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Mitt Romney's cousin explains the history of the GOP and Mormonism through twitter (and other interesting things)
July 28, 2012 5:40 PM   Subscribe

Miles Kimball tells the history behind the Mormon church's close ties to the GOP through his twitter account.

Miles Kimball's story is very unique. He is an academic economist at the University of Michigan as well as Mitt Romney's cousin. The lineage is through Kimball's grandmother, Camilla Eyring Kimball, who was George Romney's first cousin (Mitt Romney's father). Miles Kimball comes from a line of Mormon prophets who can be traced back to Joseph Smith, as Kimball is the grandson of Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Mormon Church, and also the nephew of Joseph Smith.

While some may find his scholarship on macroeconomics interesting (google scholar, vita), Top 10 blog posts), I found the story of his own spiritual journey fascinating. Kimball left the Mormon church in 2000 and is now a lay pastor in the Universal Unitarian Church, though he remains a Mormon priest and elder. Here is a link to an old sermon he gave.

Tyler Cowen speaks fondly of his old classmate, saying "Miles struck me as a mind in perpetual motion, in the best sense of that phrase". You can read Kimball's blog at Confessions of a Supply Side Liberal as well as follow him on Twitter.
posted by scunning (25 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
You had me at "explains the history" then lost me at "through twitter".
posted by item at 5:57 PM on July 28, 2012 [15 favorites]


Protip: "You have the right to remain silent." scribed Harold Berliner.
posted by vozworth at 6:05 PM on July 28, 2012


See also Why do U.S. Mormons vote mainly Republican?
posted by weston at 6:11 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The idea that Mormons switched to the GOP in exchange for statehood for Utah seems interesting, but Utah got its statehood in 1896, when the president was a Democrat. Maybe I missed a detail somewhere when my phone battery died.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:18 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who desires to understand how out of touch Mitt Romney is with the average American need only check the clothing, transportation, and housing allowance required for a dressage horse competing in London.
posted by vozworth at 6:25 PM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Love the twitter format! So much easier to digest than some snooty impenetrable "article". I'll read a few now, maybe two or three over lunch (if I can manage both reading and chewing LOL), then I might manage one tweet before bed! I'll be up to speed.
posted by mattoxic at 6:46 PM on July 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


Romney boosts liberal Mormons: With their religion front and center, progressive Latter-day Saints are becoming bolder about speaking out
posted by homunculus at 6:53 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


To become a US State, Utah dropped its home-grown People's party and created Democratic and Republican parties in 1891, see here, for example. The state's voting history does not support the 'Republican sellout plot' thesis.

The Democratic presidential nominee won Utah in 1916(Wilson) 1932-44(Roosevelt) 1948(Truman) and 1964(Johnson). Gore got 39% of the vote in 2000. The state leaned Republican until Reagan, when it fell over.

Mormons Serving In Congress says there are 15 Mormon congressmen, 4 of whom are Democrats (well, one of the Democrats is Rep. Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa and is only an observer)
posted by hexatron at 6:57 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The entire country fell over Reagan (that sentence works in more than one way), including Utah. Most states haven't recovered since.
posted by DU at 7:04 PM on July 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mormons Serving In Congress says there are 15 Mormon congressmen

Yeah, Harry Reid is a Mormon. I've mentioned this to people and they seem quite surprised. And he's a Democrate.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:09 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Democrap
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:11 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The history of the Morman church in Michigan is unexpectedly   colorful. One of my friends was baptized into one of those really obscure sects (so obscure that his mainstream Mormon boss exclaimed "I thought that was just a myth!").

Anyway, when he tried to get married in a Catholic church, the priest completely balked because while regular Mormon would have been tolerated, this branch was completely not recognized. Luckily, his grandmother saved the day by pulling out a secret Lutheran baptismal certificate, because, in her words, "I couldn't let you be just that."

