Last week I stumbled across an online article at the American Chronicle web site: “A Mormon President?” by David M. Bresnahan. It is written editorial-style and is about what you would expect from a Latter-day Saint hoping for the election of a Mormon president. Mr. Bresnahan wrote 1638 words praising Mormons as the salt of the earth without addressing any real issues. Nevertheless, when I read the article I thought Mr. Bresnahan’s premise was faulty. He wrote:
“Any reporter in any city or town can simply start making phone calls to ministers and within a very short time it will be easy to find one or more who will be happy to bash the Mormons. All that reporter has to do is jot down a few of the more critical comments and bingo, another negative story is born.
“There’s just one problem. The vast majority of Americans do not believe such reports for one simple reason – they are not true and we all know it.
“Mormons are everywhere, and most people have encountered them enough to know the claims that Mormons are not Christian and are actually quite evil cannot possibly be true. But it is no surprise that rival church leaders complain about a church that actively proselytes new members, which is a threat to the offering plates of the churches who lose members as a result.”
I noticed several problems with Mr. Bresnahan’s assertions, so I wanted to leave an online comment for others who might read them. But the American Chronicle does not have provision for reader comments. It does, however, have a rather strict policy against “hate speech,” a policy I believed was violated by Mr. Bresnahan.
I really think the “hate speech” policy is a bit restrictive, but it’s their policy and the only avenue open to me to voice my concerns. So I emailed the American Chronicle one of the offending paragraphs and wrote:
“I believe the following violates your Editorial Board Contributor Policy. The author brands all non-LDS church leaders–who may have valid doctrinal concerns about Mormonism–as ‘rivals’ who are concerned only about the money they will lose if people from their congregations join the LDS Church. Mr. Bresnahan’s remark is degrading and prejudicial and, I believe, may be derived from ‘ignorance, fear or anger.’ There are many legitimate reasons for the concerns some non-LDS Church leaders have about Mormonism. It is disappointing to see such a denigratory remark pass muster on your web site.
“Thank you for considering my concern.”
To my surprise, I received an email from the American Chronicle telling me that the author had agreed to “change the article.”
This morning I checked back and found that Mr. Bresnahan had indeed changed his article. Compare the new (below) to the old (above).
“Mormons are everywhere, and most people have encountered them enough to know the claims that Mormons are not Christian and are actually quite evil cannot possibly be true. But it is no surprise that some rival church leaders complain about a church that actively proselytes new members, which is a threat to the offering plates of the churches who lose members as a result.”
With the addition of the word some Mr. Bresnahan has perhaps made his article more truthful (I have never talked to a Christian minister whose concern over Mormonism was motivated by contribution receipts, but there may be some out there). However, it is not any less disparaging toward non-LDS clergy. He has still not allowed for any legitimate concerns Christian ministers may have with the Mormon faith.
At the conclusion of “A Mormon President?” Mr. Bresnahan says:
“The next time a news reporter questions whether a Mormon can be elected president, take a look at it for what it is. A lazy reporter needed a story about Romney and could not come up with anything new other than to rehash the same tired story so many others have already done. The evangelical pastors that reporters quote in such stories are quick to exaggerate. In reality the typical evangelical Christian is not much different than a Mormon.
“They both want the best for their families, and they both do their best to live according to the beliefs of their religion. Some of their doctrines are different, but their values are not. As more and more people focus on values instead of doctrines they will recognize that having a Mormon as president is just what this country needs.”
In regards to the sagacity of electing a Mormon president I decline to comment at this time. But I cannot emphasize enough the importance of focusing on doctrines when it comes to understanding Mormonism. It is, after all, a religion, not a social club or benevolence organization. The typical evangelical Christian is very different from a Mormon in at least this way: The Christian’s faith is in the One True God while the Mormon, if he follows the official teachings of his religion, is chasing after idols (according to the Bible). In my experience, the primary concern of Christian ministers is for souls, not money.
To Mr. Bresnahan I would like to say that I do not know a single Christian minister who thinks Mormons are “actually quite evil.” But I know plenty who believe Mormonism is not a Christian religion. This conviction on the part of historic Christianity is based on the very doctrines you suggest we ignore. To ignore these doctrines, Mr. Bresnahan, would require that we not “live according to the beliefs of [our] religion” since our God demands our fidelity to Him and commands we take a stand for His doctrinal truth.