“When Bigotry Comes to Your Hometown”



In 1848, after it had been abandoned by the Latter-day Saints as they fled westward and then desecrated by mobs and vandals for a couple of years, the Nauvoo Temple was (mercifully) destroyed by an arsonist.




I doubt that it’s coincidental:  Supposed concerns about “traffic” are also commonly heard when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seeks to build a chapel or a temple — and, in more than a few cases, just as in this one, those stated concerns mask the real (and shameful) reasons behind the opposition.


Frederick Piercy’s 1853 sketch of the ruins of the Nauvoo Temple in Illinois


Latter-day Saints ought to be the very last people to oppose the construction of a house of worship — of any faith — in their towns and neighborhoods.


I was saddened and disappointed, three years ago, when Gov. Mitt Romney (whom I supported for the presidency and whom I would support again) and Sen. Harry Reid opposed construction of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.”  I was delighted and proud when Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch announced his strong support for it.


I understand that Islam carries considerable political baggage with it these days, but your typical Muslim neighbor or co-worker is no more likely to be a bomber or hijacker than you are, and Muslims have the right to worship freely in the United States of America.


On 30 October 1838, at least seventeen Mormon men and boys were killed in the “Haun’s Mill Massacre” in Caldwell County, Missouri. The fifty-five men publicly known to have perpetrated the attack were never prosecuted.
(Click to enlarge.)


“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”  (Joseph Smith, Eleventh Article of Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)


If a mosque is being built in your hometown, or if one already stands near you, visit it.  Watch for announcements of open houses and the like.  Treat the presence of a mosque as an opportunity for a learning experience.  You will also, very likely, have a wonderful time with kindly people.  You might even, if you come during a formal open house, enjoy some tasty food.  And, today, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan has two weeks yet to go.  Some of you might be lucky enough to be invited to a Ramadan iftar, a breaking of the fast.  If you are, go!



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