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Tilting at Windmills

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April 27, 2006
By: Amy Sullivan

ROMNEY REDUX....The Note today highlights a "must-read!!" column by Bob Novak that carries the headline: "Religion may hinder Romney in '08." Regular Monthly readers will find Novak's argument familiar, and somewhat similar (point-by-point, actually) to a piece we ran by yours truly last September.

For good reason, I wouldn't expect an acknowledgement from Novak. On the contrary, I'm actually glad to see that his reporting--he's obviously much more sourced-up on the Republican side than I am--bears out the same argument I made last year. Most Christian Right leaders wouldn't be gauche enough to say it publicly, but they have a serious problem with Romney's Mormonism. I still find it likely that they would oppose him in the primaries but support him if he won the GOP nomination. But Novak says maybe not even then.

For the record, I think that's pretty appalling. There is no religious test in this country, and we shouldn't tolerate the de facto application of one. But it has to be said that this is the bed the GOP has made for itself by emphasizing the importance of a candidate's personal faith and by making the Christian Right such a critical part of its political base. If Romney's Mormonism makes it impossible for him to win, it will be the GOP's fault.

Amy Sullivan 2:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (305)

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Comments

That sound you hear is Kathryn Jean Lopez's heart breaking.

"Oh, Mitt! Here's one Papist who still loves your dreamy self!"

Posted by: M.A. on April 27, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Amy Sullivan, 2003:
"To become America's majority party again, the Democrats will have to get religion."

Amy Sullivan, 2006:

"For the record, I think that's pretty appalling. There is no religious test in this country, and we shouldn't tolerate the de facto application of one."

Progress.

Posted by: Burzootie on April 27, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations, Ms. Sullivan. You know that you have really made the big time when Bob Novak starts ripping you off. Given your writing, it's about time.

Posted by: Ruck on April 27, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

There is no religious test in this country..

False! False! False!

Let alone an atheist, even a non-Christian, say a Buddhist, will not go very far in any national election in this country at least for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Amy might be surprized to learn Romney is doing well in GOP polling.

And look at Hugh Hewitt's blog - Hewitt is positive about Romney.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on April 27, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

And look at Hugh Hewitt's blog...

Haw! And the thing is, I bet you typed that with a straight face!

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares? He's not a serious contender for the GOP nomination anyway. He's failed miserably in his only elected office to date.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

lib beat me to it, the bastard.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

There is no religious test in this country..

False! False! False!

Let alone an atheist, even a non-Christian, say a Buddhist, will not go very far in any national election in this country at least for the foreseeable future.

There may be a de facto one, as Amy points out. but we need to keep reminding people that the Constitution mandates no religious test for office.

Posted by: lou on April 27, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Mormonism is a cult, not a religion. And a clannish cult intent on controlling as much of the business structure of the country as it can. We don't need public office holders of this sort.

Posted by: anonymous on April 27, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Is "anonymous" actually Karen taking a break from the regular Jewish banking cabal paranoia?

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

No de facto religious test to run for president? Hardly. Any religion, no matter how nutty, is prefered to no religion. Atheists and agnostics need not apply.

Posted by: decon on April 27, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

There may be a de facto one, as Amy points out. but we need to keep reminding people that the Constitution mandates no religious test for office.

Given the contents of Ms. Sullivan's numerous priot posts, I assume that she is not ashamed of being called a hypocrite.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

When I first went to college I enjoyed reading Schism magazine. I have not seen one for thirty years, but I enjoy witnessing religious schism, especially among my political opponents.

Posted by: Hostile on April 27, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Amy might be surprized to learn Romney is doing well in GOP polling.Posted by: Frequency Kenneth

Not saying much as anyone looks good compared to the current GOP piece of shit in the White House. Furthermore, no one's going to be voting for anyone from the GOP in 2006 or 2008 unless they start turning their kool aid to wine and raising the dead.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

priot = prior.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

lib and craigie, we all realize you consider it sport to willfully mischaracterize everything Amy writes, but you might bother to read it once in a while before calling her a hypocrite. As anyone who read that 2003 article of hers knows, by "get religion," she meant that Democrats needed to do a better job of religious outreach because they get their asses kicked among Catholics and evangelicals unless someone like Clinton (who knew how to talk about religion like it mattered to people) was running.

Posted by: brett c. on April 27, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

"There is no religious test in this country"

1 word: athiests

No religious test my ass.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler on April 27, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK


And look at Hugh Hewitt's blog - Hewitt is positive about Romney.

Yes, because Hugh "I support the Harriet Miers nomination" Hewitt really has his finger on the pulse of the nation.

Posted by: M.A. on April 27, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, I think that's pretty appalling. There is no religious test in this country, and we shouldn't tolerate the de facto application of one.

There's one key difference, though. While there may be no de jure religious test in this country for office, Romney during primary season would be running for a position within his party, that of presidential candidate. While the government may not discriminate de jure, a private political party may discriminate de facto.

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

In my heart of hearts, I'd love to see a general election between Mormon Romney and Jewish Feingold, just to hear the sound of so many heads exploding.

Posted by: apostropher on April 27, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

brett -

Huh? Look, I've given up on the "Dems are hostile to religion" conversation. I'm not getting involved in that one any more. Uncle.

But that's not what my comment was about here. I was simply supporting lib's observation that there is, in fact, a religious litmus test in this country. It is simply inconceivable that a person could stand up and say "I'd like to run for dogcatcher, oh, and I don't believe in God" and win.

That's just how it is, and pretending it's not, is dishonest.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK
There's one key difference, though. While there may be no de jure religious test in this country for office, Romney during primary season would be running for a position within his party, that of presidential candidate. While the government may not discriminate de jure, a private political party may discriminate de facto.

And so can the general electorate. And, given that religion is tied up with ideology, do we even want to say that its bad that the electorate considers the religion of candidates when it goes to the polls? Certainly, we don't want the government to discriminate on religion, or to establish a de jure test for office. Neither, though, do I think we really want the public to ignore candidates religion entirely.

Now, ideally, we want them to be open minded, and realize that religious labels are a poor indicator of ideology, and at best are an indicator of what questions you want to look deeper into about a candidate. But to ignore it entirely? I think not.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

A Republican Mormon vs Hillary? Good grief!

Joseph Smith the founder and leader of Mormons, before a sensible mob shot him to death in Ohio, came a cult of magicians and white whichcraft healers in Vermont.

They believe the lost tribe arrived on these shores in 600 BC, whereupon some sensible Indians killed them all.

Who would want a New England believer in witchraft elected president?

Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Mormonism is a cult, not a religion. And a clannish cult intent on controlling as much of the business structure of the country as it can. We don't need public office holders of this sort.
Posted by: anonymous on April 27, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Is "anonymous" actually Karen taking a break from the regular Jewish banking cabal paranoia?
Posted by: shortstop

Regardless of who it is, s/he's spot on.

It is, hands down, the weirdest "religion" in America, maybe the world. All they lack is zombies and plenary indulgences.

Have you ever attended a Mormon service? Ever visted Temple Square in SLC and taken the tour (bet you didn't know that Jesus, after rising from the dead, appeared to the aborginals here in the Americas - it's right there in the Bib, er, never mind)? Been baptised for the dead recently? Got your month's supply of food stored away? And just what the hell is it that they're really store (beside food and weapons) in the tunnel facilities in the Wasatch? The state of Utah (unless you are a high ranking Elder) doesn't even know.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

the weirdest "religion" in America

The Scientologists beg to differ.

Posted by: apostropher on April 27, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Some more shit on Mormom jackasses, they are child molesters and perverts:


"Beginning in the 1830s, at least thirty-three women married Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. These were passionate relationships which also had some longevity, except in cases such as that of two young sisters, one of whom was discovered by Joseph's first wife, Emma, in a locked bedroom with the prophet. Emma remained a steadfast opponent of polygamy throughout her life.
The majority of Smith's wives were younger than he, and one-third were between fourteen and twenty years of age. Another third were already married, and some of the husbands served as witnesses at their own wife's polyandrous wedding. In addition, some of the wives hinted that they bore Smith children--most notably Sylvia Sessions's daughter Josephine--although the children carried their stepfather's surname.

For all of Smith's wives, the experience of being secretly married was socially isolating, emotionally draining, and sexually frustrating. Despite the spiritual and temporal benefits, which they acknowledged, they found their faith tested to the limit of its endurance. After Smith's death in 1844, their lives became even more "lonely and desolate." One even joined a convent. The majority were appropriated by Smith's successors, based on the Old Testament law of the Levirate, and had children by them, though they considered these guardianships unsatisfying. Others stayed in the Midwest and remarried, while one moved to California. But all considered their lives unhappy, except for the joy they found in their children and grandchildren. "

Who was that guy they shot in WACO? I can see why mods like to shoot these perverts, most mormons need to put on the sex offenders list.


Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

the weirdest "religion" in America

The Scientologists beg to differ. Posted by: apostropher

That is a tough call. I say we put them in a cage match. Whoever wins can take over the other, but they have to pay taxes.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing funnier than watching (presumably) religious folk explaining why other religions are weirder than theirs. I say "presumably" because I never see atheists do this. Wait, maybe I do. But not often.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Uh oh, Matt--now you've done it! I'm not sure you know just how big the can you just opened is!

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK
The Scientologists beg to differ.

As do the Moonies.

Posted by: KCinDC on April 27, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

I assume that brett is referring to my post accusing Ms. Sullivan of hypocrisy.

Ms. Sullivan deserves the charge, and I stand by it. Implicit in the exhortion to Democrats to 'get religion' is a kind of religious test that the Dems should pass unless you go through all sorts of convoluted illogic in order to make her not come out as a hypocrite.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The "mapping religion" maps led me to an interesting conclusion--the modern Republican party isn't the party of Christians nearly so much as it's the party of Southern Baptists.

Look at the maps. The Republican self-identified "Christian" vote is strongest not in the areas with the highest concentration of observant Christians, but in areas that have the highest concentration of Southern Baptists. Overwhelmingly, looking at these maps, it doesn't appear to be Christians writ large who support the President's, but people whose denomination is either Southern Baptist (or a Baptist-influenced fundamentalist outgrowth) who refer to themselves as "Christian" without specifying a denomination.

Interestingly, the President has done the same thing in blurring the line between "Christian" and "Baptist" for political reasons. While technically a Methodist, he almost never publicly refers to himself as one. He usually calls himself a "Christian." And Methodists themselves have pointed out that President Bush is a Southern Baptist in his political interpretations of Christianity.

What's happening today is exactly what the founders feared. One of the many religious sects in America has defined itself as the true "Christian" sect, and is using it to sieze political power.

I think it's incumbent upon us to begin more accurately describing this as the "Southern Baptist and Baptist Evangelical" vote and not the "Christian" vote. Because it does not appear to be the "Christian" vote except in the eyes of those who would have you believe there is only one Christian denomination in the US, and it is theirs.

Posted by: theorajones on April 27, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Lib and Craigie on this one. There was a bit of contradiction in Amy's comments.

And yes, there is a religous litmus test in the country. And since religion does show a person' basic belief system in some way, I'm not sure that one can just dismiss thinking about it at all.

But I think craigie's and others' basic issue with Amy is that she seems to push Democrats to accepting some of the basic BS assumptions of the religous right in talking about religon. Which is just dumb politics. I'd prefer just thinking about how you make the liberal case for policies using the language of Christianity (or whatever group your appealing to) Luckily the New Testament is replete with stories about caring and kindness and all that bleeding heart, liberal stuff.

What I'd prefer

Posted by: Samuel Knight on April 27, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, maybe as an agnostic (raised Catholic) I just don't get the vital nuances between religions. But it seems to me incredible any serious part of the GOP base would have a problem with someone for being a Mormon. My (admittedly superficial) impression of Mormonism is, they believe sex irredeemably dirty (something to be hidden), and great wealth the best signifier of human worth. Good god -- Mormons ARE the Republican party.

Posted by: demtom on April 27, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Samuel -

Thank you. Plus, I seem to recall that the Sermon on the Mount was all about progressive taxation and encouraging public transportation.

I might be a bit muddled on that one though...

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

The Scientologists beg to differ.

As do the Moonies. Posted by: KCinDC

Except for their shitty newspaper that not even the Republicans cite anymore, the Moonies are small potatoes in the U.S. with only 50,000 members, though apparently most are also members of congress and, one assumes, their families (I love the crown - looks like something he got during a visit to the Burger King in Itaewon).

http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2004/06/21/moon/index.html

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Let there be a bright light on the short (and weird) history of the LDS, and a thorough examination of their beliefs. Mitt, it doesn't look good. Moonies are not far off, and they don't get their own state and 2 Senators.

Posted by: anon on April 27, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

The Scientologists beg to differ.

As do the Moonies.

As do the Catholics, the Protestants, the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Wiccans, etc....

Face it -- they're all weird.

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Mormons are Republican but most Republicans are not Mormons. Right or wrong, Romney has no chance of getting the nomination; the fundies won't let him.

Posted by: kimster on April 27, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

But it seems to me incredible any serious part of the GOP base would have a problem with someone for being a Mormon.

It's the part about Mormons not being Christians they have a problem with.

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

they don't get their own state and 2 Senators.

Two Senators with seven technically-forbidden-but-winked-at wives each, you mean! Which is no weirder than our friends' Fitz' and McA's and Charlie's views of sex, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

For the record, Christ's visit to another people and baptism for the dead are both referenced, however indirectly, in the Bible. And it's a years supply, preferably two, of food, not a month. You have a problem being prepared? I could lose my job tomorrow and not have to worry as much about putting a meal on the table. And clearly you have no more idea what's in the Wasatch then you do what a cult is. More importantly how would any of this make something not a religion? Because you said so?

~Mark

Posted by: Mark on April 27, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Welcome to representative government. A place where citizens can vote for any reason they like and tell you to stuff it.

Posted by: james on April 27, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Mormonism is scary. I just read a book entitled "Under the Banner of Heaven that left me feeling like I dodged a bullet when I met the Major and dumped the guy I was engaged to at the time (he was a Mormon).

I would love to get into this, having graduated from an LDS college (only me and the scholarship athletes were non-mormon) but I have to get off to a tutoring session if I want to collect my pittance.

Back later!

Posted by: Global Citizen on April 27, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Face it -- they're all weird.

Not if you're one of them. Then you argue strenuously for the surpassing weirdness of the other guy. Hilarious.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Two Senators with seven technically-forbidden-but-winked-at wives each, you mean!

If I had seven wives, winking at them would be about all I could muster up...

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

That the bulk of Mormon Fundamentalists believe defrauding the government honorable gives me pause at the prospect of electing one of them. THey refer to government fraud and welfare fraud specifically as "Bleeding the Beast."

Posted by: Global Citizen on April 27, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Good god -- Mormons ARE the Republican party.
Posted by: demtom

Does that mean that what we were seeing on Shrub's back during the "debates" in 2004 wasn't really a receiver but just some Mormon funny underwear?

http://molelog.molehill.org/blomt/archives/2003/05/mormon_garments.html

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Amy,

Do you think liberals would vote for a Mormon candidate? I'm skeptical. Not necessarily b/c we liberal christians would be put off over a difference in faith, but b/c liberals find mormon belief to just be too weird, and question the judgment of anyone who possesses it. I don't know how many liberals feel this way, but I wouldn't be suprised if there were a significant amount who do. Could it be the conservative voters feel the same way? It may not be fair, but certainly it's possible that people are prejudiced against other religions because it's easier for them to recognize the wackiness of (some) religious beliefs when they're looking at someone else's religion.

