Episode 184: A Closer Look at “Anti-Mormon” Statements

74 comments on “Episode 184: A Closer Look at “Anti-Mormon” Statements”

  1. Anonymous Reply

    John’s saying that the church has not made any doctrinal statements in at least 30 years.

    I beg to differ since the proclamation on the family was such a doctrinal statement, where concepts such as a heavingly mother, gender as eternal and more are clarified as doctrinal.

    Also some statements by the first presidency can be seen as doctrinal statements eg. the  statements on same sex marriage, immigration in ’99 and again last year and a few others. But then again one has to be opened to the possibility of new doctrinal statements to be able to see this.

    • Anonymous Reply

      It’s not new doctrine if the church back-peddles on it, which they have with the proclamation.

        • Anonymous Reply

          They backed off calling it doctrine and are calling it something like a guideline.  I can’t remember exactly when that happened.  I’ll have to dig around and find it.  It was at a General Conference or something.

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, some general authorities disagree with saying its doctrinal until it is actually attached to the D&C. But such a public statement, signed by all living apostles, only needs the robotic support of members in a general conference to add it to D&C, which can happen any time they want it too since all the apostles signed it.

            It seems to be a generational thing where we add things to D&C after some time has passed, like sec 118 unless its a politically difficult issue like black and the priesthood. 

          • Anonymous

            Heather, “The Family: a Proclamation to the World” was first introduced to the Church on Sept. 23, 1995 by Pres. Hinckley in the General Relief Society Meeting. As his preface to the Proclamation, he said the following:

            ” . . . we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and REAFFIRMATION of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history” [emphasis added].

            So again, Pres. Hinckley admittedly says it is nothing new–just a reaffirmation of previous Church “standards, doctrines, and practices.” I’ll wait for your source, but I highly doubt the Church downplayed its significance as a doctrinal document–especially in General Conference. You’re right though in the sense that it hasn’t been canonized yet (i.e., put in the Standard Works).

          • Richard of Norway

            Heather, I think you might be referring to Packer’s talk, where he said the following:

            Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It qualifies according to the definition as a revelation and would do well that members of the church to read and follow it.

            And then the last line was revised for the printed version, to read:

            It is a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and to follow

            So it was changed from a “revelation” to a mere “guide”.

    • Anonymous Reply

      What doctrine appeared in the Proclamation to the Family that didn’t exist in the Church prior to its release?

      • Anonymous Reply

        I agree with John. There is no new doctrine released in the Proclamation on the Family that wasn’t already in the Church before. It definitely reiterated doctrine, but there is nothing new there. However, in relation to Heather’s comment, the Church definitely hasn’t “back-peddled” on anything that is said in the Proclamation. 

      • Anonymous Reply

        Heavenly parents and therefore the existance of a God mother is now canonized and supported by all apostles. Previously it was more of a hush hush principal that wasn’t stated formally anywhere, just assumed. “God” as a term for our heavenly parents isnce we are in both’s image; Gender is eternal, again not canonized until the PoF; marriage clearly defined as between man and woman, again wasn’t clearly stated before.

        But my guess is that you’ll answer that it was all in the church before because some apostle said it before, like Pratt or McConkie. But there’s a huge difference between an apostle talking about a heavingly mother in a closed mormon meeting and then actually putting it in writing on a document available for all the world to see and supported by all living apostles.

        • Anonymous Reply

          You are wrong. It has always been talked about openly. It is even in the hymn book.

          Can you provide me any proof that it was “hush hush?”

          • Anonymous

             Hardly; never talked openly for the whole word. These things were only mentioned here or there as being maybe possible, even in that hymn. And Doctrine of Salvation is a collection of talks and comments directed to the saints only that McConkie put together. Hardly scripture.

            But the PotF declares it’s true and adds things like  marriage is only between a man and woman, that gender is eternal, that adulters, even repented ones, will still have to face God and explain their actions, children are ‘entitled’ to birth within mother/father family and many more smaller details.

          • Robert Saladino

            John is right! I was baptised 14 yrs ago and was always taught that even by the missionaries!! This is only an add on revelation that seems to be very safe…JS had the guts to lay it all out, I don’t know why the current leaders don’t act or do that…

        • Anonymous Reply

          Dark Matter, the “Gospel Principles” manual has taught the doctrine of “heavenly parents” since it was first released in 1978. If anything, the doctrine has been downplayed in recent years. Also, please show me a source for your “canonized” teaching of the existence of a “God Mother.” See my comment above. Pres. Hinckley admitted that the Proclamation was simply a reaffirmation of LDS teachings.

          • Anonymous

             Again gospel principles is a manual for church members. proclamation on family is directed to the world and teaches new doctrine or doctrine which wasn’t universally agreed on by all church leaders.

            “a source for your “canonized” teaching of the existence of a “God Mother.””

            The Family: A Proclamation to the World! plus reading the text one can conclude that ‘God’ refers to our heavently parents since each is in their image, male and female, reafirming what is in genesis.

            Hinckley downplayed its role to avoid controversy but the text is clear, and the document is signed by all then living apostles…you can’t get much more canonized than that unless its added as another appendix to D&C.

