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Obama and the Mormons

DoctorArchDoctorArch CurmudgeonRegistered User regular
edited July 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
I wanted to comment on this yesterday, but since the forums were down, it had to wait until today.

From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Mormon Church leaders presented President Barack Obama with a detailed family tree in five leather-bound volumes Monday during a private meeting in the Oval Office.

The 30-minute sit-down was the first time Obama has met with Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Monson was escorted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the highest ranking Mormon in the government, and LDS Apostle Dallin Oaks, the chairman of the faith's genealogical committee.

LDS leaders have made a tradition of presenting presidents with genealogical breakdowns, giving similar reports to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, but none have been as varied as Obama's, whose mother was from Kansas and whose father was from Kenya. Previous ancestral examinations have uncovered Obama's Irish and German lineage as well.

"President Obama's heritage is rich with examples of leadership, sacrifice and service," Monson said. "We were very pleased to research his family history and are honored to present it to him today."

The bound volumes include details about multiple generations of his family going back hundreds of years.

In a brief statement, Obama said he enjoyed meeting the Mormon leaders and appreciated their gift.

"I'm grateful for the genealogical records that they brought with them and am looking forward to reading through the materials with my daughters," he said. "It's something our family will treasure for years to come."

The meeting, arranged by Reid, was closed to the press.

Afterward Reid released a statement that thanked the Mormon leaders for sharing the nearly 14-million member faith's passion for genealogy.

"Recognizing the president and first lady's deep regard for family, I am honored that our church can have any part in documenting their family history," Reid said.

He also noted that Obama and Oaks discussed their interest in the law. Both men taught at the University of Chicago law school. Oaks went on to become a justice on the Utah Supreme Court before resigning to become a Mormon apostle.

While it was the first time Obama met face-to-face with Monson, they have talked on the phone at least once before. Obama called Monson in January 2008 to offer his condolences after then LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley died. At the time, Obama, then a candidate for president, was slated to visit Utah. He canceled out of respect for Hinckley's funeral. Monson succeeded Hinckley as the faith's president.

Monson has had experience with American presidents before, spending nearly an hour with President George W. Bush at the LDS Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City. During the May 2008 meeting, they discussed U.S. foreign policy, Middle East peace, the economy and energy, according to Bush's press secretary Dana Perino.

As noted, this is common practice of the LDS leadership to present the current President's genealogical history to them upon taking office. Good, fine, dandy, but I personally have a problem with Obama giving them the time of day.

For those that do not know, the LDS/Mormon church to this day believes that blacks are descended from the Biblical Cain, and that dark skin is the so-called "curse of Cain." For years the church used this to limit participation amongst its members of African descent. While they have changed the doctrine to allow for full membership for members of African descent, according to church theology, they are still the descendants of Cain. Furthermore, numerous church leaders (who according to their theology, are literal Prophets of God, and when they speak the word is God's and unassailable) have stated terrible things about African people for which there have never been retractions or apologies, including
"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110)
and
...they (Africans) who are clean in their lives; who are virtuous; who are honorable...shall come forth-and they may even enter into the celestial kingdom, but when they enter there they enter as servants-to wait upon those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

Politically, there may have been a minuscule gain in performing outreach to a demographic that overwhelmingly votes Republican, but I think from a moral human decency perspective, Obama should have either refused to meet with them, or to have made a public statement regarding the LDS church's very racist history.

Edit: Another thought. After the LDS church's very prominent role in turning back civil rights for homosexuals, Obama would have another, very valid reason to eschew meeting the church.

DoctorArch on
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Posts

  • ChanusChanus Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Yeah... that's kind of like saying all Christians believe the same wacko bullshit espoused by the fundamentalists.

  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    It's really not the president's job to condemn the racist and homophobic beliefs of a religion, especially when there's no shortage of other people willing to do that job themselves.

  • BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Chanus wrote: »
    Yeah... that's kind of like saying all Christians believe the same wacko bullshit espoused by the fundamentalists.

    Yeah, it is not like they have to believe the word of (their) god.

  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Chanus wrote: »
    Yeah... that's kind of like saying all Christians believe the same wacko bullshit espoused by the fundamentalists.

    Mainstream Mormons are about as dedicated and literal as fundamentalist members of other denominations. "Fundamentalist Mormon" is a term reserved for polygamy cultists.

  • CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    It's nice to think about what the president should have done to make us personally feel all good inside, but he's a politician, and part of being a politician is being nice to people who don't deserve it.

    The libertarian response to anything is, "Sure, that works fine in practice, but it doesn't fly in theory."
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    Chanus wrote: »
    Yeah... that's kind of like saying all Christians believe the same wacko bullshit espoused by the fundamentalists.

    Mainstream Mormons are about as dedicated and literal as fundamentalist members of other denominations. "Fundamentalist Mormon" is a term reserved for polygamy cultists.

