Here in the United States, it seems as if the election cycle never ends. No sooner than an elected official is sworn in, his or her opponents begin their nasty usurpation quest. They and their supporters seem to do everything in their power to thwart the plans of the person in office, as they seek every opportunity to pounce on trivial shortcomings–whether real or imagined. For those of us who have become frustrated with the constant political posturing and endless campaigning, this is more than a “silly season” it is a pilotless runaway train.
The prize catch in the plutocrats’ political game is the coveted position of POTUS. This election seems more intense than any other I’ve experienced. With the heightened level of excitement, an unwitting observer would assume that the presidential elections were taking place this year. In spite of muffled rumors of a coup, it is unlikely that anyone from the Democratic stable will challenge the sitting President, who has already stepped up his ongoing grass roots strategy and turned the lights back on in his huge campaign headquarters in Chicago.
And Then There Was One?
Republicans are less certain about a nominee. Some thought to have had a shot (e.g. Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour) have bowed out for family or “spiritual” reasons. Others appear to have no real intention to run, but like the publicity and accompanying raise in speaking and appearance fees (e.g. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump). Then there are the influential extremists who only seem to care about their respective base (e.g. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul). Among the more than a dozen contenders, the ones who many have hedged their bets on are proven moderates who are trying to reinvent themselves for Paul Ryan and the Tea Party, and who both just happen to be Mormon–John Huntsman and Mitt Romney.
Of the two, Romney is the one who is consistently ahead in the polls. Of course, this is not the first time he has been down this road. He appeared to have had a fighting chance in the last election cycle, before suffering humiliating defeats and retreating for the purpose of reinventing himself for this new battle. Interestingly, as the recent book Game Change reveals, one of the reasons for Romney’s failure was the Republican establishment’s belief that Mormonism is a cult. Because of this, while plastic-smile-posturing with the former governor during photo opportunities, many in the RNC refused to throw their weight behind him.
The Mormon Dilemma
Although the RNC would never even think about publically discussing the issue, Romney was given a chance to address anti-Mormon sentiments when certain words emanated from the mouth of an unwitting antagonist–Al Sharpton. Pulled into a fight he never planned for, Sharpton’s impulsive tirade had the professional accuser in the defendant’s chair. Now the judgmental fingers were being pointed at him by the bruised Republican presidential contender, who took pleasure in accusing the reverend of bigotry. Sharpton a bigot? That’s an interesting charge. But the former governor believed that the evidence was a “slam dunk!” And the media swallowed it–hook, line and sinker.
Sharpton’s crime? During a public debate with atheist, Christopher Hitchens, the Pentecostal preacher said, “As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway....” Of course, the statement has a context. In this debate that questioned the existence of God, Hitchens used the Mormon belief about the inferiority of Blacks as an argument to prove his thesis that God does not exist. Rightly or wrongly, it was to this that Sharpton was responding.
Bigotry or Truth?
Was the reverend’s statement bigoted? That can only be determined by his motive. He probably had an “Imus” moment where words escaped his lips before he could contain them, but is this a “hate crime” that deserves a public lynching? Well, let’s allow the facts to speak for themselves.
The Mormon church was founded on the basis of White supremacy. Joseph Smith believed that the Bible was flawed, and introduced a new book that buttressed the theory of European superiority over the African and the Indian. According to his teachings, dark skin was a sign that a person had committed evil deeds in a previous life, and were under continuous judgement and subject to perpetual servitude. With strange echoes of Hinduism, Smith relegated Blacks to the “Untouchable” class and taught that they will be slaves for eternity.
Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, had this to say about Blacks in the same year that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the emancipation of slaves: “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so.”
A change in Mormon thinking was announced in June 1978, when chief prophet, Spencer Kimball, claimed to have received a revelation from God that Blacks were now acceptable to him. Mind you, according to church lore, God did not really want to change his mind about Blacks, but Kimball after much agonizing was able to convince him. If this isn’t racist and demonic, I don’t know what to call it!
Faith under Fire
In spite of the indisputable facts about the history of Mormonism and the content of their sacred books, Sharpton succumbed to media pressure and made a public apology to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Salt Lake City. This just goes to show that in this age of political correctness and post-modern relativism, religious conviction has become passe. You can believe what you want, as long as you don’t articulate it openly. Belief is contained in the cerebral domain, and should never even try to invade the heart or manifest itself in actions much less words. There is no place for authentic living in this era of superficial existence.
I’m not sure if Sharpton was correct in making a general statement about all Mormons and their faith in God. I once had a Mormon neighbor who was one of the finest examples of a Christian I have ever seen. I never did discuss the issue of race with him, but if he accepts his church’s teachings about the superiority of Whites, he has embraced a demonic system that has nothing to do with the all inclusive God of the Bible.
When measured against the teachings of the Bible (my standard for evaluating Divine revelation), I can say without a doubt that Mormonism is a false religion. Further, if the Mormon’s god is one who has placed a perpetual curse on Native Americans and Blacks, he/she/it is not the God of the Bible. If anyone wishes to call this bigotry, so be it. However, I refuse to replace my belief in God and His Messiah with a secular pluralism that seeks to silence audacious faith.
I’m not sure if your faith has come under fire yet. When it does, how will you respond? Will you cower under the pressure of pluralistic political correctness or will you weather the storm? Will you allow others to besmirch your faith positions with accusations of bigotry, or will you stand for principle even if the heavens collapse around you. As you contemplate your response, always remember that “a tree is known by its fruit.”
Keith Augustus Burton is the Executive Director of Life emPowerment, Inc., a non profit organization promoting community cooperation and personal responsibility. He also teaches classes at Oakwood University and Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/3201