Mormon Wingnuts

April 28, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 5:45 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

By now surely you’ve heard the term wingnut. It is the snarky term for people with hard line right wing political views. (I was interested to learn that the left wing equivalent of a wingnut is called a moonbat). Anyhow, Mormons more often than not lean to the right politically and with millions of us in America it should be no surprise that there are plenty of wingnuts in our ranks. Heck, in the last 50 years we’ve even had some serious wingnuts in our top leadership at times.

Based on my observations, it seems like in the church wingnuts often find direct support for their sometimes extreme views in the explicit or implicit policies of the church. No doubt there is real comfort in feeling that God himself endorses ones political views (I know I like to think that about my views). And wingnuts often are able to use modern prophets to bludgeon church members with whom they disagree. So Mormons on the left of a political issue or even political moderates learn to deal with being beaten over the head with claims of “follow the prophet” whenever such debates start.

So with that history the recent debates over the church’s stand on undocumented immigrants has been really amusing. Wingnuts who are used to battering their opponents with prophets are finding themselves bludgeoned by quotes from apostles. I had a great time making all kinds of snarky comments in a recent thread over at BCC. The sad thing with that sprawling online debate was that some faithful Mormon wingnuts seemed to join forces with anti-Mormons in criticizing the church over its position regarding its undocumented members.

Anyhow, as a political independent and a moderate I will be happy if the general population of the church drifts more toward the political center on lots of issues. Even if that doesn’t happen, it is always a good time to harass wingnuts on occasion — I recommend the practice to everyone.

34 Comments »

  1. But Geoff, you were so very mean!!

    Comment by Steve Evans — April 28, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

  2. The surprising element for me has been where the divide comes on this particular issue. I mean, in some cases it would have been easy to predict which side people would take because they have expressed such extremist views on other issues. But in other cases I have been truly surprised by the vehemence of the stand.

    My own opinions are still evolving and I ordinarily wouldn’t speak up much in a political debate — this time, though, the wingnut views have been so loud, so extreme, so irrational that I was more vocal, and more to the left, that I would have predicted about myself. I trust I can’t legitimately be called a moonbat … but judging by who has taken which side in this debate, and how loudly, I’d rather be misjudged as a moonbat than be mistaken for a wingnut.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — April 28, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

  3. Here’s a news flash for everybody.

    A lot of really crazy comments have been made at BCC over the past few days. I checked the I.P. addresses of the wingnuts and guess what? They all led back to Geoff J.

    Which makes sense. It is simply impossible for a higher primate to hold such ridiculous views while also being intelligent enough to use a keyboard. Those comments simply had to be made up, that is the only explanation that makes any sense at all. I suspect that Geoff did it in an attempt to discredit the views he disagrees with and make them look stupid, at least that has been the practical outcome of his sock-puppettry. But he overdid it, because nobody really believes anybody can be that stupid for real.

    I hope you had fun with your tricks Geoff. Next time dial the insanity back from a 10 to a 9 and you might get away with it.

    Comment by Mark Brown — April 28, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

  4. I will also agree with something Ardis said. I’ve always been aware that we have a fringe element among us, but I’ve been surprised by its size. People who consider themselves to be decent church members in every way have taken an extreme position and expressed themselves with such strident anger that I am taken aback.

    In the aftermath of 9-11, it was common to hear calls for moderate Muslims to quit giving cover to the nuts and extremists among them. I think the same request can be made of Mormon conservatives now.

    Comment by Mark Brown — April 28, 2009 @ 8:10 pm

  5. Steve: I can’t tell how impressed I was that all y’all BCC admins decided not to delete my #8 in that thread.

    Mark: Curses! You caught me posing as like 30 different wingnuts just as a set up for a few snarks in my own name!

    But seriously, I am with you. Who knew there was such an unending string of wingnut turdballs out there? That thread brought them out of the woodwork. I agree that we moderates are going to be pressed into action to bark back the wingnut lunatics in the church before they destroy all of our missionary efforts.

    Ardis: I’m with you. No doubt most wingnuts in that last debate assume I’m some raging liberal now even though any real liberal would laugh at that accusation.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 28, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  6. I think the “wingnuts” could use a more than little more subtlety and balance in their position, but the challenge the Church faces is real, in terms of its own espoused principles.

