During Mitt Romney’s two runs at the presidency, stories about “weird stuff Mormons believe” got to be pretty old hat. The stories never consisted of anything substantial, they were just snark. Early in the game in ’06 and ’07 over at Article 6 Blog we would refute these stories by pointing out that more traditional faiths have their unusual beliefs as well. Transubstantiation was generally our favorite example. But it did not take long before we quit bothering.
The stories were so silly that it began to seem like the effort of dealing with them gave them more credence than they deserved. I think that was a big part of the reason that by the time the 2012 cycle rolled around the stories were fairly rare. Well, now that Ben Carson is leading in a lot of polls we are starting to see similar stories about his Seventh-Day Adventist faith. The story is just as silly and as snarky as were the Mormon ones but a lot has changed.
Religion generally receives snarky dismissal anymore, at least among the “hip.” The Mormon stories were designed to separate Romney from the more orthodox Christian pack, and thus weaken his campaign. These Carson stories seem more like efforts just to laugh at religious people generally as the average hipster just thinks we are all fools. This is evidenced by the stories that say religion is the reason Carson is on the rise.
But that does not change the fact that the stories are more or less reruns. Reruns are dull. When I was in college, cable TV was this very fledgling thing. Its mere presence made endless reruns of “My Three Sons” seem fascinating. But the thing was the ratings of those reruns never matched what they were getting on broadcast TV – not even close. It may have been hip in a small group of friends to compare and contrast the latest rerun of “I Dream of Jeannie” to the latest rerun of “Bewitched,” but it was the new episode of Charlie’s Angels that racked in the massive ratings and therefore advertising dollars.
Here is the thing about us religious folk – we may not be hip, but we are usually around doing what we do long after what is hip has changed. Somehow I think that will continue to be the case.