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I've seen a lot of references to Money Boo Boo's Mormonism on this site, and in plenty of other liberal communities. And plenty of these were excessively negative, or wrong in some way or another. Wanting to improve our reality based community, I feel it's smart to provide a basic (and accurate) look at the LDS religion, as well as the ways it may shape Romney's views on other things. If I'm wrong about something please feel free to correct me, because I'm not a Mormon and don't know any in real life.

Mormonism was founded, as you probably know, by a guy named Joseph Smith. Back in the early 1800's, Smith and his family were torn between different Protestant denominations. As anyone familiar with Protestantism knows, they have a pretty big tendency to fracture themselves repeatedly and then fight over members. In any case, Smith decided to pray to God for revelation about what the right church was (based his reading of one of the epistles, which states that God may provide wisdom if asked). According to Smith, upon doing so, he received a response. God the Father and Jesus appeared before him and told him that all the branches of Christianity sucked and were terrible.

Smith (then in his teens) shared this experience with his family, as well as other people in the area. According to his account, the local clergy met this sort of thing with scorn, believing that God didn't give people visions anymore, and that Smith's experience was obviously from Satan (I'd be mad too if someone told me that God said my religion was an "abomination").

Some time later, he said that an angel named Moroni visited him, and told him that he had a set of gold plates that had been made a long time ago, which contained a record of ancient people living in America, and the "fullness of the everlasting gospel."

Moroni told him the location of the plates, but refused to let Smith dig them up for a few years.

Eventually, Smith dug up the plates. Using a couple of "seer stones," he claimed to be able to translate them. This took a while, and eventually what he came up with was the Book of Mormon, which describes how at least some Native Americans were actually descended from Jews, and claims that Jesus visited America sometime around after his death.

Smith developed a devoted following over time, which became what is today called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Smith also developed more ideas that differed from the Bible, made a bunch of prophecies, and claimed to receive revelation at least once more.

Historical Accuracy
It is probable that the golden plates, or something that could be described as such, existed. Smith showed the plates to a total of eleven people, all of whom signed affadavits. Many of them left the church later on (leading Smith to get majorly PO'd at a few), but none ever renounced their testimony. It's possible that at least a few of the witnesses only experienced the tablets in some kind of spiritual way (based on the language of their statements), but others claimed to have physically handled them, as well as having seen them.

As for the Book of Mormon (BoM, from now on) itself, it's generally agreed by scholars that it has little, if any, connection to known history. None of the places or events described in the BoM can be found, dated, or proven. The book also contains a fair number of anachronisms. However, since the BoM was published, this number has reduced in the sense that we've found proof that some of the things described could have happened. Many of today's Mormons believe the book refers to a rather limited area (often in Central America or the Midwestern United States), and that Smith may have filled in some details, expanding what he wrote from the less specific things he saw in his revelations. However, this is not the way early Mormons seemed to think of it.

The BoM's claim that Jesus appeared to the Native Americans is sometimes interpreted to refer to Quetzalcoatl, the Mesoamerican serpant god. Stories about Quetzlcoatl are occasionally compared to beliefs about Jesus, and worship of Quetzlcoatl appears to originate roughly around Jesus' lifetime.

Mormon Teachings
Although the BoM itself basically meshes with Christian teachings, Mormonism later departed from Christianity in certain ways. Among these:

Heaven is divided into three "degrees of glory." Almost everyone is good enough to make it into one of them. Even the least of the degrees is still supposed to be quite a nice place. Mormons may try to convert you, but they'll pretty much never never tell you that you are going to Hell, which is quite nice, especially compared to the way fundamentalists do things.

God (often referred to as "Heavenly Father"), Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are said to be different beings, although they are "united in goal and purpose." Mormons thus reject trinitarian doctrine.

God has a physical body. Although he is the God of this planet, he is still a part of the physical universe. In fact, many Mormons are materialists (believing that things like angels and souls are simply made of "finer matter," and actually do physically exist). They generally don't concern themselves with the question of why anything exists at all.

Marriage, when done properly, lasts forever in the afterlife. According to the New Testament, there is no law after death, and with it no binding marriage. This is seen by the Mormons as something the Bible got wrong.

People shouldn't choose where to go to worship. Everyone lives in one "ward" or another, and they're expected to go there. This prevents churches from competing and fighting for members. Unfortunately, it's also a big problem for people with shitty wards, because there's not a lot they can do.

Things you may have heard about Mormons, and their connection to reality

"Magic underwear" is a derogatory, possibly hilarious term used to refer to something that Mormons call "temple garments." Mormons don't generally believe these actually defend them from harm. Rather, they are a reminder of the covenant with God that the Mormon made in the Mormon temple. It's no different than things people of other faiths do to bring themselves closer to God. After all, fasting would seem pretty weird and non-spiritual if we hadn't all heard of it already.

Mormons don't actually believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob. Kolob is mentioned in the Book of Abraham (a work Smith claimed to translate from some Egyptian burial records he bought. Today Mormons aren't really sure what to do with it. Some reject it, some believe it directly cooresponded to a part of the records that were lost, and some conclude that since Smith got the book from spiritual revelation, it doesn't matter what was on the paper. This makes sense because Smith couldn't read Egyptian to begin with, making spiritual revelation a... ah, I'm losing track here. Moving on.), as a star (not planet) located near the throne of God. It might be metaphorical (since it was described in a vision given to Abraham), and nobody's tried to claim they know the actual location of Kolob. Functionally, Kolob is largely irrelevant to the Mormon religion, although it is mentioned in one of their older hymns.

