November 16, 2006

Mormon. Liberal. Not Conflicted.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

In the left wing blogosphere, it seems there is one religious group that does not receive the same welcomes, the same understanding, the same care that others do - apparently being Mormon (common slang for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) is a key delimiter that defines people based on their single characteristic. I don't see that any other religion, be you Muslim, Jewish, Presbyterian or Catholic, raises the ire of the left's community with such clarity - and any politician who happens to be Mormon cannot act independent of their faith without being constantly reminded of it, whether it be Harry Reid, Orrin Hatch or Mitt Romney.

As a viewer of many left-leaning political blogs, from DailyKos to MyDD and AmericaBlog for the last few years, I have been very impressed with the great variety of people who post their views, actions, frustrations and plans to push the Democratic party forward, or in many cases, finding the many wrongs in today's political sphere. As Democrats, we have always been the advocates for diversity, understanding of other viewpoints, and champions for the disenfranchised or those outside the majority.

When John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960, it was remarkable that a Catholic would have ascended to the highest post in the country - and countless people were afraid that he would "answer to the Pope". Now, a politician being Catholic hardly raises an eyebrow. Yet, we are all very familiar with the religious affiliations of Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (Mormon), Utah senator Orrin Hatch (Mormon) and Nevada Senator Harry Reid (Mormon). When each of these political leaders is written of or spoken of, it is done so through the lens of their religion.

I have been Mormon my whole life.

This to you probably means I lived in Utah, have eight brothers and sisters, got married at eighteen, attended BYU, hate homosexuals, am anti-abortion, and would vote for a moldy lettuce leaf if it had the word "Republican" stamped on it. (A phrase I picked up when a fellow Mormon complained about her father's voting preferences...)


I went to the "non-conservative" UC Berkeley, got married after completing college, and have always voted Democrat. I am pro-choice. I am pro-environment. My three best male friends are gay - two of whom I've known since junior high school, and both of whom have been invited and come with me to church services on more than one occasion. In fact, for a church so widely considered a "cult", the LDS church is one of the most open out there - period. Everybody is invited to every meeting. Heck, we even run commercials and offer free Bibles and Book of Mormons!

One of the major tenets of the church is a belief in free agency - that everybody has the opportunity to select between right and wrong, or when it comes to earthly affairs, the church pretty much stays out of it. Every year around election time, the church makes it a point to proclaim their neutrality, without bias toward any specific party, proposition or individual. And while Utah and Idaho (where many Mormons reside) can be counted on to vote Republican, there is no political litmus test to be an active member of the church. Reid is a fantastic example of a Democrat who happens to be Mormon, without conflict. That is his agency, as much as it is the agency of those who choose to consistently vote Republican.

The issue reared its ugly head again today on AmericaBlog, which I often find to have some of the best political news out there, but runs a serious mean streak when it comes to the Mormon church, one I've seen time and again, with frustration. In an article this morning around Romney's hire of an extremist ad consultant (according to the site), comments that raged against his religion were rampant.

Some excerpts:

"Jesus why are these pretty haired cons so obsessed with us? Mitty go back to Salt Lake and worship that idiotic cult of yours."

"Romney=Mormon Cultist"

"All you have to ask a christian republican is if they want their country run by someone who thinks he can have all the women he wants on his own planet. Watch their heads spin off into space when they get a real look at what the mormons believe."

Not-so-brilliant insight from people who are supposed to be among the most tolerant out there. Comments against blacks, Jews or Muslims would be uproarious, but Mormons continue to be fair game. And this is nothing new.

For example:DKos: Tag: Mormon

Hinckley a Walking Corpse?

The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, walking corpse Gordon B. Hinckley, wants to solve our "problem."

Utah and Idaho are worse than the South...

"Their guilt and inferiority complexes are infused with not just racism, but polygamy, incest, and in-breeding!"

It's hard to believe that a party or its followers wouldn't want me or my family to be a part of it because of the religion in which I was born. A religion which supports stem cell research, a religion which was one of the first to organize help and aid for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and those affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I hope that this bewildering response represents the lunatic fringe, and not the silent majority who understands that there are many of us who love the church and love the party. I'm not the only one (See: DKos and Bigotry)

They say to turn the other cheek and to take it. They say to pray for your those that persecuteth you. I hope that we can move beyond the times of ignorant, roving mobs that plagued the Mormons in the 1800s, and recognize that as our society has grown more enlightened to people of all colors and backgrounds, that there are no exceptions to the rule.