This week, Public Radio International did a segment on Latino Mormons being the fastest growing group within the church.
I found this article on twitter and tweeted for an article as to how this plays out with Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
See twitter conversation here.
Immediately I learned that these groups of Latino Mormons feel “alienated” from Mitt Romney and the break comes primarily from the issue of immigration.
This has been an issue since the primaries and now more recently after the hidden video comments and recalling Senator Romney’s ties to Mexico through family history.
The most interesting one to me was a piece by Monia Alonzo in the Phoenix New Times.
Alonzo structures her story and analysis around recent reports of increasing discontent within the Latino Mormon bloc with Mitt Romney and the religious and historical context their discontent is stemming from.
Within the religion, Mormons place importance to obedience and participation in civic duty while the Church not actively supporting partisan parties.
According to a 2011 national survey of Mormons by Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, Latinos make up 7 percent of Mormons in the U.S.
Alonso points out that while stressing the Mormon faith’s historic connection to converting immigrants, Latino Mormons point directly to immigration stories in the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ recent statements against policies targeting immigrants. They also view Romney’s stance against proposals giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship as hypocritical. This is also from an AP source.
In Utah, some Latino Mormons are splitting from the state’s deep Republican grain and moving away from fellow Mormon Mitt Romney. Immigration policies are driving the wedge, and Latino Mormon’s are asking for a more “charitable approach.”
This frustration that some Latino Mormons feel is illustrative of the polarizing nature of Romney’s immigration policy among Latinos nationwide, and the effect that could have on Romney’s chances of winning the White House this year. In the run-up to the Iowa caucuses in January, Romney said that as president, he would veto the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for some undocumented children of immigrants who attend college or serve in the military. This was reported by several news outlets.
Just as President Barack Obama electrified the black electorate in 2008, and Kennedy mobilized the Catholic vote in 1960, pundits believe Romney’s candidacy could motivate Mormons.
As a presidential candidate with religious ties and a base that is fairly conservative, but everyday is becoming more and more center, how much of this matters to the campaign? Is the next thing to move to the center on immigration policy to appeal to the Latino vote? Or find more complete support in his religious base?
Maybe, maybe not, but its an interesting and lesser talked about aspect of the race that I felt was important to bring up the contradicting combination of Latino Mormon identity that opposes Mitt Romney.