Certainly the people that started this blog, Lowell and I, and to some extent Hugh Hewitt, thought that Mitt Romney’s candidacy would be the great show down between Mormons and the nation. I certainly thought it offered and opportunity for the once refugee community to finally heal all wounds with the nation. As things have turned out Romney’s run was derailed by a petulant little fit by a group of Evangelicals just a little too enamored with wanting the role of “kingmaker,” more likely to hurt Evangelical political influence than finally welcome Mormons completely into the national fold.
But that does not mean there has not been a national showdown on Mormonism this cycle just past – it just came in the form of California’s Proposition 8. Consider all the letters that have discussed the matter in the NYTimes. Here is one example, and consider especially the second letter in this bunch.
To the Editor:
The Mormons seem shocked by the angry reaction by the gay community to the huge support for Proposition 8 in California by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They call for “respect” and “civility.”
Such protestations fall flat since the complainers exercised considerable muscle to use the California legislative process to oppress gay people. This battle is not simply political. It is an act of aggression against a minority that has been too long oppressed.
We are fighting to reverse hundreds of years of legal homophobia. The marriage victory in California was a sign of social progress. Fighting to take away marriage protections from our elderly and our children is an act of hatred deserving retribution.
The gay community and our allies must respond appropriately. If Mormons and other sowers of hate want civility from us, they must stop trampling upon our civil rights.
Brooklyn, Nov. 15, 2008
Now for starters, let us consider that running a campaign and winning a vote is BY DEFINITION “civil” whilst riots, vandalism, forcing people out of jobs, and threats of physical harm, are all, likewise BY DEFINITION NOT CIVIL! If we accept for the sake of argument that this is a civil rights issue (which I DO NOT – how can something that we issue a license for be a right?) these people forget the essential lesson of Martin Luther King’s non-violent civil disobedience campaign. It was in the non-threatening, non-destructive nature of the King lead protests, and the violent ugly response of the governmental and non-governmental oppressors, that the nation learned the lesson of the wrong of segregation. All we are learning from the activities of the so-called LGBT community after Prop 8 is that they are a bunch of self-involved, petulant, violent miscreants more obsessed with their own desire than the simple peace of the community.
But what remains most fascinating on all this is the singling out of the CJCLDS for the particular ire of the protests and disagreement. As has been clear since the beginning, and is increasingly true as evangelical voices and a Jewish voice in an Anglican outlet, make plain we are all in this together. Says Rabbi Shifren:
People have perhaps wondered: why the Mormons? Answer: they are a small, yet vocal Christian minority. They have been selected by the mobs as vulnerable, a group that might not have such massive support among America’s Christians.
Indeed! There should be no doubt that what is truly at stake here is a fight for simple decency. And when they are done with the Mormons, we will be next.
And, as things turn out, we apparently have to fight not only the radical LGBT community, but many inside Mormonism as well.
Just 10 months after the death of LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley, who spent nearly 70 years burnishing his church’s public image, goodwill toward Mormonism that culminated during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games seems to have faded in a haze of misunderstanding and outright hostility.
Mean-spirited critiques of Mormonism during Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful presidential campaign were followed by persistent news-media reports linking Latter-day Saints to the FLDS polygamous sect raided by Texas authorities. Now, angry opponents of Proposition 8 are demonstrating at Mormon temples, accusing the church of being anti-gay.
This analysis seems precisely wrong. Is there opposition to Mormonism? Of course there is! Just as there is opposition to Evangelicalism, Catholicism, Orthodox, and the rest that claim morality and a supernatural authority to support it. This is, in this Evangelical’s opinion, indeed a “Mormon moment.” They have gained so much.
In the Romney candidacy, even though a losing effort, the bigotry that does reside, sadly, inside Evangelicalism has been revealed. And as he who fronted for that bigotry continues to misstep, we see that minority of Evangelicals increasingly marginalized. The FLDS has served to illustrate the difference between that, dare I say – CULT, and the mainstream of Mormonism. And Prop 8 has and is building political unity between Mormons, Catholics, Jews and Evangelicals.
Now is no time for Mormons, or any other engaged believer, to withdraw into their shell. Much work remains to be done, and we are here presented with a golden opportunity to do it.