Columns DIY Faith Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

10 ways to imagine a New Mormonism

A guest post by Mette Harrison

If I were to try to imagine the future of a thriving Mormonism (besides the obvious repeal of the current policy on same-gender married couples and more gender equality in leadership), what would that look like?

  1. A re-imagination of heaven in which gender, sexual orientation, and race are not part of God’s inherent qualities. Nor does what we call “disability” here on earth need to be fixed or cured in the resurrection in order for everyone to belong in heaven.
  2. A complete reworking of The Book of Mormon to deal with racism and gender issues, and the elevation of other great works on the subject of deity to the level of scripture. I’m thinking of the hymn “O My Father” by Eliza R. Snow, the play Mother Wove the Morning by Carol Lynn Pearson, and the collection of poems Mother’s Milk by Rachel Hunt Steenblik, as well as sermons by Fatimah S. Salleh.
  3. Better artwork in general in our worship buildings, and money paid to artists for their work. They ought to receive a decent rate and royalties.
  4. New songs that eliminate hero worship and masculinity/war as metaphors for God (see “We Are All Enlisted” and “Onward Christian Soldiers”). Songs about womanhood and love everlasting will abound in my new Mormonism and we will sing “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” as it ought to be sung, with “sister” in place of “brother.”
  5. Lesson manuals that highlight topics and scriptures and allow conversation to be the guide, instead of the current strategy of dictating a “correlated doctrine” that tends to be white and Utah or American-centric, and definitely middle class. We need to learn how to talk to each other more openly, how to invite different voices, and how to deal with disagreement in love.
  6. A revised historical view of past Mormonism that does not apologize for or minimize what happened. Let the flaws of the past be looked at carefully and examined. Let our leaders be truly flawed. Let God be missing from some events. Let God be truly present in others.
  7. Minimal talk about dress and appearance as a metaphor for worthiness. Let people wear what they are most comfortable in, because God accepts us as we are. We need to do the same. Sometimes Mormons will argue (as Elder Oaks did in a talk some years ago) that God requires a formal kind of respect in prayer, but in most languages, we use the most intimate pronouns in communication with God. Why shouldn’t we also be able to dress as comfortably as we pray in our homes? Are we dressing up for God, or for each other?
  8. More meals together. I’d like to see us have potlucks at church every week. Invite ward members over to your house for dinner frequently. Share and really listen to each other. That’s how we truly learn to love. Food is often a token of our feelings for each other—and sharing food together, whether we’re fasting beforehand or not, will tend to make us feel more kindly toward each other. I mean, how can you have bad feelings toward someone who just fed you funeral potatoes and better-than-sex chocolate cake?
  9. Careful thought about the idea of having all things in common. We promise in the temple to give all we have to the Lord, but are we doing this? I don’t mean paying tithing here, or giving more to the institution, but finding more ways to give to people around us beyond our fast offerings. Our church is already superb in the way we manage the Bishop’s Storehouse and Deseret Industries. Could we do more for housing needs or for those who need help with child care or elder care? Could we do a better job of providing higher education and mental health care without stigma?
  10. More care for the earth. I’ve already written about some steps I think wards and stakes could take to reduce waste and pollution, like walking or riding bikes to church, recycling more at events and meetings, and sponsoring greener homes.

There are so many things I loved about the church I grew up in, including the sense of specialness that came with being a Mormon and the purpose I felt in my individual mission from God.

I don’t want to lose either of those things, nor do I want Mormonism to dissolve into a general Christianity. But the idea that we shouldn’t change unless our leaders command us to seems to run contrary to our own scriptures, that say we don’t need to be commanded in all things and that we all have the responsibility to promote more good in the lives around us. To me, that is the most Mormon thing of all.


Other posts by Mette Harrison:


 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

56 Comments

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  • This post makes me wonder what Sister Harrison’s experience is with the Church both internationally and recently. Number 5 seems to ignore current manuals, not to mention the upcoming Come Follow Me program and dropping scouting in favor of a program that can be administered internationally.

