"We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most adroit thieves, and any other shade of character that you can mention." ~~ Brigham Young - Journal of Discourses, Volume 4, page 77.
Disorder has haunted saints
Religion News Service • December 21, 2010
Chad's bout with scrupulosity began earnestly enough.
An Idaho health-care worker and devout Mormon, Chad (who asked that his real name not be used) began wondering if he was totally upfront with patients. Soon, he started scrutinizing his past, looking for times he might not have been completely honest.
"It started to steamroll on me," the 35-year-old man says.
He began phoning and e-mailing past bosses and acquaintances. Did he deliver every paper on the route? What about that Snickers bar he snatched from the discard bin as a teenage bag boy? Or the sod that fell off the landscaping truck he was driving? Or the loaned scrubs he kept in college?
"It included me sending checks to people," Chad recalls. "I sent the same people the same check over and over again, worried it wasn't enough."
Eventually, he began obsessing about his honesty in every new and future encounter. When he finally told his wife he might have to leave The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because every time he went to church he thought of some new evidence of his own dishonesty, it scared her. "She recognized I had a problem and said, 'Let's get help.'"
A year later, Chad now knows he suffers from scrupulosity, an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in which worries of a religious or moral nature consume an individual. The term derives from the Latin word for a small stone, such as an irritating pebble in one's shoe.
Though it has been described for centuries in Catholic literature and afflicted saints such as Ignatius of Loyola, Alphonsus Liguori and Catherine of Siena, as well as reformer Martin Luther, scrupulosity has been recognized in the field of psychology only in recent decades.
A series of books, beginning with "The Doubting Disease: Help for Scrupulosity and Religious Compulsions" in the mid-1990s helped raise awareness.
Scrupulosity is not in itself a diagnosis, but falls within the OCD family of anxiety disorders, said Jonathan S. Abramowitz, a clinical psychologist and researcher in the field at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Unlike the normal person who can reject intrusive thoughts, people with OCD get tied in knots by their mistaken ways of thinking and behaving, Abramowitz said. They cannot handle ambiguity, which makes it hard for one who is scrupulous to remain a person of faith.
According to the International OCD Foundation, up to 3 million U.S. adults and about 500,000 children suffer from OCD. Of those, 5 percent to 30 percent have scrupulosity, according to one estimate.
Its sources are biological and likely environmental, but Abramowitz believes OCD manifests itself as scrupulosity mostly in those who care a lot about their faith, whether that is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism.
A Catholic woman may repeatedly confess to her priest about intrusive obscene thoughts while gazing on a crucifix, a "sin" she fears is unforgivable. An Orthodox Jew might worry obsessively that he didn't keep his milk separate from his meat in accord with kosher law.
"Folks with scrupulosity have a pretty harsh view of God. They see him as looking down with a magnifying glass, waiting for people to screw up so he can blast them with lightning," Abramowitz said. "That runs counter to what most religions teach."
One problem in identifying scrupulosity is that it can look like virtue, says John Dehlin, a doctoral student in psychology at Utah State University who is researching a new treatment.
For instance, scrupulous Mormons may spend hours every day reading scripture or praying. "It's easily dismissed as virtuous," Dehlin said, "and held up as a beautiful thing."
But what might be a sign of sanctity in a normal person is all about relieving anxiety in the one who is scrupulous.
Dehlin uses a "perfect storm" analogy to answer why scrupulosity strikes some and not others: If a person is prone to OCD and raised in a strict, orthodox home with religious teachings that include high stakes -- on Earth as well as the hereafter -- he or she may be susceptible.
"You can't blame the parents, the person, the church, the religion," he says. But, he adds, "you don't hear about scrupulosity among Unitarian Universalists."
Scrupulosity is treated essentially the same way as other types of OCD, with a combination of medication and cognitive-behavior therapy.
But finding therapists who are sensitive to faith can be hard, said William Van Ornum, author of the 1997 book, "A Thousand Frightening Fantasies: Understanding and Healing Scrupulosity and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder."
"It has to be someone who understands and who doesn't give off silent contempt or silent disapproval," he said.
---- Alfred G Gunn <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote on October 2, 2010: Jesus Christ established a church. Men changed it. Christ has reestablished it and it is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and from there its truths have spread to the whole world. It is a marveloous work and a wonder and there is no church like it on the face of the earth. It is the Lord's church and his work. It is true Christianity. It is a joy to me. Alf
Scripture Rebuttal: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22.
