Long thought of as outsiders, followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are enjoying a newfound acceptability and their church’s profile has risen in politics, theatre and sports.
“This is really a wonderful American story,” says Jon Butler, a professor of religious history at Yale University. “Mormons were always seen as very different. Now they’ve become just other Christians. They’ve become as interesting as Presbyterians.
“[In 2011] people began to say, ‘We have something to learn from these Mormons.’”
John Moore: Who picks which religions are sacred? By scoffing at the idea that all faiths are equal, the editorial board leaves unanswered the question of which are better or more truthful than others. By what measure shall we establish the relative merits of religions? Shall it be by seniority? Sheer numbers? Heaven forbid that we anoint one or the other based on reason or evidence.
It makes perfect sense to many that Christianity outranks, say, Scientology, by virtue of the fact that one has been around for 2,000 years while the other was cooked up a mere half-century ago. But by this measure do we throw Mormonism into question for having existed only slightly longer than L. Ron Hubbard’s mischievous invention? With Mormons running for president of the United States, am I at risk of a Human Rights Tribunal complaint if I point out that the faith has something in common with Scientology in that both were founded by men who might easily be described as self-aggrandizing cranks?
Photo: The Old City of Jerusalem, with the Dome of the Rock Mosque in the foreground. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)