        • Bruce MacArthur Reply

          There’s also a huge difference between speaking as a man or speaking as a prophet of God. It isn’t up to us to know but the correlation committee to define and we can’t be certain for a few decades yet. What is true now may not be true later. Also, what is true may not necessarily be useful. Follow? And now, I am going to stick my finger up my nose and disappear down the rabbit hole. Tada!

          • Elder Vader

            I really really want for active members to start thinking of Boyd K Packer’s statement ‘Some things that are true are not very useful’ when they’re in an interview being asked about masturbation.  

          • Elder Vader

            I really really want for active members to start thinking of Boyd K Packer’s statement ‘Some things that are true are not very useful’ when they’re in an interview being asked about masturbation.  

    • Robert Saladino Reply

      (Dark) the problem is or what seems to be a problem for some is… JS always said thus saith the Lord as if God himself vocally proclaimed doctrine! Why has this changed or stoppped? God always spoke to JS in a very direct matter of fact way when it came to doctrine, now we get inspiried thoughts by very wise men but how is this different from any other organization with nice wise men?

      • darkmatter20 Reply

         Well what has changed is the vocabulary used by the top leaders but the Lord hasn’t changed nor stopped speaking directly to his servants. At least not at the levels I’ve been in, bishop and stake, there, when needed, the voice of the Lord is clear and very direct. It’s more than just inspiration when one receives an answer for whom to call or what to do in a disciplinary case however I always would say ‘I believe the Lord….’ and never ‘Thus sayeth the Lord’ because we simple don’t use that style anymore.

        From what I’ve heard from general authorities who have visited over the years, its the same in church HQ and may even be clearer. I remember Hinkley once spoke about this when the Hoffman case was at its peak and then the Lord said (ie thus sayeth the Lord) “I’m the gardner here and don’t worry” or something similar (i’m going by memory here) so the voice of the Lord is still heard when needed but not every event and message is recorded as it was in J Smith time. If they were we would have a D&C made up of some 10,000 pages!

        • Robert Saladino Reply

          Makes no sense! If God spoke to his servants in terms of con’t doctrine why don’t they ever say it? Saving a 5 dollar bill in a paints pocket and finding a shinning coin in the street to pruchase chicken, compared to the Garden of Eden is in U.S. and God as once a man, you do the math!!! Sounds like every new, cool, deep, doctrine stopped with JS and common eveyday, good luck experiences is all we get now…making sound judgements in meetings happens all the time, 24/7 minus the attitude of we are the only ones that can make these judgements due to the HG.
           If the church had a copyright over inspiried thought then how does anybody or organization function without it? Just some thoughts that are floating in my very confused mind!!

          • darkmatter20

             Yes, you are confused.

            It didn’t all finish with Smith, section 138 is a good example as are the two declarations. the one on polygamy ending and how it came about is a good example of how the Lord works and shows he isn’t a dictator.

            but the church doesn’t have a copyright over inspired thought. it only has a copyright over the ordinances needed to entre the celestial kingdom and the priesthood. others may well have inspiried thoughts from god.

  2. Oz Poof Reply

    I’m interested to see what John says about this whinging piece of hand-wringing. 

    The opening statement of the Mormonvoices article reads “religious bigotry is unacceptable”. Well I’m afraid I have to disagree.You see, religious adherence is a LIFESTYLE CHOICE, unlike gender, race, and sexuality which are innate characteristics that the LDS church engages in true bigotry against.These religious zealots who claim they are the victims of bigotry can go to their respective hells. There is NO freedom of religion anywhere. Why? It’s because psychopaths and megalomaniacs have a bad habit of forming religions in order to control the superstitious, simple, and gullible. There is toleration of religion, and that is starting to wear very thin given the abhorrent behaviour of the religious.Take Joseph Smith for example. If you wanted to form your own society, call yourself General, take young girls as sex slaves because they are too young to run and their families offer them up as a sacrifice, make rules you are exempt from obeying, convince people to give you their money, control the media, and make it all up as you go along, you couldn’t do much worse than Joe Smith. Why should such an individual have the freedom to act this way? Why should people today who lie about this megalomaniac in order to extort money from people in the form of tithing (yes, extort – obtain from another by coercion or intimidation)  be free to do so? They shouldn’t, especially when they are using front groups and secret donations to fight against the rights of people who did not choose how they were born.Likewise, I would hope anyone found to be engaged in female genital mutilation would not be allowed to hide behind the skirts of so-called freedom of religion. There is no freedom of religion, only toleration of religion, even in the most liberal societies. How dare Mormons shriek “bigotry”! The absolute gall of these people is astounding. 

  3. Anonymous Reply

    “jesus doesn’t forgive sins for mormons”? : John

    where did you get that one from? I served for over 5 years as bishop and always taught that repentance and forgiveness of sins is done by Jesus alone, he is our advocate with the father and presides the final judgement. We wait for a revelation from jesus in each disciplinary council to know if they have repented or not. it’s always being jesus who forgives in the church i’ve known

    • Anonymous Reply

      I don’t have time to look this up, but it is pretty straight forward, I’m surprised with all of your experience in the Church you did not pick up on it. In Mormonism we pray to God, not Jesus. Praying to Jesus is against the rules. We ask God to forgive us “through the atonement of Christ.” God and Christ are two distinct, separate beings.

