Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Democratic candidate for Utah's 4th Congressional District, speaks to supporters during an election night party on Nov. 6, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Alex Goodlett)

Mormon political control of Utah may be slipping, election shows

(RNS) — Three months ago, I identified Utah's medical marijuana ballot initiative as one to watch — not just because of the issue itself but as a test case in Mormon politics. It would be a test, I said, whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can still be a political force when it takes a decisive stand on a measure.

History was not on the side of Issue 2's proponents, who favored legalizing medical marijuana. On issues like the Equal Rights Amendment and more recently on same-sex marriage, LDS church members have largely fallen in line when the church made its concerns plain. In the case of the ERA, members switched their votes almost overnight in 1975 after the First Presidency spoke out against it.

So for the church to come out so strongly in instructing members to vote against Issue 2 could have spelled doom for its supporters.

But last night's election told a different story, one of changing demographics and a dwindling Mormon majority in the state. Although the final precincts are still being counted, the vote currently stands at 53 percent in favor and only 46 percent against.

Mormons are still a majority in Utah, at least for the moment. Pew and PRRI data put the Mormon population at either 55 percent (Pew, 2014) or 51 percent (PRRI, 2016) of the state's population. (That includes only those people who check "Mormon" or "Latter-day Saint" on a survey, not the higher number of Utahns who are listed in the membership rolls of the church but do not attend regularly or consider themselves active.)

If current patterns continue — which include more non-Mormons moving to Utah because of its blazing-hot economy and more Mormons becoming disaffected with the church — it will not be long before Mormonism enjoys a plurality, but not a majority, of the state's population.

And that will be a major change politically. Remember that back in Utah's territory days, Brigham Young was simultaneously the territorial governor and the president of the LDS Church. The church was the law.

Mormon political power has never been so concentrated as it was then, of course. The 20th century saw a careful movement away from theocracy and toward assimilation into the American mainstream. Still, the deep political power exercised by members of one denomination in Utah is unusual.

Last night that tradition showed signs of cracking, with the approval of the marijuana measure being only the most dramatic example. Two other things happened that may indicate change on the ground.

Let's start with Mitt Romney's U.S. Senate win. His landslide was huge; he received two votes, effectively, for every one cast for Democratic challenger Jenny Wilson. Anyone would be happy with such a mandate in today's polarized political climate. But the 62 percent of the vote Romney has as of now is a double-digit drop from his 73 percent win in Utah when he ran for president in 2012.

Again, no one is saying that Romney was ever in danger of losing a seat that has been held by fellow Mormon Republican Orrin Hatch for 40 years (!). But in Utah, for a popular Republican to win by a two-thirds majority instead of a three-quarters majority suggests a shifting electorate.

Second is Ben McAdams, the Democratic challenger to two-term congressional representative Mia Love. Despite Love's well-publicized campaign finance peccadilloes, I was very surprised a couple of weeks ago to see McAdams polling neck-and-neck with her. I am even more surprised today, as he is still holding a slim lead.

A McAdams win in Utah would be surprising. Though he, like Love, is a Mormon, he has expressed some views that conservative LDS leaders would likely find objectionable.

Love has tried to capitalize on this. In September she attacked McAdams as a supporter of same-sex marriage, which to traditional Mormon ears is akin to a religious heresy charge since the church has come out so strongly and consistently against that issue. (To Love's credit, the PR firm in charge of the attack was later fired, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.) 

With the House seat still in play until the final votes are counted, it's anyone's guess how this will turn out. But one pattern is emerging: Mormonism's control of Utah politics is slipping, bit by bit.

 


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(The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)

Correction: An earlier version of this post claimed that Brigham Young also had oversight over railroad and utility interests while he was serving as governor and president of the church. We are grateful to a reader who pointed out that the governorship and the business interests did not fully coincide.

Comments

  1. The decreasing percentage of Mormons no-doubt have an effect but it could be Mormons in general are changing and it’s the leadership that hasn’t caught up. For instance attitudes on LGBT issues seem to be much harsher from the older generation than younger. Additionally the leaders are all male. It’s not hard to believe LDS women would be less beholden to an institution that doesn’t respect their opinions and capabilities.

  2. I don’t know that this particular vote says all that much. On the marijuana initiative, another notable election in which Utah voted contrary to Church counsel was Utah’s approval of the 21st Amendment, repealing prohibition. I don’t think that 1933 vote indicated a significant decline of the Church’s political influence, but rather disagreement on a particular issue. I also don’t think the senate vote can lead to broad conclusions about waning support for conservatives among Utahns. Jenny Wilson only got 31% of the vote, while a number of third party candidates received votes. I think the real message is that an increasing number of Utahns are dissatisfied with both of the major parties.

  3. The implicit racism, which is still the norm for the LDS, doesn’t help in a place with increasingly mixed demographics.

  4. What are Mormons Jana?

    # Just because you use that title in your upcoming book, it doesn’t have much of a meaning to Latter Day Saints.

  5. With “Profit” Nelson raving nutty things from the pulpit, of course, the iron-grip of Mormonism on Utah is going to slip. Nelson is his own best lube on that slippage. If Mormons want to regain some “credibility,” Great-great grandpa Nelson needs to shut the heck up.

  6. Oh, I had no idea you were a brain surgeon Mr. Riding.

    What’s that you say- you’re not a brain surgeon but you have opinions.

    Well, President Nelson is a very successful brain surgeon and hmm, because of his qualifications he’s much more interesting to listen to than yourself.

  7. Thanks for the magic underwear effort to take me to the wood shed. You failed. Nelson was no doubt a better surgeon than he will ever be a preacher, let alone “profit” of gawd.

  8. I don’t want to take you anywhere. Crawl back to the septic tank you came from.

  9. Who are Latter Day Saints? The church based in Utah uses Latter-day Saints. Your poorly mastered hick Australian education comes through again.

  10. Mormons are running away from the church, not towards it.

  11. ha haha ha

    Oh ha ha, still upset about not knowing the difference between the IRA and the Real IRA huh. ha ha ha hah

    Don’t worry David, I’m sure your amazing intellectual capacity is appreciated somewhere- just not here.

  12. What’s funny is you going on about a modern day group (post 1997) when I was actually writing about the IRA (pre 1979) that existed during The Troubles and considered itself the successor organization to the original IRA that folded into the Irish Republic’s national army.

    But please, keep on with your verbal masturbation thinking that you are so clever.

  13. I am no fan of Mormonism, but I’m not so sure about the alleged racism of Mormons. There is no doubt at all that the LDS *church* has a very odious history of racism, certainly up to 1978, if not later; but my experience with Mormons is that most had very little racism in them–or, perhaps more accurately, if they were racists, they were more careful about expressing that racism than any other religious group.

    If you want to talk ab out racism among a religious group, a better starting place is members of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention

  14. If you read ex-Mormon sites such as exmormon.org, it becomes clear that there is a very deep reservoir of disaffection among folks who have ever been connected with the church.

    The Internet makes possible a phenomenon we might call “You too-ism??!!”: the idea that individuals who *appear* to everyone else to be loyal members of the church, really have deep doubts about the church, if not outright rejection, but believe they are alone, because no one else ever expresses doubt.

  15. I think there’s no doubt at all that the leadership has not “caught up”.

    For example, given the structure of the church, and Mormon culture, I think there is no doubt that these leaders do not hear dissent of any kind from colleagues, and they are probably carefully kept from seeing dissent in any form, e.g. in print. And even then, if they saw such dissent, I’m sure they’d reject it.

  16. “If you want to talk ab out racism among a religious group, a better starting place is members of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention”

    Very similar history there too of mixing racism and politics with their religion.

  17. And don’t forget, it took the Southern Baptist convention till *1995* to apologize and admit it had been wrong!

    The LDS church admitted, a few years ago, that racism had been introduced to the Morg church by Bring’Em Young (and others, such as Ezra Taft Benson). But you have to do a really long, hard look to find that info.

  18. Liberals should be embarrassed that Salt Lake City has eliminated homelessness, with the Mormons playing a leading role. There’s talk, legislation and effective action on issues/ Mormons are also under orders to speak no evil about other religions. That’s hardly a virtue practiced by Catholics and evangelical fundamentalists. I’m no fan of Mormonism but fair is fair.

  19. HAHAHAHA

    Let’s review the exact words your brain mustered together, shall we:
    My comment in reply to your demented argument:

    “THE IRA ARE ROMAN CATHOLICS!”

    Yes, some were.
    And the last murder committed by the IRA was back in the last decade, oh maybe 2013, maybe.

    Muslims killed 2 yesterday David. 78 people were killed last week in the name of Islam.

    # Maybe you should stick to attending Democrat functions David, and leave the facts to us adults?

    David Allen’s stupid Reply:

    I’m Mexican. I can’t be a Democrat.

    2013 wasnt the last decade, it was 5 years ago in this decade.

    Appears education in your part of downunder is pretty poor.

    Hahaha . Oh little David, you clearly weren’t “actually writing about the IRA (pre 1979) that existed during The Troubles” for you clearly cite 2013 and then with your magnificent brain power on show for all, you to attempt to belittle my education in favor of your own cesspool of delusions!

    HA HAHAHA HA OH oh oh, please keep trying David- dig that hole deeper please hahaha OH HA HAHA

  20. Idiotstick, my mention of 2013 was quoting you. You brought up 2013.

    Good bye, it’s a waste of time trying to speak with you as long as you suffer from that cranial rectal inversion.

  21. aAAHHH HAha ha ha
    You fell for the bait- tis your own ignorance that tripped you up.

    Trying to re-imagine what you clearly wrote won’t work for you clearly said ” 2013 wasnt the last decade, it was 5 years ago in this decade.” and then you went on to claim “Appears education in your part of downunder is pretty poor.”

    Look, I’ll spell it out for you because that ‘magnificent brain’ of yours clearly isn’t capable. I said “And the last murder committed by the IRA was back in the last decade, oh maybe 2013, maybe.” and you jumped on the date as a great intellectual victory but clearly, you failed to recognize that the IRA weren’t killing anyone in 2013 because YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT.

    David Allen the self-professed genius, tried to make an equivalence with Catholicism and Islam and David Allen FAILED because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You accepted 2013 as the last time the IRA killed someone when in fact, the IRA haven’t taken any lives in over a decade.

    Your stupid false equivalence crashed so badly David but, being as ‘clever’ as you are, you will probably keep on spewing that idiocy.

    You really are gormless David.

  22. Is your comment an example of what the church teaches about respecting others?

  23. I agree. I similarly doubt her claim that members of the church toed the line when it came to same-sex marriage, or at least that that marked any particular sign of the political power of the church. At the time, LDS conservatives were not at all unique in opposition to same-sex marriage. I am far from certain that members of the church would vote against same-sex marriage in the same way today if the church were asking them to do so. And that doesn’t mark a decline in the church’s political power so much as it reflects the dramatic shift in opinion we’ve seen in the country at large.

  24. Howard, you are a vile, intellectually rancid little man with no saving virtue to speak of.

    There, see that Howard- I am no respecter of persons, especially ignorant folk like yourself.

  25. The more you post, the more I suspect that you learned that kind of respect for others in some religious organization. (Which one, I cannot say, since that kind of respect for others seems to characterize devout believers in many churches.)

  26. Alexander, I wonder, have you ever heard phrases like “Love thy neighbor” and “turn the other cheek” and so on?

    Here’s a clue for you: the fastest, most efficient way to earn the disrespect of others–even other believers–is to do or say things that go against the most well-known teachings of a religion or belief system.

