The Mormon challenge


Now that Mitt Romney is all but guaranteed to be the Republican nominee, we can settle in for the onslaught of anti-Mormon coverage from the media.  Most of the big news outlets will do their best to keep it from looking like obvious bigotry or fear-mongering, but Tough Questions will be asked by people they love to cover, and they won’t be asking any Tough Questions about the Tough Questioners.

Buzzfeed gives us a little preview:

Through his long presidential campaign, Romney has managed to maneuver his way around one of the most difficult questions in the history of Mormonism: The church’s systematic discrimination against African-Americans, who were barred from the priesthood until 1978. But as the political landscape shifts in the coming weeks to pit the first Mormon nominee directly against the nation’s first black president, a new set of voices — black intellectuals and religious leaders, in particular — are beginning to demand that Romney address a subject that’s rarely far from the surface of modern American politics: race.

“I think what you’ll find folks on the left doing is saying, ‘Look at this, look at the Mormon faith, this is what they used to believe while Mitt Romney was practicing!'” said David Wilson, founding editor African-American news site The Grio. “A lot of folks are going to want answers.”

(Emphasis mine.)  Really?  Will any of those folks be the same ones who told us Reverend Jeremiah Wright was a total non-story, accepting President Obama’s insistence that he essentially slept through 20 years of Wright’s hate-filled sermons, and can “no more disown him than I can disown the black community?”

By the way, is Obama’s insistence that Wright is an un-disownable avatar of the black community still operative?  That assertion was made during a speech that many liberal commentators assured us was among the greatest orations in American history… but over the past Easter Weekend, Wright called Thomas Jefferson a “pedophile,” insisted that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas worships “some other God” besides “Allah and Yahweh” even though he physically resembles the black church audience Wright was addressing, and said “white supremacy” drives world policy. 

As Buzzfeed notes, the Mormon church lifted its ban on black members of the priesthood in 1978.  The modern church has “aggressively distanced itself” from passages in Mormon scripture that associate negative meanings with dark skin, and “a recent survey found that only 9 percent of modern Mormons believe them.”  I daresay you’ll get more than 9 percent support from Jeremiah Wright’s congregation for the hateful racist garbage he’s spewing, and that was only a couple of days ago.  Or maybe a couple of hours.  I haven’t checked up on his activities today.

Mitt Romney was a grown man of 31 when the Mormon church ended its ban on black members of the priesthood.  He has said in interviews – an example of which Buzzfeed was kind enough to include – that he wholeheartedly supported changing the policy, and was profoundly moved when it happened:

So this entire appendage of creeping Mormon hysteria will be dedicated to the proposition that Romney is lying about what he believed 33 years ago, and is somehow personally accountable for both Mormon policy and scripture.  Strangely enough, I can’t recall any particular enthusiasm for applying this standard to members of other religions with incendiary scriptural passages, some of which have been applied to real-world situations with distressing currency and frequency.

Also, Barack Obama didn’t even meet Jeremiah Wright until the late 1980s, and did not formally withdraw from Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ until 2008.  It sounds like the statute of limitations for religious controversy is somewhat… flexible.

Will Mitt Romney be the only Mormon facing these Tough Questions about their faith?  I guess the media thinks we’ve got to be extra-careful about letting anyone from this supposedly alarming religion into a position of great political influence… like, say, Majority Leader of the United States Senate. 

That’s right – Harry Reid (D-NV) is also a Mormon.  Do you recall anyone badgering him about the racial history of his church?  According to a Salt Lake Tribune article from 2009, Reid “keeps a copy of the Book of Mormon in his office just off the chamber floor,” with a second copy on standby, “to give away to someone in need of spiritual guidance.”  Did he use one of those heavy-duty White House-issued redaction pens to erase the passages currently troubling so many left-wing minds?

Furthermore, while no one seems able to detect the slightest racist tendencies in the words or deeds of Mitt Romney, Harry Reid famously said of Barack Obama that he had a good chance of winning the Presidency because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”  He later apologized to Obama for these remarks.

And here, according to the New York Times, is how Barack Obama graciously accepted that apology:

“I accepted Harry’s apology without question because I’ve known him for years. I’ve seen the passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice, and I know what’s in his heart,” Mr. Obama said in a statement, adding that the remark was “unfortunate.” “As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.”

Taken in concert with the rising chorus of dark mutters about the contents of Mitt Romney’s soul, that’s a pretty blunt expression of leftist totalitarianism.  Politics trumps everything.  Support for the right issues opens a window into the deepest recesses of the heart. 

While we’re on that subject, I’d like to ask the media a favor: when you’re working up those Tough Questions you would never dream of asking Harry Reid, could you take a moment to explain precisely what the sinister agenda of the Mormon church is?  I’m sure the rest of us would profit from knowing exactly what the LDS church is planning to force us to do, once Darth Romney is safely ensconced in the White House.  What’s their compulsive agenda?  Are they planning anything as severe as forcing Catholics to pay for condoms?  Could we get a little taste of the incipient Mormon theocracy? 

And if you’re compelled to admit there isn’t one, could you follow up by explaining why Mitt Romney’s religion is so much more important than any faith held by the long line of deeply religious, or at least ostensibly religious, men who preceded him in the Oval Office?