Mormonism and the cult of name-calling

REUTERS Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney smiles as he is booed after saying he will repeal “Obamacare” at the NAACP … Continued

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney smiles as he is booed after saying he will repeal “Obamacare” at the NAACP convention in Houston July 11, 2012.

There is much debate on whether Joseph Smith—the man who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often known as the Mormon Church—was truly a prophet called of God, but one of his prophecies has undoubtedly come to pass. According to Smith, an angel visited him in the autumn of 1823, telling him that his name “should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.”

As Mitt Romney has taken the national stage as the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party this year, his Mormon faith has garnered unprecedented interest. The resulting discussion has borne out the truth of Moroni’s prophesy, as genuine admiration and bitter criticism have been leveled not only at the prophet, but at the church he founded nearly 200 years ago. Animating this discussion is a basic question that often goes unstated: Are Mormons normal enough to belong in mainstream America? Normal enough that one of them could be trusted to be president?

One way of approaching this topic is to ask whether Mormonism is a legitimate religion, in the way Catholicism and Judaism are, or whether it is something altogether different and perhaps more sinister. Though Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress was among the in this campaign to use the word, the term “cult” has now become a popular way of marginalizing Mormons. Bill Maher— who strongly doubts the existence of any omniscient being not named Bill Maher— branded Mormonism a cult via Twitter, and Andrew Sullivan recently argued that “the question of the cultish qualities of Mormonism [is] worth exploring.”

Sullivan’s argument is illustrative, as it follows the approach of so many others who have pushed the “cult” line of attack. These attacks inevitably abandon any definitional rigor and load the dice to reach the desired result. Thus, Sullivan adopts a handful of suspiciously on-the-nose criteria for cultishness— secret places sealed off from outsiders, pressure not to leave, and effective “enforcement” of tithing. In other words, Sullivan looked at some elements in the Mormon tradition that he finds unsettling, exaggerated them for effect, and decided that those are the characteristics of a cult. It’s an easy game to play. Here is another reasonable-sounding list of cultish characteristics: belief in the infallibility of a supreme leader, a system prohibiting clergy from normal family life, and a network of the especially devout who vow to totally remove themselves from society. No one believes Sullivan’s own Catholic Church—a global faith that has inspired some of the world’s greatest art, thought, and philanthropy — is a cult. But using Sullivan’s tactics, it isn’t hard to cast it in a dark, suspicious light.

Deciding who is a cultist and who is a legitimate believer is more often a matter of politics than of theology or psychology. This is what the writer Thomas Wolfe meant in saying that “a cult is a religion with no political power.” Witness the vehement denunciations of Mormonism during the 2008 election from the religious right, which all but disappeared during this cycle, when a Romney victory appeared much more likely. The fact that Jeffress ultimately endorsed Romney after labeling him a cultist perfectly illustrates the political nature of the slur, as does the sudden interest in the issue exhibited by Sullivan, who happens to be a staunch supporter of President Obama.

Ultimately, calling a religion a cult is a cowardly act, because the vagueness of the word provides plausible deniability to any who use it. While Sullivan or Jeffress may say they use the word in a specialized, limited sense, for the average person it evokes images of federal agents surrounding the Branch Davidians in Waco, not of a vibrant, growing religion some 14 million strong. If Sullivan does not intend to equate Mormons with brainwashed sycophants in a suicide pact, he should choose a less inflammatory word—one that actually means what he is trying to say.

While Joseph Smith still has his critics today, the teachings he left the LDS Church are fundamentally inconsistent with mind control or religious coercion. One of his more enduring revelations remains at the heart of LDS teaching on leading in the Church, warning that “[n]o power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.” There are easier ways to brainwash people than through long-suffering and meekness.

In late June, Mormons around the world commemorated the murder of their prophet 168 years ago, by a bloodthirsty mob infuriated by the life and teachings of this complex, thoughtful man. This week, they still contemplate whether the years since then have been sufficient to cure the American people of one of the last acceptable prejudices.


View Photo Gallery: With the Republican presidential nomination secured, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney steps up his criticism of President Obama.


D.T. Bell is a businessman living in Provo, Utah. Ryan Bell is an attorney living in Salt Lake City. They both co-authorMormonAmerican.com, a blog that responds to inaccurate information about Mormonism..

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  • Jenks411

    You all make me laugh. Why so much hate? Remember the 1st Amendment to the constitution? Freedom of Religion? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” So what if someone has different beliefs than you? That is what makes The United States of America so great! To hate someone just because of their religion is bigotry. I don’t care if you think there is not a God, there is a God, or that you are God; your belief is your own and should be respected as such! The United States of America is a great place to live and I think people loose site of the benefits of this land. Don’t forget what makes this land such a wonderful place to live.

