Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Media Asks The Wrong Question... Again

Today over at, Jacob Weisberg has an interesting, yet fatally flawed piece up today that gets everything wrong and reveals the underlying bigotry underlying most Mainstream Media discussions of religion (hint: it'ts not what you think):

Romney's Religion
A Mormon president? No way.
By Jacob Weisberg

Someone who refuses to consider voting for a woman as president is rightly deemed a sexist. Someone who'd never vote for a black person is a racist. But are you a religious bigot if you wouldn't cast a ballot for a believing Mormon? The issue arises with Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's as-yet-undeclared bid for the 2008 Republican nomination.
The piece goes on to tell us the history of famous Mormons in federally elected positions, and to discuss the likelihood of a Mormon ever being elected president, and that's all well, and good, but it's the underlying unasked question I take issue with. See if you can spot what's wrong with THIS paragraph:
But if he gets anywhere in the primaries, Romney's religion will become an issue with moderate and secular voters—and rightly so. Objecting to someone because of his religious beliefs is not the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage, race, or gender. Not applying a religious test for public office, means that people of all faiths are allowed to run—not that views about God, creation, and the moral order are inadmissible for political debate. In George W. Bush's case, the public paid far too little attention to the role of religion in his thinking. Many voters failed to appreciate that while Bush's religious beliefs may be moderate Methodist ones, he was someone who relied on his faith immoderately, as an alternative to rational understanding of complex issues.
While that's a great dig about Bush's immoderate reliance upon the voices in his head as a replacement for actual advisers, Weisberg not only dances around the real point raised by his article, but by positing the question as he does, he reinforces its implicit prejudice. Here's the REAL question we should be asking ourselves as a nation:

Why can ONLY politicians who profess belief in ancient magikal tales of Gods & Devils be elected president?

Weisberg says that objecting to someone based on his religious beliefs isn't the same thing as a prejudice based on religious heritage, race or gender, then continues:
Nor is it chauvinistic to say that certain religious views should be deal breakers in and of themselves. There are millions of religious Americans who would never vote for an atheist for president, because they believe that faith is necessary to lead the country.
And Zing, Weissberg is done, flowing into whether or not he would vote for a Hassidic Jew:
Others, myself included, would not, under most imaginable circumstances, vote for a fanatic or fundamentalist—a Hassidic Jew who regards Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah, a Christian literalist who thinks that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old, or a Scientologist who thinks Earth is haunted by the souls of space aliens sent by the evil lord Xenu. Such views are disqualifying because they're dogmatic, irrational, and absurd. By holding them, someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is.
So... Atheism which rejects ALL dogmatic, irrational and absurd unprovable religious beliefs in invisible superpowered Gods is equal to Scientology and people who think Satan put dinosaur bones into the Earth to trick us?

Right. WE'RE the ones who are unreasonable. I mean, God forbid anyone elect an atheist!

Weisberg continues:
By the same token, I wouldn't vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism. The LDS church holds that Joseph Smith, directed by the angel Moroni, unearthed a book of golden plates buried in a hillside in Western New York in 1827. The plates were inscribed in "reformed" Egyptian hieroglyphics—a nonexistent version of the ancient language that had yet to be decoded. Smith was able to dictate his "translation" of the Book of Mormon first by looking through diamond-encrusted decoder glasses and then by burying his face in a hat with a brown rock at the bottom of it. He was an obvious con man. Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don't want him running the country.
Nicely done. You've managed to tie Romney's belief in his hokey fairytales to his ability to govern rationally... except I don't find the idea of magic diamond-encrusted decoder glasses to be any more or less ridiculous than I do the idea that God formed the world in seven days a mere 5000 years ago and populated it with the offspring of Adam and Eve. In other words, the stupid shit that Mitt Romney believes is no more ridiculous than the stupid shit that George W. Bush believes or John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all profess to believe. Oh, but Weisberg is ready for MY sort:
One may object that all religious beliefs are irrational—what's the difference between Smith's "seer stone" and the virgin birth or the parting of the Red Sea? But Mormonism is different because it is based on such a transparent and recent fraud. It's Scientology plus 125 years. Perhaps Christianity and Judaism are merely more venerable and poetic versions of the same. But a few eons makes a big difference. The world's greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor. The Church of Latter-day Saints is expanding rapidly and liberalizing in various ways, but it remains fundamentally an orthodox creed with no visible reform wing.

