Monday, April 27, 2009

Persecution may rage

You seldom hear about anti-Baptists or anti-Lutherans, so why are Mormons always going on about "anti-Mormons"? —Lamplighter
So then, why does Anti-Mormonism exist to the extent that some here say it does?
Great question, and one that Mormons themselves point to at times to show that there must be something special about their faith. First, I think it's important to point out that in the Mormon church's history, anti-Mormons were very real. Of course when you hear about these anti-Mormons in the church's version of its history, they're always menacing and violent for no apparent reason. The unstated assumption is that these people are fighting against Mormonism because it's True™ and Satan has stirred them up to stop it. I think one of the most mind-broadening things a lifelong Mormon can do is to find out more about those people who persecuted the early Saints. I'm not saying you'll come to agree with them, but you'll at least have a more nuanced view of what it was that angered them, and what it was that they feared.

Fast forward to today. To hear some people talk, anti-Mormons are as rampant today as ever. I don't entirely disagree, but what needs to be pointed out is that the usage of the word has changed, dramatically in fact. See, in its infancy Mormonism was not just an ideology. It was an organization, a town, a city. It was a political force, and even a military presence. All of that gradually changed when the "gathering" phase ended and Mormons became a part of mainstream culture.

Most people today do not hate, or fear, their Mormon neighbors. They're not anti-Mormons in the historical sense. They may, however, think that Mormon doctrine is nuts, and they may even say so openly. I'm one of those, and I'm sure many people on this forum consider me an anti-Mormon because of it. I think today the label is mostly useful for giving Mormons a reason to ignore people who say things contradictory to their faith. But it's not a very accurate representation of me or any of the hundreds of ex-Mormons I know, frankly. I don't hate Mormons, I just think they're wrong about Mormonism.

It remains to be seen whether we'll come full circle on this "anti-Mormon" thing. The church does seem to be making its political presence and organization felt lately with the same-sex marriage issue. I think the more the LDS church is seen as a political force, the more resurgence we'll see of real anti-Mormons whose distaste for Mormons goes beyond simple disagreements about how people are saved.

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