Skip to comments.Mitt's Mormon Army: How It Works
Posted on 02/04/2012 6:53:17 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Very, very good e-mail lists and an internal debate over whether to use them. I'm getting really tired of the ads for Romney campaign trips coming from this list serve, writes one young Mormon.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- At Mitt Romneys first rally here earlier this week, there were plenty of hints that the enthusiastic crowd of 1,000 was stacked with Mormons. Kids walked around in BYU sweatshirts, moms chatted about LDS youth groups, and at least one supporter was overheard talking about making phone calls for the candidate as part of "family home evening" -- a weekly family night the church encourages its members to hold.
But while it's no secret that Romney's coreligionists have swelled the ranks at campaign stops from Des Moines to Reno, one question about the Mormon vote has gone largely unanswered this primary season: How, exactly, have they gotten so organized?
"We heard about it from some friends in our [LDS] ward," said one woman standing outside a rally held in a Las Vegas hotel supply warehouse. "We're so glad we could make it." Another Mormon standing nearby chimed in, "Everyone we know is voting for Mitt!"
The secret to the grassroots success lies, in part, in the unique national structure and scrupulous record-keeping of the Utah-headquartered Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the church itself is politically neutral, it contains the structural groundwork for one of the most organized and effective voting blocs in the countrysomething Romney is poised to capitalize on.
Heres how it works
In contrast with most other religions in the country, the Mormon Church is nationally organized in a strict, top-down fashion, like a corporation. Every congregation in the U.S. reports back to church headquarters in Salt Lake. Whenever an individual is baptized -- either as a child or as a convert -- local ministers take down the persons name, address, phone number, and e-mail address, and feed the information into a national database maintained by officials in Salt Lake (and only accessible to certain church leaders).
From there, the individuals are assigned to geographically-determined congregations -- or wards -- of about 200-300, which they attend on Sundays. Their contact information is filtered into a local ward list, which is distributed to all local congregants for planning purposes--from coordinating Sunday school, to working out the logistics for church barbeques.
For decades, these ward lists were printed out and distributed after Sunday services, but in recent years the system has migrated online to LDS.org, where Mormons create logins to access the contact information for every fellow believer in the area.
For active Mormons, wards often become the center of their social universe: its not uncommon for members to visit their local chapels three or four times a week for various activities and meetings. Additionally, Mormons participate in home and visiting teaching programs, which require them to visit certain ward members on a monthly basis. In this context, ward lists become invaluable tools for Mormons daily lifeinevitably finding their way into Google groups, listservs, and cell phones.
They also frequently become political tools.
Working the wards
The church expressly forbids using these directories for non-religious purposes, but that doesnt deter many politically active Mormons from working their ward lists to get out the vote. Reports abound of members blasting out congregational e-mails soliciting support for partisan causes and candidates. One Southern California ward received several e-mails urging congregants to vote for an LDS politician running for local office. And in nastier example of the practice, ward lists in Alpine, Utah were used to spread an anonymous smear campaign against a candidate on the eve of a local election.
Several Mormons told BuzzFeed that as the 2012 primaries heated up, they started to see their fellow congregants use ward lists to organize local efforts for Romney.
Here in Nevada, Ryan Erwin, a consultant for the Romney campaign, acknowledged that the candidate has benefitted from grassroots efforts by Latter-day Saints, and said the campaign is proud of their support. But he also thinks the Mormon factor has been overstated.
Mormons make up seven percent of the population here, Erwin said. If you read some of the reports in the media, youd think it was 90 percent its a little aggravating when youve worked for months to build up an organization and then they say, Well, he just won it because hes a Mormon.
That said, exit polls in 2008 showed that about 25 percent of Nevada caucus-goers self-identified as Mormon -- and Romney won that primary handily. This time around, polling indicates that hes headed for a similarly dominant victory, and if it happens, local Latter-day Saints will no doubt deserve a chunk of the credit.
Much like how Iowas Christian home-school vote advanced its own grassroots efforts for Mike Huckabee largely independently of his campaign, theres no evidence that Team Romney is officially coordinating with Mormon congregations. But anecdotal evidence suggests that a highly motivated base of Mormon supporters has effectively taken advantage of the LDS infrastructure to help Romney.
The Colonial First Ward listserv
One of the most illustrative examples is the Colonial First Ward listserv, which consists of more than 3,500 D.C.-area Mormons, many of them young and single.
