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Oct 12 2011

I think all Americans have just been insulted by Andrew Brown

He calls Mormonism a “truly American faith”. I don’t think Brown actually knows anything about the Mormons other than the whitewash they’ve been given in their efforts to become more mainstream.

Mormonism is detested by some American evangelicals because it is “not Christianity” – but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion. It is founded on claims that no outsider can take seriously, but validated by one of the greatest epics of the settlement of the west, and secured by prosperity and tithing.

I might appreciate it more if it weren’t Christianity, but it is — it’s taken the worst elements of Christianity and amplified them. And what’s this about the “greatest epics of the settlement of the west”? Has Brown mistaken Hollywood for reality? It was a mob of militant fanatics led by charismatic con artists who aimed to establish their own misogynistic fiefdom far, far away from the interference of the government. Brown might want to look up the Mountain Meadows Massacre — there’s a mighty example of Mormon heroism. Salt Lake City was founded as Jonestown without the Koolaid.

In the course of the 20th century, the Mormons, however, became mainstream. This has little to do with theology. What marks a cult out is not its beliefs, but its distance from the surrounding society.

Modern public Mormons are almost parodically conformist and technocratic. The public image of Mitt Romney is not of a man who holds strange beliefs that he will act on if elected, but the opposite – a man who has no principles whatsoever, and almost no personality. Abstinent, frugal, hard-working and rich, the Mormons have moved from the fringe of American life to its centre – not least because their religion is so intensely American. Whether or not it’s crazy, it has worked.

“Cult” is a problematic word, but Brown has found an escape hatch: any religion, no matter how insane, stops being a cult when it hits a certain critical mass. Content has no meaning, all we care about is how many people adhere to its principles.

This is a cute maneuver, but it means we’re lacking a useful word. We need a word to describe the content of a belief system, which can be used to categorize the ones that require dedication to an unbelievable, typically ridiculous set of ideas that lead its members to practices that are pointless or self-destructive. Hmm…what word could we use?

I suggest “religion”. They’re all crazy. In that sense, Mormonism is no worse than any of the others.

And then Rod Dreher takes up the call and response. Dreher plus Brown? I’m so glad my lab has an eyewash.

Anyway, it is especially offensive, at least to me, to hear Christians speak of Mormonism as a “cult.” Usually when you hear that word being applied to a church or religious group, it’s designed not to describe, but solely to marginalize. Was it Tom Wolfe who said that a “cult” is a religious group without political power? That’s mostly right. I think cults really do exist, and can be identified in part by their overweening desire to be secretive and controlling of their adherents — e.g., Scientology. (It should be noted that one can find cultish behavior within mainstream religions too.) But I think the Guardian blogger Andrew Brown is more or less correct when he says that a “cult” can be defined sociologically as being far from a society’s mainstream — though by that definition, one would have to call the Amish a “cult,” and maybe even cloistered Catholic and Orthodox monks and nuns a “cult”?

Anybody want to do that? Anybody? Didn’t think so. So why so hard on the Mormons? Especially given that it’s hard to find a more idealistically American group of people anywhere in this country.

<PZ raises his hand> I would! Heck, I have problems with the Unitarians. They’re all pushing nonsense, and in the case of the Amish and cloistered fanatics, it’s led them to deny human beings participation in the wider interests of humanity.

In my experience, Mormonism produces exemplary people, the kind who form stable families and strong communities, and who make good neighbors. I do not believe in Mormonism, nor do I have the slightest interest in becoming Mormon. That Mormons tend to be good people does not make their doctrines true. But inasmuch as Mormons — and I’m generalizing here — tend to produce people who are often better Christians, in terms of their behavior, than the more orthodox expressions within the Christian tradition, should make thoughtful Christians consider what truth may exist within Mormonism. and what we may learn about how to live well from the Mormon experience.

No. People produce exemplary people. Does Dreher really want to imply that Catholics or atheists or Buddhists make poorer neighbors than Mormons? And what is this about Mormons being “better Christians”? If he means more conservative, more homophobic, more hypocritical, and more misogynistic, well then, I guess he’s right. But I don’t consider those to be virtues.

I lived among the Mormons for 7 years. I know that they’re perfectly ordinary people with peculiar beliefs…but beliefs that are no stranger than the peculiar nonsense I find endemic to Minnesota, or Washington, or Oregon, or Pennsylvania, or Indiana, or any of the other places I’ve lived.

But let’s not pretend Mormonism is just fine because its believers manage to routinely transcend its absurdities. Mormons may well be good people, but they’d be better people if they could purge their brains of the raging idiocy of their religion.

111 comments

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  1. 1
    badandfierce

    Oh, Mormons. Basing your worldview on a poorly conceived nineteenth century science fiction novel: dumb. Everyone picks on you for not believing their poorly-conceived first century fantasy novel: Dumber. Deciding to be intolerable, reactionary jerks to everyone so that the cool kids will like you: dumbest.

  2. 2
    Blaine

    Facepalm

  3. 3
    Duncan

    I’d go further and say that Andrew Brown doesn’t know anything about anything. He’s by quite some distance the worst journalist to work for the guardian.

  4. 4
    Randomfactor

    They may be an American religion, but they’re not the official United States religion.

    That “honor” goes to $cientology.

  5. 5
    Ing

    Why does he focus on LDS and not the FLDS?

    or you know…even mention them.

    I think a sub culture that engages in domestic violence, slave trade, child abuse, a pedophilia should sort of be mentioned.

  6. 6
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    “In my experience, Mormonism produces exemplary people (though examples of exactly what, I can’t say), the kind who form stable families consisting of one creepy old guy and several women and adolescent girls starring in repulsive home movies, and strong communities ringed by security fences to keep all the wives from running away, and who make good neighbors to those who are not gay or wish to think for themselves.”

    Was that too harsh?

  7. 7
    Zerple

    All of the Mormons I have encountered in my life, have been nice, clean people on the surface. However, after I encounter one, I am left feeling like there is something sinister and authoritarian about them. Sort of like one of those body-snatcher movies, where it turns out that your almost robotically polite neighbor is actually an alien invader from another planet.

  8. 8
    Chrissetti

    Andrew brown is only there to fill the Guardian’s apparent need to blast atheists every couple of weeks or so. He’s the only Comment is Free writer whose columns I will actively avoid.

  9. 9
    Ing

    Mormonism is detested by some American evangelicals because it is “not Christianity” – but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion

    If you ignore Quakers.

  10. 10
    'Tis Himself

    If the homophobic, misogynist, right-wing Mormons are Dreher’s idea of “exemplary people, the kind who form stable families and strong communities, and who make good neighbors” then I wonder which people he thinks aren’t exemplary.

  11. 11
    Glen Davidson

    but validated by one of the greatest epics of the settlement of the west, and secured by prosperity and tithing.

    There it is, if they can step on enough people they’re “validated.”

    The Mountain Meadows Massacre

    But they won, not the people that they set up for massacre, so they’re validated.

    Glen Davidson

  12. 12
    Marcus Ranum

    Mormonism is such a greatly american religion that the US government led pogroms against them in the 1830s.

  13. 13
    Ichthyic

    Mormonism is detested by some American evangelicals because it is “not Christianity” – but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion

    wait, Americans hate Mormonism… because it’s American??

