For the past two days, SIPA’s penthouse has played host to a conference entitled “Mormonism and American Politics,” and Bwog was there in the form of honorary Salt Lake Citizen Clava Brodsky. Lucky she attended, since this topic seems rather, well, topical! What follows are her notes from the field.
Birds probably have the best view of New York City, but for us humans, we’ll have to make do with the 15th floor of SIPA. The Empire State Building shimmers in the distance, the campus lies far below like a stately forum, and the sky looks positively scrapable. What better venue to host the conference on the Mormon religion and its place in American life than this room in the heavens! The conference, hosted by CDTR (Center for the Study of Democracy, Tolerance and Religion) and IRCPL (Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life), was entitled, “Mormonism and American Politics: A Conference.”
Separation of church and state may be a fundamental tenant of American political life, but it doesn’t stop us from closely associating Republican candidate Mitt Romney with his Mormon faith. (Indeed, the organizers of the event, Jana Riess and Randall Balmer, had originally planned the event to fall on the weekend before the New Hampshire primary.) Many of the speakers mentioned Romney and his faith, but this was not the main focus of the conference. Instead, the papers predominantly focused on how the Church as a whole fits into the larger American context.