One may object that all religious beliefs are irrational. Chrisianity and Judaism are better than Scientology or Mormonism because they're more ancient and their baloney has been translated over the years into beautiful religious metaphor Nice wiggle language, but guess what? Those religions, beautifully splintered, moderated and metaphorical though they may be, are just as fucking ridiculous as the Mormon faith. The con men who concocted Judaism and Christianity and Islam were no different than Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard. We just have better record-keeping for the last two centuries than we do for 2000 years ago, that's all.

Belief in supernatural Gods is a salve for the simpleminded. The idea that invisible supermen live in outer space spying our every deed and eavesdropping our every thought in order that they may correctly decide at the end of our life if we get angel wings or burn in a lake of fire is purely stupid. Gods of any kind are a fairy tales invented to keep people in line.

More importantly "God" doesn't work in a globalized world where religious fanatics of all stripes are only a $300 ticket away from smacking a 767 into the side of the World Trade Center. If you believe that God exists and that he chooses sides, then you should convert to Islam right now because God obviously allowed 9/11 to happen because He hates America and loves Osama Bin Laden. See? Shocking to say, and yet, by the logic of belief, it's utterly true. In fact, if you'll remember, several of America's holiest men like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell insinuated that we got hit on 9/11 because God Hates Fags (or whatever kinder words they used at the time).

What's good for the goose is good for the gander: if you're silly enough believe in ANY God, you're not allowed to deny the existence of anyone else's God or to proscribe anyone else's religion, including fundamentalist Islam and fake religions made up by convicts so they can legally smoke dope. Otherwise you're just another "my religion is the only TRUE religion" hypocrite. It's all stupid and just because the magical fairytales of Virgin Birth and burning bushes and plagues of frogs in the Bible are older than the magical fairytales of Joseph Smith's magic sunglasses doesn't make them any more useful or credible in today's world.

Which brings us back to Mitt Romney. No, idiot, you don't get to be President, because as Weisberg correctly points out,
Romney has never publicly indicated any distance from church doctrine. He is an "elder" who performed missionary service in France as a young man and did not protest the church's overt racism and priestly discrimination before it was abolished in 1978.
The Mormon Church is a regressive, conservative, bigoted, power-hungry institution whose followers are cult-like in their exclusion of The Other, up to and including, up until 1978, naming black people as the evil against which mankind must struggle. I'm already saddened that their church has bought itself 2 U.S. Senators. Hell, screw Clearwater, Florida... the Church of Latter Day Saints shows the way forward for Scientology and other modern financially well-endowed "alternative religions." Wyoming only has 500,000 residents... surely Scientology can convince a million of its members to move there and electorally seize control of its governmental institutions? With two Senators in their pocket, Scientology would suddenly be a force to be reckoned with, that's for sure. I'm fascinated mostly by the fact that they seem not to have realized they already have the power to do it.

Weisberg's piece correctly posits that
Various evangelical sects continue to view Mormonism as heretical, non-Christian, or even satanic. But because of their shared faith in social conservatism, evangelical leaders seem open to supporting Romney.
That's true... but Evangelical leaders are ONLY supporting Romney because of their common cause of turning back America's Moral Clock to the 1800's... once the god-fearing dummies who voted for GW twice find out about some of the juicier aspects of the Mormon religion, however, I predict that they'll quickly rush to Sam Brownback's side (and yes, they'll tell themselves, although Brownback's a born-again Evangelical who converted and became a filthy Catholic, at least THAT evil papist-led false church has a few thousand years of history and beautiful religious metaphor behind it).

Don't take MY word for it..., let's allow noted Christian writer Jack T. Chick to show us what's going to happen: