Bigotry In The Service of Tolerance II

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December 4, 2008 @ 22:07 UTC

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Continuing in his legitimate and very personal outrage about the passage of Proposition 8 in California, Andrew Sullivan has embraced an ugly turn towards overt anti-Mormonism.  He cites the organization of the LDS Church as a potentially troubling launching pad to a rather Orwellian violation of church and state seperation, but then he moves on to inflammatory misrepresentation and steoreotyping of Mormon religious beliefs:

Jamie’s also shrewd in noting that the 1950s nuclear family has special theological salience for Mormons:

According to Mormon dogma, marriage extends into the afterlife and couples continue to have “spirit children” who populate extraterrestrial worlds.

A secular amendment to a secular constitution was passed partly in order to protect the integrity of “spirit children.”

This mocking representation of LDS teaching is a “red flag” to those familiar with anti-Mormon literature.  In point of fact, Mormons do believe in eternal heterosexual marriage and family, but the bits about “spirit children” and “extraterrestrial worlds” are speculative extensions on the official LDS teaching at best.  Their inclusion here serves no purpose except to make Mormons look bizarre and strange in a theological sense irrelevant to Sullivan’s core concern with the church.  Sullivan is indirectly and, I am quite certain, without his knowledge drawing on a long history of anti-Mormon and self-styled “anti-cult” hatred and misrepresentation championed by fringe groups of Christianist evangelicals that are far more Sullivan’s natural enemies than the Mormons are.  In his anger over the outcome of Prop 8, Sullivan is spraying fire indiscriminately, undermining his own cause in the process.

Also, the very distorted version of the LDS teaching that Sullivan and his underlying source are mocking is far from the reason that many Mormons (tragically, I believe) supported Proposition 8.  His insertion of it in his post has no apparent relationship to the actual political issues.  Sullivan offers no evidence that such considerations were actually the motivations for any of the Mormons who gave money or time in support of Prop 8.  It is just bald religious stereotyping and bigotry against a group that Sullivan believes deserves it because of their opposition to gay rights.

I used to really enjoy Andrew Sullivan as an incisive and unusually nuanced thinker in the political blogosphere.  But his succumbing to Palin Derangement Syndrome during the campaign (Sullivan led the charge to target Palin’s daughter, among other outrages) seems to have been exacerbated by a Mormon Derangement Syndrome now.  And I think if he would take time to look around at his allies in the anti-Mormon cause of twisting and mocking Mormon theological beliefs, he wouldn’t like the company he is now in.  And his hypocritical embrace of flagrant religious bigotry here serves only to undermine his cause of promoting tolerance.  For example, where I am personally on Sullivan’s side in regards to Prop 8, I find myself unwilling to become a very active supporter of the gay rights movement as long as it continues to tarnish itself with a turn towards its own version of vile hate speech.

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