Friday, February 3, 2012

Face, meet Palm - Of Course Theology Matters!!!

   On Monday, January 30, 2012, Frank Rich, "New York Magazine`s" writer
at large, appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show. He about left me pulling out my hair after some of the stupid things he said. Here is the video for reference (you can skip ahead to at least the 2:00 mark). Below, I'll be covering parts of the transcript that disappointed me.

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MADDOW: You raised some important political questions that could be asked about the Mormon Church during his times as a leader there. Important questions about women in the church, about African Americans in the church, of course, very difficult history in the Mormon Church, being barred from the priesthood on the basis of race, until later than you think that could be possible at a time when Mitt Romney was already a leader in his church.

Is it not just a fear of religious bigotry that people may find his religion objection or strange in some way, by that there are hard political questions that there may be difficult political answer to about his time?

RICH: I think there are. I think the theological questions don`t matter, every religious is entitled to its own theology. And they all have their idiosyncrasies, God knows, only God knows.

But the truth is the Mormon Church has been a player in various things, campaigned against equal rights amendment for women, institutionally, very slow in civil rights. In 1978, that`s how long it took for blacks to get full equality in the Mormon Church.


RICH: And then there`s the gay part of it, because we know that the Mormon Church drummed up more than $20 million to put over Proposition 8 in California two years ago. We know -- a few years ago. We know also that 80, 90 percent of the volunteers who organized that juggernaut were Mormons.

So, that`s a big player in an important political issue that affected the law in the state of California. Where was he as a contributor and leader?
   Emphasis mine. Right here...this is what caused me to really blow up. How can Frank Rich not think the theology matters? Do you know why the Mormon Church has been so bad about civil rights? I'll give you a clue: it's eight letters long and starts with a 't'. Yeah, it's because of their theology. Now, I'm not an expert on Mormon theology, but it is my understanding that black people, for example, are black because God has placed a curse on them—I think for some "sin" their ancestors committed years ago—according to Mormon theology. As for women, I've heard there are a number of sexist passages in the Book of Mormon. I don't know what Mormon theology says about gays, but I doubt it has anything kind to say. So, when you know (or at least have a basic understanding of) the theology, these things are not surprising at all. These political actions taken by the Mormon church stem from the theology.

   Furthermore, liberals frustrate the hell out of me when they justify protecting stupid ideas by pointing out that essentially everyone has some stupid unfounded idea, or "idiosyncrasies" in this case. Whenever I see such statements, I read them as "I don't like having my beliefs challenged, so I won't challenge yours." The somewhat odd thing about this is that Frank Rich still criticizes the Mormons for acting on their theology, yet claims the theology doesn't matter. This is like saying we need to treat the symptoms of a disease instead of the disease itself. This makes no sense when you have the capability of treating the disease. It makes sense, though, when you realize the liberal Christian is infected with the disease, too, and that the disease is caused by a parasite that prevents the host from discarding the parasite. (For more, see PZ Myer's religion as a parasite analogy.) Take a hint liberal Christians—if you want this bigotry to ever completely go away, you have to criticize the theology that justifies such bigotry.

   Looking through the transcript, I noticed something else I find objectionable: "So, just like sexual orientation, religious orientation, it is a part of your being." Yeah...except people are stuck with their sexual orientation; they can, however, change their religious orientation. Or does Frank Rich think sexual orientation is a choice?

But still that is weird to talk movingly about something that never happened.
   Yes, I find the way people cry over Jesus quite weird! (OK, this comment is off topic, but I had to say it.)

So, they are sort of kidding themselves and I think it would humanize
him to talk about his faith, given his importance to it and its importance
to him, and to be candid about where he agrees, disagrees, not about
theology, not about their view with the Bible, not about Joseph Smith, but
about 20th and 21st century politics in America.
   When I had heard this live, I had interpreted this slightly different. Now I am not sure how to interpret it. I'm curious as to why he's talking about the Bible. Because, I agree there. I don't really care about their view with the Bible! Nor the Koran. Nor the Bhagavad Gita. These are not the Mormon holy book. Their book is called The Book of Mormon. Does Frank Rich not even know what the Mormon holy book is called?!? I find it hard to believe he is that ignorant...but, then again...

   At any rate, in regards to Mitt Romney, it is important to know where he stands on Mormon theology and whatnot. Again, it's because the theology influences people's actions. So, if we know what Romney thinks about the theology, we can then better predict his actions as President. If Romney agrees with much of Mormon theology, then we have a problem. Furthermore, if Romney's view of "20th and 21st century politics" includes that there should not be a separation of church and state, then this becomes a serious problem.

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