    On balance, however, I think the Church position here is correct. The only thing I would modify would be to verbally inform all potential missionaries without legal residence that their mission service may expose them to additional risk and that Church support may not make a much of a difference if they become subject to prosecution on the basis of their immigration status.

    I do think, however, that as a matter of basic fairness, the Church should provide legal representation for any missionary who is arrested while serving a mission due to immigration problems that the Church is aware of prior to issuing the mission call, and that the Church has a responsibility to find out what those problems may be prior to issuing such a call, and do what it can to avoid situations (such as air travel) where such a missionary risks deportation.

    Comment by Mark D. — April 28, 2009 @ 9:12 pm

  7. I am in no way a moderate when it comes to my political philosophy and general policy positions. But I do consider myself a moderate in my style and outlook. No need to get angry over much of this stuff. It is politics. And I like politics. Heck, I have been studying it in grad school much longer than my wife can appreciate.

    I think an interesting thing for me (about the BCC thread) was that it showed how much ideology informs our religious outlook (not that this is surprising). Many claimed that they were following the prophet as they actively supported Prop. 8. But a vast majority of Mormons would have happily done so anyways because it was consistant with there political ideology. So, there political ideology also causes them to balk when it comes to immigration. Is such dissent such a bad thing? Or only when it is a liberal dissenting?

    I am not a moonbat, but I am proud that many other think that I am one?

    Geoff J,

    You made me proud over on that thread. The snarkiness made my week. Some arguments deserve such responses and nothing more. However, when I do it, I seem to come across as a jerk and I have alienated many of my bloggernacle friends. I hope to grow up and be more like you and Ardis.

    Comment by Chris H. — April 28, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

  8. Geoff,

    Im just curious. What issues would you like “them” to move to the center on?

    Comment by Riley — April 28, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  9. Also, I just don’t like to see anyones personal feelings trampled on as they were in that post. Either side. It was a little like tearing on the less intelligent guy in class for believing something wrong. If people would have expressed their views as just that – their views – then it would have been more beneficial.

    For me, the smuggness on both sides was interesting to say the least. To see the “truly enlightened” battle the “blind followers” was a battle for the ages. (FYI I pictured them in Star Wars outfits and made sound effects as I read)

    I personally got annoyed with the “follow the prophet routine” just as much as I did when one person tore into the other for mentioning, and sincerely I thought, the 12th AoF. I mean, how dare someone try and apply the what seems like the most basic, practical article… it’s just so…1940’s… Much like the one about Pauls admonition to seek after good things. Sheesh, can you get more 1st century than that!?

    But I guess the point wasn’t to come to a better understanding in that post… It just seemed like a good ol’ orthodox “seperate the wheat from the tares” sort of thing – except with a more liberal flip-flop.

    I for one, consider my self a diametrically opposed enigma when it comes to political issues. But my opinion was solidified for when it comes to sharing my political opinion with others in the future, especially fellow mormons, UofU professors, and my inlaws – treat it like your private parts and realize their not so great as you think.

    Comment by Riley — April 28, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

  10. “To see the “truly enlightened” battle the “blind followers” was a battle for the ages.”

    LOL, I love those type of battles.

    Thankfully, all our thinking has been done for us, when the Leadership makes a decision.

    Bishop Koyle was right, a church cleaning is indeed coming…

    Comment by SpeakingUp — April 28, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

  11. I for one, consider my self a diametrically opposed enigma when it comes to political issues.

    Don’t we all…

    Comment by Peter LLC — April 29, 2009 @ 4:41 am

  12. Bishop Koyle

    See Geoff, this is just what I mean. When you use pseudonyms like SpeakingUp to try to convince us that the guy who started the dream mine is inspired and Pres. Monson is not, it just sounds insane. Your approach will only work if you make up stuff that is less far-fetched, like the Holocaust didn’t happen, or that Obama was really born on 06/06/66.

    Comment by Mark Brown — April 29, 2009 @ 4:41 am

  13. Unfortunately for the Protestantizers among us, the wingnuts are a part and parcel of Mormonism. So are the moonbats.

    Mormonism without wingnuts or moonbats is very bland and suburban… and much less snarkable.