  • beaufordslyone

    I don’t hate Mitt Romney because of his religion. I just hate his religion.

    The bigotry you see against Mitt’s religion is directly proportionate to the bigotry preached by the Mormon church. This is a church that preaches that all other religions are led by the devil.

    “So what if someone has different beliefs than you?”

    I accept that and respect most religions. I refuse to respect a church that teaches this:

    “What is the church of the devil in our day, and where is the seat of her power? …It is all of the systems, both Christian and non-Christian, that perverted the pure and perfect gospel …It is communism; it is Islam; it is Buddhism; it is modern Christianity in all its parts” – Bruce McConkie

    If your faith endorses and supports this blatant bigotry, forgive me for raising an objection.

  • Aubri

    This is the 11th Article of Faith: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    The Articles of Faith outline 13 basic points of belief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first wrote them in a letter to John Wentworth, a newspaper editor, in response to Mr. Wentworth’s request to know what members of the Church believed. They were subsequently published in Church periodicals. They are now regarded as scripture and included in the Pearl of Great Price. This is what we believe.

  • fkratzor1

    So, is the Mormon church the one true Christian church?

  • Aubri

    The Restoration of the LDS gospel in its fulness completes and enhances the truths found in the religions of the world. The events surrounding the Restoration, and the revelation that attended them, are what distinguish members of the LDS church from all other religions and from any other people with good intent.

  • MattMoore

    “should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.”

    That this statement is considered prophecy is ridiculous. The same can be said for anyone on earth with any fame or infamy. Presidents, dictators, popes, prophets, Tom Cruise . . . totally meaningless.

    However to the authors original point, are Mormons ‘normal’ enough to belong in mainstream America, or trusted enough to be President? Absolutely. As a country (and a planet) we’ve been living with, and been led by citizens that have religious beliefs verifiable only by faith forever. It’s completely and totally normal.

  • dcsk

    Thank you for these insightful words.

  • Ryan Davis

    To your point about the prophecy, perhaps you are correct that the same can be said of anyone with fame or infamy and it wouldn’t be considered a prophecy. But if it were to be said of a young farm boy with no foreseeable prospect of attaining any fame or infamy, then yes, it would be a prophecy. At the time this prophecy was given, Joseph was, in fact, a young and obscure farm boy.

  • Ryan Davis

    This was an excellent, balanced article pointing out the gaping flaws in some people’s policitally-motivated attacks on the LDS church.

  • beaufordslyone

    Aubri sure wraps the bigotry of the LDS church into a sugary Kumbayah that would make a PR firm blush. I prefer the words of actual Mormon prophets and apostles on the subject. Men like Spencer Kimball were unapologetic in their dismissal of all other faiths:

    “This is the only true church …This is not a church. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. There are churches of men all over the land and they have great cathedrals, synagogues, and other houses of worship running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are churches of men. They teach the doctrines of men, combined with the philosophies and ethics and other ideas and ideals that men have partly developed and partly found in sacred places and interpreted for themselves.”

    “Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking the specific authorization”

    The doctrine of the LDS church is very clear. Not only is the Mormon church the ONLY true church, all other churches are ultimately led by the devil. The temple ceremony I attended made this very clear. The Protestant preacher was portrayed as the hireling of Satan and attempted to lead Adam astray. You can twist Mormon teachings all you like with your PR moment but that doesn’t change anything.

  • readbofm

    Are Mormons Christian?

    Yes. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian church but is neither Catholic nor Protestant. Rather, it is a restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ as originally established by the Savior in the New Testament of the Bible. The Church does not embrace the creeds that developed in the third and fourth centuries that are now central to many other Christian churches.

    Latter-day Saints believe God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save all mankind from death and their individual sins. Jesus Christ is central to the lives of Church members. They seek to follow His example by being baptized (see Matthew 3:13-17), praying in His holy name (see Matthew 6:9-13), partaking of the sacrament (see Luke 22:19-20), doing good to others (see Acts 10:38) and bearing witness of Him through both word and deed (see James 2:26). The only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • fkratzor1

    And why would God choose an obscure man in Palmyra to deliver the true Christian church to all of human kind? If this actually happened, then Joseph Smith would have conducted himself in a way that would leave him beyond reproach. His writings and his life story indicate something quite different; a man who desired power and control over his followers and who was willing to put them through grave danger and ridicule for his own selfish ends.