Mormons don't believe that they each get their own planet when they die. This idea is based on a statement that goes like "as God can become man, so man can also become God" or something like that. Anyway, the idea that they all become gods contradicts the (more well-established) idea about heaven. Mormons seem to believe that a person can become a god, but this doesn't play a major role in the religion.

Mormons don't often "lie for the Lord." The page often linked to to prove that they do this is run by anti-Mormon evangelicals, and is not an unbiased source of information. However, it's true that many Mormons are somewhat uninformed (or misinformed) about the history of their church. I assume that some intentional lying probably goes on (just like in every community), but it's probably not as bad as a lot of people think.

Mormons don't generally accept the "White Horse" prophecy, which is sometimes said to refer to a Mormon saving (and taking over) America as president. It first surfaced some time after it was supposedly made, and its words don't actually say anything about the presidency (but rather the country in general). The "White Horse" seems (to me) to refer to Mormons collectively. However, some Mormons do take it the way we worry they do. Glenn Beck (a Mormon) has strongly alluded to it before, and as such possibly believes that Mittens is the Chosen One.

Mormonism and Politics (and Romney)
One possible connection between conservatism and Mormonism has to do with Satan. Satan's role in the Bible is quite varied. Today, many Christians take him to be a real dick who tries to get people to do wicked things, and attempts to blind them to various spiritual truths. On the other hand, Mormons believe that the only difference between Jesus and Satan is the choice they made.

According to Mormonism, shortly after humans were created (or evolved, Mormons don't obsess over that sort of thing like fundies do), Jesus and Satan each presented God with a plan for humanity. Satan suggested that humans should be forced to do the right thing, while Jesus believed that they should be given a right to make their own choices. A conservative might compare this to the difference between us and the GOP. We believe that some of people's tax money should go to doing the common good. Conservatives usually talk up private charity instead (and claim to be quite charitable), believing that we liberals are trying to "force everyone to do the right thing." Thus, we're possibly comparable to the Mormon Satan in some people's eyes, while people like Mitt are (shudder) comparable to Jesus. In any case, this likely shapes Mitt Romney's idea of the difference between liberalism or conservatism (assuming RW-Mitt is the real one, and not centrist-Mitt).

Additionally, of course, the Mormon church is quite socially conservative, and has spent money to fight gay marriage and other progressive things. Because Mormons are obligated to tithe, this means that all practicing Mormons wind up with some of their money going to RW causes. Thus, being a Mormon liberal is sort of like punching yourself in the face once a year.

I'm not sure how to end this, so I'll just go with...

So yeah.

7:41 PM PT: Just to be clear, I set out to write an introduction to Mormonism, not a history of it. Thus, this diary describes how they got started and where they are now. If you wanted to hear about racism and polygamy, there are plenty of places to read about them, but they aren't vital to Mormonism itself, especially as it is today

Originally posted to Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 06:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Let me ask you a question. (9+ / 0-)

    What happened to the golden plates?  Where are they now?  

    When I went to Salt Lake City and toured the Mormon Tabernacle, I dared to ask our tourguide those two questions.

    Immediately four men surrounded me and escorted me off the property.

    What a great religion!

    I have to tell you, I appreciate your very selective history of the LDS church.  I didnt read anything about Mountain Meadows or Polygamy up there.

    Although I respect your right to religious freedom, I think your religion is a bunch of hooey.  I respect your right to worship any way you wish, and hope you respect my right to freely express my opinion.

    Still enjoying my stimulus package.

    by Kevvboy on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 07:01:51 PM PDT

    •  Not Mormon, nor do I play one on TV, so sorry. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, kpardue, teresab, jlms qkw

      Just trying to explain its basics. I think the plates went back to the angel or something, but honestly I'm not invested in that because I'm not a Mormon.

      If I actually got any facts wrong, feel free to correct me. Otherwise, I think our difference is just in what we think is important about Mormon history. Honestly, does polygamy really affect the way they are today?

      Health care is a right.

      by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 07:07:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It reflects the fact (10+ / 0-)

        that their "divine instructions" came from people who decided a whole bunch of crazy stuff, then changed their minds and decided some other crazy stuff, and then got run out of the country for some of it, and changed some of it, and some of them split off and still practice it, and etc.

        Sorry I mistook you for a Mormon.  Your portrait of them was so relentlessly positive that I thought you must be.

        Still enjoying my stimulus package.

        by Kevvboy on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 07:09:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fair enough. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Woody, blueoasis, kpardue, llywrch

          I swear, I didn't write this with an agenda, and I certainly noted that the BoM is mostly unhistorical, and other things that Mormons wouldn't like to hear. Just because I mentioned some common apologetic arguments doesn't mean I endorse them, only that they're important.

          From what I can tell it's quite difficult to write anything about Mormons, because it always looks nasty to Mormons and apologetic to everyone else. I'm not sure why this is.

