Sunday, October 20, 2013

An Example Of The Unwitting Arrogance Of Utah Mormons: Utah Mormon Judges Senator Mike Lee By LDS Standards Instead Of Constitutional Standards

One of the problems I noticed in Utah back when I lived there is that, although it is one of the most law-abiding states in the Union and a great place to raise a family, many of the people there are more clannish, cliquish and standoffish than in other parts of the U.S. This would be understandable if the education level was low, since under-educated people tend to be more suspicious of outsiders, but Utahns are a highly-educated people. And Utah Mormons can be the most cliquish of all, much more so than those of us out in the Diaspora or "mission field", although I concede much of it could be unwitting. How many times have we heard of Church members love-bombing a new neighbor -- until they found out the new neighbor had no interest in joining the Church? How many times have we heard of Utah LDS parents telling their kids not to play with Gentile kids -- simply because they're Gentiles?

An example of this is published by Mormon Heretic. In a post entitled "Senator Lee and D&C 121", Mormon Heretic criticizes Senator Lee for trying to hold firm on the government shutdown in order to extract more concessions from Democrats, such as delaying the implementation of the Obamacare individual mandate. No harm, no foul so far.

But then Mormon Heretic brings D&C 121 into the mix, focusing on verses 37-43, and suggesting that Senator Lee is trying to “exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men" and citing verse 40 which states “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion”. Mormon Heretic also tries to apply the same standard to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who isn't even a member of our church. In contrast, I recall no occasion when Mormon Heretic attempted to hold Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to the same standard, even though he's the majority leader of a party which is absolutely pro-choice and favors so-called "marriage equality".

The problem with this is that Senator Mike Lee was NOT elected to represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a U.S. Senator, Mike Lee's sworn obligation is to the U.S. Constitution rather than to the Doctrine & Covenants. He was elected to represent the entire state of Utah, which is now only two-thirds Mormon, and becoming less Mormon with each passing year. Thus Senator Lee has the obligation to represent the entire constituency. What Mormon Heretic has done is to fall for the trap of conflating "Utah" and "Mormon", and while many Utah Mormons do not behave this way, enough do that it cannot be ignored.

The reason for this is that Mormons are still the overwhelming majority throughout much of Utah, and as such, acquire little sensitivity to the issues of concern to non-Mormons. They get constant reinforcement from one another and have little effective personal interaction with large groups of non-Mormons. So they get lifted up in the pride of their hearts like the ancient Nephites and get set in their ways. One way the LDS leadership tries to solve the problem is by calling Utah residents to missions outside of Utah, where they can get effectively cross-fertilized with other cultures and experience life as a religious minority, but as soon as they return to Utah, the Zion Curtain slams down behind many of them as they're maneuvered back into immediately attending BYU, finding an eternal companion and then burying themselves in callings in their wards. No time out to catch one's breath, effectively digest the mission experience and to apply any lessons learned about other peoples or cultures. Repatriating from a full-time mission can be as stressful and disorienting as transferring out of a combat zone.

Those of us in the Diaspora remain grateful for the existence of a Mormon heartland in Utah. However, we must remember that the LDS Church has grown from being a Utah church to an international church; Utah Mormons are significantly outnumbered by Diaspora Mormons. Thus it is time for Utah Mormons to quit acting like the sole proprietors of our Church. One of our most influential members is a German. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has been leading the charge for a kinder, gentler Mormonism in which we don't judge those who sin differently than us and we don't condemn members who have weaker testimonies than ours. President Uchtdorf's message of mercy is just as valid as Elder Dallin H. Oaks' message of obedience. Both should be equally esteemed, and both Utah Mormons and Diaspora Mormons should pull together to bring salvation to the world.


Ben L. Kemer said...

I think people need to realize that sometimes their rigidity in interpreting the constitution is quite debatable. The Ron Paul statements on Abe Lincoln and the Civil War are a good case in point of that.

Additionally, I am pretty sure if you are a member of the church and a politician, you aren't obliged to force your standards into law. Unlike plenty of antis out there figure, no such obligation really exists. What's also a problem with your religious standards is that not even all members of the church share them.

There's also this funny issue that arch-conservative LDS have with member politicians not treating the restored gospel as "knowledge of their own". That alone doesn't mean that the politician is an antichrist, but it can also mean that the person means that they aren't treating their religion as scientific fact that everyone else has to believe. Combine that with the fact that they're often being interviewed by antimormons anyways who would like nothing more than to take out of context information and throw it out there in a cheap video as a justification for stirring up paranoia about the church.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Utah for two years, attending college. I will never live there again. I am LDS but the Utah LDS are very different, just as you described.

There are a few who break the mold, but they are hard to find.

Anonymous said...

I live in Arizona which most LDS consider to be Deseret-South. I am eventually getting fed up with the arrogance of these very misguided people. Here in Gilbert a few wacko's tried to take over the school board and redact our Biology text--can one believe that?
Our city council is almost totally Mormon and they are real lovers of Joseph Smith and his very phony "Book of Abraham", cannonized in their "Pearls of Great Price".
Colorado City, Arizona and most of southern Utah is filled with genetically defective Mormons caused by Fumerase deficiency (inbreeding) but which they would like to blame on the water they drink. No Arizona and southern Utah has more cases of Fumerase than any other place in the world. was started to try to keep track of the Mormons genetics/DNA in order to slow the development of inbreeding down. it may be too late and we will all end up paying for the defective children being produced.
It is sad that one group of people, so self righteous can cause all of these problems. Perhaps their tithing to the church can help pay for the damages.