The Secret Mormon Mommy Wars

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 17 2012 9:26 AM

The Secret Mormon Mommy Wars

Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney at an Illinois GOP primary victory party on March 20, 2012

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

McKay Coppins has done the impossible and spun a readable piece out of last week's fabricated "mommy wars." (I prefered Rosengate; apparently, everybody else went with Mommy Wars. The wisdom of crowds is to be respected.) If you ignore the dudgeon, you are left with the fact that Ann Romney married a businessman who got successful in a hurry, and she decided to stay home and raise kids without ever having to worry about bills. The Romney family is wealthy: Breaking news.

But Coppins adds the context about how the Mormon church prioritizes stay-at-home moms.

[E]ven as church leaders' rhetoric has modernized, the Mormon ideal continues to hold that women should, whenever possible, stay home to raise their children... Indeed, more than few Mormon ears perked up when Ann described her family dynamic to Fox News last week:
Mitt said to me more times than you would imagine, "Ann, your job is more important than mine… your job is a forever job that is going to bring forever happiness."

Romney's religion is going to mused-about and impugned at other points during the campaign. It wasn't discussed at all during the Mommy War's Battle of Rosen Field. Is there some upside to reminding voters about which church the Romneys belong to? Probably not. You can win some skeptics over, but it takes an argument. Better to genericize the issue, and turn Ann into Every Mom Ever.

Coppins, a member of the LDS Church, has been plugging away with good stories about this stuff. Generally, though, the skeptical or factual investigations of how the church works have appeared in limited quantities without much pick-up elsewhere. Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones's investigative political reporter, has been filing great stories about the many Mormon-run Amway-style organizations, whose founders give big to Romney. But this has largely remained undernews, not as prominent as stuff like the unknowable Romney "veepstakes."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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