Not many people were aware before today that one of the country’s leading anti-Mormons has been running for the Republican presidential nomination. Fred Karger, whose signal electoral exploit so far is having beaten Ron Paul in Puerto Rico, was the brains behind the “Californians Against Hate” group that targeted the LDS Church for its opposition to gay marriage during the Prop 8 campaign. He has criticized Mormons and the Mormon Church on many occasions, and his recent campaign trip to Utah was a good indication of why few people in the country have faith in his ability to exercise good judgment.
In an effort to challenge Mitt Romney in the upcoming Utah primary election (sure to be a nail-biter), Mr. Karger chose to spend a few days in the state. Being Fred, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit southern Utah, a bastion of Mormonism, and publicly call on the Mormon Church to stop funding efforts to oppose state-sanctioned gay marriage. Some folks down in Utah’s Dixie took offense at his message, most notably the wife of the county’s Republican Party chairman. Following her husband’s meeting with Karger, she sent him a homophobic e-mail calling him a “radical idiot” who can’t procreate. For good measure, she followed-up with more idiotic statements to the press (e.g., “the only reason he’s running for president is to find more partners.”)
Unfortunately, Karper’s public response revealed a similar level of ignorance: “This is what the Mormon Church preaches to its members.” If Fred can find similar statements in official church literature or speeches, I’d like to see them. I’ve been attending LDS services for three decades, and have yet to hear anti-gay language preached from the pulpit. I’m just curious: If I went to San Francisco or West Hollywood and made public speeches calling on gays to stop supporting gay marriage, what kind of e-mails would I be likely to receive? My hunch is that they’d make the Utah woman’s message look like a love note by comparison. Clearly Karger’s goals were to increase his name recognition and to make the LDS Church look bad. It’s a shame that he’s succeeded on both fronts.
Of course, there is no excuse for the woman’s homophobic rant. If she really is a member of the LDS Church, then she believes that we are all children of God who lived together before we came to earth and chose to live here on earth with each other. By the grace of God, we’ll spend eternity together as well. Her bigotry is her own, and shouldn’t be imputed to the 14 million members of her church worldwide. Are there Mormon homophobes? Unfortunately, yes. Are there anti-Mormon gays? Of course. If Fred Karger really wants to demonstrate some presidential mettle, he’ll stop trying to play “gotcha” with Republicans who disagree with him on gay marriage, quit telling churches what they should do, and start engaging in a serious public discussion of non-gay issues. By now it should be obvious to everyone why even gay groups have distanced themselves from him.