      In your version of Mormonism, how do you ask Christ to forgive you? You don’t ask the Father for forgiveness? If you are asking the Father for forgiveness, why–since he doesn’t provide it?

      Even you use the word advocate. In the courts an advocate is entirely different than a judge. Your advocate does not provide forgiveness, only a judge can do that.

      • Anonymous Reply

        they are one in the godhead, so prayers to heavenly father are heard and actioned by jesus , as clearly happened in the first vision. it’s jesus who tells your spirit you are forgiven , the father delegates this to him so all sins are forgiven by jesus, and no where is this clearer than in a disciplinary council. we go before the lord ie jesus , seeking that revelation on what to do; the prayer may be addressed to heavenly father as all are for respect and because jesus said to do them that way but done in jesus name and the answer is clearly ‘the lord’ answering ie jesus, not god the father.

        word advocate is used here as speaker, our defender before the father, but the judge, the top judge who will judge us all, after one gets through bishops, SP, apostles, smith to adam, is jesus, not the father. i thought everyone understood that in the church , unless the utah church is a different thing. court example doesn’t really apply since there the judge is someone else.

        Note, toyota corolla’s are mid range cars in south america, chevy’s corsa are the cheapo car but the church wont use them so here they look elitist and full of money. also note mission presidents pay for their own leased cars arranged through area offices. missionaries don’t though, they just have to pay petrol

      • Anonymous Reply

        Scripture Mastery is fuuun:
        John 5
        22. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 
        23. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
        Oh, not that that book makes any sense, BTW, just a fun jab.

      • Ipse Dixit Reply

        I’ve always understood the role of Jesus as that of a mediator, like in the old BKP talk / seminary video. Jesus paid the price for our sins, but was under no obligation to do so. Now, Jesus stands between the father and us. Jesus “pleads our case” as our advocate with the father, in that he tells the father “I’ve paid for these people’s sins. They’re with me.” We are thus saved through Jesus (or “under the name of Christ,” as Bro. Tannehill would say) because he paid the price for our sins, making us “sinless,” as far as the cosmic consequences of sin are concerned. We covenant to follow Jesus’ teachings and repent of our sins when we inevitably commit them.

        But when we repent, who actually gives us “forgiveness” for our sins? We indisputably pray to and worship the Father, but in the Mormon model, at least that espoused by Pres. Packer in his “mediator” analogy, we now owe our debt to Jesus, so shouldn’t we be asking him for forgiveness for our sins?

        Here’s my take: implicit within the mediator analogy, and explicitly taught in the Book of Mormon, is the premise that Jesus atoned for every sin, future and past. Otherwise, we could have no freedom to choose to repent of any sin, because if Jesus didn’t pay for a sin in Gethsemane or on the cross, it can’t be forgiven. Put another way, we could not choose to repent of something that Jesus did not atone for, so the atonement must have included payment for every sin committed by anyone throughout all time.

        Under this view of the atonement, “forgiveness of sins” is irrelevant, as sins are no longer impediments to anyone’s salvation. The infinite atonement negates whatever salvation-inhibiting consequences those sins might have had. Jesus’ teachings lead to happiness and a good world, but not salvation. Stop right there, and you have basic Christian Universalism, which Joseph Smith, Sr. and Sidney Rigdon were fans of. Mormonism, however, takes things much further with the doctrine of exaltation.

        Having been redeemed from the Fall, Mormons believe our lives are not a time to seek salvation from sin, but a time to prepare for our own godhood/exaltation. Jesus’ teachings are the method whereby we develop godly attributes, not salvation. The degree of obedience we achieve in life will be reflected in the degree of glory we receive in the resurrection. Disobedience does not inhibit our salvation from sin, but does retard our exaltation. When we are disobedient, we can repent. But repentance—and the “forgiveness” we feel when we do so—is unrelated to whether Jesus will pay the price for our sins. Jesus’ atonement thus allows for disintermediation in the process of exaltation: we can deal directly with the father now because Jesus atoned for our sins, making us sin-free in the father’s eyes.

        Therefore, I believe Mormonism teaches that we ask the father for forgiveness during the repentance process, as bringing us to “eternal life,” i.e. exaltation, is his job. However, this forgiveness is unrelated to whether we will be “saved” from death and hell.

        Pure doctrine or blasphemy?

        • Cindy Kuhrasch Reply

          Interesting teaching about forgiveness as unrelated to salvation, but I’m not sure the church agrees. 

          LDS teachings seem to say that either we must perfectly meet the requirements for salvation:

          “Every ordinance, every commandment and requirement is necessary for the salvation of the human family”


          that all are saved through the atonement of Christ (which doesn’t seem to require faith in Christ at all):

          “It is the purpose of the Almighty to save all of mankind, and all will enter into his kingdoms in some degree of glory, except sons of perdition who sin beyond the power of repentance and redemption, and therefore cannot receive forgiveness of sins.”