    WTF?

  14. 14
    Ichthyic

    man, this is a thread for Lynna if ever I saw one!

    Paging Lynna to the Mormonism thread:

    Serious need for carpet bombing here.

  15. 15
    Zinc Avenger

    It is founded on claims that no outsider can take seriously

    It’s always weird when theists blithely say this sort of thing. My usual reaction is to blink several times and try to work out what sort of mental compartmentalization is required for a theist mind to frame that thought.

  16. 16
    anuran

    It really is a “truly American faith”. The infestation started here. It’s chock-full of Manifest Destiny and racism. Russian or Japanese or Nigerian crazies would have come up with something very different.

  17. 17
    PaulB

    Quakers… American..? News to George Fox of Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire. News too to Christopher Hill, historian of the English Revolution.

    But I like the comment about “bad 19th century science fiction”, look at the parallels between Mormons and scientologists. On the other hand, if scientologists would all emigrate an equivalent distance to 19th Century Utah, perhaps we’d have a moon colony.

  18. 18
    Glen Davidson

    Mormonism is detested by some American evangelicals because it is “not Christianity” – but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion.

    To be “American” is to be stupid and make shit up?

    But evangelicals don’t actually mind that at all.

    Glen Davidson

  19. 19
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Mormonism is detested by some American evangelicals because it is “not Christianity” – but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion

    If you ignore the, uh, American aborginal peoples.

  20. 20
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Whenever I think about people who receive exposure and attention well beyond their talent, knowledge, or intelligence, Andrew Brown is always the first to come to mind.

  21. 21
    screechy monkey

    It seems that, per Andrew Brown, there are at least three popularity levels for every religion:

    1. Cult
    2. Popular enough that you can’t call it a cult anymore, but Andrew will still say that its claims “can’t be taken seriously.”
    3. Sufficiently popular that criticizing its claims is something only vulgar Gnu Atheists would do.

  22. 22
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Damn. BQ fail. Let me try again:

    Mormonism is detested by some American evangelicals because it is “not Christianity” – but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion

    If you ignore the, uh, American aboriginal peoples.

  23. 23
    Ichthyic

    The public image of Mitt Romney is not of a man who holds strange beliefs that he will act on if elected

    you mean, like claiming he personally would work to rewrite the US Constitution to make it more fitting to his religion?

    http://americaswatchtower.com/2007/04/03/mitt-romney-amend-the-constitution-to-ban-gay-marriage/

    It’s fucking AMAZING to me that in 4 years, the man who was considered on the fringe side of republican nominees for president is now considered the most mainstream.

    I got the fuck out of dodge just in time, methinks.

  24. 24
    SteveInMI

    it’s taken the worst elements of Christianity and amplified them.

    How is that not American? Sounds to me like Brown is right on the money.

  25. 25
    Glodson

    As individuals, most of the Mormons I have met over the years have been quite kind. But hell, many people are decent people if you get a chance to know them.

    Which is what makes religious beliefs in general so tragic. These beliefs somehow change very nice people into real dickbags. Some preacher decides that God really hates (insert group here), and the followers adopt this. So these otherwise nice individuals adopt the same bigotry spouted by some leading moron.

    And this crap gets spread around. The only good news is that maybe a few people will smell the bullshit has it piles up.

  26. 26
    Ichthyic

    On the other hand, if scientologists would all emigrate an equivalent distance to 19th Century Utah, perhaps we’d have a moon colony.

    We already have one.

    oh, wait, that’s not the Moon you meant, is it?

    :P

  27. 27
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion

    If I recall correctly, modern evangelical protestant fundamentalism, the know-nothing anti-science brand, is a fairly recent development (late 1800s), was funded by some wealthy whackaloons, and was a development of the United States. I may be wrong (this is way outside of either my vocation or my recreational readings in history) and, if so, please correct me. Vociferously.

  28. 28
    Phineas

    Quakers were not an American religion. They started in England in the 17th century as The Religious Society of Friends. They came to America in the late 17th century after being persecuted and discriminated against in England.

  29. 29
    insomneac

    Since Heavenly Father revealed revealed in 1978 that blacks could hold the Priesthood (conveniently a few months before the opening of a temple in Brazil), racism has not been in issue in the Church, honest. That’s all in the past. Why do y’all keep bringing it up? :/

  30. 30
    jakc

    However crazy or stupid, it is one of the great American faiths, along with Scientology (two faiths with science fictional roots! what’s not to love?)
    It’s hard to start a successful religion these days – as God says to Homer: “Nine out of ten religions fail in their first year.”
    And, as I understand it, in the afterlife, Mormons treat non-Mormons better than Christians treat non-Christians (it’s only the ex-Mormons who really get it).

  31. 31
    TV200

    21 years ago, I had a friend who converted to Mormonism. I’ve been an unbeliever for as long as I can remember, so my first thought was, of course, “how could you buy into that?” But she said that it was important to her that I be there for her baptism. Reluctantly I agreed. (Very reluctantly).I put on my nicest suit, we met up and she drove us to the temple. This was one about 20 miles west of Philadelphia.
    They took her away to get ready for her baptism, leaving me to fend for myself for a while. They thought I was a visiting missionary, and when they asked me where I was from, and when I told them that I wasn’t a Mormon, and was just there for my friend, they told me they had a place for me to wait.
    They brought me to this room, where they put on a Mormon propaganda videotape and left me alone. After a few minutes I got antsy, and went to leave. The door was locked. Now, I don’t know if it was intentional or an oversight. But a pure rage gripped me about being locked in this room with propaganda playing. I remember that it took me a number of kicks to break down their fucking door. Once I was through the door, people came to investigate the commotion, no one tried to stop me, I have feeling I wouldn’t have been very kind to them if they had.

  32. 32
    Larry

    remember that it took me a number of kicks to break down their fucking door.

    Bravo! That was the first thing that came to me as I read your tale. I’d have done the same thing.

  33. 33
    Hank_Says

    Ing @ #5:

    “I think a sub culture that engages in domestic violence, slave trade, child abuse, a pedophilia should sort of be mentioned.”

    I just read the post and I’m pretty sure someone DID mention Catholicism.

  34. 34
    Redneck, liberal, athesist

    For a fun example of evangelicals vs Mormons, check out:

    http://calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=486709

    It is a conservative gun site run by an evangelical. If you dare say Christianity has no archeological support and is just as much a collection of fables as any other religion, you get banned. But if you say the same thing about Mormonism but coming from an evangelical stance, swing away.

  35. 35
    Laís

    Here in Brazil people may say they belong to any religion from Camdomblé to Catholicism and no one will open the mouth, but if you say I’m an atheist people ask “Ateu graças a deus?” (Atheist thanks to god?) with an ironic glance.

    I just want to punch them, because everybody can accept any religious belief, just can’t handle the absence of one.

    I realy don’t know what is worst, but I definitely hate both kind of behavior.

    Trying to differentiate religions to make any of them look better, or simply implying that any religion is better than none.

  36. 36
    raven

    Repost. This is a key piece of information because it has real and relevant data. Romney has a Mormon problem.

    Most xians would agree with Pastor Jeffress and Bryan Fischer. That is what the polls say.