  27. yawn, ohhhh, did you say something?

    Here’s the usual howard kay nonsense:

    “2. Why is the church so concerned about gay marriage and related issues? Call me stupid, but this strikes me as a very simple matter: don’t try to impose your views on civil society, and if you don’t approve of gay marriage, DON’T DO IT.”

    Now Howard, you stated quite clearly “Call me stupid” so yeah I have along with a few more fitting descriptors.

    Gay marriage is sin, plain and simple. I oppose gay marriage everywhere I see it. I shall never cease opposing that for I don’t need the blessings of the zeitgeist.

  28. yes, bless my heart for reminding jana that the Lord’s prophet has instructed us not to use the name Mormon.

  29. The Polygamist Prophet, you mean (he is sealed to 2 women, right? So that Mormon’s a polygamist). There’s so much Mormon BS to unpack here; just read a Christopher Hitchens book, it’ll take less time.
    PS, Mormon creator Joseph Smith heavily plagiarized in ‘writing’ the BOMormon, & he married a 14 year old girl plus other men’s wives (at a time when neither of those things were commonly done nor necessary), so his apocalyptic sex cult (The Mormons, as they’re colloquially called) was doomed to fail by its own Mormon lies; today’s Mormons are more accurately Brighamites, as they follow Young’s teachings & not Smith’s. CESLetter.org
    Peace Out

  30. Meh, I don’t care if Joseph Smith married a 14 year old girl because mohammed married a 9 year old but, you don’t protest that for some strange reason.

    Is that because Latter Day Saints are easy targets compared to muslims who will just kill you in retaliation?

    # Oh, and once again, what are Mormons exactly coz that’s not a term The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes?

  31. That’s YOUR belief. If you want to be opposed to it, and to speak out against it, fine, I have no problems with that.

    But your beliefs are not the beliefs of many others. Why are you so concerned if 2 gay people want to get married? No one is forcing you to do anything you don’t want to do; why are you trying to impose your beliefs on others?

    And of course, it is glaringly obvious that you have still not addressed my questions above. Not that I think you can, without a major change in your pride and views of others…

  32. Sorry howard, gay marriage is a sin. I don’t care about your gay marriage beliefs for they intrude on my own.

    Once again, I am no respecter of persons.

  33. So now you’ve avoided a direct answer to my questions THREE times.

    There are several very interesting things about that avoidance; one especially important one is that it shows that you are very well aware of how your point of view is indefensible.

    Your avoidance says many other things about you and your POV, but there’s no point in listing them; a list would obviously go right past you.

  34. Awww, howard asked a question and I didn’t bother answering him.

    poor little lad- take an aspirin and go have a lie down.

  35. One of the most basic, obvious and important aspect of human interaction is that people who CAN provide good responses, will almost always do so; those who can NOT provide good responses, will almost always avoid an on-point response.

    It’s interesting, and sad, that you really don’t understand how much your responses say about your character, the depth and strength of your understanding of ideas like liberty, thoughtful discussion, and so on.

  36. What you don’t like me having a go at you personally but you think you it’s okay for you to repeatedly have a go at my personal beliefs huh?

    Like I’ve said all along, I am no respecter of persons and for someone like you who is no respecter of personal beliefs, you should think of my attitude and approach to you as karma.

  37. What on earth are you talking about?

    Actually, I am always pleased when someone writes insults about me, as you tried to do. Insulting a person shows that the insulter does not have good, on-point, specific objections to comments the insultee has made. And of course, your attempted insults are silly stuff–the adult version of childhood playground name-calling.

    I will say again: I have no problems with anyone believing any particular behavior is “sin”. But any thinking person realizes how silly, and potentially dangerous, it is for a member of any religion to try to foist his opinions on others, or believing they should be the basis for a law.

    Doing that shows that the insulter is stunningly ignorant of many things–the content of other religions, for example, or how a democracy works.

    Please keep posting and insulting me, however; it shows us quite a bit about you, and about how certain believers understand the religion they profess to love.

    And does your bishop know the kind of stuff you post here?

  38. Calling it “implicit” is simply an excuse for the lack of evidence for the accusation.

    So a black woman is in danger of losing her house seat to a white man because “Mormon political control” is slipping. How does that support your narrative?

  39. If you thought that pun made you a wit, you were half right.

  40. And if you read Nazi sites, it becomes clear that there are people who hate Jews.

  41. So you are “sure” of your assumptions, which reflect and bolster your own prejudices.

    And the irony of that is probably completely lost on you.

  42. “Actually, I am always pleased when someone writes insults about me, as you tried to do”

    Okay then, no problems you stupid little man.
    .

  43. Does you bishop know how you talk to others?

    And do you always truncate quotes, so as to change their meaning?

  44. My best *guess*–notice that I acknowledge that it is a guess (though I think an informed one)–is that in authoritarian hierarchical organizations, it is extremely difficult to try to inform an individual superior to you of facts that the individual does not acknowledge, and will not like to acknowledge.

    If I had access to the relevant databases I have no doubt I could find research supporting this view. Though I’m sure you’d find a way to reject that info, as you’re obviously devoted to defending the church, no matter what.

    It is also an undeniable FACT that the LDS church strongly discourages dissent; and also undeniable that the hierarchy is secretive and averse to transparency.

  45. What on earth do you think one point has to do with the other?

    The LDS “church” does not like to acknowledge that there are folks who are nominally members, but who in fact reject church teachings.

    Now try addressing the point I made in the second para. (I can give you a reference to research on that point in a book by a behavioral scientist of some renown, tho I’m sure your deep faith will cause you to reject that.)

  46. There are no publicly-available data about that, though I’m sure you are correct.

    The LDS “church” is set up so that if you are in a heavily-Mormon area, e.g. Utah, there is considerable risk in making it known that you no longer regard yourself as a Mormon. I know several “serious” Mormons who acknowledge, for example, that folks who’ve done that, have lost their families and jobs. (It’s enough of a problem that the LDS “church” some years ago issued a statement saying that it was wrong for families to reject apostate Mormons.)

  47. Point of order: the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ is a church – no scare quotes needed – is a non-controversial, since incontrovertible, fact. It gives non-bigots no pain to acknowledge that.

    The Church of Jesus Christ is well aware of the fact that there are merely nominal “Mormons,” and always have been.

    Whatever the internet does or does not do, I don’t know anyone who is afraid to express doubt. Though I’m sure your deep hostility will cause you to reject that.

  48. Your guess appears to be “informed” by nothing more than your own prejudice.

    HK: “It is also an undeniable FACT that the LDS church strongly discourages dissent; and also undeniable that the hierarchy is secretive and averse to transparency.”

    It’s not undeniable. I deny it.

    Negatives, of course, are hard to prove, but that’s not the same thing.

    However, the likelihood that Church leaders are “carefully kept from seeing dissent in any form, e.g. in print” is vanishingly small. I know for a fact that they are well aware of various forms of “dissent,” although they are usually too busy doing real work to give it much attention.

  49. OK, point taken re use of quotes. You are right.

    How do you know that the church is aware that there are “nominal” Mormons? Through the ex-FBI agents the church employs? Has the church ever issued any kind of statement regarding that?

    Re expressing doubt, several Mormons who I believe to be sincere, have told me that people ARE afraid to express doubt, because of fear of losing families. And one of them told me that the church issued a statement saying that that was wrong. Perhaps I will see if I can find that statement.

    Also re expressing doubt, I have heard or read that part of (? every?) (? some?) Sunday services is that people get up and speak their “testimonies” of the church–“I know the church is true” -kind of stuff. That’s very clever social engineering, designed to make doubters uneasy about their doubts.

    As to my “hatred” of the church…I will have to ponder that. For sure I think the church is dishonest, and dangerous to the rights of non-Mormons. (And I am aware of and I acknowledge some of the good things the church has done, such as saying a few years ago that same-sex partners of county employees should receive the same benefits as opposite-sex partners.)

    I am aware as well of (a) the background of Joseph Smith–con artist, sex addict; (b) the racist statements and background of folks like Bring’Em Young and ET Benson; (c) some of the ridiculous things that Mormon missionaries say, such as (especially notably) “Well, the wine was not as strong then”–re the ban on alcohol vs “Take some wine for thy stomach’s sake” (Paul).

  50. I’d try to find statements in which the church criticizes public dissent, or has disciplined folks who do that, but I doubt if seeing such statements in print would have any effect on you.

    However, there have been situations in which the church HAS disciplined those who spoke out. I’ve never heard of any other mainstream church disciplining folks who speak out.

    I agree, by the way, the the church DOES do “good work”. At least, that is my impression, from what I’ve read and heard. But my very strong suspicion is that at least some of that is done for the purpose of spying on, and/or exerting some control, over members.

  51. HK: “I’d try to find statements in which the church criticizes public dissent, or has disciplined folks who do that, but I doubt if seeing such statements in print would have any effect on you.”

    I know perfectly well that those who loudly and publicly reject the truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ are thereby placing themselves outside the community of shared belief which ultimately represents what a church actually is. From time to time, some of the more obnoxious of these professional apostates are shown the door, so that they can continue their activities without being able to pretend that theirs is in any way a “Mormon perspective.”

    HK: “But my very strong suspicion is that at least some of that is done for the purpose of spying on, and/or exerting some control, over members.”

    Yes, and if you ask any good Nazi, you’ll be assured that Jews only do good things for nefarious purposes, too.

    Bigotry is always vile.

  52. HK: “How do you know that the church is aware that there are ‘nominal’ Mormons? Through the ex-FBI agents the church employs? Has the church ever issued any kind of statement regarding that?”

    No, there is no “spying,” despite the paranoid conspiracy theories you espouse. The institutional Church knows how many members there are in total. It also knows the average Sacrament meeting attendance. The math is not difficult to do.

    HK: “Also re expressing doubt, I have heard or read that part of (? every?) (? some?) Sunday services is that people get up and speak their ‘testimonies’ of the church–‘I know the church is true’ -kind of stuff.”

    Yes, this top secret practice that few know about except through smuggled videos takes place usually on the first Sunday of every month.

    Participation in it is entirely voluntary.

    HK: “That’s very clever social engineering, designed to make doubters uneasy about their doubts.”

    No. It is not.

    HK: “I am aware as well of (a) the background of Joseph Smith–con artist, sex addict;”

    There is no evidence that he was either of those things, although I’m aware that the most maliciously hostile haters routinely fling those filthy epithets at him.

    Joseph Smith was a better man than you are; and even if all your nasty accusations were true (which they are not) he would still be a better man than you are.

  53. And just how do you know that the truth claims of the LDS church are more valid than the claims of, say, the Catholic church? Or Hinduism?

  54. Meh, write some more crap and I’ll insult you some more.

  55. Does Hinduism have truth claims?

    The question of whose truth claims are the most valid is irrelevant to my point, which simply is that in a community of shared belief, anyone who loudly and proudly rejects that belief is ipso facto not sharing it, and has therefore placed themselves outside the community.

    This is not an invention of your imaginary “authoritarian hierarchical organizations;” it’s just the way things are. Words have meanings. Someone who denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh cannot meaningfully describe herself as a Christian. Someone who believes in a free market economy doesn’t belong in the Communist party. And someone who’s swallowed the propaganda about the Book of Mormon being a “fraud” needs to be somewhere other than in a church that holds that volume as sacred, revealed Scripture.

  56. Your comments about me and my views of the LDS church got me thinking. I thank you for that.

    Do I hate the church? CErtainly not. I have no reason to.