  • ronas

    I tend to agree with the main idea in the article that cult an unhelpful perjorative. However here a few major problems with the LDS church that I think are of concern.

    1) Inside the temple Mormons promise to sacrifice everything they have even their own life, if necessary to the church (not to God). So Mormon’s literally pledge their life to the church.

    2) Inside the temple Mormon’s promise to consecrate every possession they have to the church. Although the church does not currently ask for it every Mormon who has attended the temple has promised that the church can call for their possessions.

    3) The Mormon church has a very strong central leadership. They are taught that the church leader the prophet can never lead them astray and never teach them something wrong. They are taught that if they ever have any personal revelation that is not in line with the prophet that they are wrong and that the prophet is right.

    4) Unworthy members are publicly humiliated by not being allowed to attend the sacrament or temple ordinances. If a Mormon member is deemed unworthy (for something as small as not believing the prophet is literally a prophet, for drinking coffee, or for not paying 10% tithing) they are excluded from things including their own children’s weddings. (If the children marry outside of the temple they are manipulated by not being allowed to be “sealed” for a full year.)

    5) Until 1990 in the temple Mormon’s would pantomime several different ways they would be killed if they revealed the secret handshakes and keywords given in the temple. They no longer do that but still promise to never tell these secret handshakes and words.

    6) They believe that when a local member receives a calling that they are essentially representing Jesus Christ. For example any random neighbor can be “called” to be bishop. You are expected to “sustain” the bishop which basically means to not question him. I have seen temple recommends taken away simply for disagreeing with a bishop

  • ronas

    Joseph Smith’s claim about beign known for good and bad wasn’t written until the 1840s long after he already had become known for good and bad far and wide. A retroactive propehtic statement made in hindsight is not all that impressive.

  • willys36

    Lickily it is not nearly as horrid as Hussein’s Marxist Black Liberation Theology as taught to him for 20 years bt Jeramiah Wright.

  • fkratzor1

    You should educate yourself. Watch “Slavery by Another Name” a PBS documentary that may enlighten you.

  • azinpa

    Why would God choose an obscure person like Abraham or Moses or Jesus? Weren’t they all obscure during their respective eras? God works in mysterious ways. Faith is essential in any belief.

  • Kent French

    fkratzori

    You are making sweeping accusations about the motivations of a man who you never new, and you are doing so as if you have absolute knowledge of the intent of his heart. What’s more, I gather from your posts that you are doing it after only three of four months of looking into Mormonism from an anti-Mormon viewpoint.

    Here is something that might interest you:
    Forty-five years ago many attacks by anti-Mormons factions consisted of quoting things recorded in the Book on Mormon as obviously not being true. I wonder why we don’t hear of those things today? Could it possibly be that modern technology, science and discoveries such as the Dead Sea scrolls now prove them to be true?

  • Mark Clay

    Ronas, Your post would be more interesting if it weren’t riddled with innacurate and irrelevant statements. It is hard to know where to start, but you lose credibility when your criticisms are only half truths.

  • bytebear

    It’s not bigotry to say you are the one true church, and in fact if you belong to a church that doesn’t think it is the way to salvation, I think you need to be even more concerned about following a faith that promises nothing after death.

  • Liahona

    Ronas,

    If you are not happy with the LDS Church, you are free to be whatever you want to be — Presbyterian, Methodist, Hindu, etc. I am one African American LDS, who has been very happy with her 37 years of membership. I married a white guy in the temple more than 25 years ago, and nobody tried to kill either of us.

  • fkratzor1

    Example please. I find nothing that proves any historical truth to the events in the Book of Mormon. Has any archeological evidence been found, does any of it exist in a museum anywhere?

    The Smithsonian Institute and the National Geographic Society would not confirm one claim made by your church.

  • saychoss

    Great article. Thank you for writing to explain more about this religion that seems to intrigue or frighten so many.

  • saychoss

    By 1840 he wasn’t known world-wide like today. Then he was known by hundreds of thousands, but today he is known by hundreds of millions. He must have been a a great prophet to foresee what would happen and to found a modern religion that has endured for almost 200 years. According to research, his religion now numbers 14 million plus and is one of the fastest growing Christ-based religions in the world.

  • saychoss

    You must really have an axe to grind, but you come across as really petty. In fact I am more convinced to learn more about mormans after reading your post.

  • saychoss

    In response to fkratzor1, you should not pay as much attention to Joseph Smith’s critics who are the ones that falsely accused and imprisoned him several times and eventually murdered him in a mob-action in Carthage IL. Instead, judge him by the fruits of his labor/religion–14 million plus members today who give freely of themselves and seek to help and serve others to make the world a better place.

