Msnowe's Blog

More on Mormonism?

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on November 30, 2007

Usually, when the general population thinks of Mormonism, they think of polygamy, and possibly the semi-flop HBO series “Big Love.” In completely objective terms, let’s look at exactly what’s going on with this religion, and more importantly, if you’re voting Republican – should this factor at all in terms of your decision for Romney, yea or nay? (Instinct says the topic shouldn’t even be broached- we have separation of church and state for a reason – but that’s on a federal level, not a personal one, and depending on the fervency of Mitt’s religion, just like any bible thumping candidate, it deserves a thought bubble of contemplation.)

So yes, there has been polygamy. The US has outlawed it, and the doctrine was revoked by the Mormon church in the 1890s. There still have been your random cases of some extreme fundamentalist Mormons still engaging in the whole “plural marriage” idea, but we can’t really blame the current Mormon church entirely — every religion has fervent sects that break off, and decide that the older version was better. I mean, we still have people toting around Leviticus with only certain lines highlighted. (Note: A.J. Jacobs, in his book “The Year of Living Biblically,” attempts to live for one year, adhering as strictly as possible to all Bible tenants. He of course admits that it is altogether impossible, and everyone on the planet would warrant a stoning, probably many times over).
If you’re into women’s rights (which you should be), this doctrine of polygamy is grating, but it’s not anything new when it comes to religion. While not defending Mormons in the least, we’ve still got burkas, and the barring of women from the priesthood, and the regulation of conception and the double-standard of chastisement for the “un-chaste” woman, cycling through our societies, ruminating like a fowl stench.

But many people look at Mormonism and stop at the polygamy issue, as if that was their sticking point against it – and valid as that may be to some, there are other issues to address that have been strict doctrine of the Church of Latter Day Saints all the way until the 1970s. Now, no church has been especially friendly to those groups it views as outsiders, or people physically different than themselves. But the Mormon’s had a special doctrine that claimed, quite specifically, that people of dark skin where the decendants of Cain, and given their darker skin as a punishment by god, because they had acted in tandem with Satan. So while black members were accepted occasionally, this is the beliefs they stood up against. Only in the 1970s, was the doctrines barring blacks and other races a greater role in the church rescinded. Before 1978, blacks, Native Americans, women of all races, etc., were not allowed to become priests, or even participate in temple ceremonies. Women, while allowed to participate in ceremonies, can be given “priesthood power”, but they are still barred from being ordained as full clergy, even though they can perform most of the same duties. So basically, the Mormons operate like most businesses still do today – women do the same work, for less pay and recognition.

As hard as this is to hear for some, Mormonism isn’t all that different from other protestant religions in the US, who like to sit up on a high horse in comparison, because their man took (and take) mistresses, not excess wives. Romney should be asked, if not about his faith, about how he feels about his church’s sluggish response to racial and sexual issues — he was not exactly a baby when they finally rescinded the racial discrimination doctrines, so how did he continue to tithe with a religion that openly pontificated against blacks and minorities? But it’s important to remember that for every question we have for a person like Romney, and his unfamiliar religion, we should be thinking of parallel questions for other candidates, like Giuliani, and perhaps just how he was officially billing his travel expenses to go visit his girlfriend (while married) on Long Island.

Although important to discuss, when we reach for that apple of religious knowledge in terms of the candidates, we better know what we’re getting into, — because it’s certainly no paradise.