    It’s reassuring that when they aren’t hating everyone else, they hate each other.

    Huffingtonpost.com:

    a new survey released Saturday afternoon says that three out of four pastors agree, at the least, that Mormons are not Christians.

    As part of a larger survey conducted by Nashville-based Lifeway Research a year ago, 1,000 pastors were polled from around the country who represented dozens of denominations.

    and

    A Pew Research Center survey from the summer said that one in four voters would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate and found that 34 percent of white evangelical Protestants held this view. A Gallup poll released in June also found that almost 20 percent of Republicans and independents would not vote for a Mormon president, compared to 27 percent of Democrats who said the same.

  37. 37
    raven

    All of the Mormons I have encountered in my life, have been nice, clean people on the surface. However, after I encounter one, I am left feeling like there is something sinister and authoritarian about them.

    Living on the west coast and spending time in Utah, I’ve known dozens over the years. Same thing. They are superficially pleasant but inside their own bubble. You always get a sense that something alien is lurking behind their eyes.

    They are taught that they are the Real Jews and god’s chosen people and feel a bit superior to “gentiles” and some contempt for the ones bound for the Terrertrial Heaven or Outer Darkness as well.

    Out of those dozens, only 1 or 2 seemed normal. They were both converts.

    Sort of like one of those body-snatcher movies, where it turns out that your almost robotically polite neighbor is actually an alien invader from another planet.

    They are pod people. That is what happens after a lifetime of brainwashing. Mormonism is listed as an abusive mind control cult by the CAIP. The people I know in Utah often call them happy idiots.

    It’s not all harmless fun and games. Where Mormons are a majority they oppress the gentiles and pagans.

  38. 38
    Jens Randrup

    Will any points ever made in the comments of this blog, or in this blog itself, ever make any difference to anything? It would be nice if this were so, but if it were so, how would we measure it?

  39. 39
    raven

    It would be nice if this were so, but if it were so, how would we measure it?

    US xianity is dying.

    This is according to the National Council of Churches among others. They receive membership reports from the cults sects every year. In other words, someone counts the xians. Last year 1.5 million people dropped off the membership rolls. That’s a lot.

    Probably Pharyngula makes a difference but other factors helped more. The vaguely humanoid toad leaders like Robertson, Dobson, Fischer, Jeffress, Barton, Hagee, Parsely, Ham etc.. make more atheists in a day than Dawkins or PZ do in a year. Thanks to them, the fundie xians are one of the most despised groups in our society.

  40. 40
    Jens Randrup

    PZ, I love that you have this blog and love most of what you post here, but though your site may be visited by as many as 100 million per month (just a number I pulled out of my ass), do you have any actual measure of the usefulness, the effectiveness of this blog on converting non-atheists to athiests? I know you will say that is not the purpose, but still.

  41. 41
    It'spiningforthefyords

    If the “Republican” pig whom he wishes to apply lipstick to were a Scientologist, then THAT would be the “truly American faith”.

    As the flight controller in the film Airplane! commented in derision of the skills he saw displayed on HIS screen, “What an asshole!”

    The Guardian does know how to run a bear-baiting, don’t they?

  42. 42
    janicot

    I’ll support raven and Zerple and the other similar sentiments here. I grew up on the AZ/UT border and have known many cult believers including several family members.

    Their stated purpose in sending teens on missions is to force them to live their version of the gospel 24-7 during their most formative years as children to create brainwashed zombies that they can count on later. Converting new members is at best secondary.

    Creepy zombies with poison behind their eyes is truly the kindest description of Mormons that I can offer.

  43. 43
    Ichthyic

    Will any points ever made in the comments of this blog, or in this blog itself, ever make any difference to anything?

    you sound depressed.

    It’s mental health awareness week, did you know?

  44. 44
    The Ys

    I think if we want to examine a truly “American” religion, we should start looking at the rituals and beliefs of the natives prior to the European influx.

    Mormonism: We were too busy marrying and beating each other’s teenage daughters to finish inventing a brand-new religion. It was easier to start with other people’s work.

  45. 45
    raven

    you sound depressed.

    It’s mental health awareness week, did you know?

    It’s a common feeling these days.

    I used to be proud to be an American. We put people on the moon. Invented digital computers, the internet, genetic engineering, and so on. Saved the Europeans and Asians from the Axis powers during WWII and stared the commies down.

    These days, I live in a giant lunatic asylum, run by the inmates. And going steadily downhill.

  46. 46
    Ichthyic

    Will any points ever made in the comments of this blog, or in this blog itself, ever make any difference to anything?

    read the comments in this thread:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/page/2/

    search for “red pill moment”

    without even looking for all the many threads where people have responded that the arguments or information presented therein changed their minds about things, that thread alone serves as quick evidence to suggest that yes indeed, this place makes a difference.

    The next step to consider is:

    Since this blog has been shown to make a difference, it seems likely then that others do to.

    If others do, why don’t YOU start one, and make a difference yourself?

    or at least contribute your own unique experiences to this one, or another.

    because in the end, that’s how we make a difference anyway.

    one person at a time.

  47. 47
    Bill Gascoyne

    Look at the first cartoon to see a good definition of cult vs. religion.

  48. 48
    Ichthyic

    …and, nobody ever said that opposing viewpoints don’t also “make a difference”, so don’t be surprised if your attempts don’t end up coming to fruition in the marketplace of ideas.

    but then, that’s really what we’re depressed about, yeah?

    not that individual viewpoints “don’t make a difference”, but that our own viewpoints “don’t make ENOUGH of a difference” in the overall marketplace.

    other than being depressed though, and there’s nothing wrong with that, really, I don’t see what else you can do but at least try and get your ideas out there.

    Sadly, the “good guys” don’t always win. Maybe even “very rarely win” might be more accurate.

    but, they do though. It happens. otherwise, I doubt we ever would have gotten things like the Civil Rights Act passed, for example.

    can’t win the lotto if you don’t play, and all the likewise trite sayings, etc.

    I suppose I’m a lousy motivational speaker, but really, in the end, what choice is there?

    how does “curl up and die” change anything as a statement?

  49. 49
    gordonmacginitie

    I was once employed at a corporate division where Mormons were the
    majority among my co-workers. It was creepy. There was no hostility or strange behavior or strange speech but something was definitely missing. The Stepford wives – real zombies – no souls – automatons. The only time a saw the slightest spark of life was when someone mentioned that someone was a Bishop.

  50. 50
    tim gueguen

    Father Ogvorbis, if you mean the whole rapture theology business it wasn’t an American invention, but a British one. John Darby is generally considered the father of “dispensationalism.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Darby_(evangelist)

  51. 51
    McWaffle

    Psh, don’t you guys know that just about every famous person who ever lived was a Mormon? Doesn’t it say something that people born hundreds of years before Smith (say, Alexander the Great) were Mormon? Even famous modern atheists like George Carlin were Mormon! It’s gotta be great!

    Ahem. I find Mormonism just one step creepier than regular Christianity because of the posthumous baptism thing. Infant baptism is equally non-consensual, but at least you have the opportunity to deny it once you’re older. That’s why I have at least a relatively large amount of respect (relatively, so still not a great amount, just relatively more) for religions with adult baptism/other-ritualized-entrance.

