I suppose that the rescue of the US-flag ship Maersk Alabama is old news by now. As we all know, President Obama ordered US Navy Seals to take out the pirates who attacked that undefended ship. Like Jonah Goldberg, I praise the President for allowing the US Navy to take quick, effective action on those who would harm the defenceless. While I didn’t vote for President Obama [I DID, however, vote for Alan Keyes in the 2000 GOP Primary in my home State!], and I think that his economic policies will merely bring about what he tries to avert, it is only right to acknowledge his proper actions as they occur.
Moreover, I think that those who fault President Obama in this are merely applying a mirror image of the “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” Like the extreme Left, who could see no good thing from former President Bush, the extreme Right can see no good in President Obama.
This didn’t begin with either President Obama or President Bush. In 1994, extreme Right-wingers published that awful book and movie, The Clinton Chronicles, which, in my opinion, effectively immunised President Clinton during his impeachment trial, discrediting ALL criticism against him. Ronald Reagan’s critics called him “an amiable dunce”–and worse. Hyperpartisans apparently always see the worst in their opponents.
So what does all this have to do with Mormonism? Very simply, many–if not most–anti-Mormons have as much trouble seeing anything benign–let alone anything good–in Mormonism as hyperpartisan Republicans and Democrats have with seeing anything positive in each other. For example, where most people see an effort by the Church to rid the world of ungodly things like porn and to secure the right to worship God unmolested, anti-Mormons like Ed Decker and Dave Hunt see an insidious attempt to overthrow the lawful government of the USA to engage in a reign of terror against “real” Christians everywhere.
Like secular hyperpartisans, they attack others for what they do themselves–to the point of twisting what their targets actually say. When Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cautioned against ignoring God the Father and the Holy Ghost in their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, anti-Mormons falsely claimed that it was official LDS doctrine to NOT have a relationship with Jesus Christ–at all! Furthermore, I don’t recall any objection to Hinn’s February 1987 sermon cautioning Lakeland’s Carpenters Home Church attendees to not ignore the Holy Spirit.
I suppose that ignoring the positive about one’s opponents is only human. I’ve seen too many instances of Latter-day Saints bad-mouthing non-LDS Christians–and not just anti-Mormons. While (as believing Latter-day Saints should) I remain a believer that ancient Christianity had suffered from an apostasy, I find that I must remind myself of the sometimes heroic efforts of non-LDS Christians to salvage what there is of the Christian Faith (and there is a LOT!)–lest I fall into the trap of believing–as anti-Mormons claim we do–that non-LDS Christians are so thoroughly corrupt that there is nothing good left. It may help to remember that we can learn good things even from non-Christians.
Indeed, if we remind ourselves of the good in those who are “other,” we do three things:
1. It allows us to follow the advice of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.”
2. It adds credibility to our side. Because we don’t always look for evil, we are less likely to be blinded from real good.
3. It establishes “common ground;” preventing the “I’m great, you stink” mentality, and, in a related fashion (and most importantly!),
4. We build charity, or the pure Love of Christ, as commanded in I Corinthians 13. If we do not, then, as I John 4:1-6 puts it, we are not His.