    Things like potlucks are already common practice in many parts of the world (as Elder Cook acknowledged in his talk).

    Fortunately, many of these are changes individuals can implement on their own or locally in their own wards (and in fact would be inappropriate to make general Church policy).

  • Our ward has a “Linger Longer” potluck after church about once per quarter. I’d love to have it monthly. It is one of my favorite things. Nothing is stopping anyone.

  • “money paid to artists for their work. They ought to receive a decent rate and royalties.”

    That is an interesting point to make. Does the LDS church have a habit of stiffing artists it commissions?

    We already know the church has a long history of financial impropriety. From its use of resources as a blatant lobby group, use of church status for commercial benefit, coercion to raise tithing funds….

  • “We already know the church has a long history of financial impropriety.”

    Really?

    Fill us in.

    We do understand that you think religion a scam, and therefore there must be financial impropriety, but on the off-chance that for once you actually have one or more facts I ask the question.

  • If I were to try to imagine the future of a thriving Mormonism

    Why limit yourself to imagining? Why don’t you avail yourself of one of the tried and true methods of achieving what you imagine?

    Throughout history religions have been (re-)invented because the contemporary interpretations didn’t suit the desires of someone. This is usually done by simply reinterpreting what was meant by certain parts of the doctrine. You don’t have to search very long to find examples of this. You only have to look back to 1978 when Spencer W. Kimball declared that the First Presidency and the Twelve had received a revelation from their god, and, poof magic!, the Mormon church was no longer racist.

    Or you could go a step further and invent your own flavor of religion, in whole or in part based on another one. Again, examples are plentiful. You only have to go back to 1830 when Joseph Smith made up a new flavor of Christianity that you may be vaguely familiar with.

    All you really need for either option is a few gullible fools to believe and follow you. A quick look around you should easily convince you that there is no shortage of those.

  • Bob, he’s a troll stuck on repeat who has trouble with really basic math.

    Best leave spuddie to his well-earned fate.

  • When pulled over for speeding does the cop give you his wife’s phone number along with a ticket? Number 1 is pure foolishness and some of the other wants are equally demented.

    Hmm, I do agree though that *we must all ignore the notion of superior American ideas of offense*.

    I recently complained about the Deseret News censoring people who defend the cartoonist at the centre of the serena williams racist cartoon controversy.

    Many informed Americans agree with Serena but what those ‘clever’ Americans fail to realize is that the cartoon was in an Australian newspaper and Australia has no history of slavery or of Jim Crowe era drawings that have an attached connotation of racism to them.

    I argued that whilst the ‘informed’ American idea of ‘if it is offensive then it hurts someone’s feelings which is wrong’ is adhered to globally, then we allow muslims to dictate what cartoons can or can’t be printed- they find any depiction of mohammed to be offensive, which isn’t fair on the rest of us.

    Anyway, the deseret news censored what I said, preferring to side with the offense stolen by serena williams.

    I cannot and will not be bound by America’s history of slavery for it is not a global history just I cannot and will not agree with the muslim attacks on charlie hebdo.

  • how about the fact that unlike other major religions, it refuses to disclose their finances? anything strike you as troubling about that? wait wait … lemme guess.
    “absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” or some other inane mormon platitude
    Just like, EVERY qualified archaeologist declares complete and utter lack of evidence for the BOM means nothing right… “they just haven’t found it yet”.. or like.. “somehow every trace of evidence has disappeared”
    lets face it, mormonism is the most falsifiable religion on the planet and your hard-earned tithing is being invested in unethical political battles (defending prop 8 for one) and towards the construction of massive shopping malls… and the fact that you’re here trolling means that even you on some level are very insecure about this religion. implying people are stupid and bad at math (really?!) is how five year olds act when throwing a tantrum (and losing)…

  • Being an ISIS stooge, you feel compelled to bring in their acts into any given conversation. Advertising for their efforts. Especially in the equating them with all Muslims. You are doing their bidding quite often.

