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Feb 07 2014

Why not require all religions to provide proof?

A British judge has dumbfounded legal experts by ordering Thomas S. Monson, the current president of the Mormon Church, to appear in court on March 14 and prove the factual statements that his religion makes.

A former Mormon has sued the church under the Fraud Act of 2006 that outlaws making a profit from false representations. Tom Philips argues that the Mormon church uses statements, such as “that Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon from ancient gold plates, that Native Americans are descendants of a family of Israelites, and that death didn’t exist on this planet until 6,000 years ago” to get tithes from its member. He says that these are presented as statements of fact, not opinions, and thus should be substantiated.

Lawyers are doubtful that this move will get very far.

A British solicitor, Harvey Kass, said “I can’t imagine how it got through the court process. It would be set aside within 10 seconds, in my opinion.” Neither Kass nor Addison believes the British government will act upon the summonses and seek to extradite Monson, or that the United States would comply with an extradition request made on anti-religious grounds.

Philips says that he used to be a bishop, stake president, and area executive secretary which I gather made him a fairly serious player in the church.

According to Phillips’ online biography, he converted to Mormonism in 1969 and rose through Church leadership for 33 years. Before leaving the faith in 2004, the biography says, he served as LDS area controller for the British Isles and Africa, and as financial director for corporate entities in the United Kingdom.

Phillips said his belief in LDS doctrines eroded as he began researching questions raised by fellow Mormons. He now describes himself as “a secular humanist or atheist, or whatever you want to call it,” adding, “I do not see evidence of God.”

But it seems to me like a good idea to require leaders of all religions provide evidence in support of their factual statements. Why should they be exempt from truth in advertising laws?

We can start with Jesus rising from the dead.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    Chiroptera

    lol

    Maybe religious organizations can get around this by putting

    “for entertainment purposes only”

    at the bottom in fine print.

  2. 2
    wtfwhateverd00d

    But it seems to me like a good idea to require leaders of all religions provide evidence in support of their factual statements.

    You’re trolling now…

  3. 3
    noastronomer

    Well duh! If they had to provide evidence they wouldn’t be religions would they? They’d be … umm … science.

    Mike.
    Who agrees that this is not likely to go very far in the court.

  4. 4
    Rob Grigjanis

    But it seems to me like a good idea to require leaders of all religions provide evidence in support of their factual statements.

    From your keyboard to Dog’s monitor. That will happen about the same time as the general acceptance of the ideas that Class War was initiated from the top, that ‘just a theory’ is a very silly phrase, and that our society is riddled with, and to a large extent built on, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and racism. In other words, I live in hope, without holding my breath.

  5. 5
    Matt G

    So, the Brits outlawed religion in 2006. I wonder why this didn’t make the papers.

  6. 6
    Jonny Vincent

    Religions and the mothers that perpetuate religious lies such as “God is good” and “The healing power of prayer” should be charged with fraud.

    Numbers 31:17-18 (KJV)
    17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
    18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    To misrepresent absurdity as Absolute Truth (for profit, power or choirboys) would be a crime in any other context but mothers control the values of Polite Society, so religious and emotional fraud is protected. Objectified women perpetuate religions that have been tailored to appeal to them.

    Matthew 15:4 (KJV)
    4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

  7. 7
    bigwhale

    @1 I think they should.

    I know some great religious people that take their myths at metaphors and are in it for the community and bare bones theism at the most. But I think it would make a huge difference on the kids growing up in that environment if it was explicitly stated as metaphor. Sure, the sophisticated people know not to take it seriously, but lack of such a warning causes a lot of problems. I can’t count the number of times Christians tell me, “no one takes that seriously.” When Ken Ham sure does.

  8. 8
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    But it seems to me like a good idea to require leaders of all religions provide evidence in support of their factual statements.

    I guess a lot of people, myself included, would consider Mormonism to be a cult not a religion but I guess its hard to draw that line.

    Why should they be exempt from truth in advertising laws?

    Why should they be exempt from any laws indeed?

  9. 9
    Marcus Ranum

    require leaders of all religions provide evidence

    Key word is “all”

  10. 10
    steve oberski

    @Jonny Vincent

    But it also says:

    If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sister, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:26NKJV

    If nothing else, should religions become accountable under the law, the internal inconsistencies in their big books of bad ideas will keep the lawyers rich.

  11. 11
    steve oberski

    @StevoR

    would consider Mormonism to be a cult not a religion but I guess its hard to draw that line

    Let me clear up that distinction for you.

    Cult: a small, unpopular religion

    Religion: a large, popular cult

  12. 12
    Mano Singham

    @steve,

    Those are the best definitions I have heard. Thanks!

    I hope you don’t mind if I use it on other occasions.

  13. 13
    Pierce R. Butler

    W/ apologies to the ghost of Carl Sagan:

    Extraordinary claims require extra-ditions.

  14. 14
    steve oberski

    Mano

    They are not my definitions but you are welcome to use them.

    Memory does not serve me well and I do not recall where I first encountered them.

    I’m a fan of “recursive” definitions in general, for example:

    In theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice they are not.

    Just idle amusements for my admittedly small mind …

  15. 15
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    I like, “My beliefs are a religion; yours are a cult,” for its pithiness and concision.

  16. 16
    Nightshade

    If the only factual statements they are making are that they BELIEVE that such and such ‘sacred scriptures” are true,and they BELIEVE the events described in those text are true ,and that they BELIEVE God wants them to tell others about their BELIEFS, I don’t see how anyone could prove they were falsely advertising.
    We should remember that the reason religious beliefs,statements and organizations have certain privileges in Western societies is because of the threat to the public peace religious persecution( real or perceived) has often been.

  17. 17
    steve oberski

    @Nightshade

    I’m sure that Sylvia Browne BELIEVED that the funds that she diverted from her gold mining venture into her Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research, which eventually got her convicted of fraud, would eventually produce oodles of gold for her investors.

    I guess she should have got a better lawyer who could have claimed in court that there was no proof that she made false representations and who understood that certain types of fraud deserve special privileges for reasons that I don’t actually understand.

  18. 18
    Nightshade

    @steve oberski

    To maintain that, propagating a belief about the nature of reality and trying to convince others of the truth of one’s belief, is similar to taking peoples’ money ostensibly for one purpose and using it without their knowledge or consent for another, is a bit of a stretch.Don’t you think?

  19. 19
    Nightshade

    @ steve oberski:

    Besides you don’t know they’re committing fraud,which requires INTENT to decieve.

  20. 20
    NEWKNOWLEDGE .

    How about a Jesus Christ / God signature.
    Would that pass as a little bit of proof.

    Click on “WATCH / LISTEN” at the address below to begin a quick Bible codes tour. This mini tour includes automatic web page scrolling along with audio coverage. So just sit back and enjoy the show of spectacular provided proof found with the KJV Bible.

    http://www.outersecrets.com/real/biblecode2a.htm

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