          Health care is a right.

          by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 07:16:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Lying for the Lord (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        George3, MKS

        So I guess you've just proved that this is a real thing that people do.

        •  How so? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shawn Russell

          Am I an eeeevil Mormon hellbent on converting DKos to my religion? 'Cause that's reeeal likely.

          Health care is a right.

          by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:32:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry to out you "brother" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MKS

            Mormons are very "peculiar" and easy to spot, notwithstanding your considerable effort.

            •  Yep (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TexMex

              The exclamation point in his defense of the existence of the plates is a classic.

            •  That's just blatant bigotry (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FTV08

              Look at the words you use,

              Mormons are very "peculiar" and easy to spot
              Mormons are not a monolithic group. They are diverse and come in all shapes, cultures, personalities and skin-tone

              Marie Osmond does not fit your traditional Mormon stereotypes, yet she is a Mormon. She has been divorced multiple times (frowned upon in the LDS Church) and she supports same-sex marriage rights (her daughter is a lesbian).

              Hundreds of Mormons in Utah joined the gay pride march in Utah:

              http://articles.latimes.com/...

              Again defying traditional Mormon stereotypes (the Church does not believe in gay-marriage).

              Would you have been able to spot them had they not joined this parade?

              More importantly, show me proof that this diarist is a Mormon. Innuendo, conspiracy and mere speculation and skepticism isn't going to cut it.

              •  Sorry but it is true (0+ / 0-)

                This diary has the hallmarks of an LDS apologist......

                I have pointed out some of the reasons here.

                •  Your reasons are not proof. They are innuendo (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FTV08

                  they are speculation and you are skeptical. You can be doubtful but you cannot provide proof, no one can. Because the diarist is anonymous. We do not know the diarist's gender, location and career much less his/her religion.

                  •  Gender? (0+ / 0-)

                    I think I have good reason to say the diarest is a man.

                    A woman would not so cavalierly dismiss the current belief in polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom.  And of course you know that Brigham Young said you could not reach the highest level in the Celestial Kingdom without practicing polygamy.

                    I am not alone in my assessment.....

                    I'd bet you $10,000 the guy is LDS.

                    •  A Mormon apologist would have tried to prove (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      FTV08

                      that the Book of Mormon is based on historical and scientific evidence. This diarist does not, the diarist instead says:

                      As for the Book of Mormon (BoM, from now on) itself, it's generally agreed by scholars that it has little, if any, connection to known history. None of the places or events described in the BoM can be found, dated, or proven.
                      Mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be:
                      Church members officially regard the Book of Mormon as the "most correct" book of scripture, in that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book."
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                      This diarist deviates from that premise by saying BOM cannot be proven.

                      •  As I have said, (0+ / 0-)

                        it is pretty slick.

                        Many educated Mormons are finding themselves agreeing with the idea that the Book of Mormon is not historically accurate or even an historical account.  It is not too outrageous to hear this.

                        I could write a 20 page paper on this diary.....Others here have made good points....

                        •  Then they cannot remain Mormons (0+ / 0-)

                          Because apostasy is a reason for excommunication from the LDS Church:

                          Apostasy can also result in excommunication. Apostasy is not inactivity in Church programs. A person who drifts away and becomes inactive is not apostate. Apostasy involves will-full rebellion, overt criticism of the Church, fighting against the Church.
                          More here:
                          Open repudiation of the Church, its leaders, and teachings is one ground for excommunication.
                          The diarist openly repudiated a central teaching of Mormonism. Here it is once again:
                          Church members officially regard the Book of Mormon as the "most correct" book of scripture, in that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book."
                          See the link for this in my above comment.
                          •  Of course (0+ / 0-)

                            The key here is "open" criticism of the Book of Mormon.

                            Many closet doubters, my friend.

                          •  Cognitive-Dissonance (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            FTV08

                            You are trying to combine two mutually contradictory ideas into your thesis. Let's look at them shall we?

                            First idea: The diarist is an LDS apologist/Mormon

                            Second idea: The diarist is a closet doubter

                            So what we have is this:

                            A closet doubter of Mormonism is in fact an LDS apologist and Mormon. How do you reconcile the two?

                          •  Both are quite possible (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            TexMex

                            It is not a black or white proposition--at least for quite a few LDS members.

                            In fact, the diarest may be trying to convince himself and come to terms with why he is still in the Church.  

                          •  I guess one thing is clear from all of this (0+ / 0-)

                            You must have a degree in arm-chair psychology.

                            You realized that the diarist is attempting to leave the church and now is in the process of convincing himself to say, all from the comfort of your home, without even meeting the diarist in person, or having sessions with him and then evaluating him.

                            Congratulations! You did it from the opposite end of your computer without even knowing the diarist's skin color or real name.

                            I should contact you if I have any problems. Do you mind Kosmailing me your number? After all you are a miracle worker and from what I have seen, work wonders.

                            On second thought...long distance diagnosis has been severally criticized: http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/...

                            So guess what I am feeling right now?

                          •  You could be right about the (0+ / 0-)

                            Diarest being a closet doubter.  My fellow sleuths may disagree as well.  

                            My point is that it was possible to be a closet doubter and an apologist.

                            No need to defend the Church to me.....If someone wants to do that, fine, just do it honestly.

