Thursday, February 21, 2008

How Mormons are Viewed by "Other" Religions

The word "Other" was deliberately put in quotes in the title. It seems the only viewpoint noticed by Mormons or the news is from Christians of various denominations. Nowhere has there been news stories about how Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or even Wiccans view Mormonsism. Why this is especially important is the "Mormons are weird" theme that dominated the media. And where does that perception seem to always come from? Christians and atheists. There were a few Jewish perspectives that questioned the Mormon practice of Baptism for the Dead, but ultimately were uncomfortable putting a label on the faith's history and doctrine.

What this seems to say is the media has a myopic vision of the world. It also seems to say that Mormons have an equally myopic vision of the world as they care so much about what newspapers and pundits have to say. Finally, and with the most controversy, it says that the United States is in fact a Christian Nation. That goes for European Civilization as representative of the kinds of stories coming out of those nations. Muslims don't always get treated any different in newspapers where views about Mulsims dominate more than Muslim views. Stories about other religions (despite the number of Hindus around the world for example) are near non-existant.

Religious freedom in the United States might be a tentative fact, but religious diversity is not a reality. It is disengenious to look at Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, and etc. and claim religious diversity exists. When Mormons, who consider themselves Christian, are often ridiculed and excluded by the larger religious pluralities then there is serious questions that need answers. If anything, Mormons need to reach out more to Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and even Wiccans as a show of solidarity against a tide of monism disguised as pluralism.

The day Mormonism no longer cares what other Christians think of them is the day it might truely become a World Religion in worldview. Breaking out of the Western American mindset will be difficult. Much of its leadership still comes from Utah and Idaho, with pockets of South and Central America. It will be interesting to see the reaction of other religions outside the Christian tradition if Mormonism grows beyond its roots. Will the "weird" label remain? What will criticism from other religious traditions be like? Will compliments of "nice people" be replaced or more likely co-exist with something else? I really want to know how other "Others" see Mormonism, because the United States is less of a melting pot than it would like to pretend. Mostly it comes from a personal curiosity about finding new topics rather than argue the same old stereotypical throwbacks.

I'm bored with Christianity. Bring me something new and interesting to discuss. :)

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