  • saychoss

    In response to beaufordslyone: You disagree with a statement that perverting the pure and perfect gospel of Christ is an act of the devil? You need to think more about what you are typing…most people would agree that it *your* philosophy that is un-Christian.

  • Kent French

    Fkratzori

    Here is a good example:

    Below is some interesting information from the web site “mormonscholarstestify.org”, It’s written by Dr. M. Gary Hadfield who is a neuropathologist.

    My own fascination with the brain’s structure impelled me to become a neuropathologist, a physician trained in morbid anatomy, one who deals with diseases of the nervous system in the laboratory. As a budding trainee, I was presented early on with the following intriguing case: A middle-aged man had undergone uncomplicated surgery for a routine hernia repair, but, while recovering, he strained forcefully to reestablish his urinary flow. The increase in blood pressure, thus produced, resulted in a brainstem hemorrhage. This left him with flexor rigidity (arms bent at the elbows and hands at the wrists. The lower extremities are likewise involved). Soon after this episode, he died. At autopsy, we found a ruptured aneurysm in a brainstem artery that accounted for his stroke. The bleeding had destroyed and compressed critical neural tissues that ultimately led to his death.

    The brainstem connects the cerebrum (the brain proper) to the spinal cord. It is highly complex, because it contains major pathways leaving the brain, others returning to it from the body, and the nuclei and nerve fibers of several cranial nerves that serve the eye muscles, the facial muscles, the ears, and other important organs. It also serves as a center for vital functions that control heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, and it assumes several other important roles.

    In fact, the brainstem is so vital to life, that it receives an extra rich supply of blood. This helps ensure survival of the individual even should the rest of one’s brain become severely damaged due to impaired blood flow. The patient may then live on in a vegetative, comatose state. So the brainstem’s hardiness becomes a mixed blessing.

    But we had a dilemma on our hands: damage to the upper brainstem normally produces “extensor rigidity,” with the a

  • Kent French

    Fkratzori

    A story contained in the Book of Mormon – The death of Shiz:

    29 Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had all fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.
    30 And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.
    31 And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died.
    Ether 15:29-31

  • Kent French

    Fkratzori (cont.)

    Below is some interesting information from the web site “mormonscholarstestify.org”, It’s written by Dr. M. Gary Hadfield who is a neuropathologist.

    My own fascination with the brain’s structure impelled me to become a neuropathologist, a physician trained in morbid anatomy, one who deals with diseases of the nervous system in the laboratory. As a budding trainee, I was presented early on with the following intriguing case: A middle-aged man had undergone uncomplicated surgery for a routine hernia repair, but, while recovering, he strained forcefully to reestablish his urinary flow. The increase in blood pressure, thus produced, resulted in a brainstem hemorrhage. This left him with flexor rigidity (arms bent at the elbows and hands at the wrists. The lower extremities are likewise involved). Soon after this episode, he died. At autopsy, we found a ruptured aneurysm in a brainstem artery that accounted for his stroke. The bleeding had destroyed and compressed critical neural tissues that ultimately led to his death.

    The brainstem connects the cerebrum (the brain proper) to the spinal cord. It is highly complex, because it contains major pathways leaving the brain, others returning to it from the body, and the nuclei and nerve fibers of several cranial nerves that serve the eye muscles, the facial muscles, the ears, and other important organs. It also serves as a center for vital functions that control heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, and it assumes several other important roles.

    In fact, the brainstem is so vital to life, that it receives an extra rich supply of blood. This helps ensure survival of the individual even should the rest of one’s brain become severely damaged due to impaired blood flow. The patient may then live on in a vegetative, comatose state. So the brainstem’s hardiness becomes a mixed blessing.

  • Kent French

    Fkratzori (cont.)

    But we had a dilemma on our hands: damage to the upper brainstem normally produces “extensor rigidity,” with the arms and legs outstretched, instead of “flexor rigidity.” The latter normally occurs following damage to the motor cortex in the cerebrum, not brainstem lesions. We have all witnessed flexor (decorticate) rigidity—in friends, family or strangers suffering cerebral damage from strokes. Most of us have also seen victims of cerebral palsy with flexor rigidity, apparent after birth, where there has been insufficient blood flow to the motor cortex during gestation and/or delivery. We feet pity and sorrow when viewing the paralyzed limbs of patients afflicted with flexor rigidity. In extreme cases, the arms, legs, hands, and feet are all curled up, distorted, and stiff. Extensor rigidity occurs more rarely, and most readers will not have encountered this condition firsthand.

