American Atheists (AA), a non-profit devoted to advancing a secular cause, has, once again, launched an anti-Mormon campaign. The organization's new billboard in southern Florida takes specific and pointed aim at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's faith. The message, which is intended to negatively frame The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, invokes both homosexuality and race.
The billboard reads, "No Blacks Allowed. No Gays Allowed. Shame on Mormonism." AA President David Silverman claims that the mobile ad (it's on wheels) is an opportunity to expose what he believes is "intolerance" and "bigotry" on the part of the Mormon church (at least when it comes to the issue of homosexuality).
Photo Credit: American Atheists
The first line of the ad refers to the church's previous denial of African American priests until 1978 -- a turning point at which the LDS church corrected its path. As TheBlaze has reported, the church issued an official declaration at that time following prayer and meditation and overturned the priesthood restrictions that once disallowed African American men from participating. A portion of the written description of the revelation read:
Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.
He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.
Relations between African Americans and the Mormon church have been evolving and improving since this statement was issued. Despite these developments, AA decided to use the issue against LDS. As for the issue of gay rights, the Mormon church strongly opposes same-sex marriage, but claims that it accepts gay members.
Silverman believes that Romney's faith hasn't been scrutinized enough in the media and that it deserves additional attention. That said, he denied that the billboard is specifically aimed at the candidate (the organization is a 501(c)(3) and, thus, is not permitted to endorse or rail against candidates).
"We all understand the implications of having a Christian president. We do not understand the implications of having a Mormon president," Silverman told CNN. "We are not taking a position on the election, we are taking a stance on ignorance."
Dale Jones, a spokesperson for the church, dismissed the ad in an email to CNN, writing, "This group seems not to know that there have been black members of the Church since our earliest history, and there are many faithful gay members of the Church today."
This follows another AA billboard that was displayed during the conventions. This former ad called Jesus a "useless savior," while, once again, bashing the Mormon Church.
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