A bigot is a bigot is a bigot…full stop

The truth of the matter is that if you don’t believe that a Mormon would make a good president because he is trying to push a Mormon agenda, you don’t have to. There is no secret Mormon mafia forcing you to make that choice. However, if that is the primary reason for your decision, you are a bigot. Do not claim otherwise.

As an example, take a look at these three essays. In all cases, the authors are attacking a caricature of Mormonism. My thought is that they recently had a screening of Trapped By the Mormons and these three bigots took it a little too seriously. Actually, they are all three Christian pastors with radio shows and blog privileges at a conservative blog site, whining about the fact that they are not allowed to be bigots about Mormons.

I’m going to keep using the ugly term, because that describes these men. I am sure that they are great fathers and kindly neighbors. They may even, to turn a O’Donnell phrase, have ‘many Mormon friends.’ Even bigots have to be nice to someone sometime.

They may object to being called a bigot (in fact, all three do). They may simply say that they are objecting to the conflict in theology between Evangelical Protestant Christianity and Mormonism. If that was what they were doing, I wouldn’t necessarily be happy, but I would be fine with it. Instead, they are portraying us as conspiring cultists, looking to dominate the politics of the world. This is not the first time I’ve heard the Protocols of the Elders of Zion applied to Mormons, but it is among the ugliest.

What irks me most about this sort of snide innuendo and is that it is being published in relatively reputable arenas. I would expect this sort of nonsense on anti-Mormon websites, what is it doing on a mainstream political site? Why is one of the finer Republican candidates subject to this sort of smear by conservatives?

The appeals to common conservative Christian common sense they make are deeply insulting. They are calling on a kind of populist bigotry. “If we can’t look down on the Mormons anymore, who will we look down on? If we can’t call them a cult, who’s next? The Christian Scientists? The Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Why can’t they acknowledge the differences without making us into an “Anti-Christian religion.” Why do they have to pretend we are monsters? I’d ask, “if you prick us, do we not bleed?” but I don’t want to give these fellows ideas.

Ken Jennings has come out and said that if it takes Romney losing to quiet all the mainstream anti-Mormonism, he’s fine with that. I am not. I am tired of smiling politely while people make jokes about multiple wives or angels. I am tired of making strudel. I’m going to call bigots bigots when I meet them, online or otherwise, and, if necessary, I’ll explain why it applies using small words and charts.

If someone asks if a Mormon could be president, the only appropriate is “why not?” and a withering stare.

Comments

  1. Preach it, sir.

  2. More warm, fuzzy holiday cheer from the BCC. ;)

    In all seriousness, though, well put John.

  3. Steve Evans says:

    Well done Johnny.

    Aren’t we bigots re: evangelicals? Scientologists? Is there any group on whom we may rightfully look down on with scorn (besides the Scots)?

  4. A bigot is as a bigot does.

    Don’t forget Canadians, Steve.

  5. That’s right, you said it! Someone had to say it.

  6. Blunt. Clear. To the point. Very nice, indeed.

  7. This seems like a slight departure from the fluffy bunny nice nice club.

  8. Moonies, Steve, Moonies.

  9. Don’t forget the vegans.

    It’s like I said before, even the pundits are asking each other where all the hostility is coming from. Good job, John.

  10. People are going to be bigots. There’s no stopping them. They just shouldn’t demand that it be classified as non-bigotted behavior.

    Sure, we look down on over people. I myself often look down upon libertarians; however, I don’t spend a large amount of time trying to propose that there is a large group of libertarians out there trying to take over the world (they’re just not that organized).

  11. To play devil’s advocate:

    I can’t blame outsiders for failing to understand how the teachings of past leaders are believed and applied today.

    I know plenty of insiders who have a hard time knowing which teachings of past leaders we should believe and which we should discard. You don’t have to dig to deep to find obvious conflicts between different leaders’ public teachings (for example, it seems that some of BRM’s “7 deadly heresies” are taken straight from BY’s discourses). In my mind, the institutional church has not tried to consistently define what is doctrine and what is personal opinion. In the end, it’s hard to fault someone–insider or outsider–for saying that “Mormons believe _______ because it was taught by _________.” I mean, we believe these men were prophets, right? Most of us who blog and post here recognize the limitations of the word of God when revealed through fallible humans. But who can blame an outsider for failing to understand or fully disclose these nuances, when many insiders fail to grasp the same nuances?

    Nonetheless, I think the three essays referenced in John C.’s post are using statements of Mormon belief out of context in a disingenuous way, and they do seem to be “bigots” for regarding members of a different group with such unfairness and intolerance.

  12. RE: my #11 — “devil’s advocate” is an intentional pun.

  13. I think that the hostility is coming from the fact that since the 1980’s large numbers of LDS have moved into the Bible Belt and there has been some success with conversions in the South as well. In my area in North Texas there is typically a LDS kid in every classroom at the local elementary school. There are 40 LDS kids in my kids school alone. Recently both of my HT’ers were former So Baptists.

    Its largely based on religious competition and the battle over souls. They think that when converted the convert is thrust down into Hell and they would like to see fewer conversions. (What they do not realize is that most retained LDS growth in North America currently is due to births not conversions. They have real limited influence over the power of the womb)

  14. Amen, brother!

    10 – they’re just not that organized Hah!

    11 – if their problem was they didn’t understand the dynamics of our religion, they could just ask us regular folks, but they don’t bother to do that.

  15. RE: #14

    My point is that many members don’t understand that we don’t necessarily believe everything that past leaders have stated in public. I’m not certain that an outsider could walk into a congregation and start asking questions and leave with a clear answer to “what Mormons belive” about the garden of eden, curse of Cain, men becoming Gods, Jesus being Satan’s brother, etc. BCC posts on topics like these can net 100+ comments without a clear consensus of what we believe (or are supposed to believe). In the end, how can we blame an outsider for thinking that we believe something that a past leader taught?

  16. CE,

    Only the other day I got call “Green Jello Eater” to my face. Well, actually not, but like John C, I am tired of the totally unrepentant bigotry. the very diatribes that he talks about in his post are not interested in pointing out doctrinal differences, but to ridicule us and indicate that we really are not fit for public office. We’re robotic, disingenuous cultists who want to cram our beliefs down everyone else’s throats.Come to think of it, I really do have doctrinal differences with the atheistic Mr. O’Donnell, who I used to respect as a writer for Aaron Sorkin’s “West Wing”.

    Instead, we are supposed to shut up, and stay out of the public view, because unlike others who are interested in cramming their beliefs down everyone else’s throats, ours is not the orthodox religion. No one would put up with these slime merchants for a moment if they were talking about Jews or Catholics in this way.

    It’s pointed, and it’s wrong. Like Ken Jennings, I suspect that the most good that is coming out of Romney’s candidacy is the expsoing of these bigots in the full light of day. I certainly hope a few years from now, these guys all get to take a look back an cringe about what they said.

    Still, our response should be to play the better part and not be bigoted about the Evangelical Right, and the atheists on the left. But our personal reaction ought to be one that let’s folks know that they’re being bigoted, and we know it.

  17. # 16, “I got called “Green Jello Eater”… not call. Aarrrgh!

  18. Is there a difference between the following people, or are they all bigots?

    1. A person who wouldn’t vote for a Mormon because he thinks Mormonism is an insane cult.

    2. A religious family-values conservative who wouldn’t vote for a Mormon because of a concern that the doctrine of continuing revelation has changed Mormon family values in the past and might conceivably do so in the future. (What would happen to a Mormon leader’s views on marriage if the LDS Prophet were to have a revelation reinstating polygamy or commanding gay marriage?)

    3. A person who wouldn’t vote for a Mormon because her #1 issue is gay rights and she fundamentally doesn’t respect someone who would remain a member of an organization that considers homosexual activity sinful.

  19. Steve Evans says:

    Anna G., I’d be interested in your views, but I think only #1 is a bigot.

  20. 18 – All three, because just because someone is a member of the organization, doesn’t mean that they agree with every part of that organization. To vote against someone because of their church is bigotry. However, to not vote for someone because you don’t agree with that someone’s own persoal beliefs is not.

  21. Anna,

    I’d have to say # 1 for sure, but qualify # 2 and # 3. Both of them are classic cases of outsiders labeling individuals by their membership in a group. I can think of several examples, but all are wrought with ethnic or racial stereotypes, and I won’t go there. It’s wrong. This all goes to the heart of the misperceived notion, anecdotal evidence from the Utah State Legislature notwithstanding, that all Mormon’s are robot-like drones, following the dictates of divinely appointed Republican policies as outlined by church authorities.

    Hmmm, in light of the topic of this post, scratch that last sentence. I really didn’t mean it.

  22. BTW, our banned evangelical troll commenters would like you all to know that they still don’t understand Mormonism or why anyone would ever like it, and that they’re also not bigots.

  23. I’m not making this up.

  24. Jacob M, I would say that voting against someone for holding religious beliefs that are not relevant to the office is bigotry as well.

    Could one vote against a Catholic for having faith in transubstantiation, supererogation, or the Immaculate Conception without being a bigot for example?

  25. Thanks for the update, Steve. Be sure to pass on our warmest regards.

  26. I really couldn’t care less about all this so-called anti-Mormon bigotry. In fact I am far more annoyed at all the members of the church (especially here in the blogosphere) moaning and whining about it. Yes there’s bigotry there, whoopty-doo, congratulations on the discovery, it’s nothing new, now you just get to read it in the press a more often. None of that changes the remarkable fact that we are widely accepted in American society, that Mitt’s candidacy is eminently viable, and that he is mostly being judged on his (lousy and constantly shifting) policy positions.

    And what I am equally annoyed about is how no one seems to care about the very real, very deadly strain of anti-immigrant, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim bigotry in America. Bigotry which – while he may slyly use a politicians forked tongue to dodge direct blame – Mitt Romney is directly encouraging to try and harvest votes. That’s new, that’s deadly, and that’s a real problem unlike all this moaning I tire of hearing from church members. Get over it, quit whining, and use it as the missionary opportunity it is.

  27. That’s a good extension of what I meant. Thanks Mark D.

  28. Could you be elected Mayor of Pittsburgh if you don’t believe in the immaculate reception?

  29. Non-Arab Arab, what do you mean by deadly strain? I know there has been some discrimination against Americans of Arabic descent, but I haven’t heard anyone killed over it. (Please note: I am not referring to the war on terror or the Iraq war, because the reasoning behind those wars is more complicated than simple bigotry) And I would say that what the three people mentioned in the post spouted was nothing less than bigotry, even if it is to a different degree than what has happened to other races or religions in the past.

  30. I just wish they’d stop with the “Mormons get their own planet” thing because we never every put it that way, and it just makes them sound stupid.

    It also shows that they’re not investigating this on their own and learning how we represent it to themselves — the hooked onto someone who created the stupid phrase and just ran with it.

  31. Non-Arab-Arab does have a point. Adjacent to our Stake Center is a Mosque. They have been good neighbors, and we offer them parking in our parking lot for Ramadan and other events, and we have tried to be good neighbors to them. Their mosque is actually quite small, and not big enough to accommodate their membership. They looked around for other locations to build a bigger mosque, but have been unable to find anyone who will sell them the land or a building to remodel. They are stuck with having to remodel on the existing lot, put in underground parking, which still will not be large enough, and cost them more money. There are other kinds of bigotry out there, alive and well.

    However, NAA, bigotry anywhere is a threat to equality and justice everywhere, to cop a phrase from Dr. King. If there is bigotry against us as Mormons, who are trying so hard to be a part of the mainstream, how likely is it that it will also be directed at those who are so much more recognizable in white-bread suburban Seattle by their more obvious dress and ethnicity?

    We’re all in this together, and we need to make it stop.

  32. I would also like to point out that I am concerned about how “immigration reform” is being used by many, if not most of the presidential candidates in the upcoming election. It’s a subtle appeal to a distasteful, if not downright immoral attitude towards immigrants and ethnic groups that permeates much of the population that feels economically or politically disenfranchised. I’m not sure what the right call is, but bigger fences and mass deportations bring to mind the forced resettlement of American citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII.

  33. 26: Anti-Arab and anti-legal immigrant discrimination is stupid. Whether anti-Muslim discrimination is reasonable or not depends on the context and what is meant by the term “Muslim”.

