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2007-12-20

Shut Up, Mormons

Ken Jennings seems like a nice guy. He's certainly a smart guy, what with having set that record for wins on Jeopardy! and all. I'd like to have a beer with Ken Jennings. Except I can't, because he's LDS, as he reminds us when he asks: Politicians & pundits, please stop slandering my Mormon faith.

I can only respond to his op-ed plea: No, Ken Jennings.

Not because I'm a Mormon hater. Not even because I'm a politician & pundit. I'm all for people believing what they want if it gives them comfort, and I'm not here to tell people that their beliefs are wrong. How could I? They are, after all, beliefs—as in, closely held convictions beyond reason. I ask, however, only two things of believers: don't try to convince me that your beliefs are the best, and don't try to restrict my legal rights based on what your god tells you is right.

I say no to Ken Jennings' request because I ask one additional thing of Christians in America: stop complaining that you're being bashed.

I know, I know. The LDSers are considered a little off kilter by most American Christians. But Mormonism is still a Protestant sect, and in America the Protestants won a long time ago. And even though they're not part of mainstream Christianity, Mormons hold a significant amount of wealth, power, and influence, at least in Utah. How else could they afford to build temples that look like a film set for Peter Jackson's next epic?

So, please, forgive me if I don't consider Mormons among this country's oppressed. Just imagine what an atheist, Muslim, or Hindu would have to go through to get elected.

Mormons, who tend to vote overwhelmingly Republican, now have one of their own in the race for that party's presidential nomination. And they're dismayed that Romney's faith is an issue in the race? Aren't they aware that Republicans like their god the way they like their business—big? Of course they know. They've known the party they're in bed with for at least 112 years.

I agree with Jennings that, in principle, a candidate's church shouldn't matter in an election. For what it's worth, I think Huckabee should be forced to choke back down whatever Baptist sputum his god-gag reflex makes him want to expectorate. And such things as belief and faith shouldn't matter in office, after a person is elected, either.

Government and law exist as a baseline to civil conduct. They're about keeping some semblance of order and peace and fairness, while preserving as much personal freedom as possible. Beyond that it's up to us to determine our personal morals and life conduct. Government is meant for the public sphere; morals, for the private. The two should never impinge on each other.

1 comment:

tim said...

well said, terence. "god-gag reflex"! priceless!