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SEPTEMBER DAWN Spells More Bad News For Romney Campaign

The 2008 race for the Republican nomination for president has been marked by the highest degree of religious intolerance and bigotry as witnessed since the 1928 election where Republican Herbert Hoover ran a bigoted anti-Catholic campaign against Democrat Al Smith. Mormon Mitt Romney has been attempting to establish himself as a viable choice to Republican voters, while other candidates such as Sam Brownback have run a campaign almost pathologically opposed to the Mormon faith of Romney. And supporters of candidate Mike Huckabee have run a bigoted anti-Catholic campaign against Brownback as well.

Now an upcoming new movie release will likely completely devastate the Romney campaign by raising the religion issue in the worst possible terms. SEPTEMBER DAWN is a fictionalized love story set against the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 120 men, women and children in a wagon train on September 11, 1857 by Mormon militiamen and their Pauite Indian allies. Now Mormons will be portrayed as cold-blooded murderers on the big screen, and the reputation of their faith will take a huge public relations hit. For many Evangelical Christian voters, it will become the final straw and will result a mass rejection of Romney solely based on his Mormon religion. Romney won't be judged on his political positions, but his membership in a religion now tagged with cold-blooded killers. Nothing could be worse.

It is deeply sad that many years after a very regrettable incident, it will have a major effect at inspiring public anger against an American church as well as a negative impact on the 2008 election. The movie also presents possible security and safety problems for the Mormon faith as some religious extremists may strike out in anger against members of that faith or their houses of worship. This is a serious public safety risk. It also displays the awesome power that fictionalized screenplays might have in swaying public opinion against some group of persons. The producers of the movie may have hoped to illustrate the dangers of religious extremism and intolerance, but may just find that they will inspire much more of that intolerance.

Likely the movie will ignore the type of religious intolerance that members of the Mormon faith faced that forced them to emigrate to settle Utah. Prejudice against Mormons was the main reason that members of this faith sought a safe area of America to practice their faith in peace. But the film suggests that Mormon faith leader Brigham Young had some role in the massacre, although LDS historians continue to deny that, instead claiming that only some extremists were responsible for the massacre.

If the new film intended to promote more religious tolerance, then that point will likely be missed by many. Sometimes Hollywood filmmakers need to consider the awesome responsibility that they wield in influencing public opinion when dealing in incendiary content. SEPTEMBER DAWN may be a good film or not, but it likely will not prove very helpful to promoting more religious tolerance in the U.S. or to the campaign of Mitt Romney who now will have to work much harder to answer new public concerns about his faith.

Here's the trailer to SEPTEMBER DAWN:

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Rating: 3.4/5 (12 votes cast)

Comments (9)


Two things:

1) If this film was going to hurt the Romney campaign, Hugh Hewitt wouldn't be hosting the creators on his show.

2) More people will get to know Mitt Romney because of this movie as the MSM tries to hurt his campaign by bringing it up in conversations with him. It will a) cause the MSM to look dumb like always and b) make people sympathetic towards Romney because they will perceive this as a pathetic attack on Romney from over 150 years ago.

Baggi, my point is that Romney should be judged on his issues and not his personal religious faith. I can't see how this controversial film can help at all towards more acceptance of the Mormon faith, especially in his more conservative political party.

The Mormon faith wasn't an issue for Morris Udall in 1976 in the Democratic Party, but is a big issue for Romney among Republicans 22 years later who are far less tolerant of smaller faiths and the Republican Party is largely becoming a regional party from the South of Southern Baptists who sometimes dislike faiths other than their own.

Paul Hamilton:

I don't think this historical tragedy has anything do do with Romney, but what might deserve consideration is how the LDS beliefs, which are about as totalitarian as it gets, are reflected in Mitt's attitudes toward government. The closest we have to a theocracy in the US is the relationship between the LDS church and the state of Utah, and I would hope that this is not the way he envisions the role of the federal government.

Lee Ward:

I think it is interesting that the Mormon Church is just now talking about this. Link to KTVX Salt Lake City ABC Channel 4 report.

The Mormons were religious extremists who murdered - who woulda thunk it?

Barack Obama gets points deducted because his middle name is HUSSEIN!!!.

Romney belongs to a religious sect that murders innocents, then denies it happened.

BigAl in Texas:

This hurting Romney is just another stretch by the hate mongers. The LDS church does as much positive work in this world as any other organization. And, this movie, by its own commentary, is a "fictional" re-enactment.

