The following is a post written by Sphere of Influence’s newest contributor Jonathan Smith, who has been so kind as to take time during his vacation — where WordPress is being rather stingy with its access — to share his thoughts on The Book of Mormon and the GOP-er’s who follow the religion.
The Book of Mormon or Mein Kampf
By Jonathan W. Smith
I’m not one to watch award ceremonies, least of all the Tony’s. This year however, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s The Book of Mormon and it’s 14 nominations intrigued me enough to occasionally tune in during commercial breaks of the Bones marathon I was watching. As a fan of South Park I was already familiar with Parker and Stone’s (creators of South Park) take on Mormonism as a religion. An episode from season 7 titled “All about Mormons”, takes the position that though the religion is based on some pretty wild and idiotic theories (what religion isn’t?) those practicing the faith now are generally good, kind hearted people who love their family and are dedicated to the general welfare of their fellow man regardless of faith.
I have not had the pleasure of personally knowing any Mormons but the above description describes the Mormons in The Book of Mormon, HBO’s Big Love, and the most high profile Mormons in America, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. As a committed agnostic myself I never really think about the religion of the candidates running for high office. As noted before, all religions have unsubstantiated beliefs. The idea of thetons is just as preposterous as drinking the blood of Christ and eating his body. If making cannibalism a regular part of my diet is a prerequisite for being saved I think I’ll wait for the next Rabbi claiming to be the son of God. Hopefully he’d let me substitute his body for Chinese food.
However, the title song in The Book of Mormon, has a line in which the lead character explains that the Mormon church considered black people to be undeserving of God’s love until 1978 because of their, our, decision to side with Lucifer before being born. As punishment, God made our skin black. By this logic, great civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela lack the necessary qualities to enter into God’s kingdom. While other religions, particularly in the Christian faith, have had a legacy of racism they have for the most part apologized for their past. Not Mormons, in 1978 God decided to inform the Mormon prophet that blacks had repaid their debt and could become full pledge Mormons. The legacy of racism was deserved.
Both Mormons currently running for the republican nomination grew up in a church environment where from a young age they were taught that blacks were evil and soulless. I don’t know how these ideas inform their actions now (Jon Huntsman was President Obama’s ambassador to China) but I have yet to hear Mitt Romney talk about civil rights or how multiculturalism has added to American Exceptionalism. The only video I’ve ever seen of Romney, the front runner, talking to a group of African Americans was in Florida when he took a picture with a group of young black girls and started to sing “Who let the dogs out”.
In a country that is still reeling from a racist past but building upon a new growing black middle and upper class I don’t think the best way forward is vote for a man who equates African Americans with the devil or Disney stereotypes. Until both adequately answer how this backward and racist belief on the origins of black people has informed them on civil rights, I’m just a bigot who will never vote for a Mormon.