Posted by: Michael Roetzel on April 27, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know for sure that L. Ron Hubbard channeled Joseph Smith, but it sure looks that way. Both organizations promote equally outlandish beliefs.

For those who'd like to know more about the teachings of the LDS, Jon Krakauer ("Into Thin Air') gives a wealth of detail in "Under the Banner of Heaven."

Reommended.

Posted by: ZakAttack on April 27, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

If I had seven wives, winking at them would be about all I could muster up...

What?! Have I overestimated you?

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Comment 2 by Burzootie: You didn't find a contradiction. Saying that Dems need to begin acnowledging religion more is not the same as calling for a religion test.

Comment 3 by Ruck is just asinine.

Comment 4 by lib demonstrates some really bad reading by failing to note the difference between de facto and de jure.

Posted by: Michael Roetzel on April 27, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, my buddhist religion isn't weird. In fact, the priest told us that if he ever says anything that is contrary to common sense, we should interrupt him immediately and demand a retraction.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on April 27, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

What?! Have I overestimated you?

Sure. That stuff at the cheerleader circus that I told you about, I was much younger then...

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Roetzel

My Latin is indeed weak, but the statement

There is no religious test in this country, and we shouldn't tolerate the de facto application of one..

suggests more than what you think it does. In light of what Amy has written in the past, it is quite galling actually.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

More quotes from 1993:


"In part, this is a simple matter of self-identification: Voters who are churchgoers prefer a president who is, too."

"According to a 2000 survey by the nonpartisan research group Public Agenda, of those who want religion to become more influential in public life, three-quarters don't care which religion it is, only that it's sincere. "


...

"In order to attract the support of the faithful, Democrats need a candidate and staffers who understand their mindset and can speak their language."

...

"Although many elected Democrats are religious, their staffs generally are not. I know of several liberal Catholic senators who have, at one time or another, replaced experienced senior advisors with junior members of their staff who were personally religious, because those aides were able to understand the tension the senators faced on certain social issues like abortion."

"Moreover, an authentically religious Democrat would have the moral standing to criticize the "bait and switch" aspect of other Bush policy pledges, on issues from AIDS prevention to hydrogen-powered cars."


Whatever the merits of Amy's argument, it's clear she has been quite unbothered by the de facto application of one set of religious tests.

Posted by: Burzootie on April 27, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

For the record, Christ's visit to another people and baptism for the dead are both referenced, however indirectly, in the Bible.

Don't start slingin' down this kind of crap if you're not going to cite book, chapter, and verse. And don't be citing some Book of Mormon nonsense.

And clearly you have no more idea what's in the Wasatch then (sic) you do what a cult is.

Like I said, it's a given that part of stores are weapons and food, and the ever important geneological records.

More importantly how would any of this make something not a religion? Because you said so?Posted by: Mark

Duh.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK


Do you think liberals would vote for a Mormon candidate? I'm skeptical.

I'm not, what with Harry Reid being a Mormon and all.

Posted by: cminus on April 27, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Apologies. I of course meant 2003.

Posted by: Burzootie on April 27, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Burzootie really nails it.

Thanks.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

"...authentically religious Democrat..."

How do we become authentically religious?

I wana be authentically religious. How do I do that? Is there a registry somewhere?

Old Jack Kennedy seemed authentic, but he still screwed movie stars, but that sounds OK by me, better then them Mormons screwing teenagers.

Catholic priests are authentic, and they screw altar boys.

Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'll go with Mr. Roetzel and Brett C. here. No one wants the Dems to have a religious test or demand that all Dems be religious.

It would, however, be nice to point out to the non-conservative religious that the Democratic Party platform is a lot more in line with the whole "love your brother as yourself" stuff than the other guys'.

[i]"Are you Mormon or LDS?"-Brian Billick, Baltimore Ravens coach, to a co-ed when he was a non-Mormon attending Brigham Young to play football and had no idea what LDS was.

"I don't care how you Brigham, just Brigham Young."-John Unitas, trying to prove he could do the "Dandy" Don Meredith routine on a CBS NFL broadcast in the mid-70s.[/i]

Posted by: anonyguy on April 27, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Harry Reid being a Mormon and all."

Great, even the Democrats are screwing the teenagers.

Posted by: Matt on April 27, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Real good piece in Slate this week about Mitt's ham-handed attempts to josh about polygamy.

On the stump: "I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman ... and one woman ... and one woman."

Ba da bumm -- chhh!

I used to converse with a self-described "Mormon cultural dissident" all the time in the 90s on a "free speech" national BBS. These guys are about the strangest flavor of mainstream America there is. Scientology really doesn't count, because you're usually some kind of weird elitist to be attracted to it to begin with.

All this being said -- I like the fact that Mitt's in the race. All the better to assure some fundie-approved cultural firebreather gets nominated who can't hide behind "compassionate conservatism."

The more we let the GOP base romp all over the primaries and have their merry little way -- the better it will be for us.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

When Did Being Rational Become a GOP Requirement?

"I have heard Republicans who have read the Book of Mormon express astonishment that any rational person could believe that." -Bob Novak

Perhaps those same Republicans should explain how "any rational person" could read the Bible and "believe that" is to be taken completely literally as the absolute word of God.

If being "rational" about such matters were a requirement for the Republican party nomination, this would exclude a large majority of Republicans and probably the current President as well.

How could any "rational person" look at all of the evidence and conclude that humans were created as they are today and not subject to evolution or that humans have been around for less than 10,000 years? It appears the most Republicans believe this.

http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/CBSNews_polls/religion_041306.pdf

Posted by: Catch22 on April 27, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sure. That stuff at the cheerleader circus that I told you about, I was much younger then...

This is a sad, sad day. Disillusionment, thy name is craigie!

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

The Christian Right sure didn't mind supporting a Moron. How much difference could one "m" make?

Posted by: trueblue on April 27, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Is Romney a serious, practising Mormon or just someone of Mormon background, like one-time liberal favorite Mo Udall?

Posted by: C.J.Colucci on April 27, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen brings up a very good point that the history of Mormonism is rife with violent resistance against the US government.

And not just those polygamous splinter groups (the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints) out there in the hinterland with their trailers linked by human gerbil tubes (one for each wife and set of kids) -- but the whole history of the mainline LDS.

They truly do believe that secular government is a feeble compromise and preach preparedness for the coming theocracy.

There are few religions that I'd out-and-out reject a presidential candidate over.

But the LDS is definitely one of them.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

The Christian Right sure didn't mind supporting a Moron. How much difference could one "m" make?

Bwa!

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

CJ Colucci:

Romney is a serious, practicing Mormon elder like Orrin Hatch.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Demtom--it may not seem to make much sense on the surface, especially if you're not a believer yourself, but in practical difference terms the differences between religions and between Christian denominations are substantial. To pick just one area where people of differently religions mingle and not infrequently wind up talking about their differences--in science fiction fandom, Catholics, Mormons, and Conservative or Reform religious Jews have little difficulty talking to each other about issues of values and morals, even when we disagree, while discussions on the same subjects between any of the above and either Protestants or atheists quickly get very testy. The basic reason for this is that in the great divide over works vs. faith, Catholics, Mormans, and Jews tend to come down on the side of "works matter--a lot", while many Protestant denominations come down strongly on the "justification by faith alone" side, and atheists, at least the flavor of atheist that thinks it worthwhile to get into these discussions, tend to think that religious believers, especially Christians, ought to believe "justification by faith alone", and think we're cheating if we don't.

And so no matter how much of a raving righty Romney really is, the Republican raving right will never trust him. And they're right not to, because no matter how hard-right he is, Romney still thinks that competence, and actual performance in critical situations, really matters, and sometimes he just can't help showing it.

Case in point: a few months back an old wooden dam in Taunton started to buckle. Romney rushed in state aid, and put pressure on the private company that owned the dam, to get the dam replaced before it broke, saving Taunton from a disastrous flood. The standard winger whining about who should be responsible for paying for this still happened--but after the immediate crisis was over. Which is why Romney, far too conservative to get re-elected in MA, will never be a Republican national candidate for anything--not even if we had a national office of Dogcatcher.

Posted by: Lis Carey on April 27, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

From the Novak article "I have heard Republicans who have read the Book of Mormon say with astonishment that anyone could believe that". Presumably this includes Evangelical Republicans who believe the Earth was created in seven days(24 hours each, count them), and Catholic Republicans who believe(it is required dogma--ex cathera 1950 by Pius XII)in the bodily assumption of Mary.

Posted by: lee on April 27, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

What Lib said, and it's a shame that the party of Jefferson has made superstition mandatory for higher public office.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on April 27, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

How could any "rational person" look at all of the evidence and conclude that humans were created as they are today and not subject to evolution or that humans have been around for less than 10,000 years? It appears the most Republicans believe this.

Everyone should take a look at the poll. While CBS concludes that most Americans are religious, if you look at the numbers questions by question most show the exact opposite to be true.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Lis Carey:

Really thoughtful post. I've had these kinds of debates, and I agree with you that that's how it breaks down, and works vs faith is a big component of it.

Although usually atheists reject any kind of justification; I haven't seen an atheist make a big deal over what a believer should believe in the context of their own faiths. But that would be interesting, certainly ...

And I agree with you about Romney. He'll also *never* live down being a Yankee in the primaries that will ultimately decide.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Mormons are fucking hypocrites.

We say we have religious freedom in this country, but until Mormons are free to practice VOLUNTARY polygamy, we don't have religious freedom. For Mormons to take this point of doctrine, reject it out of political expediency for the sake of complying with law, makes them hypocrites, and all the other "religious freedom" people are hypocrites too.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on April 27, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Improved images of the religious density maps,

http://robotwisdom.com/issues/religmaps.html

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

OBF

For Mormons to take this point of doctrine, reject it out of political expediency for the sake of complying with law, makes them hypocrites

I also seem to recall a similar change of heart in the Mormon church when it came to African-Americans being allowed to be elders. Also, I find the tendency of certain Mormons to deny that their church ever had such a change of heart to be a bit disconcerting.

Posted by: Ugh on April 27, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh:

Good point. Really made a rather loud dissonace with their furious efforts to evangelize in developing countries ...

They're being blown away by charismatics -- who are at this moment the fastest growing church demonination category in the entire world.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Other things being equal, who'd have the hardest time winning office:

1) a professed atheist,
2) a Scientologist, or
3) a Muslim?

Posted by: Peter on April 27, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

As the present chief-highest, most self-beloved executive of the United States has introduced God as his main source and decision maker, and has set out to break down the separation of church and state, how could someone's religion NOT come into the equation.

CLDS believes itself to be the one true resurrected church of Jesus Christ. Mormon's believe in God's revelation to them even down to advice in mundane matters. Their church president is a prophet as in a present day Moses. Somehow they have an exact view of how heaven is structured and who gets to go where. And they somehow very carelessly lost their gold paged book of Mormon. Isrealite tribes came over, in what?, 600BC (bad luck Lief). And more, and more, and more. Cult or not, it was created mostly by one guy who seems more human than saintly.

I've had enough of religious types telling me and everyone else that we should live life by their book.

All presidential candidates should swear before running to uphold the constitution and the separation of church and state.

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I also seem to recall a similar change of heart in the Mormon church when it came to African-Americans being allowed to be elders. Also, I find the tendency of certain Mormons to deny that their church ever had such a change of heart to be a bit disconcerting. Posted by: Ugh

Bingo!

Back in the 80s the question arose when they were deciding whether to elevate a black elder to bishop level. The MSM got a hold of this, and the history of dicrimination in the JCCLDS, and boy did that "law" change really fast.

Over the weekend,the elder at the time had a vision or was "visited" by Brigham Young or 'ol Joe Smith in the night (note to those unfamiliar with Mormonism: Christ and the Bible rarely enter into anything to do with this "Christian" religion), and was told that a negro, er, an African-American Bishop was cool.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK
Global Citizen brings up a very good point that the history of Mormonism is rife with violent resistance against the US government.

And not just those polygamous splinter groups (the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints) out there in the hinterland with their trailers linked by human gerbil tubes (one for each wife and set of kids) -- but the whole history of the mainline LDS.

Er, the mainline LDS itself started as a "polygamous splinter group out there in the hinterlands" that was repressed by the US government largely, initially, because doing so was a means of diverting some of the energy from the Republicans and the rising opposition to slavery.

Its stopped being one in order to stop being repressed.

They truly do believe that secular government is a feeble compromise and preach preparedness for the coming theocracy.

There are few religions that I'd out-and-out reject a presidential candidate over.

But the LDS is definitely one of them.

Eh, most of the actual LDS members I've gotten to know didn't believe anything like that; like any other religion, I'd look to the evidence as to the individuals beliefs.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Peter:

Where? San Francisco city council? I think it'd be a tossup :)

*National* office -- as in Congress or the Presidency?

Hmmm ... given the three choices, I think a Scientologist would have the best chance.

Odds are that the Scientologist would be fabulously wealthy and connected in a significant way to some megalithic entertainment infrastructure.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'll tell you why Romney should not get the nomination: because his name is Mitt. What the hell kind of name is "Mitt"?

I herewith propose a Constitutional amendment to bar anyone named Mitt from holding the Presidency. And I'll throw the name "Jeb" in there for good measure.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on April 27, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Mormons are fucking hypocrites.

So they have the other person take a hypocrisy test before they fuck her?

Posted by: nut on April 27, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

The Christian Right sure didn't mind supporting a Moron. How much difference could one "m" make?

Fabulous!

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK
We say we have religious freedom in this country, but until Mormons are free to practice VOLUNTARY polygamy, we don't have religious freedom. For Mormons to take this point of doctrine, reject it out of political expediency for the sake of complying with law, makes them hypocrites, and all the other "religious freedom" people are hypocrites too.

While, historically, the LDS Church certainly seems to have been swayed by the threat of violent repression to abandon the doctrine of polygamy, almost any one raised in the Church in the past century hasn't rejected the doctrine for that reason, they've never held it, and they may well have come to believe it was a mistake for the Church to ever have held it.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK
Odds are that the Scientologist would be fabulously wealthy and connected in a significant way to some megalithic entertainment infrastructure.

Scientologists are no more likely to be that that any other religion. Though the Church of Scientology does a good job of making sure that its elite members are highly visible, and most of its other members invisible.

Whatever else you say about them, the missionaries recruiting people for the LDS Church don't tend to hide that they are LDS behind supposedly scientific "personality tests".

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

theorajones,

You are spot on about the Republican party being the Southern Baptist party.

I highly recommend "The American Theocracy" by Kevin Phillips.

I'm not religion-bashing. I'm just stating facts.

Posted by: Tripp on April 27, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Other things being equal, who'd have the hardest time winning office:

1) a professed atheist,
2) a Scientologist, or
3) a Muslim?"

Now there is a real challenge to the "there will be no litmus test" charge in the Constitution. I think an atheist would have an easier time getting elected over a scientologist.

