The Financial Times (which I read faithfully for a while back in DC, while I still read physical newspapers) notes the increased visibility of Mormons in Western business, government, and culture (free registration may be required):
Mormons are moving from the periphery of modern American life to the very centre. From Romney’s failed tilt at the presidency to the tales of everyday polygamous families in HBO’s popular drama Big Love, Mormonism has become increasingly visible over the last generation. Where its most famous acolytes were once the Osmonds, leading lights now include politicians such as US Senate majority leader Harry Reid (a Democrat) and Romney (a Republican); Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight vampire saga; Glenn Beck, the popular conservative talk-show host; and self-help guru Stephen R. Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Those are the household names. As important are the Mormons who play central roles at the companies and institutions that make America tick: Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University (one of the biggest in the US); David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airlines; J.W. (“Bill”) Marriott, head of Marriott International; and Jon Huntsman Jr, ambassador to China – to name a few. And while firm data are hard to come by, off-the-record interviews conducted for this article suggest that a generation of Mormons in their thirties and forties is accelerating the trend. For every Hill Cumorah Pageant – an annual set of performances starting this weekend in which a cast of 650 enact scenes from the Bible and Book of Mormon before massive audiences near Joseph Smith’s birthplace – there are much more mundane scenes being played out across the US: an investment banker in New York said, “I was at my final day of interviews at JPMorgan during my senior year in college. They took students from Princeton, Yale, Harvard, U-Penn and Brigham Young University [a Mormon university in Utah]. I was like, ‘what the hell? BYU?’ Then I slowly realised how many Mormons there are on Wall Street.”
The CIA has its eye out for Mormons, who, people say jokingly, ace the mandatory drugs and lie-detector tests. Blue-chip corporations are recruiting, too. And at Harvard Business School, female students note ruefully that attractive male classmates are invariably associated with one of the “three Ms”: the military, the management consultancy McKinsey or Mormonism.
In that complaint lies the conundrum: much of the US still sees Mormons as weirdly strait-laced at best, cultish at worst. Yet elite institutions are embracing them. What does that fact say about the world’s youngest major religion – and about success in modern America?
Much of this is not new — Stephen Covey has been writing for decades, and the CIA was recruiting at BYU when I was an undergrad in the 70s — but I do agree with the articles main points: Mormons and the LDS Church as visible as never before, and — as noted — “elite institutions are embracing them.” Some of their observations and answers are quite interesting.
Must drive the anti-LDS crowd nuts. 🙂 Read the whole thing. ..bruce..