    Comment by bloggernacleburner — April 29, 2009 @ 5:58 am

  14. The debate is a little more complex than most people acknowledge, on either side.

    It is not the “you are going to starve babies and are hideously evil” vs. “you want the pagan horde to overrun the United States.”

    On the one hand you have Indians and Chinese who very much are mostly following the rules or being brought to the United States to serve as slaves until they work off their importation fees. They tend to feel the rules should be followed and that other illegal aliens are keeping them from bringing more over legally (even the ones coming over illegally as slaves).

    On the other hand you have those George Bush described as sacrificing in great hardship to help their families.

    At the current rate immigration (both legal and illegal) is at the numbers where it causes push back historically.

    Now the big change is that people are coming for economic benefit rather than political freedom. In the founding days people gave up economic security for hope. The other change is that by having people come here, we stabilize regimes at home that would otherwise have counterpressures.

    Finally, we have areas that have started to get a little like the zones in India where the non- prosperous dwell — thinking of areas in Texas where the rule of law is severely compromised (though immigration is obviously not the reason for those problems in Louisiana).

    Without any barriers (and one of the biggest current barriers we have is Mexico which makes it a felony to be from any other country coming through to try to work in the United States illegally — since they started pushing that, the numbers of Guatemalans and others we have locally has declined dramatically) we could easily have 300 million new residents within twelve months.

    So the real question is what kind of barriers should we have, why, and in what form should they be maintained? Do we do as Kuwait? Only natural born citizens of registered citizens of historic ancestry can become citizens with full rights and everyone else is entitled to whatever work they can be hired to do, but without any social services?

    Do we have full access to all social services? As long as transportation costs were high, the amount of abuse of that was low. When I worked at the USC/LA Medical Center we had a significant, but modest, continual stream of people from outside the country coming in illegally just to get free care. For the most part, given it was modest, many were glad to be helping.

    But if we had had the problems San Diego had, where people were driving up in cars, using cell phones (back when they were much more expensive) to get free labor and delivery services, we might have done something similar. I don’t know.

    When I think of each individual illegal I’ve met, I find myself glad that their lives are better than they could have been. Yet, I’ve read Shantaram and I’m aware how close we are to becoming a society like that one.

    Many have predicted that as the distopian future for this country.

    I don’t have a good answer. Perhaps if I were stronger I could avoid finding myself believing that the individuals I meet deserve compassion rather than sternness. Perhaps if I were Kami, I could decide that strangers deserve as much as anyone I know and love and we should just fling open the borders and survive the consequences the best we can — after all, what right do we have to the accidents of birth, even if letting them slip destroys us?

    But I would like there to be an inheritance left for my children, assuming any of them live long enough to inherit it.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — April 29, 2009 @ 7:14 am

  15. Geoff,

    I am very conservative and am very opposed to illegal immigration and yet I support SLC on this one. For reasons outlined in my BCC posts.

    So what are you and others who consider themselves more liberal who have been happy to support the Bretheren on this issue going to do the next time there is a prop 8 type battle?

    I think its more consistent to be with the Bretheren on all issues.

    Comment by bbell — April 29, 2009 @ 7:25 am

  16. bbell,

    Like the funding of BSA programs?

    Comment by Mark Brown — April 29, 2009 @ 8:04 am

  17. bbell,
    I don’t think Geoff’s objecting to people who disagree with the Church’s position on certain political issues. That is, he’s not arguing that you can’t oppose illegal immigration (or support gay marriage, for that matter) and still be a good Mormon.

    The “wingnuts” he’s referring to (and you clearly are not one of them) are the people accusing the Brethren of being sinners because they allow undocumented aliens to serve missions in the U.S., which is CLEARLY out of LINE WITH the 12th Article OF Faith and so they NEED to REPENT!!! (Note that I’m doing guessing on the capitalization–they seem to enjoy capitalizing words, but I couldn’t figure out a pattern as to which they enjoyed capitalizing).

    That is, the fact that I disagree with a person’s position on immigration does not make that person a wingnut; the fact that that person calls Church leadership to repentance, however, does.

    (I think the same holds for moonbats over Prop. 8–just because a person supports gay marriage doesn’t make that person a moonbat. A member accusing the Church leadership of being sinners because of their stance, however, does.)