  52. 52
    tim gueguen

    FYI the October 2011 issue of Harper’s Magazine has an article by Chris Lehman on the Mormon influence on modern Republican economic thought.

  53. 53
    crowepps

    “Validated by prosperity”? Is he seriously asserting that a religion is demonstrated to be “good” by the fact that its heirarchy rip off its members and horde those goods? Seriously?

    Guess all the arguing about theology and spirituality and what it means to be happy is a waste of time — we can compare the quality of various ‘faiths’ by just going over their balance sheets.

  54. 54
    Anne C. Hanna

    Was it Tom Wolfe who said that a “cult” is a religious group without political power?

    I think we oughta turn this around and say that a religion is a cult with political power.

    Also, somebody pointed me to an interesting thing on cults this morning:

    http://jszimhart.com/blog/christian_cult_controversy

  55. 55
    Therrin

    ABSTINENT?! There’s a reason minivans are called Mormon-mobiles (even by the Mormons that drive them). I won’t necessarily disagree with hard-working, two of our best employees were Mormons. They also had around ten siblings, and enough silly rules to rival Judaism.

  56. 56
    Lynna, OM

    What Andrew Brown and Rod Dreher have just proven is that, in addition to being deluded homophobes, powerful misogynists, revisionists with no respect for history, the nation’s top buyers of online porn, and the nation’s top consumers of Prozac, mormons are also really really really good at propaganda.

    Mormons were right to hire a NY advertising firm to spruce up (read “to obscure”) the true face of the sheeple. Mormons were right to organize an army of “volunteers” to act as “internet missionaries” to flood social media with pro-mormon comments. Mormons were right to repeat the lie about their active membership numbers so often that everyone bought the lie. Mormons were right to have one of their Prophets lie to Mike Wallace about their core doctrines. Mormons were right to get out of the cure-the-gay business by having someone else (Evergreen) do the curing for them.

    Above all, mormons were right to fund a murder of crows (uh, lawyers — I meant “lawyers”) to fight court battles. Among those court battles were defenses meant to keep their anti-gay campaign donations out of the public eye. (They only partially failed in California — there’s lots more dirty linen there than has been aired. And they were completely successful in other court battles, as in Maine for example.) The murder of lawyers also defends them against an alarmingly high incidence of sexual abuse of Boy Scouts.

    Mormons are right to pressure their young men to serve (and to pay, PAY, to serve fer keerist’s sake) two years as missionaries.

    Mormons were right to invest in agricultural land in the United Kingdom that brings in millions per year in European Union farm subsidies. They were right to buy huge cattle ranches in Brazil, and to run them, in part, with Senior Missionaries (who frickin’ PAY for the privilege).

    Their current prophet, Monson, has told anecdotes that turned out to be petty lies (unlike the big lies Joe Smith told). I would say that petty lies are an improvement over huge, mind-boggling lies, but really there is no improvement. By learning to accept lies as truth, mormons have also earned a place in our nation as the top scam artists in the MLM (Multi Level Marketing) business.

    I’ll give them high marks for organization, obedience, and obsession.

  57. 57
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Um, I think all Mormons (and a few other religions) just got insulted.

    Mormonism is clearly derived from Christianity: the book of Mormon is written in a god-awful pastiche of the prose of the authorised version of the Bible, and it was revealed to the world in 1830 in the most fervently pious region of a fervently Christian country [...]

    Before the Mormons, American popular Christianity was still recognisably a form of English puritanism. The Methodists and the Baptists both had their origins in England, and both had taken over a very English understanding of history. According to this myth, the Protestant British were playing the same part in contemporary history as Israel had done in the Old Testament [...]

    This myth crossed the Atlantic almost unchanged and, even after the war of independence, persisted with a slight change of cast: America was now God’s chosen country, and the British empire was the wicked and decadent pharaoh or caesar from whom it must be rescued. That is the theological explanation for why the villains in Hollywood always have British accents. [a dubious assertion. Alan Rickman rocks! ~cm] But it also very powerful in mainstream US politics: it is where the idea comes from that God has a special purpose for America.

  58. 58
    Lynna, OM

    Here’s just part of the current mormon Profit’s lies. He’s been lying since 1969 about the death of a friend named Patton. He tells a faith-affirming anecdote about this guy over and over, most recently in the Mormon General Conference (where he changed the details yet again):

    …[In April, 1969] Monson totally misrepresented Patton’s death details, falsely claiming that:
    a) Patton died on 8 May 1942;
    (b) Patton was onboard the U.S.S. Lexington when he died on 8 May 1942; and
    (c) Patton died in the Coral Sea fighting the Japanese when the U.S.S. Lexington sent down on 8 May 1942.
    ____
    All three of those claims by the then-non-elder, early-forties Monson are demonstrably, provably and factually flat-out wrong:
    a) Patton was alive throughout 1942 and didn’t show up missing from his ship’s crew manifest until July 1944;
    b) Patton was aboard the U.S.S. White Plains when on 2 July 1944 he was categorized as “missing” on account of his “own misconduct”; and
    (c) the U.S.S. White Plains at that time was near Saipan, not in the Coral Sea.
    Source: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,316986,317361#msg-317361

    Mitt Romney is following in the Profit’s footsteps. He lied in a recent interview:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiQdIwUrejc

    Romney is denying that mormon prophets claim to receive direct messages from God, when the entire Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency (Head MindMuddling Honchos) all base their authority on the fact that they do get direct messages from God. They are “prompted” to speak by the Holy Ghost, they have the Power of the Priesthood in their hands, and they say, “When the Prophet speaks, the thinking is done.”

  59. 59
    slignot

    You know, I seem to recall Susan Jacoby in the Age of American Unreason talking about the uniquely American way of approaching anti-reason sentiments and faith that resulted in the bizarre by-products of the Second Great Awakening (including Joseph Smith). Somehow, I don’t think think that’s quite the uniquely American aspect that Andrew Brown meant to describe, though.

    But you have to hand them this: any church that functionally structures their body like an American business has certainly internalized something huge about the current U.S. Having dealt personally with the property arm of the church, they have the evil corporation thing down.

  60. 60
    Lynna, OM

    Moments of Mormon Masturbation Madness are a subject worthy of study all on their own.

    Many a young person’s sexuality has been permanently scarred by mormon teachings related to masturbation.

    Check out this story: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,317087

  61. 61
    Ichthyic

    Here’s just part of the current mormon Profit’s lies.

    ah, good.

    I was wondering when Lynna would show up.

    please, please PLEASE, fill this thread with the wonderful debunking of all the Mormon bullshit you have turned us on to around here.

    seems like the perfect place for people to reference back to, given the upcoming election.

    in fact, given the upcoming election, I think you’ll probably be quite busy!

    still can’t fucking believe the leading candidate of a major political in the US is a Mormon.

    Does. not. grok….

  62. 62
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion

    I here all this time I thought that Jazz was the first, great, truly american religion.

  63. 63
    tomh

    The bad news is that no matter how much evangelicals might hate Mormons, that’s nothing to the way they feel about a black, Kenyan-born, Islam lover, who wants to destroy America. They will all turn out and vote for Romney.

  64. 64
    Rudi

    You lived amongst the Mormons for 7 years? Please, tell us more!

