Dear Mormon bullies: Haters NOT gonna hate on my watch

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no bullyingEarlier this week on the blog a reader commented that the LDS statement about the Brussels attacks had affirmed that the Church was praying for the families of people injured and killed in Brussels and Paris, but said nothing about Istanbul.

Many American denominations, he noted, show “a tinge of racism by whom they omit in their calls of prayer and remembrance.”

Hardly fifteen minutes later, a reader named Bryant fired back this furious response:

Blog comment


Somehow, from the two sentences David had submitted, Bryant assumed that David was an attention-seeking “sycophant” who knew nothing about the history of LDS Church work around the world. (Vocab news flash: sycophants don’t criticize openly, like David; they flatter and fawn. Just FYI.)

And in a classic bully move, Bryant also felt free to insult David by calling him “Davie,” maligning his intelligence (“but that would just confuse you, wouldn’t it?”), and telling him to “pack up” and leave.

Then he put the cherry on top of his own venom by adding, “We’ll pray that you will calm yourself and gain this knowledge also.”

In other words, “I will abuse my religion’s teachings by covering my unethical verbal abuse in a veneer of brotherly concern by saying I will pray that you, who actually don’t have nearly the anger issues I am exhibiting, will calm down enough so you can realize that I am obviously 100% right.”

It was too late to delete his comment, since other people had already jumped in to protest, but I would have if I’d gotten to it sooner. When I finally had the time to fully moderate the conversation this morning, I found several other comments that were insulting and defensive, remarks that had to be deleted or edited to remove personal digs.

Most of the vitriol came from Mormons.

Why is it so hard for some people to understand what is within the lines of acceptable dialogue?

And why, oh why, do they think that with their insults and contempt for other people, they are actually helping and not hurting the cause of the LDS Church?

I hate tried redoubling my efforts to scrub the comments a few times a week, but frankly this is exhausting and I HAVE A DAY JOB, PEOPLE. I should not have to play referee to your personal anger issues in my off hours.

So listen up: On the third strike you’re out, and that’s if I’m feeling generous. Personal insults will not be tolerated here. I don’t have time to be your babysitter.

And as the book of James puts it, our anger does nothing to achieve the righteousness God desires (James 1:20).

So for God’s sake – literally – keep a lid on it.

  • Sue

    When I read the comments, I had a quick thought that you, Jana, were put into the role of a school teacher of elementary level boys who were having a fight on the play yard. That’s not your role and you shouldn’t have to monitor other peoples’ responses. Unfortunately, that’s what you have to do when commenters misbehave.

  • Mike

    I love this post. It was needed!

  • Sabelotodo2

    I’m sure that some of the submissions Jana deals with do border on cyber-bullying, but the instances quoted here show that some folks have ‘way too much time on their hands, quibbling over who does and doesn’t get prayed for! C’mon people! Get a life!

  • Dave Nuckols

    If you’re praying for someone but insulting them at the same time, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Leigh

    Ugh. Babysitting adults is exhausting. There is usually mental illness involved, as I’ve discovered after these incidents. Many times the bullies really can’t help it. In Native American lore they are called, “heiokas” – wily coyotes-the trickster – bringer of wisdom via troubles. Ha. As long as I get paid for babysitting or doing therapy, it’s a little easier. …Naw. Not worth it!!! Gee whiz.

  • The Epistle of James is a possible forgery.

  • Jonathan Clark Felt

    Jana, there is a growing touchy-ness in some as we watch in fear what is happening in our world. The Lord is changing and softening our hearts toward a more inclusive church, but some will resist it tooth and nail. Keep up the good work of discovery and persuasion as we try to progress without the old traditions of men. I suggest everyone use their real names which will help to exclude bullies.

  • Daniel Berry, NYC

    Well, since we don’t know who the authors of most of books of the bible – OT & NO – are, it’s kinda hard to say what’s a forgery and what ain’t. I’m just sayin’.

  • Doc Anthony

    All this hot drama around here, calls for one of those Rap Songs.
    Fortunately, I happen to have one. (I wrote it myself.)
    Sing it baby!!

    I love to H8
    I need to H8
    I vo-mit H8
    Cause H8 tastes great!!

    Be hon-est mate
    What’s on your plate?
    Coun-try fried H8
    Tastes good with dates!

    You’re no pre-late
    More like pri-mate
    Per-haps in-mate?
    So git some H8 !!

    Don’t mind me none
    Just hav-ing fun
    but Riess is right
    Cease H8 to-night !!!

