Saturday, January 10, 2015

# 58 Mormons Respond Well to Criticism

I was listening to Hugh Hewitt on the radio the other day, and he was talking about the big story of the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Have you heard that news?  On January 7th, 2015, three radical Muslims went into the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, and started shooting people.  Twelve people ended up dead.  Why did they pick Hebdo as a target?  Because Hebdo had run items in its publications that were offensive to Muslims.  They made fun of the founder of Islam, Muhammed.

Hugh Hewitt had Mark Steyn on as a guest, and they had some interesting things to say about how two different cultures, radical Muslims and Mormons, react to criticism.  I've put some of that transcript here, and I put my favorite part in bold:

Mark Steyn: It’s one thing to say oh, we should be sensitive about this, and we should be sensitive about that. But when lunatics are actually killing people over a drawing, you’ve got to be on the side of the people who do the drawings...

Hugh Hewitt: Yeah, unequivocally, 100%, not you know, I wish they hadn’t insulted the Prophet, but unequivocally, 100% on their side.
Mark Steyn: Yes, absolutely. And I say that, you know, and the thing about, Islam is a very peculiar religion. It’s an insecure religion in that sense. And Bill Donohue is fortunate in that he represents, or purports to represent a religion [Catholicism] that is actually more secure, and can shrug off insulting provocations. And one of the disturbing things about this is the way so many people who matter, starting with the President and the senior figures of this administration, are willing to put freedom of speech up for trade. The professions of regret at what happened yesterday from the administration are in contrast, for example, to their criticism of Charlie Hebdo three years ago. They didn’t think, they agreed with Donohue that Charlie Hebdo shouldn’t have done those cartoons. Yet funnily enough, Hillary Clinton is sitting in the Book of Mormon, the big hit Broadway musical, laughing her head off and giving a standing ovation to the most obscene provocations against Mormonism. What’s the difference? 
Hugh Hewitt: Let me ask you as well, on Sunday last…
Mark Steyn: Yeah, the only difference is that Mitt Romney isn’t going to kick your door down and open up an AK-47 on you. 
Hugh Hewitt: Yeah, the Mormons will bring you a strudel. The Mormons will simply drop off some baked goods and smile at you. That’s the difference.

You should stay LDS because, collectively and individually, Mormons respond well to criticism. 

And Mormons get criticized a lot.  Anybody who has served a mission knows what frequent rejection is like.  Over and over, when the missionaries knock on their door, people say, “No thanks,” or,  “I’m not interested,” or "Get the beep off of my beepin' porch before I get my beepin' dogs to beepin' bite you, you good for nothing beepity-beeps!" My personal favorite rejection was, “If ya’ll are out soul-winning, you can keep moving along. I’ve already been won.”

And how do missionaries respond to this rejection?  They just smile and wave and say, “OK, see you later.”  And then they move on to the next house.

The Mormon Church as a whole does the same thing.  When the Church gets mocked on Broadway in the Book of Mormon musical, the Church responded with this classy one-sentence press release: 

"The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but The Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ."

When I hear about the way in which the Mormon church behaves in the public square, I'm proud.  We are a mature, healthy, Christ-centered religion, and we get along well with everyone around us.  We're a good group to be a part of, and it's my pleasure to remain a part of this group.  I hope you'll stick around, too.

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  1. "We get along well with everyone?" Tell that to my son who is gay. I think you set the bar pretty low when you say we are much more tolerant that radical Muslims.

    I'm 60, trying to still be active LDS, and hit all the LDS milestones (mission, temple marriage, 5 kids, bishoprics, High Council, Gospel Doctrine teacher, temple recommend holder).

    Until very recently, the LDS Church has practically launched all out war on LGBT people. I can give you 30+ statements like the one below. Read this and tell me how tolerant our Church is or how we respond to those who are different.

    "There are said to be millions of perverts who have relinquished their natural affection and bypassed courtship and normal marriage relationships. This practice is spreading like a prairie fire and changing our world. They are without ‘natural affection' for God, for spouses, and even for children."
    Spencer W. Kimball, Acting Presiding Apostle
    Delivered April 3, 1971, "Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future, Ensign, June 1971, p. 16

    I don't view my son as a pervert. He loves God. He loves parents, his siblings and they love him, he loves Christ, He was active all his life and served a mission until at age 25, he could no longer live under the burden of pretending to be someone he wasn't.

    Yes, the rhetoric has improved (barely) in recent years but President Kimball's statement is more typical of those of LDS leaders of the last 125 years than it is different.

    We tend to be very judgmental of others who don't believe as we do. The only redeeming aspect of that is that we are even more judgmental of each other.

    1. OK, maybe we don't get along well with everyone. I probably should have written, "We get along well with most people." Thanks for your feedback.

      I don't know if this blog will help your son at all, but here it is anyway:

  2. I think the above comments about contemporary Mormonism are unfortunately true, and history is even worse. The Burning and looting of apostates by the Danites in the Missouri conflict, The salt sermon, the revenge murders of mountain meadows, etc, show that we have just as much human blood on our hands as everybody else. Just need to read the essay on 19th century violence. That said, we're getting better slowly.