                             

                          •  WTF! Now you are just misrepresenting (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            FTV08

                            You speculated the diarist may be a closet doubter. Here are your exact words:

                            The key here is "open" criticism of the Book of Mormon.

                            Many closet doubters, my friend.
                            by MKS on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 11:48:33 PM PDT

                            So I never said the diarist was a closet doubter.

                            This conversation is over. You are just irrational, no need for us to go in circles. But if you talk of honesty, you should practice what you preach.

                            Don't come back and tell me you weren't talking about the diarist, because I can show you the thread and the thread in question was about the diarist.

                          •  Yes, I did speculate the diarest (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            TexMex

                            was a closet doubter.  But I did say you could be right about being a closet doubter (that he is not), or at least that was what I was trying to say.

                            I see where what I wrote could be confusing.

                            Peace be unto you.

              •  Where is the diarest now? (0+ / 0-)

                Maybe he will come back....but maybe not that he has been busted....

              •  That was just a wink to the diarist (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MKS
                •  You used a pun (0+ / 0-)

                  Do you honestly want me to believe you used "peculiar" in a theological sense. No you did not. Because let's look at the words after it:

                  and easy to spot
                  Which means you believe Mormons have certain attributes and qualities that distinguishes them from the rest of mankind.

                  I showed you Mormons are not monolithic. Many break from the church ethos and support gay rights, showing us that they are diverse in thinking.

                  •  Mormons who do that (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jon Says, TexMex

                    have my undying respect.  They are in a very tenuous position.

                    In my opinion and experience, and you may disagree, Mormons who take such positions are on their way out of the Church, as it appears that Jon Huntsman is.

                    But if it is one's path to stay in the Church, I say be well and prosper.

      •  Yes, polygamy affects current belief (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, Sychotic1, IreGyre, gramofsam1

        Mormons still believe in polygamy in the afterlife--only its earthly practice has been suspended.

        Ask any LDS woman about polygamy in the afterlife, and you will get a very umcomfortable response.
        Where it comes into play is when a women is widowed.  Typically members in good standing want to get married in the Temple for Time and Eternity.

        Men can get remarried for Eternity after their first wife dies, so he will have multiple spouses in the next life.  A woman cannot.  So, if a woman has her husband die young, she will find it hard to find another faithful Mormon man to marry her, because he will not be married to her in the afterlife, but she will be married to her first husband in the afterlife.

        Temple Widows, they are called.

    •  Did you miss this part? (6+ / 0-)
      because I'm not a Mormon and don't know any in real life.
      So the diarist is not a Mormon and hence this part of your comment does not apply to him/her:

       

      I think your religion is a bunch of hooey.
      I happen to believe that it is best not to prejudge people in your comment.
    •  The Plates (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      susanala, llywrch

      Smith returned the golden plates to the angel Moroni after translating them and they were taken to heaven. Whereas I don't believe that happened, it's no less far out than Elijah being taken to Heaven in a golden chariot or Muhammad riding his horse up into heaven.  

      Language professors HATE me!

      by Zornorph on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 08:28:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where are the golden plates? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Spent Today on the Kolob Plateau (7+ / 0-)

    Frankly, much of Utah is so beautiful you can almost forgive Mormons for being so full of themselves and appreciate their cute little Made-in-America religion as no worse than the rest of the religious stuff invented in earlier millennia.

    Heck, I might even vote for a Mormon, provided his name was Harry Reid, and he let me buy him a drink.

    We will never have the elite, smart people on our side. - Rick Santorum

    by easong on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 07:27:17 PM PDT

    •  my son had his first backpack (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1

      in kolob canyon - he was 10 months old.  he got so dirty and i just had to let him be dirty.  

      Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

      by jlms qkw on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 08:25:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Did you say (5+ / 0-)
    I'm not a Mormon and don't know any in real life.
    Oh. Alright then. I don't actually need to read this. Thanks for the disclaimer.

    -5.38, -2.97
    It's too big a world to be in competition with everyone. The only person who I have to be better than is myself. - Sherman T. Potter

    by ChuckInReno on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 07:41:29 PM PDT

  •  More interesting stuff (7+ / 0-)

    Mormons also believe in the mother goddess married to god the father but you can you can get excommunicated if you write about her.  They also believe that god had physical sex with Mary and impregnated her.  And that Jesus is a physically separate being from god (which may be better than believing is a god with multiple personality disorder.)

    It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. G. K. Chesterton

    by redbaron on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 07:41:54 PM PDT

    •  I mentioned the last one. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      George3

      As for the second, Mormons aren't too big on doctrine-y stuff, and officially claim that they don't know just how Mary got pregnant. Some of them have made statements to the effect of what you said, though.

      I haven't heard of the first one more than vaguely, though. I don't think it's all that important to Mormon teaching, but I've heard it's a thing they beieve in. If you know any more about that teaching I'd like a link, or at least a short explanation or who originated that idea and whether it's officially taught.

      Health care is a right.

      by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 07:47:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  redbaron was absolutely correct (0+ / 0-)
      •  Mother goddess (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight

        A number of Mormon women have been excommunicated for speaking and writing about the mother goddess.
        From here:

        What were you (Margaret Toscano) excommunicated for?