But in all seriousness, the poor Muslim who ran for elected office would be put through the ringer for his stance on "what aspects" of his religion would he adhere, too. For example, Shari'a law, etc. All of which would amount to a religious litmus test of which, given our nation's current social status and mindset, fail.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on April 27, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Lis Carey: thanks for the thoughtful response.

Posted by: demtom on April 27, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever else you say about them, the missionaries recruiting people for the LDS Church don't tend to hide that they are LDS behind supposedly scientific "personality tests".

Don't forget the Santa's lap scam. At Christmas time, the scientologists set up a little north pole scene, complete with fake snow, right there on Hollywood Boulevard. Then they entice the kiddies to sit on Santa's lap. Presumably Santa asks them if they want a personality test for Christmas.

Fucking creepy.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

> "And not just those polygamous splinter groups (the Fundamentalist
> Church of Latter-Day Saints) out there in the hinterland with their
> trailers linked by human gerbil tubes (one for each wife and set of
> kids) -- but the whole history of the mainline LDS."

> Er, the mainline LDS itself started as a "polygamous splinter group
> out there in the hinterlands"

Obviously.

> that was repressed by the US government largely, initially,
> because doing so was a means of diverting some of the energy
> from the Republicans and the rising opposition to slavery.

That was essentially my point, Chris. Except I'd have to say
that widespread national revulsion over the practice of polygamy
was probably a much bigger factor than any kind of tactical
political consideration -- not that it didn't figure in at
all, of course. Only that it would have happened regardless.

> Its stopped being one in order to stop being repressed.

Exactly what I mean when I say that the history of the
LDS is steeped in violent resistance to the outside world.
Utah was almost at war with the federal government over polygamy.

> "They truly do believe that secular government is a feeble
> compromise and preach preparedness for the coming theocracy."

> "There are few religions that I'd out-and-out
> reject a presidential candidate over."

> "But the LDS is definitely one of them."

> Eh, most of the actual LDS members I've gotten to know
> didn't believe anything like that;

Are you sure they're LDS members in good standing? Or are they
cultural refugees? I've met a few ex-Mormons, and all of them
seem to have horror stories about growing up in the church.

> like any other religion, I'd look to the
> evidence as to the individuals beliefs.

I'm concerned to the extent that they're hooked
up with the Utah church hierarchy. Harry Reid, Mo
Udall, Mitt Romney as governor of Mass, even Orrin
Hatch don't bug me too much being practicing Mormons.

But they're not presidents, either.

As far as I'm aware, although there are several
fundamentalist splinter groups, there's no such thing
as liberal branches of the LDS. That's part of what
gives me pause: The centralized hierarchical control.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

The basic reason for this is that in the great divide over works vs. faith, Catholics, Mormans, and Jews tend to come down on the side of "works matter--a lot", while many Protestant denominations come down strongly on the "justification by faith alone" side, and atheists, at least the flavor of atheist that thinks it worthwhile to get into these discussions, tend to think that religious believers, especially Christians, ought to believe "justification by faith alone", and think we're cheating if we don't.

Really? How fascinating. This particular atheist right here, I can tell you, would come down on the side of works.

In fact, to me, that's one of the things that makes the whole idea of religion == morality so nonsensical. Clearly, people can and do do good, moral things, without necessarily believing the "right" stuff.

And just as clearly (modern GOP, I'm looking at you) it's possible to talk all kinds of "morality" while behaving in as immoral a way as possible.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie -- ditto

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Theresa Nielsen Hayden's memoir of growing up Mormon,

http://nielsenhayden.com/GodandI.html

(There's also something about the Mormon Holy PJ's of Jesus that adult Mormon's are supposed to wear under their clothes, but I can't find it.)

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Well, the choice *was* between an atheist, a Muslim and a Scientologist (sheesh, is *that* not the first line to an obvious joke? Who can make it up, c'mon: An athist, a Muslim and a Scientologist walk into a bar ...)

I'd say a Mormon would win out over any of them for national office, of course. Being, at least nominally, "Christian."

This is only anecdotal, of course, but I've met my share of atheists, Muslims, Mormons (at least ex-Mormons), Buddhists, Hindus, etc. ...

But not a single Scientologist. Ever. Okay ... one ex-Scientologist who was going through a religious phase and tried just about everything that came along, including EST, Silva Mind Control and Rosicrucianism ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 27, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say a Mormon would win out over any of them for national office, of course. Being, at least nominally, "Christian."

Eh, I wouldn't consider Mormons to be Christians. More Smithians, really.

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

(There's also something about the Mormon Holy PJ's of Jesus that adult Mormon's are supposed to wear under their clothes, but I can't find it.)
Posted by: cld

See my post at 3:25, includes visual aid!

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Now there is a real challenge to the "there will be no litmus test" charge in the Constitution. I think an atheist would have an easier time getting elected over a scientologist.

I say the atheist would have a harder time, but that's because I have persecution-complex envy of the Christian right.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I want to mention that my handle has no relation to Church of Latter Day Saints.

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

At Christmas time, the scientologists set up a little north pole scene, complete with fake snow, right there on Hollywood Boulevard. Then they entice the kiddies to sit on Santa's lap. Presumably Santa asks them if they want a personality test for Christmas.

Is this for real? Or are you joking?

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I think the Mormon wins because it says "Church" right there somewhere. Plus, they have way more money...

I guess atheists could win if we changed the name to the Church of Just Not Buying It.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I am glad to see so many atheists here. We should form a religion.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Is this for real? Or are you joking?

I kid you not. Remind me, and in 6 months I'll go out and take a picture of it. In fact, they've probably already got one somewhere - I'm sure they think it's fabulous.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

lib, I'm not sure you really get the One True Atheism. You'll have to form your own splinter sect, and meet in some basement somewhere.

Or maybe some catacombs...

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Catch22 at 4:03.

When I first read the Book of Mormon, I found it to be rather obviously written in the style of the King James version of the Bible, but with much less poetry. Compared to the King James Bible, the Book of Mormon is stilted and really DOES read like it was written by a teenager.

And the whole thing about it being written on plates of gold, and the magic eyeglasses that let Joseph Smith read it. I mean, come on.

But can anyone really find Mormon myths to be any mroe ridiculous, on their face, than those in the Bible itself? Noah's Ark? The miracle of loaves and fishes? Parting the Red Sea? Rising from the dead after three days?

My favorite laugher has always been "ascending bodily into Heaven." Just where IS heaven, pray tell. Must be upward from here, cuz Jesus "ascended" after all. Or did he just ascend until he got so small you couldn't see him anymore, and then hung a left and straight on to Heaven.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 27, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

We should first have something to splinter from.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think Lis' point was not that atheists rate works as less important than belief, but that a lot of atheists think that that's how a "real" Christian should define her or his faith. As a sort of "gotcha," in other words.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK
As far as I'm aware, although there are several fundamentalist splinter groups, there's no such thing as liberal branches of the LDS.

There are lots of LDS splinter groups (lots of them fairly old anti-polygamy splinter groups), and some of them are at least comparatively liberal (certainly the very young and small "Reform Mormon" group is, but the he more significant Reorganized LDS/Community of Christ groups seem to be as well).


Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Great, now I have other atheists ordering me around. I didn't sign up for this!

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

At Christmas time, the scientologists set up a little north pole scene, complete with fake snow, right there on Hollywood Boulevard. Then they entice the kiddies to sit on Santa's lap. Presumably Santa asks them if they want a personality test for Christmas.

Why no one has set up a "Sit on Satan's Lap" display, with cute little devils in place of elves, I'll never know....

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Great, now I have other atheists ordering me around. I didn't sign up for this!

Quiet, you. Remember the vow of obedience you took when you signed on as an atheist.

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Obedience!? I thought they were addressing me: "Oh, badass!"

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think Lis' point was not that atheists rate works as less important than belief, but that a lot of atheists think that that's how a "real" Christian should define her or his faith.

No, I get that. But I still find it surprising, since that wouldn't be my metric for how faith should work. If faith doesn't change your behaviour, what's the point of it?

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

We should first have something to splinter from.

How about you be the People's Front of Judea, and I'll be the Judean People's Front?

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Why no one has set up a "Sit on Satan's Lap" display, with cute little devils in place of elves, I'll never know....

You obviously aren't spending time in the right parts of Manhattan.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

charlie don't surf wrote: For the record, my buddhist religion isn't weird. In fact, the priest told us that if he ever says anything that is contrary to common sense, we should interrupt him immediately and demand a retraction.

The Buddha himself taught this, some 2500 years ago, as recorded in the Kalama Sutra:

The Kalamas who were inhabitants of Kesaputta sitting on one side said to the Blessed One: "There are some monks and Brahmins, venerable sir, who visit Kesaputta. They expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces. Some other monks and Brahmins too, venerable sir, come to Kesaputta. They also expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces. Venerable sir, there is doubt; there is uncertainty in us concerning them. Which of these reverend monks and Brahmins spoke the truth and which falsehood?"

The Buddha replied:

"It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful.

Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.'

Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them.

[...]

Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 27, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII,

That's really, just so, oh what is the word? bravuraunderwearismo, with the cod piece and all.

Now we know why Orrin de Hatch always looks so over warmed.

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

You obviously aren't spending time in the right parts of Manhattan.

I know. I'm beginning to think he's a faker from Montauk.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

That's really, just so, oh what is the word? bravuraunderwearismo, with the cod piece and all.

Who was that Mormon baseball player who covered up from chin to toes? I should really know this.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

How about you be the People's Front of Judea, and I'll be the Judean People's Front?

Fine with me (but next time I will fight). We will face north to unpray. You guys can take any other direction.

Posted by: lib on April 27, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie and Bob--I'm not trying to make a generalized statement about all atheists, and I also don't mean that the ones I'm talking about believe in justification by faith themselves. I'm talking about a particular flavor of vocal atheist encountered in sf fandom; the same variety may not be so prevalent in other contexts, and my suspicion is that they are, like other annoying people, a vocal minority unrepresentative of others that they theoretically agree with.

But this particular flavor of atheist tends to buy into the fundamentalist Christians' definition of "religion" and to believe that monotheists, including Catholics, Mormons, and Jews, who say they don't believe in Biblical literalism, and talk about the importance of actions as opposed to just subscribing to a particular set of doctrines, are somehow "cheating", trying to have it both ways, be religious AND be intellectually respectable. They use phrases like "cafeteria Christian" and play "gotcha" games with Biblical quotes that are only problematic for people who believe in a fundamentalist version of Biblical literalism. They seem to be convinced that, if we really believe in evolution, and the usefulness of socially progressive government policies, we must be hypocrites who remain religiously active for social reasons--we can't really be believing Catholics, Mormons, Jews. They apparently can't absorb the idea that evolution is taught in Catholic parochial schools, and Brigham Young University is a major center for paleontology research. They don't believe in justification by faith alone (and they usually can't identify it by that name); they just think that we must if we're religious, and if we don't, we're lying when we claim to be religious.

It's annoying and frustrating.

But it's no great surprise to me that they might not represent the beliefs of most atheists. And yet it's easy, too, given the abysmal reporting on religion by our so-called news media, that lots of non-believers might be confused, especially if they don't themselves know a lot of believers well enough to talk to them about these issues outside of the let's-argue-because-it's-fun atmosphere of settings like sf conventions.

Posted by: Lis Carey on April 27, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Who was that Mormon baseball player who covered up from chin to toes?

Oilcan Boyd?

No wait, he was in the Wizard of Oz. No wait, that was Ozzie Smith.

Damn, this trivia stuff is hard!

lib: unpray is a word I will have to steal and use immediately.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm too hard on the undies. They have a 19th century folksy charm, like griddle cakes and whale oil.

Somewhere down in the comments on that page, "Orthodox Jewish men also wear a special undergarment".

Can we get a photo of that?

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

me: Why no one has set up a "Sit on Satan's Lap" display, with cute little devils in place of elves, I'll never know....

craigie: You obviously aren't spending time in the right parts of Manhattan.

You know, I think you and I both know that I am...

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Though now I know what I'm going to do for Burning Man....

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Massive explosion registered on seismometers in offshore naval test range,

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20060427-9999-1n27boom.html

A bunker buster test?

Several months before the April 4 incident, the team had begun studying other nonquake disturbances that were registering on San Diego County seismometers, including 76 that apparently originated in that same general area of the ocean in 2003.

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Ha! Burning Santa!

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Santa, Santa, burning bright.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

But this particular flavor of atheist tends to buy into the fundamentalist Christians' definition of "religion" and to believe that monotheists, including Catholics, Mormons, and Jews, who say they don't believe in Biblical literalism, and talk about the importance of actions as opposed to just subscribing to a particular set of doctrines, are somehow "cheating", trying to have it both ways, be religious AND be intellectually respectable. They use phrases like "cafeteria Christian" and play "gotcha" games with Biblical quotes that are only problematic for people who believe in a fundamentalist version of Biblical literalism. They seem to be convinced that, if we really believe in evolution, and the usefulness of socially progressive government policies, we must be hypocrites who remain religiously active for social reasons--we can't really be believing Catholics, Mormons, Jews. They apparently can't absorb the idea that evolution is taught in Catholic parochial schools, and Brigham Young University is a major center for paleontology research. They don't believe in justification by faith alone (and they usually can't identify it by that name); they just think that we must if we're religious, and if we don't, we're lying when we claim to be religious.

I'm not sure there's really that many of those kinds of atheists, its just that the old Don P uses so many different handles...

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, perhaps Romney's Mormonism makes it impossible for him to win...

Posted by: parrot on April 27, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Lis Carey--
I think it can be summed up in "actions speak louder than words" and that any two people might not interpret or define their religiosity the same way, so picking over the wordsis unproductive.

Although I find it hard to believe anyone can read the bible literally (I had a Christina upbringing), see catch22's link to cbs news poll.

Only 8% believe in neither god or a higher power, 16% no personal religion, and 13% think religion not important. 43% read the bible literally, and 74% believe god guided evolution or (44% of same total) that humans came along in the last 10,000 years.

So, whoever is teaching this stuff, religious fundamental thinking seems to be winning over science in the US, even if the gap may be closing.

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

I also had a Christian upbringing but she was way more fun.

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

You obviously aren't spending time in the right parts of Manhattan.

I know. I'm beginning to think he's a faker from Montauk. Posted by: shortstop

Worse, Ft. Lee.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Fot around world religiosity comparison, see:

www.gallup-international.com/ContentFiles/millennium15.asp

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

43% read the bible literally,

I don't believe this, actually. I think most people don't have much of a religious education - they just absorb it from parents and culture, but they don't study it.

What made me an atheist was sunday school - I'd come home and think "come on, they can't honestly believe that"

So when they are asked about the accuracy of the Bible, they just say "sure, yeah, whatever." If they had actually been taken through it, especially at an age where they might have developed some critical facilities, they wouldn't just swallow it whole like that.

I hope.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Just feel the need to say that there is some really vile "Mormons suck, they're all " comments on these boards.

It's one thing to discuss a religion's leadership and history, it's one thing to discuss the agenda that an organized church is pushing, or the political acts its taking, or the things you oppose that it does as an organization.

It's quite another to engage in "Mormons are teh suck! You can't vote for Mormons, they are all moneygrubbing and they hate America!" Seriously, is someone going to instruct us all to read the Protocols of the Elders of Moroni to get the inside scoop on their evil plan?

