Rock Center on NBC, Mormons on Facebook
As happens occasionally, a national news show did a bit about the Mormon faith on Thursday. I found this particular report, on Rock Center with Brian Williams, delightfully pleasant viewing to my Mormon eyes. Mormons were presented as charitable, successful, diverse, likeable and normal. The church’s strengths were praised; the church’s problems were described accurately without hyperbole.
So I was surprised when I got onto Facebook and found that Mormons were complaining about a news program that seemed so friendly to our faith. Particularly troubling to me was the reaction to part of segment 3, an interview with Joanna Brooks, who mentioned that women do not hold leadership positions in the church and that boys may administer the sacrament but not girls. This information is not news to anyone who has ever attended a Mormon church meeting and Dr. Brooks’ tone was not at all antagonistic. However, some Facebook commenters assumed that Dr. Brooks was some sort of enemy to Mormonism, in spite of the fact that the report clearly stated that she was a practicing member of the church. Why do so many Mormons overreact when a Mormon woman brings up gender inequity? How can we overcome this taboo so we can have grown-up conversations about these issues?
I appreciated the response of Salt Lake Tribune TV reporter Scott D. Pierce, who wrote:
… in some quarters, anything that’s not glowing praise is viewed as an unwarranted attack. Calm down. It wasn’t.
I also liked the words of LDS musician Cherie Call, who wrote,
I also have seen a lot of fuss made over the feminist Mormon woman, Joanna Brooks, pointing out that women don’t hold leadership positions. What about Relief Society and Primary? Well, they probably didn’t have time to include everything she might have had to say about all of that. I’ll bet it’s complicated. But let’s just stop right here and just say that if you were bugged by her, that she might not think the same way about all of those things that you do. You might not have any issues at all about things that are a big deal to her. Does that mean that she should be shut up, or that we should pretend to journalists that women like her don’t exist in our church? Wait a minute. Isn’t there actually something super uplifting about the fact that the Mormon church is capable of having very active members who are not all exactly the same? I think so.