Friday, September 2, 2011

How Peculiar A People: Brought To You By Brigham Young University

When well established cults who have become institutionalized in Western civilization flex their cultural musculature of victimized ecumenism to assert how mean certain Christian perspectives about them can get, the cracking of their sinews can make a really strange noise. Add to that a self-righteous demand of the larger world around it to control information that covers its ideological private parts and it's almost like a scratching record of whining like no other. We quote one shrill demand here:

As a student of what scholars call framing theory, it is obvious to me that words like “cult” have great power to influence perception. Furthermore, out-of-context, simplistic explanations of our beliefs about the end of the world, about historic polygamy, about alleged secrecy or about alleged prejudice all can add to this impression that Mormons are cultish and possibly dangerous. ...

... Indeed, journalists might ask Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and all the rest: “Do you think the countercult movement in evangelical Christianity has borne false witness against Mormonism?”

Given the prevalence and growth of the countercult movement, is it any wonder that the idea that Mormonism is a cult has branched into the press over the last 40 years? Is it any wonder that so many evangelicals have great disdain for Mormonism? ...

... It is time to remove the word “cult” from the descriptions of Mormonism and time for a deeper, yet respectful, journalistic accounting of the "countercult" movement much responsible for these terms, and it is time for our evangelical friends to stop supporting financially those who mock and distort the faith of others.

Just so we know where this verbal hammer is falling, consider the source of this reproachful demand. It originates from a teacher at Brigham Young University, one Lane Williams who teaches journalism and communication within this bastion of the Latter Day Saint Church. Is there any wonder that a teacher whose paycheck is covered by Mormonism's foundational corporate machine would not excoriate Christian countercult researchers who are a bane to their authoritarian agenda?

But for such a smart man, Mr. Williams really sets forth a pretty dumb idea. To cluck over how mean and nasty the Christian countercult movement is about identifying rightly that the LDS Church is a cultic movement while trying to simultaneously portray the poor Mormon Church as victims of religious discrimination is quite stupid. He actually wants to see a media focus on this question at a time when plenty of solid objective information on LDS cultism compiled by the Christian countercult movement is only a mouse click or two away for any thinking American to consider. Whine as he and his tribe might, the truth claims made are out there for rational consideration.

Mr. Williams' campaign may be playing to Mormon Peorias everywhere, and may inspire LDS intellectuals and elites on the Wasatch Front, as well as the cottage industry of Mormon apologetics institutionalized in groups like FARMS and people such as Daniel Peterson. I rather suspect that if they are truly thoughtful people, which I believe they are, that they are instead going to feel a deep inner disquiet at the thought of LDS belief being brought to light once more. For the public record, it seems, indicates conclusively that Mormonism is still not being widely received, no matter how optimistic its ecumenical reach seems to be: consider this political commentary that certainly cannot but trouble thinking and yet pious Mormons who might want Mr. Williams' crusade to break the surface of public attention to what promises to be a messy election season ahead:

The current presidential campaign began with two cautionary tales fresh in the minds of political strategists:

In 2008, candidate Barack Obama broke ties with his Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, after videos surfaced of Wright sermonizing that U.S. foreign policy played a role in the 9/11 attacks. "America's chickens are coming home to roost," Wright said. Obama was so close with Wright that the Democrat took the title of his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope," from one of the pastor's sermons.

Republican Mitt Romney was the other example. The former Massachusetts governor had struggled to address concerns about being Mormon despite a major faith-and-values speech in 2007 in Texas.

He quoted the New Testament and declared his belief in Jesus. (Many Christian denominations don't consider Mormons to be Christian.) He commended the deep faith of the Founding Fathers and decried secularism. And like Kennedy, he promised that "no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions." Yet, polls continued to show an unwillingness to vote for a Mormon, especially among white evangelicals, who form a large segment of the GOP.

"That speech probably drew more attention to his Mormonism than it was worth," said Ed Kilgore, a former policy director at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council who oversaw programs that urged Democrats to talk about the values behind their policies. "It raised a lot of questions and didn't really resolve them."

Romney is once again seeking the GOP presidential nomination. He has barely discussed his religion so far.

Politicians like to quip that they're not running for theologian in chief. Still, they face increasingly complex questions on doctrine — prompted in many cases by their own attempts at highlighting their faith. 

Click here to read the rest of this insightful Yahoo! News article if you wish.

The legacy of Mormonism embodied in its historic belief of being "the only true church" on the planet, well established hierarchy of unquestionable spiritual authority and the social elitism it engenders can't be easily obscured with a public relations campaign that tries too hard to make Mormons look like everyone else. Mormons long considered themselves a "peculiar people" (in keeping with their cultic passion for exclusivism and spiritual dominance over the Gentiles when they felt they could assert it) and now unhappily find that Western cultural pluralism has a long memory. When the recent grotesquerie of present day Mormon fundamentalism became more exposed, uglier memories have been revitalized. The convicted sexual deviant and former FLDS patriarch Warren Jeffs actually is more faithful to the true and randy spirit of the religion as preached and practiced by its founder Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and others. This has also not been forgotten very easily lately, either - especially with LDS activism against homosexuality and abortion as visible as it has been.

So it actually would NOT serve the First Presidency of the Latter Day Saints for attention to be brought to their antichristian doctrines, practices and rituals at a time when they don't really seem to know whether they want to remain apart from society or a part of it.

But hey, let's do it.