  65. 65
    Ichthyic

    LYNNA:

    you’re needed over on Jerry Coyne’s blog too!

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/the-atlantic-equates-criticism-of-religion-to-racism-sexism-and-anti-semitism/#comment-142136

    way way too many ignorant Mormon apologists over there screaming “bigotry”.

    idiots.

  66. 66
    Ichthyic

    scroll up from my comment; you’ll start seeing what I mean.

  67. 67
    Ichthyic

    So, will the US now be treated to endless media lies about how “moderate” the Mormons are?

    I see Andrew Brown and James Fallows:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/just-for-the-record-anti-mormonism-is-bigotry-too/241444/

    making very similar arguments…

    Five bucks says the US will indeed be bombarded with lies about Mormonism, from now until the election is over.

    don’t believe it for a fucking second.

  68. 68
    picool

    I live in the heart of the Morridor, and there are two LDS bishops on my street and two wardhouses within less than 0.5 miles. The bishops are ok, but i am not comfortable being alone in a room with either one of them. They just skeeve me out. And all the Mormon residences I have been to have had the same wall o’ temple pics(wedding and then the whole family in white).
    I’ll admit the place looks nice, but as Lynna, OM, mentioned, there is rampant prescription drug abuse, heavy antidepressant use, and so much meth.
    One thing that bothers me in particular is the staggering amount of 24 year old women with 2-3 kids.
    It is a weird place.

  69. 69
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    validated by one of the greatest epics of the settlement of the west

    Read the book by Bernard Devoto, “1846 Year of Decision”. It covers the first stages of the big Mormom Migration.

    It doesn’t validate the religion, but it does explain how and why they ended up in Utah. As emigrations go, it was impressively organized.

  70. 70
    Ichthyic

    I live in the heart of the Morridor

    at first I thought you said “heart of Mordor”.

    After realizing you meant “Mormon Corridor” instead, I then re-thought and concluded you kinda DID say what I first thought you said.

    ;)

  71. 71
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    @56 … you forgot the nations TOP consumers of MLMs, and probably the top losers of money to MLMs.

  72. 72
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    So, will the US now be treated to endless media lies about how “moderate” the Mormons are?

    I hate to give the impression of apologizing for Mormons, but fwiw, Harry Reid and all the Udalls are Mormons. And as Governor of MA, Romney was fairly moderate by GOP standards.

    After typing this, I need a good session of head banging now. Or at least a stiff drink.

  73. 73
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    To atone for my previous post, some other great American religious leaders to go alongside Joseph Smith:

    Carrie Nation
    L. Ron Hubbard
    Charles Manson
    Jim Jones
    David Koresh
    the wacko in San Diego
    the Phelps family

  74. 74
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Don’t forget Aimee Semple McPherson!

    (I couldn’t find the Pete Seeger version :(

  75. 75
    Ichthyic

    I hate to give the impression of apologizing for Mormons

    then don’t, it’s simple. They don’t need, nor want, your defense.

    , but fwiw, Harry Reid and all the Udalls are Mormons.

    so? Is Harry Reid a leader in the Mormon faith? no, he is not. Does he dictate Mormon Policy? No, he does not. Did he try to pass a bill to stop the endless illegal cross-state Mormon political influences?

    no, he did not. Just because someone is considered a moderate politician, does not make them a moderate Mormon. no such thing, really.

    here, why don’t you ask all the people who made and participate in these blogs if they think Mormonism is “moderate”:

    http://www.exmormon.org/exmoblogs.html

    It’s a giant cult. No more, no less.

    And as Governor of MA, Romney was fairly moderate by GOP standards.

    fairly moderate by GoP standards?

    what in the fuck does that even MEAN anymore?

    in fact, if you can explain that, maybe you can explain this?

    http://2012.presidential-candidates.org/?news=Republican-Polls-Split

    and I suppose you also think pushing to amend the constitution to favor your personal religious beliefs is moderate now too?

    http://americaswatchtower.com/2007/04/03/mitt-romney-amend-the-constitution-to-ban-gay-marriage/

    or maybe you think Mormons don’t really believe in the White Horse Prophecy either, even though their leaders have mentioned it near continuously long after the death of Smith?

    there is NO REASON to be apologetic of cults that have stated a clear desire to destroy the constitution and rule in its place.

    You can right say, since there are 40 thousand sects, that saying you’re “a christian” doesn’t really mean much in the US.

    but saying you’re a Mormon?

    it does mean something.

  76. 76
    OurSally

    >the effectiveness of this blog on converting non-atheists to athiests?

    I didn’t think that was what it was for.

    It’s so that intelligent and rational people can gather and chat about religion in a place where they won’t get shot, sacked, beaten up, disinherited, disenfranchised or burnt alive for it.

  77. 77
    Svlad Cjelli

    Truly american religion involves mass human sacrifice in direct sunlight. Just saying.

  78. 78
    nesetalis

    at least they arnt goreans… basing their world view on a bunch of misogynistic anti-womans movement propaganda.

  79. 79
    Loud

    One of the comments on the article Lynna posted contains this absolute gem:

    Church just focuses more on boys unless the bish is unusually perverted.

    As opposed to, you know, just normally perverted.

  80. 80
    Lynna, OM

    John Cameron said he was a naive and devout Mormon who felt “out of sync” with the world, when he volunteered to be part of a study of “electric aversion therapy” in 1976 at Utah’s Brigham Young University.

    Twice a week for six months, he jolted himself with painful shocks to the penis to rid himself of his attraction to men….
    “As teens we were taught that homosexuality was second only to murder in the eyes of God,” he said….
    The 1976 study at Brigham Young, “Effect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy,” was written by Max Ford McBride, then a graduate student in the psychology department.

    That’s an excerpt from an article here: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mormon-gay-cures-reparative-therapies-shock-today/story?id=13240700

    That’s mormonism. That’s the mormon version of compassion and tolerance.

    While mormons no longer shock gay people in order to cure them, they still refer gay people to Evergreen for reparative therapy, and they still encourage gay men to marry women and have a “normal” family.

    Mormons still excommunicate gay persons who are openly gay: http://www.affirmation.org/news/2007_053.shtml

    Renowned artist Trevor Southey talked about his experience as a Mormon man who, despite being gay, married and had children in an attempt to fit into Mormon culture. Some of Southey’s remarkable paintings were prominently featured throughout the documentary.

    “Being gay in that culture is beyond hell,” said Southey. “When I went to those counselors I wanted to be cured so badly, I fasted and I prayed, and I went through this whole thing. And I remember dating girls, and nothing worked. And then I just decided, ‘This year I’m going to do it.’ And that’s how I ended up marrying—within two and a half months of meeting my poor, unfortunate wife.” …..

    Utah ranks #1 for people who claim they are happy, but it also rates #1 in Prozac use, comes in as #2 in terms of serious mental illness, and has an abysmal record when it comes to equal rights for women. Money always tells the truth when it comes to how much woman are valued. “On average, full-time working women in Utah are paid more than $14,600 less than their male counterparts….”

    In some businesses, like corporate law, the stats are even worse, with women not being promoted and with women making about 1/4 what their male counterparts. See http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/11/02/survey-female-lawyers-in-utah-dont-have-it-easy/ “Serious pay disparities exist; the largest group of female lawyers in Utah earned less than $40,000 a year, while the largest group of men made more than $175,000 annually.”

