Jennifer Rubin accuses self-identified LDS journalist of painting Mormons as ‘backward thinking’

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Count me among those who are worried the media and the left will attempt to use the “Mormon issue” to attack Mitt Romney. I’m not especially concerned that this will harm Romney’s electoral chances. I’m more concerned this is yet another example of dividing Americans and creating disharmony.

What is more, if there can be a de facto religious test which excludes LDS Members, what about those who believe in transubstantiation, or the laying on of hands, or whatever? The slippery slope argument here is worth considering.

Having said that, it appears Romney’s number one apologist — the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin — has an itchy trigger finger when it comes to stamping out this looming threat. Her defensiveness over the issue likely inspired her to attack self-identified Mormon, McKay Coppins, as a purveyor of “discourse asserting the Mormon faith is discriminatory and oppressive toward women.”

Regarding his recent BuzzFeed column titled, “Why Ann Stayed Home,” Rubin wrote: “The piece foreshadows, I fear, of what is to come — effort to portray Mormons as weirdly out of step and unmodern, and by implication, Romney as being unfit for the presidency.”

In fairness to Rubin, Coppins’ thesis might be a bit of a stretch. As she notes, he begins the piece confessing that “Ann Romney was already fully immersed in stay-at-home motherhood…when Mormon prophet Ezra Taft Benson took to a pulpit on February 22, 1987 and delivered a definitive sermon on gender roles in the church titled, ‘To the Mothers of Zion.'”

Is promoting stay-at-home-motherhood really unique to Mormonism? I’m pretty confident I could find prominent Catholics (or likely any Protestant denomination) who have strongly advocated it. If Rick Santorum were the nominee, one could just as easily write the same sort of column about Karen Santorum.

Writers must write, and in the internet age, journalists like Coppins (and yours truly, for that matter) are under the gun to produce content. And that’s just what he did.

But Rubin’s suggestion that Coppins’ column paints “Mormons as condescending and backward thinking when it comes to gender…” seems a bigger stretch. I’m not a secular progressive, of course, so maybe I’m biased. Maybe other readers would interpret it differently? But I found the piece to be a positive portrayal of Mormon theology, motherhood, and Ann Romney.

Again, the Obama campaign has hinted they will play the Mormon card, so the general concern is not absurd. But accusing Coppins of being involved in that effort strikes me as the definition of paranoia.

Matt K. Lewis