I recently added Ali Akbar to my Twitter follow list. He is a Tea Party organizer who has recently (and publicly) invited both Morgan Freeman and Rep. John Lewis to attend a Tea Party so they can see what we’re all about. I admire his bravery, and so put him on my follow list. It was with dismay, however, that I saw him jump onto the “Decidedly not!” camp of the “Are Mormons Christians?” debate that has been rekindled most recently by the bigoted remarks of Pastor Jeffress at the Values Voter Summit.
I say “rekindled” because this is not a new debate. It is as old as the LDS Church and as tired as “your momma” jokes. And the answer has always been the same: Um, duh! Yes!
After a somewhat heated exchange on Twitter, Mr. Akbar assured me that the assertion throughout the larger Christian community that Mormons are not Christian has nothing to do with the basic definition of the word (i.e., a follower of Christ), but is instead basically a bunch of religious academics who have gotten together and decided that, in order to be considered “Christian,” you must adhere strictly to areas of their doctrine; and some of these areas are ones in which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints doesn’t disagree with so much as we just have a different understanding of them. He also expressed his amazement that we Mormons fight so hard for the Christian label.
As we all know, brevity is the soul of Twitter, while, at times, verbosity is the soul of me. My rebuttals would not fit in 140 characters very well, so I will put them here.
Firstly, while I appreciate Mr. Akbar’s assertion that the “not Christian” label is a purely academic one and is not meant to give the impression that we Mormons don’t believe in Christ, that argument simply doesn’t pass the smell test for me. If that is the case, call us nontraditional Christians or something of that nature. Tammy Bruce is a woman who is not only not a Mormon, but is deeply distrustful of organized religion in general. Perhaps it is this distance that allows her the clarity of perception she has shown in this matter as she has discussed it on her radio show over the past week. To paraphrase Ms. Bruce: The name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They believe in the Jesus; therefore they are Christians, and to say otherwise is just silly. Continue reading