A Mormon Mea Culpa

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the after-effects of a highly divisive campaign against gay marriage in California have brought intense media scrutiny to the Mormons and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the attention has been beneficial: Mormons are becoming better known, the academic study of Mormonism is finally taking off, and respected presses are publishing important new books on Mormonism.

The increased attention has also had a more controversial side. A variety of voices excoriate a church and religious tradition that they see as poisonous. These individuals descry in Mormonism dogmatic anti-intellectualism, shunning of dissatisfied or former members, dishonesty about institutional history, and even conspiracy theories that strain credulity. Those who love the LDS Church generally express outrage at these criticisms of the community they treasure. Some recount their own highly positive experiences in the Church, the warmth they have found in its embrace, the love of knowledge and wisdom and diversity they find there. The two groups seem to be talking past each other, unable to recognize the Mormonism the other is describing.

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