Monday, December 17, 2007

Faithless in America

There’s an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday that aims to infuriate everybody in the LDS church. In it, Frank Rich takes Mitt Romney to task for not denouncing his church as racist before 1978. If he realizes the implication for this then he knows he’s asking for something impossible, if he doesn’t then he needs to do some research. If Mitt was to say that he believed the church was racist in 1978 he would be saying one of two things: the church doesn’t operate on revelation but on the ideas of a bunch of old men and therefore it isn’t true or God is a racist. Either way it’s a pretty earth shattering thing to say for political points. It would be the equivalent of Joe Lieberman criticizing Moses for drowning all those Egyptians or engaging in ethnic cleansing during the conquest of Palestine. It’s not going to happen, nor should it be asked. What I would say (and actually do) is that it’s unfortunate that blacks didn’t have the priesthood before 1978. That doesn’t mean it’s a racist policy, it’s just what the Lord wanted for one reason or another and I’m not about to question His reasons. It's the same with polygamy, and I'm sure that from the outside looking in those are calculated decisions made by a group of conniving old men in Salt Lake, but for those of us in the LDS Church that's not the case. Instead of sitting in your Ivory Tower and making observations from afar, get out and go to Africa. Ask those Saints who waited decades to become official members of the church despite there being a "racist policy" in the Church and no missionaries to speak of to baptize them. They organized, led meetings, and prayed and waited for the day when the Lord would open the priesthood to them and allow missionaries to come to Africa. A fantastic overview is in this talk right here. Tell the hundreds of thousands of Pacific Islanders, Asians, and even African Americans who were members of the church and took advantage of what it had to offer all the way back to the time of Joseph Smith that they are being disenfranchised. I am surprised he didn't level a sexist charge at us as well for not allowing women to have the priesthood. The bottom line is that he ought to do some research, interviewing some actual church members about their opinions before bashing Romney for not condemning God for being racist.

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