Nationally syndicated radio host and best-selling author, Michael Medved, wrote up an opinion piece on USAToday's website titled "Hollywood's terrorists: Mormon, not Muslim". Medved took to task those involved with the upcoming film September Dawn, a portrayal (albeit jaded and misrepresented one) of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Claiming they don't have an axe to grind, the film's producers show quite the opposite. Medved explains:

These explorations reach no definitive conclusions on Brigham Young's complicity in the massacre, but the movie leaves no doubt at all -- using fierce quotations by Young, but using those words wildly out of context. The film, for instance, downplays events preceding the Mountain Meadows rampage, including brutal persecution of Mormon settlements in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, that led to the trek to Utah. Just before the incident the film portrays, the federal government sent troops West with orders to remove Brigham Young as governor of the territory, and the movie never acknowledges Young's ultimate agreement to step down peacefully, avoiding the feared bloodbath between U.S. soldiers and Mormon militia.

To try to claim contemporary relevance for September Dawn, its director, Christopher Cain, and its veteran star, Jon Voight, both tell interviewers that the project recounts a pertinent story of "religious fanaticism" -- emphasizing the eerie coincidence of the massacre's date (Sept. 11) and showing martyred "prophet" Joseph Smith (portrayed as an arrogant, preening dandy shortly before his death at age 39 at the hands of a lynch mob), declaring himself a "New Mohammet" and threatening holy war against his enemies.

The film's deliberately drawn analogy between Mountain Meadows and 9/11 raises the most puzzling question about this peculiar project: Why frame an indictment of violent religiosity by focusing on long-ago Mormon leaders rather than contemporary Muslims who perpetrate unspeakable brutalities every day?

The author of the article then goes on to opine as to why the film's producers chose to highlight a portion of history from Mormon culture instead of another religion or segment of society:

In part, preference for Mormons over Muslims as targets of cinematic scorn stems from reasonable concerns for personal safety. Islamic communities have proved more than a mite touchy over media depictions of their faith: Consider the deadly worldwide riots over a dozen Danish cartoons, or the taking of more than 100 American hostages and bans in Muslim countries inspired by the respectful 1977 film Mohammad, Messenger of God (directed by a Syrian and financed in part by the Libyan government).

Mormons won't respond with any comparable rage, no matter how badly September Dawn tarnishes the memory of their faith's founders. In fact, the LDS Church has adopted an official policy of "no comment" regarding the film, and there have been no examples of young Mormons strapping dynamite to their bodies and blowing themselves up to protest perceived insults to their religion.
The measured response to public smears of Mormonism in effect rebuts the September Dawn suggestion that the church represents a relevant example of violent religious fanaticism. Despite the turbulence of their founding generation, Mormons have been conspicuously peaceful, patriotic, hard-working and neighborly for at least the past 117 years (since the church repudiated and banned polygamy).

Medved is to be applauded for his logic-based, prejudice-free article in portraying how biased and deceitful Hollywood can be. After all, their pursuit of the almighty dollar often leads them to inflate controversy, embellish history, choose one side of an argument, and lay it down as historical fact. The author's conclusion is worthy of note:

This sort of prejudice seems not only unjust but also downright un-American -- violating the cherished pluralistic traditions by which we judge religious communities not based on theological quirks or long-ago disputes, but on the decency of their present adherents. By that standard, the Mormons' restrained response to even the most mean-spirited challenges to their beliefs says more about the present nature of their faith than anything in September Dawn.


"If this film was going to hurt the Romney campaign, Hugh Hewitt wouldn't be hosting the creators on his show.
Posted by Baggi"

Hewitt will cover ANYTHING but Bush's sell-out of America at the SPP Summit.

The Beatles (check!) Jamaica (check!) MTV (check!)

The guy's a Wall Street drone having to mail it in and hating Bush for it, truth be known.


Let's have Obama critique the Democratic Party of 150 years ago.

Read the Articles of Faith of the Latter Day Saints. What do you find objectionable?

Kim, I live very close to a main Mormon temple here in Portland, Oregon. I know many Mormons as friends, as a one-time coworker, and as customers. They are very fine people for the most part and I dislike any unwarranted prejudice against them based on their faith choice. It may not be the way I would choose to worship God. But I have deep respect for them. They are also very good at taking care of the elderly or other members of their community that are in need.

Many Mormon young volunteer for missionary work while other young only get into trouble. I can't say enough positive things for them as persons.

Mitt Romney needs to be judged solely on his political views, not his choice of a church where he worships.


Paul, they do community better than anyone. Can you explain that?


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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