    Am I doubtful of the church? For sure. Gold plates? A “translated” “Book of Abraham” that turns out to be ordinary Egyptian funerary documents? A church that refuses to acknowledge the racism of past president ET Benson? How can any serious person not laugh at that?

    (Oh, and a church that refuses to answer reasonable questions in print, yet is willing to send a missionary to my door to answer?–so that the missionary’s answer can later be disavowed?)

    Mormon voters who vote for a serial adulterer, despite church teachings about marriage and faithfulness? Mormon voters who are taught respect for truth, yet vote for a man incapable of telling the truth? Mormon voters who revere a Jesus who taught respect for immigrants, yet vote for a man who despises them, lies about them, slanders them? Mormon voters taught to respect the country and its traditions, yet vote for a man who has contempt for the Constitution, due process, democracy itself?

    I’ve said repeatedly here that I have respect for individual Mormons, but now that I’ve been thinking about voting, perhaps I should rethink that.

  57. ALL religions have truth claims. They are the teachings of that religion.

    It is tautological that those who reject beliefs are not part of that community. But it;s also true that the truth claims of any community are not automatically true simply because the community says “is too”.

    You seem to be saying that the statements and criticisms of apostates should automatically be disregarded.

  58. Kiwi57> HK: “That’s very clever social engineering, designed to make doubters uneasy about their doubts.”

    Kiwi57> No. It is not.

    And how do you know it’s not? Do you even know what social engineering is? What scientific literature have you read that tells you it’s not clever social engineering? I;’m 100% sure you are unaware of what behavioral scientists have discovered about this kind of situation, where you have people speaking out about how they believe, and the effect of that on doubters in their presence.

    As far as Smith being a con artist and sex addict, I know that Mormons are discouraged from reading books about Mormonism written by non-Mormons, but there are a whole bunch of books by non-Mormon scholars that have established beyond question that Smith was both of those.

  59. The election results are very interesting, 153 gay, bisexual, or trans individuals were elected, including the new Gov of Colorado and Sen. Sinema in AZ. There has been a very significant uptick in acceptance of LGBT folks. Learning that someone close to you is LGBT is a very powerful force in changing minds on this issue–and I’m sure that plenty of Mormons know an individual who is LGBT.

  60. HK: “It is tautological that those who reject beliefs are not part of that community.”

    So why is that an issue?

    “But it;s also true that the truth claims of any community are not automatically true simply because the community says ‘is too’.”

    Good thing nobody’s saying that, then.

    HK: “You seem to be saying that the statements and criticisms of apostates should automatically be disregarded.”

    No, I’m saying that apostates are no longer members of the faith community whose beliefs they reject.

    That is all that I’m saying. You don’t have to read anything else into it. If I want to say something other than that, I’m entirely capable of doing so on my own.

    I will add that those who have rejected the beliefs of the community ought not to be allowed to market their ideas as if they were simply “another perspective” of that community, when in fact they are not.

  61. Ah. The old scatter-gun approach.

    HK: “Gold plates?”

    Yes.

    HK: “A ‘translated’ ‘Book of Abraham’ that turns out to be ordinary Egyptian funerary documents?”

    You don’t even know how often Fast and Testimony meeting is held, but you presume to pose as an expert on Mormon things?

    The relationship between the recovered Joseph Smith papyri and the Book of Abraham has not been established.

    HK: “A church that refuses to acknowledge the racism of past president ET Benson?”

    What “racism” was that? Are you referring to the fact that he thought that elements of the Civil Rights movement had been penetrated by, and were being manipulated by, the Soviet intelligence organs?

    That’s a discussion to be had, but merely calling it “racism” is mere race-baiting; of all polemical ploys, one of the most dishonest.

    HK: “How can any serious person not laugh at that?”

    By not being a bigot.

    On the subject of voting:

    A number of my friends from Utah expressed disgust when Trump became the candidate. One resigned from the Republican party, on the grounds that Trump is not a principled Conservative. Trump won Utah by the narrowest margin any Republican ever has. He has constantly moaned about the problem he has in Utah. He jeered at Mia Love and taunted her that she’d lost because she didn’t support him.

    Most of the Utah Mormons I’ve spoken to held their noses and voted for Trump because they thought Hillary would be worse, and not because they were enthused about him.

    But hey – whatever you do, don’t look at the nuances of the situation. Bigots can’t afford to do that.

  62. 1. You may (or may not) be aware that regarding racism and the 1978 “revelation”, the church some years ago stated specifically that the racism appeared to have begun with Bring’Em Young. It’s interesting that the church has avoided any mention of Benson in that regard. I’ve read a whole bunch of material he wrote that indicates he was a very active racist.

    And in any case, tho you regard me as totally uninformed about the LDS church, my understanding of LDS teaching is that racism has always been regarded as a sin. (Talk is cheap, of course; from what I can see, the church has always been more enthusiastic about disciplining folks who dissent, or drink, or etc., than in disciplining racism.)

    It may well be true that communists supported (or I suppose more accurately, pretended to support) civil rights activities. Does that mean that in any movement supporting or opposing some idea, if folks with unsavory or unacceptable views are involved, mainstream folks should not participate? How do you propose to keep out folks who have some other unsavory or unacceptable ideas?

    2. The gold plates business (as well as the seer-stone-in-a-hat business) is just hilarious. How could any thinking person not laugh at such nonsense? Especially given Smith’s well-known history as a con artist? (Discussed in several books by scholars, which of course the church discourages members from reading.)

    It was very clever of him to make that stuff up, because once you believe all that, there’s just about no limit to the ridiculous claims a follower will believe.

    And that’s probably why so many voting Mormons voted for Pres. Pants-on-Fire: their religious beliefs have seriously eroded their abilities to think clearly.

    I bet even lots of Mormons secretly think this is absurd.

    How could any thinking person have voted for Pants-on-Fire, with all the lies, racism, sleaziness, hypocrisy, etc., he represented, when Mrs. Clinton was far closer in every respect to church teachings?

    My best guess re Jos Smith is that he grew bored with “ordinary”, 1’s-and-2s cons, and thought to himself, “what’s the best con I can do?” And his answer was “I know: I’ll start a religion!”

    And thank you for calling me dishonest and bigoted. You and others here are doing an excellent job of getting me to re-think my views that almost all ordinary Mormons are fine, polite folks who honor the teachings of Jesus about loving your neighbor, not being judgemental, and so on.

  63. HK: “As far as Smith being a con artist and sex addict, I know that Mormons are discouraged from reading books about Mormonism written by non-Mormons, but there are a whole bunch of books by non-Mormon scholars that have established beyond question that Smith was both of those.”

    And yet despite all that discouragement, which has never actually come my way, I have managed to read rather a lot of the hate propaganda you so enthusiastically espouse. Ed Decker, John Ankerberg and John Weldon are not scholars, although I agree that they are not Mormon. And their arguments don’t “establish beyond question” any such thing.

    I know that anti-Mormons refuse to read books about Mormonism written by Mormons, especially those that refute the false accusations they love so much; but the claims upon which you uncritically rely have been refuted.

    Sorry.

  64. HK: “1. You may (or may not) be aware that regarding racism and the 1978 ‘revelation’,”

    More spiteful and gratuitous scare quotes.

    HK: “I’ve read a whole bunch of material he wrote that indicates he was a very active racist.”

    I think what actually happened is this:

    You’ve read a whole bunch of material others wrote, cherry-picking and manipulating his material in order to create the impression that he was a very active racist.

    I seriously doubt that you’ve read anything by him, unfiltered by others.

    HK: “Bring’Em Young”

    What are you, eleven years old?

    HK: “The gold plates business (as well as the seer-stone-in-a-hat business) is just hilarious. How could any thinking person not laugh at such nonsense?”

    As I said: by not being a bigot. I’m not aware of any actual “thinking person” who does laugh at it. Derisive jeering is a knee-jerk reaction that requires no thought at all.

    HK: “Especially given Smith’s well-known history as a con artist? (Discussed in several books by scholars, which of course the church discourages members from reading.)”

    I regret that you have no good-faith basis to believe the assertion following that “of course.” I know all about the 1826 “trial.” Joseph wasn’t charged with fraud, and he was acquitted. His “history as a con artist” is “well known” among those whose prejudices determine that they must believe the worst about him – and no-one else.

    The fact is that Joseph demonstrated his integrity and sincerity far more convincingly (and consistently) than you have or ever could.

    HK: “And that’s probably why so many voting Mormons voted for Pres. Pants-on-Fire: their religious beliefs have seriously eroded their abilities to think clearly.”

    Yes, bigots invariably ascribe negative characteristics to the entire population groups against which they are prejudiced. Look at the above sentence again. If you were to replace the word “Mormons” with “Blacks,” it would simply be racist. Even you would be able to see that.

    Well, it just so happens that anti-Mormonism is no better than racism. And anti-Mormons like your good self are morally indistinguishable from racists. So when you get all self-righteous and judgmental about long-dead Mormons because they were “racist,” you are merely advertising your own overweening hypocrisy.

    How do you explain the millions of non-Mormons who voted for Mr Tangerine Man? It wasn’t the Mormon vote that got him over the line.

    As for your bigotry: you demonstrate it with every line you write. If you don’t like being called on it, stop displaying it.

    You are entitled to hold me to exactly the same standards you yourself are prepared to follow, and no others.

  65. What “nutty things” did you have in mind? Your own bigoted rantings do not exactly make him look bad by comparison.

  66. Kiwi57> …Joseph demonstrated his integrity and sincerity far
    more convincingly (and consistently) than you have or ever could.

    RIIIIGHT–by marrying 14 year-old girls. By marrying women and sending their husbands off on missions.

    Kiwi57> …..anti-Mormonism is no better than racism.

    Riiiight–if you’re opposed to any particular ideology, that makes you a bigot.

    I guess you missed all the positive things I’ve said about the Mormons I;ve met.

    I’ve made it ABUNDANTLY clear that I actually LIKE most of the individual Mormons I’ve met, but I find the church teachings and history preposterous. As do lots and lots of people.

    Oh, and I have lots of non-Mormon friends who live in SLC who find the LDS church, and Jos Smith, the source of good laughs. Of course, almost all of them are non-believers anyway, so that’s to be expected of heathen.

    As to the large number of folks who voted for Pants-on-Fire–lots of them evangelicals–they have been subject to LOTS of criticism, and in fact, quite a few prominent evangelicals have criticized them for that. .

    You just keep saying “is not, is not”. In fact, the church has either acknowledged some of the things I’ve said, or has made a point of avoiding them. For expl, I’ve read lots of the stuff posted by Benson’s grandson, and a few of his orginal writings, and there simply is no doubt that he was a racist.

    Also, and very significant, a few times I’ve written to the church to ask very elementary questions. The church response is ALWAYS “we’ll send a missionary to you to explain.” I’ve always declined, and that’s the end of it.

    Why do you suppose the church won’t answer very basic questions in writing? Maybe because when the church changes doctrine in a few years, the answers in print will make the church look foolish?

  67. Riiight–anything that clashes with Mormon teachings, or says “they’re false”, is propaganda.

    Do you understand how silly that statement is? How much it reveals about you, and about brainwashing?

    As far as Ankerberg et al, the only name I know is Ankerberg, and I have a vague recollection that they are evangelicals or fundamentalists or something; I learned long ago that criticisms by evangelicals or fundamentalists of the LDS church are ridiculous, too, outright prejudice, the kind of stuff posted by people who don;’t think very much.