    If one believes in a role in Western society for Islam comparable to the contemporary position of Judaism or Christianity, no problem. But Muslim advocacy of sharia law and restoration of the Caliphate is not exactly a political irrelevancy. In a Western context it would be virtually suicidal not to discriminate against a Muslim political candidate who held such views (when choosing who to vote for of course).

  34. Bigot is as bigot does.

  35. Dang, Brad (#4) beat me to it.

  36. I think #1 is a bigot. #2 and #3 might or might not be.

    I think #2 is entitled to an unequivocal answer to her question about new revelations (e.g., “Although I believe such an occurrence is extremely unlikely, were it to happen I would have to reevaluate my positions on the definition of marriage” or “I would regard such a revelation as affecting only my personal beliefs and not my political positions” or “I don’t necessarily agree with all the revelations the LDS prophet has.”) If a candidate did not give a real answer, but instead talked defensively about the inappropriateness of religious tests or gave vague statements about not being controlled by his church, I think #2 could legitimately decide not to vote for him without being a bigot.

    Also, I think how much of an answer is needed to #2 is directly proportional to how much the candidate has tried to say that his “family values” are based on his religion.

    #3 is entitled to some answers too, about (1) whether the candidate agrees with the church’s teaching on homosexuals, and, if so, (2) in precisely what ways this will or will not affect his policy views. Again, if the candidate does not answer, I think #3 could decide not to vote for him without being a bigot.

    Basically, I think people have a right to know a lot about a candidate’s religious views and base their votes on that, to the extent that the religion could affect their policies. And if someone professes a belief in a religion and refuses to give any other specific information about a particular belief that could affect their policies, it’s not bigotry to assume that they share the beliefs of their religious leaders–it’s common sense.

  37. Left Field says:

    O’Donnell and Hitchens are both bigots because they pass judgments on the group, not on the individual. They have determined that every last Mormon from Joseph Smith to Gladys Knight is a fervent racist. There are no exceptions. There can be no exceptions.

    They maintain this position despite the lack of actual evidence that Mitt Romney is racist, and in the face of all evidence the contrary. Hitchens and O’Donnell might maintain their bigotry by claiming that Romney is the rare exception, the one Mormon in a million that is not racist (the Mormon equivalent of being a “credit to his race”).

    Instead, they maintain their bigotry by simply denying the facts and by making up facts of their own. O’Donnell uses his bigotry as a basis for fabricating what he imagines must have been Joseph Smith’s position on slavery. Hitchens uses his bigotry to dismiss George Romney’s strong record on civil rights. He lies about Mitt Romney’s age so he can slam Romney for not marching for civil rights while in high school. All evidence to the contrary must be disregarded in order to maintain the stereotype. Every Mormon is a racist. No exceptions.

    That’s bigotry.

  38. 36 – It is always bigotry to assume that they share all the beliefs of their religious leaders. That’s the point I’ve been trying to make. Making an assumption based off of someone’s religion is bigotry, even if it is natural and makes sense. If it didn’t make sense at all, no one would ever be a bigot.

    Also, if you are referring to a “vague” candidate, and not Mitt Romney, you make a good point. However, if you are specifically referring to him, he said that the he won’t be controlled by his church. That means, don’t judge him based on his church, or what his church teaches or thinks, but judge him based on his own merits.

  39. As Non says, the bigotry’s always been there. What kills me is that a relatively small portion of the country’s population is propagating the anti stuff, and the media gives them a sounding board, magnifying their position as if it should be an issue that concerns everyone. Then in turn, more people become alarmed and we have a movement. It reeks of 1929 Germany. Even with a good portion of evangelical leadership supporting Mitt, it’s all “Us” against “Them.” The bigots put a face on the devil, and the talking heads are eager to endlessly discuss it. If the press didn’t respond with such voracity, the agitators would just be shouting at the rain. Bigots will be bigots, but the media’s complicity is plain irresponsibility.

  40. Jacob M–I agree about judging people based on their own merits. I guess what I’m saying is, if the candidate says “I believe in religion X” and religion X expressly teaches A, B, and C, why is it bigoted to assume that the candidate believes in B? And if B might policy and the candidate won’t specifically assure you that he disagrees with B or won’t let B affect policy, how is it bigoted to let that affect your vote?

    As for Mitt Romney–saying you won’t be controlled by your church does NOT answer issues like those raised in #2 and #3. It says he won’t let his religious leaders dictate policy, which is great. But it does not address to what extent his religion’s positions (current and potential) affect his own views and thus his policy positions. A JFK-style 100% separation of church and state-type speech would have done so, but Romney didn’t do that (and can’t do that, given that he’s targeting voters who believe faith dictates politics).

  41. While I agree with a lot of the logic about generalizing and totalizing analyses of entire groups, I suspect that most rank-and-file Mormons would be fairly mystified by the notion that assuming most members of the group imbibe the beliefs of their leaders, past and present, = bigotry.

    For most LDS (at least in my experience) the acceptance by Church members of the statements of Church leaders is axiomatic. There are, of course, exceptions; but they tend to prove the rule. Mormons do follow their leaders and we usually try to learn more about what our past and present modern prophets have (or have had) to say because we respect it as God’s word. Not infallible, but about as close to infallibility as one can find in this dreary world.

    I’m certainly not disparaging this attitude. Merely trying to point out that it is extraordinarily prevalent in the Church. If you want to dismiss concerns about a Mormon Manchurian candidate, the mormons-don’t-believe-all-the-crazy-things-their-current-or-former-leaders-say card is perhaps a bit disingenuous.

  42. Thanks John C.

    I repeat my call for the orginization of the LDS-ADL.

  43. THANK YOU!!

    It’s about time someone called it like it is…

  44. JC, I’m a little mystified that you would refer to what appears to be a rabid neoconservative website as “reputable.”

    This seems to me to be a perfect time for the LDS to finally and fully disengage from the Religious Right. We could be true to the New Testament and be free of trying to make political bedfellows with neocon extremists.

    PS, the middle guy may be a vampire. He reports to remember the state of Mormonism before 1920 (when they were offended to be called Christians, if that was ever actually true).

  45. Actually, no, Brad. Most members (who’ve encountered anti-mormon propoganda) do know that there is a wealth of former statements that we do not believe nor are we expected to.

    Sam,
    Are you saying there is a difference between a neo-con and a vampire? ;)

  46. Thankfully, neocons are not immortal.
    and “reports” should be “purports”

  47. And what I am equally annoyed about is how no one seems to care about the very real, very deadly strain of anti-immigrant, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim bigotry in America.

    I’m certainly upset at such bigotry and speak out about it whenever I see it.

    However I also worry that anyone arguing about tightening up our borders so that illegal immigration is stopped are also called bigots. (Which happens a lot) There are those opposed to immigrants and then those opposed to illegal immigration. Yet, in my experience, those who are opposed to illegal immigration also favor reworking our immigration policies so they are more fair and not a Kafkaesque encounter with beaurocracy.

    It bothers me when these two are conflated. But I, for one, think the US ought to expedite more Iraqi immigration. Especially those receiving death threats for helping us.

  48. For most LDS (at least in my experience) the acceptance by Church members of the statements of Church leaders is axiomatic. There are, of course, exceptions; but they tend to prove the rule.

    My experience (and I’ve tested this over and over again to proof a point) is that when members encounter a GA quote – especially one from prior generations or the 19th century – and it seems weird, they almost always reject it out of hand.

    Certainly on less controversial theological points the GA is always given the benefit of doubt. But that’s as it should be. (IMO)

    I just don’t see this knee jerk reaction. I see some privileging one set of GAs (i.e. BRM and JFS) above others. But so what? That’s their right.

    So this unthinking acceptance of what GAs say seems, to me, to be a myth. Especially when the GAs are speaking on things people don’t like to do: like home teaching.

  49. JC, I’m a little mystified that you would refer to what appears to be a rabid neoconservative website as “reputable.”

    Sam, I’m not sure I’d characterize in the least Townhall as “rabid neoconservative.” It’s always had a big cross section of kinds of conservativism. Even as a conservative I often find myself disagreeing with what is written. But I suspect Liberals often say that when reading The Nation.

    It’s reputable in the sense that it is fairly mainstream. You may not see it as mainstream but I can assure you it is.

  50. I think there is some bigotry out there, but I also think that if you can’t stand the heat, you should stay out of the proverbial kitchen. We live in and interact with the world. God promised his people would be persecuted by the world. Whining about it isn’t attractive.

    And I don’t think it’s very useful to counter anti-Mormon comments with “You’re a bigot.” When someone’s wrong, they should be corrected. I’m as tired of talk about alien Jesuses and magic underwear as the next person; sometimes people need correction and sometimes they need to be ignored. Sometimes they need sarcasm, but that might not be what Jesus would do.

  51. Sometimes, you have to call a spade a spade. I don’t have any problem with telling someone they are being a jerk. Oftentimes, speaking from experience, we don’t realize it until we are already doing it.

  52. a random John says:

    Most disturbing to me is the fact that O’Donnell claims that he would vote for a Mormon candidate if he agreed with the candidate on the issues. Well then why not engage with Romney on the issues? Why descend instantly into bigotry and then spend a week defending it?

    The sad thing is that it worked. He got a ton of attention and much of it was positive. I’m surprised that there aren’t more reasonably non-Mormons that find this disgusting.

  53. I am engaged currently with a couple of Calvinists on another blog. They spout twisted claims of Mormonism and call me a liar every time I tell them that I agree with something they say – simply because they know Mormons don’t really believe that.

    That’s bigotry in practice – and it’s what the bigots John is addressing are doing. They don’t care a bit about understanding what we actually believe – collectively OR individually; their only concern is condemning us collectively AND individually, no matter how much of what we believe and say and do they have to ignore in the process.

    This is, however, a two-edged sword, and it is far too easy to return bigotry for bigotry. Countering bigotry is important; not doing so in a bigoted manner is neither easy nor natural. It is hard to respond calmly and thoughtfully and carefully and with an open heart and mind to a bigot.

  54. Clark, sorry. I don’t follow conservative websites that closely. The advertisements on the site and the linked content from JC seemed neocon to me (as did spotlighting preacher radio hosts). Thanks for the clarification.

  55. Well said; as someone who votes Republican consistently enough to be completely unable to stop McCain’s campaign spam, no matter how many times I click on the link to take me off his list, I am increasingly frustrated with what I see as the tide of anti-mormon bigotry.

    Five Mormon senators. Four Republican, One Democrat. The one Democrat is majority leader. See where I am going when I say I am feeling a little taken for granted?

    The irony is that evangelicals have had to put up with constant mocking and steriotyping in the media for the past generation. I believe evangelicals are mocked by the media as slack-jawed yokels far more often than Mormons are for our various quirks. I find it ironic that Mormons, who share many of Evangelicals’ values, not the least of which is Christ’s atonement for our sins, are being singled out as so uniquely subversive and unqualified for public office.

    Everyone I work with knows I’m LDS, and when this topic has been coming up, I’ve been letting the bigots have it.

  56. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 3

    Fairly or not, the gay community typically perceives the LDS as the most homophobic, bigoted religious community in our society. The Baptists and Catholics don’t even come close.

    I’m persuaded that bigotry is an aspect of the mortal human condition. The Evangelicals fear the Mormons. The Mormons fear the gays. The gays fear conservatives. Everybody fears the Scientologists. Is anyone immune?

  57. re: 56

    I’d say somewhere between 98% and 99% fairly.

    re: townall is mainstream

    I dunno man, they carry Coulter and she’s openly called for the assassination of a US Supreme Court justice, just to randomly pick one of her bazillion outrages.

  58. Good article. How do we get mainstream media types to read it? sigh.

  59. I agree with you that such reactions are motivated by bigotry. The root of the problem is that Romney is deliberately courting the bigot vote. When he says that “freedom requires religion” or that the president needs to be a person of faith, he’s saying that non-believers don’t deserve rights and representation. And he said those things essentially to appease the religious right, whose favorite issue is to try to pass laws discriminating agaist gay people. And now he’s surprised to discover that some of his new friends are prejudiced against him as well?

    If he spoke out against bigotry in general, I’d be on his side in a second. But really he’s no better than a part-black person who turns to the white racists and says “Don’t pick on me — look I’m nearly as white as you are! Let’s join forces and go after the real black people.”

