Monday, October 27, 2008

The Mormon Church Has Lost My Respect

My views on religion range from admiration, through apathy, to antipathy -- it all depends on the religion. While I find it hard to take most religious beliefs seriously, I think that moderate, tolerant religion can be a force for good; on the other hand, extremist belief systems can be and are a destructive element in society.

The Mormon (LDS) church has always come under attack from both the left and the right because of its somewhat odd beliefs and customs, but I've always been a staunch defender. The main reason is that Mormonism has always struck me as the sort of religion that focuses on the positive. In particular, I greatly admire their strong family orientation, and their focus on personal and community preparedness. I've also noticed that with the exception of one atypical individual, I've never met or encountered a member of the LDS whom I did not think was a good person. And while they evangelize, they don't push their beliefs on others.

In short, I don't care if they believe in Native American angels and gold plates and "magic underwear" or whatever else. That's their business. They seem like decent people who care about their families and they don't get involved in the negative aspects of religion. They also mostly stay out of politics.

Or at least, they did until now.

It turns out that Mormons are largely driving California's Prop. 8, which seeks to make gay marriage illegal in that state, and are coming under (deserved) criticism for this. From where I stand, this puts the LDS at odds with its traditional message, and casts its lot with Christian fundamentalists who see their role as being not merely to use religion to bring themselves up, but to hold others down.

Some have speculated that the LDS is doing this to try to get more support from right-wing Christians who don't think they are "Christian enough". If so, then they are making the same mistake that John McCain made in picking Sarah Palin -- abandoning the middle. While the LDS may care more about what other Christians think than what a heathen like myself does, there will be consequences for them deciding to get involved in this issue.

And the other Christians will never accept them anyway.

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