On May 26, 2009, 9:19 am, William Woody Brison <email@example.com>
I would say that you are something like this. It looks sort of like a religious fixation with you. You appear to have gotten a small dose of religion, to which you are addicted, but the inoculation keeps you from catching the real thing. On this page you demonstrate that you do not understand the scriptures. All this is more or less the counsel of the Bible but you have some serious errors here, and anyway it's 2000 years old. It's good to study the ancient teachings to previous people, but the word of the Lord for people today is a little different. Wood (Plank - Matthew 7:5)
Scripture Rebuttal: Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:23-25
"William Woody Brison" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
I'm warning you, Lance, if you ever get to heaven, you're going to be surrounded by polygamists, including God himself... our mother is one of his wives, and Mary is another... it's going to be mighty embarrassing for you if you maintain there's something naughty about it. Wood (Plank - Matthew 7:5)
Scripture Rebuttal: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Romans 1:20-22
Thurs, Sep 1 2005 9:23 pm
While Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, obtaining forgiveness of one's sins requires that an individual be baptised by one having authority. Also, one must live a clean, upright life, that is, obey all the commandments that the person is aware of, and humbly seek forgiveness for the shortcomings one has. Those who do not follow the proper path laid down by Lord will have to obtain forgiveness the old fashioned way -- by serving time in hell. So, President Zachary Taylor was deficient in several areas I just pointed out, therefore he would have to go to hell to obtain forgiveness. Doesn't mean he will stay there for eternity, but just until he pays for his own sins. Then he will attain either the telestial or terrestrial glory. This is LDS doctrine, so what Brigham stated was quite correct. Of course, LDS doctrine is something you have little to no knowledge of so I can understand your dilemma. You will probably understand this doctrine more fully when you have to pay for your own sins in hell.
Scripture Rebuttal: For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18.
"Diana Newman" <email@example.com>
Wed, 21 Jun 2006
I just stumbled onto your website, and clicked on a few of your pages to see what it is exactly you are doing. Are you out of your minds? Aren't you aware that activities like yours are considered persecution by those you are going after? Aren't you aware that those who feel persecuted aren't exactly well disposed towards those doing the persecuting? I'll give you this; at least you seem to be equal opportunity haters; you bash everybody. But..I'm a Mormon. I realize that telling you this is probably going to stop any further reading you do in this post, but just for kicks, stick around: I'm about to spill the secret of successful missionary work to you.
First: nothing cements an idea like opposition to it. Even those who are a little shaky in their beliefs will back them up strongly if people do what you do to those who share them.
Second: Truth is truth; it shines. You don't NEED to compare it to what you think other people believe. Those to whom you speak already know what they believe--they don't need you to tell them what they *really* believe. For one thing, if you get even the tiniest word or inflection wrong, they can and will discount anything else you have to say; your credibility is shot--and you don't need to do that anyway. Simply tell those to whom you speak what you believe to be true. They can compare your truth with what they presently believe, and come to their own conclusions. Saves time, saves effort, and works better.
Why am I bothering with this? Because people like you have cemented MY opinion about my religion quite concretely; even if I came to doubt the truth of my own religion, I would never, EVER, join yours. A God Who condones such things as I have experienced at your hands and at the hands of those who behave as you do is not worth worshiping, and I will not do so.
For instance; one of your people literally pushed my twelve year old daughter out of a "Christian" book store because the clerk saw a CTR ring on her hand. They knew that she was a Mormon by that, and rather loudly told her that no Mormon had any business in a Christian book store. My daughter told me the story through her tears...but if you don’t believe her, the Baptist minister who was in the store at the time ALSO told me about it, and opened his own church library to her so that she could get the specialty bible she needed. That particular Baptist minister and the Mormons in town get along just fine; we have roofed his church, his church team plays on our field, we send our children to his school. Now tell me; which one of those two people is more likely to get people to change religions? Hmmn?
Then there was my husband's funeral. While I was inside, one of your people went around and stuck pamphlets under the windshield wipers of all the cars, with the following headline: "The deceased is in hell and you will follow if you don't leave the devil Mormon church!" I still have that pamphlet, by the way, and whenever one of your kind starts in on me, I remember that, and wonder: would God REALLY want His representatives to behave this way? You behave like those people who drove us out of three towns, burned our Temple, killed our children and sent an army after us. You behave like those people who hated us because they were afraid we were going to free their slaves. You behave very badly. These are just two examples of many incidents that I have experienced with you and people like you. I don't like you. You live, not in a world of the Savior's love and peace, but in hate and fear.
Of course, there is also the fact that everything you have written about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is inaccurate, to a lesser or greater degree. I'm not talking about insults here, or bashing or bigotry. I'm talking about simply getting the facts wrong. Given that I KNOW this about what you write about the Mormons, do you think I would put any credence whatsoever in what you have to say about anybody else? (snort) not hardly.
