Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Deep Strangeness of Mormonism

You've probably noticed all my posts on Mormonism over the last past week or so.  I've been just a little uncomfortable doing it, in fact.  Like I was being a voyeur, peering into someone's taboo place.

But now, it seems, everyone's joining me!  All of a sudden, like mushrooms in your lawn, Romney's Mormonism is springing up in the media as a topic of conversation.  Here's columnist Maureen Dowd this morning in the New York Times:
At an appearance at George Washington University here Saturday night, Bill Maher bounded into territory that the news media have been gingerly tiptoeing around.

Magic underwear. Baptizing dead people. Celestial marriages. Private planets. Racism. Polygamy.
'Facsimile 2': From Mormon 'Book of Abraham'

“By any standard, Mormonism is more ridiculous than any other religion,” asserted the famously nonbelieving comic who skewered the “fairy tales” of several faiths in his documentary “Religulous.” “It’s a religion founded on the idea of polygamy. They call it The Principle. That sounds like The Prime Directive in ‘Star Trek.’ ”

In a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll released on Tuesday, people were asked what single word came to mind for Republican candidates. For Herman Cain it was 9-9-9; for Rick Perry, Texas; and for Mitt Romney, Mormon. In the debate Tuesday night, Romney said it was repugnant that “we should choose people based on their religion....”

Another famous nonbeliever, Christopher Hitchens, wrote in Slate on Monday about “the weird and sinister belief system of the LDS,” the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Aside from Joseph Smith, whom Hitchens calls “a fraud and conjurer well known to the authorities in upstate New York,” the writer also wonders about the Mormon practice of amassing archives of the dead and “praying them in” as a way to “retrospectively ‘baptize’ everybody as a convert.”

Hitchens noted that they “got hold of a list of those put to death by the Nazis’ Final Solution” and “began making these massacred Jews into honorary LDS members as well.” He called it “a crass attempt at mass identity theft from the deceased.”

The Mormons even baptized Anne Frank....

Republicans are the ones who have made faith part of the presidential test. Now we’ll see if Mitt can pass it.
As I read Bill Maher's description of Mormonism above, the name of another very peculiar American religion, Scientology, came to me, with its very weird worldview. And it's pretty obvious to me that, if a Scientologist were running for President, religion would almost unavoidably become an issue. And frankly, Mormonism basically falls into the same camp, in my opinion.

Sorry, Mitt. That's just the way it is.  Part of me admires your devotion to Mormonism, and part of me doesn't.  And it's very much a part of the whole package of who you are.

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