Columnist Joel Campbell at Mormon Times encourages Mormons to turn the other cheek when they are offended. Citing Tom Hanks’ statement that the LDS support of Prop 8 was “un-American” and Focus on the Family’s decision to pull an online interview with LDS conservative Glenn Beck, Mr. Campbell suggests Mormons meet such challenges with courage and civility. He says it’s time to forgive Mike Huckabee for asking, late in 2007, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”
However, Mr. Campbell notes,
“At the same time, I do think Mormons should remind Huckabee and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson about how some evangelicals misrepresent and denigrate Mormons in un-Christlike ways, including taking beliefs out of context (like Huckabee parroted to the Times). It also includes protests at our temple open houses, distributing defamatory videos and literature, ‘witnessing’ at religious pageants and using blow-horn mockery outside our general conferences. Mormons need to ask for these leaders’ assistance in increasing the level of respect, civility and tolerance toward Latter-day Saints among evangelicals.”
I’m all for respect and civility. And I agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Campbell when he writes,
“I like what First Amendment expert Charles Haynes wrote in his column: ‘With differences this deep, we are in for a protracted fight. Fortunately, the First Amendment makes it possible to wage the war with words, giving all sides freedom to make their case openly and robustly without government interference. Of course, there will be winners and losers — we live in a democracy. But how we debate — not only what we debate — matters. It isn’t mandated by the First Amendment, but treating our opponents with civility and respect might enable us to live with one another when the battle is finally over.'”
I’m having trouble fitting these two paragraphs together. If it’s good that everybody has the opportunity to “wage the war with words, giving all sides the freedom to make their case openly and robustly,” why does Mr. Campbell suggest that evangelicals engaged in such pursuits are lacking respect, civility and tolerance?
It would be foolish to say people never cross the line when debating Mormonism vs. Christianity, but in my experience such conversations are nearly always civil and respectful. I’ve been to many Christian outreaches at Mormon temples and LDS pageants. I’ve both observed and participated in discussion and debate. I’ve distributed videos and literature. Of course, some Mormons disagree with the content of these things—that’s why we need to talk about them.
Which brings me to another point of agreement I share with Mr. Campbell. While his encouragement is directed specifically at supporters of Prop 8, I think it has broader application. For all of us at Mormon Coffee, regardless of the degree to which Mormons might influence Mike Huckabee and James Dobson, we
“should continue to enter the public square and thoughtfully express our point of view.”