Quoted in USA Today on the Issue of Romney and Anti-Mormon Bias

Mormon Bias Still Part of Politics” by Dennis Wagner is an article in USA Today that came out Nov. 24, 2011. Dennis writes both for USA Today and the Arizona Republic. I was surprised to be quoted since I know that I was just one of numerous people the reporter interviewed, plus I’ve had lengthy interviews with other reporters that didn’t get used. I find the article to be fair and reasonable, though I think anyone who is quoted in an interview feels some disappointment in how it all turns out. However, I think Dennis went out of his way to be fair and to understand the topic.

The quotes from me came in a portion of the interview when the reporter wanted to know if it’s appropriate to use the term “anti-Mormon” in describing the people pushing the Mormon issue in their opposition of Romney. Discussing the merits of that label was one of the least interesting and least important parts of the conversation to me personally, but that part got used. Also used was the point I made about LDS politicians like Mitt Romney and Harry Reid clearly demonstrating that they will do things their way and not simply rely on the prophet or LDS teachings to determine their stance. So here’s the passage where I’m quoted, but do read the whole article:

Richard Packham, the 78-year-old president of the Ex-Mormon Foundation, writes that the church’s “ultimate goal” is “to establish the Mormon Kingdom of God in America and to govern the world as God’s appointed representatives.”

“I love the Mormons and hate Mormonism,” Packham told The Arizona Republic. “To me, the possibility that the Mormon church might control America is a frightening prospect.”

Tricia Erickson, a bishop’s daughter who left the faith, just published a book titled, “Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters?” Erickson casts the church as a sexist, racist leviathan striving to gain power through politics. And she contends that Romney or Huntsman, as members, would have a duty to “follow the prophet — no matter what,” giving allegiance to religion over country.

Jeff Lindsay, a Mormon scholar who prolifically defends his church on the Internet, says Packham, Erickson and other critics convey an “awful distortion” of LDS doctrine and practices.

“It’s paranoia. It’s not based on any example,” Lindsay said. “There is plenty of room for decent people to disagree with us. But when someone strives to stir up anger toward the church and relies on misinformation or half-truths, then I’m inclined to apply the anti-Mormon label — especially when they do it for a living.”

Church defenders point out that thousands of LDS members serve in public office without acting as church puppets, and critics are unable to identify Romney gubernatorial decisions that his religion dictated.

As Lindsay puts it, “The prophet has not been coming in and telling him how to vote.”

When I discussed “anti-Mormons,” I was speaking in general terms without Richard Packham in mind. I don’t think he’s one of the professionals who makes his living off spooking people about the Church. But I was really floored by his comment. Did he really say that, or has he been victimized by some sort of anti-anti-Mormon bias at USA Today? We’re out to control the world? And a Mormon President raises the prospect of Mormonism controlling America? [Update: I questioned whether he really said that, but have been assured that he did–I just don’t think he could have seriously meant it in the extreme way it reads in the article. But that extreme fear is what’s fueling a lot of the controversy the USA Today article addresses. People, get real.]

“Brothers and sisters, today’s sacrament meeting will be dedicated to the Mormon conquest of Planet Earth. Sunday school will focus on taking over America once we get the Prophet’s agent in the White House. Also, home teachers, please begin working with your families this week to help them develop plans to subjugate their neighbors and take over the neighborhood.”

The goal of anti-Mormonism is to frighten people away from the Church and stir up anger and fear. Spook them. Create anger so that people hate Mormonism and refuse to consider it even for a moment. I don’t think it’s healthy, personally.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

165 thoughts on “Quoted in USA Today on the Issue of Romney and Anti-Mormon Bias

  1. [QUOTE 1]
    "Richard Packham, the 78-year-old president of the Ex-Mormon Foundation"
    [END QUOTE]

    'Ex-mormon Foundation'? Is this, like, the Mayo Clinic for former members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? Do ex-Mormons need therapy? Oh, wait, it's probably a fellowship place to strengthen one another. That way ex-Mormons can act like mormons without actually being Mormons. This is brilliant I tell ya'.

    [QUOTE2]
    writes that the church's "ultimate goal" is "to establish the Mormon Kingdom of God in America and to govern the world as God's appointed representatives."
    [END QUOTE]

    Apparently to Dr. Packham Mormons are rab rats.

    [ERICKSON QUOTE]
    And she contends that Romney or Huntsman, as members, would have a duty to "follow the prophet — no matter what," giving allegiance to religion over country.
    [END QUOTE]

    What about Harry Reid? [QUOTE] One participant told the newspaper that Reid said the decision by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to support the successful Proposition 8 ballot measure in California last year was a "waste of church resources and good will." Another said Reid made clear that he "felt it was harmful for the church to focus on such a divisive issue." [END QUOTE] Last I check he was in good standing with the LDS Church.

