"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Friday, June 01, 2012

There are Only Two Kinds of Religions

First, there are those religions whose adherents will happily blow you up if you irritate them; Islam and Communism come to mind. Then, there are those religions whose followers don't generally kill you if you irritate them: Catholics and Protestants tried that a while back, but have since thought better of it and, these days, various varieties of Protestants (Episcopalians, for example) will apologize to you if you happen to say or do something annoying.

Which brings us to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mormons don't seem even to be easily irritated and, in general, are kind, temperate and friendly. Which means, here in 21st Century America, that it's ok to say about Mormons the sort of bigoted, intolerant and narrow-minded things that would earn you a harsh reprimand from the New York Times, or your Dean of Students, if you said it about, say, Barney Frank.

Professor Thomas Terry writes in Inside Higher Education:
It was a fairly typical lunch at an academic conference in the East after the New Hampshire primary in 2008. There was a smattering of endowed professorships and international reputations at the table, perhaps eight academics in all.
Along with the sweet tea and penne pasta came the inevitable skewering of George W. Bush.
"Never has a president experienced such horrible poll approval numbers in the midst of a war," one professor quipped.
"That is, if you overlook Harry Truman," I interjected into an uncomfortable silence.
It was going to be that kind of meal.
Dessert made its appearance and talk turned to the relative merits of the developing college basketball season and presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were hotly debated – the state’s primary promised to be a pivotal one. Then it was onto the Republicans, and Mitt Romney’s name popped up.
"I couldn’t vote for a Mormon," one professor said. There was some polite (or perhaps impolite) head-bobbing. "It’s a cult. Very intolerant, and their opinions about women, and, well ... ” and his voice trailed off.
I mentioned I had just been hired at a college in the West with a sizeable student and local population of Mormons -- Idaho State University, in Pocatello. I wondered rhetorically whether anyone said the same thing in 1960 about voting for John F. Kennedy because he was Roman Catholic. Or for then-Senator Obama because he is African-American. There was that same uncomfortable silence again. I think they felt sorry for me.
I’ve attended numerous scholarly conferences since that lunch where Mormonism has been discussed, and it is amazing to confront snide and disdainful comments and even overt prejudice from intellectually and sophisticated academics. And it seems perfectly acceptable to express this bias. Mormons are abnormal, outside the mainstream; everybody knows that. They don’t drink alcohol and coffee. Their women are suppressed. They don’t like the cross, and their most holy book seems made up. And there’s that multiple-wives thing.
I'm just guessing, but I suspect we're going to be hearing a lot more about those wacky Mormons in the next five months or so. I don't expect the President to opine that, while it's just his opinion, he certainly DOES think that Joseph Smith was a whack-job. But I do think we're going to be treated to rhetoric that includes words like "buttoned-up" and "straight-laced" and such, as well as bank-shot "praise," along the lines of "I think it's admirable that all Mormon teens are required to go on two-year proselytizing missions."

But that's OK. You're unlikely to be assassinated by a Saint.  Besides, everybody knows . . . .

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