          OR both

          “Salvation is twofold: General – that which comes to all men irrespective of a belief (in this life) in Christ- and, Individual – that which man merits through his own acts through life and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel”

          • Ipse Dixit

            I agree that the twofold salvation model advocated by Joseph Fielding Smith you quote above is an accurate statement of Mormon doctrine and common LDS belief. This is all just doctrinal speculation on my part. I have no idea how it all works…which is one reason I’m in the position I’m in now.

            I still think John raises an interesting point, one I had never considered: one of those “laws and ordinances of the gospel” is repentance, which involves praying to the father (we always pray to the father) and asking for forgiveness for our sins. The question then is who provides us the forgiveness we seek? Jesus, who performed the atonement, or the father, who we ask forgiveness of?

            Perhaps a hypothetical will help illustrate this problem: suppose I steal a donut. I then feel remorse, ask the baker for forgiveness, make restitution, promise never to do it again, and pray to the father to please forgive me for that sin. Does the father, upon hearing my prayer, turn to Jesus and say “Ipse just repented of stealing a donut. Forgive him please.” Or, is it the other way around: “Jesus, Ipse just asked me for forgiveness for stealing a donut. Should I forgive him?” “Yes father. Ipse has repented, and he has been baptized and confirmed, so my atonement covers him.” Whereupon, the father forgives my sin. In either scenario, the father cannot forgive my sin without Jesus’ approval. Is this the way it works? If so, how is the father omnipotent if he is unable to forgive sins himself?

            Mainstream Christians get around this problem with the Trinity: Christians pray to, and receive forgiveness from, the same god who atoned for their sins. I suppose Mormons resolve this problem through having the father and Jesus occupying different divine stewardships, which Darkmatter alludes to above. But if the father is supreme, why can’t he forgive sins whether Jesus approves or not?

            Interestingly, Jesus asked the father to forgive the people who crucified him: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. This implies that Jesus “pleads our case” to the father, who then does the ultimate forgiving. Is this how it works for us?

          • Anonymous

            Interesting discussion.

            I suppose John’s view is that if you don’t ask Jesus for forgivenss but ask the Father then the theology is that the Father only forgives. But many, many scriptures, some listed here by others, explain this differently, due to the concepts of atonement, the Godhead and each’s role, and that ‘advocate with the Father’ issue.

            For me, BoM 2 Nephi 2:6 onwards is fairly clear and show’s us closer to the evangelical Christ than John accepts. For example “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah” but what is redemption if not the full process of repentance and forgiveness. Then in vrs.8 no flesh can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and GRACE of the Holy Messiah. Then there’s the opposition to all things concept etc…

            I still say that, yes our prayers are directed to God the Father and we ask him forgivenes but due to respect as the presiding ‘Father’, but it is Jesus, the Holy Messiah, who forgives and redeems and saves us, and then he goes before the Father and advocates for us by saving ‘I’ve forgiven him, he’s fully repented, and I’ve paid the price for his sin, so Father you can now forgive him too’ -paraphrasing off course.

            A problem here too, in my view, is that when one completely leaves the church and claims that is isn’t true then it seems that even basic interpretation of scripture changes to a more black and white view, like many evangelicals have. For us, active mormons, all scripture carries a component which we’d call the Holy Ghost component whereby the meaning of scripture is carried from the text ‘unto’ the persons heart by the Holy Ghost. So delete the Holy Ghost from all scriptural readings and we end up with a rather difference understanding of scripture and of doctrine in general. Like jumping out and saying that the book doctrines of salvation was a standard belief or standard work of the church when it was only a book a dude wrote with his own work, beliefs and peculiar context. Useful text it is but it isn’t scripture nor a universal statement of belief. Same with miracle of forgivenss where Kimball even goes as far as saying that it isn’t a church book but his own only and any mistakes therein are his and his alone. But those who leave the church look at MoF as a Mein Kampf type of work!

      • Apron Appeal Reply

        I’m just pulling these out from memory so I’m sure I that leave a loophole in context but: 

        Mark 2:10 “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins”,”I the Lord (Jesus?) will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (Did I just make that scripture up? I can’t find the reference!)

        Anyway, my idea is that Christ forgives our sins by taking them upon him and then he will ask the Father for forgiveness. If forgiveness is denied by the Father and we have already given all we have to Christ, then the punishment is on Christ, not on us. He forgave us of our debt (sin) through his life and atonement.

    • Bruce MacArthur Reply

      In a courtroom what is an Advocate? An attorney? That’s correct. The advocate stands between you and the judge or judgement doesn’t he? Who is the judge? The Father. Also, none of this is real anyway, so you are forgiven for being so confused on such foundational principles of your lore.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Man’s courtroom is a barbaric degradation of God’s way of judging.

        In God’s way, Jesus judges and gathers the righteous, sending the wicked to a lower kingdom or even hell. Then he ‘advocates’ with the Father saying “I’ve forgiven them AND I’ve paid the price of their sin’s so Father you can now forgive them too”.

