I read some opinion pieces on Mitt Romney in Slate recently that referenced an earlier Slate article by Jacob Weisberg subtitled "A Mormon president? No way." I agree with his main assertion (that it's perfectly all right to not vote for someone because of their religious beliefs), but the tone of the piece is just so contemptible. He gets the sneering tone rolling early with this line, referencing Joseph Smith's 1844 presidential candidacy: "Despite a strong showing in the Nauvoo straw poll, Smith didn't play much better nationally than [Orrin] Hatch did [in 2000], and had to settle for the Mormon-elected post of King of the Kingdom of Heaven."
I highly doubt that Joseph Smith would have come anywhere close to winning the presidency, but we'll never know because he was murdered June 27, 1844, many months before the election. Weisberg conveniently ignores this fact in order to get in a swipe at Smith.
The article's scoffing attitude reminded me of a recent discussion at church dealing with how "in touch" the leaders of the church were. Jeffrey R. Holland, in the church's November 2006 General Conference, said that the leaders of the church were very much "in touch" with modern society's issues, despite many who have suggested else-wise. I believe Mr. Holland when he says
"never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between."
But I doubt many outside the church do.
It's an argument that I don't think the church can win (and perhaps shouldn't), because in my experience the choices set up by those who think the church leaders don't have a clue offer two options: either they understand and change their policies, or they don't understand. There is no option C: they understand but keep their policies. When it comes to controversial topics like gay marriage and abortion, the only possible way to convince these critics that the leaders of the church have a deep understanding of the issue is if they allow it. And that isn't likely to happen.
But it probably just shows how out of touch I am that I think the LDS leaders are in touch, right?