    My mentor, Dr. Harry Zimmerman, father of American neuropathology (at Montefiore Hospital and Albert Einstein School of Medicine in the Bronx, the doctor who autopsied Einstein’s brain), referred me to Dr. Fred Mettler, neuroanatomist at Columbia University (Manhattan), to solve the apparent dichotomy between the clinical findings and the neuropathology of this rare case. Together with Daniel Sax, the neurologist on the case, we published an explanation for this atypical picture (4).

    I feel it was Providential to be assigned this case. It forced me to study the anatomy and physiology of the brainstem in depth, one of the most intricate and involved parts of the nervous system. In an already esoteric field, I may be one of the few Mormon neuropathologists, if not the only one. So when I read again the story of Shiz in the Book of Mormon, alarm bells went off.

  • Icarus

    Mormons have a problem that will never go away, and it’s called plural marriage a.k.a. polygamy. Even though the church banned the practice of taking multiple wives in 1890, in his lifetime Joseph Smith had at least 27, and it destroys his credibility. Smith argued for polygamy as a revelation from god, when in fact, the only credible explanation is that it benefited him personally. (It satisfies ego, ambition for power and control, and of course, sexual desire.) If the revelation of plural marriage is a lie, then a rational person would doubt any other unsubstantiated “revelation” of Smith’s, such as the existence of the three golden tablets upon which The Book of Mormon is based. Uniquely among major religions, we have well-documented history of the LDS, because it’s less than 200 years old. Its youth makes it easier to discredit than religions which have existed for 1200 or 2000 years.

  • David L Sadler

    @Uncle Albert “Article 12: We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honouring, and sustaining the law.”

    I love this article of faith. Did Joseph Smith write it himself?

    At the time he had himself ordained a King. Was the Mayor of the city and the General of its army. Oh, and wasn’t he running for president at the time? The local magistrates were certainly in his pocket.

    As far as honouring and obeying the law… Polygamy was illegal in every state he lived. How many wives exactly did he have?

  • David L Sadler

    @Liahona You do realise that if you’d wanted to marry your husband 12 years previously… You wouldn’t even have been allowed into the temple because of the colour of your skin?

  • David L Sadler

    PS And that was 14 years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act banning such discrimination.

  • ronas

    I love how everyone calls these half truths and yet can never point to a specific problem.

  • ronas

    So by that criteria Mohammed has over 1 billion followers – that is a great prophet.

    The reason it is a fast growing church is the aggressive missionary program. The recent growth is due to aggressive proselyting in countries with extreme poverty.

  • ronas

    @sachoss – I hope you do learn more about the LDS church. I would recommend that you research both sides of the issue. Definitely go learn what the Mormons have to say about themselves, but also go learn what others have to say.

  • rufio_32

    Jealousy comes in many forms!

  • Kent French

    Something all readers of these posts should know.

    Over the years I have found through research that most anti-Mormon statements and negative comments are built upon a foundation created by liars, hate mongers, persecutors and murderers from the 1800′s. On the other hand, I would guess that few people who pass on their lies and testimony have evil designs today. However, a few think they are actually serving Jesus Christ by doing so, and that can be extremely dangerous. I say that because of the hateful and venomous treatment I once received from a man who had been taken in by their camp. We were having a very wonderful and friendly side conversation during a business call I was making at his home. Then, he suddenly exploded and turned into a monster the second that he found out that I was a Mormon. I had never experienced anything like that in my life. However, his actions were familiar to me because of the Mormon persecutions that took place in Missouri and Illinois during the 1840′s. Those anti-Mormons slanders and actions had cost my great, great grandfather, his adult son and his four year old son their lives.

    In addition, my great, great Grandmother and my great grandfather who was twelve years old were driven from their home in Nauvoo, Illinois and forced across the Missouri river which had frozen over solid at that time. I surmise they had to walk, and were not allowed to take any possessions with them like so many others were forced to do at that time. To understand the murderous intent of their persecutors you should know the river hasn’t frozen over since that year.

    My loved ones ended up in what was known as Poor Camp which was located several miles inland on the other side of the river in Iowa. There, they would have died of exposure and starvation had God not watched over them. In fact, the people in that camp were starving when for a day or two the Lord sent quail into their camp in such numbers that they could reach out and grab them with their bare h

  • ronas

    I am sorry to hear that happened to you in the business meeting. That was definitely uncalled for.

    I agree that you have to be very careful on understanding Mormonism. There is a lot of misinformation on both sides.

