Martin Frost, writing on FoxNews.com, made an invitation to his readers. He asked them to write him expressing their feelings regarding voting for a Mormon. Mr. Frost says the majority of his more than 400 respondents expressed a hope that people could get past that issue and vote for candidates on the merits. This is encouraging. But Mr. Frost, who purports to belong to that same camp, didn’t print any of those emails. Instead, he chose to publish thirteen of the most vitriolic pieces of bigotry you’re likely to ever see in a national news medium. This is pathetic.
Let’s review a few of these emails, and remember- the topic is not the truthfulness of the LDS Church, its theology or practice, the salutary effect it has on members’ lives, or any other such religious question. The topic is whether a person is comfortable voting for Mitt Romney in light of his Mormon faith. Here’s a rule of thumb: If someone asks you if you can vote for Hillary Clinton, and your response focuses more on “women” than “Hillary,” you’re a bigot. Keeping that same principle in mind, let’s look at a few of the cuddly reader responses:
Here’s Warren Brown:
I believe that the Mormon Church has an agenda, to take over the powers, etc. of the country. To be governed by a Mormon president would be too close to being governed by the Mormon Church for my taste.
To be fair, you can’t really expect an emailer to provide evidence for their outlandish claims, but one does wonder what Mr. Brown takes as a basis for this accusation. It’s an odd one, just because there is no more evidence in doctrine or history for a Mormon plot to take over America than there is for a Catholic, Jewish, Microsoft, or Illuminati takeover. There’s nothing I can say here that won’t require you to take my word for it, but I’ll say it anyway: Mormons have absolutely no intention or desire for national domination. The LDS Church is far too busy converting, teaching, retaining, and otherwise trying to improve the lives of its members to start rigging elections and consolidating power (even if it could, and believe me, it can’t). The Church is an expressly religious organization focused on doctrine and spiritual life. Although it is a very large institution with many institutional interests, there is no record of any government or political entanglements at all. In short, this is a ridiculous claim, and Mr. Brown is to be commended for his creativity.
Edward Yezekian has this to say:
I think the question at hand is judgment. I wouldn’t vote for Mitt for the same reason I wouldn’t vote for a Wican or an Atheist. Even a cursory evaluation of Mormonism, its history, its doctrines, and its contradictions would call into question any follower’s intelligence and/or judgment.
In other words, you have to be an idiot to be a Mormon. The syllogism falls apart, of course, upon examination of Mitt Romney, who is clearly not an idiot and clearly possesses a high level of judgment (whether measured in business sense, communication skills, life priorities, or values). More broadly, did you know that being a Mormon greatly increases the likelihood that a person will go to college? And that Mormon women are more likely to graduate college and obtain graduate degrees than the women of any other Christian group? And that if you are a Mormon, the more education you get, the more likely you are to remain firmly committed to your faith?
Clearly, there are plenty of intelligent Mormons out there. The question remains whether they simply lack judgment. This is hard to prove or disprove, so let’s just look at the basis for the accusation– Mormons lack judgment because they believe weird things. Well, chances are, so do you. But my guess is, your belief in the resurrection, or Biblical miracles, or psychics, or God, doesn’t feel like it hampers your judgment. Most would probably agree that Ronald Reagan’s possible reliance on astrology was similarly moot as a measure of his judgment. In short, people have been separating their religious beliefs from their secular lives for decades now, and if we make them stop now, every Christian in the country is in trouble.
I do not believe that people who oppose Romney are religiously intolerant. I believe that they see what is a plain fact: Mormonism is intolerant. Pamphlets available to anyone who attends a Mormon Church tell of Joseph Smith’s ‘enlightenment’ and tell how he founded the only true church, that all Christian churches, and by definition, all other religions, are apostate. It is difficult to support a man who subscribes to such a position towards my church.
Yes, and by that logic, Frank, no Mormon, Catholic, Muslim, or Jew will ever vote for you (assuming you to be a Protestant Christian- rearrange this list if you’re not). What on earth have we come to? It is intolerant to believe that one’s own church is correct, and that others are not? Isn’t that pretty much a definition of “church?”
To give a view of what is actually taught in the LDS Church, Mormons believe that the LDS Church is the only organization that was organized by God and specifically authorized to act as his church on earth. Mormon leaders are emphatic in emphasizing the good that other churches do, and the truth that other churches possess. Only when it comes to teaching the fullness of the gospel, and possessing God’s true authority, do Mormon claims of exclusivity arise. And these claims are literally never made in the context of comparisons with other religions, only in affirmative statements related to the LDS Church itself. If you prefer a Church that has no claim to exclusive connection to God, that’s fine. But the idea that it is intolerant for a Church to claim to be exclusively true only shows what a ridiculous concept the modern view of “tolerance” has become. And besides, doesn’t this logic exclude Rudy Giuliani from office as well, given this?
I don’t have time to respond to every email, but they’re all just as far-fetched and conspiratorial as the ones quoted above. Luckily, I’ve responded to all of these charges before. Regarding the claim that Mormonism is so obviously false it calls into question the judgment of its adherents, see here. Regarding the idea that Mormons worship a radically different Jesus, see here. On the charge that a President Romney would answer only to LDS authorities, see here. Finally, on whether a vote for Romney is a vote to give credibility to Mormons, see here.
I’d like to think that these common-sense arguments could change some minds here. But I admit that crazy belief may call into question my judgment.