  81. 81
    Lynna, OM

    Here’s a mormon-run anti-masturbation organization:
    http://www.sonsofhelaman.org/?p=program_summary

    Excerpt:

    The Sons of Helaman is a group of young men who have dedicated themselves to helping each other overcome unwanted pornography and/or masturbation addictions. In a “Knights of the Round Table” environment, they encourage and help their brethren in the fight against this demon that assails them. Lead by a certified, licensed professional clinician, they practice and develop the warrior instincts that are required to conquer these addictions for the rest of their lives. … Return missionaries who need extra training are also invited. This program is ideal for helping a young man prepare for his mission and/or temple marriage.

    Graduation from the group includes having successfully conquered the addiction for 12 consecutive weeks. By this time the young man has acquired a healthy fear of the power of Satan and a reverent alliance with the power of God. He will have practiced calling upon the power of God to serve himself as well as those he has grown to love. He will have gained a familiarity with the words of the prophets and will discover how they apply to real life. He will have gained an unusual amount of control over his thoughts, feelings, and body chemistry, that will serve him throughout his lifetime….
    Parents or the Bishop (or the young man himself if he is 18 or older) contact Sons of Helaman …

  82. 82
    Lynna, OM

    Mormon Jesus is not the same as evangelical Jesus.

    “In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ. No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness [sic] of Times’”
    President Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS Church News, June 20, 1998

    I will add that mormon jesus is a fair-haired surfer dude who works out a lot.
    http://www.ldsartshop.com/christ's-love-del-parson

  83. 83
    raven

    Utah also has one of the highest teenage and young adult male suicide rates in the USA.

    Perkins “Explains” Gay Teen Suicides : Dispatches from the …scienceblogs.com/dispatches/…/perkins_explains_gay_teen_suic.phpCached – Similar

    Nov 1, 2010 – Utah also has the 11th highest suicide rate — 14.3 deaths per …

    They lead the nation in suicide rates among young males aged 15 to 24. … that the gay teen ager suicide rate in Utah is 5 times the general national cohort rate. …

    No one is completely sure what it means but many of the dead males are…gay. It is for sure that the Mormon homophobia drives many of their gay members victims to suicide.

    Quite often the Mormons just cheer when this happens. Including the families of these kids. I suppose for meat robot zombies, it’s no big deal.

  84. 84
    theophontes, feu d'artifice du cosmopolitisme

    @ Lynna

    Just to contrast the above quoted mormon madness with the medical science wrt masturbation. It is pretty much an essential part of human development.

    Example from University of Michigan (Linky):

    Is masturbation common?
    Yes. It is a common childhood habit. Most children—both boys and girls—play with their genitals (external sex organs or “private parts”) fairly regularly by the age of 5-6 years. By age 15, almost 100% of boys and 25% of girls have masturbated to the point of orgasm. Estimates of the rate of adult masturbation are about 95-99% of men and 40-60% of women. Find out more about childhood habits and annoying behaviors.

    How do children learn about masturbation?
    No one has to teach a child to explore his or her genitals. It provides a feeling of pleasure, that once discovered, the child will most likely repeat. There have even been studies of prenatal ultrasounds revealing male fetuses doing it.

  85. 85
    Loud

    Ugh, that stuff is sickening. Thanks for the info, Lynna and Raven, eye opening stuff…

  86. 86
    raven

    Mormon: Utah Leads the Nation AGAIN in Bankruptcy Filings w ww.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon356.htmCached – Similar

    Jun 22, 2004 – Subject: Utah #1 in bankruptcy again in 2005 – Utah was #1 in 2004 and in … as a possible reason for Utah’s high rate of personal bankruptcy. …

    One more for the road. #1 in personal bankruptcy cases.

    Salt Lake City used to be one of the fraud capitals of the USA. The federal government sent in a lot of prosecuting attorneys and drove them out to Vancouver BC, Las Vegas, and Florida.

  87. 87
    Lynna, OM

    Mitt Romney’s ancestors were part of the polygamist mormon sect that Brigham Young brought to Utah. As the Associated Press reported.

    While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his Mormon church, the Republican presidential candidate’s great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great grandfathers had 12.

    Polygamy was not just a historical footnote, but a prominent element in the family tree of the former Massachusetts governor now seeking to become the first Mormon president.

    Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, married his fifth wife in 1897. That was more than six years after Mormon leaders banned polygamy and more than three decades after a federal law barred the practice. [Not unusual. Mormon leaders purposely worded the ban as important only in terms of complying with U.S. law so that Utah could be accepted as a state. Many mormons moved to Mexico and to Canada so they could continue to be polygamists. Many remained in Utah and quietly practiced polygamy long after the so-called "ban."]

    Romney’s great-grandmother, Hannah Hood Hill, was the daughter of polygamists. She wrote vividly in her autobiography about how she “used to walk the floor and shed tears of sorrow” over her own husband’s multiple marriages.

    Romney’s great-great grandfather, Parley Pratt, an apostle in the church, had 12 wives. In an 1852 sermon, Parley Pratt’s brother and fellow apostle, Orson Pratt, became the first church official to publicly proclaim and defend polygamy as a direct revelation from God….

    Up to date polygamist news: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52715870-78/court-raid-sect-emack.html.csp

    A polygamous sect man convicted of sexual assault isn’t giving up his fight against the search warrant that led to a massive raid on the sect’s remote Texas ranch.
    …..
    Last year Emack pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting an underage girl he took as a plural wife…. authorities collected evidence against him and 11 other members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including sect leader Warren Jeffs….

    The LDS Church can try to distance itself from its polygamist history, but the differences between FLDS and LDS are less than mainstream mormons would like to think.

    The role of women in mormonism: http://www.exmormon.org/mormwomn.htm

  88. 88
    theophontes, feu d'artifice du cosmopolitisme

    @ All

    Snap test:

    [Lynna] I will add that mormon jesus is a fair-haired surfer dude who works out a lot.

    Jeebus’s depiction as a blond haired, blue eyed, bearded young man goes back many many centuries. Can you explain how this came about? (No banana if you resort to Pffft!)

  89. 89
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    I sent the Brown link to a British friend of mine, who replied,

    Oh, him. he’s the editor of the Comment is Free ‘Belief’ and he’s a hand-wringing, anti-abortion moron.

    No surprise he’s all about a conservative religion that we, for the most part, don’t have to deal with much over here. ‘Authentically American’. Yeah, how QUAINT, like a nice quilt or an old-fashioned recipe for pie.

  90. 90
    Lynna, OM

    Jeebus’s depiction as a blond haired, blue eyed, bearded young man goes back many many centuries. Can you explain how this came about? (No banana if you resort to Pffft!)

    According to mormons, this came about because God literally fucked Mary. http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon385.htm

    “The Holy Ghost is the messenger of the Father and the Son. Mortal beings
    could not endure the presence of the Father without the Spirit overshadowing
    them, and that was the mission of the Holy Ghost, but not to beget the Son of
    God, THAT WAS THE BUSINESS OF THE FATHER. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten
    Son of God the Father in the flesh, and in holding to this doctrine President
    Brigham Young is in perfect accord with the teachings in the Bible.”
    (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 5, p. 128).