    On the Mormon side it is primarily propoganda and spin. The LDS church has a long history of hiding anything that it does not consider “faith promoting”.

    On the other side often claims are unsubstantiated, out of context, and/or exaggerated.

    The truth both currently and historically take some digging.

    My biggest concerns with the Mormon church today are it’s sexism, bigotry towards gays, public shaming, overly authoritarian control, excessive load on members, and the overreaching demands of the temple covenants.

    One source of well researched issues with Mormonism that only uses church provided sources (still subject to researching for context) is the video “Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained” on Youtube.

  • ronas

    @sachoss

    It is clear from your other posts that you are a Mormon. Therefore you are lying in your post here – that’s a great representation of Mormons. I also don’t see how me explaining what some of my personal concerns with Mormonism are. I am not being attacking simply stating what I have experienced and what I know. You on the other hand are making an unwarranted personal attack for calling me petty just because you disagree with me.

    @epinongrip

    I don’t appreciate being called a liar. If you think something is innacurate call it out specifically and back it up. A personal attack doesn’t make your point very well.

  • ronas

    I agree that Mormons are Christians.

    However their definition of Christianity varies quite significantly from Orthodox Christianity in a number of areas. This is where some argue that the differences are so wide that the classification of “Christian” is not accurate.

  • ronas

    It cracks me up that a persuasive opinion piece that argues your viewpoint is your definition of “balanced”.

  • ronas

    @David L Sadler

    Are you also aware of Joseph Smith’s bank fraud?

    He actually tried to give out “Mormon bucks” to the investors. lol

  • ronas

    One example of a significant difference is most Christians believe that the grace of Christ & baptism by fire & the Holy Ghost is sufficient to go to heaven. Mormons on the other hand believe that knowledge of passwords & secret sings is also required.

    God having a physical body is also another large one.

    Probably the biggest difference is that the Mormon religin is montheistic – it teaches that there are actually many Gods out there and that wothy humans will eventually be Gods on the equal with God the Father. Many Christians take issue with this and feel that this disqualifies Mormonism as being Christian.

  • seeker19

    Joseph Smith actually had one wife. Emma Hale. Many people confuse his having many wives with Brigham Young. Brigham Young lived in a territory which did not have a law limiting marriage at the time.

  • Kent French

    ronas

    I don’t know if I am going to have time to alleviate all your concerns, but I will try by addressing one of them now.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not consider same-sex attraction to be a sin! Period, end of story.

    Claims that Mormons are bigots when it comes to gay rights stem from most Mormons being for traditional marriage during the California Prop 8 campaign that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.

    I, and every Mormon I knew who was for Prop 8, were not anti-gay but pro traditional marriage! For example, the following expresses what my personal thoughts were on the matter at that time, and I am of that same opinion now.

    Saying that legalizing gay marriage won’t have a negative effect on our society would be like me saying in 1950 that the one teenager in 2,000 who was experimenting with drugs would never affect all the rest of us.

    As I see it, the problem with marriages other than a traditional marriage is that it would cause a further loss to our nation’s moral compass which is something that is already going on as we speak. Perhaps the following will prove my point in that regard.

    I was 17 years old before I ever heard a girl swear, and I was raised in the San Francisco bay area! Back then, only one girl in my high school got pregnant, and she got married. Oh, for the good old days IN THAT RESPECT.

    I hope you understand now that claims that Mormons are anti-gay are not true. It is the preservation of our society that is the biggest concern of most Mormons and Americans in general.

    With these things said, naturally being followers of Jesus Christ we strive to keep his commandments. Therefore, we love our sons and daughters who are gay or lesbian. We also believe that they should keep God’s commandments relative to sexual transgressions since those commandments have always applied equally to all men and women regardless of sexual orientation.

  • beaufordslyone

    “Over the years I have found through research that most anti-Mormon statements and negative comments are built upon a foundation created by liars, hate mongers, persecutors and murderers from the 1800′s.”

    Actually the most damaging research is based on DNA, archaeological , and historical records. Egyptology is another field of study that destroys Mormon claims. I was raised Mormon and have spent the majority of my lifetime in the church. Your demonization of those who disagree with Mormonism is a failing tactic for defence.

    You then segue into the second most popular defence tactic, playing the victim card. Opposition to a religious organization does not equate to truth. Scientology faces similar opposition as does the Jehova Witness organization.

  • ronas

    Actively campaining to deny someone’s legal rights is bigoted.

  • ronas

    @KentFrench

    Will you please explain to me why legalizing gay marraige would have a negatvie impact on our society? (Not by using examples).

