The “Mormon Debate” and Why it Matters

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

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Revisiting Yesterday

I’m not trying to be an insufferable geek here, but the following quote from Alexander Hamilton (Federalist #1) really has been running piecemeal through my head since I woke up this morning:

I am well aware that it would be disingenuous to resolve indiscriminately the opposition of any set of men (merely because their situations might subject them to suspicion) into interested or ambitious views. Candor will oblige us to admit that even such men may be actuated by upright intentions; and it cannot be doubted that much of the opposition which has made its appearance, or may hereafter make its appearance, will spring from sources, blameless at least, if not respectable–the honest errors of minds led astray by preconceived jealousies and fears. So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.

For those of you who have a difficult time with 18th-century English, let me simplify: Not everyone who opposes you or does something of which you disapprove, however ardently, is a dirtbag; conversely, not everyone who sides with you is an angel.

I have admitted before to having been a Useful Idiot for the Left, one of the unfortunate side effects of which is a diminished confidence in one’s own mental capacity. Well, at least in terms of decision-making — the underlying theme of the Left seems to be along the lines of, “We’re so smart that we need other people to tell us how to live our lives.”

At any rate, this particular facet of my past means that it is difficult sometimes for me to be confident in my own choices and/or worldview, especially in the face of people I admire or out-and-out bullies. And in the last day or so, I’ve seen arguments that counter my stance from both. And, because of this, I have seen fit to clarify and temper my stance. Continue reading

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A Note to My Fellow Palinistas

In the spring of 2010, I was able to go visit with my family in Utah. At one point during my visit, my dad and I were talking, and he brought up the topic of stupid politicians. I agreed, and then he followed up with an example — not of our then-Speaker-of-the-House who had just recently said that we needed to pass a bill to see what was in it, not of our “Orator-in-Chief” who can’t string two coherent words together without a teleprompter, nor the chronically idiotic Vice President.

No, his next words were a mocking, “I can see Russia from my house.”

I was immediately furious. It was hard, after seeing a woman I greatly admire being gleefully maligned again and again and again by dishonest press and bloggers, to hear my own dad saying the same sorts of things.

Now, as you can probably gather from that exchange, my father is not a Sarah Palin fan — he pretty much believed all the bad things said about her, not out of malice, but out of a deep-rooted (and, for his part, well-earned) cynicism.

He’s not a fan of hers. But he is a fan of mine. And when my temper had cooled a bit, he gently took me aside and explained something: The moment I had gotten angry about what he had said was the same moment that I had lost the argument.

As with most — most — things, my dad was right. Think about it: if the person saying that sort of anti-Palin garbage was just an insufferable douchebag, then he wins because he visibly upset you. But if the person saying those things is simply someone with a different opinion (or working off of bad information) then they can easily conclude that the reason you’re so touchy on the subject is that there really is something ugly there. And if it’s someone making a joke, the impression you leave is of a raging asshat whose sense of humor had long ago been blown off in a boat explosion. Getting defensive in such a way that you give your emotions free reign is a lose-lose-lose proposition on your part.

I tell you this for a couple of reasons: 1. To illustrate that I know exactly what it’s like to lose my temper on Sarah Palin’s behalf, and 2. To illustrate the point that doing so is thoroughly counterproductive. Continue reading

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Turns Out Bachmann and Palin Are Not, In Fact, Interchangeable

Michele Bachmann has made the news lately with some comments she made regarding the recent earthquake and hurricane that have hit the Washington, D.C. area.

It’s one thing for us to make jokes like this amongst ourselves on Twitter or around the kitchen table; it’s quite another for a Presidential candidate to declare it from a public platform. There are few things more likely to evoke a raised eyebrow and a headshake than a politician claiming support from God, because there are few things that rank that high on the Pretentious Meter. Continue reading

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Revenues, the Laffer Curve, and a Note to D.C. Politicians

I had Bret Baier on while I was at my computer yesterday. During the panel segment, a woman who mainly talked like a conservative referred to a debt ceiling package that included “cuts and revenues.”