Nevermind. What I say will pass through your minds like mist; not seen when it's there, and not missed when it's gone; I’m speaking to air, thin air. You just keep going, patting each other on the backs....and those who honestly compare the way YOU proselytize and the way WE do will do what they usually do. Tell you where to go and enter the waters of Baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Scriptural Rebuttal:Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
Thu, 22 Jun 2006
The real reason that faithful Latter-day Saints cannot accept your Protestant-Evangelical beliefs is simple, because your god is a LOSER. I know this statement sounds UN-loving and a bit harsh at first, but it's the honest TRUTH. Clearly, your own interpretive religious philosophy makes void the Atonement of Christ and the doctrine of Repentance. Sadly, according to your own religious beliefs, not everyone will be "Saved." In fact, most Protestant-Evangelicals are clearly taught that faithful Latter-day Saints will burn in hell for all eternity. This type of religious philosophy intuitively suggests that your defective god is not just a LOSER, but also a SADIST. So, in the providence and wisdom of Almighty God, do honestly believe that Jesus Christ is a dismal failure and too weak to "Save" the entire human family? Personally, I think it's a shame that you don't have a better description of your loving Creator and His marvelous plan of Redemption. Obviously, faithful Latter-day Saints do not share in your same defective view of deity and for good reason. It's our belief that God sent His only begotten Son to seek and save that which is LOST. For us, this to includes EVERYONE within the entire human Family. This is the reason we build Temples unto the Most High God and send our faithful missionaries into all the world. One-by-one, people are coming to a knowledge of the TRUTH. The Lord accepts those who truly REPENT -- Dead or Alive. Our loving God is no LOSER! Consider these words that were spoken by our Lord and Savior: "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Luke 15:4-7. In heaven the just persons need no repentance -- only the sinner. Jesus also said, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Matt 6:10. Do you even have a clue as to what this means? After His Resurrection, did not Jesus ascend into heaven to set the captives free? "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;" Isa 61:1. "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." Eph 4:8."Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." Ps 68:18. "Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad." Ps 14:7. "For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." 1 Pet 4:6. So let the true laborers in Thy Harvest; go forth, O God, even the Messengers of Thy Kingdom; and let Truth and Judgment go before Them unto Victory. so let Thy Kingdom come: and let Thy Will be done; even here upon Earth, as it is in Heaven: Amen. Wishing you peace and much understanding, Bills.
1) Jesus Christ is not a sadist for dying on the cross for your sins.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
2) Christian apologists will always upset cult members who believe in universal salvation for Hitler and Joseph Smith.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
3) There is no salvation after death.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. Hebrews 9:27-28
4) Eternal damnation is hard for unbelievers to accept.
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10
Need that spunk
Public Forum Letter
Salt Lake Tribune
While I appreciate the interfaith efforts of LDS leaders and members over the past 100-plus years, I've grown increasingly uncomfortable with the pandering to the religious right by some in my church. There is no reason to apologize for our unconventional beliefs, especially to other religionists who have their own "wacky" ideas.
I am proud of my
Mormon heritage (1). I find my church's theology inspiring (2). I
believe I'm happier as a result of trying to live by its teachings (3).
I am acquainted with the darker parts of its history, and I'm not sure
about a lot of its "doctrines," but life is a difficult spiritual and
mental journey filled with questions, doubts and ambiguities (4).
Despite what I
perceive as its shortcomings, I love my church. Today's Mormons need a
little more of that spunk that characterized their ancestors.
To those who wish to
work with us to make a better world, we extend hands of friendship. To
those who attack us (5), I join Brigham Young, who said to the church's
enemies, "Go to hell . . . and be damned; for you will go there, and
you are damned already" (6) (Journal of Discourses, 2:255).
(1) You should not be proud of the murderous Mormon heritage such as the Mormon Mountain Meadows Massacre.
(2) You should not find pagan temple rituals inspiring such as baptism for the dead.
(3) You will never succeed in being perfect. Ephesians 2:8-10.
(4) You need to start studying non-Mormon sources to obtain the truth.
(5) Discussion of facts is not attacking and Mormon slander should not be justified.
(6) Pharisees thought Jesus Christ was damned also. Matthew 12:24-30.
Attacks on Islam, Mormonism spring from the same dark well
By Eric Dursteler
Salt Lake Tribune
As a Mormon
and a historian, I have watched with a certain fascination the
maelstrom which has raged around Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy.
While religion has been front and center throughout the campaign,
Romney has assiduously avoided any substantive theological discussions
of Mormonism's basic tenets, and generally his fellow candidates and
the media have not delved too deeply into the doctrines and practices
of his uniquely American religion.
The gloves came off, however, in an apoplectic broadside delivered
by liberal pundit and television writer/producer Lawrence O'Donnell
during a McLaughlin Group debate of Romney's "faith of my fathers"
speech. O'Donnell derided Romney's religion as "based on the work of a
lying, fraudulent criminal named Joseph Smith who was a racist, . . . a
slavery champion, [and] the inventor of this ridiculous religion."
To O'Donnell's credit (or shame), he did not recant. Indeed, he
expanded on his views in other forums. Of the Book of Mormon, he said
"it's an insane document produced by a madman who was a criminal and a
rapist," and he asserted that Mormonism "was founded by an alcoholic
criminal named Joseph Smith who committed bank fraud and claimed God
told him polygamy was cool after his first wife caught him having an
affair with the maid."
While the historical and logical flaws of O'Donnell's contentions
are obvious, I was intrigued by the language of the attack. In
describing Joseph Smith as a criminal, a fraud and a rapist, O'Donnell
was drawing on deeply-rooted themes and images which medieval
Christians used in the age of the Crusades, and which were revived in
the 19th century by critics of Mormonism.
In the Middle Ages, European contacts with Islam through crusade
and commerce produced an expansive, almost obsessive, literature
treating the faith's history, beliefs and practices. Much of this
polemical literature focused on Muhammad as a means to disproving and
discrediting Islam, and a fantastical and fabricated pseudo-biography
was invented to enumerate the myriad personal flaws of the Prophet.
