I'm on an airplane, sitting next to a 20 year old college student who discovered I was Mormon. He proceeded to tell me what I believed. I was astonished! I didn’t know I believed such things. I was greatful this college sophomore could enlighten me. He apparently didn’t understand sarcasm as I continued to graciously thank him for informing me on my beliefs. He then started to sound off about how the LDS faith didn’t allow blacks to hold the priesthood till 1970, and that by being Mormon I was racist, which is where I drew the line and said, “If Eldridge Cleaver didn’t have a problem with it, I don’t see why some white boy from California should take issue.” To which he responded, “Who’s Eldridge Cleaver?”
Eldridge Cleaver was the former leader of the Black Panthers, and yes, he was a Mormon.
I dated a guy who wasn’t LDS, and knew little about the faith. I gave him some LDS literature. He later told me he didn’t read it- he had learned all he need to know about Mormonism from a South Park episode. I told him that learning about a world religion from a cartoon made him an idiot. Lucky for me, I quickly found out he really was an idiot and we broke up.
With Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign my religion has been in the news frequently, which I’m not accustomed to. Growing up in Southern California, my church would only be in the news for it’s humanitarian efforts- of recent I’ve heard a number of news correspondents who have done little less than a google search make commentary on Mitt Romney’s beliefs. Which brings me back to this 20 year old frat boy on the plane, and Matthew 7 where it simply states: “Judge not lest ye be judged” It seams natural that if you want to understand Buddhism, you'd ask a Buddhist. If you want to understand Judaism, you'd talk to a Jew. But apparently if you want to understand Mormonism, you ask an actor who plays a Mormon on TV. That's as inane as valuing Martin Sheen's political commentary because he was the president on West Wing.
Update: I just found out about a great film called Untold Story of Black Mormons