    Jesus was born as a male human being, son of blond surfer dude God. Jesus’s hair was a little darker than God’s hair, thanks to some genetic influence from Mary’s side of the family.

    Depicting Jesus as his true white-man self was the result of the Holy Ghost subtly influencing many painters.

    I’m sure that’s the correct answer to theophontes’s question.

  91. 91
    raven

    but perhaps more because it is the first, great, truly American religion.

    It’s not even correct on the main facts.

    There are lots of American made religions.

    The Seventh Day Adventists which has as many members as the Mormons although 95% of them are out of the USA.

    Jehovahs Witlessness. Notorious, at least.

    Scientology. The first space age religion.

    Armstrongs Worldwide Horror Show of God.

    Christian Scientists the faith healers.

    Followers of christ with lots of dead children.

    Branch Davidians

    FLDS

    Jim Jones Peoples Temple

    Hare Krishna’s and Moonies which got their traction at least in the USA

    I’m sure there are more. And will be more. Cults are like buses, there is always another one coming along.

  92. 92
    Ing

    According to mormons, this came about because God literally fucked raped Mary.

    FTFY

  93. 93
    Michele

    The cartoon makes me think of a site called ‘Better Book Titles’ that photoshops new titles on classic books. I thought this treatment of the Bible was especially good:

    http://betterbooktitles.com/post/8044524640/bible

  94. 94
    Lynna, OM

    Here’s some more mormon explanations for how god begat jesus:

    Brigham Young said:

    “When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he (Christ) took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in Heaven, AFTER THE SAME MANNER as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven.” (JoD 1:50-51, also “Answers”, vol. 5, p. 121).

    To illustrate more clearly that BY meant that Christ’s conception was actual physical sex, here is another of his statements: “The birth of our Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of NATURAL ACTION. He partook of FLESH AND BLOOD–was begotten of his father, as we were of our fathers.” (JoD, vol. 8, p. 115).

    Here are a few more quotes from the 1962 Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lesson Manual “Gospel Living in the Home,” p. 16-17: “Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily OFFSPRING; that is to say, Elohim is LITERALLY the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the BODY in which Jesus Christ performed his mission in the flesh…”
    (as quoted from ‘The Articles of Faith’ by James E. Talmage, p. 466).

    ——–

    So, that’s clear.

    Except that it’s not.

    In a clear example of mormons obscuring their past history and turning all their past Prophets into liars, here’s what mormons currently say about this god-and-mary business:

    No. Mormons do not believe any such thing. This is a myth perpetuated by anti-Mormons in order to make the Mormon church look like a bunch of crazy lunatics. We believe that Mary was a virgin before and after she gave birth to Jesus as stated in the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 11:18-20:

    And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.

    What Mormons do believe is that Christ is literally the Son of God, but there is no official statement nor any common belief as to the means by which the conception of Christ was effected, although the above statement would seem to make it clear that God did not have sex with Mary seeing as how she is referred to as still being a virgin even after the birth of Christ.

    Bollocks. “No official statement” is what mormons say when they want to erase history. There are plenty of official statements, and only one, questionable stretching of the “virgin” bit. The mormon apologists continue to fail in their efforts to make themselves less odd, and more likely to fit into mainstream christianity. (See more blather below.) I could care less about the supposed sex lives of mythical beings. But I do care about bad habits of revisionism. No, mormons, you can’t call all of your past Prophets liars (in effect) and still claim that your current Living Prophet deserves our respect (and maybe even our obedience, especially when it comes to all the … [eww]… sex stuff; and when it comes to all that [even bigger ewww] gay sex stuff.)

    So why do people say that Mormons believe that God had sex with Mary? By taking statements by LDS Church members out of context, as usual. None of these statements say that God had sex with Mary nor did those from whom the quotes are taken intend to communicate such a concept. The full intent of their statements is to declare that Jesus is literally the Son of God. None of them make statements as to how Mary got to be pregnant, other than that it was of God and not of man. What they do affirm is that God is literally the father of Jesus Christ. That Christ had a mortal mother and an immortal father. That Christ is God incarnate, or the offspring of God in the flesh.

    ———

    Let’s add another statement that was considered to be official at the time it was given. This statement is from Mitt Romney’s ancestor, Mr. Pratt.

    The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated in the capacity of husband and wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have been, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father: we use the term lawful wife, because it would be blasphemous in the highest degree to say that He overshadowed her or begat the Savior unlawfully……..He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary IN THE CAPACITY OF A HUSBAND, and beget a Son…….Whether God the Father gave Mary to Joseph for time only, or for time and eternity, we are not informed. It may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in this mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity.” Apostle Orson Pratt, “The Seer,” Oct. 1853, p. 158).

    Here’s an official statement from a Prophet:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in THE MOST LITERAL SENSE. Thebody in which He performed His mission in the flesh was SIRED by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father.” (Teachings of ET Benson, p. 6).

    This is not from anti-mormon sources, it’s information taken from mormon sources. It’s not taken out of context, and is instead, put into historical context and backed up with multiple LDS sources.

  95. 95
    Lynna, OM

    According to mormons, this came about because God literally fucked raped Mary.

    Well, some mormons think Mary was god’s “lawful wife.” So that takes care of the rape question. It’s not rape if you’re married. [pause for gagging]

    And, of course, it’s the religious way to soften the facts with misleading words. Therefore, god “overshadowed” Mary (or had the Holy Ghost do the overshadowing for him). Overshadowing is way different from rape. It’s more like gang rape.

  96. 96
    Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    Of possible interest: Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s “God and I,” her account of how she was formally excommunicated from the Mormon church (complete with a secular friend coming to keep her company).

  97. 97
    Lynna, OM

    Ex-mormons have responded to the latest interest in mormonism by starting a thread called “Things about LDS church that would bother the public” — http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,316836

    There’s much more complete info at the link given above, but here are a few highlights:

    - Intrusive interviews that begin at a young age, are conducted by personnel not trained as counselors, and are used to determine one’s “worthiness” — no parents or other adults present during interviews with pre-teens and teens. Masturbation questions.

    - Obedience and “following the prophet” as a virtue

    - elitism based on how many generations the family has been in the church

    - persons not “temple worthy” cannot attend even the wedding of their own children

    - families (or missionaries themselves) must pay LD$ Inc. about $400 per month for the privilege of being a missionary

    - mormons who drink coffee are not “worthy” to enter the temple

    - LDS bishops care what movies you see, no R-rated movies

    - women cannot wear pants in church (multiple earrings are discouraged also, flip flops are banned, men are expected to wear only white shirts)

    - mormons baptize dead people by dunking a proxy person

    - mormon temple endowment ceremonies include having some ancient woman or man anoint one’s private parts

    - facial hair signals inner unworthiness in men

    - women cannot enter heaven until their husband (or some other man assigned by god) calls then through the veil

    - women continue to have babies while in heaven

    - women live in polygamous arrangements once they’re in heaven

    - the friggin’ underwear (which is notorious for nurturing not safety but yeast infections)

    - Brigham Young said he thought no more of getting another wife than he thought of buying a cow (He held blacks in even less esteem)

    - not only do you have to pay a 10% tithe, but the bishop will interview you once a year to make sure you have paid a “full tithe” — and he will pry into your financial affairs if necessary

    - the LDS Church never accounts to it members for any of its financial affairs

    - mormonism is enough of a mind-warp that leaving is difficult (and they make it difficult to leave). A recovery support group is needed.