To this end, medieval writers such as Peter of Poitiers described
Muhammad as a hypocrite, a liar, a sorcerer, a thief, a murderer and an
adulterer. This latter charge was common, and authors made much of
Muhammad's supposed libidinousness and lechery, evident to them in his
own personal life and the Quran's validation of polygamy.
These medieval views of Muhammad and Islam enjoyed long shelf
lives. Variations on the same old themes resurfaced following the 9/11
terrorist attacks in statements by conservative evangelical leaders who
described Muhammad as "a robber and a brigand," a "demon-possessed
pedophile," and Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion."
While the work of Edward Said and other scholars has familiarized
modern readers with the historical distortions of Muhammad and Islam,
the Mormon variation on this theme is much less well known. During the
19th century as Mormonism began to expand, American commentators dusted
off the centuries-old rhetoric used against Islam and in similarly
vituperative fashion equated the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, with the
Muslim prophet, Muhammad. From the faith's earliest days, Smith was
referred to as the "Yankee" or the "American" Muhammad, and newspaper
editors included him in a long line of religious imposters, which
included the Muslim prophet.
One of the earliest anti-Mormon works, Mormonism Unvailed,
likened Smith to "the great prince of deceivers, Mohammed." A later
tract attributed to the Mormon leader a laundry list of bad behavior:
He was "a low, vulgar, lazy, worthless, profane character; addicted to
strong drink, and accused of sheep-stealing." His alleged revelations
on plural marriage were intended as "a cloak to cover . . . [his]
vileness . . . [as a] holy seducer."
last charge was particularly common, and here too writers drew explicit
parallels between the Mormon and the Muslim prophets, especially after
word of Mormon polygamy began circulating. One author wrote that
Mormonism "bears in many respects a striking resemblance to
Mahometanism, especially as to its sensual character." Another
intimated that "both Joseph Smith and Mohammed used a word of God to
settle their private needs and most intimate love affairs."
As with medieval Christians writing on Islam, for 19th century
American commentators on Mormonism, among the most compelling ways to
prove the falsehood of these new, competing faiths, was to expose their
founders as frauds, imposters and moral degenerates.
The post-9/11 comments on Islam and O'Donnell's recent diatribe
against Mormonism suggest that medieval modes of thought still resonate
in contemporary religious dialogue. When the ill-informed, the
provocateur, or simply those looking to boost ratings, they have a
ready supply of well-worn, tried-and-proven polemical firebombs at
their disposal to denigrate and marginalize individuals and communities
that do not fit squarely into their intolerant models of society.
ERIC DURSTELER is an associate professor of history at Brigham Young University.
Rebuttal: WHO WANTS TO READ ABOUT THE LIFE OF MO-HAM-MAD?
grew up non-Mormon in southern Idaho. Because of this, I thought that I
had prepared myself for college life in the LDS Holy Land. I didn't
worry too much about whether or not I'd be able to handle being a
member of a different religion than virtually everyone else.
Most of my friends growing up had been Mormon, and so was my best friend all through jr. high and high school, so I thought I knew what to expect. I figured once I got to Utah, I could find a group of people with religious views more like mine. I did, but I quickly realized after arriving in Logan that living here would be an entirely different experience from anything I was familiar with.
At first, everyone just assumed I was Mormon. I am from Idaho, so I supposed that this is an almost-fair assumption. If I had been from the west coast, or from back east, or from anywhere but the back door to Zion, maybe they wouldn't have been so surprised when I answered their favorite question, "What ward are you in?" with, "Actually, I'm not Mormon."
The first week of school my freshman year, a couple of LDS girls on my floor that I had made friends with invited me to go to an institute dance with them. After protesting and telling them that I'm not much of a dancer, they told me that I could just hang out and socialize-that lots of people did this at dances.
I finally agreed, but then something I hadn't counted on happened: someone asked me to dance. This kid looked like he might never ask another girl to dance again if I said no, and so I reluctantly allowed him to lead me out onto the dance floor. We talked for a few moments, and then the inevitable question regarding my ward was asked, followed by the only answer that I will ever have for it. He didn't even wait for the song to finish. He scurried off into the crowd so fast that, for a moment, I was left wondering what had happened.
It wasn't just the people I talked to who knew, however. There was something about me that tipped people off. Somehow, they always seemed to know that I wasn't one of them. I think it's a safe bet to say it was the coffee mug.
freshman year I lived in the towers, so I of course was required to eat
at the Junction. Every morning I would fill my mug with the brown swill
that was trying really hard to be coffee, and every day everyone who
saw me do it would glare at me as if I had just stomped on a box full
of kittens. I would hang out with my friends in the Hub behind the
Ibis, where we would all meet between classes to drink our coffee and
not do our homework, and ignore the funny looks we would occasionally
get from those passing by.
My sophomore year, a couple of Mormon missionaries finally came after me. They called and asked if they could come by and talk with me about my faith. I warned them that my Mormon friends had been trying to get me to repent of my heathen ways for a long time, and that if they were hoping to get results from their effort, they might be better off talking to someone else. They insisted that they wanted to talk to me, however, and so I told them that they were welcome to come by.
