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News Flash! Mormons no crazier than anyone else!

Romney's speech will avoid certain subjects, but why does he have to give it anyway?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, December 05, 2007.

In 1857, some emigrants from Arkansas to California were attacked in Utah by Mormons and their Paiute Indian allies. After the wagon train surrendered they were all executed. It was ordered by Brigham Young and carried out by a then trusted fellow Latter Day Saint, upon whom Young later blamed everything and for which the man was hanged. It never solidified in history as the horror it was because of the build up to the Civil War, and because the important cross country railroad and wagon train routes tended to go through Mormon territory afterwards.

Mormons – no worse, but no less ridiculous than other Christians – were able to pat their history together in such a way that the preposterous and obvious con artistry of Joseph Smith and his religious brethren never got the ridicule they so richly deserved till lately. Previously, other folks had to put down the satirical pen and be satisfied with lynching Mormons and driving them to the iffy paradise of the Great Salt Lake. Then, they had to live with the Osmonds, so that seemed fair.

I can predict little about the tongue bathing religious liberty will get tomorrow as Mormon Mitt Romney tries to emulate Jack Kennedy’s 1960 explanation of his Catholicism and make a “major speech” about religion to calm the bigoted and ignorant fears of the Evangelical Republican Feudal Wing, a majority of whom have expressed they would never vote for a Mormon.

Only slightly more likely to be mentioned favorably in Romney’s speech than the Mountain Meadow Massacre is that today marks the anniversary of the Church of Latter Day Saints’ excommunication of Ms. Sonia Johnson in 1979. Ms. Johnson had expressed outspoken support for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. So the Mormon Church applied Bell, Book, and Candle to the unfortunate woman, who wanted equality for the genders writ large.

A Christian Church that started a century and a half ago and flirted with a form of Eugenics, allowing one man and one man only to append multiple wives to a subordinate, but which - when confronted with the issue of profitable statehood - suddenly got a Western Union from God aborting that practice, cannot but be said to have issues of plausibility. And, well, iffy dedication to original dogma. A whiff of opportunism about all that. Much like later when God told a Young successor that black people were, well, people and just as worthy in God’s eyes as Brigham Young University’s football program. Coincidently, maybe blacks are athletic and more of them could play for the team. This, too, in the 1970’s.

Still, there are, as Jon Krakauer revealed to us a few years back in Under the Banner of Heaven, not a few supposed splinter groups that continue polygamy. The church headed by pedophile Warren Jeffs has been in the news, and since the self-declared Prophet was arrested and convicted, Jeffs suddenly got his own divine communiqué that he was not, actually, a Prophet. Generously, Jeffs shared this info with his flock. The splinter groups of Mormonism are often just institutionalized pedophilia enablers for men to have their way with the underaged. And if the children disagree, like Ms. Sonia Johnson in the mainstream church, they learned its Their Way or the Highway. It’s a tough lesson if you’re only 14. Or younger.

Romney and fellow mainstream Mormons are no better or worse than anyone else, and like Israel, the LDS church has proved itself by both good works and a generally high ethical standard crossed upon what can only be seen as a Puritan work ethic. They value competence, a trait America as a whole has lost. The absurdities of Joseph Smith’s visions and frauds are in aggregate far less damaging than, say, the Papal declaration of infallibility which, I remind, was issued in 1870, thirty years after Moroni appeared in Illinois. I pass over the likes of Oral Roberts and Jim Bakker and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as too absurd and greed driven for comment.

Like his father, Romney is a versatile and competent man of accomplishment, but you wouldn’t know it listening to him pander to various moronic interest groups for the Republican nomination. I have a secret hope that he’ll start his speech saying “Hey, my religion is no more ridiculous and self justifying than yours or anyone’s. Time to grow up, America.” He won’t, of course. America fears competence and prefers a pretend Catholic like the corrupt Giuliani, or a creationist like Huckabee, or a feudal economist like Ron Paul before, shriek, a Mormon. Or, God forbid, a Unitarian.

No one, not even Romney, should have to defend their idiot religion in 2007 in this nation. Rather, he should be made to explain why Smith gave such a straight line to comedians and bigots naming an angel Moroni.