    Reid Criticizes Mormon Church for Proposition 8 Support

    If I may, "11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." (Articles of Faith)

  2. Great post and congrats on being quoted in USA Today. If anything, I hope this issue leads to greater dialogue between the LDS and the sincere individual looking for greater understanding.

  3. As a Jew, all I can say is that if the Mormons want to take over the world they'll have to take it from me first.

    — Eveningsun 😉

  4. Haha, well. religion's been trending downwards for quite some time now, Richard Packham is a bit of hot air right now.

    He gets a decent amount of flak from the ex-mormon community, too. makes ex-mormons look bad, ya know? yet to mention they have a sense of morality.

    ha, it pretty much is like a fellowship place to strengthen one another. pretty ironic, Darren

  5. Sorry, I deleted a comment that was helpful but included a link to an anti-Mormon website. I don't want to use my blog as a platform to elevate the Google Page Rank and traffic to anti-Mormon sites, so as a general rule I ask not to post such links here.

  6. As a Jewish convert to Mormonism (and still Jewish, according to my patriarchal blessing), I prefer the Mormon conspiracy to the Jewish conspiracy.

    It might be cool to do a compare/contrast list between Judaism and Mormonism….

    Jews have the "Wailing Wall"; Mormons get up and cry at Fast and Testimony Meeting.

    Jews: blintzes. Mormons: funeral potatoes.

    Etc.

  7. It might be cool to do a compare/contrast list between Judaism and Mormonism….

    I'm game.

    Geography — Jews have Jerusalem, population 700,000 and coordinates 31°47â€ēN 35°13â€ēE; Mormons have Zarahemla, population 0 and coordinates ????.

    Science — Jews have Maimonides, Spinoza, and Albert Einstein. Mormons have ????.

    Ancient writings — Jews have the the David story, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and the Book of Job, universally acclaimed as literary masterpieces and taught in college and university literature classes worldwide; Mormons have ????.

    Modern writings — Jews have Sholom Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer; Mormons have Levi Peterson (I do think The Backslider is really, really good).

    Science fiction — Jews have Marge Piercy; Mormons have Orson Scott Card (OK, Mormons win this one).

    You know, Bookslinger, you can always convert back. 😉

    — Eveningsun

  8. Anonymous — you've missed Bryan Sanderson and some other writers …

    "Brothers and sisters, today's sacrament meeting will be dedicated to the Mormon conquest of Planet Earth. Sunday school will focus on taking over America once we get the Prophet's agent in the White House. Also, home teachers, please begin working with your families this week to help them develop plans to subjugate their neighbors and take over the neighborhood.

    Makes me think he is part of the group that believes Salt Lake is run by the mind control lizard men …

  9. Anyone who's the member of an ex-group is precariously hanging onto their past without having yet found a present. Why would they want to continue to be associated so closely with Mormonism? Do they need to hold onto something to blame?

    In a divorce, people sometimes feel the need to demonize their former spouse in order to further justify their decision to end the marriage.

    Find something with affirmation instead of focusing on what you're "against". If you've truly had it with the church, just cut the cord already and move on! (although you're always welcome back 😉 )

  10. Kudos, Jeff. 🙂 That's pretty cool. I totally agree as well. I don't get why this is such a hot button issue in politics. I could honestly care less what a person's personal beliefs are when running for office. Whether they be Mormon, or Muslim or Protestant or Hindu or none of the above… I just don't see how it's something worth talking about.

    When it comes down to it though I think politics is too huge and complicated for most of us to wrap our heads around so people tend to gravitate towards thinking with their emotions instead of their heads and inventing demons and angels. It's much easier to create a label and strap it to someone then to try and actually understand what their policies are and how they're going to affect you.

    I think it's especially difficult with certain belief systems to get people to understand where you're coming from and not just follow their "gut" feelings and prejudices. Since Mormonism is seen as more "peculiar" to many I think it gets more then it's fair share of misunderstandings.

  11. Eveningsun;

    Geography – Mormons not only have Jeruselem, Bountiful, and Nahoam. See HERE.

    Science – Mormons have "Healthcare Physicians and Surgeons", "Biologists, Physicists, Chemists, Geoscientists, Economists, Psychologists, Sociologists and Historians", and "Engeneering Engineers and Inventors".

    Ancient writings – We are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (No fair.)

    Science Fiction – Various authors of various genres. Use the next page button at the of this link.

  12. Mormanity;

    I know there are blogs who moderate posts with many links. I'm very sure I posted a comment here to Eveningsun regarding advances in literature and science by Mormons though it contained probably 5 links. While there is a chance I never proberly clicked the published comment button, I'm stilll pretty sure I did. Is there a post waiting moderation?

    Just in case, here's a simpler response:
    _______________________________
    Eveningsun;

    Click on Famous Mormons and from there you wshould be able to navigate through several posts and find where Mormons have added to the development of science and literature.