My roommate Ashley had heard the conversation, and asked if they were coming over. Ashley had left the LDS church, and did not much care for the company of their missionaries, so when I told her, yes, they were coming over, she disappeared into her room.
I was a little worried, honestly, that she would come out while they were there and try to make them feel uncomfortable enough to leave. She emerged only once, however, right before they showed up. She stood in her doorway long enough to flash me a mischievous grin, and then slapped a sign on her door before disappearing behind it again. In big, bold letters, her sign read, "Sodom and Gomorrah." Maybe they wouldn't notice …
I later found out that these two missionaries had been sent after me by my roommate from my freshman year, Brandi. Brandi had run into some missionaries in Temple Square, and they pestered her until she broke and gave them my name and phone number.
She told me that I was the only person she knew who wasn't LDS that wouldn't get mad at her for giving them my contact information. I told her that it was fine, because the two girls who came by were very friendly, and even though they never got anywhere with me, they brought me a plate of cookies right before Christmas break.
I have very slowly gotten used to living in Utah and not being Mormon. I've gotten used to people staring at me for a moment when I sit down next to them in class and set my coffee on the edge of my desk. I've gotten used to the slightly shocked expressions on peoples' faces when I tell them I'm not in any ward. I've even gotten used to their surprise when they find out that I really am a religious person, I'm just not a member of their church. Maybe someday they'll all get used to me.
Harsh immigration laws echo 19th century anti-Mormon legislation
By Kaimipono D. Wenger
The 47th Congress was a busy bunch of bigots. In March of 1882, they passed the Edmunds Act, a notorious anti-Mormon law that barred polygamists from voting, serving on juries or holding office. This law (along with related statutes) sent hundreds of Mormon men into federal prison and shattered families across Mormon country.
Barely a month later, that same Congress passed another odious law. Called the Chinese Exclusion Act, it was the first major federal immigration law, and it was explicitly designed to keep out the despised Asian immigrants. It set the framework for the draconian approach to immigration that continues to this day.
Both the hateful immigration laws and hateful anti-Mormon laws were challenged in court. The racist Supreme Court of the era upheld both laws in close succession, with telling language that compared Mormons to Asians. Apparently, that was reason enough to allow persecution of both groups.
This tainted history is just one reason why some Latter-day Saints like me are troubled by current immigration laws and proposals. Today's harsh laws and harsher proposals are a direct legacy of the most hateful anti-Mormon legislators of the late 19th century.
It's an awfully good thing that Congress didn't start regulating immigration until shortly after the largest wave of Mormon immigration was finished. If the hateful and anti-Mormon Congress had thought to exercise this power just a few decades earlier, there's little doubt that they would have included Mormons - along with Chinese and other outsiders - as undesirables, subject to exclusion and deportation.
Sometimes fellow church members ask me, but what about the Articles of Faith? This is an important series of short statements setting out basic church beliefs, and one of them (the 12th) states that church members believe in "obeying, honoring and sustaining the law."
Does that mean that church members - legislators, even - should support more stringent immigration law policy or enforcement?
No, it doesn't. Church members are not required to support unjust, anti-family laws; and in fact, church history is full of opposition to such laws. Church members vigorously opposed the unjust, anti-family Edmunds Act and its cousins, and we should similarly oppose (in existence and enforcement) the harsh immigration laws that sprang from the same poisoned well.
Immigration laws as enforced today are among the most anti-family laws in existence. Every single day, immigration officials break up families, flaunting another recent statement of church doctrine - the church's Proclamation on the Family, which solemnly declares that children are entitled to a home with father and mother.
Recent proposals to further penalize immigrants would only make matters worse. A better immigration policy would be one that built on the proclamation's statement that children are entitled to be reared by father and mother. It would focus on keeping immigrant families together, rather than tearing them apart.
Immigration barriers also clash with another of the church's basic Articles of Faith - the 10th article of faith, which prophesies the "literal gathering of Israel" to a promised land here in the United States. This idea corresponds to verses from the Book of Isaiah that "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains," and that "all nations shall flow unto it."
Church leaders have long explained these verses as a prophecy that the nations of the Earth would come to the temples of the Lord in the Utah mountains. (The idea is reflected in popular church hymns like "High on the Mountain Top.")
If church members really believe in this gathering, why would we try to impede it? We should instead welcome the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy that the nations of the Earth be gathered to Zion.
As church Elder Marlin Jensen recently reiterated, "Immigration questions are questions dealing with God's children." In these matters, a humane approach is required. We are all children of God, a popular church hymn goes, and He has sent us here; He gives us an earthly home and parents kind and dear.
Children are entitled to be raised within those homes, not in homes fractured by misguided government policies. Legislators of all religious persuasions should take steps to reinforce immigrant homes and families, not tear them down.
And people everywhere who share Latter-day Saint values should follow Elder Jensen's words, and push for more humane immigration laws and policies.
KAIMIPONO D. WENGER is an assistant professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
Rebuttal: Liberating young women from being raped by older men via polygamy is not being bigoted and the United States should not have open borders to fulfill a bogus Mormon prophecy.
