A quote by comedian Bill Maher was the most glaring anti-Mormon statement made by a public figure during 2011, according to MormonVoices, a volunteer group dedicated to, in their words, "providing accurate information about the LDS Church."
The Maher quote — "By any standard, Mormonism is more ridiculous than any other religion" — was just the first in a Top Ten listing prepared by the group as a way of holding "people accountable for inappropriate statements, and to help others see that certain claims about the LDS Church are incorrect," according to Scott Gordon, a managing director of MormonVoices.
MormonVoices is affiliated with the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), an organization that tries to provide scholarly information about the doctrines, history and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Neither FAIR nor MormonVoices is owned or controlled in any way by the LDS Church.
"Religious bigotry is unacceptable," Gordon said in explaining why the organization compiled the list. "Statements which distort and belittle Mormon belief in order to marginalize Mormons are evidence of such bigotry."
Many of the statements on the list were made during the political campaigning that took place during 2011. With two members of the LDS Church — Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman — competing for the Republican presidential nomination, "some political operatives and religious figures have engaged in anti-Mormon rhetoric to achieve political ends," said another MormonVoices managing director, John Lynch.
"This isn't about good-natured jokes or legitimate questions," Lynch continued. "We're not concerned with comedians who make good-natured observations about Mormons, or responsible journalists who have reported on Mormons and their beliefs.
"Instead, this is a list of statements that should be offensive to everyone, and are so disrespectful that their only effect will be to increase bigotry against Mormons. Just as with other minority groups, it should no longer be socially acceptable for public figures to incite such prejudice against Mormons or their faith."
Maher's statement was made during a presentation he made at George Washington University on Oct. 15, 2011. It was reported by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times three days later.
The rest of MormonVoices' Top Ten Anti-Mormon Statements of 2011 include:
"(Mormonism is) one of the most egregious groups operating on American soil." (The late Christopher Hitchens on Slate, Oct. 17, 2011).
"The theology comes across as totally barmy. We can become gods with our own planets! And the practices strike me as creepy. No coffee and tea is bad enough. But the underwear!" (Michael Ruse, Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 30, 2011).
"The current head of the Mormon Church, Thomas S. Monson, known to his followers as 'prophet, seer and revelator,' is indistinguishable from the secular plutocratic oligarchs who exercise power in our supposed democracy" (Harold Bloom, the New York Times, Nov. 12, 2011).
"That is a mainstream view, that Mormonism is a cult … Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian" (Rev. Robert Jeffress, Values Voter Summit, Oct. 7, 2011).
"I believe a candidate who either by intent or effect promotes a false and dangerous religion is unfit to serve. Mitt Romney has said it is not his intent to promote Mormonism. Yet there can be little doubt that the effect of his candidacy — whether or not this is his intent — will be to promote Mormonism" (Warren Cole Smith, Patheos.com, May 24, 2011).
"Yes, it is my opinion that an indoctrinated Mormon should never be elected as President of the United States of America" (Tricia Erickson, CNN.com, July 7, 2011).
"Mormonism is not an orthodox Christian faith. It just is not … It's very clear that the Founding Fathers did not intend to preserve automatically religious liberty for non-Christian faiths" (Bryan Fischer, Focal Point radio show, September 2011).
"Can you name the candidate that's running for president that believes that if he's a good person in his religion he will receive his own planet? … Would you vote for someone for president who believes in their religion, if he's a good person, he'll get his own planet? … Do you want to get your own planet?" (Ben Ferguson, Fox 13 News, Memphis, Tenn., July 6, 2011).
"The Christian coalition, I think (another candidate) could get a lot of money from that, because Romney, obviously, not being a Christian …" (Ainsley Earhart, "Fox and Friends," July 17, 2011).
"MormonVoices is not a political organization and has no position on any candidate or campaign," Gordon noted. "Many statements included here concern politics, but are included because of their relevance to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
The Top Ten list, along with an explanation of why each statement is inappropriate or inaccurate and links to additional information, can be found at www.mormonvoices.org.