons.?”
This is the line that got me going, "Ann Romney is now the most famous Mormon on Pinterest—but far from the first." It came from Gawker.com article, "Why Do Mormons, Including Mitt Romney's Wife, Love Pinterest?"**
There are several arguments to make here. I'm going to start with the obvious. A lot more people than just Mormons like Pinterest. Second, is it our fault if we were there first? Trust me, knowing social media like I do, if I wanted to launch a social networking site, I'd try and get the incredibly social and networked Mormons onto it first too! The Romney Campaign strategy of making Ann Romney the next First Lady by making her more loveable and approachable on Pinterest has nothing to do with Ann Romney's religion (and everything to do with political strategy).
It isn't just the media that assumes the Romneys are “important to Mormons.” Last week a Nobel-laureate Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel , got in an uproar over baptisms for the dead, and the mistakes of one Church member. The fallout from that has been well-documented in multiple posts here in Meridian. I'm not going to discuss the actual issue over what happened. I'm just going to jump to the uneducated, and quite frankly, stupid thing that Wiesel said. He demanded that Mitt Romney do something about it. He said that since Mitt Romney is an influential Mormon, he should make the Church stop doing baptisms for the dead.. The fact that no religion should ever change doctrine and activities to please a celebrity member was apparently lost on this influential Jew. What is even more maddening is how many people echoed the demand, not once stopping to consider that God is at the head of the Church, and we take direction from Him. No religion should cave to the demands of an angry rabbi or Mitt Romney! Mitt Romney is a famous politician who happens to be Mormon. And yes, right now, he is famous to Mormons. He could also be called a famous Mormon. But guess what he's not? Important as a Mormon.
Also, he's not a famous Mormon to Mormons. This is getting harder and harder to explain to our non-member friends. Yes, many, not all, but many Mormons really like him right now. But we don't look to him AT ALL as a religious leader. In fact, if he were to go on a nutter and suddenly make announcements to or on behalf of Mormons, I can promise you here and now, we the real Mormons would turn their backs on him in a heartbeat.
We have all heard the media more than once point out that Romney was once a member of the Church "hierarchy," because he was a stake president and bishop. How insignificant is that to us? There are 28,660 bishops worldwide right now, and roughly 4,095 stake presidents. So no, we the real Mormons, don't think of him as hierarchy, not at all. Sure, we respect and sustain our bishops and stake presidents, but we all know that, no, being one does not make them “important” outside of the mantle of the office.
Is Ann Romney important to us? I bet many Mormons couldn't identify a picture of her standing alone. No, she is not that important to us. Is she important to Romney for President fans? Absolutely. But no, she is not “important to Mormons,” except in how she presents herself on the national stage.
Who is important to Mormons? I can tell you that if Frances Monson started a Pinterest account, every Mormon housewife with a computer would follow her. And if Sherri Dew kept a blog, a lot of us would read it. But I seriously doubt Gawker.com know who either of those women are.
It may be one of the best things about Mormons really- we don't celebrity worship. Sure, we have a soft spot for Jimmer and Donny Osmond. But we don't take our spiritual cues from them. We've put God at the head of our church, and only God. We don't cave or change our opinions to what is popular, or what an influential celebrity might say. And we don't apologize for that. Ever.
**One thing that REALLY bothered me about that article is in the header image for it. In theory, they are all pictures of things interesting or related to Mormons. The SLC Temple, Ann Romney, Christ, Shawn Bradley (what? They couldn't find a picture of Jimmer?), a french braid drawing (what? they couldn't get on pinterest for 2 seconds and at least pull a picture of the 50 ways to braid your hair using socks and chopsticks?), and in the top corner a picture of girls in Wholesome Swimwear. Yes, wholesome swimwear, something I never, not once, seen a Mormon wear. Wholesome Swimwear was made notorious a few years back when the Duggar Family was seen wearing it. And I think both the Duggars and most Mormons would like to make it clear, the Duggars are not Mormon. But back to the picture- seriously? A boring french braid and wholesome swimwear? Way to try and make us look like the FLDS. And way to go, writer, for not knowing the difference.
Erin Ann McBride is a writer, dreamer, and world traveler. Equal parts Mary Poppins, Carrie Bradshaw, and Mother Theresa, she goes where the wind blows, writes about the stock market, politics, and dating. She writes about politics at SwingStateVoter.com