Satan and Jesus
Public Forum Letter
The Salt Lake Daily Tribune
Shame on Mike Huckabee. The nerve of the man - suggesting that the Latter-day Saint people believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers. I talked with a Mormon bishop and he told me that, yes, it has been revealed to their prophets that Jesus and Satan are indeed pre-mortal spirit brothers.
Since Mormons do believe that, why do they cry foul and anti-Mormon when someone outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints articulates, accurately, a Mormon belief? Is it because they feel persecuted when a non-Mormon voices a Mormon belief? Or are they ashamed of their unorthodox brand of Christianity?
'Smug' Mormon takes on 'brazen' evangelical
By Jerry Johnston
Deseret Morning News
Feb. 28, 2008
On Saturday, I spent a couple of hours chatting with a friend who runs an evangelical bookstore. He set the shop up in the heart of Mormon country and has kept at it for 30 years.
"I have to say, I admire your devotion," I tell him.
"I never take credit for personal virtue," he says. "That's you guys."
It's the way things are between us. We don't play a lot of slap and tickle. We know where we stand.
Evangelical faith comes out as confidence and boldness, which Mormons often see as brazen. (Acts 1:8)
Mormon faith comes out as obedience, which evangelicals often see as smug.
"But you do see yourself as a sinner," I say.
"Well," I say, "among your many sins, I don't see 'lack of devotion."'
I don't mind playing to type.
He says he likes talking with me because I'm an "old returned missionary." The new returned missionaries, he says, speak in the same earnest voice and say the same things in the same way.
The comment strikes me as curious. I've never seen evangelicals as a colorful bouquet of religious style and thought.
He says he can size people with one question: "Are you a good person?" If they say "yes" or "I try to be," they haven't been saved. True Christians, he says, see themselves as sinners, washed in the blood of Jesus.
True Christians, I think to myself, behave like true Christians. (Mormons will rationalize to themselves)
I suppose it's why our faiths are natural rivals. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends thousands into the world to show people they can live better lives. Evangelicals send out thousands to tell people it doesn't matter what they do. Yes, they see Mormonism as a cult because we stress behavior. But they also see Catholicism as a cult, along with Jehovah's Witnesses, large swaths of the Episcopal Church, Muslims, most Quakers and probably Jews. In fact, the only reason I can see for Mormons to be so concerned about being accepted by evangelicals is politics. Evangelicals control the right wing of the Republican Party. If druids controlled the Republican right, political Mormons would look for ways to bond with their druid brethren.
"Your good works aren't bad works," my friend is saying. "They're just dead works. Meaningless."
"The Jesus I believe in would find that a bit harsh," I say.
He opens his Bible to let me know my Jesus isn't Paul's Jesus.
I tell him my Jesus shows up in the gospels. (Mormons will rationalize away discrepancies with LDS doctrines)
We're like two old men playing checkers in the park. We know each other's moves. We just play the game out for company.
I tell him I have to go.
He says he'll pray for me. He sees me getting older and fears I soon may be beyond rescue. (How true)
I leave, knowing what I've always known. True believers can be civil to each other, they can even join hands. But they can never join hearts. That's just a pipe dream of people who don't know true believers. (Prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the kingdom of God while Pharisees remain outside - Per Jesus Christ of the Gospels)
Wringing your hands over being accepted by other religions is a waste of a good pair of hands. Better to use them to hold to your ideals. Let the Founder sort it all out. (And Jesus Christ will - Revelation 20:15)
Unlike politics, in Christianity, his vote is the only one that counts, anyway.
Jerry Johnston is a Deseret Morning News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears weekly in the Mormon Times section.
Thu, 3 Apr 2008 15:44:37 EDT
You have Mormon art on your site
I stumbled onto your site trying to find a particular painting of the Risen Lord. I found it on your site through a Google search. But I just thought you may want to know-- in case you didn't-- that the picture of the Risen Christ coming forth from the tomb that you have on your site is by Mormon artist Simon Dewey. I happen to love his art, and I happen to be Mormon, which you obviously think is a bad thing. (1) Though I'm sorry you feel that way, you're entitled to feel and believe however you wish. (2) But I just figured that since you posted a picture with Mitt Romney "praying to his false God" and that we worship a "different Jesus", etc, etc that it would only make sense then, that you would also believe that Simon Dewey's painting is a portrayal of the "false Mormon God" or the "different Jesus" you claim that we believe in. (3) Since there IS only One, who suffered for your sins and mine, was crucified on the cross for you and me, and rose from dead to ensure a resurrection for the "just and the unjust"-- and since that One is Jesus Christ-- then I would disagree that we believe in a "different God" or a "different Jesus" -- however, I stated earlier, you can believe what you wish about us. (4) But if you believe that Simon Dewey's portrayal of the risen Savior and Redeemer is one of the "false Mormon God" and a "different Jesus", then maybe you shouldn't have it on your site. (5) Too bad, it's a beautiful painting. (6)
(1) The LDS (Mormon) church is bad not necessarily it's members.
(2) Cult members will always take personally any expose done on their church.
(3) A picture of Jesus Christ is not the actual Jesus Christ. Typical mistake by cult members.
(4) Mormons will never publicly tell anyone that their jesus christ was married and fathered children.
(5) Please see point number 3.
