A couple of weeks ago, I commented on similarities between Microsoft’s Best Buy PowerPoint versus Open Source Advocates flamewar on the one hand, and the strife between Mormons and their critics on the other. While in the this, Microsoft represented the anti-Mormon element of the non-LDS community, and Latter-day Saints paralleled the Open Source community, there are many places where the comparison utterly breaks down.
For one thing, the non-LDS community is not the monolithic body that Microsoft is. This is even (especially?) true of the non-LDS Christians. As non-LDS Christians vary from the liberal Jim Wallis to the conservative Pat Robertson–and beyond, the Open Source community vary from the almost-Marxist Richard Stallman to the libertarian Eric Raymond. Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as diverse, politically; they are the most conservative faith in the USA.
While the Open Source community was the target of false information this time, as I stated in my previous entry, for the most part, it is Microsoft that is falsely accused of being a monopoly by the FOSS community–with assistance from American and European authorities. This antipathy toward Microsoft by open source advocates was denounced by Linux creator, Linus Torvalds–and it perfectly mirrors anti-Mormon antipathy against the Church and its members.
Indeed, either side of one battle can easily find similarities to either side of the other.
Just as Microsoft provides tech support for users of Linux,(and there are programmes to repair Windows in Linux!) most non-LDS Christians are willing to work with the Church in errands of mercy (and vice versa!). I am grateful for the extended support the Salvation Army gave to LDS clean-up crews (of which I was a part!) when F-5 tornadoes struck the Kissimmee, Florida area about a dozen years ago.
I think these examples of cooperation demonstrate that there need be no flamewars in either computers or religion!