News that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has once again expressed support for the LDS community brought back some very pleasant memories. In 2007, a “Christian” ministry distributed 18,000 DVDs of an anti-Mormon film to LDS homes throughout the state. The only non-LDS group to denounce the bigots was the ADL, and they didn’t mince words. Bill Straus, the Arizona Regional Director, stated: “This is the same kind of plain, old-fashioned Mormon-bashing that Jim Robertson and his group have been spewing for over a quarter of a century … It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.” The ADL’s Regional Board Chair, David Bodney, hastened to add, “Hate directed at any of us is hate directed at all of us. From whomever that hate comes, and to whomever it’s directed, ADL takes it very seriously and will continue to speak out against it.” When I called the ADL’s Phoenix office to thank them for their support, one of their leaders made an interesting observation: “They can’t fool me, Mark. I know that the anti-Mormons of today were in many cases the anti-Semites of yesterday.” In many cases he’s right.
I had the honor of representing the ADL for several years as a member of its Pacific Southwest Region’s speakers bureau. I got to speak to Hadassah ladies, havurot, and a few synagogues about the wonderful work the ADL was doing to promote understanding and tolerance. The powers that be must have noticed my enthusiasm and passion for the cause, since they went on to add another Mormon speaker (JD Payne) to the bureau.