  60. RE: Brad (#41) —

    I agree with you on all counts. I tried to convey similar ideas in #11 and #15.

  61. Nick Literski says:

    #59:
    Very, very well said.

  62. CL,
    you raise a good point. I think that the appeal to religion is motivated, in part, by the notion that the best in religion is “clearly discernable” while the best in non-believing ethics is murky (it is a relatively recent development as a wide-spread movement). That isn’t to say or imply that atheist ethics are impossible, they are just largely unknown. Arguing against the unknown can be a form of bigotry. Embracing it wholeheartedly can be foolhardy. I’d say it is a rock and a hard place situation, but I don’t believe Romney really has it in for atheists.

  63. There was a great debate on the christianity of Mormons.

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/blogalogue/mormondebate/

    Start reading at the bottom.

    If Mitt Romney was a Baptist, would anyone even care if Huckabee was running?

  64. John C.,
    My experience is that when most LDS learn that modern prophets said crazy things, they either assume they are misquoted or quoted out of context, or else the revelation is subversive in the sense of dramatically altering the dominant received paradigm. But I still think that most LDS think that the overwhelming majority of saints accept the overwhelming majority what their leaders say and that the latter is characterized by continuity across time and space.

  65. I don’t agree. For instance, when hear about one of the Orson’s discussing how many wives Jesus had, we don’t say that’s a misquote. We say, well, that’s his opinion and I’m just going to safely ignore it. We have a harder time doing this with prophetic utterances, but we often do it anyway. When was the last time you heard the argument, found in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that the talents in the parable of the talents are really wives? Who believes that nowadays?

  66. 40 – Anna G., Its just a bad idea to assume anything about anyone based on their religion. That’s the point I’ve been trying to spell out. To assume something because of someone’s professed religion is foolhardy at best, bigotry at worst.

    59 – This charge that Romney thinks that atheists and non-believers has no rights is just ridiculous. He said nothing of the kind. You are putting ideas into his speech that aren’t there. However, I do agree with the rest of your post

    50 – John C covers it pretty well in 51. I don’t see this post as whiny, but as a way of pointing out the truth that what these particular people are saying is bigoted. I’ve mentioned time and again that these particular people, and many others, have been making assumptions about us based off of (misunderstanding) our religious beliefs. That type of assumption making, while understandable at times, is bigotry, and people should know that.

  67. John, I guess I don’t know if people actually disbelieve it, though. I think they typically see stuff like that as a “mystery” that’s somehow true and consistent with their current beliefs at a level they don’t understand yet. Which, after all, might be the case, I guess.

  68. What JNS said.

  69. Jacob M, as a pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage Catholic, I like a lot of what you’re saying about not making assumptions. But I guess I still view it as reasonable to operate with a rebuttable presumption that people agree with the (actual) beliefs of the religion they profess belief in.

    If I tell someone I’m Catholic, it seems reasonable for them to presume, absent information to the contrary, that I believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the dual authority of tradition and scripture, and transubstantiation. Otherwise, what the heck did I mean when I said I was Catholic?

    Then again, I guess I would be annoyed if a gay friend assumed I thought homosexual activity was a sin because I was Catholic, so I don’t know. Maybe I think you can assume certain “core” teachings but not other things? I don’t know.

  70. What’s the bit about glass houses? While most Mormons I know are not bigoted toward minorities or women, we certainly treat our female members in a less than equal manner because of their involuntary group membership (i.e. a women’s eligibility for the priesthod is not based on her individual characteristics or worthiness, but her sex alone). This is being painful thrown into the public light due to Romney’s candidacy. (The Wall Street Journal has an embarassing op-ed piece today all about our inability to disavow former racist policies.) I know almost no Mormons that will admit that the ban was “wrong” prior to 1978, which is essentially endorsing racism as a viable worldview–simply one we aren’t espousing at the moment. Romney’s statements are consistent with this support.

    So perhaps we are but sowing what our forefathers’ reaped.

  71. I am tired of smiling politely while people make jokes about multiple wives or angels.

    So, these three angels walk into a bar…

  72. I know almost no Mormons that will admit that the ban was “wrong” prior to 1978, which is essentially endorsing racism as a viable worldview–simply one we aren’t espousing at the moment. Romney’s statements are consistent with this support.

    While I think Hitchens and O’Donnell are enormous jerkfaces, you’ve hit the nail on the head of a troubling and very important issue. Most of the current high LDS leadership occupied at least notable positions of leadership prior to 1978. It’s disingenuous to simultaneously whine about the “bigots” who are asking aggressive questions about Mormonism and race while refusing to openly acknowledge that Mark E Peterson and others were bigots.

  73. Brad – but you also have to take into consideration that at least one of those who taught racist doctrine before 1978 repudiated their sayings. I still read BRM’s talk about the priesthood change as saying, what I said earlier was wrong, so don’t pay attention to it. Sure, he didn’t say the exact words, “I was wrong”, but he effectively repudiated what he had previously taught. And calling out other people, including those who have died and calling them bigots isn’t exactly the best way to handle the situation, either.

  74. Uijapana, # 76, I.m Mormon, and I’ll say it. The ban was wrong before 1978.

    While I have personal opinions about why, I think that for the church to make a statement or disavowal become very problematic due to the murky atmosphere concerning the ban’s beginnings. If we really don’t know how it got started, it’s pretty hard to make a definitive statement that won’t get blasted by the press, and especially now, would have the appearance of election year pandering, and undercutting the church’s longstanding policy of political neutrality.

    I lived with the ban prior to 1978, and all the reasons I was taught by well-meaning, nice folks, including my parents, ended up just being wrong in light of the revelation.

  75. Neither is calling people who would hesitate to vote for mormons for race-related reasons bigots. And BRM said he was wrong and then continued to teach and publish most of the same folk doctrines that grew up around the apologetics for the policy. The only change he made in subsequent eds of MD was the elision of the statement that the policy would never change.

  76. Ummm, in # 74, I was referring to the comment in # 72. Don’t know if the numbering changed, or if I had a flashback. :)

  77. And it changed again, so the #72 now becomes # 70. Or else my holidays are becoming a holidaze, and I don’t know why!

  78. I’ll say it. The ban was wrong before 1978.

    I agree with you, Kevin. But try using that language in elders quorum Sunday and see how far it gets you. This isn’t about ignoring or dismissing some quaint, speculative sayings of O Pratt or his 19th century contemporaries. This is about the systematic denial of access to essential salvific ordinances based solely on race — until 19-freakin-78! I’m troubled by the Church’s unwillingness to repudiate the manifestly racist doctrinal rationalizations that were developed to explain and justify the policy, or to acknowledge that because SWK did not want to instigate a schism in the Q12 and because the racist folk-doctrines were imbibed by members of the quorum as God’s truth, the policy took unreasonably long to change. I can’t imagine how troubled I’d be if wasn’t LDS — i.e. if I didn’t believe that these men, imperfections notwithstanding, were God’s chosen servants whom God allowed to make mistakes of such devastating scope.

  79. #66: It’s easy not to see exclusion when you’re one of the voices that he wants in his symphony. But why not include everybody? The only thing we have to hate is hate itself. ;)

  80. I wonder…
    In 20 years, maybe someone reading this will run for president. Will she be asked to repudiate our church’s 2007 policy on gay marriage?

  81. Brad,

    I think we’d all like some clarity, but it’s not just forthcoming, IMO. You know my feelings about why an apology or disavowal is not likely.

    Let me just add that the divisions in the Q12 can’t just be shrugged off. My church experience has been that unanimity (or by common consent, as this blog is interestingly named) is supposed to be the ideal of church government, and the higher up you go, the more seriously it is taken. From the histories we do have, David O. McKay, while still struggling with some racial concepts, did approach the subject of ending the ban, but could not get traction due to the lack of unanimity in the Q12. I’ve seen this at work in our stake HC. I’ve seen us struggle with an issue until unanimity is achieved, and not by compulsion. And if we aren’t all on the same page, we don’t go forward. So, much as it is painful for us, I’m sure it was painful for President Kimball and others in church leadership who had to wait on this for everyone to come to the same conclusion.

  82. Ronan, one can only hope.

    Kevin, I’m not shrugging off Q12 divisions. I just think that’s the primary reason for the belatedness of the change–not “the Lord’s due time,” except in the sense that the Lord’s due time=when all recalcitrant Q12 members have either softened their hearts or moved on…

  83. Kevinf,

    You are right. There was one notable apostle missing in the upper rooms of the temple that day in 1978. He was interesting enough apparently in Brazil.

    It was not BRM. My source for this interesting tidbit is a portion of a book sent to me by M Young at BYU.

  84. President Eyring’s description of the significance of unanimity in the brethren’s decision making process is a propos to this discussion as well.

    The larger point is, it’s not exactly unreasonable for an outsider to be mystified and disturbed by the fact that Romney was a full grown adult when we still had the policy in place and won’t himself repudiate pre-1978 personal or institutional racism or defend his reasons for not speaking out against it before 1978.

  85. have either softened their hearts or moved on…

    or been whisked away to Brazil.

  86. #59 is the best summary (of many I’ve read, and some I’ve written :-)) of the real problem here.

  87. 84 – but he has mentioned how happy he was when it changed. That would seem to show that he at least repudiated the racist doctrine from his own life, which is really the only important thing we need to know about him in this discussion. And once again, I don’t think that those who are skeptical of our beliefs are bigots, but when they make assumptions about us based off of our church, that is when they cross the line.

    83 – who was it?

  88. kevinf,

    I’m not surprised you disagree, but that doesn’t change my observation of most Mormons.

    As for finally admitting the fallibility of leaders, I’m not sure election timing in the US is a valid excuse for a global religion. 1978 was certainly “opportune” timing in many ways, which cynics would say is why it happened. I don’t think it’s ethically proper to delay a formal repudiation for politically convenient purposes. Quite the contrary, the very politically neutral statement could be, “due to all of this discussion, let us be clear–we were wrong.”

    (“And we’re still wrong about gays and women, but we like it that way and enough of you still agree with us that we’re not going to change yet!”). ;-)

    Anyway, an apology will not come until the fundamental heirarchal nature of the church changes. To suggest that leaders were actually “wrong” in the 60’s and 70’s, even as other (nonmember!) moral leaders suffered greatly to bring greater light and knowledge to the US, seems impossible to me. It’s much easier to accept “God said so,and who can fathom His ways?” than “Prophets can really miss the boat on major moral and social issues of our time.” BRM said his justifications and millenial predictions were wrong, but never that blacks should have had the Priesthood all along.

  89. MP

  90. I have to disagree with all of those agreeing with #59. Indeed I’d say #59 smacks of a bit of bigotry itself. (Something sometimes more common in the Church than it should be) Not all Evangelicals are bigots. There certainly are some – far more than I wish. And having served my mission in the South I can assure you that I’ve met plenty.

    But to insinuate that courting the Evangelical vote is simply courting bigotry is to engage in the same kind of bigotry we decry in the three quoted editorials.

  91. bbell,
    utterly fascinating.

  92. Brad, I think it entirely appropriate for folks to question why blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood until 1978. As to the issue of women and the priesthood I’d simply ask whether this would be brought up with Catholics, Eastern Orthodox or other such people of faith. (My guess is it wouldn’t)

    However when some are called bigots for the way they act towards Mormonism it isn’t because they question our views on race due to the lateness of the 1978 revelation.

  93. Clark,
    The bigotry lies not in the courting of evangelicals per se, but in courting of bigoted evangelicals — i.e. in the deployment of bigoted rhetoric in describing Muslims, atheists, the French…

  94. Brad, I’ll admit I’ve not had time to follow the primaries closely. I confess though I’ve not seen the rhetoric you discuss. I’m quite willing to be shown wrong, since I’m not exactly a fan of the Romney candidacy. (I don’t care for any of the Republican candidates sadly – the best I can hope for is the Romney will bring to light a lot of anti-Mormon bigotry)

  95. Questioning our views on race due to the lateness of 1978 — wondering whether most Mormons are latently, if softly, racist (or at least open to the possibility that essentializing racial difference is a legitimate worldview) — calling the Church an openly racist organization prior to a conveniently timed “revelation”…

    Where’s the line separating the reasonable, concerned non-LDS from the religiou bigot?

