Revamping the Mormon image

Ronald Dixon

As one of the latest Minnesota Daily features indicated, there are many misconceptions that college-aged Mormons face on a daily basis. Through active participation on the University of Minnesota campus, several Minnesota Mormon students have had the ability to engage with students from a variety of different backgrounds, which certainly has a positive impact upon one’s own views and perceptions.

Nevertheless, as some Mormons adamantly prove, many still believe that Mormonism is a religion that justifies polygamy, which is defined as relationship between a husband and multiple wives. Of course, this is illegal in the United States, and it is taboo, but there is this misconception that Mormonism and polygamy are synonymous.

Another misconception about the religion is that it completely branches off from Christianity, which, although it does somewhat through the Book of Mormon, it still shares a branch of the broad religion.

Ultimately, it is up to Mormons to craft the narrative that they are not polygamists that do not believe in the same god that most Americans share. This can be done through a few means. First, contemporary college Mormons need to distance themselves from the fundamentalist portion of the Mormon religion. This is a challenge that many liberal Christians face today, where their religion has become, to many, synonymous with a belief of hate, bigotry, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and anachronisms.

As someone who is an atheist, my critiques of religion generally center around fundamentalist and conservative beliefs. These are the adopted views that promote traditional gender roles, the mistreatment of the LGBT community and antipathies against those that do not share the same religion or beliefs.

Considering the fact that the moral zeitgeist continues to shift to the left, and as more young Americans espouse progressive and secular ideals, all religions need to align with the times. If Mormons, for example, wish not to be grouped with polygamists, then they must support contemporary, liberal, and secular ideals, particularly on evolution and global warming.

If a young Mormon raises concerns about the public view of Mormons, and yet does nothing to show that they are not a relic of the past, then they really have no room to complain. Conservatism, naturally, falls behind on the shifting moral zeitgeist, and the views that are attached to old schools of thought are going to be met with staunch criticisms. As society continues to accept gay rights and progress for women, if Mormons vote solidly for Republican candidates and support traditional norms, then they will be treated as anachronistic relics.

Apart from showing support for liberal, secular ideals, they must also separate themselves with some of the well-known radicals. The one that comes to mind is Glenn Beck, a former Fox News commentator that now focuses on his own online program. As a Mormon, he espouses his religion ad nauseum, and he does a fantastic job of making himself look illegitimate. Although he has been spouting his rhetoric for years, a recent story that he concocted involves the conspiratorial connection between the IRS, Benghazi and the Boston Bombing.

By distancing themselves away from radicals, such as Glenn Beck, and embracing positive ideas that are churning through the shifting moral zeitgeist, contemporary Mormons will do a better job of convincing fellow Americans that they are not crazy polygamists.

Ronald Dixon welcomes comments at [email protected]