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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Texas Faith - Mormon Moment

Courtesy: Newsweek
What issue would you most like to discuss with a Mormon about their religious faith?
Nine Texas Faith Panelists weigh in on it

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

The Christian battles with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are seemingly internal. Most non-Christians treat Mormons as a Christian denomination. Years ago, in a public program we had organized for the Foundation for Pluralism, we listed Mormons as a Christian denomination. Interestingly, a response from a Mormon attendee was amazing. He asked, "Do you really mean this?"

Today, the most common public issues that religious leaders yearn to influence are abortion, same-sex marriage, contraceptives, charity work and immigration. Most religious leaders range from accepting to rejecting the "otherness" of others. Either they are roped in by the politicians to play their tunes or politicians seize the opportunity to advance themselves. Mormons, in this area, seem to be no different than anyone else.

One of the founding principles of all religions is to inculcate humility in its followers as the faith builds communities. However, a few greedy pastors, imams, rabbis, pundits, shamans and other vainglorious clergy, preach just the opposite: arrogance. They are bent on denying divinity to others and making villain out of God, as if God has signed an exclusive deal with them behind other's back.

In January, 10 national evangelical pastors met in Texas to undo Romney's gains and unleashed Santorum on him. Outside of this group, a few have called Romney's faith a cult and a few others said he was not Christian enough! Obviously, the Republican leadership and the tea party are not in tune with moderate Republicans, let alone the American public. Against, their scheme, the presumptive Republican nominee is Romney now.

Indeed, there are a few in each group who see other's religious practices as weird. They arrogantly assume their practices are perfect to others. One of my favorite authors from my youth, Dr. Khushwant Singh, who was editor of the famous Illustrated weekly of India and a Sikh who wears full Sikhism on him, had criticized Muslims for not being progressive. He urged them to give up the veil and start drinking alcohol! Do you see the kettle calling the pot black? No one is free from this hubris.

As a moderate Republican, I do not see Mormons as any different than other groups of people, including Baptists, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Methodists, Catholics, Lutherans, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and others who believe in a God and seek his guidance.

"The Mormon Moment" will come when they make their places of worship open to the public. Even though every chapel has a sign that welcomes visitors, and I have been to several including one in Saudi Arabia in 1979, the myths continue to persist. That includes about underwear, polygamy, obedience from women, and temple ordinances limiting entry to the inside sanctuary even to Ann Romney's non-Mormon parents during her wedding.

It's time to remove the myths, and the Mormon Church has an opportunity to do it through open houses, just as Muslims did after 9/11.
The myth that Romney would impose Mormon Sharia law onto Americans is no more valid than the idea that John Kennedy would impose a Catholic Sharia onto Americans when he was elected. President Carter did not impose a Baptist Sharia and President Bush did not impose Methodist Sharia.

It is time to ask them! I am convinced that it is better and more truthful to learn of others from them as they say "this is what we believe" rather than from those who would say, "This is what they believe".

Let us all thank God, by whatever name we know Him, that we live in America, the land of the free and the land where we can, each and every one of us, be ourselves! We have left an ugly past behind us, including persecuting Native Americans, African-Americans, Catholics, Jews, Baptists and others. We must now go further and spare Muslims, LGBT communities, Mexicans, Mormons and a few others. We need to grow up and learn to accept the "otherness" of others and tremember that this is the new American exceptionalism: Pluralism!

To see all the Nine contributions, please visit Dallas Morning Newshttp://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/04/texas-faith-the-mormon-moment.html
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MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily. 

1 comment:

  1. Egrampa;
    Great questions and as a Pluralist, here are some thoughts:

    Recognizing Black people equal to whites took a long time, it is not just the Mormon Church, but everyone took time to wake up. Our constitution was adopted in 1787 and it took 177 years for the Black people to believe in it.

    Thanks to MLK for awakening the nation and lifting a burden off our conscience. The LDS Church adopted the change within 10 years of passing the Civil Rights Act as was the case with many a organizations.

    We need to value different roles men and women play in raising the family and we must respect motherhood, it is the most precious job on the earth and to think Mother is anything less is wrong and discriminative.

    There is a new law in the house that goes against women; we all need to speak up against not renewing it. Again it is not just LDS, but all of us need to uplift ourselves to feel, think, believe and act equal.

    We are a free society and thank God for the freedom. The funding against California Proposition 8 should not be held against the LDS Church. Whether it is right or wrong to you or me, they supported a cause they believed in just like every other Religious, Lobbying, political or Civic organization do. We are a nation of Laws and thanks to the wisdom of our founding Fathers, for gifting us with the constitution. The law ensures justice against the whimsical referendums passed by overwhelming majority. All of us are safe because of our laws.


    My questions to the Mormons are these:

    1. Why did it take till the '70's to recognize that black people are equal to whites?
    2. Why does the LDS church discriminate against women by insisting their proper role is in the home?
    3. To what extent can LDS members speak out in disagreement with LDS doctrine before being excommunicated?
    4. Do you think the large, public financial support the LDS church gave to California's Proposition 8, which sought to make same-sex marriage illegal, should disqualify the church from its tax-exempt status?