Recently, I was discussing the influence of the evangelical vote on Mike Huckabee's unexpectedly large win in last week's Iowa Republican caucus. Huckabee won with about 34% of the votes, which was widely viewed as an impressively large victory in a state where he spent far less money than his next closest competitors. (Mitt Romney came in second at about 25%.)
One of my friends complained that Huckabee won because so many evangelicals voted for him simply because of his religion. (Huckabee used to be a Baptist minister.) We agreed that religion alone was a horrible reason to vote for someone; after all, what about economic policy? What about social issues? What about foreign policy? Religion may influence all of those, but to blindly vote for someone simply because you share religious beliefs is civically irresponsible.
Unfortunately, Mormons do the same thing. There's a disturbing amount of blind support among students at BYU—a school run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—for Mitt Romney, who is a member of the Church. I know several people who claim to support Romney, and yet they seem to have no idea about his policies when I ask them. Their only reason for supporting him is that the he's a member of the same church that they are. That disturbing attitude—the same one that led to Huckabee's unexpectedly large win in Iowa—seems to be alive and well in Mormon country at BYU.
That this attitude exists among Mormons is especially disappointing because there have been so many times in our history when we were persecuted by the government because of our beliefs. If anyone should realize the importance of separating policy from piety, it is us.