    ” cartoon was in an Australian newspaper and Australia has no history of slavery or of Jim Crowe era drawings that have an attached connotation of racism to them.”

    Wrong about that as well. Australia has a history of both, plus genocide. You are either woefully ignorant or just full of crap. I guess you never heard of aborigines or what Australians had done with them. The “White Australia Policy” also eludes your knowledge base.

    Plenty of countries have a long history of slavery, discrimination and oppression. Your statement was just plain silly.

    I suspect the Deseret News just didn’t want to publish an ignorant, fact free opinion from someone who promotes bigotry.

  • Because Mormonism isn’t going away anytime soon and because it has succeeded in creating a community of deeply committed people who often are motivated by genuine care, generosity, and concern for others. It’s easy to be bitter or cynical. It’s much harder to work at redefining in the terms described in this worthwhile essay, but definitely worth the effort. I’m not LDS, but I’ve never found Mormons to be anything but positive and anxious to make the world a better place. This is a great way to imagine it and then make it happen for this community. As Miguel de Unamuno’s priest-character states in the epic short story, “Don Manuel Bueno, Mártir,””All religions are true insofar as they make men happy.” Let’s all of us work on that!

  • Alexander threatened me in another post with God sending me “trials” because he otherwise could not respond to my arguments. So, come on in, the water is warm! 🙂

  • I made a joke about such threats that God is striking me down in a very slow and painstaking process.

    Through old age, reasonably decent health and having friends and family around me. 🙂

  • The irony is that life has its way of throwing curveballs to all of us. Literally, any problem we may encounter, and we will, Alex will attribute such to his cosmic accountant with the clipboard.

  • The Mormon church was founded by a con man who was a pedophile. And it continually revises its history, and refuses to apologize for past “sins”, such as racism.

    Any objective look at the church reveals instantly that it’s all about controlling the thinking and the behavior of members, and giving some men power over others.

    So really, what’s the point of “reimagening” the church?

  • All good ideas which means that anyone proposing them could be excommunicated by the 15 old men for “apostasy.”

  • “Gullible fools.” Don’t beat about the bush, LinCA; tell us how you really feel about the targets of your bigotry.

  • No matter what the Church of Jesus Christ does, there will always be hateful demagogues willing to consciously misrepresent and demonize it.

  • I don’t think I could handle #1. But, then, I’m a bigot, so I’m probably not worth bothering about.

  • Joe Smith and Brigham Young, two infamous demons and con men . No added demonization and misrepresentation needed.

  • Pointing out how utterly ridiculous it is to believe in imaginary creatures and obviously made up religions, isn’t bigotry. I’m not telling you what to believe or do. I’m not forcing you to believe as I do. I’m merely pointing out that believing in imaginary creatures isn’t rational.

    You are free to believe whatever nonsense you want. You are free to believe in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, for all I care, just don’t expect me to pretend it’s rational. Believing in gods is not in any fundamental way different.

    Mormonism in particular is so obviously made up, and it is so patently ridiculous, that it is surprising there is even a single believer in it. Have you seriously looked at the origins of it?

  • Your comparisons are irrelevant. I’ve never met anyone who has met the Easter Bunny, however, ridiculous as it may sound to you, I know reliable, rational individuals who have had interactions with the spirits of deceased people, or have experienced the spirit world themselves. What do you suggest we do with such personal, first hand information and experience?.

  • Is that why some of its leaders have given up 90% of their income to work tirelessly till the end of their lives?. What business model offers no financial reward but, rather, requires money contributions?. Your contention is very, very silly isn’t it?.

  • Did you miss seeing that your sentences contradict each other?. Same old pattern….nasty, miserable, irrational comments by those who hate the Church of Jesus Christ, and rational, even polite replies from Latter Day Saints.