    The biggest reason why I have a problem with the lack of repudiation is that I find it entirely reasonable for informed outsiders to assume that I’m something of a knuckle-dragger when it comes to race when I disclose my Mormonism. Why are the reputations of millions of living Church members more important, more worthy of careful protection, than the reputations of a handful of dead Mormon apostles?

  96. Brad, I just did a Google and found the “no Muslims in my cabinet” quote. It’s very disappointing he’d have said that. My already low opinion of him has dropped lower.

  97. Brad, is it really being racist to say that a doctrine with an apparent authorized origin (whether correctly or not) requires an explicit revelation to overturn? That appears to be what some are saying.

    As I said, I don’t mind people questioning. When someone says, “you’re Mormon therefore you’re a racist” that’s akin to someone telling you that because you’re American you must be a racist.

  98. Clark, the Catholic position on women and the priesthood is something liberal Catholics get challenged on frequently (among other issues). Also, if it comes up less for Catholics, it may be because of the very different role priests play in Catholicism–it’s troubling that the person who leads mass for an hour on Sunday is always a man, but it’s nothing compared to the injustice I’d feel if my husband, brothers, and sons were all priests and I, my sister, and my daughters couldn’t be.

  99. Clark, it’s definitely racist, at least from a plain definition of the word, no?

  100. The doctrine might be but I don’t see that the stance of revelation is.

    But you point out one problem with racism. Is affirmative action racist? By the plain definition of the word it is. So are supporters of affirmative action all racists?

  101. Ann, I didn’t know Catholics were challenged on that. That’s quite unfortunate although, I suppose in hindsight, not unsurprising. As I think I’ve said before, for all the Evangelical bigotry we won’t see anything like what would happen if Romney wins the nomination and the Liberal bigotry begins.

  102. Brad, is it really being racist to say that a doctrine with an apparent authorized origin (whether correctly or not) requires an explicit revelation to overturn? That appears to be what some are saying.

    That’s not the question. Is it racist to articulate and then stand by “doctrines” that explain the policy via an appeal to cursed lineage biblical folklore and a distinct Mormonization of said folk doctrine via speculation about premortal fence-sitting? Is it racist not to repudiate such nonsense even after the policy it was meant to prop up has been repudiated? Saying that persons of African decent can now have access to saving ordinances and family sealings is not at all the same thing as saying they should never have been denied said access in the first place or saying that they are truly equal in all ways to God’s white and delightsome children.

    Exactly 6 years ago I sat in a Doctrines of the Gospel class at BYU in which the instructor explicitly and aggressively taught that all God’s dark-skinned children would resurrect looking like white western Europeans. I was sitting next to a Nigerian exchange student when that professor made the statement and defended it against student protests, using, among others, Mark E. Peterson as evidence! That student never returned to class.

    The lack of official repudiation of all racist doctrines — especially those that persisted well into the latter half of the 20th century — allows creeping racism of all kinds to remain in the Church and, at times, to be taught in its official institutions.

  103. Brad – 102 Yes, it’s sad when we still have people saying stupid things like that in any sort of setting. And that instructor should have known better. And I think President Hinckley’s repeated injunctions against racism of any kind are a type of repudiation from an official source, even if he doesn’t repudiate specific doctrines.

    That said, I appreciate that you are showing that there can be legitimate concerns concerning our religion’s history to those out of the faith. I just don’t think you should make an assumption about it, any more than you should make an assumtion about a Catholic and abortion stance. It’s the assumption that is a soft form of bigotry And that, I think, is what this post is arguing in the first place.

  104. Assuming that a single member of a given religious denomination believes what most members of said denomination might be faulty logic; but it isn’t bigotry.

    IMHO

  105. “The only change he made in subsequent eds of MD was the elision of the statement that the policy would never change.”
    That isn’t strictly true. Entire articles were excised.

  106. I’m talking specifically about the race/priesthood issue. Other articles were excised.

  107. Brad,

    You are making a lot of sense, bro. The church’s position (and it seems to be Romney’s too, given his refusal to repudiate it) is that Africans were “cursed” prior to 1978. That the church and Romney do not believe Africans are “cursed” today is besides the point. Your BYU story shows that many in the church still defend the pre-1978 position.

    Having said all that, none of this means that Mormon Individual X is racist. I agree with your #104.

    All in all, I think the charge of racism from the left is harder to deflect; from the religious right it’s ludicrous given their own racism in times past.

    When I run for prime minister this will be easy: the priesthood ban was a terrible mistake. Thank God it changed.

  108. I’m only bigoted against bigots.

  109. I’ll say it too:

    The ban was wrong before 1978.

    But try using that language in elders quorum Sunday and see how far it gets you.

    I did, as EQ instructor just a couple months ago. I haven’t been released yet.

  110. Promising development, MCQ

  111. #90 I never said anything about Evangelicals in general. I’m only talking about bigots who use claims of piety to excuse their homophobia. There is a big difference between the two groups, and to suggest otherwise is an insult to Evangelicals.

  112. In my area in North Texas there is typically a LDS kid in every classroom at the local elementary school. There are 40 LDS kids in my kids school alone.

    Living near bbell like I do, I had to smile at how it’s different for my children than it was for me. We have a new family in our ward who commented that on their street of about 14 houses, there are 8 LDS families.

    Our school district employs a Mormon in one of its more prominent positions. Many of the local PTA leaders are LDS. Most schools don’t hand out homework on Wednesday nights, because a lot of churches (including ours) have youth nights on that night (churches banding together to fight homework!). The (sometimes controversial) head of neighboring school board was LDS, but her religion was never mentioned. We had a stake member playing football for BYU and getting local press coverage for going on a mission; when two high schools in our stake boundaries won Texas state football championships last year, a stake presidency member commented during a conference session on the number of LDS youth on each team.

    My school district is split between 2 different stakes and (I think) 8 or 9 wards. We’re almost Utah-esque.

    About a decade ago, there was a community near mine where a bilious local preacher proclaimed from the pulpit that “the Mormons were taking over the town”, because the new city manager and 2/5 of the city council were LDS.

  113. 28 – Most certainly, an Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, or Dallas Cowboys fan could not be elected mayor of Steeltown.

    56 – I think the Scientologists fear the Germans. And the Germans fear … the Allies. And the Allies fear … Tom Brokaw writing a new book.

  114. On this first Thursday of the month, the First Presidency, Twelve and Seventies met in their regularly scheduled temple meeting at 9:00 A.M., fasting. There they bore testimony, partook of the sacrament, and participated in a prayer circle. The meeting lasted the usual three and a half hours and was not notably different from other such meetings until the conclusion, when President Kimball asked the Twelve to remain. Two had already left the room to change from their temple clothing in preparation for the regular business meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve which normally followed. Someone called them back. Elder Delbert L. Stapley lay ill in the hospital and Elder Mark E. Petersen was in South America on assignment. Ten of the Twelve were present.—Lengthen Your Stride, Working Draft, Chapter 22 p. 7 by Edward Kimball

  115. From the same source, albeit a week earlier:

    On May 25, Mark E. Petersen called President Kimball’s attention to an article that proposed the priesthood policy had begun with Brigham Young, not Joseph Smith, and he suggested that the president might wish to consider this factor.

  116. “Also, if it comes up less for Catholics, it may be because of the very different role priests play in Catholicism–it’s troubling that the person who leads mass for an hour on Sunday is always a man, but it’s nothing compared to the injustice I’d feel if my husband, brothers, and sons were all priests and I, my sister, and my daughters couldn’t be.”

    Well, that’s a grand assumption. I, personally, would feel a great sense of injustice if a woman’s voice was never heard over the pulpit during a Sunday meeting. It’s like you’re trying to say that the Catholic church’s sexism isn’t as bad as Mormon’s because there are less priests in the Catholic church… That’s pretty silly, if you ask me.

    I would guess that the Catholic church gets questioned less frequently because it’s the oldest sect around and it’s more accepted. But that’s just an assumption on my part.

  117. Queno,

    In Northeast tarrant county I am continually amazed at our shear numbers. Esp in the schools. I can see three members houses from my front porch. Amazing eh?

    I am pretty sure that much of the reason for lots of the animosity is the result of our growing numbers in the bible belt. When a pastor looks at his subdivision and keeps seeing large LDS families moving in he cannot help but feel a bit threatened.

  118. For Clark; liberal bigotry? When Romney was Governor of liberal Mass., the issue didn’t come up. The scrutinization of his religion didn’t start until he began to court the far-right Evangelical vote.

  119. Ronan: You are making a lot of sense, bro. The church’s position (and it seems to be Romney’s too, given his refusal to repudiate it) is that Africans were “cursed” prior to 1978. That the church and Romney do not believe Africans are “cursed” today is besides the point. Your BYU story shows that many in the church still defend the pre-1978 position

    No it wasn’t. There was no such position. Can you point to some official statement or something representing a “Church position” to back that up? Some of us actually lived prior to 1978 and remember clear back past the 60s. I never heard such a position and I was very active and well-read on the issue. I believe you’re misinformed on this one young whipper snapper.

  120. Stephanie–I wasn’t assuming that everyone feels that the Catholic ban on women priests isn’t as bad as the LDS ban on women priests because there are fewer priests in Catholicism–I was suggesting that difference “may” be a reason for people’s different perceptions. I did so because the number of people directly affected by the ban does affect how I perceive the injustice, silly though it may be.

    Also, please don’t make assumptions of your own–it is certainly not the case that I have never heard a woman’s voice from the pulpit in the Catholic church. Women do readings every Sunday and occasionally give the sermon, though they cannot say the Mass.

    That said, I probably over-generalized from my own attitudes, and you’re likely correct that the age and size of the Catholic church has more to do with most people’s acceptance of its system than does the numbers issue that I think would affect me.

    I feel like I’m doing some sort of Catholic threadjack, so I’ll shut up now. :)

  121. Who?
    I use “cursed” in the Book of Abraham sense, where Pharaoh is “cursed” as to the priesthood because of his lineage. The de jure position of the church prior to 1978 was that Africans similarly had no right to the priesthood, that they were “cursed” in this pharaonic sense.

    The de facto stance (at the very least) was that this curse had to do with the curse of Cain, Ham, etc.

    To argue otherwise — to suggest that somehow the ban is all a great mystery (a popular stance nowadays) — is pure historical revisionism and only serves as a continued apologia for the ban.

    If Romney gets the nomination he will be asked again and again: was the priesthood ban on blacks right? At some point he will have to give a straight answer. Hopefully he will decry the following FP statement from 1949:

    The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.

    Is this “official” enough for you? Brigham’s view, ratified here, was spun again and again in setting after setting by church leaders. It continues to happen today.

  122. Incidentally, there is so much so obviously wrong with this “official” statement that I’m amazed more Mormons cannot deduce that the whole thing was faulty from top to bottom.

    1. There is no record of this being a revelation, a fact the brethren later came to realise.
    2. This was not a policy from the foundation of the church.
    3. Africans do not have black skin because their ancestors rejected the priesthood (an utterly ridiculous, slave-era idea), and even if this were so, the absurd logic of a “one drop rule” would discount many “whites” from the priesthood too.
    4. The ban was lifted long before the rest of God’s children received the priesthood.
    5. The second paragraph goes on to talk about the pre-existence, that blacks somehow reaped what they sowed. Obviously, the institutional church has moved beyond this.

    I really believe that a repudiation would come as a great relief to many Latter-day Saints and would be good for the church. I hope Romney leads the way.

  123. Ronan: I stand corrected. The 1949 statement appears to adopt just the position you say in adopting BY’s statement. In 1969 the FP stated:

    “From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.”

    So at least by 1969 the FP explicitly stated that the reason for the practice was not revealed and not known. It erroneously states that all prophets, including Joseph Smith, taught the doctrine — tho Joseph Smith did not. So I believe it is erroneous to say that the official position of the church is the notion of pre-existence. The answer was: we don’t know why. Well, Romney would do well to state: the reason was our collective blindness to our own historical prejudice that we shared with most of the United States and such a practice cannot be justified as part of our doctrine.

  124. Who?,
    Sounds like you and our resident young whipper snapper are on pretty much the same page. ;)

  125. Who?

    I think if you read between the lines, the 1969 statement is beginning to realise that the policy was a house built on sand. I still don’t think it’s true to say “we don’t know why” — the policy was rather obviously developed on the back on of Brigham et al’s racism. To say “we don’t know” is to suggest that somehow God revealed this policy without explanation and to ignore the rather clear socio-cultural-historical development of the ban.