    Exactly. I have met many, many Mormons who have defended the racist policies of the church as "right for the time" because that is what God decreed. To question these policies is to question both the church and God himself. This is not faith promoting.

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Cervetus wrote: »
    It's nice to think about what the president should have done to make us personally feel all good inside, but he's a politician, and part of being a politician is being nice to people who don't deserve it.

    Pretty much this. Snubbing the Mormon church amounts to refusing to recognize the state of Utah.

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Obama ignoring the Mormons due to past/current stupidity would seem to entirely contradict his political style. I also fail to see how it would be productive.

    Speaking of unproductive things to do to the Mormons, does anyone want to post-humously convert dead Mormons to the Church of Satan? (I figure if Mormons can convert dead Jews to Mormonism...)

  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Democrats gave up on Utah long ago.

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Archgarth wrote: »
    Democrats gave up on Utah long ago.

    The Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate is from Utah.
    I know we all hate Harry Reid, but he clearly demonstrates that the Democrats have not given up on Utah.

  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Qingu wrote: »
    Obama ignoring the Mormons due to past/current stupidity would seem to entirely contradict his political style. I also fail to see how it would be productive.

    Speaking of unproductive things to do to the Mormons, does anyone want to post-humously convert dead Mormons to the Church of Satan? (I figure if Mormons can convert dead Jews to Mormonism...)

    I think it would be much more topical if we posthumously gay married them.

  • DrakeonDrakeon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Cervetus wrote: »
    It's nice to think about what the president should have done to make us personally feel all good inside, but he's a politician, and part of being a politician is being nice to people who don't deserve it.

    Yep. I was kind of surprised to see the news myself, but it doesn't at all surprise me. President's got to be diplomatic and all that.

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  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    Archgarth wrote: »
    Democrats gave up on Utah long ago.

    The Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate is from Utah.
    I know we all hate Harry Reid, but he clearly demonstrates that the Democrats have not given up on Utah.

    He is from Nevada. (OH SNAP!) :P

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Archgarth wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    Archgarth wrote: »
    Democrats gave up on Utah long ago.

    The Democratic Majority Leader in the Senate is from Utah.
    I know we all hate Harry Reid, but he clearly demonstrates that the Democrats have not given up on Utah.

    He is from Nevada. (OH SNAP!) :P

    Oh shit.
    My b.

    Edit: Oh well in that case the clear answer is to sink Utah into the sea.

  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Also, Obama should tell Catholics to go get fucked. The pope said some horrid shit that one time, after all, and in their fath he's got pretty much the same deal going what with that 'what laws you make on earth I shall keep in the kingdom' or however that one passage goes.

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  • ZimmydoomZimmydoom Registered User
    edited July 2009
    Cervetus wrote: »
    It's nice to think about what the president should have done to make us personally feel all good inside, but he's a politician, and part of being a politician is being nice to people who don't deserve it.

    More specifically, part of being president is listening to the concerns and positions of all American citizens, weighing these views against each other, and then working with the directly elected representatives of those citizens in order to find common ground as often as possible.

    Perhaps "mainstream Mormons" would be less likely to condemn the man as a marked son of Cain if they actually recognized the fact that he's willing to sit down with them and listen to what they have to say and treat them with a little dignity and respect.

    This kind of reactionary nonsense is what makes me worry that, 20 years from now, the last "Culture Warriors" won't be right-wing fundamentalists, they'll be angry "liberals" with an unsettled vendetta.

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  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    Chanus wrote: »
    Yeah... that's kind of like saying all Christians believe the same wacko bullshit espoused by the fundamentalists.

    Mainstream Mormons are about as dedicated and literal as fundamentalist members of other denominations. "Fundamentalist Mormon" is a term reserved for polygamy cultists.

    ehhh

    maybe in utah

    as much as I detest the LDS church they aren't universally fundamentalist by any stretch

  • RecklessReckless Registered User
    edited July 2009
    There's nothing wrong with Obama paying a little lip service to the Mormons. The event was low-key, closed to the press, and doesn't really deserve much in the way of attention.

    Arch wrote: »
    That much sex will make you stay with ANY kind of crazy bitch.
  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    Chanus wrote: »
    Yeah... that's kind of like saying all Christians believe the same wacko bullshit espoused by the fundamentalists.

    Mainstream Mormons are about as dedicated and literal as fundamentalist members of other denominations. "Fundamentalist Mormon" is a term reserved for polygamy cultists.

    ehhh

    maybe in utah

    as much as I detest the LDS church they aren't universally fundamentalist by any stretch

    well, first: anecdotelol

    But even in the godless land of Massachusetts, the local Mormon church was much more central to the lives of the Mormons in my high school than any other church was to any other religious group.