  • From: lds-mormon.com/time.shtml

    “The first divergence between Mormon economics and that of
    other denominations is the tithe. Most churches take in the greater part of
    their income through donations. Very few, however, impose a compulsory 10%
    income tax on their members. Tithes are collected locally, with much of the
    money passed on informally to local lay leaders at Sunday services. “By
    Monday,” says Elbert Peck, editor of Sunstone, an independent Mormon
    magazine, the church authorities in Salt Lake City “know every cent that’s
    been collected and have made sure the money is deposited in banks.” There
    is a lot to deposit. Last year $5.2 billion in t-ithes flowed into Salt Lake
    City, $4.9 billion of which came from American Mormons.”

    “The Mormons are stewards of a different st-ipe. Their
    charitable spending and temple building are prodigious. But where other
    churches spend most of what they receive in a given year, the Latter-day Saints
    employ vast amounts of money in investments that TIME estimates to be at least
    $6 billion strong. Even more unusual, most of this money is not in bonds or
    stock in other peoples’ companies but is invested directly in church-owned,
    for-profit concerns, the largest of which are in agribusiness, media,
    insurance, travel and real estate. Deseret Management Corp., the company
    through which the church holds almost all its commercial assets, is one of the
    largest owners of farm and ranchland in the country, including 49 for-profit
    parcels in addition to the Deseret Ranch. Besides the Bonneville International
    chain and Beneficial Life, the church owns a 52% holding in ZCMI, Utah’s
    largest department-store chain.

    All told, TIME estimates that the Latter-day Saints farmland and
    financial investments total some $11 billion, and that the church’s nont-ithe
    income from its investments exceeds $600 million. ”

    “Members of the church celebrate the Lord’s Supper with water
    rather than wine or grape juice. They believe their President is a prophet who
    receives new revelations from God. These can supplant older revelations, as in
    the case of the church’s historically most controversial doctrine: Smith
    himself received God’s sanctioning of polygamy in 1831, but 49 years later,
    the church’s President announced its recision. Similarly, an explicit policy
    barring black men from holding even the lowest church offices was overturned by
    a new revelation in 1978, opening the way to huge missionary activity in Africa
    and Brazil. “

  • LinCA: “Mormonism in particular is so obviously made up, and it is so patently ridiculous, that it is surprising there is even a single believer in it.”

    And yet, the established fact is that there are.

    And many of them demonstrate considerable intelligence as well as common sense and practicality.

    Which suggests that it is your assumptions, and not the believers, that are at fault.

    LinCA: “Have you seriously looked at the origins of it?”

    Yes, as a matter of fact. I have.

    I’ve also encountered a considerable number of people who don’t think the truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ are worthy of serious attention, consideration or investigation. Much like you. And so, of course, they don’t.

    This is a remarkably reliable way of ensuring that one remains seriously under-informed about a subject upon which one is inclined to loudly and frequently opine.

    IOW, it’s not just that you’re a pig-ignorant bigot, as is demonstrated by everything you write; you’re a pig-ignorant bigot both by choice and by inclination.

  • RC: “Joe Smith and Brigham Young, two infamous demons and con men . No added demonization and misrepresentation needed.”

    And yet, unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what you provided.

  • Amanda: “how about the fact that unlike other major religions, it refuses to disclose their finances?”

    Really? What “major religions” are those? Have you looked at the Vatican’s accounts lately?

    If you assume that anything someone isn’t telling you must be “financial impropriety,” then you are starting from a position of suspicion. The fact is that almost nobody discloses their financial details to anyone except those to whom they are obliged to do so.

  • How can you believe anything about what Joseph Smith wrote?

    Are you familiar with the CES letter? It’s an easy entry into understanding why Mormonism is utter nonsense. There is, of course, far more to find, if you are interested in finding out if what you believe is true.

    But to have a chance to find out, you first have to be willing to take the risk of finding out that your beliefs are nonsense.

    Your comments show a disdain bordering upon loathing towards believing Latter-day Saints as a group. If that’s not bigotry, it’s hard to imagine what is.

    Not just the Latter-day Saints. All irrational superstitions.

    But no, it’s not bigotry. I’m not denying you the right to believe whatever nonsense you want. You are free to believe in the Easter Bunny, for all I care. I’m merely pointing out that it is irrational to believe patent nonsense.

