Racism in the LDS, sexism in the Catholic Church

Christopher Hitchens, being interviewed on MSNBC, calls on US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to discuss his Mormonism.

Most importantly, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ position until 1978 that black men could not become priests or participate in certain ceremonies.

Hitchens is right. Romney, who was 31 in 1978, should explain why he was a member of an explictly racist organisation for 13 years of his adult life.

But shouldn’t this principle be extended to politicians or candidates who are part of explicitly sexist religious institutions? The Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain female priests is surely just as illogical, unjust, bigoted and discriminatory as the LDS Church’s pre-1978 position regarding black men.

Just as Romney should explicitly distance himself from the LDS Church’s previous racism, we should expect all Catholic politicians to denounce the sexism of their Church.



Australian Atheist said...

The same could be said for Jewish and Muslim politicians. I don't know of too many female muftis or rabbis.

Arthur_Vandelay said...

The Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain female priests is surely just as illogical, unjust, bigoted and discriminatory as the LDS Church’s pre-1978 position regarding black men.

Not to mention its genocidal position on birth control, or its policy of offering sanctuary to paedophiles in its ranks.

Australian Atheist said...

Or denying emergency contraception (or abortion services) to rape victims.

Merc no Baka said...

@Australian atheist - The ordination of women rabbis depends on the denomination. I don't know the situation in Australia, but in the US, the Reform and Reconstructionist movements have allowed ordination of female rabbis since the 1970's. The US Conservative seminaries took a little more time (1985), but now also ordain female rabbis (although some congregations resit this). Orthodox Judaism, alas, does not permit women to be rabbis.

Elaine Vigneault said...

Good idea.

I have a thought, though: For many people religion is not a free choice; it's a cultural identity. While they may intellectually disagree with certain racist or sexist acts or beliefs within the religion, the expectation that they should denounce basic tenants of their religion can only come from our privileged perspective of our atheist identities. We atheists are fortunate that we don't have an irrational assumption of God's existence or an irrational belief that our religion is right.

The real answer why Catholics don't have to distance themselves from the sexism in their religion, though, is because Catholicism is not Mormonism. A very small percentage of the US are Mormon (the percentage of the world that's LDS is much larger). LDS is considered a cult by many.

Australian Atheist said...

Merc no Baka - thanks for your contribution. I don’t know much about women in Judaism so I didn’t include the topic in my post. As I said, I simply am not aware of too many female rabbis. It’s great to hear that many strands of Judaism are ordaining women.

Australian Atheist said...

Elaine – I guess it depends on how you define choice. I would argue that everyone, besides those living in communities that punish apostasy with death or the like, have the choice to leave their faith. I stopped being a Catholic. Ex-Muslims in Britain have started Council of Ex-Mulsims of Britian. Sure you lose some of your cultural identity but so do racist skinheads that leave the ultra-nationalist punk underground. Just because your beliefs are tied up in an identity that gives you meaning, doesn’t justify your racism, sexism etc.

And you don’t need an atheist perspective to denounce basic tenants of your religion. There are groups of female Catholics and gay Catholics that fight against the anti-gay and anti-women stance of the Catholic Church.

Your right that the perception of Mormonism as a cult invalidates its tenats and makes fighting racism easier. But I also think there is double standard in regard to racism and sexism. For some reason, sexism in religion is accepted much more readily that racism.

Anonymous said...

Even though i'm a Reformed Fundamentalist King James Bible-believing Protestant Christian, i'll be neutral here:

The unHoly Roman Catholic Church is the harlot church described in Revelations 17. However, they didn't get everything wrong.

Unlike many of my fellow liberal protestant brethren, I share the same view of the Catholic Church here: women shall not hold leadership in the local church.

Christ didn't choose ANY women to be an apostle. Nor, did we have female pastors for centuries.

The Bible is NOT sexist. It simply assigns NATURAL gender roles.

Concerning racism, the bible clearly states race is a non-issue. If you are at church/work/school and a black/spaniard/french/arab steps in, and you wish (even in my mind) it was a white, CHECK YOURSELF, for something is not right.

The religion of Darwinian Evolution is, indeed, a mean to justify racism. However, thats another story

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, saying that the Bible is not sexist, but simply assigns natural gender roles is no different from a Mormon claiming that the Book of Mormon is not racist, but simply assigns natural racial roles. Both books discriminate against a group of people.