Al Sharpton got some heated criticism from pro-Republican voices a couple weeks ago when he made an off-handed remark about Mitt Romney’s faith: “As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways,” he said on the air, “so don’t worry about that; that’s a temporary situation.” It was one of the mildest examples of religious prejudice I’ve seen, so mild I would have hardly noticed it on my own, though it was disappointing. As much as I disagree with his politics, I’m pleased with him for seeking to patch that mistake in his recent visit to Salt Lake City. As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, he has apologized for his comments and has expressed good will toward the Latter-day Saints, who he recognizes as Christians. I think that’s a very positive step. Nice to see some good news occasionally.
While I’ve become a bit weary of some of the anti-Mormon prejudice that has erupted in light of the Mitt Romney campaign, I think most of it pales in comparison to “spitting on the grave” phenomenon we’ve seen by the political and moral enemies of Rev. Jerry Falwell. As a Protestant minister, Rev. Falwell certainly had his disagreements with Latter-day Saints and perhaps had his share of human frailties, and its understandable that people on different political and cultural wavelengths would disagree – but the vile mocking of his life before he’s even been buried and the cruel rejoicing in his death by some of the far-left crowd has revealed some truly ugly anti-Christian prejudice, driven by an almost insane rage. Can you imagine what would happen if right-wing groups viciously gloated in the passing of, say, a left-leaning Hollywood celebrity or politician? The country would be outraged and the errant voices would immediately recognize that such vile behavior is not acceptable in this country. But bigotry seems increasingly acceptable when it is directed to conservative Christians (including Mormons). May it end.