Addressed to 'Bonald' - author of the main posting.
You are experiencing what I have found many times when writing about
Mormons: that there is a negative prejudice against Mormonism among
serious mainstream Christians.
Neutrality is not possible – of course – therefore when approaching
the subject of Mormonism there will inevitably be prejudice: either
positive or negative. What we observe here is that the prejudice is
Given this negative prejudice, and in relation to religious
evaluations, it is likely that whatever evidence is examined, that
prejudice will be confirmed. Mormons are assumed guilty until proven
innocent, and – as usual in such situations – cannot prove themselves
innocent. The prejudice frames the discourse, as prejudice does.
Now, what is interesting is why mainstream Christians should bring
this prejudice to the table – why do Mormons attract this? Is there any
sound reason? Any *good* reason? And I don’t mean the reasons for
anti-Mormon prejudice which people use in public discourse and to excuse
themselves – I mean the *real* reason.
(There are some groups where there are sound and good reasons why –
from common sense and common experience – in approaching them a negative
(suspicious, judgmental) prejudice is appropriate – but not Mormons,
surely? And if Mormons – by such criteria, who will be exempt from
Surely, on the surface and with common sense criteria and from hard
facts widely known, Mormonism should be approached with a *positive*
prejudice – on the assumption that it is likely to be good, to be
wholesome, to be Christian – and that mainstream Christians (if they
want to engage with Mormonism) should not be putting it on trial – but
rather engaging in a conversation where the reasonable hope is to
discover a friend and ally.
This is what I did – since before I was a Christian convert I have
regarded Mormonism as Christian, indeed one of the very best of
Christian denominations, and I still do – although now I know a great
deal about Mormonism from five years of reading, research and devotional
study – but done with a positive prejudice, on the assumption that I
was dealing with a friend and ally, until shown otherwise.
Yet such is the anti-Mormon prejudice, that Mormons are regarded by
many – probably most – serious mainstream Christians as covert demons or
brainwashed dupes – as we see in many of these comments.
I personally find this very distressing and painful.
Why? Most obviously it is distressing to see people I regard as
exemplary Christians (in the primary sense of Christian, which is faith
in Christ as Lord and Saviour, people who are exceptionally devout, and
who display the Christian virtues to an admirable degree) continually
(and indeed gleefully, aggressively) pilloried by other Christians.
This is a horrible thing to behold, provoking pity, sadness, and horror.
But secondly I fear that it imperils the souls of Christians who
engage in it, and the denominations who encourage it. Not merely from
the encouragement of resentment, pride, hatred etc – but even more from
the distortions it introduces to mainstream Christianity, and the
failure to learn theological, devotional and moral lessons that ONLY
Mormonism can teach to the rest of Christendom.
Failure to learn these lessons from Mormonism may be the death of
Christianity in the West – since Mormonism is doing fine, doing more
than fine – while the rest of Christendom is in serious travail.
Maybe that is a root of the problem? Mormonism is doing too well –
leading to resentment fuelled by envy? Whatever the reason for such
widespread and entrenched anti-Mormon prejudice, I feel sure the *real*
reason is a bad one, since it encourages, brings out and reinforces such
bad qualities in those who display it.
In sum, I am seriously distressed by the prevailing anti-Mormon
prejudice among serious mainstream Christians, and would love to see it
replaced by pro-Mormon prejudice and an attitude of wanting to know more
about what enables Mormonism to resist secular modernity so happily,
and so effectively – especially in relation to those crucial domains of
marriage and the family.
Mormonism is, for me, a litmus test issue in terms of seriousness
about the future of Christianity: but the test is for mainstream
Christians. If anybody is on trial here, it is not Mormonism but
mainstream Christianity in the West.
Sadly, perhaps tragically, Mormonism is a test which most serious mainstream Christians fail spectacularly.