  • PhonehandPhonehand Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    mainstream mormons aren't bigoted racists

    bigoted racist mormons are

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  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Drakeon wrote: »
    Cervetus wrote: »
    It's nice to think about what the president should have done to make us personally feel all good inside, but he's a politician, and part of being a politician is being nice to people who don't deserve it.

    Yep. I was kind of surprised to see the news myself, but it doesn't at all surprise me. President's got to be diplomatic and all that.

    Diplomacy is fine and dandy most of the time, but there are some moral cases where being nice and finessing a diplomatic response is nothing more than giving acquiescence. Racism is a moral evil. Take South Africa, for example. It wasn't until countries around the globe stopped giving the Apartheid government carte blanche that meaningful change began to occur. To me, there is no "middle ground" against an evil like racism. If we had been concerned about being diplomatic and cordial to the racists in U.S. history, we would still be struggling to pass civil rights legislation. When a significantly large, homegrown religion in the U.S. still believes blacks to be the spawn of the devil, the President should make an effort to point this out when meeting them.

    Another example, when Glenn Beck was "joking" last year over whether or not Obama was the Anti-Christ, people said "Oh that Glenn Beck, he's so crazy." Beck is a Mormon, he was dogwhistling, and it was appalling to see.

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  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    On a related note the mormon lineage recording thing is kinda creepy

  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I can't see any advantage gained by being a douchebag to the mormons at this point in time.

    edit: besides, the tomes would prove he's a citizen to the birthers! </sarcasm>

  • ZimmydoomZimmydoom Registered User
    edited July 2009
    kildy wrote: »
    I can't see any advantage gained by being a douchebag to the mormons at this point in time.

    Personal satisfaction.

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  • RecklessReckless Registered User
    edited July 2009
    Arch, I'm not seeing the percentage in Obama raising these issues during a brief visit with Mormon leadership, especially considering it came on the heels of an outstanding speech given at the 100th anniversary of the NAACP. Nobody would gain anything. Mormons aren't constructing social policy in the greater United States.

    Arch wrote: »
    That much sex will make you stay with ANY kind of crazy bitch.
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    kildy wrote: »
    I can't see any advantage gained by being pointing out current racist historyto the group supporting racism at this point in time.

    How so?

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Archgarth wrote: »
    Diplomacy is fine and dandy most of the time, but there are some moral cases where being nice and finessing a diplomatic response is nothing more than giving acquiescence. Racism is a moral evil. Take South Africa, for example. It wasn't until countries around the globe stopped giving the Apartheid government carte blanche that meaningful change began to occur. To me, there is no "middle ground" against an evil like racism. If we had been concerned about being diplomatic and cordial to the racists in U.S. history, we would still be struggling to pass civil rights legislation. When a significantly large, homegrown religion in the U.S. still believes blacks to be the spawn of the devil, the President should make an effort to point this out when meeting them.

    Racial politics are endemic to the United States political system. If Obama refused to deal with any racist, nothing would get done.

  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Reckless wrote: »
    Arch, I'm not seeing the percentage in Obama raising these issues during a brief visit with Mormon leadership, especially considering it came on the heels of an outstanding speech given at the 100th anniversary of the NAACP. Nobody would gain anything. Mormons aren't constructing social policy in the greater United States.

    The millions of homosexuals who had their rights stripped in California would disagree with you.

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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited July 2009
    Qingu wrote: »
    Obama ignoring the Mormons due to past/current stupidity would seem to entirely contradict his political style. I also fail to see how it would be productive.

    Speaking of unproductive things to do to the Mormons, does anyone want to post-humously convert dead Mormons to the Church of Satan? (I figure if Mormons can convert dead Jews to Mormonism...)

    Yeah, when Qingu comes out in favor of acting towards religious people with civility, I think it tells you something.

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  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Archgarth wrote: »
    kildy wrote: »
    I can't see any advantage gained by being pointing out current racist historyto the group supporting racism at this point in time.

    How so?

    Because it won't play like that with anyone, and instead will play as "godless liberal snubs religious leaders"

    It's not worth the pointless jab at all. It's easier to speak against racism in general than to try and take a stab at it in a specific instance and pray it plays well.

    Specifically: what would pointing out the racist history of the mormons gain? What, people might think they're a crazy religion?

  • DashuiDashui Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Archgarth wrote:
    Good, fine, dandy, but I personally have a problem with Obama giving them the time of day.


    For those that do not know, the LDS/Mormon church to this day believes that blacks are descended from the Biblical Cain, and that dark skin is the so-called "curse of Cain." For years the church used this to limit participation amongst its members of African descent. While they have changed the doctrine to allow for full membership for members of African descent, according to church theology, they are still the descendants of Cain. Furthermore, numerous church leaders (who according to their theology, are literal Prophets of God, and when they speak the word is God's and unassailable) have stated terrible things about African people for which there have never been retractions or apologies, including...