        I was excommunicated in the year 2000. I was actually threatened with excommunication seven years before, which would be 1993, which was the famous September Six [the excommunication and disfellowshipping of six Mormon academics] and all of that. I was one of the first to be threatened with excommunications in the summer of 1993. ... I received a letter from my stake president at the time. In this letter, I was told that I was not allowed to speak, discuss, publish, write about anything to do with church history or church doctrine or they would hold a court on me. Those things that they had asked me not to speak about were women in the priesthood and the Mormon idea or the Mormon concept of the Heavenly Mother. ...

        Also, in temple ceremonies (I am reliably informed by am ex-mo) Mormons pledge loyality to the Church above any government.

        It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. G. K. Chesterton

        by redbaron on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:09:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't subscribe to Mormon beliefs (14+ / 0-)

    But I do know this - people believe what they believe for their own reasons.  Maybe they were born into it, maybe they're converts, it doesn't really matter.  

    I tend to consider bashing someone's religion off-limits.  I think the Mormon church is well beyond explanation to me, and I wouldn't expect to see myself converting.  But I will respect the religious rights of Mormons.  I cringe whenever I see someone make a "magic underwear" joke.  They are fellow travelers on this planet who believe differently than I do, and they are accorded the same respect.  

    I grew up in a very heavily Catholic neighborhood.  I couldn't make heads or tails of what the kids were talking about.  Catechism?  Confirmation?  But I never saw that as fair game for making fun of them.  Their religion was weird to me, but it was what they believe and I respect that.

    It doesn't matter who you are; respect is accorded to all (unless something egregious has been done to warrant a lessening of that respect.)  Religion doesn't play into it.

    •  Good for you. (7+ / 0-)

      You are all grown up, a rational, decent being, tolerant of others and, I would suspect, comfortable in your own skin.

      I applaud you.

    •  That sums up my feelings, too. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Free Jazz at High Noon

      Health care is a right.

      by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 08:40:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, no free passes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carver

      A "religion" is a way of organizing people around a set of beliefs that they feel makes them stronger, more successful or in some way better than people who do not share those beliefs.

      Saying that criticizing religion (you use the word "bashing")  is off-limits has the effect of allowing attitudes and practices that are irrational, repugnant or offensive to go unchallenged.     Any argument you make against them can be diverted by accusations of blasphemy, intolerance or hatred.   Even "Hurt feelings" is illegal in some countries.

      Authoritarian religions such as Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam and Scientology all attract a lot of criticism, and even ridicule.   I don't care if someone believes in "golden plates", "thetans", "virgin birth", "holy spirit" or "72 virgins for every man" in the afterlife.

      It is when these beliefs are manifested into abuse, torture, persecution, shunning, sexual slavery, lying, conspiracy, profiteering, murder, terror, dominance of government, control of schools, medical procedures,  wealth, inheritance, freedom and knowledge that I claim a right and an obligation to criticize.

      In order to criticize the practices, it is essential that the underlying myths be open to challenge, and even ridicule.

      And by the way, I agree that the diarist sounds like a Mormon pretending he is not.    He is painting a pretty picture.    We all have a right to anonymity on this site, but questioning whether someone is what they say they are is quite common here, and it should be.

      Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

      by bobtmn on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:00:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like I said, I don't subscribe to the beliefs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FTV08

        I do accord respect to the person and respect their faith as part of them.  There are many things I disagree with, but I do not hold that against the person.  

        A lot of my dearest friends are Catholic.  A few months ago I was asked to attend a funeral mass and give the eulogy.  I agreed without hesitation - the deceased was like a second father to me.  A few years back I took part in a Catholic wedding as a groomsman.  It didn't matter to me that it was a religious service - this was for my friend and I didn't hesitate to stand with him.  

        Religion is not something I let come between me and the people I care about.

    •  On Bashing Belief (0+ / 0-)

      It seems to upset the Muslims a bit too but it should be fine to bach belief.  Tim Minchin said it (in Storm) the best I've heard:

      Science adjusts its views based on what's observed.
      Faith is the denail of observation so that belief can be preserved.
      It is appropriate to bash anti-science where ever found.  Absurdity does not become valid just because millions or even bellions believe it.  "The bible says it.  I read it.  That settles it."  is the antithesis of science.

      It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. G. K. Chesterton

      by redbaron on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:25:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  also , any suggestion that Joseph Smith wrote the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw, George3

    BoM will not be taken well, 'God ' wrote it. i wouldn't even try to suggest he added things later.....

  •  you're brave (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, George3

    however, racism and polygamy have everything to do with mormonism today.  also.  

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 08:23:58 PM PDT

  •  Oh for God's sake! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, Azazello
    Historical Accuracy
    It is probable that the golden plates, or something that could be described as such, existed.
    You know exactly nothing about the history of the church or the history of Smith.

    WTH?

    Tell me, when did YOU serve your mission or are you just extremely (fill in the blank)?

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 09:17:50 PM PDT

    •  Well, if you don't regard witnesses as worth (0+ / 0-)

      anything, then you're throwing into question a whole lot of other history and probably the entire legal system. Again, there are eleven people who claimed to have seen the plates. Many of them later left or became angry with Smith (so if they had been lying, they would have revealed it to discredit Smith!). While it's possible they were all deceived, I just wouldn't be so quick to reject a claim simply because it doesn't mesh with my ideas about religion. Again, it is quite likely that the plates, or something that can be described that way, existed.