    Religious beliefs are not above criticism. If you can’t stand to have them challenged, I suggest you keep them to yourself.

  • LinCA: “How can you believe anything about what Joseph Smith wrote?”

    Joseph demonstrated his sincerity far more convincingly than you have; or ever could.

    LinCA: “Are you familiar with the CES letter?”

    Ah, you’re one of the shills for that thing, are you? Yes, I am well aware of that crowd-sourced laundry list of standard anti-Mormon talking points; thank you for asking.

    As you know, it’s just a proselyting tract for a rather worthless hate ideology. For anyone looking for a source of truth, I know of considerably better ones.

    LinCA: “Religious beliefs are not above criticism. If you can’t stand to have them challenged, I suggest you keep them to yourself.”

    There are non-bigoted ways to “challenge” someone’s beliefs. Calling believers “gullible fools” is not one of them. That’s just a way to vent your own bigotry.

    As you do.

  • So, you actually believe there were horses, cattle and other domestic animals in the Americas before the settlers brought them over? You actually believe that the Native Americans are descendants from Israelites, even though DNA evidence shows they aren’t? You actually believe all the other obvious nonsense?

    Your refusal to see the obvious is pretty staggering, though not surprising. But your unwillingness, or inability, to rationally scrutinize your cherished beliefs doesn’t make them any more true, nor you less gullible.

    Your failure to rationally evaluate the case for the existence of gods, including yours, doesn’t make them any more likely to be real. Your indoctrination does not equal wisdom or knowledge.

    Just like pointing out that a belief in Santa Claus and fairy tales is not rational for an adult, isn’t bigotry, neither is pointing the irrationality of a belief in other imaginary creatures and obviously false narratives.

  • Ah, you’re relying upon the tried and true scatter-gun method, are you?

    As is common among bigots, you assume that the targets of your bigotry have subnormal intelligence, and believe differently than you do because they’re just not smart enough to see the world through the lens of your own undemonstrated brilliance.

    Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but that’s simply not the case.

    Here is some reading for you.

    https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_Mormon/Animals

    https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Books#Response_to_claims_made_in_.22Losing_a_Lost_Tribe:_Native_Americans.2C_DNA.2C_and_the_Mormon_Church.22_by_Simon_G._Southerton

    https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/Letter_to_a_CES_Director

  • Subnormal intelligence? No, I know there are very intelligent people among the religious. The whole population may skew a little subnormal, but among Mormons the opposite appears the case.

    The biggest barrier to a rational evaluation of religious beliefs seems to be indoctrination. In particular childhood indoctrination forms a formidable barrier to questioning cherished beliefs.

    That is why I have little doubt that you can make up an explanation for every inconsistency and outright nonsense in your book of fairy takes. It’s the tried and true method when ignorant myths run into a harsh reality, and those who are too invested in the myths refuse to accept reality.

    Just declare that evidence for an outrageous claim just hasn’t been found yet, or declare a passage allegory, or metaphor, or parable. Just find some explanation, any explanation, and declare it to be the rescue of embattled claim, no matter how far fetched it is, instead of accepting the far more likely explanation that it is folklore.

    Mormonism has, of course, an ready made solution to any doctrinal issues. All the First Presidency and the Twelve have to do is claim to have received a revelation that changes the doctrine. Poof magic, problem solved.

    But a critical and rational evaluation doesn’t look for justifications to maintain the belief but instead looks for evidence against it. It requires a willingness to risk finding out the belief was, and always has been, false. In general, believers are unwilling or unable to do that.

    But a critical evaluation looks at what is more likely. Is it really more likely that horses survived extinction, yet go undetected, or is it more likely that a known conman made up a story? Is it more likely that Native Americans descended from the Israelites, even though it’s contradicted by DNA analysis, or is it more likely that a known conman made up a story? Is it more likely that Smith used stones to read gold plates, even though the plates were not seen by anyone before or since, or is it more likely that a known conman made up a story?

    How likely is it that your gods are real, while the thousands you don’t believe in are not? How likely is it that your holy books are divinely inspired, while those of other religions are folklore?

