Yesterday on the McLaughling Group, the question over Mitt Romney’s speech was brought up. After some praising of the speech by Pat Buchanan and others, Lawrence O’Donnell blew up, called it the worst political speech of his lifetime, and spent the next 5 minutes trashing the LDS Church, including blatantly lieing and spouting things that simply aren’t true.
Here is the video:
The vitriolic hatred that O’Donnell has with Republicans, Mitt Romney, and the LDS Church should come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to politics and the media. He has blown up many, many times before and consistently sounds like a complete buffoon. The thing that I hope viewers realize is that when a person gets that fired up, they lose all sense of rationality and pragmatism; the person is running completely off of emotion and will say whatever comes to mind regardless of factuality. I hope this is what happened with O’Donnell here; otherwise he was just out and out lying and that is inexcusable. (Also note that O’Donnell “plays a Mormon” on the HBO show Big Love; this must be where he gets all of his information on Mormonism).
The first claim O’Donnell makes is that the Church let go of it’s “racist” policies in 1978 for political reasons. The policies he is referring to is the fact that the LDS Church did not give Blacks the Priesthood pre-1978. The change in policy was far from political. What political expediency was there? The civil rights movement, the height of political pressure, had long since passed. There was no LDS person running for President and no threat from the federal government for revoking it’s recognition as a church or whatever. What it came down to is the fact that God was ready to make the change and revealed it to the church leaders, in fact nearly all of the church leaders were relieved and had been hoping for such a change for a long time. Here is the official declaration from the Church regarding the change.
The next falsehood, and this one may be less consequential, is he claims that Blacks could not be members of the Church. The fact is, Blacks could become members and could participate in the church and partake of the sacrament like all members. This was the case from it’s earliest days. However, Blacks could not receive the Priesthood until 1978.
Then he brings up what he apparently thinks is our basis and doctrinal belief on where this policy stemmed from. He said, “Black people are black because in heaven they turned away from God.” Completely, completely false. If this were the case and they turned away from God in heaven, those spirits never would have come to Earth, they would have been cast out with the 1/3 of the hosts of heaven that Lucifer lead away (see Revelations, etc).
He then goes onto directly accuse Mitt Romney of racism, for firmly believing the “faith of his fathers.” O’Donnell completely and knowingly ignores facts here. Mitt even mentioned in his speech that his father marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. Mitt’s father continually pleaded with the Church to overturn the policy and stridently fought for civil rights and equality. Mitt has never done anything to remotely imply that he is a racist and O’Donnell’s attacks here are wholly unfair.
The most egregious and false claims made by O’Donnell, however, is the claim that both Joseph Smith and the Church as a whole supported slavery and racist political policies. Nothing is further from the truth. One of the largest reasons the Mormons were persecuted like they were in Missouri and were so hated, was that they were ardent abolitionists as a whole. Slavery was an economic necessity to the Southerners (or so they thought) and this influx of immigrants into their area from America’s Northeat and Midwest, Canada, and England caused great apprehension and concern among the local populace in terms of political might and power. The Mormons were seen as a political threat that would in an instant revoke the right of Slavery if given a chance.
Further, Joseph Smith ran on an abolitionist platform when running for President in 1844. He consistently preached against Slavery his entire life. In a pamphlet sent around the country stating Joseph’s political stances in his run for the Presidency, it was made clear that, “Joseph Smith expressed his feelings on most important issues of the day except his desire to add to the powers granted the federal government. This may have been an effort to demonstrate that he was truly aware of national problems and would not use the office of president merely to promote the interest of the Saints. Among other things he called for prison reform, abolition of slavery, economy in government, a national bank, and territorial expansion.” I take this attack from O’Donnell to be the most offensive. Never at any time did the Church promote slavery, on the contrary, it always seeked to abolish slavery.
I do not blame people for criticizing the Church for it’s pre-1978 racial policy. It is fair game as far as I am concerned. People are free to criticize as they desire. I just ask that people be accurate in their characterizations of such criticism. At least be truthful; and here O’Donnell was anything but.
Now, to address the present standing of the Church on racial issues. I would submit that no faith is as inclusive to all races as the LDS Church is today. They have vast Missionary efforts in every corner of the world. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions for the Church; more and more wards, stakes, and missions are being created there. The Church even has Temple’s in Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria.
Finally, this issue of race was discussed by the President of the Church, President Gordon B. Hinckley, in the Church’s General Conference in April 2006, here is the segment on race:
I have wondered why there is so much hatred in the world. We are involved in terrible wars with lives lost and many crippling wounds. Coming closer to home, there is so much of jealousy, pride, arrogance, and carping criticism; fathers who rise in anger over small, inconsequential things and make wives weep and children fear.
Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.
Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?
Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.
Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.