I'm sorry if the offensive comments are all trolls and the folks here are being disciplined and not rising to the bait. Kudos to y'all for your self restraint. Just thought someone should go on the record.

Posted by: theorajones on April 27, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII: Worse, Ft. Lee

How dare you! I say good day, sir!

[Pause]

Did you hear me, sir? I said good day!

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: I'm not sure there's really that many of those kinds of atheists, its just that the old Don P uses so many different handles.

Don P's belligerence towards religion was consistently directed at, and only at, self-identified "liberal" Christians.

His current handle, "GOP", explains why that was so, by helpfully making clear that he is just another regurgitator of scripted right-wing Republican propaganda, although perhaps more pompous and pretentious than most.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 27, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I know. I'm beginning to think he's a faker from Montauk.

Actually Southampton. I'm more for beaches than boats.

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

How dare you! I say good day, sir!

[Pause]

Did you hear me, sir? I said good day! Posted by: Stefan

Oh! Did I saw Ft. Lee? I meant Newark.

Keep digging, monkey boy!

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Skepchicks. For Skeptical Women.

http://www.livescience.com/othernews/060413_skepchick.html

Skepchicks "is an organization dedicated to promoting skepticism and critical thinking among women around the world," according to founder Rebecca Watson. Skepchicks is aimed primarily at women who may or may not consider themselves "skeptics" or have any knowledge of the skeptical community. However, men and women currently active in skepticism should find the content fun and informative.

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

When i'm reeeeely cynical i think of the LDS as a cross between the:

Borg (Utah is the beehive state, hive mentality & politics)

&

Ferengi (greed; we don't smoke and drink, but profiting from others' foibles is really good)

Posted by: natural cynic on April 27, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

When I am feeling really cynical, I bark.

Posted by: Hostile on April 27, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe W is a secret Mormon fundy with part time wives Condi and Karen.

'course Jenna makes me think maybe not!

Posted by: natural cynic on April 27, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Dear not-god

thank you for intelligent funny self-possessed Massachusetts-livin' Mormon-raised red-head twins who are not impressed with Mitt either.

oh - that sittin' on my lap at parties thing is cool too.

Posted by: kenga on April 27, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

natural cynic may be on to something. Didn't we just read last week that all Cheney's aides are women?

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I'm not even sure what to say. I have never seen so much ignorance about what the LDS people really believe in my life, or at least so much willful twisting and degrading of it.

There is pleny of good information out there about them...you ought to do a little reading from sources whose sole purpose is not to try and bash and discredit the Mormons. I mean really...some of you sound really stupid.

Having been to quite a few LDS meetings, for example, most everything was centered around Christ. On their cover of their Book of Mormon, it says right under the title 'another testament of Jesus Christ". And if you actually read some of it, the whole thing is about Christ and faith and works.

Anyway, reading these posts just kind of made me sick. Alot of talking without really knowing what you are talking about.

Posted by: zona on April 27, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Having been to quite a few LDS meetings, for example, most everything was centered around Christ. On their cover of their Book of Mormon, it says right under the title 'another testament of Jesus Christ". And if you actually read some of it, the whole thing is about Christ and faith and works.

Well, no matter what the cover of the book says, the fact remains that every thing between the covers is the product of the, admittedly fertile, imagination of a whackjob from Vermont who was lynched for heresy in Illinois one hundred fifty years ago. Now, while I abhor vigilante justice and believe everyone has the right to believe anything they want and create any kind of wacky religion they see fit, it doesn't mean that we have to call their followers Christian or can't call them heretics when they truly are (especially when they consider all other Christians to be hopelessly lost and condemned to hell).

And contrary to what Amy may think, I believe that anyone who buys into this bullshit, is buy definition, unqualified to be president.

Posted by: Freder Frederson on April 27, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Having been to quite a few LDS meetings, for example, most everything was centered around Christ. On their cover of their Book of Mormon, it says right under the title 'another testament of Jesus Christ". And if you actually read some of it, the whole thing is about Christ and faith and works.

Anyway, reading these posts just kind of made me sick. Alot of talking without really knowing what you are talking about. Posted by: zona

Sorry to hear that the deprogramming isn't going too well.

"Zona"? My guess would be as in Northern Arizona, where you find that state's concentration.

Hey, don't get some of us here wrong. I've known a couple dozen Mormons over the years, all nice people, and certainly nicer and more in tune with the real world than any fundies I've know. But Joseph Smith was a whack job to be sure, a common religious charlatan at the very least.

That being said, I don't think he probably made up any more shit about Christianity that couldn't be found in the New Testement than did the Catholics. I mean, what's up with this pope nonsense?

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Is any of the information on this board credible? I read a few comments by JeffII and everything he says is pretty silly. I hope some of you take the time to become actually informed on things, rather than just making stuff up or posting silly internet rumors.

Posted by: Mendelbaum on April 27, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

People wishing to learn about the origins of the LDS Church would do well to visit
http://www.salamandersociety.com/howobvious/

Even those already in the church might read that because apparently these things have been covered up within the church for years. Members are asked to blindly trust their faith while ignoring the DNA evidence regarding , the opinions of Egyptologists and archeologists regarding the authenticity of their Book of Abraham, and the thin line between adultery and the "secret polygamy" that their founder, and self-declared Prophet, practiced.

So this is not really a matter of Christian vs non-Christian ... After reading all the logical holes in the formation and current doctrine of this church, one must truly question the ability of this potential candidate of the highest office of the United States to discern fact from clever fantasy.

Posted by: Joe Notasmith on April 27, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Zona: "Anyway, reading these posts just kind of made me sick. Alot of talking without really knowing what you are talking about."

Sort of be like a conversation with a fundi about the origin of the species. Or a nice, cool, calm, sane conversation about the origins of the one true church of Jesus Christ along with its other created beliefs and dogmas with a Mormon.

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

I read a few comments by JeffII and everything he says is pretty silly. I hope some of you take the time to become actually informed on things, rather than just making stuff up or posting silly internet rumors. Posted by: Mendelbaum

Hey, Tannebaum, you been to SLC? Ever visit Temple Square? Ever attend a Mormon service? Do you actually know any Mormons? If not, fuck off. I've made a point of educating myself about this "religion." Everything I've posted is easily documented. Just a few Google clicks away.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's my understanding that it is a practice recommended to Mormons that they keep a year's supply of food in the house at all times.

I don't know what the basis for that is in Mormon thought, but it is probably good advice for everyone in these times.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 27, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII, I am actually in Ohio. But since you brought it up, I do not some about those "fudamentalist mormon" groups you bring up...none of them are Mormon. They don't have any relationship at all to the Mormon church. There are not any polygamist Mormons. If a Mormon tried to become a polygamist they are kicked out the church. I've met a couple in my travels, and none of them claim an connectio the LDS church, of which Mitt Romney is a member.

Have you ever read the Book or Mormon. Here is a Google fact for you: The word Christ appears in the Book of Mormon over 1700 times.

Go read the LDS churches website if you want to know what they believe...not some Google searches of websites created by ex-members who were kicked out of the church or who left for one reason or another. Great unbiased info.

Posted by: zona on April 27, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII, I am actually in Ohio. But since you brought it up, I do not some about those "fudamentalist mormon" groups you bring up...
Posted by: zona

I didn't bring up anything about "fundamentalist mormon (sic)" groups. I said fundies, as in fundementalist Evangelicals. Big difference. Fundies are conservative Christians. Mormonism is a cult, and regardless of how many times Jesus or Christ appears in the Book of Joseph Smith, Mormonism is not a Christian group. The Book of Mormon is like something out of A Canticle For Leibowitz.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised at how intolerant, ill-informed, ignorant, and vile all of you seem to be. You wouldn't say "If you want to know what George Bush believes, go ask Osama Bin Laden," yet you mischaracterize our beliefs in the worst ways, you call us child molesters and worse. You are bad people, as demonstrated by your words and as judged by any moral code in America.

You **really** want to know what the church is about? Go to the source.

http://www.mormon.org/learn/0,8672,1082-1,00.html

Your lies will be revealed to anyone who takes a minute to read for themselves. I challenge anyone to read this page and walk away thinking that Mormons aren't Christians, or that our beliefs are not a force for good in the world. Our beliefs are based on faith, service to others, and love for our neighbors (even you people).

You mock our food storage? The folks in New Orleans didn't, when truckloads were delivered at our expense. You mock our attire? No different than mocking a Catholic priests' collar, or a Sikh's turban, or Jew's yarmulke (hat). You mock our history? Go ahead, all Men and Women are flawed, and the record is clear on that. But so has the Church's official position on doctrinal issues, and your mischaracterizations are nothing more than lies and half-truths.

The unfortunate part is that those without an axe to grind will take up yours, simply because your voice is the loudest. My hope is that anyone with two good ears and something in between them will go to the source, and learn the truth.

The truth is, Mormons are not teenager-screwing polygamists, as many have accused above. And any stupid splinter group who does things while proclaiming themselves to be Mormon is eternally damned, and they are not a part of the church.

Facts, people. Use them and your critical thinking skills, and let's let people of faith worship as they will. Is it really gonna kill you not to slander us in the most disgusting ways possible?

Posted by: Sven on April 27, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

You mock our attire? No different than mocking a Catholic priests' collar, or a Sikh's turban, or Jew's yarmulke (hat). You mock our history?Posted by: Sven

Actually, Sven, I do mock things like this, too. (BTW, I think the orthodox prefer yarmulke to be refered to as "beanies.") But dietary laws are my favorite target. Almost as stupid as creationism.

But so has the Church's official position on doctrinal issues, and your mischaracterizations are nothing more than lies and half-truths.

Think about that, Sven. Can one tell "lies and half-truths" about something that's made up to begin with?

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I challenge anyone to read this page and walk away thinking that Mormons aren't Christians, or that our beliefs are not a force for good in the world. Our beliefs are based on faith, service to others, and love for our neighbors (even you people).

OK, challenge accepted.

[Pause while I read.]

Nope, you're not Christians. Many of you may be lovely people who practice service to others and love for your neighbors, but that doesn't make you Christian anymore than it makes you Moslem. After all, Moslems, just like Mormoms, believe that Jesus was a prophet but base their religion on the work of a later prophet.

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

And any stupid splinter group who does things while proclaiming themselves to be Mormon is eternally damned, and they are not a part of the church.

The irony is that there are Christians who say that any stupid splinter group like Mormons who do things while proclaiming themselves to be Christians are eternally damned, and they are not a part of the church.

Posted by: Stefan on April 27, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

On every second or third page of The Book of Mormon (a revolting forgery, God is reaching down from heaven and murdering someone who has somehow let Him down. The moral that is always drawn from these fetching (if highly repetitive) little anecdotes is that people who disappoint the Lord are, and of right ought to be, second-class citizens in every way.

So what's for the "Christian Right" not to like?

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on April 27, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

And any stupid splinter group who does things while proclaiming themselves to be Mormon is eternally damned...

Facts, people. Use them and your critical thinking skills...

I found the juxtaposition of these two sentences amusing.

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Stefan, for basing your objections to my beliefs on that which my church has written.

And your point is an interesting one, too. Worded in that way, I can see why many would find it convincing.

The biggest difference though, is that Moslems derive the structure and docrine of their church from that later prophet.

In contrast, we Mormons have organized the structure of our church in (what we believe to be) the exact same way that Jesus himself organized His church when he walked among us. This includes Christ at the head of the Church, a prophet to whom is delivered revelation for the Church, and Apostles as special witnesses of Christ. We don't worship Joseph Smith, we worship our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus the Christ.

Now if you disbelieve (as many do) that our Heavenly Father offers personal revelation to guide our lives, or have trouble with the idea of Divine revelation at all, then instantly you'll perceive this whole thing as a house of cards.

But I'm not here to convince you of the principle of Divine revelation, or of my deep and unyielding faith. I just ask that those who comment on it do so with a little less hatred and excrement.

Posted by: Sven on April 27, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Lis Carey,

But this particular flavor of atheist tends to buy into the fundamentalist Christians' definition of "religion" and to believe that monotheists, including Catholics, Mormons, and Jews, who say they don't believe in Biblical literalism, and talk about the importance of actions as opposed to just subscribing to a particular set of doctrines, are somehow "cheating", trying to have it both ways, be religious AND be intellectually respectable.

It's not rejecting biblical literalism that's "cheating," it's being a literalist when it suits you and a non-literalist when it doesn't. It's picking and choosing from amoung the scriptures to make them conform to your own ideas about morality. It's taking Jesus' words at face value when you like them, and engaging in torturous games of "interpretation" (or just ignoring them altogether) when you don't. It's all of those charades and more.

Given the transparent dishonesty of these tactics, and the worthlessness of a Bible that can mean anything you want it to mean, it's hardly surprising that liberal Christian sects are losing members in droves. A Christianity that is fully reconciled to the secular world is basically irrelevant. What's the point of it? What does it add? What distinguishes it, other than mere terminology or symbolism?

That's why atheists have contempt for you. They also have contempt for conservative Christians, but for somewhat different reasons.

Posted by: Atheist on April 27, 2006 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK
Well, no matter what the cover of the book says, the fact remains that every thing between the covers is the product of the, admittedly fertile, imagination of a whackjob from Vermont who was lynched for heresy in Illinois one hundred fifty years ago. Now, while I abhor vigilante justice and believe everyone has the right to believe anything they want and create any kind of wacky religion they see fit, it doesn't mean that we have to call their followers Christian or can't call them heretics when they truly are (especially when they consider all other Christians to be hopelessly lost and condemned to hell).

And, in addition to Mormons, that goes for all the Protestants and various other schismatics and heretics.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

First, I lived in SLC for 12 years and the Mo's there are a different brand than ones I have known outside their domain. I could list all the crazy things I have learned about them but don't feel it would do much good. Hell, some of my best friends are Mormon (they really are)And there's no way a Mormon gets elected in this country. A woman will be elected before a Mo, if a Mo ever gets elected. Just my opinion.

And shortstop, the ball player you were thinking of was Dale Murphy, the second most famous athlete from the One True Church.

And Sven, I understand your criticism. There is no need for all the hate. The Mormons I know are some of the best people I have ever met. I just think they're kinda nuts, same thing they think about me.

Posted by: Scott on April 27, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sam Harris, on why religion by its very nature promotes conflict and violence:

Why is religion such a potent source of human violence?

1. Our religions are intrinsically incompatible with one another. Either Jesus rose from the dead and will be returning to Earth like a superhero or not; either the Koran is the infallible word of God or it isnt. Every religion makes explicit claims about the way the world is, and the sheer profusion of these incompatible claims creates an enduring basis for conflict.

2. There is no other sphere of discourse in which human beings so fully articulate their differences from one another, or cast these differences in terms of everlasting rewards and punishments. Religion is the one endeavor in which us-them thinking achieves a transcendent significance. If a person really believes that calling God by the right name can spell the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, then it becomes quite reasonable to treat heretics and unbelievers rather badly. It may even be reasonable to kill them. If a person thinks there is something that another person can say to his children that could put their souls in jeopardy for all eternity, then the heretic next door is actually far more dangerous than the child molester. The stakes of our religious differences are immeasurably higher than those born of mere tribalism, racism or politics.