    Please note that I try to be specific in my statements–at least, as specific as possible for a person who has not devoted his life to studying the LDS church.

    Oh, and on the subject of “truth claims”…shall we discuss the church’s claims that the 12 tribes of Israel migrated to Central or South America (or was it Mexico?) even though geneticists and other scientists have been unable to find any evidence supporting this claim? And didn’t the church years ago excommunicate some fellow, perhaps a scientist, who made a similar claim?

  68. Years ago, in a pre-1978 publication called “Encyclopedia of Mormonism” (something like that), edited or written by McConkie, I read the entry he’d written titled “Negroes”. He wrote something like “Negroes are denied the priesthood because of a lack of valiency in the pre-existence”–that may not be exact, but it’s very close.

    That work was revised after the 1978 “revelation”, and that entire entry was dropped. McConkie, or maybe someone else high in the LDS hierarchy, later said something like “forget all that”–not even an admission that that material was wrong (and in fact, downright stupid).

    I’m always open to updating my views of any religion, group, etc. Just recently, for example, a casual discussion with an professor at an evangelical college convinced me that my decades-old view that they were almost all lying, racist hypocrites was wrong–only some were.

    So although you probably will not believe me, in fact I’m open to changing my view of LDS theology and teachings, if I learn *credible* information that shows I am wrong.

    But everything I know about the LDS church tells me I’m not wrong; and that in fact, the leaders of the LDS church are aware of at least some of the problems with LDS teaching–racism being a very prominent example– and are trying desperately to get past those problems.

    The major problem, however, is that most of the damaging info about the LDS church is in print, and is well-known.

  69. It’s amazing how you can be so self-righteously confident in your opinions when you don’t even know the really elementary stuff. You don’t even know the title of the source you’re abusing. (And yes, you are abusing it.) The item you reference wasn’t found in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia_of_Mormonism published in 1992. It was in a book named Mormon Doctrine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_Doctrine_(book) published in 1958 and 1961.

    The links in the above paragraph are to Wikipedia. I wouldn’t want you to sully your pure eyes by looking at an actual Mormon source for anything. Mind you, you probably won’t like these links much, since they rather reduce the polemical usefulness of your cherry-picked misquotes.

    HK: “But everything I know about the LDS church tells me I’m not wrong;”

    Which makes sense, since you know practically nothing, and show no interest in learning anything. That would require you to consult – and take seriously – Mormon sources, and we can’t have that, can we?

    HK: “The major problem, however, is that most of the damaging info about the LDS church is in print, and is well-known.”

    Have you ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? Your remarks would make a good case study in it.

  70. Oh, I have. But you reject those books, since they are uncomplimentary to the LDS church.

    I see that you still are unable to address the points I make. Or is it unwillingness?

  71. 1. I knew McConkie held some kind of high office in the church, and that
    led me to assume–obviously, FALSELY–that he’d received approval for
    the book. Obviously, I had no idea that the book had so many errors and
    had such disapproval among other church leaders, so I am very happy to
    see your correction, and henceforth I will be much more cautious and
    restrained about citing this work. I need to do some more more thinking about this, but it’s very possible that I won’t cite it at all from now on.

    2. I;’m glad to see you citing the Dunning-Kruger effect. I know exactly what it means, and I disagree that I’m a good case study. I admit my ignorance. I thought my first comment above made it clear that I was operating on memories from quite a few years ago, and certainly not on certainty.

    3. I don’t understand your comment regarding my alleged “self righteousness”. I’m not in any way comparing myself to anyone or anything, or trying to say anything about myself. I’m trying to deal with FACTS about the LDS church. Like anyone else, I can occasionally be mistaken; when that happens, I try to acknowledge that.

  72. Howard, as I’ve come to learn, the concept of irony is completely lost on apologists.

  73. Howard, there you go again with that irony.

    Don’t you understand? You are a poopey-head. Now, since I just won the argument, go away. (Picture the little dog inside the fence trotting away proudly having chased that pesky mailman away from the mailbox.)

  74. You might want to check out the latest exchange between me and Kiwi57.

    Instead of engaging in childish (and probably distinctly un-Mormon) namecalling, he posted some info that showed me that some info I’d posted was incorrect.

    My best guess is that if you had the ability, you’d have done what he did. People who engage in silly name-calling usually lack deeper skills.

  75. Here’s the thing, Howard: if you’re going to marginalise and demonise all believing Latter-day Saints as brainwashed “cultists” on the basis of some half-remembered distortion of something you read once, you don’t really get to ask us to excuse you in case your memory is faulty.

    Incidentally, there’s no such thing as “brainwashing;” ergo, believing Latter-day Saints are not “brainwashed.” The intensive indoctrination of your fevered imagination turns out to be nothing more than a fairly tame scripture study class of less than one hour a week, and Sunday worship services. You keep talking about how much you “know” when in fact you know vanishingly little, and fill in the enormous gaps in your knowledge from your own suppositions. This is an example of what the late, great Hugh W. Nibley called “the gas law of learning,” which posits that “any amount of information, however small, will expand to fill any intellectual vacuum, however great.

    Yes, your comments do provide an interesting case study in the Dunning-Kruger effect. You know so very little about the subject that you don’t even know enough to realise that there is anything more to be known. Someone who has actually started to learn something gets a sense of the size of the knowledge domain, but you clearly don’t have that.

  76. Including apologists for hate ideologies, such as anti-Mormonism?

  77. Maybe. But at least I can be called out. You guys are scorched earth. You wouldn’t admit the sun rises in the east if the assertion came from a “anti-mormon”. I think it was you who chided me for a rant in another post. As I recall, I admitted to the rant.

    See, I can be more open because I go where the facts and logic lead me. I can change my opinion based on new, relevant, and trustworthy evidence. If I have taken a position that further evidence casts doubt on, I can go with it without embarrassment. But you guys are basically goats staked to the jungle floor. No space to get away beyond the chain around your neck. Only in this analogy, there’s no help coming from a hunter’s rifle. You get eaten.

  78. If you will go back and check and read CAREFULLY –in this and any other Religionnews page re Mormons–you will see that the ONLY thing I have ever said about ANY Mormons is that I’ve ALWAYS found them to be gentle, polite folks who I would be very happy to have as neighbors–happier to have them as neighbours than members of many other religions. I have NEVER demonized or marginalized Mormons, nor have I ever attempted to do so.

    If you disagree, then quote where I have said something about individual Mormons that you think is offensive.

    That said, it is true that I am deeply suspicious of Mormon doctrine and practices, many of which I frankly regard as manipulative, at best. And as I am sure you know, I am hardly alone in that. I guess my friends who have a similarly dour view of the church are all hate-filled and misinformed at best. (And I pay no attention to the idiotic ravings of evangelical types.)

    (Ponder this: isn’t it convenient that the gold plates disappeared? If some supernatural power gave them to Joseph, then what fantastic proof it would be for them to have remained in his possession. This kind of non-empirical, non-verifiable–and non-falsifiable!–claim characterizes so much of religious belief in all religions. That’s no accident.)

    As far as Mr. Nibley is concerned, I am pretty sure that I read, many years ago, that someone checked some of the footnotes in his writings, and many of them simply did not check out. Perhaps you will be able to find something that shows I am wrong on this.

    Here is one page I found containing relevant criticism of his work

    http://www.lds-mormon.com/nibley1.shtml.

    I assume that the source is acceptable to you. If anything, this material is restrained, since the author would be at risk for stronger criticism of Nibley.

    I found similar pages, but since we’d argue about the credibility of those sites, I’m not posting that info.

    We will simply have to disagree about how much I know about the LDS church. As a loyal member, you obviously wish to present it in the best light; I guess the church is perfect, since I have seen criticism only from ex-Mormons, current Mormons never acknowledge any difficulties with church practices or doctrine.

    One way that I know that most of my observations are correct is that a friend who is lawyer and a late-life convert to the church (your familiarity with D-K effect suggests you will also be aware of the loyalty converts to any religious organization have to it) has admitted or verified my claims, in one way or another.

  79. Is it true, or is it false, that Boyd Packer said that some things are “not worth studying” if they will damage or destroy faith? (“The mantle is far, far greater than the intellect”) I wonder if you’re an example of this.

    True or false, several former Mormon bishops have left the church and criticised it? Are they too misinformed, or demonizing and marginalizing Mormons?

    Oh, and here’s a link to another interesting view of the Mormon church. I guess you can dismiss this guy too, since he [sarcasm–on] only [sarcasm–off] had 27 years experience in the church educational system.

    http://www.mormonthink.com/lying.htm

    And since we’re citing some principles of cognitive science, aren’t you a good example of confirmation bias. and disconfirmation bias?

  80. Saying nice things about “individual Mormons” while heaping abuse and maledictions upon the Church of Jesus Christ is a bog-standard rhetorical trope. Large numbers of anti-Mormons, whether sectarian or secular, use it. It’s a variation on the theme of “I can’t be racist because I have [fill in the blank] friends.”

    But if you can’t see any demonisation in the really, really nasty remarks about “brainwashed” Mormons voting for Trump because their brains are too scrambled to think about what he’s really like, then I doubt you’d recognise demonisation if I baked it into a brick and hit you on the head with it.

    HK: “That said, it is true that I am deeply suspicious of Mormon doctrine, many of which I frankly regard as manipulative, at best.”

    Pure anti-Mormon hate propaganda. It’s exactly parallel to the kind of anti-Semitic hate propaganda in which “Zionist” leaders are portrayed as a sinister cabal, plotting and scheming to “manipulate” world events from behind the scenes.

    HK: “Ponder this: isn’t it convenient that the gold plates disappeared?”

    Because, of course, as a “brainwashed” Mormon, it couldn’t possibly have occurred to me to consider that question before you put it to me, right?

    Could you be any more patronising if you tried?

    Of course I have considered that question, and others like it. I have concluded that the blessing of Jesus upon “they that have not seen, and yet have believed” applies here.

    HK: “As far as Mr. Nibley is concerned, I am pretty sure that I read, many years ago, that someone checked some of the footnotes in his writings”

    None of which has any relevance at all to his “gas law of learning,” which is actually a frequently-observed truism. But we’ll look at this one, just for fun.

    HK: “If anything, this material is retrained, [restrained?] since the author would be at risk for stronger criticism of Nibley.

    See, you keep uncritically regurgitating this kind of really appalling hate propaganda – and then you bleat about the unfairness of it all when I call it for what it is. There is no “Mormon Gestapo” that puts people “at risk” for such things. We aren’t constantly looking over our shoulders in case some undercover agents from Church HQ are checking up on us. This is a “Twilight Zone” notion that simply bears no resemblance to the experience of any actual members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Now or ever.

    The Church doesn’t work that way. It never has. Everyone who claims that it does is a conscious – and conscienceless – liar.

    And besides all that, I am well aware of this site, and its owner. He goes under many pseudonyms, but he is no kind of “Mormon.” Indeed, “lds-mormon.com” is one of the most deceitfully misnamed URL’s to be found anywhere. If a Republican PAC were to set up a website called “democrat-party.com” and fill it with anti-Democrat political propaganda, do you think you might see a problem with that? I daresay you would.

    I don’t expect you to see that the same problem applies here. But it does.

    As to the substance of what is said: Nibley’s footnotes have sustained some criticism over the years. He sometimes drew conclusions from them that others felt they didn’t support. Like everyone everywhere, some of his work wasn’t as good as other things he produced.

    Woop-de-do.

