Jewish Journal

Maureen Dowd attacks Mitt: Does a candidate’s underwear matter?

by Mark Paredes

October 23, 2011 | 10:23 pm

“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” — Jonathan Swift
Judging from NYT columnist Maureen Dowd’s latest column (“Anne Frank, a Mormon?”), Joseph Smith was an Einstein. In her pathetic attack on Mitt Romney’s faith, Dowd includes anti-Mormon rants from two avowed atheists, Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens, as she questions “magic underwear” and “baptizing dead people.” She also shamelessly invokes Anne Frank’s name in an attempt to stir up Jews against a Mormon candidate. Considering the source of this bigotry, I’ve never been prouder to be a Mormon.

Truth be told, the LDS Church got off lightly compared to Dowd’s own. In yet another ridiculous article, she once compared the Catholic Church to Saudi Arabia, a place where “women’s rights were strangled…[in] an inbred and autocratic state.” Dowd does not take her own faith seriously, as she is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, and disagrees with official Catholic teachings on many other issues (e.g., birth control, ordination of women). It’s not hard to see why she has a problem with a candidate, especially a conservative one, who accepts his faith’s teachings and lives by them. Which candidate would the pope prefer, a faithful Mormon or an unfaithful Catholic? I think even Maureen Dowd knows the answer to that one.

I searched in vain for a Dowd hit piece on LDS Christianity when Harry Reid became the Senate Majority Leader, one of the most powerful positions on Capitol Hill. I guess Reid’s support for liberal positions that are clearly contrary to Mormon teachings (e.g., support for Planned Parenthood abortion funding and the Nevada gambling industry) must have caused her to ignore what kind of underwear he was wearing. What is unforgivable to Dowd is not where Mitt goes to church on Sundays, but the fact that he professes fealty to the principles of his faith, which happen to coincide in most cases with those teachings of the Catholic Church that Dowd rejects. Her appeal to arguments made by two anti-religion atheists to make her case shows just how flimsy it is. I’m prepared to listen to critiques of my faith from people like Richard Mouw who take their faith seriously, but I find it hard to listen to people who hate religion or who are unfaithful to their own faith tradition.

Dowd is either ill-informed or dishonest when she implies in the headline and the article that Mormons are converting the dead to their faith. I have blogged twice on this topic, and don’t feel a need to say much more. However, one bedrock LDS belief bears repeating: If Anne Frank does become a Mormon in the next life, it’s because she will have chosen to be one, not because anyone on earth has the power to force her to join the church. Any assertion to the contrary is false.

It’s not Mitt’s fault that Dowd has replaced Catholic beliefs with liberal ones and decided to attack her church at every turn. It’s not his fault that he’s a happily-married, faithful husband and father who belongs to a family-centered church, while she has ignored her church’s teachings and at 59 has yet to find a man who wants to marry her. In a well-known Book of Mormon story, men and women who are doing their best to stay faithful to God’s commandments are subjected to the “mocking” and “scoffing” of well-dressed, prideful people in a “great and spacious building.” It’s obvious to Mormons to which group Maureen Dowd belongs.
Historically, Jews and Mormons have looked to a candidate’s values, not his theology, when voting. Given the small size of our communities, that’s almost a necessity. What kind of underwear Mitt wears is as relevant to his political philosophy as an Orthodox Jewish candidate’s tallit is to his. In this election season, surely we can come up with more relevant criteria with which to evaluate candidates.


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Mark Paredes is a former Mormon bishop currently living in Los Angeles. He has worked for the ZOA, the American Jewish Congress, and the Consulate General of Israel in Los...

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