The Religious Test is a feature documentary film that explores why roughly 20% of Americans have said they would not support a Mormon (a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) for President of the United States. It attempts to inform viewers about perceptions and misconceptions regarding Mormon faith and culture. The film avoids dogmatic discussions and does not seek to promote any belief system. This independent production is not affiliated with or endorsed by any church or political candidate, party, PAC, or caucus.
In recent presidential elections, American voters established new precedents after centuries of racial and gender inequality. While these historic achievements suggest how far we have come in those spheres, the prevalent theme of religion reminds us how far we have yet to go.
The matter of religion in politics was constitutionally settled with the First Amendment in 1791:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
and more explicitly in regard to holding public office in Article VI, paragraph 3:
“…No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Despite this, nearly 20% of Republicans and independents say they would not support a Mormon for president. That is slightly lower than the 27% of Democrats saying the same. [SOURCE]
Even in this modern era, this stigma of intolerance is felt by many groups perceived to not be in the “mainstream,” and we encourage all to tell their stories. This is the story of Mormons, including their relationship with the government, possible causes of their political blacklisting, and the uphill battle to overcome misconceptions about what a Mormon in the White House would mean for America.
Among the hostile sentiment and near universal misunderstanding of the LDS faith and the culture of Mormonism, the most glaring fact is that progress in religious tolerance is not trending with progress in other areas like race and gender. This film will not seek to further the electability of any one candidate, but to widen the availability of public office to all members of our democratically elected republic. The film’s intent is to explore modern America’s attitude toward religion using Mormonism in 2012 as a microcosm.