Tuesday, February 14, 2006

An Example of Frank, Unabashed Religious Discrimination Among Conservatives

I'll have more to say about this in upcoming posts, but for now I want to get this out into the blogosphere.

Today I happened to be listening to Dennis Prager's talk show. A female caller said she was a Mormon and a political conservative, and expressed puzzlement and frustration over the discrimination she often feels from certain other Christians. ("Mormon" is an externally-imposed nickname for a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.) What makes this painful, the caller observed, was that like the overwhelming majority of Mormons, she works hard for conservative causes, is politically and morally conservative, tries to be a good, loving neighbor and citizen, and participates eagerly in community service. And yet she has to put up with discrimination from some other Christian groups and must listen to many of her Christian acquaintances say that they could never vote for governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts because he is a Mormon.

Prager expressed surprise and stated that he had never heard of anyone saying such a thing. He also announced his plans to devote an hour of a future show to the subject, and invited anyone in the audience who was aware of such statements of discrimination against Mormons to pass them on to him.

Well, here's one. A few days ago I was reading my copy of the February 2006 edition of The American Spectator and ran across this letter to the editor:

Grover Norquist, in "The Best and the Brightest," notes that "many evangelical churches still circulate tracts attacking Mormonism... as a cult." May God -- the God of the Bible, that is -- bless them!

Mormonism certainly meets the definition of a cult: Mormons believe that theirs is the one true church and that all others are false; that their leader is a revelator and prophet who speaks in God's name; and that their primary holy book, The Book of Mormon, is equal to the Bible, if not holier.

Mormons believe that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer and that faithful Mormons will become gods. The Book of Mormon says that dark skin is a punishment for sin (2 Nephi 5: 21 and Alma 3:6) -- a belief that, in recent years, has been "divinely revealed" to need correction, leading even some Mormons to wonder what else in their holy book may be wrong.

If the GOP wants to nominate Mitt Romney in 2008, I recommend that Republicans learn about Mormonism before they vote. There are many good books on the subject, from Hank Hanegraff's Kingdom of the Cults to (Bob) Larson's New Book of Cults.

I may vote for Roman Catholic politicians in many cases because, while their church also has strayed from biblical truth in many crucial ways, it at least acknowledges the Triune God, the divinity of Jesus, His virgin birth, and His bodily resurrection.

However, biblical Christianity and Mormonism have virtually nothing in common (Galatians 1:8­9 comes to mind). I may have to abstain from voting for the next president if the GOP makes me choose between Hillary and heresy.

Mary Alan Woodward
Louisville, Kentucky

I don't know about you, but I do not expect to find a religious smear in a leading political magazine like The Spectator. Stunned, I re-read the letter again and again, until it sank in that the writer was quite serious.

Here's a game for you: Imagine the same letter, appearing in that magazine, and attacking a religion, but for the word "Mormonism" substitute "Judaism" or "Methodism" or "Catholicism."

Can you imagine that? Didn't think so. Neither can I.

____________________________

(By the way: (1) To label a long-established worldwide church, with over 12 million members, a "cult" is also nothing more than a smear. (2)Mormons do not believe the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, is holier than the Bible; or that "dark skin is a punishment for sin." And (3) anyone who wants to learn what Mormons really believe ought to consider asking a Mormon rather than reading a book by some of our faith's, well, detractors-- to use a mild term. Here's an excellent place to start. For the general official Church web site, go here. And if you want to know exactly what Mormons believe about Jesus Christ, go here.)

7 Comments:

Anonymous BlueBuffoon said...

Hedgehog, the mischaracterization of Mormon doctrine is even broader than the points you make in your footnote. Note the negative implications in the paragraph about why the correspondent could vote for a Catholic, despite the fact that their church "has strayed from biblical truth." Mormons also believe in the divinity of Christ, His birth to a virgin, and His (and all mankind's) bodily resurrection.

Also, I'd also recommend a slightly different place as a starting point  for authorative information on the Mormons and what they believe. 

Posted by BlueBuffoon

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 8:17:00 AM  
Blogger Harold C. Hutchison said...

Of course, how many conservatives will even bother to call poeple out on this sort of thing?

I almost get the feeling that the conservative movement lets this sort of stuff slide a lot more than they would like to admit. How much longer do they expect folks to put up with this?
 

Posted by Harold C. Hutchison

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 9:05:00 AM  
Blogger Bonjo said...

The GOP would be foolish in 2008 to count on the "evangelical vote" like they did in 2004. It could be Mitt, it could be pro-choice McCain, it could be any number of candidates, and there are any number of good candidates that will not attract the evangelical vote.

To me, the overriding question about Mitt Romney being a Mormon is: so what?

Just because he's a Mormon doesn't automatically mean he has horns. It certainly doesn't automatically mean he has a halo, either.

The author of that letter tries to smear the Church by labeling it racist. Isn't refusing to vote for a person simply because of his religion also bigotry? That's categorizing him as a member of a group, and failing to recognize his individuals talents and strengths (as well as his individual shortcomings).

People like Ms. Woodward are quite possibly the type of voter who remained home on election day 2000 because of the late-breaking Bush DUI. 

Posted by Bonjo

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a game for you: Imagine the same letter, appearing in that magazine, and attacking a religion, but for the word "Mormonism" substitute "Satanist."

Can you imagine that? Didn't think so. Neither can I. 

Posted by CDog

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 2:54:00 PM  
Blogger The Hedgehog said...

CDog: Your message is somewhat opaque. In other words, I have no idea what you are talking about. Can you elaborate? 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 5:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letter writer's caraciture of LDS beliefs is unfortunate. But it is not a smear to say that Mormonism is sufficiently different from modern Presbyterian/Catholic/Pentecostal Christianity to be considered a distinct religion. Now perhaps religion should be simply off limits, so long as the candidate has the right views on civic issues. Still, I would be very hesitant to vote for a Scientologist, even with impeccable conservative credentials. Does that make me a bigot? Am I the only one here who would have such qualms? It's easy to say, "but Scientologists believe nutty things." But our conservative Jewish friends must think it a bit nutty to believe in a virgin birth, or Joseph Smith's gold plates for that matter. -Mark G  

Posted by Mark G

Friday, February 17, 2006 9:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letter writer's caraciture of LDS beliefs is unfortunate. But it is not a smear to say that Mormonism is sufficiently different from modern Presbyterian/Catholic/Pentecostal Christianity to be considered a distinct religion. Now perhaps religion should be simply off limits, so long as the candidate has the right views on civic issues. Still, I would be very hesitant to vote for a Scientologist, even with impeccable conservative credentials. Does that make me a bigot? Am I the only one here who would have such qualms? It's easy to say, "but Scientologists believe nutty things." But our conservative Jewish friends must think it a bit nutty to believe in a virgin birth, or Joseph Smith's gold plates for that matter. -Mark G  

Posted by Mark G

Friday, February 17, 2006 9:07:00 AM  

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