As the producers of HBO’s series Big Love offers Hollywood’s latest “foray into anti-Mormon â€œexposÃ©,” writer Orson Scott Card, a Mormon himself, observes:
It’s offensive when believers in one religion hold up the sacred rites of another religion to public ridicule. So we’re hurt â€” but we’re not surprised.
Mormons have always been the exception to America’s policy of religious tolerance. Throughout our history in America, Mormons have been oppressed by government, killed or driven out by mobs, slandered, and libeled â€” always by fellow Americans who professed to believe in religious tolerance.
Until recently, gay people have suffered similar slights.Â Yet, even in the face of yet another media misrepresentation of his faith, Scott observes
. . . that few [Mormons] have any desire to act as the worst of our opponents have acted. After someone has boycotted a friend’s business, it makes it a bit harder for you to want to call for a boycott.
By and large, while we’d prefer that everybody handle differences of opinion peacefully, we’d rather be persecuted than be the persecutors. The few times in our history when we have departed from that principle, the results have shamed us for generations. Tolerance works better.
And this is where gay activists can learn from Mormons.Â Show some tolerance for those who currently espouse the traditional definition of marriage.Â In contrast to those angry activists who protested the passage of Proposition 8 by attacking Mormons, a large number of the initiative’s backers (but alas not all) have not expressed animosity toward gay people.
Perhaps by showing some tolerance for their [i.e., opponents of gay marriage] concerns, gay activists might succeed in addressing them and persuading those backers to change their mind.Â So, let’s handle our differences of opinion peacefully, lest we learn, as did the Mormons, that angry responses serve only to shame us.