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Dallas Morning News: “The taboo pew”

November 28, 2006

Article: The taboo pew, by Molly Worthen – “Evangelicals have sought to discredit the Mormon church as a cult since its founding. Can Mitt Romney persuade people to vote across the aisle?”

Kudos to Molly for some great mentions:

As violent persecution drove Smith and his followers farther west, he declared himself “King, Priest and Ruler over Israel on Earth” and treated Mormon territory as a sovereign city-state, angering local and federal authorities...

Between 1830 and his assassination in 1844, Smith also taught a theology that departed radically from traditional Christianity. Mormons believe that God was once a man and that he still occupies a body of flesh and bone. Every human being is a spirit-child of God who can become a god in the afterlife by adhering to Mormon moral codes and participating in temple rituals…

Mormon theology closes the gap between humankind and God, and it elevates the place of human effort in the path to salvation. To most Christians – especially to 19th-century Calvinists, who viewed humans as depraved beings separated from God by a chasm of sin – Mormonism was a scandal. It still is…

The LDS church’s professionalism and skillful image management worry many conservative Christians. The Mormon church has tried to position itself in the mainstream by conducting a careful marketing campaign. In 1982, the church added the official subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” to the Book of Mormon in order to emphasize that it was a Christian faith. In 1995, the LDS church logo was redesigned so that the words “Jesus Christ” appear three times larger than the rest of the text. The current prophet and president of the LDS church, Gordon Hinckley, has made high-profile statements that seem to play down the radical elements of Mormon theology.

One thing needs clarification:

The protesters at Hill Cumorah would disagree. Although they seem like the lunatic fringe, Mr. Jones and his number represent an entrenched anti-Mormon movement that is prepared to convince voters that Mr. Romney’s religion renders his campaign promises and political record moot.

Lumping in Mr. Jones with the “protestors” is potentially very misleading. Usually the term “protestors”, in the context of events like the Hill Cumorah Pageant and General Conference, refers to a small group of beliggerent demonstrators, the kind of which Mr. Jones does not condone. Some of us countercultists simply refer to them as the “KJV-only folks”, because nearly all them are Baptistic adherents of KJV-onlyism. They are a very, very small group who make their voices heard loudly and theatrically. Unfortunately, Mormons in Utah have latched onto them as the icon or image of what it means to be an evangelical doing street-evangelism—partly out of ignorance (which can be remedied), and partly, I believe, out of an unfair desire to use a caricature for those of the theological opposition.

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