3. Religious faith is a conversation-stopper. Religion is only area of our discourse in which people are systematically protected from the demand to give evidence in defense of their strongly held beliefs. And yet these beliefs often determine what they live for, what they will die for, and--all too often--what they will kill for. This is a problem, because when the stakes are high, human beings have a simple choice between conversation and violence. Only a fundamental willingness to be reasonable--to have our beliefs about the world revised by new evidence and new arguments--can guarantee that we will keep talking to one another. Certainty without evidence is necessarily divisive and dehumanizing. While there is no guarantee that rational people will always agree, the irrational are certain to be divided by their dogmas.

Posted by: Atheist on April 27, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Belated response to your post of about 3 pm. I used to own a store in Virginia, where one of my best customers was a devoted Wiccan. My Sunday Baptist (Sunday Baptist is one who drinks and whores around all week but gets to church faithfully every Sunday) manager, a jolly gal named Teresa, listened to him explain Wicca one day, and after he left the store, she made fun of that faith's central beliefs. I mildly pointed out that she worshiped a being who died and then flew into the sky, and who was One but really Three but really One but really Three. And whose beliefs were sillier?
She nodded, thought about it for a microsecond, and said, "um, his."
She was great.


Posted by: jprichva on April 27, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

But I'm not here to convince you of the principle of Divine revelation, or of my deep and unyielding faith. I just ask that those who comment on it do so with a little less hatred and excrement.

Well Sven, it's all well and good that we have offended your religion, calling your prophet a charlatan, a whackjob and a heretic and saying that Mormonism is not Christianity. But that is why you Mormons are so damn slippery and seem so harmless. Every time we start to question your really bizarre beliefs you pull the "we're really just a misunderstood bunch of Christians" routine and we all feel sorry for you.

Well, I'm not buying it. Tell me Sven, what do Mormons think about all other Christians? Are they going to heaven? Do Mormons believe that the other Christian Churches are essenetially correct in their message and that any any demoninational differences are of degree not fundamental issues of salvation? Answer those questions honestly and then you can complain about all the barbs thrown at your "religion".

Posted by: Freder Frederson on April 27, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Mormons and Christians. Christians and Mormons. It'll never work.

Posted by: majoneses on April 27, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Scott -- If you think I'm a little nuts, then at least we agree on that.

Freder Frederson -- In short, we belive that people of many faiths follow Divine teachings, and their lives are blessed for the enlightenment they receive from them.

It's like I said: If you have questions, go to the source! It's not like we're hiding our beliefs or anything, they're out there on lds.org and mormon.org for all to see. Consider this my personal invitation to read the answers to any question you may have.

And if your questions still aren't answered, you can request a personal visit from a couple of gentlemen who will be overjoyed to have the opportunity to speak with you in person. Our missionaries devote one tenth of their life to serving the Lord, and we make them as accessible as we can to those with questions.

But if you're asking me to prostelize here in this forum, I decline. This is an inappropriate forum for that. (And I've probably already tried the patience of the rest of our fellow readers.)

Good evening, and may you find peace.

Posted by: Sven on April 27, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

I certanly would not characterize the bible or any other of the greater holy texts as worthless. They have underpinned to some degree the development of the civilzations of the world. At the same time they have been (mis-)used for political ends.

The problem for Mormonism it is that is clearly the creation of a 19th century white man's imagination, no matter how much value present day Mormons may attach to their belief. The inconsistencies are too great and too fantastical. Though may be not worshipped, Mr. Smith is the first prophet in a new Mormon line. I don't see their direct line to "god" as particularly any less dangerous or pernicious than GWs.

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

I just ask that those who comment on it do so with a little less hatred and excrement.

Wasn't there a punk band called "Hatred and Excrement"? If not, there should have been.

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

The problem for Mormonism it is that is clearly the creation of a 19th century white man's imagination

And the problem with Christianity is that it is clearly the creation of a 1st century middle-eastern man's imagination--or perhaps of several such men. It started as a cult of one leader and twelve followers.

Posted by: Atheist on April 27, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Dale Murphy! Thank you, Scott.

Don P is now simultaneously posting as Atheist in this thread and as GOP down in the healthcare thread? Aagggh! Stop the madness!

jrichva, very funny story. And just the kind of thing I meant, although we have plenty of examples in this very thread!

Posted by: shortstop on April 27, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure there's really that many of those kinds of atheists

It would be a mistake to confuse silence with respect. People who think your (supposed) Catholic beliefs are nutty, a group that includes not just atheists but adherents of religions other than Catholicism, tend not to tell you that to your face because the conventions of polite society strongly discourage people from saying what they really think about other people's religious beliefs in most social situations. It's just too divisive. People tend to get upset when someone attacks their religious beliefs, or promotes his own, so the social contract is just to stay away from the topic altogether, except in very restricted circumstances.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Must....kill....Cheney.... Must...exterminate...Republicans.... Bleep Bloop!

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Atheist: "And the problem with Christianity is that it is clearly the creation of a 1st century middle-eastern man's imagination--or perhaps of several such men. It started as a cult of one leader and twelve followers."

By inference, clearly. And 2nd century, 3rd century, and . . .. But you weren't there to stop it replacing the multi-theist intermixed religions of Rome with Egypt, Near East, Middle and Western Europe. At least it made sense in a simplifying logic.

From where I'm standing, rather some sect mixing with an indigenous religion (as in all the heathen fertility symbolism incorporated in Easter just passed), this guy had almost the fiction imagination of a C.S. Lewis to create his own world/sect that, by definition, excludes all the prior Christian churches and runs under his own true, god-given rules.

Posted by: nothere on April 28, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

excludes all the prior Christian churches and runs under his own true, god-given rules.

All theistic religions run under god-given rules conveyed by men--Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, or whoever it may be. And the messengers (prophets, messiahs, etc.) are almost always men; rarely women. As for exclusion, the "prior Christian churches" don't need any lessons from Mormons about how to do that. They've been excluding for 2000 years.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

I certanly would not characterize the bible or any other of the greater holy texts as worthless. They have underpinned to some degree the development of the civilzations of the world. At the same time they have been (mis-)used for political ends. Posted by: notthere

The interesting thing about this, since so few people have been able to exam the Dead Sea Scrolls and various other "source" texts for the Old and New Testaments, is that we don't know for sure how much "The Church" has altered things from about the 2nd century through the last major revision (in English anyway) with the King James version. I think the only thing the modern "tranlations" have done is impoverish and cheapen the language in the few places where the Bible actually seemed well-written.

There was a Biblical scholar from NC State on Fresh Air a couple months back, a man who had gone from being a mainline Protestant to a holy roller to an agnostic over the last 20 years or so. His most recent book is about how dramatically the texts have changed just in the last 400 years of so, and not simply because copy scribe monks made spelling or grammar errors. There are numerous cases where significant changes were made, not after doctrinal discussion, but just because a monk didn't like some part of the Bible or thought he could improve it.

Posted by: JeffII on April 28, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

I'm really done with this thread (really, I mean it, I'm trying to go to sleep!) But I just wanted to make a feeble attempt to get back on topic by saying that, in this Mormon's opinion, Mitt should not be president. He's aligned himself with, and supports the unconstitutional actions of, our Fearless Leader.

Because of his support for Bush's monarchistic mandates, Mitt has betrayed not only his oath of office as governor, but the very principles of our religon. Though not doctrine, we believe this country to have been founded as a land set apart for (religious and other) freedom.

And you don't get freedom from a monarch.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

There will be a woman president before there is an African-American president and there will be an African-American president before there is a Jewish president and there will be a Jewish president before there is a Mormon president.

Posted by: The Blue Nomad on April 28, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Q: Whats the difference between a cult and an established religion?

A: About 300 years.

Posted by: NoMorals on April 28, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

JeffII--
heard the same item. Got to worry a little about his intellectual stability but he was very convincing and it fell in line with my own take. And I haven't read a modern bible that hangs together like the King James for language.

Atheist, the reason I think in someways you are a little harsh is not because I disagree with your logic but that in a historical sense you lack perspective. Agnostics and atheists today may not have much voice but in yesteryear you'd have kept mum to avoid from being, at best ostracized, worst burnt at the stake.

I just have a little space for those who have been propagandized since birth (haven't we all?) or need religion for whatever reason. Just don't push it on me or the laws of this land.

Posted by: notthere on April 28, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Must....kill....Cheney.... Must...exterminate...Republicans.... Bleep Bloop!

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 12:06 AM

Hmmmm...projection of violent fantasies much? Don, you're not getting any healthier, my dear.

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

JeffII--
heard the same item. Got to worry a little about his intellectual stability but he was very convincing and it fell in line with my own take. And I haven't read a modern bible that hangs together like the King James for language.

Atheist, the reason I think in someways you are a little harsh is not because I disagree with your logic but that in a historical sense you lack perspective. Agnostics and atheists today may not have much voice but in yesteryear you'd have kept mum to avoid from being, at best ostracized, worst burnt at the stake.

I just have a little space for those who have been propagandized since birth (haven't we all?) or need religion for whatever reason. Just don't push it on me or the laws of this land.

Posted by: notthere on April 28, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Agnostics and atheists today may not have much voice but in yesteryear you'd have kept mum to avoid from being, at best ostracized, worst burnt at the stake.

Swell. "What are you guys complaining about? At least we're not burning you at the stake!"

Posted by: craigie on April 28, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

apologies. brain fade.

Posted by: notthere on April 28, 2006 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

Q: Whats the difference between a cult and an established religion?

A: About 300 years.
Posted by: NoMorals

Numbers. Don't forget numbers.

Posted by: JeffII on April 28, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

If I don't make myself clearer this time I'll stop digging.

Earlier, Atheist called the bible worthless. It's interesting to me that most, if not all, societies have found it more useful to center around a religion rather than a cult of personality, although there has been plenty of overlap. We have felt a need to codify our social values with religious overtones. Why, I don't know. But religion, despite all the bad done in it's name, has served a purpose across the globe. There is something in there to be understood.

Until a couple of years ago we had habeas corpus. If GW feels any way like his dad about non-believers, there's probably a stake in Uzbekistan.

Posted by: notthere on April 28, 2006 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

I can't believe how ignorant everyone on this blog is. First of all Mormons are Christians. The official name of the church is "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter day Saints." Second to all of you liberal freaks out there, Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, have you heard of him? Well he is Mormon. How 'bout them apples!!!

Posted by: A-Train on April 28, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

JeffII:
Just wondering what definition of "Christians" you hold, that excludes Mormons? I mean, if "Christian" means believing that Jesus Christ was the son of god, it seems that Mormonism qualifies. It may seem cultish and heretical to more mainstream Christians, but that doesn't make it non-Christian.


Michael Roetzel:
Do you think liberals would vote for a Mormon candidate? I'm skeptical.
Posted by: Michael Roetzel on April 27, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Well, plenty of liberal Massachusetts residents did just that! (including some of my own aunts, uncles, and cousins) Of course, they've elected a number of Republican governors in the last two or three decades, which means the state's political landscape is much more complex and interesting than Republican stereotyping would have you believe.


I'm not sure there's really that many of those kinds of atheists, its just that the old Don P uses so many different handles...
Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2006 at 6:22 PM |

there's a shot from deep in the left corner... yesssss!

Posted by: keith on April 28, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

I would just like to say that I like the different font for Amy's post. It stands out but doesn't distract.

Zach

Posted by: Zach on April 28, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I was just about finished reading this thread, figuring it died last night, but I refreshed and saw several new posts. So I might as well clarify some stuff.

cmdicely:

Thanks for pointing out liberal splinters from LDS. I truly hadn't heard of any, but to the extent that the religion can decentralize is the extent to which I'd trust it politically with the presidency. Yeah, it's the same kind of problem that people from an earlier generation had with Kennedy's Catholicism -- but Mormonism is a different kind of church. Not so steeped in Western history, for one thing. (And I mean the history of the Western world, not the history of Utah :)

There are two types of Mormonism I politically distrust: The hardcore SLC variety, with their bizarre elder rituals and faith in a coming catastrophe. And the polygamous splinter groups scattered throughout the West. Zona, you might say that these groups are by definition not LDS (and the official Utah church may well have excommunicated them for all I know), but the fact that one calls itself The Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints is, I think, significant. It's likely an even Smithier flavor of the doctrine.

What bugs me about Mormonism more generally is this. It's one thing to believe in divine revelation two thousand years ago, in a pre-scientific era with no cogent explanations for natural phenomena. It's quite another to believe in divine revelation, at least as physically outlandish, occuring in post-Enlightenment America. Mormon doctrine *does* privilege white people in a really grotesque way.

And while I'd never directly connect the LDS with Christian Identity (Mormons for the most part are sincere, decent people, while Christian Identity folks are white-trash racist assholes), the Book of Mormon is an important precursor to the central ideas of CI: White people are a Lost Tribe of Israel and America is the True Promised Land.

This doctrine (ideology) is too politically fraught for me to trust it straight, no chaser in a US president.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

You should make it clear that "Christian Identity" refers to a specfic group and not simply someone who identifies himself as Christian.

As for the question of whether Mormons are "Christians" - as a Methodist (who thanks to the "American Theocracy" book I now know is a dieing group which has seen better days) I'm not about to declare some other group 'not-Christian.'

But I will say that while the Mormons I know are decent good people their religion relies very much on the book of Mormon and not nearly so much on the Christian Bible, so I think they would agree that it is a matter of emphasis and degrees.

Posted by: Tripp on April 28, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, the (Mormon) Sunday school curriculum for 2006 is focused on the Old Testament. For 2007, we switch emphasis to my favorite, The New Testament. No joke!

I think that may say something about our emphasis.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sven,

I'm not being disrespectful, just curious. By "The New Testament" do you include the book of Mormon, or is that separate?

Posted by: Tripp on April 28, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

I probably shouldn't bother, but what's with the ignorant statements thrown at the LDS? Why is that ok? I don't believe in any god or religion and I fail to see why I should be calling the LDS names and not anyone else who Believes in the supernatural. Maybe it'd be best to not pretend that one set of unprovable assertations is better than another.

No one serious can use the word 'Cult.' Just say religion I don't believe in, it's only four more words.

My leftwingyness would include not caring that the Mormons do as they damn well pleased, including with their underwear, so long as they don't trample on anyone else. They were persecuted and screwed with in the 19th century by those who ignored the constitution, just as atheists were.

Posted by: witless chum on April 28, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp -- We use "New Testament" to mean the same thing that most do, it's the last half (half? whatever) of the King James version of the Bible.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

(not that most people use the KJB, but that most understand "New Testament" to mean part of the Bible)

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Earlier, Atheist called the bible worthless.

No, I said the Bible is worthless if it can mean whatever you want it to mean, if you just pick and choose and spin and "interpret" the scriptures to say what you want them to say. That's how liberal Christians tend to use it.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

witless:

They were persecuted and screwed with in the 19th century -- more than for any other reason -- for practicing polygamy.

Hey, I think it's cool to have an open mind, too.

But not so open that I fall into a bottomless pit.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Mormons can believe anything thet want to believe but they are not Christians. They are, in fact, gnostic heretics.
But wait, maybe these golden tablets actually say that Moroni and Joseph Smith are Christians, but they are written in a language that I can't understand. If I could just find those magic spectacles. Damn, I bet one of my celestial wives misplaced them.

Posted by: virginia cynic on April 28, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Mormons can believe anything thet want to believe but they are not Christians.

