Last weekend a disturbing video emerged on Twitter showing students at the University of Oregon chanting “f*** the Mormons” during a football game against the BYU Cougars.
Brigham Young University is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has a 99 percent LDS student body. It’s not the first time the BYU football team has been targeted for their faith by an opposing fan base; the same phrase was chanted during a game against University of Southern California last year.
The video was shared by Utah Governor Spencer Cox, himself a member of the LDS Church, who commented: “Religious bigotry alive and celebrated in Oregon.” As the video received more attention, the students’ actions were condemned by the University and Oregon Governor Kate Brown.
The BYU fan, named Aubrey, who filmed the chant said the Oregon students had repeated the chat multiple times before she began filming,
I was in the student section during the game, and I can confidently say that Aubrey’s account of the chants was accurate. If anything, the video fails to convey the prevalence of the chants. Worse, Aubrey accurately recounts that no Oregon students, me included, had the courage to voice any opposition to the chants in the moment; a shameful stain on the student body.
Granted, large mobs of intoxicated college students aren’t known for their respectful, classy behavior. Nevertheless, the chant crossed the line. The willingness of dozens of Oregon students to go along with the chant is indicative of a larger issue of hostility directed toward members of the LDS church.
As Aubrey puts it: “there’s an unfortunate acceptance in a lot of areas that you don’t make fun of religions, but Mormons are free game.” It isn’t particularly difficult to recognize: in progressive and elite circles, Mormons are one of the few groups that a person can insult and mischaracterize without facing social backlash. I have no doubt that my peers would’ve never chanted “f*** the Muslims” but, for some reason, such chants about members of the LDS Church were deemed acceptable.
The University of Oregon prides itself on being a supposedly inclusive community. The school not only requires students to fulfill a “cultural literacy” requirement before graduating, it also employs about a dozen Diversity Equity and Inclusion staff. Perhaps Oregon’s DEI staff could divert some of its resources away from their Deconstructing Whiteness Working Group (no, I didn’t make that up, it really exists) and towards teaching its students not to hurl insults at a religious minority. But that’s probably an unreasonably high expectation for a university that also makes regular headlines for its anti-Semitism.
Petty acts of intolerance toward a minority group are often rooted in a lack of familiarity with that group. I’d be willing to bet that most University of Oregon students have never had any meaningful conversations with members of the LDS community about their faith. I doubt that most Oregon students if asked, could provide a brief explanation of the tenets of the LDS Church. Instead, “Mormons” are mischaracterized as a wacky, polygamist cult. Since no one actually understands their faith or knows any of them personally, they’re the perfect punching bag.
Not only does this ignorance lead to stupid chants, but it also furthers the ironic trend of highly educated Americans not understanding their compatriots. The chant exemplifies the cultural insulation prevalent throughout academia. College students, while supposedly well-educated, often fail to demonstrate grace toward their fellow Americans; especially when those Americans are people of faith in the middle of the country. It’s that lack of cultural fluency that causes the same students who over-agonize about microaggressions to think yelling “f*** the Mormons” won’t rub anyone the wrong way.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.