Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mormons Conflicted over Immigrants

In his article, Daniel González examines the appeal of the Mormon church to Latinos, who have recently flocked to the Latter-Day Saints in overwhelming numbers – and often illegally. Mormon missionaries have been proselytizing in Latin American countries, appealing to the Hispanic population by emphasizing the religion’s focus on strong family and cultural ties. When these people migrate to America to join the church, Mormons seem to uphold a no-questions-asked policy, which has been usurped to such an extreme that an estimated 70% of Latino converts are in the country illegally. Many Mormons take issue with this development; especially since the majority identify with the Republican Party, which is known for a strong anti-immigrant stance.

Historically, Mormons have been seen more as an insidious cult than as a faction of Christianity. 19th century Americans disdained their blind acceptance with the claim that the religion attracted criminals and fools who hoped to be purified and gain the status of a ‘king or priest,’ as founder Joseph Smith promised, since a Mormon baptism could even purify one who ‘had murdered all [his] days.’ It is interesting to note, however, that many Catholic organizations have adopted a similar no-questions policy, yet officials have only considered removing tax-exempt status from Mormon organizations. Are Mormons being judged unfairly because of their stereotype?

Regardless of how they fit into the whole moral spectrum though, the ultimate question is this: is it acceptable – or credible – that this organization allows law-breaking and then preaches morality? While it is true that the freedom of choice to break the law and immigrate lies with their converts, is it okay for the LDS church to leave the issue unaddressed rather than taking an active stance? This seems like a flashback to their polygamous days, when the Supreme Court ruled that Mormons were not permitted to act on principles of doctrines of their faith (today: compassion, acceptance, charity) if it meant breaking the law of the land…

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