Why not? What's your definition of a Christian? Why should Mormons accept that definition?

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

My leftwingyness would include not caring that the Mormons do as they damn well pleased, including with their underwear, so long as they don't trample on anyone else. They were persecuted and screwed with in the 19th century by those who ignored the constitution, just as atheists were.

I find it strange that so many people are attacking LDS with apparent venom. But no stranger than how hot the Mormons are getting as they swarm here to defend their faith.

I've been called a lot of names and accused of a lot of heinous behavior simply for being an atheist. I didn't understand why my attackers gave a fig about what I believe or don't believe. But neither did I get angry or defensive about it. Why should I care what believers think about my non-belief?

A lot of heightened emotions all around on this issue. It's a mystery to me why it should always be so.

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

virginia:

The Mormons aren't *gnostics*, for gawds sake. Christian gnostics don't believe that God created Heaven and Earth -- Jehovah did. But Jehovah is a Demiurge, not God.

The true God -- Logos -- is the divine spark that resides in all of us, and that we can reach through genuine self-discovery -- gnosis. As the Gospel of Thomas sez, each of us can be a Christ.

Tripp:

Good point. Christian Identity is a cult (and it truly *is* a cult, way more than are the Mormons, which are a well-established church) which justifies white supremecism and nativism with a patina of religiosity. The basic idea is that White Merkins are the Lost Tribe of Israel and the Promised Land is America.

Thus they read the OT allegorically as a prophesy that White Merkins will do to everyone else what the Hebrews did to the Canaanites ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

The true God -- Logos -- is the divine spark that resides in all of us

No, the true God is an old man with a fluffy white beard who lives in the clouds surrounded by angels playing harps. I know this because my faith tells me that it is so.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 -- Actually, at first they were persecuted for denouncing the local flavor of Christianity. Then, after being violently forced to relocate, they settled in other areas. After their population density in these areas became high enough to concern the locals about their political strength, those locals violently persecuted them as well.

This cycle was repeated a few times, and then later they were persecuted for committing 1st ammendment violations (dispute over slander vs. free speech, kinda like this thread!). That was handled poorly.

Later, after being violently forced to leave their country, the polygamy thing happened and ended with UT becoming a state, and the church giving up polygamy.

I'd be willing to bet that most Mormons regret the polygamy part of the history.

Noone's perfect.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

White Merkin = What Gandalf wears in the S&M torture scenes that they cut from Return of the King

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sven:

If I were a Mormon, I think I'd regret the golden tablets and the magic spectacles even more than the polygamy thing.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Sven:

I find your passive voice intriguing.

The polygamy thing just sort of ... happened, is that it?

Is that like "mistakes were made?"

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Why not? What's your definition of a Christian? Why should Mormons accept that definition?

Mormoms are perfectly free to call themselves Christians, but Christians are also perfectly free not to believe it.

Posted by: Stefan on April 28, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

I probably shouldn't bother, but what's with the ignorant statements thrown at the LDS?

Just wait till they get started on Scientologists. Their anti-Mormon bigotry is nothing compared to that.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 -- Nope, my passive voice was both an attempt at brevity and an admission that I can't recall who did what/when/where this second (plus I'm at work and my attention's not focused on this thread). If you read all of my comments (not just the last) I hope you'll see that I have a pretty solid belief in personal accountability, and if my latest comment didn't reflect that, it wasn't an intentional dodge.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Mormoms are perfectly free to call themselves Christians, but Christians are also perfectly free not to believe it.

Yes, we are all free to call ourselves and others whatever we want. That's not the issue. The issue is why they (and you?) deny that Mormons are Christians. What's your definition of a Christian?

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

My enemy's enemy is my friend, until I decide he's my enemy too, like everyone else.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are evil and they will all burn in hell!

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sven:

Cool. I'm not really a frothing anti-religious bigot, but I *am* concerned about the Mormon truck with polygamy, probably moreso now because there's a chance at a Mormon presidental candidate.

If it were polyamory, I'd probably go hey, whatever squeaks yer rubber duckie -- but this was (and is, with the splinter groups) Old Testament, Arab desert-style polygamy, which has atrocious effects on children and women. The full-blown cases of it definitely shade into child abuse and molestation.

And the polygamy controversy definitely almost brought Utah to open warfare with the federal government. It was renounce the doctrine -- or else face the consequences of an invasion.

So while I'm not a sexual prude -- I think polygamy is about the most grotesquely sexist practice I can imagine this side of clitoridectomy.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

What "Mormon truck with polygamy?" The LDS Church opposes polygamy, and I'm not aware of any widespread support for it amoung rank-and-file Mormons.

Anyway, it seems to work for Bill Paxton.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Atheist:

You remember the Elizabeth Smart case?

That's an extreme example, but there are fundamentalist Mormon splinter groups all throughout the Utah hinterland, northern Arizona and parts of California that broke with LDS and practice polygamy. There was a big piece on it last week in the NYT.

The Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, for example. The SLC LDS may well have excommunicated them, but they still exist and still cal themselves Mormons. The true Mormons, to be precise.

I wasn't busting Sven on this so much as I am asking him how to account for the history of this practice. It only ended because it was either that, or go to war with Uncle Sam. So it's fair to question how sincere a renunciation it was, or whether it was pure survivalist expediency, or what ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, we are all free to call ourselves and others whatever we want. That's not the issue. The issue is why they (and you?) deny that Mormons are Christians. What's your definition of a Christian?

Well, just to clarify. I'm an atheist myself, but I used to be a Catholic, and I think the fact that if everyone in a group denies that someone else belongs in that group that that is indeed a relevant factor to consider. I for example can call myself a Christian all I want, but since I don't believe in the central tenets of the Christian faith I'm really not one.

Moving on to theology, though, there are quite a few differences between the two faiths, differences which are so extreme that they cause Christians to reject the Mormoms' claim to be co-religionists. A few of these (in extremely simplified form) are:

Christians believe God is unchanging; Mormons believe God was once a man.

Christians believe that the Trinity consists of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in one single entity; Mormons believe they are separate beings united in a common purpose.

Christians believe there is only God; Mormons believe there are many Gods in many universes, and that humans can eventually grow to become Gods themselves.

Christians believe that the fall of Adam and Eve resulted in original sin which is borne by all of us; Mormons believe there is no original sin.

Christians accept only the Old and New Testaments as the word of God; Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine of Covenants and the revelations from modern prophets (the church presidents) are God's uncorrupted word.

Christians believe that salvation (in the form of either faith alone or faith and good works, depending) leads to resurrection and eternal life with God; Mormons believe that everybody gets eternal life, and is eventually reunited with their perfected physical body in a personal resurrection. People will then spend eternity in one of three Kingdoms of Glory, but only the most worthy Mormons will live in the Celestial Kingdom with God and Jesus, and some of these very worthy Mormons will eventually become like God, while those who defy and deny God will be cast into outer darkness.


Posted by: Stefan on April 28, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are evil and they will all burn in hell!

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

What the...? Any marginally talented impersonator would have left out the reference to hell. Can this illiterate person not read that I'm an atheist? What's this even doing in this particular thread?

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

Yes, there are splinter groups that still practise polygamy and may call themselves Mormons, but the LDS Church disowns them and condemns polygamy. If you're going to lump all these people together as one group and assert "Mormon truck with polygamy," then I'll lump the Christian Identity splinter group in with all other Christians and assert "Christian truck with racism." Sauce for the goose, and all that.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

There are numerous Christians (not just Mormon ones) who would dispute every one of your claims about what Christians believe. Where did you get the idea that all Christians believe in the Trinity, for example? Haven't you ever heard of Unitarianism? Or do you deny that that's a branch of Christianity too?

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Actually, I think all of those more-or-less heretical beliefs are either compatible with Christianity or actually were part of Christianity at one time, prior to the early Church councils.

Point One is the Arian heresy.

Point Two was a controversy prior to adopting the Nicene Creed.

Point Three is implicit in Christian gnosticism, cf. The Gospel of Thomas.

Point Four is an artifact of Catholic doctrine, invented by St. Augustine and not necessarily accepted by all Protestants.

Point Five is problematized by the fact that different sects of Christianity have somewhat different canonical scriptures. Martin Luther fought to remove Revelations, the Catholics include the Book of Macabees and others, the Vulgate Bible is different than the King James, Episcopalians have the Book of Common Prayer, etc ...

Point Six is similar to the Jehovah's Witness belief in bodily ressurection, and comes from the view that Greek thought (specifically neoplatonist ideas) got mixed into the Septaguent, and "the immortal soul" is the result of a mistranslation.

All things considered, there's enough variation here to grant Mormonism a place at the table with the rest of the diverse beliefs of Christianity -- orthodox or otherwise.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Atheist:

Mainstream Christianity didn't *evolve out of* Christian Identity.

That's the difference.

Woah, you really are hard up for an argument today, aren't you?

Masochist: Beat me! Hurt me! Make me write bad checks!

Sadist: NO :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't you ever heard of Unitarianism? Or do you deny that that's a branch of Christianity too?

I have to agree with Homer Simpson on this one: "Well, not the Unitarians. If that's the one true faith, I'll eat my hat."

Posted by: Stefan on April 28, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

Today's "mainstream Christianity" "evolved" from a brutal, racist, sexist, xenophobic historical Christianity that makes the racism of today's Christian Identity movement look compassionate.

So if today's LDS Church--which explicitly repudiates polygamy--can still be said to "truck" with polygamy because that it "evolved from" a historical LDS Church that endorsed polygamy, then today's Christianity can be said to "truck" with all the horrible things that historical Christianity endorsed.

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

There are numerous Christians (not just Mormon ones) who would dispute every one of your claims about what Christians believe.

That's why I threw in the caveat "in extremely simplified form." If you delve down in the various Christian faiths you'll find many, many points of disagreement -- so many, in fact, that it sometimes seems to make more sense not to consider Christianity as a single religion anymore. But in general, the points of similarity are greater than those with Smithianity.

Posted by: Stefan on April 28, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

As you know, the Mormons broke with polygamism over a century ago. I'm afraid that if you're concerned about the sincerity of that repudiation then you are just out of luck - since all of the previously-polygamous Mormons are long since dead. Give it a break.

Posted by: LaurenceB on April 28, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Somewhere I heard that Mormons believe that after they die, or, perhaps, after the world ends, they will find themselves on another planet where they will enjoy sex for all eternity. Without reaching orgasm, but, sort of, stuck there in that just before moment, forever.

Is that actually correct?

Posted by: cld on April 28, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Later, after being violently forced to leave their country, the polygamy thing happened and ended with UT becoming a state, and the church giving up polygamy."
Read Under the Banner of Heaven in re time of the "polygamy thing". Joseph Smith had a vision so he could sleep with a lot of women, just a different strategy but one that seems more like Jimmy Swaggart than like Jesus.

re
gnosticismn : a religious orientation advocating gnosis as the way to release a person's spiritual element; considered heresy by Christian churches [syn: Gnosticism]

gnosis
n.

Intuitive apprehension of spiritual truths, an esoteric form of knowledge sought by the Gnostics.

Any reading of the Book of Mormon reveals that Mormons do not follow any recognized Christian Doctrine. They try to piggy back on some parts of Christianity but if atheist can show us any gospel that relies on magic spectacles for its alleged revealed truths then perhaps the issue can be reopened. Under Christian Doctrine their belief in Joseph Smith as a prophet who received a set truths different from those in any of the gospels
in or out of the apocryphra and their continued reliance on their presidents as prophets, seers and revelators in the direct line of Joseph Smith is certainly heresy.
Who knows? Maybe Mormons have the only true religion? I certainly do not know but one can unequivocally find that they are not Christians.
That statement says nothing about the value of their religion just that it is not christian.

Posted by: v irginia cynic on April 28, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

That's why I threw in the caveat "in extremely simplified form." If you delve down in the various Christian faiths you'll find many, many points of disagreement -- so many, in fact, that it sometimes seems to make more sense not to consider Christianity as a single religion anymore.

Well then. Given that countless non-Mormon Christians reject one or more of the things you claim "Christians believe," your claim that Mormons aren't Christians because they also reject those things doesn't make any sense. In any mainline Christian denomination, you could probably find numerous Christians who don't even believe in hell, let alone more arcane doctrines like original sin.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

LaurenceB:

Well, it's not like I fear that the LDS might wish to reinstate polygamy any time in the forseeable future (though who knows about that crazy multiplanetary cosmic hearafter, where anyone of y'all believers has a chance to become a God, eh? :)

It's that Mormonism has the trappings of a mystery religion, or a Freemason-like secret society. There are a lot of *very strange* beliefs in Mormonism, and stranger rituals closed to the outside world once you're on track to elderhood. Maybe it's all perfectly harmless, but the secrecy troubles me and makes me wonder what they truly believe, and how much they profess to believe they believe literally.

cld:

Yes, I've heard that too. Like being hooked up to Woody Allen's orgasmatron for all eternity ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The comments to this post have been very helpful in reminding me why I usually don't read the comments.

Posted by: LaurenceB on April 28, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

virginia:

Well, if you're talking about the mainline Christian denominations, you're obviously correct -- except that they all contradict each other, too. But the Mormons, truthfully, are just a hair stranger than the Jehovah's Witnesses or even some Pentecostals -- who after all, think you can drink strychnine and handle poisonous snakes no problem if yer filled with the Holy Spirit.

My concerns with Mormons are of an entirely different order, because the church has amassed so much political and economic power. Otherwise, it'd be a sort of nutty and interesting cult -- one of the 19th-century bizarre-sex utopian communes that actually managed to survive.

Yes, everything I've read about the Mormons points to the fact that they *are* obsessed with sex. In this really creepy way that's mixed up with all kinds of repression. It's a running joke among people who know Utah Mormons that the girls won't fuck, but other than that they'll do everything else :)

So are Mormons Christian? Oh absolutely. Jesus is still the main man; Smith's just a prophet. If you want to exclude the Mormons, you'd better take another look at Mary Baker Eddy and the Christian Scientists ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

So you're "concerned," are you, that Mitt Romney may have a secret agenda to promote polygamy, because Romney's a Mormon and over a hundred years ago the LDS Church endorsed polygamy?

Were you also "concerned" that Bill Clinton, as a Southern Baptist, had a secret agenda to promote slavery?

Your anti-Mormon prejudice is showing.

Posted by: ghj on April 28, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of *very strange* beliefs in Mormonism, and stranger rituals closed to the outside world once you're on track to elderhood.

Oh yes, very strange. Not like, say, the perfectly reasonable Christian belief that a three-day-old corpse came back to life. Or that wine and bread change into blood and flesh during the Catholic mass. Or that the Pope is sometimes literally infallible. No, nothing strange about those beliefs....

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

ghj:

Well that's not what I said. I don't *know* what to be concerned with specifically, and what I'm worried about is that what I might google on the subject would be Mormon propaganda geared to the outside world and not the straight dope from Mormons themselves.

I used to converse a great deal with a Mormon dissident who shared a lot of beliefs about the church about a decade ago. And while my memory falters, I remember these beliefs sounding very strange. There's a siege mentality, first of all. The history of Mormonism is a history of resisting local authority and ultimately Federal authority. How much of a Mormon's alliegance goes to the Church over temporal authority? I don't know, but I think it's a salient question for a Mormon presidential candidate.