        But scripture is clear that Jesus is the head judge and he will preside the final judgement just before the righteous and exalted reach the Father’s level.

        But if all of this isn’t real, as you claim, then I’d suggest you never ask for forgiveness from this not real God.

    • Hermes Reply

      I’m going to side with Darkmatter against John here.  While John is right that we don’t pray to Jesus (as a rule), Apron Appeal notes our acceptance of several scriptures which presume that Jesus retains power to forgive sins.  Chalk the contradiction here up to our incoherent doctrine of the Godhead, which began as a good old-fashioned Protestant Trinity and turned into something else (when Joseph Smith got bored and/or received further light and knowledge).

      Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, so we presumably prayed to him then (as Mormons).  Since he came back, we don’t (but some of us probably do).  Bruce R. McConkie probably says something ridiculously explicit and “clear” about this mess, if anyone cares to wade into the morass of Mormon Doctrine or Doctrinal New Testament Commentary.  But remember that he does not speak exclusively for Mormonism (now or ever).  We have no coherent doctrine here, as far as I can tell.

  4. Anonymous Reply

    One correction:  President Monson’s house is on Carter Circle in Salt Lake City.  If you look at the Salt Lake County Assessor’s website, you can find it by searching by his name.

  5. Christopher Allman Reply

    In terms of the indoctrination issue: I think if it had been phrased differently, most Mormons not only agree, but see it as point of pride. Had they phrased it like this: ‘Mormonisms is great at instilling strong beliefs and values in it’s members in a way that leads few to question the Church’s teachings’, most members I know would see it as a sign of how good the Church is at teaching it’s members and giving them strong beliefs. And this IS something the Church is good at and studies tend to bare this out, ex: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700215244/LDS-religious-commitment-high-Pew-survey-finds.html Mormons, on average, know more about their beliefs and hold them more strongly, then members of other religions. Which shouldn’t be a surprise considering seminary, institute, missions and 3 hours of Church each week.  Another way to describe this is ‘indoctrination’. Mormons are better at and do more indoctrination than other ‘mainstream belief systems’ and most of the time this is something they take pride in.

  6. Anonymous Reply

    You don’t think that religions should be a protected group/class?  I agree that religion is a choice, but I would like to have legal recourse if I was to be fired for my atheism.  If someone had to move to the deep south and was not able to get a job based on their non-christianity, I would like them to have a pathway to justice….

    • Christopher Allman Reply

      I’m with you. And one reason i think religion should remain a protected class is because in many ways, religion is not  a choice.  I never chose to believe in Mormonism, it was instilled in me as I grew up. Likewise, I never chose to not believe in it, I had no other option after learning certain facts and drawing certain conclusions. To be sure, it is a choice whether one takes part in or affiliates with a certain religion, but when a person, through no will of their own, believes the fate of their eternities rests upon their participation with a certain group, it is hard to see this as a ‘choice’ in the traditional sense of the word.  Because of this, I think religion should be treated like other unchosen attributes such as sexuality or race.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Where does religion end and crazy begin? Do you think crazy should be a protected class? If my religion teaches that blacks and Jews are inferior, you think that should qualify as a protected class.

        I agree that children can’t choose their religion, but adults can. The older you are, the less I will give you a pass for believing crazy stuff.

        • Caitlin Sticco Reply

          Sorry, John, but yes, I do think you should be protected from discrimination in hiring, housing, etc, no matter how offensive I find your religious beliefs (or other beliefs). As long as you don’t harass the blacks and Jews at your office or apartment complex, what you believe is your own damn business and has nothing to do with how you do your job or whether you pay your rent. That is the entire point of those laws.
          And I completely disagree that you can choose what you believe. I did not choose to lose my faith. I simply am not capable of belief based on what I currently know. I chose what I read and learned to some degree, but I did not chose the conclusions that I came to. They were inevitable for me. I can chose what I practice, ie, whether I go to church or not, but then, so can homosexuals. It’s a terrible argument. Religion is a matter of conscience, but not choice. As long as your religion, offensive beliefs, or sexuality don’t cause you to violate some other law, wreck your apartment, or suck at your job, yes you shoudl be protected. The entire point of those laws is to prevent discrimination based on things that have nothing to do with your job or house. Removal of that protection would mean a return to Jews being denied housing, for example. I cannot emphasize enough how wrong you are on this point.
          And yes, to answer your question, atheism is part of the protected class of religion, and there definitely is court precedent for that. 