Definitely made for an awkward rehearsal dinner.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:24 PM on July 28, 2012 [13 favorites]


Wow, it's almost as if people raised from childhood to believe what they're told by one group of "elders" will believe any crap they're told by other authoritative figures. Who'da thunk?
posted by nicwolff at 9:39 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


When you mentioned Michigan I thought you were talking about the Reorganized LDS church, which had a church or two in my hometown. I had no idea about the Strangites — though apparently the Reorganized LDS ended up taking most of them in after they lost their "kingdom," so I do get my hometown connection after all, if only indirectly.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:59 PM on July 28, 2012


is now a lay pastor in the Universal Unitarian Church

Should be "Unitarian Universalist." (Kimball gets it right; the OP didn't.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:07 PM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


through his twitter account.

I'd like to read some kind of rationale behind that, because on the face of it, it sounds completely asinine.

Love the twitter format! So much easier to digest than some snooty impenetrable "article". I'll read a few now, maybe two or three over lunch (if I can manage both reading and chewing LOL), then I might manage one tweet before bed! I'll be up to speed.

I do hope that the favorites this comment received were in appreciation of the utterly deadpan sarcasm, unless it wasn't sarcastic. In which case, I give up.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:30 AM on July 29, 2012


I had a boss in Michigan, that was R-LDS. That's when I learned such existed. Never seemed especially important. I suspect I got hired because he had an important Mennonite client, and I have a known Mennonite surname.
posted by Goofyy at 5:14 AM on July 29, 2012


I'm glad we've established that believing the Republican party and treating Fox news as "news" are uniquely Mormon activities that aren't shared by anyone else in the country.

Disclaimer: I am practicing Mormon and a Democrat but am considering switching to the Green party since my views align a little more closely and my vote doesn't mean anything in Utah anyway.
posted by mecran01 at 5:20 AM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Always worth linking to is Teresa Nielsen Hayden's "God and I", which is primarily an account of the lengths she had to go to to get herself properly excommunicated from the Mormon church, but also contains the memorable quote:

"When you consider that their scripture is full of America the Land of the Blessed, warnings about evil godless conspiracies, and tales of superpowers squaring off at each other for the last battle, it's easy to understand why Mormons tend to do things like vote for Ronald Reagan."
posted by McCoy Pauley at 9:38 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who arrived at this thread surprised it was not about the Miles Kimball catalog?
posted by gusandrews at 1:24 PM on July 29, 2012


So, when Utah became a state were the two parties even recognizable as they are today? This article seems to assume the Republican and Democrat parties haven't changed in 100 years.
posted by PJLandis at 3:18 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the swing to the right happened a lot later than the "church dividing" story. Utah voted for Johnson and had a Democrat senator up until 1976. JFK campaigned in Utah and was welcomed by the LDS church as president. He spoke in the Salt Lake tabernacle, which I think is the last time any President has spoken on church grounds. The real move towards the GOP happened with the Equal Rights Amendment, while Ezra Taft Benson was walking the halls of LDS church power in the 70's. ETB was considered for a vice presidential position under Strom Thurmond under the segregationist "States Rights Democratic Party" in 1948 and was sympathetic to the right-wing, anti-commie John Birch Society.

I remember ERA as a child being trumped up into "There won't be men's and women's bathrooms anymore" by other church members. I think ETB was responsible for driving much of this misinformation and pushing the LDS church to a hard right not only with actions but with appointments that continue to last to this day.

I wish I could say that Democratic outreach towards LDS church members in Utah is going to have measured amounts of success, but it is an old strategy for winning elections in this state that has never worked. I think there is a growing sentiment towards "both parties are screwing you", but a strong majority of the electorate still punches a straight-party R when they vote.
posted by pashdown at 3:49 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who arrived at this thread surprised it was not about the Miles Kimball catalog?

[raises hand]

I actually did some scouting to see if there was any connection. I don't think there is.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:39 PM on July 29, 2012


WOAH. The guy who sells me those rolls of toilet paper that look like cash (my annual Christmas present, haw haw) and those joke aprons that feature torsos of shirtless men with six-packs and women with sexy bikini beach bods is Mitt Romney's cousin?!!? Will I get 20% off my next order if I vote Romney?
posted by Mael Oui at 9:02 PM on July 29, 2012


Damn. What are the odds that there would be multiple famous people named Miles Kimball? I still need to buy pooping reindeer toys regardless, so..
posted by Mael Oui at 9:08 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


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