The New York Times Sunday Review has a Mormon Problem
The New York Times Sunday Review should be embarrassed about the quality of its writing on Mormonism. While Times readers can rely on excellent coverage of the faith of the presumptive GOP nominee from religion reporter Laurie Goodstein, over at the Sunday Review, since last fall, we’ve witnessed a parade of gratuitous and ill-informed bloviation.
This week, the source is cultural critic Lee Siegel. Siegel once decried the rushed, snarky, bullying tactics of “blogofascism,” but this Sunday he indulged them freely in the Times with an opportunistic swipe at the very obvious “whiteness” of Mitt Romney.
Should Romney be engaged on the racial dimensions and consequences of his politics and policies? Yes, and with seriousness and rigor.
But in attempting to link Romney’s whiteness to Mormon theology, Siegel showcases profound ignorance of contemporary Mormonism.
He writes, “There is no stronger bastion of pre-civil-rights-America whiteness than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yes, since 1978 the church has allowed blacks to become priests. But Mormonism is still imagined by its adherents as a religion founded by whites, for whites, rooted in a millenarian vision of an America destined to fulfill a white God’s plans for earth.”
Fact check, anyone?
The LDS Church’s regrettable denial of the lay priesthood to men of African descent is a matter of historical record. (For a detailed discussion of the ban, its origins, and its termination, please read here and here.)
But Siegels’ characterization of Mormonism as a “white God’s” plan “for whites” would come as news to millions of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Asia, Latin America, and Africa who have claimed Mormonism as their own.