        • Christopher Allman Reply

          Depending on what you mean by ‘crazy’, I do think it should be a protected class, in that the mentally ill should definitely not be discriminated against. I think that, in general, we as a society and the mental health profession are able to distinguish between actual mental illness and religious belief or behavior that superficially has similar qualities to mental illness but is culturally accepted and not seen as ‘crazy’.If by ‘crazy’ you mean beliefs which are ‘extremely bizarre’ but necessarily a sign of mental illness, then why bother drawing a line at all? All religious beliefs strike me as comparably ‘crazy’.The only measure upon which certain beliefs are ‘crazy’ is our own perspective.  At one point in time it may have been seen as crazy to believe that germs caused disease, but that shouldn’t be any sign of it’s value. The fact that anything exists at all is pretty bizarre, so if it was created by an elephant headed god that can do magic, or a big bang of particles that can pop in and out of existence and become entangled across light years, either one is just as weird to me. Evidence strongly favors one explanation over the other, but neither belief is inherently more ‘crazy’ than the other, its just a matter of what is familiar.And yes, I think if your religion teaches that blacks and jews are inferior, your religion should qualify as a protected class.As for adults versus children and freedom to choose belief. Had I not lived in the era of the internet I doubt I ever would have been exposed to the ideas that led to me being out of the Church and since even with the internet many members are shielded or simply do not have the mental capacity to engage with the issues which would allow them to really question their beliefs, I have trouble seeing how they can truly ‘choose’ their system of belief . I think that unless you are one of the rare people like like Dan Wotherspoon or Richard Bushman, who is aware of and intellectually capable of engaging with the dark and complex side of religious belief, yet choose to remain a member out of devotion to the organization,  the average member just doesn’t have adequate information or ability to make a real decision to stay within the Church.

        • Hermes Reply

          Religion ends and crazy begins when I try to foist it on you against your will.  Prop 8 was a modern LDS descent into crazy.

        • Christopher Allman Reply

          John, I’ve found myself thinking about this issue quite a bit recently. I’ve also been thinking about the notion of ‘thought crimes’, since this is something you have mentioned on several different episodes recently. To allow discrimination on the basis of belief and only belief, is that not an endorsement of ‘thought crime’? If religion is not a protected class and the state allows people to be discriminated against, simply because of their beliefs, even if their beliefs don’t lead to socially unacceptable behavior, how is that not a thought  crime John?

    • Anonymous Reply

      Why do you assume that atheism is part of the protected class of religion? Is there any court president for this?

  7. Anonymous Reply

    Wonderful discussion, as always. Hats off to the panel.

    I just wanted to toss a few more logs onto the “Are Mormons Christian?” bonfire. In addition to the doctrinal differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity that were mentioned by John, there are at least two other problems.

    First, there’s the Nicene Creed, which was specifically devised to be a definition of core Christian belief. There is especially the Creed’s heart, which is the doctrine of the Trinity. Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox all subscribe to the Creed. Mormons have a long tradition of rejecting it rather vehemently, beginning with Joseph Smith’s Sermon in the Grove and continuing at least through Elder Holland’s 2007 address, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent.” But Mormons often seem to mistake Sabellianism for Trinitarianism, so I’ll give Elder Holland a pass on that basis. 

    I don’t mind if Mormons want to say they’re Christian. I don’t have an opinion about it myself. But are Mormons really shocked that other churches may hesitate to ditch a definition of Christianity that has been core doctrine for seventeen centuries?

    Second, there’s baptism, which is generally considered the initiation into Christianity. All Catholic rites and virtually all Orthodox and Protestant churches accept baptisms performed by one another. If somebody is baptized as a Lutheran, he can convert to Catholicism and later to Orthodoxy without being rebaptized. The Mormon church, on the other hand, accepts only Mormon baptism. To believers, this is very significant.

    But the most important aspect of this question, for Mormons and non-Mormons alike, is this: Why should anyone care whether Mormons are considered Christian? At least in traditional Christianity, there’s nothing to suggest that Christians should treat non-Christians differently from anyone else. And why should Mormons be eager to join a club that, according to Joseph Smith, was declared by God to be an abomination in His sight?

    Even if the nasty character of the Preacher and the unflattering reference to the Pope were removed from the endowment ceremony in 1990, Mormonism is still bound to the doctrine of the Great Apostasy. You’d think this would make Mormons hesitate to seek the embrace of the larger Christian community.

    • Anonymous Reply

      “Even if the nasty character of the Preacher and the unflattering reference to the Pope were removed from the endowment ceremony in 1990, Mormonism is still bound to the doctrine of the Great Apostasy. You’d think this would make Mormons hesitate to seek the embrace of the larger Christian community”.

      Ive asked this very same question on other threads on this same web page, I dont think anyone has ever come up with any real explanation. Best one so far is that just maybe a few evangelicals will throw a little support to Mitt, but I just dont see that happenen.  So anyone know why the Mormons now want to climb into bed with the “abominable”

  8. Anonymous Reply

    I find it amusing how persistently and vehemently Mormons have rejected the universal sign of Christ (for reasons no TBM even understands) but they equally persistently and vehemently insist on the title of Christian.

    I think basically the Mormon mentality works in this manner: when they are declared non-Christian, there is an implication they worship a false Christ when, in fact, they firmly believe their version of Christ is the true one. The greater historical or sociological implications and framings don’t even come into play in their minds, IMO.

    • Kevin Johnson Reply

      Amusing and ironic, Randy.  You have Mormons, who insist no one else can join their “One True Church” club, but continually whine about how they are, in turn, members of the “Christianity” club.  We want to be incredibly exclusive but be included all at the same time.