    But I doubt I’ll convince you.

  • I’ve never met anyone who has met the Easter Bunny, however, ridiculous as it may sound to you, I know reliable, rational individuals who have had interactions with the spirits of deceased people, or have experienced the spirit world themselves.

    Have you ever had a dream? Have you ever noticed something that wasn’t quite right that you though must have been caused by a supernatural force, but later realize it had a perfectly natural explanation?

    There are perfectly reasonable explanations for what believers claim to be supernatural. Unless these claims can be substantiated there is no reason to believe they are anything but normal and natural.

    People, once they believe in gods, are all too quickly to attribute things they can’t explain to their gods.

    What do you suggest we do with such personal, first hand information and experience?

    Recognize that they don’t provide any evidence for the supernatural.

  • A friend of mine suggested that these suggestions make perfect sense, if we start with the assumption that “Mormonism” was originally imagined by hippies in Portland in the 1990’s.

  • There is no “known conman” in view.

    Thank you for demonstrating how easy it is to manipulate the discussion by asking loaded questions. Here’s another one for you: Is it really more likely that someone who demonstrated his sincerity by maintaining his religious claims in the face of deadly violence was a “conman,” or is it more likely that a determined bigot would assume that the chief target of his bigotry was a “conman” rather than face the implications of his demonstrated sincerity?

  • There is no “known conman” in view.

    On March 20, 1826, four years before publishing the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was tried in court and found guilty for deceiving Josiah Stowel into believing that he could locate hidden treasure by divination – by peering at a stone in a hat. Joseph employed the same process to ‘translate’ his Book of Mormon.” – Holden, Robert (2011). “Joseph Smith – Money Digger”

    Thank you for demonstrating how easy it is to manipulate the discussion by asking loaded questions.

    Wasn’t a loaded question. Smith was found guilty of fraud.

    Here’s another one for you: Is it really more likely that someone who demonstrated his sincerity by maintaining his religious claims in the face of deadly violence was a “conman,” or is it more likely that a determined bigot would assume that the chief target of his bigotry was a “conman” rather than face the implications of his demonstrated sincerity?

    When it comes to religion, there are only conmen and marks. And willingness to die for religious convictions lends no credence to the religious claims. You only need to look at the 9/11 hijackers, or suicide bombers to see the absurdity of your implication.

  • Anti-Mormon propaganda tract:

    “On March 20, 1826, four years before publishing the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was tried in court and found guilty for deceiving Josiah Stowel into believing that he could locate hidden treasure by divination – by peering at a stone in a hat. Joseph employed the same process to ‘translate’ his Book of Mormon.” – Holden, Robert (2011). “Joseph Smith – Money Digger”

    Thank you for toeing the party line, as expected.

    I know all about the Bainbridge “trial.” It was actually an “examination,” i.e. a preliminary hearing. Joseph wasn’t “found guilty” because it was not a trial. If the court thought he had a case to answer, he would have been bound over for trial at the next general sessions; but he wasn’t, because he was acquitted.

    LinCA: “Wasn’t a loaded question. Smith was found guilty of fraud.”

    No. He wasn’t. See above.

    LinCA: “When it comes to religion, there are only conmen and marks.”

    Really?

    Robert Holden, whom you cite above, is an Evangelical Protestant. Evangelical Protestantism is a religion. His book is a religious tract. Does that make him a con-man or a mark?

    But apart from that, thank you for demonstrating, yet again, your pervasive and controlling bigotry.

    LinCA: “And willingness to die for religious convictions lends no credence to the religious claims.”

    It lends credence to the sincerity of the one making those claims. Con-men don’t sacrifice themselves for a con.

    Joseph has credibility that is beyond your grasp.

    Sorry.

  • Let’s, for argument’s sake say that you are right, and that Smith was not a convicted conman before he wrote the Book of Mormon. It makes very little difference.

    How gullible do you have to be to believe that he actually found gold plates that he translated with seer stones? A “translation” riddled with demonstrable falsehoods, including errors from his copy of the KJV, and then promptly losing the gold plates?