    To me your arguments sounds just like saying that ending segregation would have a negative impact on our society.

    In my mind giving someone else civil rights is a step forward for our society.

    A gay couple getting married in no way threatens you marriage.

    Saying that there is nothing wrong with someone having same gender attacting is fine but that they should not act on it is not nearly as nice of an out as you seem to think it is.

  • ronas

    I also picked up on the sexist attitude of “girl swear” why does it matter if it is a girl or a boy? Is it someone OK for boys but not girls to swear?

  • ronas

    I must have read past your “moral compass” comment before.

    I disagree. I believe that legally allowing equal civil rights to minorities is an improvement in morality.

    Imposing legal restrictions on others due to your personal relgious beliefs is actual immoral in my opinion.

    I also don’t see how gay marraige reduces morality in any way. Gay couples who want to get married are already having sex. Allowing them to marry doesn’t make them less moral and it does’t make you less moral.

  • nailedit55

    @icarus
    Joseph Smith never described them as “three golden tablets”. South Park may have. You just discredited your entire paragraph with that one.
    And Brigham Young had 27 wives, not Joseph Smith.
    PS Read the Book of Mormon, cover to cover, every page, it’s good fun.

  • RickH4

    Very well-put article. Name calling and derision from low corners and anti-thiest corners are nothing new to Mormons, so in that sense the election season hasn’t really changed anything, just adjusted the volume a bit.

    What I have found interesting the the fast shift of much of the political right to, at least from their mouths, greater acceptance and tolerance toward Mormons. It is strange and refreshing to hear some people on the who lambasted Mormons in the past turn around and defend Romney’s faith.

    This interesting development, though, is more than counterbalanced in my mind by a negative one- Mormonism has become partisan in many people’s consciousness, too closely associated with the republican party or conservative politics (This is somewhat ironic, since Huntsman and Romney were by far the most centrist candidates in the primaries, and their biggest liabilities were not being republican enough). I understand that it’s a natural effect of constant dialogue and political attacks, but it is very sad to see one’s faith associated with bitterness or political resent, and even more sad to think of all the good people on the left end who might be less willing to study the faith because they think it wouldn’t fit them.

    I expect Romney to narrowly lose in November, which will help remove the politicization of the word “Mormon” in our collective consciousness, but regardless of the outcome, I hope a few democrat Mormons will run for president next go-around, even if they know they have little-to-no chance of winning. There have been and are many good democrat Mormons, but they have been marginalized by media caricatures of Romney, overemphasis on his religion (maybe more than on JFK even), and by Utah, a famous Mormon center where most Mormons and non-Mormons alike happen to vote republican. It’s high time for LDS democrats to stand and rid the country’s minds of the injustice of associating Mormonism and republicanism.

  • Russell Potter

    @seeker the anti-poligamy law was not mad until 1850 6 years after Joseph Smith’s Death. you didn’t do your home work, try again

  • Kent French

    beaufordslyone

    I am curious. How old are you now?

    Also, your assertion that DNA evidence is the most damaging to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is a matter of opinion. In fact, such research is very questionable in my opinion. For instance:

    Pro or con I would say the accuracy of such research would depend on who is doing the testing, what the assumptions were, how good their proceedures were, the condition under which those tests were performed, who has been tested and where they are from, how many people were tested, who their ancestors were, what blood lines had been integrated into their lines, how many blood lines were integrated into each of the individuals being tested and how many generations you are trying to go back to make a connection. Things get watered down pretty fast. Of course, you would then be trying to compare those findings to the DNA of modern day Jews and there is the question of how watered down their DNA has become compared to the DNA of the twelve sons of Jacob who had different DNA from each other right from the start according to which of Jacobs wives happened to be their mother.

    Sorry I don’t have time to get into the rest of your post with answers right now, but I will endeavor to do so if possible.

  • nailedit55

    Attn: All mormons, anti-mormons, and anyone else interested in mormonism.

    Why try to prove the church true or untrue? why spend time, money, and effort researching something that you want no part of? also, why spend time, money and effort trying to prove right what you supposedly know in your heart? why expend the energy? can’t we all just get along?

    I want to reiterate that this is directed to all mormons, anti-mormons, and anyone interested in the mormon church.

    God, as far as i and many people believe in God, is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. God is on a higher plane of thought and activity than any of us, mormons or anti-mormons. This being said, could it be possible that God does not want the church to be proven true? Is it possible that the “interesting” actions of the very human Church Leadership throughout history have simply been part of God’s plan to promote a higher plane of thought and action through prayer and pondering and communication with him instead of internet google research? Could God have been discouraging the superficial study of “facts” in exchange for eternal truths only learned through communication with Deity?

