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Why we fear Mormons

June 04, 2012
source: New York Times

Photo from New York Times.

MR says: "Making Mormons look bad helps others feel good. By imagining Mormons as intolerant rubes, or as heretical deviants, Americans from left and right can imagine they are, by contrast, tolerant, rational and truly Christian."

Mockery of Mormonism comes easily for many Americans. Commentators have offered many reasons, but even they have found it difficult to turn their gaze from Mormon peculiarities. As a result, they have missed a critical function of American anti-Mormonism: the faith has been oddly reassuring to Americans. As a recent example, the Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon” lampoons the religion’s naïveté on racial issues, which is striking given that the most biting criticisms have focused on the show’s representations of Africans and blackness.

As a Mormon and a scholar of religious history, I am unsurprised by the juxtaposition of Mormon mocking and racial insensitivity. Anti-Mormonism has long masked America’s contradictions and soothed American self-doubt.

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Comments 3 comments

mauijim said...

12:19 PM
on Jun 05, 2012

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The story (particularly the headline)seems misleading given the fact that the author is Mormon. Not sure the "we" in "Why We Fear Mormons" is applicable. Also, I thought I was going to read an unbiased perspective on the subject given the source was the NY Times. Instead, this article seemed to be taken straight from the editorial section of Provo's "Daily Herald". I'm surprised the NY Times would seek out/run a story written by a Mormon professor that attempts to explain why Non-Mormons "fear" Mormons. Especially when the story uses the author's opinions & insights rather than data. Overall, the article doesn't seem to carry much weight in my opinion. If in fact, we are "feared", then I am truly interested to understand why and would look to sources (internal or external) that can either qualify that fear through data or research the views of those who actually claim to be "afraid".

dottie said...

03:39 PM
on Jun 05, 2012

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@mauijim - I agree with you. I honestly can't see what all the fuss is about. It seems to me that if you're protestant, no matter which sect, you are tolerant of anyone else -- except Latter Day Saints. Are we THAT scary? Really? Why should it bother anyone if we think differently or believe that a 14 year old boy actually SAW and spoke to God, the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son? Could it be because if we have the Truth, others would have to change their ideas and beliefs? Is THAT what's so scary about us? Is it because we don't conform to THEIR idea of what true religion is all about? I can understand the evangelicals' chagrin. They, at least, have a legitimate reason to wonder if we are right or wrong because if we're right, they have to change THEIR attitudes, and if we're wrong then we're headed for you-know-where and that isn't their problem. It's the more liberal side of the equation that I find puzzling. Why should it bother THEM if I want to believe in something they find so foreign? Am I less of a person because I believe differently from them? This article surprises me because I would have thought a fellow-Mormon would have a better insight into what bothers others about us. Guess not. The bottom line is that it's really not their business what I choose to believe. It's MINE. If I want to worship a toad, I have that right. No one forces anyone to believe anything in this Church. No one who fully understands the Gospel of Jesus Christ would WANT to force anyone else to believe something against their will. But people tend to fear what they don't understand and some intolerant people tend to denigrate what they do not wish to participate in simply because it's different.

grizzly said...

11:57 PM
on Jun 05, 2012

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I'm a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. I used to to be a catholic now I'm a scary Morman.Oh well "Boo." The world needs to get a grip. Quit judgeing others. If they must judge start with themselves.
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