    Calling believers out on their gullibility isn’t bigotry. Your right to believe utter and complete nonsense does not include the right o have ridiculous beliefs shielded from scrutiny and ridicule. You are still free to believe that nonsense, just as you are free to believe in the Easter Bunny (which isn’t a whole lot more nonsensical). You’ll just have to do it without my help.

  • LinCA: “How gullible do you have to be to believe that he actually found gold plates that he translated with seer stones?”

    Knee-jerk bigots will of course assume that anyone who believes that is “gullible.” However, those who bother to inform themselves about the facts – such as bigots are invariably too lazy to do – find substantial reasons for belief.

    Apart from Joseph, over a dozen people saw and handled the plates themselves, and saw the other artifacts. Many of them fell out with Joseph and even left the Church in subsequent years; most of them outlived him, so he didn’t exactly have much of a hold over them, but they all – every one, without exception – maintained their testimonies to the end of their lives.

    So when cheap, unprincipled demagogues try to dismiss Joseph by “pelting his name with unsavoury epithets” as you do, they are quite consciously (and inconscionably) trying to load the dice.

    LinCA: ” A ‘translation’ riddled with demonstrable falsehoods, including errors from his copy of the KJV, and then promptly losing the gold plates?”

    Again, a more detailed examination of your propaganda claims shows that the situation isn’t as nicely cut and dried as you wish it was.

    LinCA: “Calling believers out on their gullibility isn’t bigotry.”

    Assuming “gullibility” for no better reason than that others believe things beyond your comprehension, however, is.

  • If you are capable of believing that here were gold plates, and that seer stones are real, I suspect you can be made to believe almost anything.

  • If you are capable of rejecting unanimous eyewitness testimony out of hand, merely because it is contrary to your assumptions, then I suspect your bigotry controls your opinions completely.

  • It’s not just contrary to my assumptions, it’s contrary to reality. Do you still believe in the Easter Bunny, too?

    In a con those who provide corroborating testimony are not witnesses, they’re co-conspirators.

  • LinCA: “It’s not just contrary to my assumptions, it’s contrary to reality. Do you still believe in the Easter Bunny, too?”

    No, I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny. I don’t think there was ever a time when I did. But non-bigots recognise a rather obvious category difference between the Easter Bunny and the founding events of the Restoration.

    LinCA: “In a con those who provide corroborating testimony are not witnesses, they’re co-conspirators.”

    It is pure, unadulterated bigotry, supported by no evidence, to assume that the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ was a “con.” As such, your opinion tells us nothing at all about the subject of your assumptions, and everything we need to know about the person doing the assuming.

    The witnesses (I call them that, because that is what they were) gained nothing but the violent opposition of people almost as spiteful as you are. After the death of Joseph Smith, they certainly stood to gain nothing at all by maintaining their testimonies; and yet they did. There is no evidence, at all, that they were “co-conspirators” in anything. Your conspiracy theory is delusional.

  • If you can believe the fairy tale nonsense of seer stones and vanishing gold plates, there is likely nothing I can say to get you to abandon your silly superstition. If you refuse to see the utter ridiculousness of the claims at the root of your religion, I fear you are beyond help.

    But you are a prime example of the gullible fools I spoke of in my original comment. Thank you for proving my point (beyond my wildest expectations, actually).

  • LinCA: “If you can believe the fairy tale nonsense of seer stones and vanishing gold plates, there is likely nothing I can say to get you to abandon your silly superstition.”

    If you want to avoid making a fool of yourself, you will need to make the effort to get at least the basic details right. The plates didn’t “vanish,” they were given back.

    LinCA: “If you refuse to see the utter ridiculousness of the claims at the root of your religion, I fear you are beyond help.”

    Everyone’s beliefs look ridiculous to those who don’t share them. It takes no talent at all to ridicule the beliefs of others, as your own performance abundantly demonstrates.

