Recent Mormon leaders continued Smith’s prediction that “the New Jerusalem” would be built on what he called “the American continent.” That’s traditionally been understood to be a reference to a site in Missouri. Ezra Taft Benson, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s agriculture secretary and later a president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke of the nation as “the Lord’s base of operations.” J. Reuben Clark, a Mormon church leader and undersecretary of state in the 1920s, said the Constitution and “the free institutions which it creates are perpetuates are God-given.”

Exceptionalism also played out in radical forms. In the mid-1900s, a strain of what Bowman calls “strident hyper-patriotism” emerged among Mormons (still embodied, he says, by Glenn Beck) that resembles libertarianism. Even if they aren’t Beck-ites, most Mormons — like Romney — have a strong, theology-rooted preference for a small government…

“America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner” are in Mormon hymn books and are sung around the Fourth of July. However, to separate the sacred from the patriotic, Mormons — unlike most other faith groups — typically don’t allow their houses of worship to be used for voter registration. The Sunday before state and federal elections, worshipers are reminded that the Mormon Church doesn’t endorse candidates and to vote their conscience.