One thing many anti-Mormons have managed to convince the general public is that Latter-day Saints allegedly think that all non-members are “anti-Mormon.” Why is this?
When we point out bad deeds from SOME non-Mormons, do we leave an impression that we condemn EVERY non-Mormon, even those who commit no such bad acts? Could this impression be why non-Mormons think we refer to them, too as “anti-Mormon,” when we are not? If so, then, of course, we must be more clear.
Could the bad acts of a few reflect adversely on the whole? Certainly. Failure of normative Islam to condemn the dastardly deeds of Islamofascists, like intentionally targeting civilians–especially children, could lead non-Muslims to conclude that normal Muslims condone, if not approve of Islamofascist tactics. To the Latter-day Saint, failure to condemn the Haun’s Mill Massacre and the extermination order implies that most Christians would not object to the slaughter of Latter-day Saints This may have made the Mountain Meadows Massacre more likely, and the failure of Brigham Young and others to be swift enough to stop this atrocity or at least bring its perpetrators to justice (though all local authorities were excommunicated, and the leader of the attack, John Lee, was also executed) meant to Evangelicals that Latter-day Saints were a violent, lawless people.
However, it is unfair to condemn the peaceful, law-abiding majority for the horrible sins of the few. More Muslims were involved in keeping the accumulated knowledge of the ancients accessible than were engaged in Islamofascist-style jihad. More Evangelical Christians were–and are–involved in ending slavery and extending medical care and other help to the needy than participated in events like the Crusades. And the Mountain Meadows Massacre is a one-time blot in the annals of Mormonism, whose members are wont to extend relief help–even to anti-Mormons–rather than kill them.
Mind you, it is not necessarily wrong to be anti-something–per se. I am vehemently anti-Islamofascist (but not anti-Muslim!), because I believe that bombing little children into eternity is not an acceptable expression of Islam.
Other types of anti-isms, on the other hand, are clearly wrong. The Ku Klux Klan, using terror to inject its anti-Black views on society, would certainly qualify as an example of an evil anti-ism. By the by, I am also anti-KKK!
In order to get a clear idea of what anti-Mormonism is we must also be clear what it is not. It is not anti-Mormon merely to be unpersuaded by LDS truth claims. While I think that Dr. Mike Adams pays too much credence to anti-Mormons in assessing the character of Joseph Smith, his assumption of our good faith and use of a single standard (i.e., he accepts our portrayal of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and he doesn’t change the definition of Christian when we meet it) disqualifies him as an “anti-Mormon.”
My Assemblies of God in-laws would also be disqualified. While they are clearly unsympathetic to our distinctive theology (and my mother-in-law tells us we’re in the wrong Church! ), they refrain from judging us as non-Christians, and they don’t try to force us to admit that we believe things that we don’t!
Obviously, those who killed LDS children on the grounds that “Nits make lice,” are anti-Mormons. So are those who excuse such acts. It utterly escapes me why those who believe that Latter-day Saints deserve to die and eternally burn in hell would object to the label “anti-Mormon.” If Latter-day Saints are truly as, say, Fred Phelps, Bill Keller, and Lilburn Boggs claim, then why not be up front about opposing them, as I am about opposing Islamofascism?
Actually, I can respect Rev. Phelps and Reverend Keller; at least they are up front about their antipathy, even though it is wrong-headed. Their candor is so refreshing, compared to the duplicitous protestations of “love” for the benighted “Mormon”–even as they do such vile things as ridicule them, bear false witness against them, and subject them to double standards–and, at various times and places, kill them. It is better to know where one stands than to be ambushed by betrayed trust.
Perhaps this aversion to being labeled “anti-Mormon” comes from the fact that they often express this opposition by distorting LDS belief (e.g., the old Jesus-is-the-brother-of-Satan canard, expressed by “Finn,”), or by falsifying LDS belief (e.g., Decker and Hunt’s charge that the Church is plotting to violently overthrow the constitutional US government to initiate a theocratic reign of terror on Evangelical Christians)–in an effort to make Latter-day Saints seem weird, or bizarre. Moreover, they use hypocritical double standards in their efforts to deny the status of Christian to Latter-day Saints who proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, by accusing them of either lying about their faith or being too stupid to know that they follow somebody other than Christ.
These “straw men” creations are vulnerable to ridicule–but their victims are not made of straw, but flesh-and-blood human beings. As Rhonda Abrams, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, points out, this is on a continuum leading to a point where people feel justified in committing atrocities on those who are “evil.” While it is enjoyable to see this tendency in others, nobody likes seeing this evil in themselves–hence the rationalisation. Those who use less-than-integral means of attacking the Church would like to make it appear that we paint with an over-broad brush, which would dilute the meaning of the word, making us appear unreasonable. This, too, is a sore spot among Latter-day Saints.
In point of fact, the term “anti-Mormon” has a very strict and narrow meaning: Those who are in active opposition to Mormonism–what we do, what we believe, and what we are. Under this definition, the vast majority of non-Mormons would NOT be anti-Mormons.
While anti-Mormons DO exist, Latter-day Saints who do not properly define the term contribute unnecessarily to an “us versus them” mentality that contravenes both Christian love and rational dialogue.
And I hope this post keeps rational dialogue alive.