Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Christian Post Attacks LDS Senator Harry Reid As A "Closet Racist", Uses Him As An Excuse To Misrepresent The LDS Church

As a hardline social conservative, I'm one of the last people to ever defend LDS Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) politically. I disagree with and despise most of his politics. But an online Christian website is using Sen. Reid as a foil to misrepresent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its doctrine by referring to Sen. Reid as a "closet racist".

The offender is the Christian Post, which has occasionally been critical of the LDS Church in the past. On August 13th, 2013, the Post published an article entitled "Could Harry Reid Be A Closet Racist?: Majority Leader May Be Calling The Kettle Black". But while some LDS conservatives might initially rejoice at the title, the article itself significantly misrepresents the Church as it is today.

The Post states "Being a member of the Mormon Church testifies to the authenticity of all Mormon Doctrine, because the doctrine comes from the founders and former and present prophets of the church. The Book of Mormon and the prophets are 'infallible' and their words are considered to be scripture". While it's true that all Mormon doctrine currently in effect is authentic, we have never presented the Book of Mormon or its characters as being "infallible". In fact, we disagree with the notion put forth by some Christians that any scripture is "inerrant", since all scripture was recorded by imperfect human beings using imperfect human syntax. Imperfection cannot produce perfection. Nevertheless, we accept the scriptures as being authoritative despite any imperfections; our Eighth Article of Faith states in part "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly..."

The Post also states, "The Book of Mormon, 'the most correct book', even more correct than the Bible, accuses God of cursing Africans and Native Americans..." However, while the Book of Mormon is part of our canon, "most correct" does not mean "most perfect". It simply means there is less error in the Book of Mormon, which has been out in the streets for only about 180 years, vs. the Bible, which has been publicly available for over 1,000 years. And while there are numerous versions of the Bible, there are only two common versions of the Book of Mormon; ours, and the version used by the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS).

The Post also refers to the Journal of Discourses, implying that it is canon. Not so; while the Journal of Discourses contains much wisdom, it is not one of the standard works of the LDS Church. The Post also fails to understand the principle of continuous revelation. When Joseph Smith was assassinated, the windows of heaven didn't abruptly slam shut once again; they remained open for all of his successors. And just as the Lord has made different covenants with different peoples throughout history, so the Lord reserves the right to dispense new wisdom and covenants for the Church through the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve at any time. If the Lord "changes His mind", it's generally because the Saints have shown themselves ready for new wisdom. When a majority of the Saints proved ready to accept blacks as fully-vested members of the Church, the Lord revealed that it was time to end the Priesthood ban.

And just how clean are the hands of the Christian Post? They represent a number of Christian denominations who also have a racist past. Yet they take no issue with any of them. Perhaps the Christian Post is also a pot calling the kettle black.

I can live with people expressing disagreement with the LDS Church; the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that right. What's more problematic is when a critic deliberately misrepresents the Church. This is why, notwithstanding the political differences I might have with Sen. Harry Reid, our common LDS identity takes precedence here. Sen. Reid may be a socialist, but he is not a racist, at least by the commonly-used definition of the word.

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