PBS on Mormon Zealotry


There is a fantastic article on the underlying message behind the recent Frontline / American Experience piece about mormonism that broadcast recently on PBS. From Equality Time:

Toscano, Nielsen, Johnson, Fielding, Palmer, Quinn. And what crime did these folks commit? Church apostle Dallin Oaks summed it up nicely: “it is wrong to criticize your leaders even if the criticism is true.”

With that quote, the producers expose the one thread that ties 19th-century Mormonism to 21st-century Mormonism: the absolute authority the leaders seek to exert over the followers. All else has changed: ordinances, doctrines, practices, culture. The only thing that remains firmly ensconced in the Mormon experience is deference to authority, obedience to the Prophet and priesthood leaders, loyalty to the church as an institution.

The Message of “The Mormons”, emphasis is mine.

When I heard Oaks say those words, I instantly went for the rewind button on my DVR (ain’t TiVo grand?), not believing what he’d just admitted. Combined with Packer’s admission—with a reticent chuckle, that he had indeed cited homosexuals, feminists and intellectuals as the greatest threats to the church—I felt as though I should be buying copies of the DVD to send to my mormon friends and family, and exclaiming “SEE!?”

Sadly, though these admissions are rather powerful and definitely quote-worthy, it’s easy to see how most members of the lds faith will take them… for the most part, they probably won’t even notice them. If they do, they’ll most likely respond with “well, of course! These men are the Lord’s Anointed! It’s like criticising the Lord!” But of course, they are just men, and any person stating things of this sort, despite their position in society, religion or politics, should be criticised for such positions. It’s this kind of unquestioning deference to leaders that leads to trouble in nations, religions, organisations, what have you. The United States have checks and balances for a good reason… unchecked power leads to corruption. This works just the same in a religion. If people can’t call bullshit on something morally repugnant that a leader says, what kind of future are you setting yourself up for? Why on earth would you follow that leader?