    Still, no need for us to argue, as your Romney answer is perfect. Also, I’m glad you think I am young. I am 32 in February, which means I am half way to 64.

  126. Head: You’re right, 1969 is backing away from any stand that would ground the practice in a doctrine or revelation while leaving the door open for its continuation. It was grounded in BY’s racism — a racism that was widespread in his day.

    However, being 32 means you were born in ’75, and you were 3 in ’78. So unless you’re were precocious beyond belief, your knowledge is based on book learnin’ rather than experience. You’re a young whipper snapper and that too is based on your lineage and when you left the pre-existence.

    However, and this is important, our one time blind spot to our own bigotry should never be used to justify ongoing bigotry against LDS. Nor should it be used to justify a double-standard for the historical background of Romney’s religion while all other candidates get a pass. Our collective guilt over not having rejected racism earlier should not be used as a self-flagellating justification for encouraging bigotry against LDS. Finally, I just don’t see Romney adopting anything about the priesthood practice but doing his best to be sensitive to the sentiments and feelings of LDS while adopting civil rights. Still, he is best served by suggesting that the Church apologize for an indefensible practice and repudiate the “curse” based upon being less valiant in the pre-existence.

  127. RE: #59, #93,
    Tancredo just endorsed Romney.

  128. However, and this is important, our one time blind spot to our own bigotry should never be used to justify ongoing bigotry against LDS.

    I agree with that. Except that our leaders have been gleefully conducting a political campaign to deny our gay and lesbian neighbors and family members the benefits of humanity and citizenship.

    I hope that more Mormons will recognize that we are as vulnerable a minority as any. Christian conservatives have always hated us, hate us today and will continue to hate us.

    It is amazing how insensitive many Mormons are to minority rights and how aggressively our leaders move against other vulnerable minorities.

  129. “Except that our leaders have been gleefully conducting a political campaign to deny our gay and lesbian neighbors and family members the benefits of humanity and citizenship.”

    Hellmut, that is ridiculously hyperbolic. We consider all humans human.

  130. I meant that our leaders’ campaign against gays and lesbians denies them human rights, John.

  131. Settle down, Hellmut. Mind what John says: neither citizenship nor humanity is at stake here (which is not to say I rejoice in our current policy towards gays, but that is a different matter). I think the wider point is important: before we cry bigotry, we should make sure our own house is in order. As Mr. Who? suggests, however, “our one time blind spot to our own bigotry should never be used to justify ongoing bigotry against LDS.”

    Who? (I see we are at surnames now. Alas, I don’t know yours): my arrival at this conclusion was quite simple. I grew-up in the 80’s and 90’s with the black folklore in all its glory. I always suspected that these things were not cooked-up ex nihilo; said book-learning only confirmed that the “curse” idea was both entrenched and could be traced back to official teachings.

    I’m not exactly sure that we disagree over this. In any case, happy Christmas to the Whos.

    P.S. Someone should email the Romney team and show them that Romney need not feel he has to be true to a divine revelation on this one. He’s already decried polygamy; this one is easy to repudiate. Mauss’s article is a good start: http://www.blacklds.org/mormon/mauss.html

  132. Settle down, Hellmut. Mind what John says: neither citizenship nor humanity is at stake here (which is not to say I rejoice in our current policy towards gays, but that is a different matter).

    I am surprised by your objection, Ronan. According to Article 16 of The Declaration of Human Rights, marriage is a human right.

    I would certainly consider it a violation of my human rights if someone tried to outlaw my marriage and, presumably, so would you.

    I think the wider point is important: before we cry bigotry, we should make sure our own house is in order.

    Exactly, our acquiescence to the abuse of gays and lesbians at the hands of our religious organization is only falling back on us.

    Its pretty easy to attack outsiders like Huckabee. Real commitment to human rights reveals itself when we are just as spirited opposing our own bigots, regardless of who they are.

    Until then, we are merely defending our tribal self-interest.

    Fortunately, there are some Mormons who do oppose official bigotry but they sure could do with reinforcements.

  133. I’m sorry Hellmut, but there are those of us who are not bigoted against gays and lesbians, but still feel that what they are doing is wrong.

  134. “What they are doing is wrong?” Like what, having same-gender attraction?

  135. I’m sorry Jacob, but there are those of us who are not bigoted against Mormons, but still feel that what they are doing is wrong.

    Yours truly,
    Every Self-Styled Christian Anti-Mormon You’ve Ever Met.

  136. Update:
    all this talk about anti-Mormon bigotry and Mormonism is moot since Romney just renounced his religion.

  137. I’m sorry Hellmut, but there are those of us who are not bigoted against gays and lesbians, but still feel that what they are doing is wrong.

    I respect that, Jacob, although Brad has demonstrated the conceptual problem of your view.

    You are entitled to your feelings but our feelings do not give us the right to legislate other people’s behavior, especially not when it comes to a matter that is so central to our humanity as sexuality.

  138. Hellmut, I actually do agree with that, as surprising as that might sound. I was lucky enough to not be old enough to vote when California had that proposition about defining marriage. I really don’t think that’s the government’s job.

    And, Brad, you make a good point.

  139. Whatever motivates the policy positions of the Church, I do not believe that they seek to dehumanize homosexuals. Arguments to the contrary are, I believe, ill-spirited. That said, I don’t believe that the Church, no matter how much influence it wields, can prevent gay marriage or homosexual love. It can suggest that the traditional civic benefits extended to heterosexual marriage should not be extended to other potential relationships, which is ultimately the point, I think. It is, once again, a question of embracing the unknown or rejecting it and the wisdom of either decision is unclear. However, being unclear on that decision or clear one way or the other does not necessarily make one bigoted.

  140. It can suggest that the traditional civic benefits extended to heterosexual marriage should not be extended to other potential relationships, which is ultimately the point, I think.

    And that would be a bigoted suggestion. Homosexuals are just as human as everyone else and therefore ought to enjoy all benefits under civil law.

    Singling out a group of people for discrimination in the absence of a rational justification, that’s bigotry.

    Whatever motivates the policy positions of the Church, I do not believe that they seek to dehumanize homosexuals.

    Intentions matter but are only of limited relevance. The referenda campaigns do dehumanize our gay and lesbian neighbors, so much so that several of our brothers were driven into suicide.

    President Hinckley has admitted to the media that he does not understand homosexuality. That’s a cavalier attitude for a person who raises millions of dollars to use the rule of the majority to deny a minority’s rights. It would be easy for Gordon Hinckley to obtain instruction about the role of homosexuality in human nature.

    At some point, LDS leaders and their supporters have to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, even if they were unintended.

    That applies especially to someone like you, John, who gets all excited about derogatory language. The consequences of the anti-gay referenda are actually a lot worse because legislation can mess up the lives of people for years to come.

    I am challenging you to be consistent. Human rights are indivisible. They are not just for people like you and me. They are also for those who are the most different from us. Take a tenth of your Huackabee energy and tend to the beam in our community’s eyes.

    Some of us like to claim that Mormon racism is in the past. As long as our leaders are pushing the referenda campaigns against gays, we cannot claim that our discriminatory agenda is a matter of the past.

  141. Hellmut,
    While I appreciate being lectured as much as the next person, this is not an issue of the removal of human rights. This is an issue regarding the extension of civic rights. No matter what I may personally think of the legitimacy of homosexual marriage (not something I have commmented on in this particular thread), civic rights do not define us as humans. I am more than the list of rights given me under the constitution. So is any homosexual.

    As to the culpability of any human being aside from the suicide in a suicide, I tend to deny it. While we can all certainly treat one another better, suicide is, to my mind, a selfish, cruel act. I do not say this in denigration to a suicide necessarily, because they are clearly mentally ill. I do say that laying the blame for suicide at someone else’s feet is cruel in its own right. Who the heck are you to call the Brethren murderers (however unintentionally)?

    I am not saying that gays are inhuman. I am saying that we should approach the expansion of the legal/civic expansion of the definition cautiously (although if we could come up with a credible way of weeding out temporary hook-ups from legitimately committed relationships (heterosexual or homosexual) it might be helpful). But that would be prying too much into the private lives of the participants. I think that there may be good reasons for privileging hetero marriage over other forms of relationships, therefore I don’t necessarily oppose the church’s stance. However, I also could be wrong. I am willing to admit that. The notion of “homosexuality” is fairly new in the world and we don’t yet have a handle on its meaning.

    In any case, I don’t see how saying that it might be a good policy decision to privilege the married hetero relationship over other relationships is inherently bigoted (assuming that you could back that up with data, which I can’t). It is not like you are saying that gay marriage is worthless (although you are, admittedly, saying that it is worth less than hetero marriage (of course, you are also saying it is on equal status with other non-privileged relationships)), that gays aren’t people, that gays shouldn’t adopt, and so forth by making that assumption.

    One thing that strikes me about all of this is that the definition of what a marriage should be has changed. With the advent of romantic love, the pre-eminence of the husband-wife/partner-spouse relationship has become the rule. I’m not sure that we are well served by this (although I don’t know that I would want it any other way either). If the role of the family to raise up the next generation is paramount, as opposed to being a commitment of one spouse to another, then I can understand giving hetero marriage a privileged place. If the role of marriage is primarily about the commitment of one person to another, I agree that hetero and homosexual marriages are of equal worth and that the underpinning of the privileged position of hetero marriage is flawed. That probably doesn’t make much sense at the moment, but it is where my thoughts lie regarding it.

    So, this form of discrimination may be appropriate (then again, it may not). The Brethren went one way with it. For the moment, I am considering their opinion (or, at least, speculating about it). I myself have not made up my mind.

  142. John C.
    I don’t think that the position you’ve articulated here could be fairly described as bigoted. I also don’t think Hellmut or anyone else is arguing that “saying that it might be a good policy decision to privilege the married hetero relationship over other relationships is inherently bigoted.” But surely you’ll admit that many, including many in the Church, deploy bigoted rhetoric in the service of their desired ends vis a vis the expansion of civic rights. It is often that very rhetoric, not necessarily the taking of this or that position on a given issue, that can lead to “unintended consequences,” and those who utilize such rhetoric share some of the responsibility for the actions of those who imbibe it and whose actions are motivated and/or encouraged by it.

  143. Why is it that, to some people, anyone who disagrees with them is a bigot – regardless of the reason for or depth of the disagreement? Given the last few comments, I just thought I’d ask.

  144. The anti-gay position taken by the Church (and the Evangelicals, and the Catholics) is certainly perceived by the secular world as deeply bigoted. Keep in mind this didn’t just begin with the gay marriage debate. There’s a long history of overt, violent persecution of homosexuals. Anybody here old enough to remember Anita Bryant? Sodomy laws? The pre-Stonewall era treatment of homosexuals? They gave shock treatment to homosexuals at BYU, for goodness sake! People who feel so strongly about these issues should study the history of the gay rights movement. It’s interesting.

    re: 135 Amen. Glad I’m not the only one who sees the irony in LDS homophobia. Which would make the Evangelicals happier, the closure of every gay bar or every LDS chapel?

    re: “The notion of ‘homosexuality’ is fairly new in the world and we don’t yet have a handle on its meaning.”

    Well. While the word ‘homosexual’ dates back to at least 1869, one suspects the “notion” antedates the word by a few years….

  145. It is not like you are saying that gay marriage is worthless (although you are, admittedly, saying that it is worth less than hetero marriage (of course, you are also saying it is on equal status with other non-privileged relationships)), that gays aren’t people, that gays shouldn’t adopt, and so forth by making that assumption.

    I am assuming, John, that with “you” you are not referring to me but to “one” who wants to privilege heterosexual marriage.

    To argue for a heterosexual privilege, one has to assume that homosexuals are less than complete human beings, may be, because they might not have children.

    Therefore, the prohibition of homosexual marriage and its benefits amounts to discrimination.

    Here are a couple of facts:
    a) Marriage is a human right and recognized as such in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 in Article 16. Every member nation of the United Nations recognizes this, including the United States of America.
    b) Across the entire spectrum of the life sciences, there is agreement that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon that neither amounts to a deficiency nor interferes in the rights of others any more than heterosexuality. That is so widely known that anyone who has not learned it, has at least been negligent if not willfully ignorant.
    c) Homosexuals do have children. If one denies homosexuals the ability to marry then one denies the children of homosexuals important benefits of family.

    That’s not a matter of opinion, John. Biology is what it is. The information is easily available to anyone.

    Of course, there are people who are not willing to accept that human beings are fundamentally equal and who therefore do not subscribe to the notion of human rights. Some of those people are bigots. Others are simply cynically selfish and I would be surprised if you would want to go there.

    To remain consistent with your line of argument, by the way, you would have to cancel the marriages of all childless couples. That implication would be absurd. Therefore the premise is false. Marriage is not about state and society policing procreation.

    I agree with you that there are limits to the Brethren’s responsibility. They cannot be entirely responsible for people’s reactions. But they are responsible for consequences such as denying children of gay couples health insurance and parental care as well as for encouraging members to participate in a discriminatory enterprise. The Brethren also bear part of the responsibility for the actions and inactions of members who follow them. That includes the parents of gay Mormons who feel unable to help their children in distress.

    That’s more than enough. I would not want to have that burden on my conscience.

    It is disappointing how callously you are diminishing the suffering of our gay brothers and sisters. As somebody who is so emotionally affected by the attacks of political hacks on a fellow Mormon, I would have thought that you have the ability to empathize with what it must be like to be a gay Mormon.

    Instead you are blaming the victims, presumably, to evade conflict with our leaders. In the army, we called that kind of behavior bicycling: bowing to the top, kicking below. That may be an implication of the authoritarian elements of our theology but it is hardly consistent with the golden rule. A biker is pretty much the antithesis of a good Samaritan.

    On the other hand, I have to admit that it took myself several years to figure it out. I hope that your desire to be consistent will motivate you to study the nature of sexuality more closely.

    Unfortunately, you have just given us an object lesson why so many people with a stake in liberty have reason to fear Mormons. We are quick to feel hurt but have little respect for the needs of other vulnerable minorities and intrude upon their rights aggressively when the call of our leaders reaches us.

    In the past, they asked us to oppose civil rights for Blacks. Today, it’s gays.

    When members follow those instructions, that’s scary. If we were only committed to be consistent then that kind of aggression would cease and we would be in a much stronger position to assert our own rights, especially for the many Mormons who remain a vulnerable minority in most of the United States and the world.

  146. Brad (#102):

    That’s not the question. Is it racist to articulate and then stand by “doctrines” that explain the policy via an appeal to cursed lineage biblical folklore and a distinct Mormonization of said folk doctrine via speculation about premortal fence-sitting? Is it racist not to repudiate such nonsense even after the policy it was meant to prop up has been repudiated? Saying that persons of African decent can now have access to saving ordinances and family sealings is not at all the same thing as saying they should never have been denied said access in the first place or saying that they are truly equal in all ways to God’s white and delightsome children.

    Lots of “is its” there. I think it complex. Some of the above would be racist for the individual, some simply ignorant, and some might be debatable.

    The claim that the policy was always wrong and we should always have been egalitarian is certainly defensible, but I don’t think it racist for many members to think it was revealed and that a revelation was necessary to resolve it. Of course, as others noted, non-Mormons – especially liberals – will see this as racist. Albeit perhaps institutional racism rather than individual. But I’m sure many will see individuals holding this view as racist as well. I’m not sure that’s fair.

    Exactly 6 years ago I sat in a Doctrines of the Gospel class at BYU in which the instructor explicitly and aggressively taught that all God’s dark-skinned children would resurrect looking like white western Europeans.

    It’s certainly nowhere near as prevalent though, I think you’ll admit. I think though that had you complained to the religion department this guy would have had a PPI with the dean. Even if someone believes this it’s inappropriate to teach it.

    RonanJH (#107):

    All in all, I think the charge of racism from the left is harder to deflect; from the religious right it’s ludicrous given their own racism in times past.

    I agree. Even in the left it’s often ludicrous if only because of prominent Democrats who have questionable backgrounds. But clearly it’s a target for many. The whole issue of the relationship of religion and politics is complex. Realistically a lot is “fair game” that might be unseemly in other contexts. I’d just say that any liberal who raises the “religious racism” card ought not complain if folks raise the “person of faith” card. There’s a lot of hypocrisy on both sides.

    Djinn (#118)

    For Clark; liberal bigotry? When Romney was Governor of liberal Mass., the issue didn’t come up. The scrutinization of his religion didn’t start until he began to court the far-right Evangelical vote.

    Not true. Go back to the Romney/Kennedy Senate election. The religious issue was brought up a lot. It didn’t come up as much in the Governor’s race because hay had already been made of it.

    But I agree it was unwise for Romney to target Evangelicals – although perhaps the demographics of Republican activists now demands it. I personally find his flip flopping a tad disturbing. Which I was I’m not to excited by him.

    I will say that the role of Evangelicals in the Republican party – especially some aspects of their social conservativism (i.e. evolution issues, some anti-science issues, etc.) bother me a great deal. I really wish that the Republican party could be successful without needing the placate that block to the degree they do.

  147. Just to clarify that last post – Kennedy didn’t explicitly raise the issue. However it did come up a lot in those elections.

  148. Brad (#135)

    I’m sorry Jacob, but there are those of us who are not bigoted against Mormons, but still feel that what they are doing is wrong.

    Yours truly,
    Every Self-Styled Christian Anti-Mormon You’ve Ever Met.

    For the record if that was all anti-Mormons did I’d be ecstatic. Given their theology they ought see us as doing wrong. I don’t mind them in the least as seeing us as doing wrong. Thinking we’re doing wrong isn’t bigotry.

  149. Hellmut, I am an advocate of civil unions with full familial rights. However, you have just painted me as a bigot, since I also support the religious position of the Church as it now stands – even though I will not leave or feel disappointed in the slightest if it changes in the future – and even though I would welcome any homosexual person or couple or family to sit and worship with my family.

    Bigotry is like racism in one very important way. Used too freely and broadly, it loses all meaning. If you paint me as a bigot, frankly, you’ve just about lost all meaning.

  150. re: 149

    While I agree with your last sentence, Ray, I hope you can see how a person in the affected category (in this case, homosexuals) would perceive things quite differently.

    Your comment raises an interesting question, though. Were members who supported the pre-78 “religious position of the Church” regarding Black members de facto bigots at the time?

    Can one be an inadvertent bigot?

  151. Ray – Would it offend anyone if we stipulated that the Church is bigoted according to the standard definition, but that the leadership of the Church isn’t terribly concerned about labels?

  152. (Sorry, hit return too soon. I’m bigoted against Wolverines. The label of “bigot” isn’t nearly as bad as how you react upon receiving the label …)

  153. (And I’m not making light of the issue at hand. I’m just saying that it doesn’t seem to make any difference if we argue whether or not the Church is or isn’t bigoted. Let’s just stipulate that it is, and move on to what it really means…)

  154. Eric Russell says:

    Folks, it’s already been thoroughly established both on this blog and others that the church and its members are racist, sexist and homophobic. Adding “bigoted” to the mix makes for a fun new adjective, but it doesn’t really say anything new.

  155. Mike, of course, I understand completely that those affected directly by bigotry (of any kind – sexual, racial, religious, etc.) see bigotry as much more prevalent than those who do not – as is evidenced by the reaction of Mormons to Huckabee. The only problem I have with the line of discussion over he last few dozen comments is that it seems to imply that ANY stance that excludes ANY group whose categorization depends on ANY aspect of “natural” (non-voluntary) / biological identification is de facto bigotry. That is ludicrous.

    At the risk of offending and totally pissing off those who will not read carefully what I am about to say, I will say it anyway: There are MANY examples of natural / biological inclinations I could cite that no citizen in her right mind would advocate or support in real life practice – and that no other citizen in his right mind would call her bigoted for not advocating. Otoh, there are MANY examples of natural / biological inclinations I could cite that many citizens in their right minds would advocate in real life practice – and that many other citizens in their right minds would label (correctly, imo) as bigoted. Disagreement does not a bigot make; ignorant, mindless, stereotyped rejection does.

    There is a HUGE difference between the two, and that line too often gets blurred or erased in discussions like this.

  156. Clark (#96),

    I understand that the quote you speak of is hearsay related by a Democratic party fundraiser and that Mitt Romney has denied making any such statement.

    So unless you have better evidence, why are you inclined to credit Mr. Ijaz more than Mr. Romney with respect to a claim that borders on the unbelievable.

  157. Personally, I won’t vote for Romney because I don’t like him. He’s way too right-wing conservative, he has shown tendencies to be underhanded, unprincipled, flippant, smug and disloyal to the Christ- love and healing principles.

  158. Mike,
    I consider your family a legitimate family and fully support the idea of giving it full legal rights. For that matter, I don’t even mind calling the union that cements your family a marriage. I am trying to understand why the Brethren approach the issue the way that they do, giving them the benefit of the doubt. I don’t see them as having ever participated in overt gay bashing, but I am from a different generation. Certainly, some members of the Quorum could be described as bigoted in the sense I use (using another group as a bogeyman), but I don’t believe that reflects the thinking of the Brethren as a whole nor do I believe it is what motivates the whole of their behavior. It is clearly a stretch to see the Church as responsible for all gay-bashing everywhere.

    Also, regarding the notion of homosexuality, it is my understanding that the notion of exclusive homosexuality is a relatively recent phenomenon. People used to have trysts, but because family was about children and maintaining society they could turn elsewhere for love. That’s what I was getting at.

    Hellmut,
    In saying all that I have said to Mike, I ain’t giving you no quarter.
    “To argue for a heterosexual privilege, one has to assume that homosexuals are less than complete human beings, may be, because they might not have children.”
    No, one does not. This is akin to saying that because policemen or prosecuting attorneys can do some things legally that the rest of us cannot do, they are better than the rest of us. Legal rights do not make us who we are. They establish the limits of how we can treat one another. That’s it.

    “a) Marriage is a human right and recognized as such in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 in Article 16. Every member nation of the United Nations recognizes this, including the United States of America.”
    First of all, define marriage in that context in a way that would be acceptable to all the signatories of that document. Second, since when do we look to the UN to get an idea regarding what a human right ought to be?

    “To remain consistent with your line of argument, by the way, you would have to cancel the marriages of all childless couples. That implication would be absurd. Therefore the premise is false. Marriage is not about state and society policing procreation.”
    Well, of course that’s absurd. That’s why I didn’t mention it. How often do you find yourself sliding down this particular slope, Hellmut? I earlier said that forcing people to actually be committed to each other is too much of an invasion of privacy to be allowed. Why exactly do you believe I would encourage fertility testing? In any case, as you know, there is such a thing as adoption. And, as stated above, I don’t have a problem with gay people adopted. Please stop arguing with points I’m not making.

    That said, of course civic marriage is about state and society policing procreation. If not that, what exactly is the interest of the state in it at all?

    “That’s more than enough. I would not want to have that burden on my conscience.”
    If you actually know how to avoid become part of the bad background noise that influences a suicide, I would be happy to hear about it. I don’t think such a thing is
    avoidable. Certainly, we should all be kinder and more compassionate, but I ought to do that anyway. The victims of a suicide are those left behind.

    “As somebody who is so emotionally affected by the attacks of political hacks on a fellow Mormon, I would have thought that you have the ability to empathize with what it must be like to be a gay Mormon.”
    Beautiful rhetoric, Hellmut. Agree with me or you are a cruel heartless bastard and hypocrite. Let’s just say that the difference between myself and the anti-mormons is that I don’t pretend that homosexuals are trying to take over the world and I haven’t made it my life’s mission to eradicate them from the earth. Please give me some credit.

    “you have just given us an object lesson why so many people with a stake in liberty have reason to fear Mormons. We are quick to feel hurt but have little respect for the needs of other vulnerable minorities and intrude upon their rights aggressively when the call of our leaders reaches us.”
    Also, we worship Hitler. Don’t forget that, it’s important. You do know he has been baptized posthumously several times.

  159. Hellmut (#145): what’s this “we” and “us” language? You returning to the fold? Did I miss a memo? Don’t speak for your ex-sheep — we find it irritating when liberated minds such as yourself distract us from our peaceful bigotry.

  160. Steve Evans says:

    I am, however, heartened to see that this post, like all others, has resulted in a discussion of gay marriage. Carry on.

