Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

The Sources and Potential Results of Today’s Anti-Mormon Bigotry

Posted by Andrew on January 7, 2008

Last weekend, New York Times Magazine featured an article entitled “What Is It About Mormonism?”, which provides an in-depth examination of the sources of bigotry against Mormonism, both historically and today as highlighted by the reaction in some quarters to Mitt Romney’s candidacy.  The article was brought to my attention by esteemed reader Chris H., who had the following insightful comments to share: 

 “It will be interesting to see, post-election, how the tide swings with regard to public perception of the Church.  For several years, I studied martial arts and my training periodically required me to participate in sparring matches.  As I advanced, the sparring became more and more violent until we were finally engaging in full contact (though fully padded) fighting.  Interestingly, after a sparring match, there was often a sense of camaraderie, almost brotherhood, that developed between two people who seconds before had been beating the living crap out of each other.  Similarly, I suppose, look at the treatment of the Germans and the Japanese by the U.S. after World War II.  Drop a nuclear bomb and then provide the assistance required to build two of the most productive economies in the world.

“I wonder if, after having used Mormonism as a punching bag for the duration of this political season, the media and the evangelicals and assorted other antagonists will soften their view of the Church and approach it with more sympathy.  In the end, though, I’m not sure I really care.  This isn’t a popularity contest.  Either the Church represents a restoration of authentic Christian doctrine or it doesn’t; either it is God’s kingdom on the Earth or it isn’t.  If it does and it is, then the name-calling ignorance of a few voluble bigots will not prevent its success.  I take great comfort in the reassurance offered to Joseph Smith during his imprisonment in the Liberty jail:  ‘What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.'”  

For another take on anti-Mormon bigotry, see Jon B.’s previous post: “What’s Wrong With the Mormons?”

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4 Responses to “The Sources and Potential Results of Today’s Anti-Mormon Bigotry”

  1. Craig A. said

    I think attacking our church, or any church for that matter, is like slapping your mother. Nothing good can come from it, least of all after action-induced camaraderie. I share Chris H.’s sentiment; however, that Joseph Smith spoke on the Lord’s behalf regarding the destiny of the LDS church.

  2. Shawn L said

    Funny enough, I actually thought this article was the most balanced report on Mormonism I’ve seen in ages. While I don’t agree with it all (I think he played up the “secrecy” angle a bit too much), I think the author covered us fairly. Most importantly, I appreciated that he called recent “reporting” on the Church exactly what it is: religious bigotry, period. We are often accused of having a persecution complex, so its nice to see an “outsider” verify what others see as paranoia.

    As for what heppens next, I think Mormonism is simply left alone and allowed to recede into the background again. I don’t expect to lengthy NYT articles detailing our history or faith in the recent future. Mainstream media has an awfully short attention span.

  3. Andrew said

    Shawn,

    I agree the linked article is one of the most balanced pieces of reporting we’ve had on Mormons in a long time, and I think Chris would agree as well. I interpreted his comments as referring to the bigotry described in the article, rather than him saying that the article itself is an example of that bigotry.

    But I too thought the author got it wrong on the whole “secrecy” thing. To me, a church that sends about 55,000 of its members around the globe to give out free copies of its scriptures and free lessons about its beliefs doesn’t strike me as secretive. Secretive? Are you kidding? Ask us Mormons about our beliefs, and we’ll talk your ear off!

    Sure we don’t let people in our temples, but is it really reasonable to expect a private church to have all of its most sacred meetings open to the public? Nobody seems to have a problem with the fact that there are all sorts of closed-door meetings going on all the time even amongst public entities. Try getting into your local city council’s closed session meetings sometime. And sure we don’t disclose our finances, but I can’t remember ever seeing the Catholic Church or Rick Warren’s finances laid bare in the Wall Street Journal for all to read.

    So the whole “secrecy” argument was more than a bit off in my estimation. Other than that, I was actually quite shocked at how many things the author got right about Mormons.

  4. Shawn L said

    And on the “secrecy” issue, my reaction is a big fat, “so what.” First, virtually nothing is actually “secret” in this day and age.
    Any interested party with an Internet connection and 3 minutes of free time can find the temple endowment in every permutation since inception (no, I won’t provide the link here). Second, I agree with your point that communities, especially a religious community, should be allowed to conduct its intimate business in private.

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