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Monday, October 10, 2011

Racism and anti-Mormonism

William Saletan has compiled some interesting poll data about voter prejudice against Mormon political candidates. Along the way he offers an inadvertent rejoinder to those die-hard Obots who spent much of 2008 arguing that anyone who opposed Obama must be a racist.
National polls taken in recent months show how far anti-black prejudice has subsided compared to anti-Mormon prejudice. In a Gallup survey, 5 percent of adults said they wouldn’t vote for their party’s presidential nominee if he were black. Six percent said they wouldn’t vote for a woman, 7 percent said they wouldn’t vote for a Catholic, 9 percent said they wouldn’t vote for a Jew, and 10 percent said they wouldn’t vote for a Hispanic. But 22 percent said they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon.
Only five percent would refrain from voting for a black person. This isn't news to me. I spent much of 2008 arguing that voter prejudice against female candidates was (slightly) worse than the prejudice against black candidates. Here's the part I did not know until just now:
In a Pew survey, 7 percent of adults said they’d be more likely to support a presidential candidate if he were black.
Thus, being black gives a candidate a slight advantage. Arguably, that's a good thing. It's certainly a whole lot better than the way things were when I was young. But these poll results debunk the suggestion that Obama had to overcome the obstacle of racism on his way to the White House: There was no such obstacle.

According to the Pew data, a female candidate also has a built-in advantage.

About the prejudice against Mormonism: I think that this can be attributed largely to the fact that Mormonism is a fairly young religion.

Because Mormonism came into being after the creation of printing presses and newspapers and modern scholarship, we have a great deal of objective information about its founder, Joseph Smith. The man clearly was a con artist and a sociopath, similar in many ways to L. Ron Hubbard. It remains an open question as to whether Smith and Hubbard came to believe in their own lies.

It is possible that Jesus and Buddha were similarly deceptive or self-deceived. We simply do not know. If you pretend to know, you're kidding yourself. Jesus and Buddha lived in antiquity, well before the age of mass communication, and we lack sufficient amounts of objective data to make firm and final judgments about what kind of people they were. Whatever conclusions you may have reached about them must be categorized as provisional or personal.

Because Christianity is an old religion, we reflexively grant followers of Jesus a "pass." Jesus may have been the thoroughly admirable individual described in the Gospels; thus, even those who do not share the faith usually refrain from condemning his followers as fools. But we know (from Fawn Brodie and other respected historians) that Joseph Smith was a mentally unbalanced liar -- hardly the "prophet" one hears about from pro-Mormon sources.

Allegiance to Mormonism compels one to ignore indisputable facts about the character of the religion's founder. For this reason, many people cannot respect the intelligence of a Mormon political candidate.

In the political world, of course, piety may be a pretense. I doubt that Obama is a man of deep faith. Bush Sr. probably was not, although he pretended to be "born again." Many sources say that Dubya genuinely believed in fundamentalist Christianity, but a few have suggested that his faith was a pose.

As for Romney -- well, frankly, I have no idea whether, in his heart, he truly believes in Mormon doctrine. For now, I'll take him at his word on that score.
Comments:
I have my own views about the Mormon Church and Jehovah's Witnesses that were developed through my interactions with them. Is that prejudice? I don't believe so. I would not vote for a candidate that belongs to either of those sects.
DM
 
Honestly... Mormonism seems no more ridiculous than any other religious belief.
 
I saw first hand Mormon discrimination against other religions so they do have some, ahem, crosses to bear, but the one candidate we apparently don't have to worry about is a black female Hispanic Mormon.
 
"As for Romney -- well, frankly, I have no idea whether, in his heart, he truly believes in Mormon doctrine."
I want to make another point about Mormonism. It is rare that a Mormon leaves the religion. The reason is that any sheep that goes astray, is hounded until he/she comes back to the fold. I don't like closed groups, and I find the Church of Latter Day Saints extremely closed.
DM
 
"Female" candidates have an advantage? That's a laugh.

Please.

"Young religion?" Again, please. You usually choose your words more carefully than that, Joseph. Other than that your theory is not only true, it should be more true than it is.

Let's word it the way it is. This cult, and it is a cult in every criterion that defines a cult, including the secrecy and inner circles, is RECENT. So recent that its origins, like that of Scientology, are provably laughable.

If ridiculing these modern cults would cause people to question established religions, so much the better. But the main difference is that you can walk into a Cathedral or a Temple or a Church. Not so with these utter nutso top secret cult temples. So they indisputably deserve more scorn and mockery and rejection than the rank and file religions.

