This Makes the Baby Jesus Cry


In the movie Gomorrah, the Naples mafia (“Camorra”) intimidates people by telling them “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Jesus famously turned this mentality on its head by saying that “whoever is not against us is for us.” But the sentiment persists.

We were saddened, for instance, to see the Salt Lake Tribune recently characterize H. Michael Marquardt as “a career anti-Mormon” based on no evidence. This slur was followed by letters to the editor and online comments (about 600), both defending and criticizing Marquardt. Guy Briggs wrote to the Tribune that the title of Marquardt’s and Wesley Walters’s Inventing Mormonism was all he needed to know to discern that Marquardt was anti-Mormon.

In contrast to this with-us-or-against-us mentality, the LDS historian Richard L. Bushman wrote in a review of Inventing Mormonism:

All in all, Inventing Mormonism is a far cry in both spirit and substance from the iconoclastic studies of Mormonism that descend from E. D. Howe and Alexander Campbell to Fawn Brodie and the early Wesley Walters. The book assembles material that has not been part of the record before, and in good faith offers variant readings of Joseph Smith’s history. I take exception to the most critical conclusions, but I like the book. I admire the research, and I appreciate the generous, fair-minded tone of the writing. The book makes a genuine effort to be irenic, and I hope that Mormon readers will accept the work in the spirit in which it is offered (Just the Facts, Please,”FARMS Review of Books, 1994)

Back to the churlish letters to the Tribune and comments posted on line—this example from Edward C. Cannon, who agued that even though Marquardt may be “beloved, even respected,” he might “still be something awful,” that “anti-Mormon” remain the best “two words” to describe Marquardt—even though Cannon begrudgingly granted that Marquardt “does good scholarship.” (We have one word for you, Mr. Cannon: Anti-Nephi-Lehi

Unlike Briggs or Cannon, we know Marquardt well and know what his response has been to these irritating comments. He has ignored them, letting the slander run off his shoulders like a bit of light rain, while deriving pleasure from the subtle compliments. Then it was back to work for him, making corrections to his forthcoming book, Lost Apostles, and studying the Church’s new facsimile edition of the Manuscript Revelation Books. We wish the maligned Marquardt and everyone else a merry Christmas.

See also: Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Who Is Helen Radkey?” Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 4, 2009
Will Bagley, “Anti-Mormon?” Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 15, 2009
Guy Briggs, Marquardt’s Own Words, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 18, 2009
Edward C. Cannon, Nice Anti-Mormon, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 22, 2009