(6) Exactly. It is just a beautiful painting.
On Apr 20, 2:58 pm, "Von Fourche" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Come back to the church Anti-Mormon! I LOVE THIS CHURCH! I LOVE THIS CHURCH! The LDS church is the true church! I love Jesus and Heavenly Father! I love the Prophets! Anti-Mormon - open your heart and soul and come back to the flock of Jesus!
Rebuttal: This Mormon has confused the LDS church for Jesus Christ. Cult members love for their church or organization will always be dominate in any conversation or dialogue.
Escapades of the other evil Kirby
The Salt Lake Tribune columnist
For the record, Kirby
Heyborne and I are not related. He's way too nice to be blood kin of
mine. We share a name, we're both Mormon, and I went to a Heyborne
family barbecue once. That's pretty much it.
Kirby is a talented actor, most notably in such LDS films as
"Singles Ward" and "Best Two Years." I'm an evil columnist in a worse
newspaper. Our careers couldn't be more different - or so I thought.
I have no idea what Kirby's job is other than to be in movies. Mine
is to go on idiot safari. Three days a week I venture into the
wilderness of public opinion. What I write is all over the map. Some of
it I don't even agree with myself. It's just the noise I use to drive
the game out into the open.
I'm pretty good at it, too. Make the right noise and the scenery
comes alive with idiots, gooners, howlers, feebs, wieners, dolts and
snit pitchers. Over there is a blowhole. Here comes a scarlet screamer.
You'll understand, then, how much I hate it when some Hollywood
actor unintentionally does a better job of calling idiots. Last month,
Kirby found himself besieged when he appeared in a television
commercial for Miller Lite beer.
I watched the commercial on YouTube. It doesn't show Kirby engaged
in what many lockstep Mormons believe is typical beer behavior:
drinking beer and fathering an illegitimate child. He's just a comic
extra in a clever ad pitch.
The response was swift and sadly predictable. Hundreds of fellow
Mormons wrote (and still do) to tell Kirby what a huge disappointment
he is because of his patent endorsement of foul sin.
I read many of the comments on various Web sites. They accuse Kirby
of being in league with Satan, undermining the work of the Lord, and
threatening the youth of Zion. Oh, and they'll never watch his movies
Kirby insists he doesn't drink. He says the commercial was just a
job, a way for a struggling actor to take care of his family. Tough toe
cheese, say his judges in Israel.
Here's my favorite from a local Web site: "God knows we need money
to take care of our families. All we have to do is promise him we will
do what is right, avoiding the very appearance of evil, and he will
provide us a way to take care of our families."
Well, that certainly explains the Mormon pioneer families who
starved to death, died of disease or were murdered. Clearly they got on
God's bad side for something. Serves 'em right, I say.
I include myself in this judgment. All those Sabbaths I spent
working as a cop to feed my family probably account for the way I
turned out as well.
Good thing YouTube wasn't around when Nephi hacked the head off an
unconscious drunk in a Jerusalem alley. Can you even imagine the e-mail
he'd still be getting from the Lord's hall monitors?
It's a waste of time reasoning with people who make no distinction
between skipping Family Home Evening and eating a baby, so let's stop
and move on to those with whom we can reason.
I called Kirby in California and told him to go get his own damn
job and leave mine alone.
Our age of ideology
Written by Dr. Troy Smith
Professor of Political Science – BYU Hawaii
Thursday, 16 October 2008
“Keeping an open mind ... is necessary, because things may be connected in ways not explained by an ideology.”
What distinguishes Mormons?” I asked two non-Mormon friends after they had completed two years of teaching at BYU in Provo. Their answer offended me at first; “Mormons reason backwards,” they both said. They meant that many Mormons they met would select a conclusion first and then find reasons to justify that conclusion. They acknowledged this tendency isn’t specific to Mormons, but claimed we are quite apt at it.
Humans, unfortunately, are prone to a number of bad tendencies that make careful and clear thinking preciously rare. We remember evidence that confirms our biases and forget evidence that contradicts our biases. We apply withering critical analysis to things we dislike and glibly accept with little thought the things we like. Indeed, “we choke on gnats and swallow camels.”
We work feverishly to solve problems that would resolve themselves if left alone, and neglect problems that need our attention (like that term paper you are supposed to be writing). Sometimes our efforts create the very conditions that prevent us from achieving our goal (like staying up late studying and then being too tired the next day to concentrate on the test).
We even develop logic to avoid the real problem and evade facing our bad thinking. Some construct a false but comfortable version of reality to evade difficult problems or impending failure. Others deny the complexity of an issue by defining the problem in small and manageable terms that do not reflect the real issue. These evasive techniques lead to failure.
Our age is characterized by another gross distortion of reason – ideology. Ideology provides a simplistic explanation of reality and offers a simplistic solution. When we believe and trust an ideology, however, we deny our own perceptive, rational and spiritual abilities to see and understand. We place hope and pride in our ideology and neglect the lessons of history and requirements of practical reason.