  9. Anonymous Reply

    With respect to the point of jews not calling other jews anti-Semites, I beg to differ. Check out the case of Norman Finklestein. Also, jews tend to throw around the term “self-hating Jews” quite a bit. Woody Allen is the typical example of this, at least according to my mother.

    • Gerald Low Reply

      John said Jews are a race. Not true. They are a religion only! Mistake made by many people that needs the be corrected!

      • Megan von Ackermann Reply

        Gerald – it’s not a black-and-white issue. Judaism is a religion and accepts converts. However, there is also a cultural component and a genetic distinction for many (I don’t know about all) Jewish populations. There were a couple of studies done a year or so ago (2010 I think?) that show that while there is usually a contribution from the surrounding communities, there is also a distinctive genetic thread common to the clustered populations. So Jews from Europe, the Caucasus, and the Mid East are reasonably closely related and have a common heritage from the Levant. They are also genetically more isolated from their host communities than, for example, Jewish populations in Ethiopia. 

        If you’re interested, the studies were published in Nature and in the American Journal of Human Genetics. I can probably dig up the links although it would take a while.

        Now, race is N O T simply a biological thing. That is a loaded claim to make and can lead quickly to bigotry and prejudice. Many scholars now argue that there is no such thing as race at all while others suggest that it’s a SOCIAL construct only and should have no biological component. A reasonably well accepted general definition is that a ‘race’ is a distinctive population sharing an ethnicity – ethnicity being commonalities in language, cultural traditions (including religious practices), and often a folk history of common ancestry; under this definition the Jews can totally claim to be a separate race, a fact that is supported by the genetic evidence above. The genetic studies show that Jews have existed as a distinct and relatively isolated population for about two and a half thousand years, and that it’s reasonably likely the social distinctions were more important than the religious distinctions at that time. In other words, as a group they were founded not necessarily on a codified belief system, but more likely on family links and common language and traditions. 

        Personally I prefer not to use ‘race’ as a term at all but instead go with ‘ethnicity’ as this down-plays the importance of phenotypes and more clearly takes into account history and culture. But to say that Jews ‘are a religion only’ is fundamentally and demonstrably untrue.

        • Gerald Low Reply

          There is no such thing as race? I like that piece of your post. The Nephites would be a race using your definition. But, we have DNA evidence to dispute this claim. Your ethnic and isolation argument would conclude that mormon is a race or at least will be if nothing changes in Provo area for a few thousand years. For different reasons the 80’s supreme court and nazis said that Jews were a race. One for reasons to protect a group of people. The other to erase them from the face of the earth. I will stick with what I was told by my Jewish father in law. A religion! May he rest in peace knowing that I posted his words on this forum.

          • i_follow_u

            Gerald, You need to Google “Cohen gene” and its link to the lineage of Aaron. While you’re at it, do a little research regarding Megan’s comment on “Jewish populations in Ethiopia”. What I find compelling about the Cohen gene and the link to Ethiopians, is that black Africans from Ethiopia who have the Cohen gene marker have more right to the Mormon office of Bishop (pre or post 1978) than any white, European born in the covenant.

          • Megan von Ackermann

            The Nephites would possibly be an ethnicity if they were an historic people and if, as claimed, they came to an empty land and existed for many hundreds of years without outside influence. Of course, they would have to develop cultural and traditional differences from their supposed parent population that were distinct from those of the originating group (which the BoM claims they did not do entirely). The DNA evidence (and combined weight of lack of physical support for the claims in the BoM) dispute the claim that they ever existed so the whole point is moot.

            It’s not my ethnic and isolation argument – it’s an anthropological definition which is not universally accepted but has strong support within the discipline. And yes, IF Mormons increase their cultural isolation, IF they begin to increase (or sustain) their numbers almost entirely through inter-breeding with little to no contribution from proselytized new members, then in a few thousand years or so they could be considered an ethnicity. They have the seeds of it, and BY was on his way to establishing it, but for a number of reasons it’s extremely unlikely that it will happen.

            I agree with what you are saying about the problem with the term ‘race’ – that it can be used for good or ill, and often for ill (as the nazis). However, that doesn’t change the fact that there is a very strong cultural and genetic component to Judaism which is outside of, and even pre-dates the establishment of the religion. While I respect your late father-in-law’s opinion, it does not carry any more weight than the opinion of, for example, my Jewish atheist friend who has no religious belief at all yet strongly identifies as a Jew because that is her cultural and family heritage. She is Jewish.

            As I said, I don’t like the term race; I don’t use it. It’s a woolly term that has no real meaning – we don’t talk about animals as having races for example. But there are distinctive populations who are identifiable by multiple factors – cultural, traditional, historic, genetic etc – and those populations can be considered ethnicities. Denying this loses the richness and the understanding that comes from celebrating our many differences. It also ignores the history that lies behind these ethnicities that explains how and why they developed, and ignoring the history of a people marginalizes and trivializes them.

  10. Rdr. M. Fillmore Reply

    Any other Eastern Orthodox listeners here? My head came very close to exploding and making quite a mess when I heard that LDS apologists say that they believed in theosis.

    • Anonymous Reply

      It is kind of jarring. But the apologists are compelled by doctrine to reach this conclusion.

