Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Anti-Mormonism

It's not too often that a group that dominates all things in a given society charges that it is the victim of discrimination. In Utah, LDS folks control the laws, they control the majority of business, they control most of the banking and capital investment, and they make up the largest single cultural group. For some 150+ years, they've enjoyed the relative isolation that limits challenges to the accepted values that have fermented over that time. Bigotry usually occurs when a minority group is the object of unfounded prejudices and the resulting exclusion from the benefits and participation in society.

It seems curious then that LDS folks can seriously level charges of anti-Mormon bigotry at someone in a relatively powerless position like Rocky Anderson. It seems, rather, that the majority of the people that think Rocky is anti-Mormon isn't because of truly bigoted statements, but because he says things that many rank-and-file Mormons don't like.
  • Gays and Lesbians are entitled to equal rights.
  • Churches should not use their special place in society to influence government and public policy actors while enjoying tax exemption.
  • Alcohol consumption is not intrinsically immoral.

Somehow, the ideas stated above are met with intense hostility when they come out of Rocky's mouth. I think it's because Utahns aren't used to having the above stated ideas expressed as acceptable in our society, much less by a visible politician. What is occuring here is that a dominant culture is attempting to stamp out ideas from a minority voice that the dominant culture deems as unbecoming of moral individuals.

I wrote a letter-to-the-editor to the Daily Utah Chronicle to this effect sometime ago during the brouhaha over perceived anti-Mormon bias on campus. In it, I reasoned that many LDS folks never had their worldview seriously challenged before and it's human nature to react with hostility to ideas that challenge long-held cultural norms. Under the sun, this phenomenon has happened a billion times over and it is not surprising to see it happening with an openly non-LDS politican.

  • Women are not fit to hold positions of ecclesiastical authority.
  • Women are to devote themselves to the raising of children and not careers outside of the home.
  • Pre-marital sex is morally wrong.
  • American Indians are descendants of ancient Jewish people from the Middle East. However, they are dark-skinned because of transgressions their ancestors committed against God.
  • Ten percent of your income must go to a particular religious institution in order to gain salvation.
  • Homosexuality is a concious choice made by immoral people.
  • Polygamy shall be practiced in afterlife.

These ideas above are deeply offensive to me. I understand, however, that they are deeply held convictions and bring happiness to many people. However, they are not ideas that are beyond reproach in a free society. Whenever they present themselves in a public context, I think a person of free will should be allowed to discuss his/her agreement/disagreement with them.

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-Bob

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