Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Mormons Want

For about a decade Mormons have been in the public spotlight while mostly ignored far longer. Not since the early 20th Century has scrutiny reached such high levels. Reporters and commentators are trying to understand the faith and culture of Mormons, with limited success. An article writer boldy claims members want to be considered just another Christian denomination. He also insists Mormons wanting to be included in the mainstream means giving up peculiarities to the faith. Still another claim is that Mormons really want to take over the government in the guise of a politician because of a dismissed and religiously inconsequential prophecy. None of this is remotely true. Each individual Mormon has their own wants and requests as all people do, but there is a desire to go mainstream. Most reasons for this aren't surprising and can be rather pedestrian.

To start with, it must be asked what does "mainstream" mean in today's culture? Several historically marginalized groups have broken out into the normative culture at large. Few today worry about the Irish, blacks won major civil rights, Jews are celebrities, and women respected for more than home life. The Catholic and Protestant wars are virtually gone from open view. For every "victory" one identity group has, another is standing in line. Mormons are no exception. History has proven, for those paying attention, that they have already become part of the large tapestry of the U.S. and other nations. They are at least as integrated as Jews have become.

This cultural blending leads to the first Mormon want; the abolition of ignorance and simple stereotypes. Classifying Mormons as a cult, racist, anti-women, and other name calling is pure politics. The past history and current views are far more nuanced than sound bites. The same questions that are asked to a Mormon Republican, as a self styled comedian pointed out while taking his own swipe, must be asked in fairness to a Mormon Democrat such as Sen. Reid. It is a conservative leaning religion with little doubt. That doesn't make it much different than many religious institutions. Even the more esoteric doctrines and teachings if understood without sensationalism is unique, but not radical. Agree or disagree, but first understand Mormons on their own terms.