    I’m just spitballin here but it’s something to think about.

    If you want the benefits of living a life centered on Christ and His teachings do it your way, the mormon way is one of many ways to do so.

    I am a mormon. I’m proud to be one. I was a mormon missionary who may have knocked on your door once or twice, and I saw a lot of people go from sadness to happiness as they embraced the teachings of the mormon religion. I’m proud to have been one.

    Sometimes i’m not too proud of things people say about the beliefs I hold dear. Sometimes I’m not too proud of how people try to defend the beliefs I hold dear. But it’s okay, the truth is the truth and we will all know it someday.

    How bout it people? Let’s just live life and love it eh?

  • ronas

    I should clarify that it was post homous for the Joseph Smith – not the lady. However she did not get to attend her own sealing – she couldn’t go in the temple because she was black. A white women stood in for her to be sealed by proxy.

  • ronas

    I agree with your assertion that Romeny’s biggest political challenge with Mormonism has already been overcome with gaining the Republican presidency. The right care a lot more about the religion of their candidates than the left.

    It is challenging to be a Mormon on the left because the LDS church often gets directly involved on right-side politics – despite their pronouncements otherwise. There is also the challenge that the LDS church if very far right on social issues.

  • ronas

    Also of note on where the 27 number comes from:
    Church historian Andrew Jenson listed 27 of Joseph Smith’s wives, compiled from church archives, and published the list in 1887 in Historical Record.

    This was the Mormon church’s own historian…

    If you don’t know this about your church, what else don’t you know?

  • ronas

    That was funny.

    1/2 of your post was lecturing us that we shouldn’t discuss or viewpoints on Mormonism

    then

    1/2 of your post was defending the Mormon church.

    Got beam?

  • nailedit55

    good call.

  • Kent French

    ronas

    I’m sorry, I can see your questions in your first post above were not real questions.

  • r-h-a

    Perhaps you should judge a person based on the laws in place at the time supposed crimes were committed. These laws show that Joseph Smith broke no laws regarding polygamy. Granted, he may have been one of the reasons for these laws being created, but I submit to you it is more law-abiding than the cheating with mistresses so rampant by many political leaders during the early to mid 1800s.

  • Marlowe28

    Just to address a couple of points. First, when Joseph Smith died, he was in jail for leading his own mob that had broken into a newspaper office and destroyed the printing press of a man who had written critically of Smith and Mormonism. He and his brother, who was also in jail for the same crime, were armed which is quite unusual for criminal suspects. Could it be that the members of the mob feared that Smith would escape justice? I’m not defending the mob’s actions. I’m saying that there was context to this event that the authors of this article chose not to include in order to present Smith as an innocent victim. He was not an innocent victim but that does not seem to have stopped many, many Mormons from presenting him as such.

    Secondly, the word “cult” is subject to many interpretations but forcing people to give 10% of their income to any religious organization in order to get into the “best” heaven, as Mormonism does, is not Christian.

  • Marlowe28

    Eighty percent of Mormons vote Republican. The identification of the LDS Church with conservatism and the GOP is a result of those voters’ behavior. How can truth be portrayed as an injustice?

  • Marlowe28

    r-h-a, Joseph Smith told a few women that God wanted them to leave their husbands and marry him and that they would be separated from God if they did not comply. That makes him nothing more than a rapist.

    He also denied for ten years that he was practicing polygamy, lying to all but a few members of his church. Smith was a convicted con man who ran what has become the most successful scam in the history of the United States. I feel a great deal of sympathy for the decent people who have bought into his pack of lies but the leaders who know better, who preach that it’s better to lie to church members if the truth might cause them to question the validity of the LDS Church, deserve nothing but contempt.

  • Marlowe28

    The Christian church does not require anyone to pay their way into heaven with Jesus and God. The LDS Church does. That is simply not Christian.

  • Marlowe28

    To question a man about his religious beliefs which he has freely stated formed his worldview when that man asks for my help in becoming the most important man in the world is not bigotry. It’s common sense,

  • Sterlingi

    Your comment is a joke. Tithing is a law universal to Christianity (Mal 3:7-10) believe what you want but stop calling Mormons un-Christian for donating to their church. I’m non-denominational, and I don’t believe in prophets like Joseph smith but I’ll be damned if I don’t defend other Christians from slander. Why is their so much un-Christian like slander and judging against the Mormons? All Christians have to stand together and love one another like Christ taught. Be patient with our differences and embrace the similarities.