E-mails obtained by BuzzFeed show the listserv being used frequently as a recruiting tool for Romney supporters -- gathering signatures to get the candidate on the Delaware ballot, requesting volunteers to aid the campaigns Illinois operation, and organizing a get-out-the-vote trip to South Carolina on the weekend of the primary.
The fruits of that last effort were obvious on the ground in Columbia, S.C., where dozens of young Mormon students from Virginia and D.C. were found rallying for Romney at various campaign stops.
But not everyone on the listserv has looked kindly upon efforts to transform the network into a booster club for Romney, and a number of members have e-mailed complaints.
Matt Larsen, a member of the listserv, wrote last October: I know Im probably going to make enemies here, but Im getting really tired of the ads for Romney campaign trips coming from this list serve. The disclaimer at the bottom of every list serve email states very clearly: Items that will not be posted/that will be removed include: promoting your business, promoting political ideologies, and inflammatory comments and rhetoric.
The protests appear to have been ignored though, with members continuing to send out e-mails as recently as last month that requested volunteer help for Romney.
The Colonial First Ward listserv seems to be a miraculous pro-Romney organizing tool, grumbled one D.C.-area Mormon, who is a Democrat. Whenever you get the contact information for 3,540 young Mormons in one place, I guess it has to be.
Do we have that data about JFK? Did he have access to diocesan mailing lists?
Mormons are cultists and Romney will do what they church tells him to do. That’s the way it works. You want the LDS calling the shots for America?
My thoughts exactly. Well said.
There is no “separation of church and state”. It was a dreamed up court ruse. The only Constitutional rule is that the government cannot interfere in church matters. Like Obama has done.
Isn’t Harry Reed a Mormon?
I’m not saying, just saying.
I am not even going there. My own late mother, bless her, was very biased against Mormons her whole life - but only because her own mother told her to be.
Personally, I think the Morman church now is where the Catholic church was just 200 years ago in their dogma.
The problem with most Mormons is they follow like blind sheep. Bishop says you do.
If it is against their tax exempt statice, is there any action legally that can be done to keep them from using the list now....Any complaint filed? Federal Judge stay? Anything?
How about their "gods" created Heaven and Earth.
You could use some knowledge.
That will never happen.
As they say, character matters.
I'm not Catholic so I will leave that statement for a Catholic to more properly correct after making just a few points I'm pretty sure are true of Catholics.
They have never believed that Jesus and satan are brothers. They have never believed that Jesus was conceived the regular way by sexual intercourse between a god, come to earth as a man, with Mary. I'm fairly certain they have always believed that Jesus was born of a virgin. They do not believe that Jesus paid for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane but on the cross of Calvary. They have never practiced polytheism either.
I know plenty of other differences that have always existed but will leave it to Catholics here to further correct this erroneous statement.
Now it is the nefarious scheme of being ORGANIZED that troubles you IDIOTS. HAVE YOU NOTHING BETTER TO DO???
Now it is the nefarious scheme of being ORGANIZED that troubles you IDIOTS. HAVE YOU NOTHING BETTER TO DO???
Let’s go there. I used to be Mormon so I have first-hand dealings with the LDS as one of them.
Your mother was a wise woman. The LDS church isn’t what it claims, not even close. DJ is correct, Joseph Smith claimed he was greater than Jesus Christ.
The Mormon church fits all three disciplinary definitions of a cult: anthropological, sociological and theological.
Anthropologically, they are a religion with rites and rules.
Sociologically, they are a high demand group that uses secrecy and spiritual blackmail to micromanage the lives of its members.
theologically, they are a cult because of their rejection of the basic doctrines of Christianity, the Trinity and person work and nature of Christ.
I do not see how you could POSSIBLY equate the teaching of the Catholic church and the LDS (dogma) unless you know nothing of either.
Mormonism isn’t only a cult, it is a dangerous cult, one that lies to outsiders and members and uses its vast financial empire to further those lies.
If you would actually like to know what Mormonism teaches, ask those of us here on FR who have been there. I’ve pinged several of them for you.
I see that you are a Mormon apologist. Are you part of their cult?
Nevermind. I see that you are a cultist.
Mormons will support him—thats a given. Nothing to worry about—Just like Blacks will support Obama—its a given. Remember the Mormon prophecy of the Man on the White Horse made by old Joe Smith—he will save the nation—Maybe its true. Mitt can’t be worse than Obama—
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