My head about exploded.

You see, it’s one thing for liberals (in both parties) to disingenuously use the word “revenues” as a euphemism for “tax hikes;” it’s another thing entirely if we conservatives start speaking that same language. The misuse of a word might not seem like a big deal in the long run to some, but this kind of thinking is gravely mistaken. The connotative definition of “tolerance” didn’t go from “live and let live” (which is, incidentally, still the denotative definition) to “kowtow to the protected minority group du jour” overnight — the delightful consequences of which we are currently reaping.

“If you give them an inch, they will take a mile,” comes to mind.

You see, “revenue,” like “tolerance,” is a good thing; “tax hikes” and “subservience” are bad. And so the people who want to push the policies of the latter mask it with the terminology of the former and hope that the rest of us are too stupid and/or nice to call shenanigans. They are counting on this.

So let’s call some shenanigans. Continue reading

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My 2011 Honolulu Tax Day Tea Party Speech

I mentioned in my last post that I gave a speech at my local Tax Day Tea Party event. The response I’ve gotten from the speech — both at the event itself and with people who have read it since then — has been very positive, so I decided to post it here. As always, feel free to share and/or give feedback.

My name is Angela. I am 28 years old, an Army wife, the mother of a darling little boy, and a recovering Useful Idiot for the Left.

When I was eighteen I marched myself down to my local Democratic Party headquarters to register to vote. I was so proud to have that D after my name; the Democrats were, after all, the party of the Little Guy, whereas those evil Republicans were the party of those evil, cigar-chomping big business robber barons. I have always been particularly sensitive to what Dr. Deborah Tannen calls “metamessages” – that 85% or so of communication that is nonverbal. So, though I can’t recall any single instance of someone sitting me down and telling me any of it, there were certain things I knew. I knew, for instance, that Republicans had dollar signs in their eyes, while Democrats had compassion in theirs. I knew that Fox News, as a shill for those nasty R’s, was not to be taken seriously. I knew that talk radio was to be avoided, as its entire purpose was to tell you what to think. I knew that there wasn’t a single problem that couldn’t be solved with more government intervention. And even in those rare moments Leftist talking points clashed with my own observations, I was assured that Smarter People had already studied all these things, that all the smart people agreed with them, and didn’t I want to be a smart people too?

And so I went about my life, comfortable in my second- and third-hand assumptions; smug in my supposed intellectual superiority. And then something happened that I did not expect.

My husband and I fell on hard times, and moved in with his parents for awhile. And my in-laws watch – you guessed it – Fox News. I did my best to avoid it, but it was bound to catch up with me, and I will never forget the day it did. Continue reading

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Hitting Back With a Grin

This last Monday, I had the honor of participating in the Kailua Independence Day Parade with my friends from the Honolulu Tea Party. Our parade entry was not an ostentatious one, as you can see. But in the spirit of the sort of unruly peasants that we in the Tea Party have been branded, we did the best we could with what we had, and our motley band of patriots with our little truck ended up making quite a splash. My friend Gilia Rethman had the idea to set me up with a microphone on the back of that truck; I brought with me an accompanying iPod mix, roughly equal parts patriotic pieces and crowd-pleasing pop tunes, and sang my little heart out. The genuine enthusiasm of my fellow Tea Partiers completed the package, and together we turned what might have been an unremarkable parade entrant into quite a crowd-pleaser. Oh, sure, there were a (very) few negative reactions to our merry little band — I noticed in particular a few people giving us the thumbs-down as we passed. (Who wants to bet that the thumbs in question belong to people who pride themselves on their capacity for tolerance?) But the vast majority of audience response was overwhelmingly positive.

Now, if this were merely a “Hooray for us!” piece, then I would stop here. But there actually is a larger point to the matter. Continue reading

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