My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Lawrence O’Donnell, Martin Bashir, MSNBC’s Bigotry, and Lots of False Facts about Mormonism

A couple of weeks ago MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell made some statements that troubled me regarding my religious faith. I wrote a long, heavily cited, and not very friendly blog post addressing Mr. O’Donnell’s complete bigotry and lack of facts. However, in good judgement, and having vented it all out by typing it, I decided not to post it. “Not just yet,” I said to myself. “We’ll see where this goes,” I thought.

There was eventually an apology, of sorts, on Mr. O’Donnell’s part and I thought that the idiocy of the press had passed by (for the most part). Surely they could only make so much out of Mitt Romney’s religious faith, right?

But oh no. I was wrong. Because now MSNBC’s Martin Bashir has joined in on the religious bigotry. So let’s consider both public rants by both of these MSNBC commentators, and then I’ll share my thoughts on the matter.

Go ahead and watch Mr. O’Donnel’s statements first.

The above clip was aired April 3rd, in the middle of a piece about Mitt Romney’s claim that President Barack Obama was trying to “establish a religion in America known as secularism.” O’Donnell brought up the Church’s origins to make the point that Romney, while attacking the beliefs of Obama, was vulnerable on the same score. “Religiously, Mitt Romney lives in the glass house of American politics,” he said. O’Donnell then continued with the following:

Mormonism was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it. Forty-eight wives later, Joseph Smith’s lifestyle was completely sanctified in the religion he invented to go with it, which Mitt Romney says he believes.”

Any serious student of history, Latter-day Saint or not, could blow a hole through the middle of such a ludicrous statement. That the Church was organized in upstate New York in 1830 by Joseph Smith is perhaps the only correct statement in the entire sentence. The fact that Joseph Smith and his wife Emma didn’t even have their own home at the time, let alone a maid, had little cause for the Church’s organization. And it is a well established fact that Joseph Smith did not even begin practicing plural marriage until years after the Church was organized.

The very next day Fox News’ Bill O’Reill responded by calling O’Donnell’s screed a “smear,” and made the point that if O’Donnell had similarly blasted Islam, he would have been fired instantly. But oh no, that was not the case with Lawrence O’Donnell and MSNBC. Instead, he continued on with his show without even the slightest of comments from MSNBC. Only after an uproar on the internet (by those who were obviously not as conservative in their blogging and Tweeting as me) did Lawrence O’Donnell issue an apology on April 11th. He said in part,

I am truly sorry if I said something inaccurate about Joseph Smith, and I am happy to provide time on this show to a Church of Latter Day Saints spokesman to correct any inaccuracy. I just wish I could take those words back.”

The main thing O’Donnell was sorry about, however, was that “my word choice ripped some people’s attention away from my point, and that is that we should not tolerate religious intolerance in voting.”

“My preaching on the politics of religion has always been that religious intolerance is wrong,” O’Donnell said. “Refusing to vote for a Mormon candidate is wrong. Refusing to vote for a Catholic candidate is wrong. Refusing to vote for a Jewish candidate is wrong. Refusing to vote for a Muslim candidate is wrong. And yes, refusing to vote for a non-believer is wrong.”

That the Church didn’t send a spokesperson like Scott Trotter to then go on the defense I believe is admirable. Just because one national news media outlet allowed one of their highest paid hosts to publicly defame Joseph Smith doesn’t even meet our standards for an acknowledgement.

But then this past week MSNBC’s Martin Bashir had this to say on this program. Go ahead and watch.

Given what the Book of Mormon is clearly saying, Mr. Romney has but two choices. He can either keep lying and potentially win the White House, but bring eternal damnation upon himself or he can start telling the truth. The question for him, I guess, is which is more important.”

Fool me once MSNBC, shame on you. Fool me twice into thinking that you and your hosts are still reputable? Shame on me.

I won’t even make reference to the fact that he says “Nephi” wrong, or that their graphics guy in the back thinks that The Doctrine & Covenants is part of The Book of Mormon, but what I will confront is his blatant use of Mitt Romney’s faith – my faith – against him. It is nothing less that completely and totally disgusting. And luckily, we Latter-day Saints aren’t the only people who have thought so.

It seems as if countless conservative blogs are condemning Martin Bashir for his choice of words, including the Right Scoop, which called Bashir one of many “jackholes” who cannot be taken seriously in the media. Said they,

It just doesn’t get more absurd than this…[T]his is why people don’t take jackholes like Martin Bashir seriously, because they themselves are the most egregious of liars and are simply trying to cover for Obama’s bankrupting policies.”

Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters accused Bashir himself of having “flat out lied,” noting that the MSNBC host’s claim that the president never promised to keep unemployment rate below 8 percent is a “total falsehood”.

