Two Stupid Assaults on Religion and One Idiotic Religious Attack on Obama

Couple of stories relating to religion came across the transom this morning, and I figured I'd offer one of those lazy, cobbled-together blog-posts with no clear narrative arc (sorry, writing snobs!).

First up, the Washington Post reports that same-sex marriage advocates on the East Coast are making hay out of the Mormons' financial support for discrimination against gays and lesbians in California:

As more states take up the debate on same-sex marriage, some advocates of legalization are taking a very specific lesson from California, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dominated both fundraising and door-knocking to pass a ballot initiative that barred such unions.

With the battle moving east, some advocates are shouting that fact in the streets, calculating that on an issue that eventually comes down to comfort levels, more people harbor apprehensions about Mormons than about homosexuality.

"The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming!" warned ads placed on newspaper Web sites in three Eastern states last month.

The temptation is understandable; as a resident of California, I certainly resent the hell out of the fact that a religious denomination that basically governs the state of Utah provided about half of the financing for a referendum that stripped Californians of the right to equal protection under the law. And, as the Post story details, public opinion data show that more Americans have issues with Mormons than with gays and lesbians so it might be a sound strategy in a scorched-earth politics kind of way.

And while I am all for exposing the Mormons support for Prop 8 and other campaigns against gays and lesbians, I think the tone of these ads -- "the Mormons are Coming!" -- is quite dumb. It's a short-sighted move that risks undermining a push for equality that clearly has the moral high ground and is gaining a feel of inevitability about it. Attacking the Mormons only adds support to the otherwise ridiculous notion that the fight for gay rights is a covert assault on religious tradition and adds an element of hypocrisy to appeals for tolerance (which have won many political battles in our past). Activists should keep in mind that they have a winning argument -- not kill that argument by playing on people's prejudices about a religious minority. And I'm not saying that because I don't think they deserve to be attacked. It's a matter of bad strategy over the long-run fight for equality, even if it might sway some prejudiced voters on this battle.

Next, some really egregious Islamophobia, also courtesy of the WaPo:


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