Ms. Chamberlin’s protest would be understandable and even commendable if only she weren’t Mormon. Yes, Trump is an egotistical, womanizer with a weather vane for a moral compass, but the Mormon (LDS) Church, for which the Tabernacle Choir is a tremendously valuable public relations tool, was founded by a man who did far worse than Trump, and claimed to have done it all in the name of God.
In case you’re not familiar, here are a few of the well-documented exploits of Joseph Smith:
- He claimed that God revealed to him that it would be acceptable for men to have multiple wives as long as a man’s first wife gave consent, and as long as those he marries are “virgins, and have vowed to no other man.” (D&C 132:61) Smith then proceeded to marry over 30 women, 11 of whom had living husbands at the time of his marriage to them.
- He married a mother daughter pair, Patty and Sylvia Sessions, and a few pairs of sisters as well.
- He had already taken over 20 wives when he publicly made this statement in 1844:”...What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers." (History of the Church, vol 6, p. 411)
Many Mormons try to side step the polygamy problem by claiming Smith's marriages were not consummated, but this denies the explicit reasoning for the commandment supposedly given by God, that a man's wives “are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth.” (D&C 132:63)
To add to this, when it comes to the issue of racism, for which Trump has been so widely criticized, consider what Smith's successor, Brigham Young, (who definitely consummated his polygamous marriages; he fathered over 50 children) said about the origin of black people:
"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind...Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin." ( Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290)
Brigham Young was also certain that God is not pleased with whites and blacks marrying each other, and never
"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, pg. 110)
So, why has Ms. Chamberlin never protested this?
The Washington Times quotes her as saying, “I believe hereafter our message will not be believed by many that have loved us and adored what we have stood for.” In light of the teachings and the behavior of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, no one should believe their message to begin with.”
Of course, every religious group has its fair share of leaders who have said and done stupid things. But in the LDS Church, Smith, Young, and all their successors are believed to be the mouthpieces of God who were sent as a Divine remedy for the abominable doctrines taught by Catholic and Protestant Christians.
This stunning inconsistency highlights the way in which culture and heritage can work like moral anesthesia. If Ms. Chamberlin is anything like most Mormons (especially those who live in Utah), then likely all of her most important family, friendship, and work relations are intertwined with Mormonism in some way or another, and if she were born into an LDS family this would deepen the roots of allegiance all the more. This brings to mind a joke about the ubiquity of pizza; all you need to get into the most clandestine government offices is a Domino’s shirt and pizza box. Likewise, all you need to get someone to venerate the most despicable people and the most perverse behaviors is to wrap it all in a cloak of cultural and family heritage. Nostalgia can be worse than heroin.
My conviction on this comes from experience. I was born and raised in the Deep South, and there a many well-meaning, but horribly misguided Southerners who have a lot to say about “heritage.” There’s plenty about Southern culture to love, but I’m for the Truth before I’m for the South.
With this in mind, Ms. Chamberlin would do well to focus her indignation a little closer to home, and we would all do well to turn our attention from our heritage to the One before whom we will give an account of where and why we placed our deepest allegiences.