Sunday, April 08, 2007

Follow the Prophet

If you've been following the news, you know that Vice President Cheney has been invited to speak at Brigham Young University's commencement in a couple of weeks. And, you probably also know that this has created quite a stir. (Read articles from the Washington Post here and here.) Outside of Bob Jones University and Oral Roberts University, Brigham Young is probably one of the most conservative universities in the United States. Owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the entrance requirements are not only academically rigorous, they're also morally rigorous.

One of the hallmarks of Mormonism is that Mormons believe in living prophets--men who they believe are called by and speak to and for God. And they believe in following these men faithfully and without question.

Mormons also like to taut that they are "politically neutral." As a result, the Church has tried to distance itself from the Cheney affair at BYU by saying it doesn't support one party or the other, that it encourages its members to be engaged in civic affairs and to vote, and that it doesn't endorse candidates. All of that is philosophically true. From a realistic standpoint, though, Utah always votes Republican and it gave George W. Bush his highest returns in both elections. In other words, Utah is a red state and the Church is fairly red, too, with occasional tinges of blue.

Many folks at BYU are not happy that Cheney is coming. The Church leadership has been hearing about it and continues to try to distance themselves from this matter, despite owning and governing BYU. And the Church's nonagenarian leader and prophet, a kindly, grandfatherly man named Gordon B. Hinckley, has continued to tell members to be engaged civicly. As a result, this protest poster displayed during a protest at BYU this week is just classic. Talk about turning a belief around and using it as a valid counterpoint! I love it! (Apparently, though, some of the more conservative, pro-Cheney-ites were not amused, but I guess that's their constitutional right, too.)

Thanks to my friends, The Professor and MaryAnn, for posting this on their blog.

6 comments:

JMK said...

For some odd reason, the comment option was not enabled on this entry, but I've fixed that.

Di: I've copied and pasted your comment here.

Sorry for the glitch.

Di said...

Minor quibble here. I wouldn't say the standards at BYU are academically and "morally" rigourous; rather, they're academically and religiously (in a mormon way of course) rigourous. After all, things like facial hair, shorts, and drinking alcohol are morally neutral, but religiously proscribed by the LDS church. Just sayin.

JMK said...

Di: Excellent point! Religiously rigorous is very different from morally rigorous. Thanks for pointing that out.

verniciousknids said...

I just noticed in your sidebar that you recently read "The Night Watch" by Sarah Waters - have you read "Fingersmith"? I read it last year and really enjoyed it.

janeannechovy said...

A friend (as reported by her mother) once said that Mormonism is "all rules, and no ethics"--I've been thinking about that, and realizing how neatly it sums up all the things that bug me about modern church culture and practice.

JMK said...

'Knids: I really liked Night Watch and am actually re-reading it. I haven't read Fingersmith yet, but have heard good things about both.

JA: I'd never thought about the rules v. ethics thing within Mormonism, which is especially odd since I took a course in Christian ethics in grad school. Anyway--I think I'm going to have to go away and ponder that a bit...