And this is *not* like fears of papism from JFK, because there are *many* Mormon writings that explicitly say Church authority supercedes temporal authority. I'd just like to get this ironed out in a way that isn't a whitewash by a Church that's extremely skilled at putting on a happy face for the general public.

I'm not accusing -- I am questioning.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

ghj:

And call me prejudiced against Mormons; that's fine. They're hardly any persecuted out-group in American society.

Mormons are way too successful at everything that they do to be anybody's victims in a Christian society.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

ghj:

Bill Clinton isn't a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jimmy Carter renounced his membership publically a decade or so ago because it had gotten way too Old Testament in recent years.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, leave for lunch and there's a lot to respond to. First:

cld -- No, this is absolutely not correct.

[back to reading...]

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

And while my memory falters, I remember these beliefs sounding very strange.

And you don't think the belief that a 3-day-old human corpse came back to life is also "very strange?"

There's a siege mentality, first of all. The history of Mormonism is a history of resisting local authority and ultimately Federal authority.

That's hardly surprising, given how much they have been persecuted. The history of the early Christian church was also one of resisting the civil authorities of the time.

How much of a Mormon's alliegance goes to the Church over temporal authority? I don't know, but I think it's a salient question for a Mormon presidential candidate.

It's a salient question for any presidential candidate who claims a religious allegiance. I see no indication that Mormons are more likely to violate the principle of separation of church and state than are other Christians, and even if they were, making negative assumptions about individuals on the basis of group averages is the essence of prejudice.

And this is *not* like fears of papism from JFK, because there are *many* Mormon writings that explicitly say Church authority supercedes temporal authority.

There are *many* Christian writings that explicitly say religious authority supercedes temporal authority, period. Again, you offer no evidence to support the claim that Mormons are exceptional in this regard.

Bill Clinton isn't a member of the Southern Baptist Convention

Yes he is.

Posted by: ghj on April 28, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

My concerns with Mormons are of an entirely different order, because the church has amassed so much political and economic power. ...
Yes, everything I've read about the Mormons points to the fact that they *are* obsessed with sex. In this really creepy way that's mixed up with all kinds of repression.

These comments seem more appropriate for the Roman Catholic Church than the LDS Church. At least Mormons don't condemn contraception. Right now, the Catholic Church is debating whether it's even permissible for a married couple to use a condom to prevent one partner from infecting the other with AIDS. Talk about an obsession with sex.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 -- I can put your concerns to rest. There are 13 "Articles of Faith" that are the absolute, essential core to our religion. #12 is, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

In fact, a decade ago when my wife was in Federal law enforcement, she and other Mormons were held in high regard within the circles she travelled in, because the Feds respected the patriotic and loyal spirit of the Mormons serving the govt. (and because we don't drink, so we were seen as sober and trustworthy -- their judgement, not mine) -- so that's totally anecdotal, but it speaks to your point.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, Articles of Faith:

http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,106-1-2-1,FF.html

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

ghj:

Clinton's a Southern Baptist, but he's not a member of the SBC. If I'm wrong, please crucify me and I will bleed accordingly :)

Once again -- call me prejudiced against Mormons. I have no problem with that. You'll notice, though, that I'm talking civilly with Sven, who *is* a Mormon and may be able to shed some light here. I have my *suspicions*, but I'm not closed-minded about it.

As for comparing "crazy beliefs," I'm an agnostic. Where I see a fundamental difference with Mormons is that their divine revelation took place many centuries after the age of miracles. Golden tablets and magic spectacles in 19th century America are just much harder to accept than an anthropological understanding of the early Hebrews, who had no accurate explanations of scary natural phenomena.

As for being oppressed, well, that's why I brought up polygamy. I sensed the "victim card" being played, and I merely wished to assert that American society resoundingly rejected that practice, and for an entirely good reason. It wasn't just "they were persecuted beause they were different."

If it would make sense to you that a siege mentality would come out of this experience, well, I agree. I want to know how deep it goes, though. Christ explicitly says "render unter Ceasar what is Ceasar's" and Paul asserts in Romans and Acts that the duty of a Christian is to obey secular authority. Again, my memory fails me on what I've heard in Mormon doctrine, but there does seem to be a place in the Mormon heart for resistance against outside (non-Church) authority.

I'd just like to know how far that goes, is all ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

virginia cynic -- As I said in my first comment, you don't discover the truth about what George Bush believes by asking Osama Bin Laden.

And similarly, you don't discover the truth about what Mormons believe by reading up on anti-Mormon literature.

And since I'm dispelling a bunch of myths here, can I just put the "magic spectacles" to rest? I never heard of that term before reading this thread. Divine revelation is the principle we believe in, regardless of the number of silly terms people make up.

If there are specific points of the history of the church that you object to, that's fine. But please don't rely on anti-Mormon literature as the authoritative source for establishing facts about our history.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sven:

But you surely believe in the Golden Tablets, right? And the Angel Moroni, who presented them to John Smith?

Didn't Smith have to have some means of translating them? That's what I thought the spectacles were about, because he surely couln't read the language that was engraved on them, nor were they engraved in English -- or did it happen another way?

And then the Golden Tablets just ... vanished ... after Smith was allowed to transcribe them, correct?

I mean ... this is, from what I understand, straight from the Book of Mormon. Please correct any point on which I'm mistaken.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Swinging back around to the OT, I'd say that in supporting Bush's extra-legal wiretapping scheme, Mitt violated the 12th Article of Faith, thus losing my support as a Mormon. (If I even considered myself to be merely one member of a religiously-conscious voting bloc, which I most definitely do not.)

In fact, as a Mormon, I'd have to say "Go Feingold! Go Reid!" Those two have proven themselves as men of integrity who have sustained their oaths of office. And that speaks volumes.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Sven ... most of these points are par for the course,
though of course many of them differ from other
Christian doctrine. Couple questions, though ...

> 4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel
> are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance;
> third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth,
> Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

What is Laying on of hands?

> 7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation,
> visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

What constitutes "visions," and how do you interpret tongues?

> 8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God
> as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe
> the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

If the Bible is not always translated correctly -- how do
you know that the Book of Mormon was translated correctly?

> 10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the
> restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will
> be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign
> personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and
> receive its paradisiacal glory.

Are you premilliennial or postmilliennial?

> 11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according
> to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the
> same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Freedom of religion -- good.

> 12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers,
> and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

Okay, there you go :) Now I need to read up on some history ...

> 13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous,
> and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow
> the admonition of Paul--We believe all things, we hope all things,
> we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all
> things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report
> or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Well, a bit tautological, but perfectly benign, I suppose.

Didn't John Smith know that 13 is an unlucky number? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton's a Southern Baptist, but he's not a member of the SBC

Do you mean Clinton does not appear on the official membership list of the SBC (is there such a thing?). How do you know this?

Once again -- call me prejudiced against Mormons.

You're prejudiced against Mormons.

Where I see a fundamental difference with Mormons is that their divine revelation took place many centuries after the age of miracles. Golden tablets and magic spectacles in 19th century America are just much harder to accept than an anthropological understanding of the early Hebrews, who had no accurate explanations of scary natural phenomena.

Huh? Non-Mormon Christians also believe in miracles, divine revelations and the like. So what if the alleged miracle took place in the 19th century rather than the 1st century? In fact, many Christians believe in modern miracles anyway.

As for being oppressed, well, that's why I brought up polygamy. I sensed the "victim card" being played, and I merely wished to assert that American society resoundingly rejected that practice, and for an entirely good reason. It wasn't just "they were persecuted beause they were different."

As others have already pointed out, Mormons were persecuted for other reasons than polygamy. And they were still persecuted after they abandoned polygamy. As for society's rejection of polygamy, it is not at all clear to me that that was done for "an entirely good reason." I think the main reason was religious.

Christ explicitly says "render unter Ceasar what is Ceasar's" and Paul asserts in Romans and Acts that the duty of a Christian is to obey secular authority.

Paul also asserts that slaves should obey their masters and that women should have no authority over men. Paul and Jesus both said lots of things that modern Christians ignore, and respect for separation of church and state is a very recent development in Christian history.

Posted by: ghj on April 28, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 -- I feel like this is a question with a long answer. (short version - There are no references to spectacles in the scriptures at all.)

Long version - Through Divine revelation, Joseph Smith received the ability to discern the writings on the ancient records that were imprinted on the golden plates. (See Article of Faith #7.)

Stopping right there, there's an immediate need to excercise faith in order to believe that. If you personally can have faith in an interperetive power that can be granted from our Heavenly Father to a simple man, then we're in business.

But if faith is a barrier to your acceptance of that as part of the reality that we live in, then everything else I say will sound silly to you.

And that's great! I've no problem with differing from other people's belief (or unbelief) systems.

As for disappearing, they were taken by the angel Moroni after their purpose had been fulfilled. (Again, faith is required to believe this.)

But before they were taken, three witnesses proclaimed to have seen them. And then, eight more witnesses proclaimed that they had seen them also. Later, some of those witnesses left the church -- but even afterwards, they never recanted their testimony of having seen the plates.

(An aside -- I don't have scriptures handy so can't guarantee the veracity of every word in the following links -- but if memory serves, the info in these links is what is in the first pages of the Book of Mormon.)

Testimony of three witnesses:
http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/m/mormon/mormon-idx?type=DIV0&byte=2202

Testimony of eight witnesses:
http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/m/mormon/mormon-idx?type=DIV0&byte=3882

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

ghb:

The Southern Baptist Convention was initially a splinter group from Baptists, formed (in the 20s or 30s) to be an explicitly fundamentalist organization. Only recently did it vote to stop trying to convert Jews -- which is, you know, kind of embarrassing, even for a lot of red staters.

Jimmy Carter used to be part of the SBC, but as I said, somewhere around a decade ago he very publicly split with the group and is a member of the other mainline national Baptist synod (forget what it's called).

So yes, the SBC has a membership list, because it's an organization. Not everybody who's Southern and a Baptist is a member of the SBC.

I don't know for a concrete fact that Clinton is not SBC, but I'd bet a minor body part that he isn't, owing to Prot fundie hatred of his morality and his own much more liberal religious views, which would be far more at home in the other Baptist synod with Jimmy Carter (and many black evangelicals, especially veterans of the civil rights era; the SBC fought against civil rights).

Remember -- there's an overlap, but a born-again evangelical is not synonymous with a fundamentalist.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

You make several false claims about the SBC. It wasn't formed in the 20s or 30s. It was formed in the 19th century, primarily over the issue of slavery. The SBC supported slavery and other Baptists did not. Hence my question about whether you were "concerned" that Bill Clinton, a Southern Baptist, would try to push slavery. It makes as much sense as your "concern" about Romney and polygamy.

Posted by: ghj on April 28, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sven,

Stopping right there, there's an immediate need to excercise faith in order to believe that.

So why do that? Why have faith in one claim of truth rather than another? Why is one man's faith more likely to lead to the truth than another man's faith? Why is your faith that Joseph Smith had a revelation from God more likely to be correct than a non-Mormon's faith that he did not?

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

ghj:

And this changes the sense of what I wrote ... how?

No, my friend, it reinforces it, considering that dollars to donuts Clinton's *not* SBC, therefore has no belief in an organization with a legacy of supporting slavery.

But it's quite obvious that you're arguing for the sake of arguing. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if you were Atheist posting under a different handle, considering that I mostly ignored Atheist all afternoon and the two of you seem to use identical types of rhetorical tactics -- false equivalencies being a big one.

I'm not interested, dude. Much too nice of an afternoon for a pointless squabble over religion between two nonbelievers.

Sven:

Really enjoy your posts. You're a most reasonable defender of your faith, and thanks for anticipating what would be my trouble with it.

I will, however, continue to be skeptical, do my own research -- but will also try to keep an open mind. Ambassadors like yourself make that a challenge easily met.

Have a great weekend, sir,

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

My point is that your "concern" that Romney has a secret agenda to promote polygamy, on the grounds that Romney is a Mormon and, in the distant past, the LDS Church endorsed polygamy is as stupid as a "concern" that Clinton has a secret agenda to promote slavery, on the grounds that Clinton is a Southern Baptist and, in the distant past, the Southern Baptist Convention endorsed slavery.

It's an obvious attempt to smear not just Romney but Mormons in general by trying to perpetuate the myth that they favor polygamy.

Posted by: ghj on April 28, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 -- Thank you!

Athiest -- Excellent question. At this point, we go from the theoretical to the deeply personal. In the Book of Mormon, there's a passage (Moroni 10:3-5) which invites you to read the Book of Mormon. It continues:

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."

This is a test of faith. It's premise is that if you can believe in that which is not seen, then you're ready for spiritual growth and will be rewarded by an answer. A real, honest answer, delivered by the third member of the godhead, the Holy Ghost himself.

I did this. In response, I had a personally, spiritually transformative experience which, though externally subtle, was enough to persuade me that, if I honestly prayed to my Heavenly Father, I would receive an answer. And so I continued praying, and watching for the promised answers.

You know what? I got 'em. Many times, I had to look for the answers, but they were always given. And in the 13 years since that experience, I have repeated that pattern enough times to develop a personal testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.

It's kinda like seeing because I believed. Where once it was impossible to believe without seeing proof first, I have seen enough proof in the past 13 years to make my personal beliefs much less reliant on faith alone.

But that's just me. Like I said, it's a deeply personal thing, and your mileage may vary. That's cool.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

ghj:

Right. Which is a textbook example of arguing for the sake of arguing :)

Look ... if you're not going to bother to read what I wrote correctly the first time, it's pointless to say it over and over and over again. Sheesh.

Sven's a Mormon. He seems to understand my concerns, and has addressed some of them.

And he's .... not offended because he thinks I'm trying to tar all Mormons as polygamy supporters.

Fancy that. Woah.

Maybe because I'm, you know, not.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

It would appear that Don is now posting simultaneously under two handles in the same thread.

That's fucked up, man.

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 - let's see if I can come up with short answers to your (many, good) questions.

"Laying on of hands..." This is a procedural thing. Priesthood members actually place their hands on the head of someone who then receives a blessing, according to the will of the Father. There are a million ways to make this answer longer, but I'll stop here for now.

"define 'visions...'" We believe that personal spiritual revelation can come in many forms, and one of those forms is an actual, visual experience, either when awake, or asleep. Are these hallucinations, or dreams? Skeptically, it's easy to say yes, and that we're delusional dreamers.

But consider this experience -- a few years back my sister had a dream that she was visited by our dead grandmother, who proceeded to tell my sis that she was pregnant, and that her beautiful daughter looked just like her. My sister laughed off the dream, but within the week she took a pregnancy test. Turns out she was pregnant -- with a daughter -- and the daughter does look just like her.

Again, this can all be explained away as coincidence. I choose to believe that it's not. (You may choose otherwise, that's great.)

"translated correctly..." The Bible has gone through 2000 or so years of translation and editing, by people who have had many different agendas. So what we read today (in English) in the KJB is very different from what was first written (in Latin, Hebrew, or whatever the original language was).

"premillennial, or post?" wayyy, way premillennial. This is kinda like a "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" question.

