Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reactions to my Weekly Standard, Mormons, Muslims, and Multiculturalism article

I've received a fair amount of email traffic reacting to my Weekly Standard piece (open link at the WS, a blog summary here, and a letter back to Michael Novak re his (mis)summary, here).  The emails have been very mixed, very divided - not a big surprise. 

Among the various blog reactions, I wanted to flag to readers' attention the blog Levantine Dreamhouse - Abu Kareem, in New York, writes a very interesting blog that I recommend quite apart from the discussion of the Mormons, Muslims, Multiculturalism piece.  It's both reasoned and witty.


What has surprised me among the reactions, however, is how many evangelicals were most offended not by things I said about Huckabee or even about evangelicals (I think some of them decided not to take public offense, but instead to wallow in silent martyrdom=quiet resentment), but instead by my having the chutzpah to cite not just to Isaiah 3, but to the corresponding verses in the Book of Mormon

My goodness.  The horror, the horror. 

Very, very telling.   


Scott Lahti said...

Here's one reaction you may not have expected, from "A Random End-Of-Year Favorites List" by Andrew Sullivan, at his "Daily Dish" blog today:
"Best Magazine Essay: Kenneth Anderson's 'Mormons, Muslims and Multiculturalism'."

See, it's not just Hollywood family-of-man humanists who benefit from the Christmas-release Oscar nomination effect: it's also (classically, C18) liberal law-prof bloggers.

Chris W. Kite said...

written Jan 22, 2008
Dear Kenneth,

Your article stirred my thoughts. Mitt Romney's speech on faith need not prevent the asking of pertinent political questions related to religion. The press just needs to learn how to translate religious questions into political language.

For example, Rudy Giuliani should not be asked whether transubstantiation means that Catholics are cannibals. Not only would this question distort a religious mystery, it does not have political substance. Rudy could be asked "How should the FDA be used to regulate what we consume?".

We certainly should not ask Joe Lieberman if Jews are the ones who gave a green light to the Romans 2000 years ago. This question would dredge up centuries of Anti-Semitic rubbish with a perverted guilt by association. We could ask his views on capital punishment and whether we are yet able to provide fair judgments in this regard.

Mike Huckabee does not need to be asked if he believes in evolution. We should ask if he accepts that students should be taught evolution in science classes. What does it mean to believe in evolution? Teachers should not overstep science by preaching that evolution means life is totally random and without purpose. Students should learn this foundational theory regardless of their religious beliefs. Science should help us intelligently design a better world in the face of all the imperfections and randomness we find.

Mitt Romney should not be asked if Mormons teach that Jesus and Satan are brothers. As a Mormon, I know that Mormons are surprised by this question and the implication that we believe in a tainted Jesus. Mormons may answer yes when thinking of a cosmic story long before the world was created. The more correct answer is no, Satan, as a fallen angel, left God's family long ago. Mitt could be asked if we should support those who need to divorce or separate from an abusive family member whether alleged or proven.

Mike Huckabee should not be asked why God created everything, including Lucifer, out of nothing and allowed evil to exist. He should be asked whether he balanced the needs for justice and mercy with the many pardons he issued in Arkansas. He should be asked about the practicality and justice of potentially imprisoning those involved in abortion if our laws change. Would measures other than prison be more effective at protecting life?

The interesting idea from the Mormon view of Lucifer is that his initial plan was for us to come to earth and be forced to be good, a phony virtue. Then when God recognized our right and need to choose, Lucifer rebelled and became Satan, dedicated to tempt us to choose evil. This story helps to explain why a faithful Mormon can be pro-choice or pro-life while opposed to abortion with rare exception. We struggle to decide what laws and consequences are appropriate to protect life and to encourage responsible choices.

Mitt Romney has a firm foundation of family, faith, service, and practical experience. I easily forgive his occasional mistakes and overstatements. I am not sure what unshakable political foundation you think he should have. A pragmatic approach is fine with me. See Anne Colter's recent article defending Mitt.

See this article for how the charge of flip-flopping may be a cover for views against Mormons:

Go Mitt! Occasional flip, but no flop!

P.S. Brother Ken, we'd love to have you come back to church and help us with our PR. Our missionary sales and marketing must not be very good with all the negative views of Mormons and all the hours of effort per convert. I see our young missionaries as hard-working, persistent and struggling to be persuasive. Perhaps we could improve with more service to others and understanding of other faiths. By the way, I recommend for responding to questions about doctrine and history