It doesn't matter if Mittwit Romney truly "believes" the absolute fiction the Mormon founder made up. As in every cult, the inner circle is allowed to deceive, allowed to act in a way the followers in the cult aren't privy to. So the power elite Romney poses bare-chested at the beach with his wife to pretend they're normal and that the cult doesn't force the lowly members to wear the one-piece Garment 24/7 to prevent masturbation. They pretend they suddenly no longer believe that black skin = a mark of sin. They pretend they no longer practice polygamy, when in fact it's so prevalent law enforcement can't deal with it, and indeed this is why the public can't witness the final part of their "marriages" when the women are told they can't get into "heaven" unless the man their god pulls them in, and they will then be part of a harem pumping out ghost babies to populate their man's planet.

I hope they rake Mittwit over the coals, needle him, ask specifically if he's going to be god of his planet with a spirit harem. Let's open that door, and then move on to leveling Scientologists, Muslims, and the rest. They spend their time worrying where gay men put their penises, and how to control women's vaginas, so they all deserve this scrutiny. They deserve to be discredited, and we can start with those in recent history, which can be proven fraudulent and ridiculous. Calling them "young religions" is the equivalent of calling the protesters you like to term "fetuses" by some honorific such as "young kings" or "future leaders."

As far as the results of this poll, I vividly remember all the anti-Catholic sentiment here in Massachusetts, a state filled with Catholics, not to mention the misogyny, both before and also when Mittwit ran for governor. So much for the advantage of being a woman or the disadvantage of being Mormon. Any mention of the Mormons being a cult was vigorously denounced as bigotry, while Catholics were freely derided, and sneering sexism was outright denied even tho they shoved aside a sitting woman governor in favor of Mittwit. One can only wish the playing field were level and we were free to denounce the toxic patriarchal cult with marching orders to deceive the public and interfere in other state's questions of gay civil rights. So much for Pew's results.
 
Female candidates do have an advantage, if the poll I cited is to be trusted. More people say they are willing to vote for a female candidate than to vote against, simply on account of her sex.

Sorry if those results run against the storyline in your head. They surprised me, frankly. But look at it this way -- those results make it all the more advisable for a major party to place a woman at the top of the ticket.

I wanted to address this issue without getting into the tired problem of what is a cult and what is a religion. I've addressed that before.

Drawing a distinction between the terms "young" and "recent" is a bit silly.

The disturbing thought is this: If we lived 1950 years ago, when Christianity was still young (or recent) and first-hand accounts obtainable -- what kind of conclusions might we draw from the additional information?

I define "cult" purely in terms of numbers. (Mormonism has grown beyond the boundary.) However, I think a lot of people define "cult" in terms of antiquity. Many people seem to think that an old and hoary belief system is not a cult.

For example, there are people who still worship the Greek pantheon -- Athena and Apollo and that lot. It's easy to think of those people as eccentric, but it's hard to define their faith as a cult.

It's a little misleading to draw inferences from the derogatory terms used against Catholicism. Dem Cat-licks are the religion everyone loves to hate. People who will not tolerate false statements about wiccans or Muslims will nevertheless spew all sorts of baseless nonsense about the Catlicks. ("The Pope forbids people to read the Bible!")
 
Whether or not you suspect Masons (of the really high degrees, not the friendly/harmless drones in the Blue or Prince-Hall lodges) of being masterful/evil/conspiratorial plotters of our servitude and doom -- the fact remains that garden-variety Mormonism is absolutely drenched with Masonic-style ritual, worldview, and secrecy.

And there are lots and lots of consrvative Christian churches that regularly teach their members how to engage in "spiritual warfare" (via prayer and witnessing, not violence) against the "Devil's work" of a whole variety of CULTS (i.e. groups that refuse to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ).

And that definitely includes Masons AND Mormons.

When Rick Perry was politically forced into publicly defending Mormonism against the charge that it is a CULT, he eiher lied about one of his core Christian beliefs, or he revealed himself to be the phoney many of us have long suspected him to be.
 
Anon, we don't get many like you around here.

I once had a Catholic acquaintance who was positively loopy in her fear of Masonry. I also had a Mason friend who had a loopy fear of Cat-licks. One day, feeling puckish, I arranged on a pretext for them to talk on the phone. They got along splendidly. I think the depth of paranoia, not the target, is what draws people together.
 
"if the poll I cited is to be trusted" --- good qualifier, but look at it this way...reality does not match what people answer, and even if there could be good, legit reasons for that....reality trumps sincere responses that don't match reality.

As for cults, your definition of numbers only will not suffice. Sorry, that is indisputable. But you do remind me that I forgot to specify that even within "established" religions there are factions that fall into the true, independent definition of cult. eg, Opus Dei within Catholicism and Dominionists within Christianity. Secrecy especially in pursuit of power is a key factor.
 
Anybody who thinks Romney's Mormon beliefs, such as they are, will disqualify him from the presidency don't know the GOP.

OBAMA, not Romney or any other Republican candidate, is the issue.

Romney will be the next president of the United States.
 
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