One area of American History that caught my interest in college was the history of America’s westward expansion. Like so many children of my age about everything I knew about cowboys and Indians came from watching Lash Larue and Hopalong Cassidy movies at the Lyric Theater on Saturday afternoons in the 1950s.
One aspect never mentioned in those movies was the settlement of Utah by the followers of Brigham Young and Mormonism. Matter of fact, I never knew a Mormon until I moved to California and even after meeting a number of them about all I knew was that they, at one time, practiced plural marriage and didn’t smoke or drink anything with caffeine in it.
In my history courses the Mormon settlement in the West was covered but nothing about their religious beliefs. It wasn’t until later, while reading Irving Stone’s Men to Match My Mountains, that I first became aware of the religious foundations of Mormonism and the religion’s interpretations of New World historic events.
Stone’s book prompted me to engage in further study of Mormonism and to read The Book of Mormon. I ran my collectived notes past several practicing Mormons and they concurred I had my facts in order. During the years I taught the history of America’s West I used these notes as the basis for lecture and discussion. In the succeeding years I’ve continued to pay attention to the church’s ever evolving history and have paid petty close attention to the reception of Mitt Romney in national politics.
I say this to establish some credibility to understanding what conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan wrote about today in his blog, The Dish. Sullivan lays out a scenario involving the consequences of a presidential candidate zealously belonging to a religion that openly and fervently preached racial supremacy and Heavenly exclusion based on race and skin color. The object of his essay is Mormonism and Mitt Romney’s devotion to its tenets. He asks the question, why is Mitt being given a pass for what his religion has accepted as truth while Obama was blistered for his relatively brief association with the Reverend Wright?
If you’re one of those “undecided” voters the media is always alluding to, maybe you could benefit from reading Sullivan’s piece and boning up on Mormon history. If you’re one of the ideologically pure, don’t waste your time, you’re not interested in being challenged anyway.
Click HERE to read Sullivan’s column and watch the several videos he has included.
Also, don’t assume I or Sullivan are attacking Mormons and their beliefs, we’re not. I don’t care what religious views a person has. However, religions come with histories and adherents to those religions have to be aware of and respond to those histories when they go awry. Especially when those adherents are running for the leadership of the American nation.