Anti-Mormon Hate Crimes on the Rise?by -
My impression is that the number of anti-Mormon hate crimes has been on the rise lately. Here’s a summary of what’s been in the news:
- Mesa Arizona (November, 2007): A fire at a Mormon chapel is determined to be arson.
- Fullerton, California (November 27th, 2007): A swastika and the numbers 666 are found painted on walls and religious paintings inside a Mormon Church. The windows of a second Mormon church in the city are discovered broken.
- Highland, Utah (January 13, 2008): Graffiti is painted on a Mormon seminary building, where religious classes for teenagers are held. The messages read: “We’ve come to dismantle the Mormon empire” and “You are no longer safe.”
- Finland (January, 2008): A fire at a Mormon chapel is determined to be arson.
- Phoenix, Arizona (April 6, 2008): A Mormon missionary hears a tapping on his apartment window at about 4:00 a.m. When the missionary goes searching for the source of the sound, he is punched in the face by a man dressed in dark clothing and wearing a ski-type mask. During the beating, the missionary realizes there are actually two attackers. The attackers yell anti-Mormon slurs during the beating.
- Placedo, Texas (Apirl 21st, 2008): The words “Morman Die you will PAY” and “watch your back” are painted on the house of a Mormon family in red paint.
- Richmond, Virginia (April 30, 2008): A young man approaches two missionaries walking down the street and strikes one of the missionaries in the face. The missionary is taken to the hospital and treated for a broken jaw.
- Gilbert, Arizona (May 3rd, 2008): A group approaches two teens in the park and asks if they are Mormon. When the teens reply yes, the group begins to shoot them with a pellet gun and to beat them, yelling anti-Mormon slurs during the assault. One of the Mormon teens is taken to the hospital.
In our society, if crimes like these were committed against Jews, homosexuals, or African Americans, they would be rightfully denounced on the front pages of newspapers across the country. Despite the fact that an increasing number of prominent non-Mormon scholars such as Thomas O’Dea, Harold Bloom, and Martin Marty have noted that Mormons are, in important ways, a unique transnational, transracial ethnicity, hate crimes against Mormons are rarely widely reported.
I can’t express in words my concern over these recent events. Those secularists and atheists like Christopher Hitchens who imply that Mormons are stupid or ludicrous help fuel these hate crimes. Those politicians like Mike Huckabee that imply that Mormons hold Satan is special regard also throw gasoline on the fire. And those religious leaders like Ed Decker and Bill Keller that demonize Mormons are also accomplices. Thankfully, most atheists, secularists, politicians, and religious leaders are not bigots, but the growing anti-Mormon sentiment in this country is nevertheless very alarming. Can’t we all just get along?”