Why Are There So Many Mormons in Mexico?
Dear Mexican: I heard Mormonism is a quickly spreading religion down in ye olde Mexico. What is it about this religion that a lot of Mexicans find so fascinating? —Jack Mormón
Dear Wab: Historically? Mexico has long had the second-largest community of Mormons in the world after the United States—official LDS figures estimate 1.2 million in Mexico, an increase from 783,000 in 1999. This community has existed for almost 135 years, created after poly-gamous Mormons who wanted to keep their multiple wives moved down south because, hey, anything goes down Mexico way, right? Sociologically? Mormons are masters of proselytizing—the increase in numbers "shows that a church group can produce a short-term phenomenal growth rate by committing resources to missionary activity," according to Professor James W. Dow in his 2003 scholarly paper "The Growth of Protestant Religions in Mexico and Central America." Theologically? My understanding of Mormonism is that it places an emphasis on the family, encourages couples to have as many children as possible, stresses the dominion of the husband over the family, and hates homosexuals. If those attributes aren't appealing to Mexicans, then I'm Moroni himself.
Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans from Jalisco look down on Mexicans from other parts of Mexico? —El Gallo Negro
Dear Wab: Because tapatíos are the Texans of Mexico—an arrogant, brilliant, overly patriotic group whom government officials romanticize as the id of the national psyche and whose societal characteristics and traditions became easily identifiable stereotypes to the rest of the world. Déjame give you an example: You know how a lot of gabachos assume all Mexicans wear massive sombreros, love tequila, play mariachi, and have the potential to grow mustaches as thick as the Amazon rainforest? That's because all those stereotypes originated from Jalisco, the birthplace of mariachi and tequila, where the native sombrero is huge and brimmed and most of the men can grow big bigotes because of the Spanish blood inside them. Starting in the 1930s, Mexican officials specifically picked Jalisco to immortalize in films and other cultural exports so that the rest of the world assumed all Mexicans were just the same. "Needing a people who could personify hispanismo," wrote Joanne Hirschfield in "Race and Class in the Classical Cinema," an essay in the anthology Mexico's Cinema: A Century of Film and Filmmakers, "its proponents found them in . . . Jalisco. The mythology of [Jalisco] created a horse-riding people who were devoutly Catholic and capitalistic, had never intermarried with Indians, and played Mariachi music."
Because of this propaganda effort, people from Jalisco—just like those from Texas—have a notorious superiority complex, but each state or region in Mexico occupies a certain strata in la república that matches up to our own states. People from Zacatecas, for instance, are the Iowans of Mexico: hard-working, humble, and famous for their immigration to other lands. Mexico City is New York City, of course, while Monterrey is more like the Boston of Mexico, although more on the Brahmin side than the racist mick part. Sonora and Sinaloa are an eternal Wild West, literally (as they occupy the western part of Mexico) and figuratively (the narco wars), while Oaxaca and Chiapas are our Guatemala, not just because of its geographical proximity to the country, but because of the large indigenous population. I can go on, but this humble Zacatecan must go back to work exposing Jaliscans as the blowhards they are.
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