    But the most virulent criticisms against him don’t hold up. For example, some have claimed that he made up most of his footnotes. That accusation is a brazen lie. It is believed in some quarters, only because those quarters are exclusively inhabited by bigots – yes, bigots – who are both determined and delighted to believe the worst possible accusations against the Church of Jesus Christ, and those who have the temerity to defend it.

    And thinking people – to whose opinions you frequently appeal, but whose number you have yet to join – might wonder why, if his scholarship was really as sloppy as the [heh heh] “restrained” version you linked says that it is, it would be necessary to make such demonstrably false accusations.

  81. The gist of your ideas here and elsewhere is, “criticism of any religion is illegitimate, and criticism of the religion I love is especially illegitimate. Even asking tough questions about religion is illegitimate.”

    I’ve also challenged you several times about whether the Mormon church, and the men who lead it, are perfect. You’ve ignored those questions. That reveals a LOT about your views of the LDS church. Of course, it’s impossible for anyone to state definitively the reason(s) for that silence.

    However, there are a few different ways to interpret that silence. Usually, believers in some idea who *can* defend that idea, will defend it; if they feel they cannot, for whatever reason, they remain silent.

    And here on religionnews.com, on pages about some aspect of Mormonism, you can read posts from active Mormons, and Mormons who’ve recently separated with the church over some issue, that illustrate some of the criticisms I’ve made of Mormonism.

    So I’m not going to participate in this discussion any longer. It’s a waste of my time. Since you think the church is perfect, I’m sure you will never acknowledge any negative aspect of the church I point out. But outsiders know them very well.

  82. It must not be that great a place to be when 2/3rds of all members are inactive purposefully.

  83. If you have made even the slightest effort to understand “the gist” of my comments, then it was not very successful.

    I have never claimed, or implied, or even thought, that the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ are “perfect” or “infallible.” I do hold, however, that they are good, decent people who (of course) believe – and live – what they teach. I flatly reject the vile (and utterly unsupported) hate propaganda that accuses them of being cynical manipulators.

    You’ve suggested that adult converts are unusually loyal. You ignore the concomitant fact that adult apostates frequently act like divorcees, unable to admit of any good in their former spouse (or church) or any meaningful contribution of their own to the failed relationship.

    So now you want to declare victory and run away. Bye.

  84. Adult converts to any religion are *notorious* for being especially loyal. You may well be correct about apostates. An interesting idea.

    That said…you’ve ignored almost every factual, content-based criticism I’ve made of the church or its dogma and practices. And THAT has been the focus of my criticisms, rather than individuals.

    Since our last exchange, I’ve thought about my sources of information about the LDS church. It includes books written by apostates, and, even more significant, material I’ve read on sites aimed at, or frequented by, apostates. And I’ve read quite a bit from individuals who were formerly bishops or held other offices in the church, such as that fellow who was In CES, or associated with it.

    Reading essentially similar criticisms from so many different people says to me that those criticisms are accurate.

    And it is simply undeniable that the LDS church is not only a highly authoritarian organization, but manages to exert control over members far more effectively than other authoritarian churches. And my best guess is that exerting control over the lives of members is in fact one of the key ideas or operating principles of the LDS church.

    I do have to thank you for the info you gave me about McConkie.

  85. Yes, the “herd of independent thinkers” all repeat each other in identical terms. What a surprise!

    Your default position is that you’ll assume that any spiteful garbage is true, just so long as it’s consistent with your prejudices, and only adjust that assumption in the specific cases where it is shown to be faulty. And then you congratulate yourself on your “liberal” open-mindedness. Fancy that!

    If you’ve made any “factual, content-based criticism” of “the church or its dogma and practices,” then I must have missed it among the mindless regurgitation of bog-standard anti-Mormon talking points.

    You wrote: “And it is simply undeniable that the LDS church is not only a highly authoritarian organization, but manages to exert control over members far more effectively than other authoritarian churches.”

    It’s not “simply undeniable.” I deny it. At least, if you are using the word “authoritarian” as I presume you to be.

    The Church does not “exert control over members.” That is an outright lie. Joseph Smith once said: “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” That is the way the Church works. That is the way it has always worked.

    And nobody has ever, anywhere, at any time, ever had to worry about being “at risk” of any repercussions or other consequences for criticising the scholarship of any BYU professor. Whoever told you that is a barefaced liar.

    Just so you know.

  86. Sorry, I’ve seen, read, and heard far too much negative information about the church to believe you.

    As to academics fired for what they published, how about Michael Quinn?

    And I previously showed you that infamous quote from Boyd Packer “the mantle is far greater than the intellect”, and of course, no response from you.

    Any individual who knows anything about human behavior understands that most members of any religion defend everything (or almost everything) about that religion. In the case of the LDS church, not only have I heard and read LOTS AND LOTS of material and stories about people losing their families and jobs as a result of apostasy, but the LDS church itself was sufficiently concerned that it issued a statement saying that that was wrong. (Whether sincerely or not, who knows.)

    You certainly appear to be a highly “loyal” Mormon; as such, I would not expect you to acknowledge ANY serious misbehavior or things most of us would consider “negative” about the church you love. But your denial does not make that reality.

    You even have denied, if I am recalling correctly, Joseph Smith’s background: serious scholars, e.g. Fawn Brodie, have reported that he was frequently arrested as a con artist, was a probable sex addict and pedophile (do you deny he married a 14 y.o. girl, and sent men on missions and married their wives? YES OR NO.), and so on.

    And since we are on this topic, please take the time to explain what you believe the “Strengthening the Members” committee does. Are there any other mainstream religions that have such groups or practices?

    Fortunately for members, the Internet shows them that if they have doubts, they are not alone.

  87. I just thought of another wonderful example of Mormon nuttiness.

    The church believes that the U. S. Constitution was “divinely inspired”.

    Uhh….are you aware that the US Constitution approves of slavery? And does not grant women the right to vote?

    C;mon, Kiwi, show me I’m wrong, like you did with McConkie. I told you I was happy to have my misinformation corrected, and I’ll be very happy to have other misinformation of mine corrected. If I’m so misinformed, showing me that I’m wrong ought to be an easy matter, wouldn’t you say?

    For that matter, show me that I’m wrong about the Book of Abraham being entirely made-up by Joseph Smith, and that the documents that are the basis of that book are in reality Egyptian funerary documents.

    Once you start with non-empirical (indeed, anti-empiricaL) beliefs, like god/soul/afterlife/etc, there’s simply no telling what nuttiness can ensue. If you think there’s a god, there’s simply no limit to the powers, desires, rewards, etc you can attribute to that god. We see this in all major religions.

  88. HK: “Sorry, I’ve seen, read, and heard far too much negative information about the church to believe you.”

    And, of course, you’ve uncritically swallowed it all, because it agrees with your prejudices.

    Anti-Semite: “Sorry, I’ve seen, read, and heard far too much negative information about Jews to believe you.”
    Klukker: “Sorry, I’ve seen, read, and heard far too much negative information about Blacks to believe you.”

    You’re no different.

    HK: “So if you believe I am wrong about things like academics being fired, show me. Start with academics fired for what they published, such as Michael Quinn.”

    Quinn lost his job because he lost his membership in the Church. That didn’t happen because he criticised any BYU professors. The Church does not give reasons for Church discipline, which are always confidential, but it was an open secret that he was a sexually active homosexual at the time; and it is not a secret that such behaviour is directly contrary to the Church’s well-known and unambiguous moral standards.

    HK: “It is no accident that over the years BYU has had some difficulties with accreditation. Do you deny this?”

    Yes. I do.

    There was an organisation that argued that BYU should lose its accreditation over the lack of something that organisation was pleased to call “academic freedom.” The hypocrisy of this is that professors at BYU were far more free to dissent from the kind of academic orthodoxy supported by the AAUP than were those at the colleges that group preferred. But the AAUP’s attack went nowhere.

    You see, HK, I know about all these matters that you drop out there as sound bites. There is a lot more to them than you suppose.

    Non-tenured teachers at the various BYU campuses are employed on a semester-by-semester basis. If I publicly opposed my employer’s mission and values I’d lose my job, too. And so I should.

    HK: “Show me how this material is incorrect–if you can.”

    What a cheap trick. You’ve thrown a long list of names at me and demanded that I show you “how this material is incorrect.” What do you seriously expect me to do? Run down every one of them?

    Marco Rubio’s family left the Church when he was a kid. He has no atrocity stories to tell. There, will that do?

    HK: “Show me how I am wrong in my understanding of Boyd Packer’s infamous comments on ‘mantle & intellect’.”

    Firstly: like most of the Lord’s anointed servants, Elder Packer was a better person than all of his critics put together.

    With that out of the way, the observation that “not everything that is true is useful” is a simple truism, and a basic principle of education. Good teaching is not simply an information dump, it has structure and purpose. Elder Packer was telling teachers that they need to remember the purpose of their teaching. Those who try to pretend that he was saying anything else are consciously distorting what was said.

    I’ve read the whole talk. You only know the sound bite.

  89. Thank you for that textbook example of anti-Mormon nuttiness.

    The actual teaching (not that you care) is that the framers of the US Constitution were inspired to do what they did, not that the document itself is “God-breathed” or anything like it. When commenting on this topic, Church leaders have mentioned that one of the inspired features of the US Constitution is the provision for amendment that it contains, which allowed, of course, for the 13 and 19 Amendments and others.

    Our actual teachings have nuances that are beyond the grasp of those who deal in line-drawn caricatures.

  90. Re Fawn M. Brodie: I read her No Man Knows My History in my mid teens. (If anyone tells you that isn’t possible because I “wasn’t allowed” or something, they are lying to you.) And even then, I could spot some of the myriad of errors that swarm its pages. Since that time, I’ve learned a lot more; and the more I learn, the less impressive her book becomes. Her Joseph, the likeable rogue who wrote the Book of Mormon as a joke on his parents, to “carry out the fun,” is hugely entertaining – and never existed.

    Sorry.

    On a related topic: Grant Palmer, who you alluded to (but not by name) among your great cloud of former Mormon “informants” was not an “insider” to anything relevant to his book. He was circulating his theory – that the Book of Mormon was based upon a fairy tale, “The Golden Pot,” by a German writer, E. T. A. Hoffmann – back in the 1980’s. What he neglects to tell you – and which you are far too uncritically accepting to bother finding out – was that his interest in Hoffmann’s story was based upon the fact that one of the principal characters in it is described as a “salamander.” Now it happens that, around that time, a letter attributed to W. W. Phelps had a “white salamander” in it, in connection with the Golden Plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. So we’ve got a golden pot and golden plates, and two salamanders; for someone looking really hard to find an alternative origin story for the Book of Mormon – as Mister Palmer most certainly was – the parallels were wonderfully exciting.

    Alas, the so-called “Salamander Letter” was subsequently shown to have been a forgery, got up by another Hofmann, first name Mark. (His name appears on the list of ex-Mormons you so triumphantly flourished in my face as if it proves something or other.) Mister Palmer spent the next few years working over his anti-Mormon hit piece (while remaining on the Church’s payroll) but he never quite managed to make up for the lack of a real connection between the two works. So there is a large salamander-shaped hole running right through the middle of his theory.

  91. You are determined to defend Mormonism at all costs, no matter what, no matter how valid a criticism might be. The implicit idea underlying most of your arguments has been “Any criticism of Mormonism by anyone, for any reason, is wrong, and based on racism or ignorance or worse, because Mormonism and the men in the top leadership are perfect and are chosen and guided by god”. (To your credit, you have not attempted to defend the racism–available in print– of ET Benson or J Reuben Clark (anti-Semitism) or McConkie or Brigham Young or other church leaders.)

