About 30 seconds before Professor Matthew Bowman of Hampden-Sydney College sat down for an interview with me, I whispered to him:
Matthew, this interview is not for our colleagues in the American Academy of Religion. It’s not for the specialists that we write for in our scholarly publications. It’s for intelligent people everywhere, who will benefit from the breadth of your knowledge on this subject. So keep it real!
And keep it real he did.
With his inner wonk summoned, validated, and released, Dr. Bowman (author of the fine monograph, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith) proceeded to dazzle us with highly sophisticated insights about the Mormon community, rendered in clear, accessible locutions.
Our guest tries to make sense of an extremely curious demographic finding: When it comes to voting for a Mormon president, conservative Evangelicals and secular…
We were assessing presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s many references to youthful Bible study and Sunday School taught by her mom. As for that junior senator, Barack Obama, we marveled at the newcomer’s God-talk skills. He was too green, obviously; maybe 2016 would be his time.
Nor were we really focused on those who would soon become faith-and-values Persons of Interest in 2008. Mike Huckabee only flitted across the radar late in 2007. Outside of the initiated, no one knew who the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was. And few, if any, on the religion beat had ever heard of Sarah Palin.