    He shouldn't give them the time of day not because of their doctrine, but because Mormons gave us Twilight. Unforgivable.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Obama should have kicked the head Luddite in the face and set the geneology on fire.

    Then, a shot of him lighting a cigar from it's smoldering ashes. Fade to black.

    Because that's how reasonable adults run the country.

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  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Zimmydoom wrote: »
    Cervetus wrote: »
    It's nice to think about what the president should have done to make us personally feel all good inside, but he's a politician, and part of being a politician is being nice to people who don't deserve it.

    More specifically, part of being president is listening to the concerns and positions of all American citizens, weighing these views against each other, and then working with the directly elected representatives of those citizens in order to find common ground as often as possible.

    Perhaps "mainstream Mormons" would be less likely to condemn the man as a marked son of Cain if they actually recognized the fact that he's willing to sit down with them and listen to what they have to say and treat them with a little dignity and respect.

    This kind of reactionary nonsense is what makes me worry that, 20 years from now, the last "Culture Warriors" won't be right-wing fundamentalists, they'll be angry "liberals" with an unsettled vendetta.

    This is actually a really good point. The president is everyones president, not just the democrats in the crowd. In fact, that's part of what made Bush so horrible, he was only a president for part of the country. The president was originally supposed to be an impartial mediator between factions of the government, the guy who is above it all. Now, that sounds like a pretty high bar to set for performance there, but I think that's honestly the best way for a president to be. I don't think we'll get that though, but it's nice to see that the President isn't going to snub a sector of the population he is governing on behalf of just because they believe objectionable things. He shouldn't let their racism oppress others, but they still deserve to be heard.

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  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    Chanus wrote: »
    Yeah... that's kind of like saying all Christians believe the same wacko bullshit espoused by the fundamentalists.

    Mainstream Mormons are about as dedicated and literal as fundamentalist members of other denominations. "Fundamentalist Mormon" is a term reserved for polygamy cultists.

    ehhh

    maybe in utah

    as much as I detest the LDS church they aren't universally fundamentalist by any stretch

    well, first: anecdotelol

    But even in the godless land of Massachusetts, the local Mormon church was much more central to the lives of the Mormons in my high school than any other church was to any other religious group.

    that doesn't mean they're fundamentalist

    as far as I can tell, a lot of main stream mormons are well aware that their religion is completely batshit. But there's a very strong sense of community and such and they're very into the religion

  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Due to several excellent points in this thread, I retract my opinion that he should not have met with them.

    However, would a "greater good" have been served by pointing out current bigotry? Making the church's struggles (or reluctance) to deal with racism a reference for America's struggle with racism?

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  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    He should have been all, "I'm the product of mixed seed! Doesn't your God say I have to be put to death? Huh? Hypocrite?" and then took the geneaology book and punched the Mormon in his face.

  • ZimmydoomZimmydoom Registered User
    edited July 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    Chanus wrote: »
    Yeah... that's kind of like saying all Christians believe the same wacko bullshit espoused by the fundamentalists.

    Mainstream Mormons are about as dedicated and literal as fundamentalist members of other denominations. "Fundamentalist Mormon" is a term reserved for polygamy cultists.

    ehhh

    maybe in utah

    as much as I detest the LDS church they aren't universally fundamentalist by any stretch

    well, first: anecdotelol

    But even in the godless land of Massachusetts, the local Mormon church was much more central to the lives of the Mormons in my high school than any other church was to any other religious group.

    that doesn't mean they're fundamentalist

    as far as I can tell, a lot of main stream mormons are well aware that their religion is completely batshit. But there's a very strong sense of community and such and they're very into the religion

    It's like the world's biggest LARP, and everybody is a "Lawful-Neutral Human Breeder."

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Archgarth wrote: »
    Due to several excellent points in this thread, I retract my opinion that he should not have met with them.

    However, would a "greater good" have been served by pointing out current bigotry? Making the church's struggles (or reluctance) to deal with racism a more national issue?

    Depending on exactly what Obama said, it would land somewhere between awkward embarrassment and unmitigated disaster.

    It is not for the president to chastise any church for its beliefs, past or present.

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Yeah, when Qingu comes out in favor of acting towards religious people with civility, I think it tells you something.
    I remember a similar debate about Rick Warren at the inauguration. I've always held that politicians ought to use different strategies for dealing with religious idiots than individuals. Obama is working on a different level of engagement than private citizens.

    In the same way, the government ought to be hands-off Iran, whereas private citizens should feel free to help out the reformist protesters.

  • cherv1cherv1 Registered User
    edited July 2009
    So does their genealogy on his African side go all the way to Cain, or do their records not stretch back that far?

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