    This is nothing more than followers parroting what the leaders say (or what the followers think the leaders want them to say, or to believe).

    Anyone with even an 8th grade education understands that there is an enormous difference between racism,and criticizing the ideas of an ideology, and the practices of the people who enforce that ideology.

    With a few exceptions, the gist of your arguments has been “you’re wrong, and in fact any criticism of the church is wrong, so there.”

    Let’s look at a few things you’ve said.

    >>…: like most of the Lord’s anointed servants, Elder Packer was a better person than all of his critics put together.

    “annointed servants”? How on earth do you know? Has god issued some sort of proclamation that everyone can know, about who is an annointed servant? Or is the “annointing” known only to the top men in the church? Aren’t “anointed servants” yet another aspect of the opacity that characterizes so much of the church?

    I wonder how, exactly, you know that Packer et al are such fine folks. Do you know Packer personally? Of how many of “the lord’s annointed servants” do you have any reliable information? Or aren’t you in fact just parroting what the church says? And how much do you know about Packer’s critics? How can you know they are all not as good as Packer?

    I cannot imagine that you “know” what fine fellows they are, from any source other than what the church says about them.

    Hmm…I’ve archived our conversations, and next time I run into some Mormon missionary in SLC, I’m gonna ask that individual if some of your statements are examples of respectful Mormon behavior.

    Kiwi>>HK: “Show me how this material is incorrect–if you can.”

    Kiwi>> What a cheap trick. You’ve thrown a long list of names at me and demanded that I show you “how this material is incorrect.” What do you seriously expect me to do? Run down every one of them?

    My criticisms are not at all new; they’ve been around for many years.

    Yet, interestingly, with the exception of the material about the racism of that fine fellow Brigham Young, the church has made no effort to refute any of these criticisms. Despite all the free (“voluntary”) labor available to the church, it has posted negative material ONLY about Young.

    Gee, why do you think that’s so? My guess is that it’s because the church understands that the criticisms are accurate, and if the church puts anything in print attempting to refute those criticisms, that material will later come back to haunt it.

    HK: “Show me how I am wrong in my understanding of Boyd Packer’s infamous comments on ‘mantle & intellect’.”

    Kiwi>>. . … the observation that “not everything that is true is useful” is a simple truism, and a basic principle of education

    But we’re not talking about “basic” education, but rather, what Mormons (or members of any religion or group) know about their own history.

    Packer was speaking of knowledge of the history of the LDS church by members, and I think he’s absolutely correct that for Mormons that knowledge is an excellent way of undermining faith. I’ve read statements from many apostates saying exactly that.

    Umm.,..let me see…wasn’t there a famous person in history who said something like “the truth shall set you free”? And similar ideas? Those don’t look to me like “not everything that is true is useful.”

    >>Marco Rubio’s family left the Church when he was a kid. He has no atrocity stories to tell. There, will that do?

    This statement is totally worthless. Worse than worthless, actually, tho very indicative of a certain kind of reasoning aimed at protecting the church.

    How is the silence of ONE MAN–at that, a politician who is afraid to utter a word of criticism of the Orange-haird liar, lest he lose his job–supposed to be indicative of anything?

    And can you explain why the silence of ONE man is more impressive than the criticisms of so many who’ve concluded that so much of Mormon ideology is nonsense and have left the church? Why should their criticisms be ignored?

  92. Kiwi>>The Church does not “exert control over members.” That is an outright lie. Joseph Smith once said: “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” That is the way the Church works. That is the way it has always worked.

    Oh. You mean, the church lets anyone in to any religious service, regardless of whether they’ve paid their tithes? Lets anyone marry in the tabernacle (I forget proper word at this moment) regardless of tithe status? Doesn’t threaten excommunication or other disfellowshipping matters if members disobey what the bishop tells them to do? Doesn’t hold :”courts of love” (HAHAHA! Can you say “1984”, boys and girls?) to push members back into line?

    Either Jos Smith was an incredible, bald-faced liar, or those “annointed servants” you’ve spoken of, are seriously misinterpreting his words and wishes.

  93. So the framers were inspired to write a document that approved of slavery–without being brave or honest enough to mention it outright!–and that didn’t give women the right to vote? That’s how Mormons saw the “inspiration” of the men who wrote the Constitution?

    And inspired by who? A god who approved of slavery and racism? (Well, yes, the OT and NT clearly DO approve of slavery. Is there anywhere in original Mormon writings where slavery is condemned, in straightforward, unambiguous language?)

    First of all, the headline on an lds.org page about the Constitutuion ( https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/constitution?lang=eng ) says this about the Constitution:

    In the Doctrine and Covenants, “the Constitution” refers to the Constitution of the United States of America, which was divinely inspired in order to prepare the way for the Restoration of the gospel.

    And on that page, note the third sentence, linking to D+C 101:77, 80. At that page, somehow I don’t see the word “amendments”. And I don’t see anything about the “restoration of the gospel” there. Perhaps my anti-Mormon, racist browser is somehow playing tricks on me?

    Apologetic posts, such as the one by Dallin Oaks–

    https://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/02/the-divinely-inspired-constitution?lang=eng

    –just won’t wash. They’re just spin, attempting to address serious problems that D+C overlooks. These are nothing more than shallow, transparent attempts to get around the original, inconvenient, undeniable lack of more specificity in D + C. Oaks’ attempt to distract loyal Mormons from the plain truth is so unsubtle, it’s just sad.

  94. And I just remembered, let us not forget the very enthusiastic way that the head of the LDS church in Nazi Germany (Zander?) embraced Hitler, kicked out some Mornon converts from Judaism; and that business with the young fellow (? Heubner, something like that?) who was (if I’m recalling correctly) initially excommunicated, was then murdered by the Nazis, and later was restored, in some way, to church membership.

    (? Zander?) eventually made his way to SLC, where he lived quietly until his death–and was not at all dishonored in any way by the LDS church for his actions in kissing the ass of the German leader (hmm…..)

  95. Unlike you, I’ve Read Brodie for myself. I don’t need Wikipedia to do my thinking for me.

    HK: “I will be out of touch for 2 or 3 days.”

    So, nothing different then.

  96. HK: “Oh. You mean, the church lets anyone in to any religious service, regardless of whether they’ve paid their tithes? Lets anyone marry in the tabernacle (I forget proper word at this moment) regardless of tithe status?”

    Access to the Temple is based upon good standing in the Church. This includes, but is (contrary to the lies certain people like to tell each other) not limited to tithing status. Tithing status is only one, and not the most important, aspect of membership standing. In fact, people can go to the Temple having paid no tithing at all.

    HK: “Doesn’t threaten excommunication or other disfellowshipping matters if members disobey what the bishop tells them to do?”

    No.

    HK: “Doesn’t hold :’courts of love’ (HAHAHA!”

    Your braying jackassery merely demonstrates that you know nothing at all about the process you are mocking. The correct term is “Church disciplinary councils.” Previously they were known as “Church courts.” They’ve never been called “courts of love,” although they have been described as such. Based upon my experience, that description is a fair one. When haters use that as a term of mockery, they are merely showing their spite.

    HK: “Can you say ‘1984’, boys and girls?)”

    You can say any cliche or slogan you like. Thoughtful people try to think about things instead.

    HK: “to push members back into line?”

    It depends upon what you mean by “back into line.” Based upon my experience, the most common reason for Church Disciplinary Councils is cruelty to spouse and children.

    What a strange little binary world you live in.

    Yes, the leaders of the Church teach correct principles and we govern ourselves. And yes, there is orderly administration of Church discipline.

    These two principles are complementary, not contradictory. Thoughtful people, of whom you are not one, can understand this.

    Oh, and Joseph was rather more reliable than you are. Sorry.

  97. You are braying about things you know nothing about, as usual.

    Zander wasn’t “the head of the LDS church in Nazi Germany,” he was just a Branch President – i.e. the unpaid leader of a small local congregation – in Hamburg. The excommunication was not done according to proper Church procedures and it was reversed almost as soon as contact with Church headquarters was re-established.

    Now you can heap abuse on him if you like; you have never been, and will never be, in any position remotely as awful as he was in in 1942. If the Nazis had gotten the idea that Latter-day Saints were generally disloyal, the SS would have started rounding them up. Your Wikipedia source doesn’t mention the fact that Huebener and his friends used the Gestetner machine in the Branch meetinghouse to make copies of their anti-Nazi pamphlets. The Gestapo knew this. Zander was acting to deflect government hostility away from the Church.

    That’s not to say that what he did was right; it was not. Even given what was going on, he was altogether too enamoured of Nazi ideology. But your very safe and comfortable life doesn’t put you in a position to judge him.

    He had his flaws, but they were no worse than yours. He was an anti-Semite; you’re an anti-Mormon. There’s no real moral daylight between the two forms of bigotry.

    Church discipline is always a confidential matter. You don’t know whether he was subjected to Church discipline or not.

  98. HK: “Is there anywhere in original Mormon writings where slavery is condemned, in straightforward, unambiguous language?”

    Why yes, there is; and you linked to it.

    Doctrine and Covenants 101:
    79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

    It’s always a good idea to read the items to which you link.

    HK: “Apologetic posts, such as the one by Dallin Oaks”

    Pardon me for interrupting your transparent attempt at poisoning the well, but President Oaks has well-established credentials as a legal and constitutional scholar. Perhaps you’d like to show your credentials on that score?

    (That’s apart from the fact that he’s a better person than you are. That’s just a given.)

    Thank you for the link to the article, though. Here is something that everyone can agree on; everyone who isn’t determined to find fault at all costs, that is:

    “In other words, one should not expect perfection—one certainly should not expect all of his personal preferences—in a document that must represent a consensus. One should not sulk over a representative body’s failure to attain perfection. Americans are well advised to support the best that can be obtained in the circumstances that prevail. That is sound advice not only for the drafting of a constitution but also for the adoption and administration of laws under it.”

    HK: “Oaks’ attempt to distract loyal Mormons from the plain truth is so unsubtle, it’s just sad.”

    I regret that you have no good faith basis to believe what you assert.

    It also shows – yet again – that you are remarkably ignorant of the subjects upon which you are so triumphantly pontificating. Latter-day Saints do not believe in “plenary inspiration;” that is a Protestant idea. For us, there is absolutely no problem with the concept of an inspired document being incomplete, or even containing outright errors.

    Inspiration, you see, operates on the mind, not on the hand. It suggests ideas; it doesn’t hold the pen.

    You are beating up a straw man.

  99. I’m back, and of course behind in everything, including responses to your latest postings.

    In the meantime, here is a very simple question for you:

    your position seems to be (aod of course my apologies if I am misrepresenting it) that criticism of the LDS church is misguided, incorrect, racist, etc.

    It sure looks to me like there;’s a lot of criticism–more than criticism of other religions or denominations.

    Why do you think the LDS church has generated so much criticism from others?

  100. It would be nice to see your citations or references for the above info; contemporaneous cites would be especially interesting (on non-DNA matters, of course).

  101. Contemporaneous cites are hard to come by (for fairly obvious reasons.) If you are genuinely interested in finding out more, Saints p. 444 discusses this.

  102. I don’t understand. You cited some information; you had to have learned that information from some source. Are you saying you don’t now recall the source?

    I will check out the source you cited. Please give me the full name of the book.

