Islam could learn from the LDS Church.
by: John Tyrrell
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In recent months the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) has to a degree lifted the veil of secrecy on church history.
They've looked at Brigham Young - their second prophet - and determined he was in error when he banned black men from the priesthood in the church.
They've looked at their first prophet and founder - Joseph Smith - and determined some of his polygamous marriages were to underage women, and some others were, like some of Brigham Young's marriages, to women still married to living husbands.
Essentially, the Mormon leadership has recognized that their first two prophets were fallible men, not perfect. They made mistakes. And they can be criticized in light of current knowledge and morality for those mistakes.
The Mormons seem secure in their faith - peculiar as it may seem to those of us outside their religion. And the exposure of the faults in those who founded the Church has not resulted in any significant loss in membership.
Of course I think Smith and Young had more faults than the LDS Church is prepared to admit. But they don't really care what I think. They are not going to threaten me with death over the issue. Their faith protects them from any criticism I might offer.
I think it is a lesson Islam could learn - their leaders should recognize their prophet as a fallible man who founded a great religion. They should be prepared to reassess him in light of current knowledge and current moral understanding. And their faith should stand up under any such reassessment.
If it does not stand up - it's not a faith worth holding.
Their ban on criticizing their prophet is not a strength; it is a weakness.
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