When will the Mormon god get it right?
March 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As an amused watcher of organized religion, one my of favorite spectacles is when the poor decisions in the past of whatever church made them are disavowed and everyone is expected not to think about the implications of the change.
It’s a simple thing to wonder about, but it’s not one that is answered very often. Better to just accept that the church has reversed an unfair policy and we can all go online, praising the Pollyannas we were meant to be.
But wait one second! Wasn’t the original policy from God? Does this mean that God is sometimes wrong and reverses decisions based on arguments from the very creations he’s been puppeteering for 5,000 years? Or does this mean the policy was created by man in the first place? If that’s the case, does that mean that man is allowed to make up a few rules based on what he thinks God would want? Or does this mean that any given church actually has no conduit to God at all?
Imagine such a scandal: to find out that holy men and their lucrative bodies of worship had never actually had any contact with the maker of the universe all this time, that they were just making everything up based on the best guesses possible. That’s been a sneaking suspicion about the Catholic Church ever since it decided to ape the Roman hierarchy and build themselves a system of worship, but it’s only recently that the Church of the Latter Day Saints has shown us all how to solve this problem.
That organization has a checkered past with due respect to African Americans that centrally illustrates this issue. It was only in 1978 that the church allowed black males into its priesthood and African Americans of both sexes to take part in ceremonies that made promises of certain access to heaven in the afterlife.
Such an institutional problem was this racism that the church almost lost its tax-exempt status, as if it deserved it in the first place, and the church actually changed the so-called word of God in one racist passage of their Bible to read “pure” instead of “white and delightsome.”
Once reversed, it was explained in God terms that blacks weren’t previously “spiritually mature” enough. Only in 1978, apparently, did they achieve this lofty status and gain rights in the eyes of God via divine revelation. Certainly no human being would ever overrule God on such a matter, right? It’s a little nudge-nudge-wink-wink thing we do in regard to all kinds of religious decisions.
Brigham Young professor Randy Bott recently explained on a television appearance that all the institutional racism was a good thing, because it saved black followers from descending into hell. It’s a rare talent to be able to cure racism with further racism, but the Mormon Church have managed to do just that.
But what do you expect out of a religion so smug that its most current claim to fame is a presidential candidate renowned for saying anything in order to be elected, and the postmortem baptisms of respected Jews, such as Simon Wiesenthal’s parents and reporter Daniel Pearl. This last item demonstrates the institutional smugness at work here, not to mention the total wackiness of the entire venture. The church has made noise that this is not official policy of the organization, but more a fundamentalist action, but gathering records of the dead for just this purpose has been central to the Church of the Latter Day Saints’ efforts in creating what has become the biggest record-keeping system for genealogy in our country?
And while presidential candidate Mitt Romney mumbled something about not taking part in such a thing “recently,” it’s the very word “recently” that suggests the practice might not be as fringe as we’re supposed to believe.
There’s been a lot of backtracking about the baptisms, but that’s the norm for Mormons. The most legendary faux pas of the church is polygamy, and the most vigorous defense of it has been “we don’t do that anymore,” and the claim that it’s a fringe practice. Where have we heard that before? The real question is why they did it in the first place — there goes God and his wishy washy policy making. Perhaps women weren’t “spiritually mature” enough to not be required to share a husband?
Once again Mitt Romney plays into the controversy — the great grandfather of that totally principled presidential candidate apparently made his way down to Mexico for his own Latter Day Love Nest sometime in the 1880s following an anti-polygamy act from Congress. The church itself disavowed the practice in 1890, only after losing a case in the Supreme Court challenging that law. In other words, while God originally vigorously condoned polygamy, he backed down somewhat in the face of a high profile court case.
It’s for these reasons that religion should never be taken into account in regard to any secular law — it claims to be eternal until such point that reason catches up with it and proves it’s not. God’s commands start out as infallible, but again and again they are proven as wishy-washy as anyone else’s. It’s bad enough to have the human version of that making decisions for us, no need to bring God into it — at least until he comes up with a few absolutes that we can properly make into law without fear of reversal down the road.