Yes, It’s Bigotry
By: Craig Chamberlain
Robert Jeffress, a supporter of Governor Rick Perry,(as am I, though it looks like his candidacy might not amount to much) introduced the Governor by asking a question to the audience. Would they rather have a good moral person, or a Christian? The question was a not so subtle attack on Mitt Romney and his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Now think about the reverends question. Is he saying that a Christian can’t be moral? Or is he saying that it’s better to have someone who identifies themselves as a born again Christian even if they manage to break seven of the ten commandments? Now, I’m not accusing governor Perry of that. I think he’d make a fine President, and he seems like a good, moral person. But the more relevant question is: was the reverends question a fair one? The answer is no.
Imagine if the reverend had said Eric Cantor couldn’t be House majority leader because he was Jewish. Or if he had said that Herman Cain shouldn’t be President because he’s black? The chorus of denunciations would be loud, and well deserved. Yet, Latter Day Saints, who are honest, decent, moral, and proud Americans are being told, in often not so subtle terms that they aren’t fit to hold public office. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to hold this view. Why do we tolerate it? Most see Mormons as weird, and don’t mind the way they are treated.
Let’s address a couple of points. The first is the political one. The constitution makes it very plain, there can be no religious test for office. You can’t disqualify a person for office based on what church they attend, or whether they attend church at all. If Mitt Romney were a Hindu or an atheist it would make no difference. He would still be allowed to run for President of the United States, and take office if the American people thought that he was the best person for the job. The second is the theological one. There is a segment of Evangelical Christianity that says the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a cult, but then says that members of that church are good moral people. In our lexicon “cult” means evil, or satanic. How can someone belong to an evil organization, and still be a good person? It’s like the Pharisees accusation that Christ cast out devils, by the power of the devil. That either means that Rev. Jeffress was lying about Mormons being a cult, which undermines a good bit of Evangelical thought, or he was lying about Mormons being good people, which is laughable to anyone who has known Mormons.
Mormons believe that all good things come from God. So they cherish honesty, hard work, the traditional family, fidelity, temperance, and chastity. I don’t see how those are values that any Christian, of any denomination, could find threatening. You would think that they would have many friends on the right for their moral stance, yet, more often than not, they have as many enemies on the religious right as they do on the secular left. About one fifth of the voting public says that they will not vote for a Mormon under any circumstance. The only group that has a higher negative with the public are Muslims, and only one of those groups are likely to commit a terrorist act.
The other great debate raging is whether or not Mormons are Christians? Some say yes, some say no, I present the evidence and leave you to make your own conclusions. They have always have been known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, going back to their founding in 1830. I would imagine that if Jesus weren’t their Savior they would have left his name out. Their first article of faith(which were published in 1842) states “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” I don’t know how much plainer it can get.
Mormons believe all other churches are corrupt and their congregants will go to hell. Back in the early 19th century there was a movement known as restorationism. The idea was that Christianity had gotten too far from the teachings of Jesus Christ, and needed to be restored to the original church. Who knows? But Mormons weren’t the only ones to have this belief, as there were several churches founded about that time that taught the same thing. The Disciples of Christ, founded by Alexander Campbell(who was certainly no friend to Mormons) also taught that Christianity had gotten off track. While Mormons might think other Churches are wrong in certain areas they don’t think all other churches are hell bound. (you’re more likely to find that belief among the Southern Baptist Convention)
Mormons don’t believe in Jesus the way other churches do. They believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, is the Son of God, the only begotten, that he was crucified, and was resurrected on the third day. I don’t see how that’s different from any other churches teaching. If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the only path to salvation, I would say that makes you a Christian.
Mormons don’t believe in the Nicene Creed. That’s true. But so what? That doesn’t disqualify them from being Christians or good people. The Creed wasn’t written until the 4th century, long after the deaths of the Apostles. Given the influences that Greek philosophy had on Christian theology it’s unlikely that Peter, James, or John would have recognized the God described in the Nicene Creed. But Aristotle, Plato, and Plotinus would have gotten the message. If a church wants to accept the creed as an accurate description of their beliefs that’s their business, and I don’t think that their unchristian for accepting it. If a Church wants to reject the creed because they don’t think its a fitting description of what they believe that’s their business, and I don’t think their rejection of it makes them unchristian.
Mormons believe that they will become Gods. Yes and no. That is a teaching that has been misunderstood by both Mormon and non Mormon, and distorted by anti Mormons. The real teaching is that those who are truly faithful will become co heirs with Christ. Or as one of the early church fathers put it “God became man so man could become God.” It’s a teaching disliked by most Protestant denominations because it reeks of Paganism and Hubris. But the idea of becoming co heir with Christ, sharing everything he has is a very biblical doctrine, square with orthodox theology.
Mormons are deceptive, trying to trick honest Christians that they are Christians too. I ask again, how can someone be lauded for being moral, and at the same time, dishonest immoral and part of a Satanic cult?
My point here is this, Christianity is a big tent movement. Those who seek to make it a small tent damage Christianity as a whole, and their own faith. If there are heresies, If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a cult in league with the devil( I doubt it) that’s for the Lord to decide, as it stand Mormons still have their first amendment rights, and any attempt to undermine those rights should be denounced whether that bigotry, and yes, it’s bigotry, comes from the left or the right.