The Mormon Moment
The 2011 - 2012 U.S. presidential campaign has created (for better or worse) what some journalists have called the "Mormon Moment." The candidacies of Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Mitt Romney have brought The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church into the spotlight. Most often, this has given journalists, even those writing for prestigious publications to vent anti-Mormon sentiments. Rarely is the Church and its members presented fairly or in a favorable light, in spite of the amazing humanitarian aid outreach of the LDS Church, its remarkable welfare system and social services, or the integrity of its members.
The Book of Mormon Musical makes a mockery of the LDS Church and religion (and God), and yet seems to be acceptable to pretty much everyone. Anti-Mormonism has therefore been called "the last acceptable bigotry" by the very few journalists who sense that something is amiss.
Susan Cassidy, a Staff Writer for the Sunday News, wrote an article which appeared in the February 26, 2012 online edition. She quotes the Pew study on Mormons, 2012 Pew Report:Mormons in America which shows that six out of ten Mormons think most people have misconceptions about the LDS Church and its membership. Nearly half of Mormons polled say that persecution of Mormons is common.
Mormonism is the full restoration of the primitive Church of Jesus Christ, with apostolic authority bestowed upon the Church by Jesus Christ, and yet...
- "The Roman Catholic church has declared that Mormon baptisms are not valid. According to the Religion News Service, this stance is shared by even relatively liberal Protestants, such as the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Mormons point to their church's official name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
- "Essentially, Mormons get voted out of the Christian community. "That's totally baffling, and also hurtful, quite frankly," Ellsworth said. "It implies that we're part of some weird group in the shadows." It's particularly painful because Mormons are "living their lives emulating Jesus Christ in every way they can," said David Kenley, an associate professor of history at Elizabethtown College.
- Kenley acknowledged that, for those "who believe the Bible to be definitive and all-encompassing, the idea that it would be amended might seem blasphemous. I don't agree with this, but I understand. The idea of open scripture may be rather unorthodox, but that doesn't mean Mormonism is not Christian," he said.
- Women cannot be admitted to the Mormon clergy, but women do hold leadership positions, Kenley said, noting that women can preach from the pulpit, and "do pretty much everything but be bishop."
- Jan Shipps, a United Methodist who has studied the Mormons for five decades, maintains that Mormonism is a "new religious tradition," a "faith system that is not just Christian, but also Judeo-Christian, much more Judeo-Christian than any other form of Christianity existing in 1830" (when the LDS church was formed).
A New Attack Every Month
Probably pushed on by political interests, the press has attacked the beliefs and practices of Mormonism from a new angel every month. Any misstep by a Mormon has provided fodder. Mormons have had to protest that they are Christians, especially upsetting, since active Mormons are striving so hard to be good Christians — their Christianity permeates their lives, and they are more likely than other Christians to read the scriptures and pray daily, keep the Sabbath day holy, and all the other typically Christian practices. Mormons have had to defend their practice of baptism for the dead, which is spoken of by Paul in the Bible and was a common practice in the early Christian Church. Baptism for the Dead displays the inclusiveness of the true Church of Jesus Christ. Whereas other Christian churches condemn those who have never heard of Christianity to hell, the true Church of Jesus Christ holds that men and women cannot be condemned if they have no knowledge. The opportunity to learn of Christ will therefore be presented to all after death, as they await resurrection. Baptism for the dead does not forcibly convert anyone. All of us will have freedom of conscience for eternity and may choose to accept or reject any ordinances performed for them. The LDS Church has strict rules and digital fail safes to restrict the baptism of celebrities and Holocaust victims, and will discipline any Latter-day Saint who breaks those rules.
Mormons have come under scrutiny for their more recent decision, made because of direct revelation from God, to extend the Priesthood to all worthy males no matter what race. Mormons are not racist; the LDS Church is not racist. The priesthood was awarded to Blacks by Joseph Smith, Mormon congregations have never been segregated, Mormons wanted to buy the freedom of Black slaves and bring them to Missouri, Mormons were staunchly anti-slavery. There are no existing records that can be found to explain why the priesthood was later withheld, but members and leaders were praying fervently during the American Civil Rights Movement that Blacks be able to hold the Priesthood of God, and there was rejoicing when the revelation came.
Mitt Romney has come under fire for paying ten percent of his income in tithing to the LDS Church, and yet, tithes have been paid since Old Testament times, and the principle is biblical.
Mormons are known for their honesty, morality, good health, helpfulness, industriousness, dedication to Christ, charity, clean-cut youth, cheerfulness, and leadership ability, and even performing talent, but the Mormon Moment has been fraught with outright slander and persecution of the innocents who call themselves Mormon.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sought to turn the Mormon Moment into something good, by launching its I'm a Mormon Ad Campaign in multiple states and trying to raise awareness of what Mormon doctrine really is. The LDS Church has apologized for the missteps of a few members, clarified its position on the sanctity of marriage and family life, explained that Mormons do NOT practice polygamy, and generally turned the other cheek.