      Whether they were actually what Smith thought they were is a different story. Whether Smith was honest is another story. I don't address either of those issues.

      Health care is a right.

      by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 09:27:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No I don't. And if you READ the actual history of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        George3, MKS, Azazello

        all of this you would understand why there are MANY even in the church who don't think their testimony--and yes, this is religious testimony--that this is what happened.

        Noit to mention the contradictory history.

        You do me a favor and actually read some reputable history on the matter then come back and defend it. Many describe completely different accounts of what happened.

        I don't know what you are reading, or where, but it certainly isn't worthy of actual history.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 09:30:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Perhaps instead you should indicate what you (0+ / 0-)

          think happened. I'm well aware of different discrepancies/contradictions in different Mormon works, especially about their early history. Now tell me why you think the plates never existed, as opposed to, say, Smith finding things he THOUGHT were gold plates, or Smith making fake plates himself to trick people.

          This just seems like a minor thing to get stuck on--I do a bit of research on Mormonism out of curiousity, and I conclude that the witnesses believed their own testimony. That's all. I didn't and won't pass judgement on Mormonism itself, and I didn't write this diary to espouse a particular viewpoint. No need to be angry about anything.

          Health care is a right.

          by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 09:41:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And perhaps you should go here and do your (0+ / 0-)

            own homework.

            Here.

            Or would you have to report that as associating with apostasy?

            202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

            by cany on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 12:03:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  here, below (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              carver

              here

              BTW, the site is managed by LDS members and everything is written by LDS members. No... it is not an anti site.

              202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

              by cany on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 12:06:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Magic, Wizardry and Miracles (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                S F Hippie, carver

                Thanks for this link.  I went and read a few pages.

                http://www.mormonthink.com/...

                Please someone tell me why this picture does not deserve to be ridiculed?

                Joseph would put a stone in a hat, then burying his face in the hat he would proceed to dictate the Book of Mormon to the scribe.  Joseph claimed to see in the darkened hat the words he dictated. The gold plates were either always covered in a cloth, where no one including Joseph could even see them or they were not even in the room at the time Joseph was translating.  
                If "God" is so powerful that he can create all this magic an wizardry, why doesn't he simply cause a Holy Book to appear in my own hands at this very minute?   I would certainly become a believer, and so would everyone could  hold  a magically appearing book.  If "god" would be so kind as to just snap his fingers or wiggle his nose or whatever he did to create heaven and earth, this whole matter would be resolved in an instant.

                The ONLY reason any church exists is to concentrate power into its members and especially into its heirarchy.    This is what makes the magic necessary.  Without the magic, the Pope and the Temple would be unneeded.   No Power, No Glory.    

                I cannot believe that ANY god could allow these corrupt institutions to speak in HIS name, when a wave of his magic wand could give each of us our own miracle whenever we asked for it.

                Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

                by bobtmn on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:16:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  seems he had a hard time remembering things (0+ / 0-)

            here

            ohm the unreliable witness....

      •  They said they saw them (0+ / 0-)

        "spiritually," later apart from the Witness Statement that serves as an Introduction to the Book of Mormon

        You are getting information from an LDS source but there is much more to the story.

        •  That's what the Three Witnesses said, (0+ / 0-)

          which I allude to. I believe the Eight claimed to have handled them, and been directly shown them by Smith. You can correct me if I'm wrong.

          Health care is a right.

          by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:23:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Three Witnesses (0+ / 0-)

            said an angel showed them the plates and they heard the voice of God.

            The other eight did not see angels but they became vague later and it appears they saw them spiritually....Don't have the cite handy, but you can readily find it.

            Your article strikes me as a very sophisticated attempt to elide the more troublesome aspects of the Mormon religion.

      •  Why the exclamation point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cany

        in your defense of the plates actually exisiting?

        You sound like an LDS apologist.

  •  You cover a lot of ground (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, Sychotic1

    You do tell the story from an apologist's perspective, however.

    Yes, Mormons believe the righteous will become gods and conceive children in the afterlife.

    It was interesting to see you downplay the Book of Abraham.  Severe questions have been cast on this translation by Joseph Smith.

    You say it is probable the golden plates existed.  That is taking a position.

    The anachronisms of the Book of Mormon include horses and chariots in Pre-Columbian America.  At one point, LDS apologists were saying that it really was deer that were pulling the chariots...

    •  I did note some apologetics, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FTV08

      because not doing so would be unbalanced (thus letting all criticisms go unchallenged). I downplay the Book of Abraham because Mormons downplay the Book of Abraham. I don't discuss little details because they're not important, don't have an overall effect on the basics of the church, and because different sources disagree on them.

      I don't think Mormonism is true, but I also don't like people bashing it without good reason. Most of the people who've reacted negatively to this diary seem to have wanted a hit piece. In the end, this isn't about whether Mormonism is true, but just about what it teaches. If I'm wrong, correct me, otherwise don't read too far into this.

      Health care is a right.

      by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:15:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Book of Abraham is now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Duck

        downplayed because in the 1960s very powerful evidence was found that showed that the text that Joseph Smith translated was an Egyptian manual for embalming mummies.