  161. Way to walk it back, Clark. Besides, weren’t the Mormon-tinged statements, such as they were, a wierd sort of gentle version of this thread? I.e., Unknown Mass. person — aren’t Mormons strongly against X (abortion, or other general conservative belief), and so doesn’t Romney also believe X? Romney– no, actually, I will do Y. Unknown Mass. person, well then, carry on.

  162. Hellmut, I am an advocate of civil unions with full familial rights. However, you have just painted me as a bigot, since I also support the religious position of the Church as it now stands – even though I will not leave or feel disappointed in the slightest if it changes in the future – and even though I would welcome any homosexual person or couple or family to sit and worship with my family.

    Sorry about the heartache, Ray, but pursuing the good life is not easy. If we consider gays and lesbians as human beings without any qualifications then we have to treat them just like any other human being.

    If one is not willing to do that in spite of what the life sciences have established about the nature of sexuality, then one commits bigotry.

    Let me add two items for context. Bias and bigotry is part and parcel of the human condition. I realize that in some ways, those labels apply to myself.

    For example, I have been raised in a racist society (just like everyone else). I cannot undo my socialization but I can confront it. If my effort is constant then I will hurt less people but it will be a life long struggle.

    Second, on a pragmatic level I would take civil union in a heartbeat. Politics is the art of the possible and the proponents of equality need to seize what we can get.

    We should not kid ourselves, however, that civil unions are the solution because a separate status continues to treat gays and lesbians as less than fully human.

    Bigotry is like racism in one very important way. Used too freely and broadly, it loses all meaning. If you paint me as a bigot, frankly, you’ve just about lost all meaning.

    That’s certainly true. It’s also a tautology. Doing too much of anything is negative. To discuss that challenge in an interesting and productive manner, we would have to determine how and why an accusation crosses the threshold of too much.

    The flip side of the coin is, by the way, when members of the majority remain insensitive to the dynamics of discrimination that continue to hurt members of minorities. Any Mormon growing up in the bible belt and many other parts of the world will easily understand that.

    Folks, it’s already been thoroughly established both on this blog and others that the church and its members are racist, sexist and homophobic. Adding “bigoted” to the mix makes for a fun new adjective, but it doesn’t really say anything new.

    It’s not about labels and name calling. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions while insisting that Mormons and other minorities get to enjoy civil and human rights just like the members of majority populations.

    Hellmut (#145): what’s this “we” and “us” language? You returning to the fold? Did I miss a memo? Don’t speak for your ex-sheep — we find it irritating when liberated minds such as yourself distract us from our peaceful bigotry.

    That’s a funny cartoon, Steve.

  163. This is akin to saying that because policemen or prosecuting attorneys can do some things legally that the rest of us cannot do, they are better than the rest of us. Legal rights do not make us who we are. They establish the limits of how we can treat one another. That’s it.

    No, John. Being a police officer or prosecutor is a career choice. People do not get to choose their sexual orientation. That’s part of our humanity and we cannot escape it.

    Second, since when do we look to the UN to get an idea regarding what a human right ought to be?

    Since the member governments signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That includes the representatives of the American people.

    Well, of course that’s absurd. That’s why I didn’t mention it. How often do you find yourself sliding down this particular slope, Hellmut? I earlier said that forcing people to actually be committed to each other is too much of an invasion of privacy to be allowed. Why exactly do you believe I would encourage fertility testing? In any case, as you know, there is such a thing as adoption. And, as stated above, I don’t have a problem with gay people adopted. Please stop arguing with points I’m not making.

    That said, of course civic marriage is about state and society policing procreation. If not that, what exactly is the interest of the state in it at all?

    I am glad that we are on the same page. Procreation ought to enjoy the benefits of marriage. Gay people procreate. Therefore gay people need to be married.

    Other interests of the state in marriage include public health, support for parenting, the regulation of property rights, and support for marriage as a citizen self-help institution.

    There are probably a lot more. Insofar as gay marriage promotes even procreation, a perfect list is not necessary.

    Beautiful rhetoric, Hellmut. Agree with me or you are a cruel heartless bastard and hypocrite. Let’s just say that the difference between myself and the anti-mormons is that I don’t pretend that homosexuals are trying to take over the world and I haven’t made it my life’s mission to eradicate them from the earth. Please give me some credit.

    Look, John, I am sorry but you are right. I am in a strong position. That has little to do with you and me.

    The logic of the golden rule is powerful. So is biology.

    When people ignore that then they will hurt other people regardless of their intentions and the perpetrators do become vulnerable to criticism.

    As I said to Ray earliere, in other contexts I have my own issues and have to rely on the good services of others to call me on it.

    I think that it’s great that you are confronting the Huckabee shenanigans. It would be even better if we policed our own community.

  164. Hellmut: I meant that our leaders’ campaign against gays and lesbians denies them human rights, John.

    Hellmut: you view of basic human rights appears to be your judgment outside of a legal context because marriage and adoptions are special protections extended by the State and the right to marry can and has been denied to groups (like those with specific heritable disabilities, lines on consanguinity, etc.). Your position would justify the government in denying basic exemptions and rights to the Church for believing that homosexual sexual activity is sinful. So there is an issue of balancing competing interests here.

    So let me ask Hellmut: do you believe that homosexual activity is sinful? Do you believe that a religion ought to have the right to declare as sinful certain types of (otherwise victimless) sexual conduct?

    BTW your assumed superiority and condescending attitude are quite off-putting. Just an observation if you care to take notice.

  165. Instead of having this thread devolve into a hair-splitting and semantic debate over the legal minutiae of gay marriage, civil unions, sociobiological determinism, and human rights, let’s all return to the original question on some common ground:

    Hellmut — you, I assume, agree that for a Church to consider homosexual relations to be sinful is, in itself, not a flagrant violation of human rights. Perhaps you’ll even go so far as to agree that freedom of religion, including the freedom to label certain behaviors as against the will of divinity, however defined, is also a human right. Sure, the Church’s public policy lobbying on this issue is problematic (even John C admits as much), but since Elder Cook just gave Mormons permission to ignore such lobbying efforts or even ally themselves against it while still retaining full and faithful fellowship, it matters much less.

    Persons Against Hellmut (PAH): You all, I assume, agree with Hellmut’s larger point about sinners in glass houses casting first stones. It applies not just to gays but to Muslims and atheists, sinners and publicans. Whining about anti-Mormon bigotry while imbibing or engaging in anti-anything-else bigoted rhetoric is a bit suspect.

    If Msr. Romney wishes for anti-Mormon ranting to cease to retain political salience, he should put the breaks on much of his own hysterical rhetoric about the threats that certain groups pose to freedom, families, civilization, whatever.

  166. Brad: Your post is exactly the angst ridden self-flagellation that I spoke about that is used to justify bigotry against Mormons. I believe that we largely teach people how to treat us by showing what we are willing to accept and condone. As such, the “we’re at least as guilty” line simply justifies what we ought not accept. If you disagree, go to O’Donnell’s rant and replace “Mormon” with “Jew” and replace “Missouri” with “Jerusalem” and I think that it is easy to see that O’Donnell would have been thrown off the air by now if he were talking about Jews rather than Mormon. The notion that Romney has to justify his religion but Huckabee doesn’t is bigotry. The notion that we go to evangelicals to find out whether Mormonism is Christian or somehow suspect is systemic media bigotry. Jews cannot be treated the way Mormons are — and that isn’t to say that the Jews have their own issues. It is just that antisemitism isn’t justified by such issues. Neither is anti-Mormon bigotry.

  167. Who? are you talking to? I didn’t come within 8 city blocks of sanctioning the O’Donnell’s of the world or justifying anti-Mormon bigotry. All I did was point up the disingenuousness of Romney’s trying to have it both ways — of saying that religious tests are mean, akin to racism, and a breach of civil rights, but then nod-nod-wink-winking at evangelicals with a “don’t worry, i’m still on your side, and Jesus’s, and together we’ll do something about all the crazy atheists, angry Muslims, and family-hating gays.”

    Saying we’re guilty of something in no way justifies the fact that we are also victims of it. It is simply a call that we be willing to cease such nonsense while expecting it from others. If O’Donnell wrote a similar rant about a liberal democrat who was a Muslim, only those Mormons who would be equally indignant then have a moral leg to stand on now for condemning his pompous idiocy.

  168. Hellmut: Back to my very first comment. If I disagree with you in any way (even if my opinions are the result of deep, long, diverse conversations and thought over the course of many years), then I am a bigot. I find it fascinating when people get so narrowly focused on martyrdom that they create it with their allies. So much of what you say is valid and needs to be heard, but you are so sure you are the only voice of reason battling the evil forces that you alienate those who otherwise would support you. Frankly, that’s sad.

    To address the over issue, bigotry is like racism in one other very important way. It often is decried the loudest in others by those in whose hearts it resides the most firmly.

  169. Brad: Suggesting that Romney has a double standard for suggesting that he shares many values with evangelicals makes about as much sense as castigating Obama for pointing out that he shares a lot in common with black Americans. Your suggestion is precisely the pompous idiocy you condemn him of — just as you pointed out in your last post about Hellmut. Pretty hard to avoid the anti-trap once you start being anti-anything? But then, politics just is about being against and lot of crap that we ought not stand for. So you dig your own hole that is pretty hard to get out of when you start to be anti being anti-anything.

    This post started as a complaint that there is a good deal of bigotry regarding Mormonism (and there is) and suggesting that Mormons ought not put up with it anymore . . . and you join the rant by suggesting that Romney really brought it all on himself and on Mormons. The upshot of what you are suggesting is that Mormons deserve it. Way to go. You end up justifying what you are opposing.

    Based upon my experience of Hellmut, he often has some valid suggestions but almost always goes way overboard and then calls anyone who disagrees with him a bigot who is just too narrow minded to see how right he (always) is. You are correct that he often ends up as the poster-child for what he is attacking. Self-defeating behavior is so frustrating isn’t it?

  170. Blake,
    I have in no way suggested that Mormons deserve bigoted anti-Mormon attacks any more than Who? is suggesting that being attacked in a bigoted manner is license for Mormons to be bigots. I’m saying that Romney is disingenuous for disclaiming evangelical bigotry when directed against Mormons but then subtly pandering to it when directed at common enemies (Muslims, gays, immigrants). I’m not even accusing him of being a bigot — I rather doubt he is. Just of embracing it when it suits his political ambitions then crying foul when it hurts them.

    Being anti-something is not bigoted. I have defended evangelical anti-Mormons on this very thread, so tread cautiously with your sweeping condemnations of my behavior here. Calling Romney an opportunistic panderer or even a total hypocrite in no way even implies that he is responsible for the current spat of anti-Mormon rhetoric coming from either the right or left. His decision to take a consultant- rather than principle-based approach to becoming President and to play the ever-returning battered Mormon wife to an abusive political-evangelical Republican base might be loosely described as naively courting bigoted christian anti-Mormonism, and he is trying to score points by fanning the flames with his right hand that his left is trying to keep at bay; but Mormons do not deserve the contemptuous scorn being heaped upon us in the service of electing Mike Huckabee. There are plenty of reasons for not wanting Romney to be this country’s president — and his political pandering to the Church’s most virulent enemies is only one of them. His Mormonism, however, is not.

  171. Mark D. (#156): Mark, if those stories were based on hearsay, then I retract my comments. I’ve been working so much I just haven’t been able to follow politics like I normally do. For the record I don’t know – I just did a quick google and found some news stories.

    “Djinn” (#161): I’m not quite sure what you are saying. I think that the problematic aspects of the Senate election weren’t issues like abortion but more nasty appeals to stereotypes of Mormons. I think it fair to ask a Mormon what their position on abortion or gay rights is. When one goes beyond that to basically playing the “Mormons are crazy” card then that’s way over the line.

    But for the record it’s dim memories I’m going on. I tried to do a quick Google but Romney’s religion speech (which is always compared to Kennedy) made finding news stories on that election difficult.

    To all

    I think what is most problematic is that attacks on Romney often aren’t just attacks on Romney but on Mormons in general. It’s akin to someone attacking the Gore/Leiberman ticket by saying how one shouldn’t trust conservative (religiously) Jews.

  172. So much of what you say is valid and needs to be heard, but you are so sure you are the only voice of reason battling the evil forces that you alienate those who otherwise would support you. Frankly, that’s sad.