      If Mormonism is a restoration of primitive Christianity, and if Mormonism holds that people can become gods, then this doctrine must be found somewhere in the earliest Christian writings. All that’s left ot do is comb through the Church Fathers to find proof texts.

      The best observation I’ve heard on this issue was made by D. Michael Quinn at a Sunstone symposium, when he pointed out that the closest analogy to the Mormon doctrine of theosis was the ancient Greco-Roman belief that it was possible for people to be elevated to godhood.

  11. Michael Johnson Reply

    Are the people at FAIR etc working for the Jehovah’s Witnesses or something? What a juvenile set of arguments against statements that they incorrectly define as bigotry.

  12. Anonymous Reply

    A couple of lines of this discussion reminded me of the role that ridicule had in affecting what most would regarded as a positive change in American society.  It involved Superman!


    “In the 1940s, The Adventures of Superman was a radio sensation… So, it’s no wonder that when a young writer and activist named Stetson Kennedy decided to expose the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, he looked to a certain superhero for inspiration….

    By regularly attending meetings, he became privy to the organization’s secrets. But when he took the information to local authorities, they had little interest in using it. The Klan had become so powerful and intimidating that police were hesitant to build a case against them.

    Struggling to make use of his findings, Kennedy approached the writers of the Superman radio serial. It was perfect timing. With the war over and the Nazis no longer a threat, the producers were looking for a new villain for Superman to fight. The KKK was a great fit for the role.

    In a 16-episode series titled “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” the writers pitted the Man of Steel against the men in white hoods. As the storyline progressed, the shows exposed many of the KKK’s most guarded secrets. By revealing everything from code words to rituals, the program completely stripped the Klan of its mystique. 

    Within two weeks of the broadcast, KKK recruitment was down to zero. And by 1948, people were showing up to Klan rallies just to mock them.”

  13. Bruce MacArthur Reply

    John I loved how you mentioned that the reason the General Authorities want to discourage the use of the term “Mormon” is because it doesn’t naturally connote Christian. I remember a recent talk where one of them said “I was asked if I was a Mormon and I said, no I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints” but he even shortened that to I think Church of Jesus Christ. Mormon is a nickname for who we are not because it is an insult because we don’t want to waste our breath saying “I am a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in good standing resident in the fine state of Utah”. That’s where LDS came from. Quicker, shorter, less retarded waste of breath.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Though I think people should be allowed to call themselves whatever they want, this quibbling over names seems kind of confusing.

      It’s especially befuddling when the attitude of the GA you described is compared with the church’s discomfort over media references to “fundamentalist Mormons.” As someone else has said, the church’s attitude seems to be “We are not Mormons, unless somebody else says that they are, in which case they’re not and we are.”

      To muddy the waters a little further, the Church of Jesus Christ is the name of the church formed by Sidney Rigdon and William Bickerton after Joseph Smith’s death: http://www.thechurchofjesuschrist.org//

      It continues today as the third largest of the non-polygamist Mormon churches, after the LDS church and the Community of Christ. It’s main claim to fame is that it is the church in which the musician Alice Cooper grew up. 

      • Hermes Reply

        “We are not Mormons, unless someone else says they are, in which case they’re not and we are.”  Brilliant!

  14. Hermes Reply

    The more we make truth anti-Mormon, the weaker Mormonism becomes.  In order to remain relevant and useful, Mormonism needs to be resilient.  It needs to be able to survive critical investigation (from within the fold and without).  Mormons need to be OK knowing the truth about their past and about themselves.  We need to accept that other people can disagree with us profoundly and pointedly without attacking us personally or being factually wrong.  We need to stop kissing up to people who seem to agree with us and then bitch-slapping them when their opinions diverge from ours.

    For the record, I agree with Harold Bloom: modern LDS leaders are plutocrats.

  15. Anonymous Reply

    At the last testimony meeting a man in my ward stood and bore his testimony. He expressed his conviction that one day, if he remained obedient, he would become a god. He also stated how important it was that we have children to begin that process. At the end of the testimony meeting the Bishop stood up and made sure the congregation knew that having children was not a requirement for godhood, being sensitive to the couples who could not have children, but not denying the statement that mormons will one day become gods. I share this as a case study that I believe is not abnormal in the church. The teaching that obedient members of the church will one day become gods is still alive and well.  

    • Blorg Jorgensson Reply

      No doubt about it. I remember family friends pointing this out to me when I was a teenager, and I don’t know how I had never picked up on it before (though my inattention during church probably contributed). My staunch TBM wife regularly makes flip comments with friends and family that in HER world, such-and-such will be different.

      Moreover, my mission president had an entire mission conference about apotheosis. This was less than a decade ago. Any Mormon that denies the goal of godhood is either ignorant or lying.

  16. Ryan Johnson Reply

    Wow John, I had no idea you were a CSDM alum.  And yes, the house for the San Diego mission president is ridiculous.  When I was there, the mission president’s wife mentioned that they even had a hired gardner who took care of the grounds.  I’m glad my tithing dollars were being used to support the local economy. 

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