        The Mormon belief in the afterlife is based on the Book of Abraham.  Moreover, if Joseph Smith just made up his translation of the Book of Abraham, that undercuts the entire premise of the religion. Mormons are very literal in their beliefs.....

        The problem Mormons face is that they make historical claims when newspapers and written accounts were around.  Thus, much Mormon history can be fact checked--more so than ancient religions.

  •  actually, to my very LDS ear, you DID set about (4+ / 0-)

    an agenda.

    You proclaim a history of the church relying on their view.

    So tell me which is true:

    Smith used seer stones in a hat to read the plates

    OR

    Pictures the church uses showing him fingering the plates.

    Both aren't true.

    Pick one.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:01:21 PM PDT

    •  It is undisputed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cany

      is it not, that Smith put his face in his hat to translate the Book of Mormon?

      Fingering the plates was an artist rendition that was used by the missionaries.

    •  I don't care. (0+ / 0-)

      Is that really so hard to believe? Yes, the story has been told different ways. In my opinion, the plates are based on something that really existed, but that's not all that relevant because I'm not a Mormon. If the plates never existed, that wouldn't affect me at all, but it's just not something I feel the need to fight over.

      Health care is a right.

      by Fireshark on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:20:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You picked a side (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cany

        in a very long running dispute........Why is that?

      •  I honestly have to say that when someone defends (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MKS

        the belief using "I am not a Mormon" it is almost a sure sign you are. Along with the Missionary approach to this whole piece, AND the use of the church's long name which the church, itself, insists we use.

        Ya know, you gotta live a long time to fool some of us old fools.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:55:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  He used the "Urim" and "Thummim" as tools to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antirove

      translate the plates... at least that is the version I heard. (those are the "seer stones") Miraculous items provided by the "Angel" that enabled the translation to be done. And when the translation was done the tools and the plates were taken back.

      I seem to recall that the words "Urim" and "Thummim" were terms  for some vaguely defined mystical or holy ancient Hebrew items in the old testament... and JS just found them handy and biblical sounding terms/items to enhance his story.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 06:09:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to Street Prophets. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, AaronInSanDiego

    Thanks for posting.

    •  I have my problems with this article (0+ / 0-)

      It is very one-sided.....

      It does not describe the belief system; it takes a side on many contentious issues, and the side with less proof than the other side.

  •  And, you elide (0+ / 0-)

    the entire controversy about DNA testing--which is why Sorensom at FARMS came up with the limited geography theory.....

    You could have just described the belief system.  But you instead wrote a highly apologetic spin on some very basic problems.  

  •  The more closely I read this diary (0+ / 0-)

    the more it is clearly a total crock.

    Seemingly every single problem with the Church is defended....with a dash of admission here and there to try and give credibility.

    Kossacks, you have been had.

  •   References for understanding the Mormon religion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    antirove

    This is a re-post of a comment originally posted Aug. 26, 2012.  Fireshark, I suggest you read several of these references.  There is a reason that every Tom, Dick, and Joseph Smith doesn't get to invent their own religion and have it gain non-questioning acceptance and respect.  If your religion bans reading of anything but approved sources of information about its history and practices, and doesn't allow inspection of its financial information, you bet that it is subject to question, whether or not some do good things while being members.  And no, I don't care if it its members or non-members consider it Christian. It is recent enough to have non-church sources which can be accessed to investigate its claims.

    I have had a couple of Mormon friends who were very good people, but I didn't ever question them much about their faith.  When Romney entered the presidential election picture I wanted to find out more about the religion.  I first read the book by Kay Burningham, who is a lawyer who finally left the Mormon church at age 55.  She presents her story in an interesting narrative in the first part of the book.  The second part of the book details what she found when she looked for herself at the history of the church from newspapers, letters and other publications that were contemporaneous with Joseph Smith's writing of the Book of Mormon.  The third part is a list of sources, several of which I checked myself.  Her book is easy to read and fascinating.  Mitt's cousin, Park Romney, also wrote a book about his reasons to leave the church.  I found it harder to understand because I think it uses terms and phrases more familiar to Mormons.  Park has a website also.

    Normally I would not judge a person running for office on their choice of religion, but I do think it needs consideration when the religion systematically endorses "lying for the Lord", suppression of women, and secrecy even to its members.  Some things like each "priest' judged worthy by the Joseph Smith in the Celestial Kingdom(St. Peter does not guard this gate) becoming a god and getting his own planet to rule after death are pretty outrageous. After death plural marriage is still OK. The newly crowned "god" and his wives have many "spirit children" who float around i space waiting to gain a physical body by being born to good Mormon women.  Now, the church doesn't specify that all the wives are virgins that I know of, but neither does it stop at 72 wives.  

    Here are some references I have read or watched last week.

    Joseph Smith's great- great- grandaughter explains it better then I in the article in The Daily Beast:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/....

    Long (48 minutes) but comprehensive overview of Mormon origins and  practices:
    http://www.youtube.com/....

    From the Christian point of view:
    http://www.youtube.com/....

    A short cartoon which gives an overview of Mormon theology:
    http://www.youtube.com/....

    Book by ex-Mormon lawyer:
    http://www.amazon.com/....
    1&keywords=an+american+fraud

    Book by Mitt's cousin, Park Romney
    http://www.amazon.com/....