    No, Ray, I am sure that I am wrong. I just don’t know how. Hopefully, you can help me with that.

    That’s the nature of this business. In the long run, we are all wrong.

    I consider it my obligation to submit my opinions to logic and evidence. Sometimes, that is not possible because the question doesn’t have a determinate answer, because my interlocutors who know better than me have not yet been able to communicate their point of view in terms of reasons, and undoubtedly in some cases because I am falling short of my ideal.

    Hellmut — you, I assume, agree that for a Church to consider homosexual relations to be sinful is, in itself, not a flagrant violation of human rights.

    Thanks, Brad. I do agree that there is such a thing as sexual sin.

    However, homosexual relations are not any more sinful than heterosexual relations. In light of what the life sciences know about sexuality, the opposite claim is nonsense. People who disagree really need to study the nature of sexuality more carefully.

    When religious authorities advance testable claims then they are under the same obligation to justify their opinions as anybody else who desires to exercise power.

    In a free society, of course, people have a right to be wrong or to remain ignorant. Like any other liberty, the right to ignorance meets its limits when it intrudes on the liberty of others.

    When our ignorance hurts others, then we incur an obligation to educate ourselves.

    Finally, ignorance does reduce ethical culpability but the exonerating scope of ignorance is limited. That’s all the more true when ignorance is willful.

    The notion that Romney has to justify his religion but Huckabee doesn’t is bigotry.

    That’s true. Huckabee has a lot to answer for regarding his outlandish ideas about evolution, for example. I want somebody who does not put dogma over observation and logic.

    Huckabee does not qualify. I am sure though that there must be other Baptists who do.

    Based upon my experience of Hellmut, he often has some valid suggestions but almost always goes way overboard and then calls anyone who disagrees with him a bigot who is just too narrow minded to see how right he (always) is.

    Blake, you have been very kind to me and I have not reciprocated. I am sorry about that.

    The reason was that I felt in our initial conversations that you have, perhaps unwittingly but somewhat smugly, characterized post-Mormons in self-serving ways repeatedly.

    I apologize for having treated you so defensively.

    With respect to being always right, I have actually conceded a number of times on BCC and other ‘nacle sides that I was wrong. The first time was on JNS’s blog during an argument about the similarities of some Mormon art. J presented compelling counter-examples of New Deal artists who used a similar repertoire of styles and imagery and my argument collapsed.

    In your case, I am pretty confident that you have not sufficiently justified your opinions in terms of logic and evidence to compel me to change mine. For example, your arguments have been repeatedly false in terms of formal logic.

    Anyways, I am not interested in conceding ground for rhetorical or political reasons. That would only corrupt the exploration of the subject matter.

    If you want to get me to say that I am wrong, that’s possible but you will have to earn it by establishing that your view is superior in terms of logic and evidence.

    Anyways, while I am very much interested to continue this conversation, I am also concerned that I am taking once more advantage of your hospitality.

    Thank you very much for providing a forum where we can discuss these questions with each other.

    If anyone wants to continue, you can reach me at my blog, via e-mail at hellmut@mac.com, or by skype at hellmut.lotz.

  173. So, in summary, what’s natural is right and a right. If that’s not what you mean, I apologize, but that’s the message I get.

    We simply disagree, I guess.

  174. Pastorre’s beef, it seems to me, has nothing, really to do with fears about what Romney as president would do to the country. He seems to begrudingly admit he would adopt agreeable policies. His problem seems to be that it might mean that people would take the church seriously, and that might mean good things for the church–people might join the church in greater numbers, and Pastore can’t abide that unless the only other option is a “godless” democrat.
    As far as Romney suggesting that the church should do any particular thing, it’s as out of line as it would be for the church to ask Romney to do any particular thing as president because he is a member of the church. The idea that a broad cross-section of the U.S. population could elect someone to a position that would give that person influence in the affairs of the church is unthinkable. The Old testament is full of examples of political leaders who tried to tell the prophets of God what to do, and they don’t come out too well in the deal.

  175. Hellmut,
    The data on the biological aspects of homosexuality is subject a number of interpretations not all of which support the sexual determinism that you seem to believe. The fact that you present your position on the subject as the only reasonable position, when you know full well that the data is debated and debatable, does not seem to indicate that you understand your self as being in the potential wrong, now or ever.

    At its strongest, genetic factors in homosexuality are influential but not determinative. The hows and whys of homosexuality as a psychological and emotional factor in anyone’s life are not at this point apparent. Certainly, it isn’t simply a choice, but it is also not simply something that our environment (or genetics) thrusts upon us.

    In any case, my point is: going back what I said earlier that rushing headlong into the unknown (which an expansive definition of marriage would be doing) is not necessarily a good thing. You don’t have to engage in slippery slopedom to see that the potential for unintended consequences is great. It might be better to wait a bit longer and see how the experiments with legalized ssm play out in Scandinavia and Canada before we go charging in after them.

  176. Hellmut,
    I didn’t even say that I think that homosexual relations are sinful — just that for a Church to take that position is not, in itself, a violation of Human Rights. For all his sometimes bombastic self-assuredness, Blake is right that to utterly alienate and dismiss potential allies because you can’t get them to meet you at precisely the point where you stand is self-defeating. I’m not trying to challenge any of your positions — or any of John C’s for that matter. I’m just trying to point out common ground to keep this from turning into a run-of-the-mill, talk-past-each-other SSM thread.

    You’re not likely to find a stronger proponent of gay rights, gay marriage, or of extending full-fellowship to gay LDS among practicing, TR-carrying Mormons than myself or several of my colleagues, authors and contributors alike, here at the BCC.

    Merry Christmas.

  177. At its strongest, genetic factors in homosexuality are influential but not determinative. The hows and whys of homosexuality as a psychological and emotional factor in anyone’s life are not at this point apparent. Certainly, it isn’t simply a choice, but it is also not simply something that our environment (or genetics) thrusts upon us.

    John, no life science study argues that sexual orientation contains any element of choice in matters of sexual orientation. It is true that we do not know what causes homosexuality but choice has been ruled out. Neither does any study published in a peer reviewed life science journal during the last ten years refer to emotional or psychological causes.

    The notion that homosexuality is a pathology that requires treatment or that damages other people has equally been ruled out. The American Psychiatric Association has dropped homosexuality from its list of treatable conditions in 1973. And here you are in 2007 and you continue to argue for emotional and psychological disorders.

    Same gender attraction has been observed in over fifteen hundred species, including several primate species, many mammals, birds, and reptiles.

    But the most salient pieces of knowledge apply to the nature of sexuality in general. The fact is that sex is a drive.

    The procreation of no species is a matter of volition.

    Understanding that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon that does not pose any discernible dangers that would not also apply to heterosexuality in the context of the sex drive is sufficient to prove that prohibitions against the legitimate exercise of sexuality will be counterproductive.

    So, in summary, what’s natural is right and a right. If that’s not what you mean, I apologize, but that’s the message I get.

    We simply disagree, I guess.

    Not quite, Ray. Rape is natural but wrong, for example. Greed and envy are natural but can be wrong. Adultery is natural but wrong. Most of the ten commandments deal with natural behavior that’s wrong.

    The problem with orthodox Mormon attitudes towards homosexuality is that our leaders are in denial about the nature of the sex drive and places the burden of that error on an unpopular and vulnerable minority while exempting the majority and themselves from the same burden.

    This question about the role of sexuality is a relatively simple problem. We do not need to rely on opinions. The answer is that sex is a drive and therefore prohibition does not work.

    Traditionally, Mormons have actually been more rational about this matter than many other western religions. That’s why we have a norm to marry young.

    Marriage with all its shortcomings and pathologies remains the most effective institution to deal with the challenges that emanate from the sex drive.

    That’s why the conservative position on sex is that people who have sex are supposed to be married.
    Gays will have sex.
    Therefore, gays ought to be married.

    In any case, my point is: going back what I said earlier that rushing headlong into the unknown (which an expansive definition of marriage would be doing) is not necessarily a good thing. You don’t have to engage in slippery slopedom to see that the potential for unintended consequences is great. It might be better to wait a bit longer and see how the experiments with legalized ssm play out in Scandinavia and Canada before we go charging in after them.

    I could agree with that for pragmatic reasons. Of course, the devil is in the detail.

    But that’s not what the Mormon anti-gay agitation is demanding. We are demanding to entrench gay marriage prohibitions in state and the United States Constitution.

  178. “The problem with orthodox Mormon attitudes towards homosexuality is that our leaders are in denial…”

    The new pamphlet and the latest statements from the apostles who have addressed it (including Elder Jensen) make the denial claim absurd. You can argue about understanding, but denial of the drive – no.

  179. Dudes, it’s Christmas. Go home, sing some carols, tuck the kids in bed, eat some mince pies, and make love to your wife. Enough!

  180. Hellmut,
    It’s too late the join the anti-gay marriage drive. We don’t want you ;)

  181. Thanks for the reminder, Ronan. (Ray’s wife)

  182. Ray,
    “BCC: Promoting Mormon Intimacy Since 2003.”

  183. Well aware that there is a large conservative movement of biggotry against Mormons. The big question is, what are you going to do about it? You will still vote conservative no matter who wins the nomination. So, their biggotry really doesn’t matter, does it?

  184. Um, I probably won’t. So, there is that.

  185. Most will

  186. Hellmut you are right that we have an obligation to go out of our way to make sure that a disadvantaged minority is not trampled and their rights are protected. However, you haven’t pointed to any rights that they are denied … unless you simply dismiss U.S. court cases the vast majority of which have held that marriage is not a fundamental right but rather a privilege that the State extends. I would like to see your argument that marriage is a fundamental right (it certainly isn’t in the U.S. Constitution and historically hasn’t been treated that way).

    Hellmut: no life science study argues that sexual orientation contains any element of choice in matters of sexual orientation. It is true that we do not know what causes homosexuality but choice has been ruled out. Neither does any study published in a peer reviewed life science journal during the last ten years refer to emotional or psychological causes.

    Hellmut, this is simply wrong. What you generically call “life science” (whatever that is supposed to be) does no such thing. In fact, the studies clearly demonstrate that there is a wide range of orientation on a continuum of strength of orientation. By far most are heterosexual, with a large percentage that can go either way (i.e., they have a choice about it) and only the far extreme in the ranges either hetero or homosexual have a settled orientation where they cannot have sexual relations with the opposite sex. Perhaps rather than pontificating about an area that it seems to me you are ill prepared to address, you could cite the specific studies you have in mind.

    The fact is that sex is a drive.

    Yes, and the fact is that humans have a choice about whether they will merely copulate like animals or learn to master their bodily desires and drives. Urinating when the desire arises is also a human drive, but we learn to control it. Having a sexual orientation doesn’t mean that we cannot control whether we keep our pants on. It so happens that normal functioning humans have the ability to choose whether to merely submit to sexual urges and indulge them or learn to control them. Animals don’t do that. Unlike animals, humans are subject to ethical demands as well, but I’ll bet your so-called life sciences don’t reveal that fact either. So your comparison with the fact that homosexual behavior has been documented in a number of species says nothing about what is ethically demanded of the human species or how we have a choice that virtually all other animals lack. It seems to me, like it seems to others here, that you fail to adequately distinguish between animals and humans and I would guess that is because you see humans as mere animals even tho you also admit that humans have ethical obligations. The two stances don’t seem quite consistent to me.

    The problem with orthodox Mormon attitudes towards homosexuality is that our leaders are in denial about the nature of the sex drive and places the burden of that error on an unpopular and vulnerable minority while exempting the majority and themselves from the same burden.

    I’ve seen a lot of nonsense on this blog, but I think that this statement takes the cake. How do they exempt themselves from the burden of controlling a sex drive? How do they place a burden on homosexuals that isn’t placed on singles in their status as singles? Singles who have no prospect for marriage are in the same boat as homosexuals the the Church leaders ask the same of them. Are you arguing that there should be a double standard that it’s OK to engage in sex if there is no prospect for legal marriage? Perhaps you know more than God’s anointed about what is morally demanded of us?

  187. Bill, isn’t the answer to refuse to become allied with either political party? After all, the bigoted editorials in the New York Times by flaming liberals seem as alienating for LDS as the right-wing bigotry. But doesn’t that leave Mormons without any visible political influence? That would seem to be politically unacceptable.

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