    LinCA: “But you are a prime example of the gullible fools I spoke of in my original comment. Thank you for proving my point (beyond my wildest expectations, actually).”

    Actually it is you who proved my point. You assume that I must be a “gullible fool” for no other reason than that I believe something you don’t. This despite the fact that I know considerably more than you do about the subject, am fully aware of the criticisms and counter-claims that are routinely brought against the truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ, and having critically examined them, am aware (unlike your good self) of the shortcomings of those criticisms. You have smugly embraced the stupid assumptions of reductionist materialism – but I’m the “gullible fool.”

    You have thus demonstrated – repeatedly and completely – that you are a knee-jerk bigot.

    Perhaps your naive belief in your own undemonstrated intellectual superiority makes you a “gullible fool.”

  • If you want to avoid making a fool of yourself, you will need to make the effort to get at least the basic details right. The plates didn’t “vanish,” they were given back.

    Right, because you can’t tell if it’s a fairy tale if you get the color of the dragon wrong.

    You assume that I must be a “gullible fool” for no other reason than that I believe something you don’t.

    No, you are a gullible fool because you believe abject nonsense. That I don’t believe the same is because I reject obvious silly superstitions.

    Do tell, how did you first come about your beliefs? Did you take inventory of all the religious beliefs available, evaluated them on their merits, and decided that the beliefs you hold now were the most likely? Or did you, like virtually every other believer in the world, get your beliefs from your parents?

    Did you ever give Hinduism a fair shake, or Islam, or Buddhism, or have you always only been interested in justifying your own beliefs? Have you ever seriously considered whether any of the thousands of other gods than the ones you believe in may have equal claim to existence? Have you ever seriously considered whether gods are even real, or have you let your confirmation bias lead you to reject reality in favor of your fairy tale?

    It’s not surprising that you know more details of the fairy tale you believe in, as you seem hell bent on proving to yourself that what you believe is not nonsense. Good luck with that.

  • LinCA: “No, you are a gullible fool because you believe abject nonsense. That I don’t believe the same is because I reject obvious silly superstitions.”

    Yes, as a knee-jerk bigot, you assume everyone else’s beliefs are “obvious silly superstitions.”

  • Yes, as a knee-jerk bigot, you assume everyone else’s beliefs are “obvious silly superstitions.”

    No, I don’t. I evaluate the arguments and evidence at he core of their beliefs. Some beliefs, including virtually every religious belief, fails to meet even the most basic standard of rationality.

    I noticed that you avoided addressing how you arrived at your beliefs. I can only assume that you did that because you didn’t arrive at them by way of rational evaluation, but the standard way of indoctrination.

  • LinCA: “No, I don’t. I evaluate the arguments and evidence at he core of their beliefs. Some beliefs, including virtually every religious belief, fails to meet even the most basic standard of rationality.”

    And yet that evaluation seems to proceed without much awareness of what is actually claimed. It seems to me that no evaluation can be usefully undertaken without first understanding the content of the “core of their beliefs.”

    Your mileage, of course, may vary.

    LinCA: “I noticed that you avoided addressing how you arrived at your beliefs. I can only assume that you did that because you didn’t arrive at them by way of rational evaluation, but the standard way of indoctrination.”

    You may “assume” whatever you please. You would be wrong, of course, but I don’t expect that to stop you. Matthew 7:6.

  • It seems to me that no evaluation can be usefully undertaken without first understanding the content of the “core of their beliefs.”

    At the core of virtually every religion is a belief in creatures for which there is no rational case to be mad, and a belief in magic.

    But of course, once you abandon rational thought in favor of magic, there are no limits on what other nonsense you may believe.

    You would be wrong, of course

    Really? Am I wrong? Are you saying you were an adult when you first started believing in gods? You were not brought up in a religious family? Your parents, or guardians, did not teach you about their gods, they did not take you to church or temple or synagogue or mosque? They did not enroll you in religiously affiliated schools, or anything like that?

    Are you asserting that you were an atheist until you were old enough and had the capacity for reason?

    You’d be one of the very, very few, but if you say so…

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