Last Wednesday I ranted about Ben Carson’s pet newspaper, the Washington Times, carrying a disingenuous Mormon cheap shot that had to be motivated by fear of substance to the Romney 3rd run rumors. (Note the sourcing on the latest round of rumors – Romney backers. The vast majority of these stories are placed by people trying to put pressure on Romney to run again; they are not based on anything Romney is saying. So how informative are they really?)
Another story line has appeared, this one emerging on the left, that has the same feel to it. A left wing Mormon blogger noted from Dianne Feinstein’s attempt to total disrupt national security that some of the key people that engaged in the enhanced interrogation program were Mormon. It has echoed elsewhere in the Mormon blogosphere. It even made the big time press a bit. But really I think this story is not about ginning up “Mormon” to dissuade Romney at all – this is about the rather large battle of left v right inside the CJCLDS.
The Latter Day Saints are hardly the first church to see this battle. It is over in the Episcopal Church and the liberals have won. The Presbyterian Church in The United States of America, PC(USA), is in the mop up phase as the right wing congregations are fleeing the denomination as fast that the convoluted bureaucratic process will allow them. The Methodists seem next up to bat for the final showdown. Pope Francis seems to have opened the door for the beginning salvos inside Roman Catholicism. It is interesting to see it in the CJCLDS; however, because the process is seriously compressed. The protestant churches previously mentioned have been through a liberalization lasting many decades. If it proceeds in the Roman Catholic church, it’ll last centuries. This liberalizing process typically begins with a growing acceptance of divorce, moves through the ordination of women to ruling office in the church then to various expressions of “peacemaking” agendas, and advances to the LGBT agenda (with many small steps in between) which seems to be the final battleground. The liberal Latter Day Saints seem to want to address all these issues in a very short period of time.
But unlike in, say, the 1950′s, when moving from Baptist to Methodist to Presbyterian was more like changing decor than moving to a new city, nowadays there is a huge diversity of stands on all these issues spread throughout churches across the land. Are you gay and feel unwelcome in Church X? Well, Church Y down the street would certainly welcome you with open arms. So why do people seem so he%$bent on changing Church X instead of just going to Church Y?
There are probably as many motivations as there are people involved in the process, but there is one thing about which you can be certain. It is testament to the power the church has in forming culture. If the church were as irrelevant as the atheistic left would have us think this would all be silly little tiffs that we would never read about in the papers. But this is big news with ramifications for presidential elections. People are interested in changing Church X becasue they want to change the nation as a whole and as long as Church X is holding out they have failed in their mission.
It is irritating that so many churches seem to cower under the assault. The assault is testament to the power the church has to shape things and yet rather than try to shape things, the church usually tries “not to offend.” (Can anyone say “peacemaking agenda?”) The church is a potent force in society, which ripples out into everything from music videos to presidential elections. It is time we acted like it.