  103. Your response is not entirely clear to me.

    I imagine there might be several reasons a church member might be barred from (I will say) “full participation”. But let’;s focus on tithing.

    Suppose I am a member of the church, and I decline to pay my tithe–not giving a reason to the bishop, and not out of financial difficulties, I just decline. Can I attend ALL church functions? If that is the case, then what is the purpose of a Temple Recommend? Am I mistaken in believing that to get into certain functions, you must show a temple recommend?

  104. It depends what you mean by “Church functions.” Let’s run down a list.

    Are Temple Recommends examined, or is tithing status checked when someone tries to attend:

    – Sacrament Meeting (the weekly worship service?) No.
    – Sunday School? No.
    – Priesthood meeting? No.
    – Relief Society? No.
    – Young Women or Young Men? No.
    – Primary? No.

    So that takes care of Sunday worship. Well then, how about:

    – A ward potluck? No.
    – Christmas party? No.
    – Stake ball? No.
    – Church basketball? No.

    (An important corollary of the last item is that Temple Recommend interviews don’t ask the applicant about his/her participation in Church Basketball. Given the, um, uneven level of sportsmanship on display, an affirmative answer might have to be disqualifying.)

    Well then, let’s look at another important aspect of Church life. Are Temple Recommends examined, or is tithing status checked when someone tries to participate in a service project? No.

    What about when they ask for help? Do we only bring cookies, weed gardens, repair roofs, build wheelchair ramps, make casseroles, chop firewood or paint fences (among the many other kinds of hands-on service we frequently provide) for people after we’ve seen their Temple Recommends or checked their tithing status?

    No.

    A Temple Recommend is required to enter the Temple, which is not where we have our regular worship services or socialise with each other. The Temple is a place where we make very important covenants to put God first in our lives. There is no point making such promises if we don’t intend to keep them.

    And while it is perfectly true that I would have to declare myself a full tithe payer to get a Temple Recommend, there are plenty of people – including stay-at-home mothers, invalids, and retired people living on their own resources – who have no income and consequently have no tithes to pay, and they never have trouble getting Temple Recommends.

    On the subject of stay-at-home mothers, the Church has always encouraged mothers of young children to stay at home during the early years. You might view that as rather old-fashioned – many people do – but my point is that it is yet another real-world example that runs against the grain of the propaganda you trust so implicitly. Teaching able-bodied, employable women (many of whom have better qualifications than their husbands) to stay at home and raise their children seems like a rather counter-productive way to maximise tithing receipts, doesn’t it?

  105. Ok, so there *are* some functions for which a TR is required (e.g., I believe as well if you want to have a temple marriage–? and maybe if you want to attend a temple marriage?)

    So that agrees with the point I made earlier, re one way in which the church exerts control over members: the control is exerted via TRs, and thus possessing a TR is a way in which the church exerts control over some of the behavior of members.

    Another method I’ve heard people mention is other members of your ward telling the bishop something they saw you do that’s regarded as “incorrect” by the church, e.g. someone saw you at a suspicious venue (I recall someone telling me they;’d been called in because a neighbor saw them coming out of a motel after work), being seen buying liquor, etc.

  106. I am really interested in checking this out for myself. Please don’t forget to give me the citation.

  107. HK: “So that agrees with the point I made earlier, re one way in which the church exerts control over members: the control is exerted via TRs, and thus possessing a TR is a way in which the church exerts control over some of the behavior of members.”

    So you completely ignore everything I said except what you think supports your view. This is remarkable, given that it was you who introduced the phrase “confirmation bias” into the discussion.

    HK: “Another method I’ve heard people mention is other members of your ward telling the bishop something they saw you do that’s regarded as ‘incorrect’ by the church, e.g. someone saw you at a suspicious venue (I recall someone telling me they;’d been called in because a neighbor saw them coming out of a motel after work), being seen buying liquor, etc.”

    Ah. Gossip.

    How – rigorous, or something.

  108. What on earth are you talking about? I ignored the points you made that did not address the point I made. Where do you see me saying the LDS church control EVERY aspect of a person’s life?

    You could have added as well that the LDS church does not “control” what a person eats, how s/he walks, sleeps, etc. Those are true, but irrelevant.

    My point, plainly, is that the LDS church *does* exert some control over members, and in fact, uses its influence to control what members regard as some of the most significant aspects of their religion and behavior, such as marriage in the temple, admission to certain major events that take place in the temple, and so on.

    As to “gossip” – what I wrote above is what I have been told and read by members and (mostly) ex-members. You would have me ignore that because you don’t like that claim–which I regard as fact.

  109. When I looked up that verse, it didn’t tell me why there is so much more criticism (e.g. books, internet sites) of the LDS church than, say, the Presbyterian church or the Lutheran church.

    Did I miss something? Maybe my bible was somehow printed by some liberal company? Translated by a liberal?

    There’s a lot of criticism around today of the CATHOLIC church (priest/sex scandal), but no one (or anyway, only a handful of people) dispute the truth of that criticism.

  110. HK: “My point, plainly, is that the LDS church *does* exert some control over members, and in fact, uses its influence to control what members regard as some of the most significant aspects of their religion and behavior, such as marriage in the temple, admission to certain major events that take place in the temple, and so on.”

    Oh, is that all you were alleging? That a Church exercises control over the religious ceremonies it conducts with its adherents? Shock! Horror! Who ever heard of such a thing?

    HK: “As to ‘gossip’ – what I wrote above is what I have been told and read by members and (mostly) ex-members. You would have me ignore that because you don’t like that claim–which I regard as fact.”

    Oh, you can give that gossip all the credence your prejudice demands; as you do. I, however, cannot possibly be expected to respond to anonymous gossip about other anonymous gossip. Not by any reasonable person, anyway.

    I’m sure that in any large group of people, there will be some who do bad things. Indeed, it takes no talent at all to find such people; and even less talent – and absolutely no scruples – are required to blame the group for the bad deeds of a few outliers. But if you want a proper fact, here’s one for you: I have never heard from the pulpit, neither have I read in any Church-published curriculum materials, nor has it been suggested to me by any Church leaders, in any place I’ve ever lived, in the entirety of my life, that I should be snitching on people. I’ve never done it, and I’ve never experienced it.

    You may disregard that fact as being incompatible with what you prefer to believe. But a fact it remains.

    HK: “After the war, he left Germany, lived in SLC for many years, and was on the LDS payroll for 19 years!!!!!”

    Ah. Another sound bite, carefully dressed up in exclamation marks.

    What is “the LDS payroll,” exactly?

    He was a school soccer coach. What “LDS payroll” was he on?

  111. Kiwi>>Oh, is that all you were alleging? That a Church exercises control over
    the religious ceremonies it conducts with its adherents? Shock! Horror!
    Who ever heard of such a thing?

    To get married in a Prot or Catholic church, presumably you are a Catholic or Prot, and possibly a member of that church. And perhaps something similar applies to a funeral. And I think that’s reasonable.

    HOWEVER, I’ve never heard of any church that required anything of attendees, or that limited participation in any other way.

    If you know different, please tell me what other requirements any church imposes on any other ceremony, or attendee.

    And of course, please tell me what church requires you to disclose highly personal information such as your tax return.

    Did you notice that you ignored my statement about what kind of proof you’d accept of any “bad stuff” in the LDS church? Gee, I wonder why you ignored that…maybe because there’s no criticism of the church you’d accept from an apostate?

    Kiwi>>I’m sure that in any large group of people, there will be some who do bad things.

    Well, well, now we’re getting someplace. That’s the first time you’ve admitted that possibility.

    As far as snitching on people, perhaps YOU have no experience of any kind in that regard, but I’ve read LOTS AND LOTS of “testimonies” about that–too many for this to be made-up. Interesting that you dismiss so many “testimonies”.

    As far as one-time Nazi Herr Zander, I find it extremely interesting that there is no indication that the church saw fit to discipline him for all the stuff he did–the way he excomm’d Huebner, his ass-kissing of nazis…of course, a good deal of that relates to the church’;s love of authority…and given the Jew-hatred that was expressed by J. Reuben Clark, who knows what other reasons there might have been…

    Finally, please don’t forget to give me the citations or name(s) of books regarding the history of Joseph Smith, so I can read for myself the claims you cited. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to convince me on this as well.

  112. HK: “And of course, please tell me what church requires you to disclose highly personal information such as your tax return.”

    None.

    Not even any.

    Including (needless to say) the Church of Jesus Christ.

    And anyone who has ever told you otherwise has lied to you.

    But you wouldn’t notice that, because you’re much too eager to believe such lies.

  113. I believe that bec. I’ve heard it many times.

    Please tell me where or how I can confirm that it’s not true. After all, here I have only your word for it./ If I see some reasonable documentation that my understanding is incorrect, I will be happy to admit that, and even happier to be corrected.

    Here is something I found on this subj:

    Tithing is not a free-will offering; it is a debt, payment of which brings great blessings.

    Do you dispute this?

  114. I’m going to be in Salt Lake City soon, for an extended stay. I’ll print out all the posts from both of us, and find a Mormon missionary and sit down with him and go over all these questions I’ve asked. Should be interesting to hear what the answers are–if they are answered at all.

    Maybe I’ll even go to church headquarters and see if I can find someone there who’ll answer .

    My first question, of course, will be “how does the bishop determine the amount of a member’s tithe?”

    Maybe things are different in NZ.

  115. This must be a remarkably amusing game for you: throw out a series of anonymous, unsupported accusations, and then watch me jump through hoops trying to document my rebuttals.

    Well, it happens that an unsupported accusation deserves no more response than an unsupported denial. So sorry: no. I’ve had enough of this game. And I have told you the truth. If you’d rather cling to your prejudices than take my word for it, then you can live with the lies you love so much.

    The Bishop doesn’t determine what my tithing obligation is. I do. Once a year, he shows me a total of all tithes and offerings I’ve paid and asks me two questions: 1) Is this correct, and 2) is it a full tithe?

    And he records my answers.

    That’s how it works.

    If you want to be the spokesperson for a gang of anonymous false accusers, knock yourself out.

  116. Sorry, I’ve heard an entirely different story about tithing–though of course that’s from apostates, and we all know how incapable they are at telling the truth about the Mormon church.

    Throughout our exchange, you’ve been very selective about the questions of mine that you’ve answered–even though answering almost any of them would require no more than 2 or 3 sentences. .

    I keep asking simple questions, matters of fact, and you’ve ignored most of them. Understandably, since a direct answer would reveal a lot of bad stuff about the Mormon church.

    So I don’t blame you for bugging out. It’s what I would do if I were in your shoes.

    But you’ve inspired me to keep looking at the church and its teachings and practices. One idea that occurred to me this morning: I wonder what the church or church officials have said or published about the Strengthening Church Members Committee.

    Here’s one interesting link I’ve found. I wonder how many religions or denominations engage in the practice of monitoring members.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strengthening_Church_Members_Committee

    So I’ll pursue my questions, and look for documentation that even a lover of the church such as you might accept.

  117. HK: “I checked with a few sources, and some say that their bishop wanted to see tax returns–even if they were kids working part-time jobs.”

    As long as your “sources” remain anonymous and filtered via your obsessive anti-Mormonism, you cannot possibly expect me to take them seriously.

    No bishop has ever asked me that. I’ve lived in numerous wards and branches in two countries and have been paying tithing for the better part of half a century. Some of my bishops were Americans. If this was a “thing,” I would expect to have come across it by now.