    "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe it." Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by pvasileff on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 11:41:00 PM PDT

    •  Kay Burningham's book (0+ / 0-)

      An American Fraud.  (your ex-Mormon lawyer link goes to Amazon's home page)

      When the solution is simple, God is answering. Albert Einstein

      by Carol in San Antonio on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 04:02:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Interview with Brigham Young's granddaughter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antirove

      Daily Beast interview

      (Your link goes to the Daily Beast homepage)

      When the solution is simple, God is answering. Albert Einstein

      by Carol in San Antonio on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 04:06:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for the correction Carol. (0+ / 0-)

        I should have checked the links better.  First time to add links to my comments.  Thought I put in the ones t hat lead directly to the book and the article.  I'll do better next time.

        "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe it." Neil deGrasse Tyson

        by pvasileff on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:28:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Brighams Young's Great-great-great granddaughter, (0+ / 0-)

        on Mormonism and Mitt Romney is an article in The Daily Beast posted August 7th, 2012 by Jamie Reno.  Sorry the whole link didn't get included.

        "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe it." Neil deGrasse Tyson

        by pvasileff on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 09:43:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  All the records of Mitts time as Governor - gone (0+ / 0-)

      contrary to the law too... but as always found a loophole to avoid any legal problems...

      That is the problem with a Mormon in high office. They can end up having too much unofficial connection to Salt Lake City and then have to hide the use of official positions, powers, funds and materials to further the aims of or coordinate with the head church people.... not to mention loading up the administration with other Mormons in key positions and a blending of church activities and goals... proselytizing, helping the church financially via the decisions the admin makes... investments helped or made or sold off on the strength of insider info from the Mass govt...

      ...and of course with Romney there is Bain and his buddies and his own fortune all tangled up together.

      He always strategically destroys many of the records of his time in each place when and where necessary or when he can get away with it. (Olympics etc.)

      That does hint at some of the way President Romney would operate.. the way Super PACs are "not connected"... and bending laws, regulations, traditions etc. to enable anything he wants.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 06:20:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My worry is real mundane. (0+ / 0-)

    The Mormon Church is like a tax-free investment bank.

    ... one which thinks it should be able to dictate public policy.

    This doesn't make it much different than the Catholic Church (though as far as I know, while there's a "Vatican Bank" there is no "Mormon Bank.")

    And the Mormon Church is obsessive about secrecy.

    When big money and secrecy begin to intersect with political candidates, we all should worry.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:29:20 AM PDT

  •  As a Mormon... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FTV08

    I am the first to admit that we can look pretty odd to many people.  The first vision is the foundational story of our faith.   When you strip away the golden plates, or the grove, and look at the vision, it is really quite profound.

    Joseph Smith decides to pray to figure out which religion is correct, since all the religions of his day were fighing against each other.  In the vision, Joseph received the message that non of the current religions were correct because while "they draw near to me with their lips, their hearts are far from me."  

    Think about that for a moment.  What a profound statement.  I look around me and see the truth of this in todays religions, including my own.  One cannot deny that much of Christianity has moved so far from the teachings of Christ that they can truly be said to "draw near to God with their lips, but their hearts are far from God."

    Personally, I think the attention the Mormon church is getting right now is a good thing.  Mitt Romney and Glen Beck are shining a bright light on mormonism it's important that we take internal stock and decide whether it's more important to be more like Christ or more like Mitt.  For me, I choose Christ.

    •  The Christian Ideal (0+ / 0-)

      As G.K. Chesterton said

      It is not that the Christian Ideal has been tried and found wanting.  Rather it has been found difficult and left untried.
      Then there's that stuff about rich men, camels (or camel hair rope), needles and getting into heaven.  Guess Mitt is SOL.

      It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. G. K. Chesterton

      by redbaron on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:17:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Under the Banner of Heaven (0+ / 0-)

    Anyone interested in the Mormon Church should read Under the Banner of Heaven bv Jon Krakauer.   It describes the foundation of the Mormon Church in detail.

    "The ten plates existed"???   Really?  Ten religious zealots swear to something and people believe them?  Come on.  

    Look, we could find a million people in the US who would swear on a stack of bibles our current President was born in Africa.   Does mean he was born in Africa?  A million people would swear to that false story.  If the polls are right, its 30 million+ people who believe that slander.

    Mormons are great businessmen and IMO that's partly due to their use of special sanctity to justify lying.   It's a theme repeated constantly by other zealots, including many religions.  Just like any other group, they are mostly honest decent folk.  But they've also got some snakes in the group.   That's probably why they got kicked out of Missouri.  Not their religious beliefs but their conduct at the time.

    I know Mormons and went to Mormon school a bit.  The Book of Mormon reads like a science fiction fantasy.  My opinion is that it closely follows an alternate reality proposed by John Dee and his lot.  I think Smith got ahold of those stories, probably someone named Moroni told him the stories, and that's how it started.  But I can say that our Mormon neighbors were good folk and the ones I dealt with were good neighbors.

    To me a large part of the Mormon belief system is just another set of widely held superstitious beliefs.   Not any more real than some of the other supernatural events attributed to direct intervention of some God like being.

    I've read that various Mormons are now claiming that our Consiitution came from God.   Not good.

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