George Orwell, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Václav Havel all warned of the growing tendency of leaders, intellectuals, and others to “think solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige.” Hence, once someone picks a side, “he persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him.” This leads to “self-deception,” “the most flagrant dishonesty,” and the inability to think rationally about certain topics. Barbara Tuchman, an eminent historian, called this wooden-headedness.
The problem with ideology is, as modern science amply demonstrates, no system or ideology can comprehend all the details, complexities, and problems of reality, nor provide solutions to every problem we will experience. Is it any wonder Joseph Smith and David O. McKay shared a distrust for creeds, even of the Mormon persuasion?
Ideologies impair clear thinking and do not work for solving complex problems. Complex problems require clearly identifying what to preserve as well as what to change. Ideologies ignore implicit contradictions within goals – when this happens good results may appear in the short-term, but bad results prevail in the long-run. Ideologies look at a few key indicator variables which often fail to measure the true thing. Keeping an open mind and looking at all available variables and data is necessary, because things may be connected in ways not explained by an ideology. Rather than relying on ideological thinking to define what matters and what we should do, we need to develop honest, pragmatic, practical, and balanced reasoning skills.
The moral of this column is that neither academics nor Mormons, who both have just claims for a privileged means of knowing and understanding truth, are immune from the human tendency to think poorly or seek simplistic solutions to complex problems. Reason and revelation are valuable methods of knowing, but also vital is an awareness of our own thinking and belief patterns so we may recognize when we might be amiss.
Mormons told to avoid faith-related arguments (avoid reasoning for church fiction)
By Peggy Fletcher
The Salt Lake Tribune
Mormons should never respond with arrogance or
hostility to attacks on their faith, but be peacemakers among
themselves and in the community of faith, said several speakers at the
178th Semiannual LDS General Conference on Sunday.
"More regrettable than the [LDS] Church being
accused of not being Christian is when church members react to such
accusations in an un-Christlike way," Apostle Robert D. Hales said on
the second day of the two-day conference. "Surely our Heavenly Father
is saddened - and the devil laughs - when we contentiously debate
doctrinal differences with our Christian neighbors."
Sometimes, the best response is to say nothing
at all, Hales said. "Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of
Hales was speaking to more than 20,000 gathered
in the LDS Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and millions
more watching on TV, the Internet or via satellite to LDS meeting
houses across the globe.
One Sunday speaker, Apostle Russell M. Nelson,
made a veiled reference to the church's opposition to same-sex
"The subject of marriage is debated across the
world, where various arrangements exist for conjugal living," Nelson
said, adding emphatically, "Marriage between a man and a woman is
sacred - it is ordained of God. . . . [And] a temple marriage is the
highest and most enduring type of marriage that our Creator can offer
to his children."
Comparing wedding choices to shopping, Nelson
said, "Some marital options are cheap; some are costly; and some are
cunningly crafted by the adversary. Beware of his options. They always
Not all Mormons in California agree with the
church's support of the state's traditional marriage initiative, which
may have prompted Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the church's
governing First Presidency, to discuss the need for unity among
As the church attracts members from diverse
backgrounds and experiences, true peacemakers recognize they have more
in common than they have differences, Eyring said. "God will help you
see their differences not as a source of irritation but as a
contribution. In a moment, the Lord can help you see and value what the
other person contributes which you lack."
For his part, Pres. Thomas S. Monson, who became
the 16th leader of the 13-million member Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints in February, spoke personally and emotionally about
"Some changes are welcome, some are not," Monson
said during his morning address. "There are changes in our lives which
are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an
unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure."
The 81-year-old leader reflected on his years as
an LDS apostle, watching the 14 men ahead of him in the church's
hierarchy pass away until the death of longtime LDS President Gordon B.
Hinckley, which elevated Monson to the position.
"Of course, there's no going back, only
forward," Monson said. "Rather than dwelling on the past, we should
make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to
provide pleasant memories for the future."
Several other LDS authorities discussed the best
way to handle critics and disagreements.
Apostle M. Russell Ballard said in the last few
decades the LDS Church had experienced "unprecedented ideological
attacks on our people, our history, and our doctrine through the
In a possible allusion to the critics of
Mormonism that emerged during Mitt Romney's failed bid for the
Republican presidential nomination, Ballard noted that in the 1920s,
LDS apostle Reed Smoot was elected to the U.S. Senate but had to fight
to be seated.
"A great deal was said of the church and its
teachings at that time - much of it hurtful and directed toward [LDS]
President Joseph F. Smith and other church leaders," Ballard said.
"However, some newspaper articles began to speak of the members of the
church as contributing citizens and good people."
From the church founding in 1830 to today,
Ballard said, "persecutions have raged. Calumny, lies, and
misrepresentation have attempted to defame. But in every decade . . .
the truth of God has gone forth boldly."
Monson closed the conference in the afternoon
with an appeal for tolerance and kindness.
"We are a global church," he said. "May we be
good citizens of the nations in which we live and good neighbors in our
communities, reaching out to those of other faiths as well as to our
own. May we be men and women of honesty and integrity in everything we
He thanked members for their generous
contributions, which help the church continue its humanitarian work. He
urged them to offer every kind of assistance to those in need.
"May we ever be mindful of the needs of those around us," Monson said, "and be ready to extend a helping hand and a loving heart."
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