    —- Your Faithful (and slightly crazy) Servant,
    Doc Anthony

  • LDS

    You can’t flunk sainthood, there is no sainthood in the LDS church. A Saint is merely someone who has made the baptismal Covenant and is trying to follow Jesus Christ. We get angry, we have feelings, and we share the same freedom of speech you do.

  • Loved this article Jana! Spot on and nailed it.

    In fact, I got so sick of this stuff that I wrote an article addressing it entitled, “How to Make Weak Arguments for Mormonism – A Primer”

    But, of course, that was only after I’d published one entitled, “How to Make Weak Arguments Against Mormonism – A Primer” as well:

    It’s a pity that the twin arts of civility and disagreeing without being disagreeable seem to be lost on modern culture. But, apparently, they have.

  • Levi

    I’m glad this was posted. I had started to read those other comments the other day and just had to stop. I wish people could just treat everyone online like they would treat them in public.

  • Elder Anderson

    Since it’s her blog, Jana has freedom of delete.

  • Fred M

    The definition of statehood is “the quality or state of being a saint.” So there is absolutely sainthood in the LDS church. It’s in our name!

  • G Key

    Are you faulting the verse, Found One? Seems to me the content’s the point. For context, here’s James 1:19-21 (NIV):

    “19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

    Regardless of the author, the virtue of what was written is apparent.
    Thanks to Jana Reiss for citing it, because I wasn’t familiar with it.

    If you still don’t like that verse, here’s a wheel I reinvented a couple of days ago without even knowing it: “The most important words, spoken with hostility, will convey only hostility-smothered words.”

    Most believers respect others’ beliefs; a few don’t.
    Most nonbelievers respect others’ beliefs; a few don’t.
    Isn’t it amazing how much we have in common?

  • Gary

    Not exactly. The majority of non-evangelical scholars, i.e. critical-historical scholars, would call the book of James pseudonymous. This means that the authorship of the book is not certain. But the book IS in the bible. Therefore evangelical scholars would have to call it the inerrant word of God. That said, a loving God would have no problem with the quoted text.

  • Memba

    The anonymity of the internet can turn us all into “tuff guys”. We can talk trash to people in a way that might get your behind kicked if you did it to someone’s face.

    A few years ago, my son was playing a very popular online game and I was watching him play. There were all sorts of comments being traded, including extreme vulgarity and racism. I suggested to my son that he type in, “no racist comments”. He commented that, and nothing else–no elaboration. And, surprise, surprise, the smack talk immediately toned way down.

    I can’t explain this phenomenon, but I observed it more than once. I think sometimes people just need to be told to stop offensive behavior, and that’s enough to stop a lot of them. Honestly, in some warped way, I think some believe this behavior is funny–so they do it for laughs.

    So Jana, thanks for blocking it here. I really dislike internet trolling and I am glad you aren’t going to permit it on your blog.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    You noted “…evangelical scholars would have to call it the inerrant word of God….” That is certainly an argument against taking “evangelical scholars” seriously.

  • Jeff P

    And worse, that’s a textbook case of using the Lord’s name in vain.

  • JR

    Thank you, Jana. Though I sometimes learn from comments posted, I had noted a significant difference in tone between a number of recent comments to your blog on the one hand and the comments I’ve seen in other parts of the bloggernacle. Still, I wondered whether Bryant’s “Davie” was simply a slip of the finger, “e” being directly above “d” on the standard keyboard. Even more I wonder if Bryant wouldn’t mind modeling for us what a sincere apology for out-of-control behavior would look like.

  • Lew Craig

    I agree with Jana’s conclusion, but faithful Mormons aren’t the only snarky ones here. The comment mentioned was rude and uncivil. However, the writer obviously cherishes his beliefs and is unhappy when he feels they are attacked. That said, I’m not trying to justify his behavior.

    If you really want to witness rude behavior, try advocating a faithful position in a Salt Lake Tribune comments section. Brutal.

  • Lew Craig


  • Perhaps Lew but at least they publish them. The Deseret News won’t moderate approve most critical comments.

    Personally, I prefer the former – warts and all.

  • If the Book of James was not really scripture (no matter who wrote it), the Prophet Joseph Smith would have identified it as such just as he did the Song of Solomon.

  • I agree. Deseret News won’t post my comments when I put scriptures in them that show my opinion that the LDS branch of our faith is wrong about something. I think there should be a line, but disagreeing shouldn’t be it. But, they are not alone. Pathos blocked me for defending the LDS branch of our faith in articles that flat out lied about various topics. So, it happens all over and on both sides of the coin.