    - When they are considering excommunicating you, they call you in to face a “Court of Love”

    - Women leaders all have a male overseeing them

    - girls as young as 4 are taught to keep their shoulders covered

    - teen girls are taught that they are responsible if boys or men have “impure” thoughts

    - conservative mormons have strong connections to the John Birch Society (even involving one of their Prophets, Ezra Taft Benson)

  98. 98
    Lynna, OM

    Vicki, your link @96 is not working.

  99. 99
    Lynna, OM

    Here’s the correct link for “God and I” by Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    http://nielsenhayden.com/GodandI.html

  100. 100
    Lynna, OM

    Excerpt from “God and I”:

    I got hauled up in front of an ecclesiastical court this summer and formally excommunicated. Really. A genuine heretic, anathematized by the grace of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormons. (By the way, if you are a Mormon and are reading this, I should warn you that I’ve touched all the pages in this issue of Telos and the paper is probably crawling with heretic-microbes. Don’t let me stop you, but if you suddenly go weak in the knees and develop an irresistible craving to vote the straight Socialist Workers’ Party ticket while drinking a cup of coffee and praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary in a swimming pool on Sunday, you’ll know what’s happened to you. Sorry.)…
    You can take your pick of where this story ought to start. I’m inclined to favor 1964, when I was eight years old. That’s the age when Mormon children are baptized and confirmed and thereafter held accountable for their sins. Even at that age I’d already had some difficulties in Sunday School, since I’d fallen in love with archaeology and fossils, and one day, in all innocence, argued Darwin over Genesis to my teacher. After that episode my mother took me aside and said that by all means I should believe in evolution, but that I wasn’t to speak of it in church. I was confused, but I mostly kept my mouth shut. I didn’t give up on the dinosaurs, though….

    …I’d known for years that the LDS church was openly working against the women’s rights movement; when I was working as a page at the Arizona House of Representatives and the anti-ERA groups mustered in force to defeat that legislation in the Judiciary Committee, the women who showed up to protest the ERA were organized by wards (a ward is kind of like a parish, but different). Mormon women don’t do protest marches on their own get-go. To hear official spokesmen deny this–which they have–and claim that Sonia Johnson was not persecuted for her pro-ERA organizing, but only for criticizing the Presidency–and then to hear it claimed that the pronouncements of a man who is accounted a prophet and whose word is taken as divine revelation by all believing members represent nothing but off-the-cuff personal opinions–struck me as rankest hypocrisy, and I was disgusted by it.

    …The court asked me if I had anything to say. I did; in fact, I had a dozen copies of my typed statement in hand. I stood up and read it off. I accused the church of profound sexism, of both covert and overt opposition to the women’s rights movement, and of giving moral sanction to the continuing social and economic subjugation of women. Right off, that was enough to get me excommunicated; it was no more than what Sonia Johnson had been saying–in politer language, too–when they kicked her the hell out. I went on. I said that if any institution–church, family, whatever–required the continuing systematized oppression of some group for its continued survival, then it ought to be brought down with no regrets; and I charged “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, its elders and leaders and the Prophet himself, with the guilt and burden of this injustice they knowingly perpetuate.” That was fun, so I went still further. I denied the validity of the Book of Mormon and all church doctrine, said that they were not inspired of God, said that the Prophet and the Council of Twelve are not in direct communion with God, and repudiated my baptism, confirmation, and reception of the sacraments. As a sort of grand final hurrah, I denied the authority of the court to sit in judgement on me, and said that I had only appeared before it in order to separate myself from the church as thoroughly as possible.

  101. 101
    Lynna, OM

    Well, better late than never, right Ichthyic? I appreciate your confidence in my powers, but I don’t have time to lay waste to the mormon hordes over at Coyne’s place. Maybe you can just send them here for a ritual blasting and a cleansing of all misconceptions.

  102. 102
    anchor

    @90&92. The mystery of the immaculate conception (or however else other cults put it) vanishes once one identifies Gabriel as the personification or euphemism for God’s penis.

  103. 103
    anchor

    …forgot to mention: it also brings a whole new meaning to the term, “Godhead”.

  104. 104
    Ragutis

    I will add that mormon jesus is a fair-haired surfer dude who works out a lot.

    Owen Wright is good and all, but he’s not God. (skip to 1:11)

  105. 105
    Therrin

    University of Michigan via theophontes,

    Find out more about childhood habits and annoying behaviors.

    Nothing like adding that extra bit of shame at the end of a useful lesson.

    Lynna,

    - women continue to have babies while in heaven

    I can’t even begin to rationalize how this works. Heaven is sounding more like a bad anime show.

  106. 106
    Ichthyic

    Ex-mormons have responded to the latest interest in mormonism by starting a thread called “Things about LDS church that would bother the public”

    http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,316836

    thanks muchly.

    I expect I will be citing this frequently in my internet travels over the next few months.

  107. 107
    theophontes , flambeau du communisme

    @ Lynna

    Depicting Jesus as his true white-man self was the result of the Holy Ghost subtly influencing many painters.

    I’m sure that’s the correct answer to theophontes’s question.

    These depictions of Jeebus stem from the Byzantine iconophiles. Jeebus was depicted in two (contradictory) ways. The first way was as “young jeebus”, in which he was depicted as the ideal of youthful masculine beauty in the form of a curly headed Arab boy. Post-puberty, “older jeebus” was depicted in the most beautiful ideal for a young adult man – which at the time was a castrated blond slave of Northern European extraction. As you may suspect, both are the objects of homosexual love/lust.

    (Not that teh geyh in itself should bother anyone. Rather it is the abuse such people where subject to as “caravan-wives” and sex-slaves. And of course the wholesale rejection of homosexuality by the mainstream churches of today makes it come across as so ridiculous. Goddists are so naive (and humourless) with regard to the history of their own religions.)

    For further reading see “Byzantium:The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire” by Judith Herrin (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8470.html)

    ………………….
    [mormons] Religion is not just weirder than you imagine, it is weirder than you can imagine.

  108. 108
    theophontes , flambeau du communisme

    @ anchor

    Encore!

    …forgot to mention: it also brings a whole new meaning to the term, “Godhead”.

    Got head? “Godhead!” , Geddit? “Goddidit!”

  109. 109
    Juice

    Damn. Leave the Amish alone. That’s all they want anyway. I don’t mind them one bit because they just stick to themselves and don’t bother anyone else with their beliefs. They don’t bother me so I don’t bother them. Live and let live.

  110. 110
    Anne C. Hanna

    Juice, they may leave the rest of us alone, but I still feel for the kids who grow up in that kind of repressive culture, particularly the little girls, who have their independence and power stolen from them before they even realize they had it in the first place. I don’t know what the right solution is to that problem, but I don’t think we should forget that even “keep it to yourself” religion is harmful, so the world will be a better place if we can all learn to get past it.

  111. 111
    Allytude

    Well his only correct argument was that Mormonism is a “Made In America” faith. Apart from that … well

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