Posts tagged: Mormons
So, on the day of the Florida Primary, the New York Times decided to scare the bejiggers out of the voters with a piece titled, What is it About Mormons?, which followed close on the heels of yesterday’s Washington Post op-ed piece, A Mormon church in need of reform. Can the nation’s other great papers be far behind?
The first question that comes to the mind of this Mormon is whether the rest of the reporting in these two papers is so ill-informed and/or bitter as these pieces are. And then other questions: Why today? Is it a coincidence that the Times piece came out today, the day of the Florida Primary? Why Sally Denton? Yes, she wrote a very bad book about a very bad event–a tragedy–in Mormon history, but it was a very bad, even a lousy, book, so why her? (By the way, if you’re interested in knowing how bad her book is go here and follow the links to the reviews by people who actually do know something about the Mountain Meadows Massacre.) And the really big question, why not have a Times reporter write the story? I’m assuming that the paper of record holds its actual reporters to a higher standard than it does the hacks it let write this piece (Maffly-Kip and Reiss excepted). Or put another way, do these women appreciate playing the role of the puppets in this show?
I’m not going to try and respond to either piece here. I will, however, refer the reader to sites that give a more accurate picture of Mormonism, starting with the Church’s two official sites, then the leading scholarly site and the most prominent apologetics site. All of them give a clearer picture of Mormonism than do either of these two pieces–again the Reiss and Maffly offerings excepted. Finally, here is my own guide to anti-Mormon writing, a response to Martha Nibley Beck’s horrible little tome of a few years ago, a response that deals with many of the same defects you’ll find in the Times and Post pieces.
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A little background on Elder Oaks, currently an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Oaks graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law; clerked for Earl Warren, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; taught at Chicago; and served as interim dean of that law school, as president of BYU (where he also oversaw the establishment of the J.Reuben Clark Law School), and finally a justice on the Utah Supreme Court. He was considered for the U.S. Supreme Court by both President Ford and Reagan.
In his speech, Oaks gives a number of troubling examples of what he is concerned about and why he is calling for religions to join together in protecting religion’s place in the public square:
In New Mexico, the state’s Human Rights Commission held that a photographer who had declined on religious grounds to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony had engaged in impermissible conduct and must pay over $6,000 attorney’s fees to the same-sex couple. A state judge upheld the order to pay. In New Jersey, the United Methodist Church was investigated and penalized under state anti-discrimination law for denying same-sex couples access to a church-owned pavilion for their civil-union ceremonies. A federal court refused to give relief from the state penalties. Professors at state universities in Illinois and Wisconsin were fired or disciplined for expressing personal convictions that homosexual behavior is sinful. Candidates for masters’ degrees in counseling in Georgia and Michigan universities were penalized or dismissed from programs for their religious views about the wrongfulness of homosexual relations. A Los Angeles policeman claimed he was demoted after he spoke against the wrongfulness of homosexual conduct in the church where he is a lay pastor. The Catholic Church’s difficulties with adoption services and the Boy Scouts’ challenges in various locations are too well known to require further comment. (see sources in transcript)
As Elder Oaks made his case that we–religious believers–need to stand up and speak out, I was particularly impressed by his quotation of his fellow Apostle, the late Neal A. Maxwell:
My esteemed fellow Apostle, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, asked:
“[H]ow can a society set priorities if there are no basic standards? Are we to make our calculations using only the arithmetic of appetite?”
He made this practical observation:
“Decrease the belief in God, and you increase the numbers of those who wish to play at being God by being ‘society’s supervisors.’ Such ‘supervisors’ deny the existence of divine standards, but are very serious about imposing their own standards on society.”
Elder Maxwell also observed that we increase the power of governments when people do not believe in absolute truths and in a God who will hold them and their government leaders accountable.
If you want to understand Mormonism, you would do well to pay attention to probably the two most important Mormon publications of the last 15 1/2 years. On September 23, 1995, Gordon B. Hinckley, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
Among other things, the Proclamation declares–in the first paragraph–that:
[M]arriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
In November 2010, in a Worldwide Leadership Training, church leaders introduced the new Handbook 2: Administering the Church, a manual of policies and procedures for church leaders throughout the world to follow.
Section 1 is titled “Families and the Church in God’s Plan.” Subsection 1.1 is titled “God the Father’s Plan for His Eternal Family.” Section 1.1.1–the very first paragraph of the manual–reads in its entirety:
The Premortal Family of God
The family is ordained of God. It is the most important unit in time and in eternity. Even before we were born on the earth, we were part of a family. Each of us “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” with “a divine nature and destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). God is our Heavenly Father, and we lived in His presence as part of His family in the premortal life. There we learned our first lessons and were prepared for mortality (see D&C 138:56).
Yes, marriage is an embattled institution. Yes, the divorce rate is too high. Yes, those failed marriages have almost exclusively been between a man and a woman (there having been very few same-sex marriages to date). But no, don’t expect the Mormon Church to surrender on this doctrine: Marriage is ordained of God, is between a man and a woman, and will–if worked at by the parties involved–continue into the Eternities. That is something worth fighting for.