    Comment by Sam B. — April 29, 2009 @ 8:24 am

  18. Riley and SpeakingUp: I don’t really get your comments. I can say that since wingnuts and moonbats are by definition extremists in their views and rhetoric I hope they will mellow out on all of their extremist views.

    Ethesis: No one is denying that the immigration issue is a Gordian knot. We have discussed it here in the past as well. But this post is about wingnuts, not about the specific issues wingnuts like to flip out over.

    bbell: What Sam B. said.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 29, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  19. Speaking of sticking it to Chicken Little wingnuts, check out this really interesting interview that I saw this morning.

    This guy says, among other things, that the major problem industrialized countries will have this century is massively shrinking populations and that one of the reasons America will remain the clear super-power in the world is that we will offset our shrinking population with immigration of workforce. America really is much better at fully integrating immigrants than most any country in the world after all.

    It is a good six minutes viewing for those of us sick of the Glenn Beck “the sky is falling on America” schtick.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 29, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  20. I thought all this discussion of wingnuts was just fun, until Geoff drew the straight line from “wingnut” to “Glenn Beck”, and I got really, really frightened. And I’m really a politically moderate guy, but the folks in my ward think I have Moonbat aspirations.

    Comment by kevinf — April 29, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

  21. Hehe. Maybe wingnuts assume everyone who is not also a wingnut must be a moonbat. (And vice-versa not doubt)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 29, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  22. I’m sure that’s true, Geoff, no joking. Extremists are so sure of The Truth and The Way that any variation is heresy. If you’re not 100% with me, then you’re against me.

    I mean, how else to explain that when I once agreed with a post calling for modesty in the chapel during Sacrament meeting, the extremists (and I don’t really know who’s a wingbat and who’s a moonbat in the nursing debate) called me a baby killer — I wanted to smother babies under nursing blankets, or kill them through malnourishment by outlawing the breast in favor of the bottle, or kill them by starvation by forcing their mothers to ignore their babies’ hunger. They were so far to one end of the debate that they immediately assumed I was at the other far end. Weird.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — April 29, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  23. Quit dodging the question, Ardis. Do you or don’t you want to kill babies?

    Comment by Steve Evans — April 30, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

  24. Only if I can do it on live television.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — April 30, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  25. I’m finding there are wingnuts, and then there are others who don’t fit either the wingnut or moonbeam description, but are just as intense in their beliefs.

    I do not believe in using prophets to beat up on people’s politics. I believe there is plenty of rational arguments to go around, without a “my GA is bigger than yours” attitude.

    As it is, I don’t believe in right and left political spectrums. You end up with government involvement in either social or economic areas. Instead, I think it is a sliding scale, with anarchy on one side and totalitarianism on the other. The question then falls, where do we wish to be on the sliding scale.

    Personally, giving the Feds so much power scares me. But I have no problem allowing a state or town to make all the rules they want. If I don’t like it, I can always move to another place within the USA, more to my liking.

    And Geoff, I don’t really think you are a liberal. I think you are more of a quasi-girly man.

    Comment by rameumptom — April 30, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

  26. Rameumptom has a little GA, otherwise she’d understand the attitude. Poor thing.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 30, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  27. Ardis, I’m going to have to side with the extremists on this one. If you can’t learn to enjoy a bare breast in public then you are a baby killer.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 30, 2009 @ 3:09 pm

  28. And what would I be if I did enjoy the sight, Jacob?

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — April 30, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

  29. Normal.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 30, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  30. You win. Sign me,

    “Baby Killer”

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — April 30, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  31. Actually, that could be a great handle:

    Ardis “the baby killer” Parshall

    Comment by Jacob J — April 30, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  32. So — when I’m exchanging spitwads with wingnuts, there’s an ominous message in my simply calling them babies? Me likey.

    Comment by Ardis "the baby killer" Parshall — April 30, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  33. Wingnut is a compliment. Wingnuts hold things together. Check out any globe; wingnuts keep the Earth on its axis.

    Comment by V the K — May 2, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  34. …axis of Evil, that is. bwahahahaha!

    Comment by BrianJ — May 2, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

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