CANADIAN MORMON

I was Mormon before it was cool.

Glenn Beck is a Mormon!?

Look, I don’t represent the Church – my dumb opinions are my own. I should make that clear right off the bat. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and the right to express it, and that’s why blogs exist. I understand that politics is a hot-button issue, (as is religion), but I don’t see any reason why I should hide the fact that I think Obama is great, and that George W. Bush was an awful disgrace. That doesn’t mean Obama hasn’t made mistakes, or that Bush didn’t accidentally get one or two things right.

I’m a Canadian, and while Americans (from what I can gather) generally ignore and/or are totally unaware of Canadian politics, I think it’s fair to say that most Canadians follow American politics rather closely. I have no statistics or surveys to back this perception up, but it seems to be true. At any rate, it’s hard to ignore the so-called war between the White House, and the comedy network called Fox News.

Whatever gambit Fox is making seems to be working, even though I couldn’t agree more with the thought that it’s probably in everyone’s best interest to ignore the network altogether. I really find Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and their ilk distasteful, smug, and supremely irritating. (Keith Olbermann and Al Franken are also smug and irritating, but have a much superior batting average.) Glenn Beck has quickly proven himself to be just as absurd as O'Reilly et al., with asinine, knee-jerk, reactionary twaddle like an inexplicable screed against the White House’s charitable service initiative, or countless other bizarre positions and opinions.

It’s utterly perplexing, I know. I shudder to think who might count themselves among Beck’s acolytes, but feel reassured that most wise, thinking individuals, regardless of political orientation, most likely avoid both republican and democratic pundits like the plague. The world would doubtless be a better place if Republicans and Democrats alike tuned out the white noise of punditry and relied on their own abilities to weigh issues and form opinions…

But back to Beck. In Beck we find a man whose opinions seemed to be generated exclusively by the polar opposite of everything that Obama says or does, regardless of how ridiculous that opposite extreme happens to be. This is the man, you may recall, who called Obama a racist. What? I ventured to Wikipedia to see what might have happened to make Beck the way he is, and was astonished to learn that he is, in fact, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There’s even an (aptly named) dvd about his conversion.

Obviously (and thankfully), his opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Church any more than mine do. But I found it fascinating that someone so vitriolic and personally distasteful to me, and with whom I disagree on virtually every point of politics, ostensibly shares my most personal and deeply held spiritual beliefs. I haven’t seen the Deseret Books DVD of his conversion story. Perhaps I should. Knowing that “Brother Beck” is a fellow Latter-Day Saint has certainly been an interesting exercise in contexts, and a reinforcement of the Church’s position that members are free to exercise their own agency when it comes to political opinions and affiliations.

I am aware that our Church membership tends to skew right, and there are likely many who did not bat an eye when they learned Glenn Beck was Mormon. Many Mormons would be proud, I suppose. So far, I’m not one of them. But I am more than happy to, as Joseph Smith said, “claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of [my] own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (That goes for pundits and politics, too.) If Glenn Beck found the answers he was looking for in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

None of this matters anyway. I’m Canadian – I can’t vote in US elections, and am hardly steeped in the day-to-day political machinations of our neighbour to the South, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

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I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am also, among other things, Canadian. If you've never heard of Mormons, you could do a lot worse than to watch this video. It's ten minutes long, and you'll come out the other end knowing more about Mormons than 90% of the population.

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