    I previously mentioned that, of course, in any large group of people, there will be some who do the wrong thing. You responded with a victory dance.

    However, the bishops of the Church are a much smaller group. They have handbooks to follow, as well as receiving personal training for how they are supposed to do things. If even one had done what you claim to have been told by some anonymous (heh heh) “sources,” it would have been a remarkably egregious outlier.

    I conclude that it didn’t happen.

    And since I’ve never come across even one apostate who was willing – even hiding behind the anonymity of the internet – to say that such a thing had happened to them, I am inclined to rather strongly suspect that nobody told you that, either.

    HK: “I keep asking simple questions, matters of fact, and you’ve ignored most of them. Understandably, since a direct answer would reveal a lot of bad stuff about the Mormon church.”

    Of course. That was the intent of your scatter-gun “questions,” wasn’t it? To simply inundate me with the sheer volume of quick talking points that require detailed answers.

    I have a life; and much as it amuses you to imagine that I am at your beck and call, I’m really not.

    Sorry.

    Your mind-reading, like most of your demonstrated mental processes, is defective.

    I have ignored bog-standard anti-Mormon talking points.

    The notion that answering them would tend to show the Church of Jesus Christ in a bad light is pure wishful thinking on your part.

    You should definitely keep it up.

    HK: “Here’s one interesting link I’ve found. I wonder how many religions or denominations engage in the practice of monitoring members.”

    The Strengthening Church Members Committee is essentially a clipping service. It isn’t “monitoring members.” It monitors what is being said about the Church, in accordance with Doctrine and Covenants 123:1-5.

  118. 1. What are we arguing about regarding tithing and bishops? You’ve admitted that it’s a *possibility*, because people can make mistakes, but it’s a situation that you personally have never experienced. Just because you have never experienced it does not mean it can not happen. Right?

    2. Re the Strengthening the Members committee, are you aware of any other religion or denom that operates a similar service?

    3. Can you hazard a guess as to why the LDS church has not attempted to correct misunderstandings of its doctrines and practices by posting accurate info on its website?

  119. 1. We are arguing about it because it’s a lie. Here’s a parallel case: It’s theoretically possible that, among all the millions of Jews in the world, someone somewhere murdered and ate a child at Passover. But in fact, no-one did. And the “Blood Libel” remains one of the vilest bits of anti-Semitic hate propaganda ever.

    Whoever originated the story of a bishop demanding to see tax returns at tithing settlement is a liar. Either you lied and tried to pass the buck to some anonymous “source,” or someone else lied to you, knowing that the person they were lying to was bigoted enough to believe them even if they said Mormons sacrificed virgins at the full moon.

    So whether you are lying and trying to manipulate me, or someone else is lying and playing to your prejudices, it doesn’t matter. In either case, the story is still a lie.

    2. No. Are you aware of any other religion or “denom” that has been the target of two separate pogroms in North America in the 19th century?

    3. Before we ask “why,” we first need to establish that what we are trying to explain exists to be explained. IOW, it’s not obvious to me that the Church of Jesus Christ “has not attempted to correct misunderstandings of its doctrines and practices by posting accurate info on its website.”

    4. No, I asked for the names of your anonymous “sources.” I know all about Steve “glib quip” Benson. (I hope you’re not stupid enough to expect me to be overawed by his grandfather.) I had spotted professional apostate John Dehlin while many others still thought he was a splendid fellow. I read Deborah “it’s all about meeee” Laake back in the 90’s. I heard that the happiness she found after she left the Church – which she bragged about in her “Secret Ceremonies” book – recently reached its apotheosis. It’s surprising how often that happens.

    D. Michael Quinn has a bad habit of jumping the gun; like Grant Palmer, his “Magic World View” book was based upon acceptance of the Hofmann forgeries. Instead of abandoning the project when his sources collapsed, he tried to paper over the cracks, but the large salamander-shaped hole is still visible in his work (although not quite so obviously as it is in Palmer’s.) Not only that, but he sees his own sexual predelictions everywhere he looks, which largely explains his “Male-Male Intimacy” and “Same Sex Dynamics,” which try to portray the early Church as some kind of gaytopia. (It wasn’t.)

    However, when he’s not trying to undermine the moral authority of the Church’s leaders, he does quite a good job. I doubt that you will have much time for much of his work, since it doesn’t support your prejudices.

    Margaret and Paul Toscano, like other trendy sophisticates, assume that the Church is really just a social club, and the Priesthood is just shorthand for its leadership cohort.

    I know of plenty of others besides them. Did you think I was going to be shocked that people left the Church? People leave every year; and every year, more people join than leave, even when there’s a “mass public resignation,” largely attended by serial “resigners.”

    HK: “Do you acknowledge that there might be some risk to other apostates if they revealed their real names?”

    What “risk” did you have in mind?

    I realise that you display the most child-like gullibility when it comes to atrocity stories about the Church of Jesus Christ; but the fact remains that open apostates live all over the world in entire safety.

    From time to time there are apostates, like Mister Dehlin, Ph.D. who try to maintain their Church membership while pursuing their apostate programs. This is an entirely self-serving move, because as long as they are members, they can use that fact to pretend that their anti-Mormon propaganda is just another “Mormon perspective” when in fact it’s nothing of the sort. Showing Mister Dehlin, Mister Runnells and other professional apostates the door merely serves to set the record straight.

    There are no hit squads. Apostates don’t get run out of their jobs, unless they are actually employed by the Church. I guess if you are desperate for a good atrocity story, you’ll try to beat that up into some kind of monstrous infringement of civil rights, when in fact you can’t name a single employer anywhere who would willingly employ someone who is vocally and actively opposed to the employer’s mission and values.

    Also, from time to time apostates make themselves obnoxious by their often aggressive, in-your-face proselytizing. This is ironic, given that they frequently complain about the significantly more polite proselyting methods used by the Church and its missionaries. In making themselves obnoxious, they eventually succeed in alienating many of their former friends and, regrettably, family members.

    But that is entirely their doing. And it always has been.

  120. First of all, I really have to thank you for the personal attacks. Really–that’s not sarcasm. People engage in personal attacks, rather than discussing content, when they are unwilling to answer a question factually or refute a statement, or unable to.

    Your responses to me, especially the personal attacks, reveal an enormous amount about your understanding and practice of LDS teachings and practices. And that’s not to mention your refusal to supply even short, simple answers or information (e.g. a book name), evasion.

    I would point out the glaring illogic in your arguments above, but I have no confidence that you would engage with me in a serious discussion, so there’s no point in my doing so.

    And I have to thank you for causing me to re-think my views on the LDS church, and do some additional reading and re-reading. Thinking about our conversations, I asked myself, “am I really sure about my views? Is it time to do some additional reading?”. One especially interesting piece I read was Lavina Anderson’s (in?)famous 1992 Dialogue article.

    Now, with that out of the way…you clearly don’t understand how, in your eagerness to defend the Mormon church, you’ve contradicted yourself. For example, you stated earlier that “…of course, in any large group of people, there will be some who do the wrong thing.”

    Yet then, you stated “…since I’ve never come across even one apostate who was willing – even hiding behind the anonymity of the internet – to say that such a thing had happened to them, I am inclined to rather strongly suspect that nobody told you that, either.:”

    You obviously have not looked in the right place. Start with http://www.exmormon.org.

    Though, based on our conversations thus far, I am confident you will not believe any statement that a bishop ever asked to see a tax return.

    You stated “…it’s not obvious to me that the Church of Jesus Christ ‘has not attempted to correct misunderstandings of its doctrines and practices by posting accurate info on its website.’ ”

    Then either you have not looked, or you don’t want to acknowledge that fact. Here are 2 very simple examples:

    1. show me where on the LDS.org site the church refutes the idea of Joseph Smith as a pedophile/sex addict? YOU cited a claim that his marriages to the young girls were “celestial” (I think that’s the term you used).

    2. show me where on the LDS.org site the church corrects the (“erronoeous”) idea many have about the “strengthening members” committee.

    I’ve asked you repeatedly for some very simple answers or for some information that would take you no more than 60 seconds to provide. Yet instead of providing that information, you engage in personal attacks. Here’s a clue, Kiwi: doing those things reveals a lot about you, and about my questions.

    You objected to “anonymous” critics of the church. Yet when I provide names–including that of a former bishop–you reject their statements.

    In other words, you will reject ANY information or sources I can find that are critical of the church–especially if their claims do not match your personal experience.

    Our exchanges have been *highly* educational for me, and I’ve learned a lot– from and about you, about the church, and about folks who defend it at all costs, even if their “defense” is transparently silly. And Lavina Anderson’s article convinced me that if anything, I was too easy on the LDS church, and it’s much worse than I’d thought.

    I think I’ve learned quite enough, so as much fun as it’s been, this time I will not respond any further to your statements. You will have the last word.

  121. I got an email notification of a response from you which I cannot now find. So I’ll respond here.

    I’m not personally attacking you. I’m losing patience with your dishonest arguments.

    To throw out anonymous accusations and expect them to have evidentiary weight is a dishonest argument; and to pretend that getting annoyed about such tactics is a “personal attack” is likewise a dishonest argument.

    If your “sources” tell you that the Church has a secret hit squad, I can tell you that your “sources” are full of it. Not only is that the only response possible to an anonymous claim, it’s the only one necessary.

    BTW, why should I be bowled over because an apostate is a former BISHOP? Don’t you know that the prototype for all apostates, one Judas Iscariot, was a former APOSTLE? A former BISHOP (there are on average about half a dozen of them in any given ward at any one time) is simply someone who had once led the congregation for a few years, on a part-time basis, while continuing to work and earn money in his actual trade or profession. One of my former bishops was a welder. Another sold cars for a living. Another was a policeman.

    Title-dropping only shows that you really don’t know very much about the Church.

    You accuse me of failing to answer your “points,” and assume that that’s because they are so devastatingly powerful. If you really believe that, then you really don’t get it. I don’t think I’ve ignored any “points,” but I’ll let you choose three – any three you like, make them your strongest – and I’ll answer them.

    But there’s a catch: you then get to admit that you were wrong.

    I’ll give you this one as a freebie: the book I cited above as simply Saints is Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days; Volume 1 – The Standard of Truth, 1815 – 1846 published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 46 chapters, 586 pages plus endnotes.

    You’re welcome.

  122. It’s simply the truth. The cult spends well over 10k per retained convert.

  123. There are two groups of people discussing the Church of Jesus Christ: (1) Those who refer to it with spiteful pejoratives like “the cult,” and (2) those who are not hate-crazed religious bigots.

    There is no overlap between the two groups.

    Did you make that number up yourself, or are you merely quoting a number made up by another of your fellow-haters?

    And in your desperate eagerness to find fault, did it even occur to you to think about what that number might mean, if indeed it is authentic? Wouldn’t it rather explode the spiteful lie that the Church of Jesus Christ is merely a “business” concern?

  124. Research the BITE model. It is a cult by every definition of the term.

  125. The so-called “BITE model” is a vague set of descriptors developed by a professional “cult fighter,” designed to enable any targeted group to have the “cult” label hung on them.

    It’s a bigot’s toolkit.

    And I notice that you cleverly evaded providing a source for your “10k” number. I wonder why?

  126. 70k missionaries spending $500/month… Church basically supplementing at least an equal amount. So let’s go with $1000/month not counting Mission Presidents support the MTC’s etc. 70,000x 1000 = $70 MILLION. When you consider that 80% of all new converts are inactive within the year, each missionary would need 10 or more converts. Start asking any RM you see how many converts they had.

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