Saying that Bashir has a “tendency to predict such a destination [Hell] for people he doesn’t agree with,” Sheppard continued, “Exactly how is MSNBC allowed to broadcast such falsehoods with total impunity while calling itself a news network?”

Billy Hallowell at The Blaze also blasted Martin Bashir for unleashing an “excoriating rant” and “religious lecture”, while Allahpundit at HotAir gave the journalist a piece of his mind in a post titled, “Martin Bashir to Romney: The Book of Mormon forbids lying, you know.” The post at Hotair continues:

I’m … pretty sure the Bible does too [condemn lying], yet rarely do you see chapter and verse cited on cable news when a Democrat or Republican lies.”

As a Latter-day Saint I welcome the extra attention the Church is now getting. It allows me, and my family of 14 Million+ to address your questions and concerns. However, when networks such as MSNBC continually allow their hosts to throw up such ludicrous straw man debates it takes away the focus both of Mitt Romney’s campaign, and what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really teaches.

Mitt Romney has always referred all doctrinal questions about our faith to the Church itself. Recently at a political rally in Wisconsin, Romney was faced with a voter quoting from The Book of Mormon, and suggested dark skin was a divine punishment. “Do you believe it’s a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black?” the person asked. “No. Next question,” Romney responded, obviously wanting to avoid a major political gaffe. However, a few moments later he turned back to the subject of his faith. He told the audience of his time spent as a bishop and then stake president in Massachusetts that allowed him to work hands-on with regular folks who needed help. Then he continued:

I’ve had an unusual experience. This gentleman wanted to talk about the doctrines of my religion. I’ll talk about the practices of my faith. I had the occasion in my church to be asked to be the pastor, if you will, of a congregation. I’ve served in that kind of role for about 10 years. And that gave me the occasion to work with people on a very personal basis that were dealing with unemployment, with marital difficulties, with health difficulties of their own and with their kids.

Most Americans, by the way, are carrying a burden of some kind. We don’t see it, we see someone on the street, they smile and say ‘Hello,’ but behind them they are carrying a bag of rocks. It may be their own health difficulties. It may be concern about a job, it may be inability to pay for the home or the college they were hoping to pay for for a child. But people have burdens in this country, and when you get a chance to know people on a very personal basis, whether you’re serving as a pastor or as a counselor or in other kinds of roles, you understand that every kind of person you see is facing some challenges. And one of the reasons I’m running for president of the United States is I want to help people; I want to lighten those burdens.

If Lawrence O’Donnell and Martin Bashir, and MSNBC as a whole, want to discuss Mitt Romney and his faith, that’s what they should be talking about. They never consider what being a Latter-day Saint makes Mitt Romney as a person. They simply engage in the same Anti-Mormon tomfoolery that has been around since the Church began. Would they ever dare question Rep. Keith Ellison, a faithful Muslim, or Senator Joseph Lieberman, a devout Jew, about the doctrines of their faiths? Would a national news commentator ever quote the Holy Koran to a Muslim and ask why he’s not slaughtering the infidels?

I don’t think so. The mere thought of it is ridiculous.

I believe Mitt Romney put it rather well himself during the Presidential Election Season of 2008 when he said in his now famous speech:

Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith. Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

So dear MSNBC, please get a hold of your hosts. Such religious bigotry has no place in our nation. If you want to discuss the politics of Mitt Romney, go ahead. Rip him to shreds. I don’t care. If you don’t like his health care plan in Massachusetts, go ahead and rant and rave all you want. If you think he’s an out of touch millionaire, go ahead and talk about his fancy new house plans in California. But if you want to attack his faith – my faith – pervert the scriptures, and continue with your religious prejudice, all I can say is shame on you.

During an election year when there are so many important issues on the table for both sides, I think it’s time for people like O’Donnell and Bashir to grow up and start focusing on the issues. I don’t care if Barack Obama ate dog once when he was younger, or that Mitt Romney once carried a dog on the roof of his car. What I, and the rest of America cares about are the issues.

And as for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my church, I have no doubt that this will be a long few months as my faith is scrutinized like never before. And we welcome that. But idiocy, bigotry, false statements, and downright lies we won’t accept. Perhaps Bashir should have been quoting the verse from 2 Nephi to his good friend Lawrence O’Donnell?…But then again, that wouldn’t have been very nice, would it?

But that’s just the way I see it.

– Stan Way

If you’re not a Mormon and would like to learn what we really believe, not what MSNBC is polluting the airwaves with, please go ahead and click here.

If you’re a Latter-day Saint, please remember to keep calm and respectful in your comments to others during this tumultuous time. Whether online or offline, every word we say will effect others.

And if you’re someone from MSNBC, please just know that you have lost a viewer for good. And not just me, but everyone else I can convince that you’re biased and unreliable. It won’t be such a hard argument for me to prove.

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