Mormons and Mosques, and now Harry Reid

After hearing this morning that Harry Reid has now entered into this vitriolic debate about the right to build a mosque (or the responsibility not to do so) where shadows of the Twin Towers once fell, my curiosity about how Mormons, both scholars and non, feel about this controversy, has bubbled over onto the virtual pages of JI.

As we well know, from the point of view of its detractors, Mormonism has been linked to Islam since at least E. D. Howe’s 1834 Mormonism Unvailed, in which the Ohio newspaperman declared that Joseph Smith cited his own “extreme ignorance and apparent stupidity” as proof of the authentic prophethood, just as Mohammed had claimed his own illiteracy as proof of the divinity of the Quran.

Since this controversy over the mosque in Manhattan began a few months ago, I couldn’t help but see the historical comparisons we could make between this type of insidious religious persecution and the types Mormons have faced in the past and as of late (as I’m typing this in my Somerville apartment, I can see through the foliage the Belmont Temple, the construction of which faced its own challenges by non-Mormon locals who cloaked what I believe to be anti-Mormonism in language of parking lot run-off and traffic congestion).

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