It's on a Divine timeline known to no man, and is so far removed from the here and now that, frankly, I kinda just ignore it. Predicting my place in God's temporal scale is an idea that's in a category of things that are said to be "not esential to my salvation" -- so I have to admit that I am not too knowledgable about the details, it's just an aspect that I haven't chosen to personally study in any great detail.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Sven,

You're now justifying your belief not as a matter of faith but as matter of evidence--a divine revelation ("answer") that was "delivered" to you by the "Holy Ghost."

So the obvious question is why the Holy Ghost has not delivered this same answer to everyone else. Other Christians certainly "believe in that which is not seen," but the "answer" they get is very different from the one you got. So who is right? Why are you more likely to be right than they are? If God really is talking to people in this way, why do so many different people make so many different, and often mutually contradictory, claims about what he is saying? Doesn't the sheer profusion of different beliefs on this matter suggest that something other than actual divine revelation is going on here?

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Danger Will Robinson! Must...exterminate...Republicans. Bleep Bloop!

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Make that three handles. Psycho killer, qu'est-ce que c'est?

Posted by: shortstop on April 28, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Makes you kind of yearn for a little swivellingsphincter, doesn't it? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

You seem to be having a hard time coming up with any defensible justification for your suspicions of nefarious motives and agendas of Mormon candidates for public office, but not Catholic or Jewish or Muslim or Baptist or Presbyterian ones. If you could point to an actual record of exposed secret agendas or October Surprises perpetrated by Mormon elected officials you might at least have some rational basis for your rumor-mongering, but you don't, do you? You just play on negative myths and stereotypes about Mormons and the LDS Church.

Posted by: ghj on April 28, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Athiest -- The faith was a prerequisite for the evidence.
Of course, while I love your question, I have no definitive answer that will satisfy the natural skepticism of a true athiest.

But let me say this: When seeking answers to prayers, I have to be eternally vigilant to the idea that I may be misinterpereting my circumstances, or seeing only what I want to see. I recognize that the greatest danger for someone relying on faith is to mistake their own intentions as Divine will.

Have others done this? You bet. (Hi, Dubya!) Have I done this? Possibly, though I sincerely hope not. Is it the answer to your question? Maybe partially, certainly not entirely.

One thing I'm sure of is that there are many, many answers to your question. I just don't know what they are. (I guess that was obvious, huh?)

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

ghj -- Dude, he's a critical thinker, that's excellent! His challenges were doctrinal and inquisitive, not defamatory and slanderous. He based them on our (my? not sure about your) actual beliefs, as stated on lds.org and mormon.org. And he used reason in considering the answers I gave. What more can we ask for? One comment thread isn't gonna change a (lifetime?) of apprehension borne by misinformation.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Sven:

> "translated correctly..." The Bible has gone through 2000 or
> so years of translation and editing, by people who have had
> many different agendas. So what we read today (in English)
> in the KJB is very different from what was first written (in
> Latin, Hebrew, or whatever the original language was).

Well, you probably know the fundevangelical response to this, I'm
sure -- that there were hundreds and hundreds of copies made and
every one of them are word-for-word, that there's actually more
consistency than inconsistency between different books of the bible,
etc. But I'd tend to agree that there are some translation issues,
and certainly it matters if "gehenna" is translated as Hell, or
whether it means the garbage dump behind Jerusalem as the Jehovah's
Witnesses would have it (seeing how they don't believe in Hell).

But my question is this: If you accept Jesus Christ and the Bible
as part of your foundational documents, and human error has crept
into their correct interpretation -- how can you be absolutely
certain that it didn't creep into Joseph Smith's transcription also?

> "premillennial, or post?" wayyy, way premillennial. This is kinda
> like a "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" question.

Well, I don't think it is, at least not for American Protestants. Most
American evangelists up to the mid-19th century were postmilliennial,
and many of them were also extremely important to progressive social
movements. Abolition, temperance, social justice for the poor, were
taken up by believers who felt that acting Christ's message was paving
the way for God's Kingdom on Earth. Of course, today, Dominionists
and Christian Reconstructionists are also postmilliennial, and
they are the absolute most extreme kind of neo-Calvinist theocrats
Christians are capable of being -- a literal American Taliban.

Premilliennials, OTOH, are cultural pessimists. Why struggle to save
the world when Christ's coming is imminent? Darby, the Millerites,
gained support in the pervasive exhaustion after the the Civil War.

I frankly don't know which flavor is worse. Christians who've
given up on the world, or those who wish to remake the world in the
image of an Old Testament king -- replete with stoning adulterers.

> It's on a Divine timeline known to no man, and is so
> far removed from the here and now that, frankly, I kinda
> just ignore it. Predicting my place in God's temporal scale
> is an idea that's in a category of things that are said
> to be "not esential to my salvation" -- so I have to
> admit that I am not too knowledgable about the details,

Well that would make you, at least personally, amilliennial.
Which is cool, because that's the position of both the Catholic
and Orthodox Churches: Basically it's arrogant folly for
humans to try to predict or even understand God's future plan.

> it's just an aspect that I haven't chosen
> to personally study in any great detail.

But where does the Mormon belief in "signs and wonders" come in?
Does that refer to signs of the End Times -- or something different?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sven,

Athiest -- The faith was a prerequisite for the evidence.

Presumably, if you hadn't received the evidence you would have concluded that your faith was misplaced. So it all hinges on the evidence, the "answer" the Holy Ghost delivered to you. If you would have retained your faith even if it had not been followed by supporting evidence, then we're back to my original question of why.

But let me say this: When seeking answers to prayers, I have to be eternally vigilant to the idea that I may be misinterpereting my circumstances, or seeing only what I want to see. I recognize that the greatest danger for someone relying on faith is to mistake their own intentions as Divine will.

Right. So people are fallible. People often mistake their own wishful thinking or desires for a revelation from God. And if you accept that you're just as fallible in this regard as other people, I don't see how it can fail to lead you to the conclusion that, at the very least, there's a good chance you're wrong about these things you believe as a matter of faith or divine revelation.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Atheist:

Right. Radical solipsism.

How do you know that anything in the world even *exists* outside of what's inside your own head?

Answer: You don't.

You kinda haveta ... take it on faith :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 28, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

I didn't claim to know that anything even exists outside my head.

Do you believe that faith justifies strong convictions about what is true?

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 - "arrogant folly for humans to try to predict or even understand God's future plan" is a much more concise way of stating not only my personal belief about that, but also what I've been told in church by others I trust.

I know there are references like you've described, and am not entirely sure about the official doctrinal position on that, so I can't say for sure. But I know that in practice, all Mormons I know (that I can think of) are similarly 'amillennial'.

Athiest -- Ow! You got me -- I'm absolutely fallible, I hope I'm not wrong, but there's really a decent chance that I am. Even so, I like to think that I'm not wrong.

See, I was agnostic before Mormon, and as the son of a paleontologist, faith was the main issue for me in adopting a spiritual position. To this day, I love conversations about belief, perception, and the nature of reality. And key to my leap of faith was the idea that my perception of this world is filtered through the imperfect lenses of my five flawed senses.

The easy example is the AM radio you might find at a dollar store. It may only cost a buck, but it can receive signals that my ears cannot. Is this analogous to a greater spiritual existence that my senses cannot perceive?

I like to think so. If I'm wrong, then I at least have the satisfaction of living my life according to a moral code that I'm proud of.

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

ghj -- Dude, he's a critical thinker, that's excellent! His challenges were doctrinal and inquisitive, not defamatory and slanderous.

Are you reading the same thread I am? rmck1 said:

"There are few religions that I'd out-and-out reject a presidential candidate over. But the LDS is definitely one of them."

So he categorically rejects all Mormon candidates for the office of the presidency. If that's not religious discrimination, I don't know what is.

Posted by: ghj on April 28, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

ghj -- Yes, it's true that he said that, but as the thread has developed he has been remarkably open to an honest discussion. I think his position on the presidency may even be different now, considering the 12th article of faith I referenced above. (Not sure, not trying to speak on his behalf, just my supposition.)

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

sven,

Your acknowledgment that there's a good chance your religious beliefs are wrong is refreshing, if only because it is so unusual. Religious believers tend to be pretty dogmatic and unyielding about at least their core beliefs ("There is a God," "Jesus Christ is the Son of God," etc.) and often about the more peripheral ones too. It's not hard to understand why, though. Doubt and uncertainty erode faith and conviction, erode one's resolve to live by the teachings of the church and promote them to others, including one's own children.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Athiest -- Basically, it's just a profound recognition of how totally fallible I am. Men (and women!) are inherently flawed creatures, and it shows in our performance.

But is it paradoxical for me to also believe wholeheartedly in the gospel? It's been said that the gospel is perfect, the people in the church aren't. And that answers a lot, doesn't it?

But I really should say, for the record, that insofar as I know anything to be true, I believe the gospel to be true.

The rest, I'm happy to take on faith!

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

But is it paradoxical for me to also believe wholeheartedly in the gospel?

I don't see how it's possible to "wholeheartedly" believe something that you also believe has a good chance of being wrong.

that insofar as I know anything to be true, I believe the gospel to be true.

Are you now claiming to know, rather than merely believe, that the gospel is true? If so, how do you know it's true?

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Athiest -- 90% of all scientific discoveries have subsequently been disproven. (Hey, I just made that up! But the earth is not flat, there be no dragons there, so that's the point I'm meaning by that statement, hopefully you'll understand and adjust the percentage to a value you can agree with that supports my point. Ha!)

What I'm trying to say is, I really just see myself as an imperfect instrument for discerning the true nature of reality. With that in mind, I've decided to choose to commit to a set of beliefs that have a correlation to my experiential evidence and to this weird idea of 'faith'. But at this level of introspection, we're really talking about a "My blue is your green" kinda thing.

So insofar as I believe in my ability to discern the nature of reality, I believe the gospel to be true. That just doesn't rule out the idea that I'm unfit to judge.

It all comes back to the fundamental (no pun intended) question:

"How do you know your daddy's your daddy?"

"Cause your momma told you so."

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

sven,

What I'm trying to say is, I really just see myself as an imperfect instrument for discerning the true nature of reality. With that in mind, I've decided to choose to commit to a set of beliefs that have a correlation to my experiential evidence and to this weird idea of 'faith'. But at this level of introspection, we're really talking about a "My blue is your green" kinda thing. So insofar as I believe in my ability to discern the nature of reality, I believe the gospel to be true. That just doesn't rule out the idea that I'm unfit to judge.

But your admitted infallibility casts serious doubt on whether you are discerning the nature of reality correctly, and thus serious doubt on your belief that the gospel is true. Millions of other people would claim, just as sincerely as you do, that their "experiential evidence" leads them to religious beliefs that are different from yours, and that in many important respects contradict yours. You cannot all be correct. Some of you must be wrong, and perhaps all of you are wrong. The sheer number and variety of competing claims of truth that different people make about religious matters casts serious doubt on all of them.

It all comes back to the fundamental (no pun intended) question: "How do you know your daddy's your daddy?" "Cause your momma told you so."

I'm not sure what you mean by this but it alludes to what I believe is the primary reason why most religious people hold the particular religious beliefs they do: because they were raised to hold those beliefs from a young age by their parents, and more broadly by the culture in which they live. If you had been raised by Muslim parents in Saudi Arabia, you would today most likely be a Muslim instead of a Mormon, and be just as passionate in your conviction that Islam is true as you are now that LDS is true. And I think that just shows how arbitrary religious belief is. What you believe to be an answer from the Holy Ghost I think is most likely a product of social conditioning.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Athiest -- I agree, any admission of infallability is a credibility issue, so you have no reason to believe me.

I just think that I'm an immature spiritual child wrapped in a fragile carbon-based shell, and that therefore a certain degree of humility is appropriate when I'm explaining "the wonders of the universe" as I see them.

Ask me again in a bazillion years. I'll have a better answer then!

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sven,

I meant, of course, your admission of fallibility, not infallibility.

Posted by: Atheist on April 28, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Heh, that's funny -- I did too. I wonder if I was arguing what I thought I was arguing...

Posted by: Sven on April 28, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Athiest -- I agree, any admission of infallability is a credibility issue, so you have no reason to believe me.

I'm not claiming merely that I don't have sufficient reason to believe LDS is true. I'm claiming that you don't either. LDS is but one of a multitude of competing religions. Many of the adherents of these religions seem to claim the same kind of "experiential evidence" in support of their beliefs as you do for yours. Many of them seem just as sincere as you do. Many of them seem just as passionate about their religion as you are about yours. Given all this, what are the odds that they're all wrong, but you're right? Seem pretty low to me.

Posted by: Atheist on April 29, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Well, first: I submit that an assertion of infallability is as great a credibility issue as an admission of fallability. So either way, I claim to have made sense (Yay!)

Secondly, I submit that your assertion that I don't have sufficient reason to believe what I do, is merely an uninformed opinion.

See, unless you've been in my head and my heart, then you don't know how convincing my experiential evidence has been.

So while I fully support your right to unbelieve, I also declare you an unfit judge of that which has persuaded me.

And really, am I just supposed to submit to popular opinion because there are lots of people who don't believe what I do? Seriously?

Posted by: Sven on April 29, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

It was very, very amusing to see the insufferably dogmatic Atheist try *as hard as he possibly could* to start an argument with Sven the Mormon, and to watch Sven cheerfully refuse to take the bait.

Sven is one of the best ambassadors of a faith I've ever seen debate in cyberspace. Temperamentally open-ended, philosophically agnostic, a background in science, he consistently resisted making dogmatic statements up to the very edge of problematizing the nature of objectivity -- while drawing a firm line against anyone problematizing the nature of his own subjectivity. Hats off to this guy.

It hasn't quite reassured me about Mormonism, though -- although I don't think I'd have any problem voting for a guy like Sven for any office. In fact, the net effect might've made me even a a little *more* suspicious -- which of course puts Sven in a hopeless and totally unfair double-bind, I realize.

In terms of the enneagram personality typology, Mormonism is a very "3-ish" religion (to give you an idea of what that means, every character Tom Cruise has ever played has been a 3). Mormons are known for -- and very well-practiced at -- being extraordinarily patient, cheerful and effective representatives of their faith, which is a goodly part of why their religion has been so successful in a country that almost persecuted it off the map. Truthfully, as good as Sven was at this, it'd be hard to expect any less from him. That's the Mormon gig. All those pairs of impossibly clean-cut young men in matching white shirts walking around in every kind of neighborhood imaginable.

I need to get beyond the supersalesman facade, and I don't really know how to do that in a way that's fair to Mormons.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 29, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,

It was very, very amusing to see the insufferably dogmatic Atheist

I have long to way to go before I could match the dogma (not to mention bigotry) of your categorical rejection of any Mormon candidate for the presidency.

Posted by: Atheist on April 29, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

sven,

No, you're not supposed to submit to popular opinion just because it's popular opinion. You're supposed to recognize that you are as fallible as anyone else, that lots of other people have their own "experiential evidence" that is just as convincing to them as yours is to you, and that there's no more reason to think that you are right than that they are. It's called humility.

It's as if you and a hundred other people who witnessed a man robbing a bank are asked to pick the criminal out of a police lineup. You and a few other witnesses are convinced that the man you saw is #1 in the lineup. A much larger group of witnesses is equally convinced that the guilty party is #2. And other groups of witnesses are just as certain that the criminal is #3, or #4, or #5, and so on.

Obviously, you can't all be right. Only one of the men in the lineup can be the perpetrator of the crime. It's also possible that the true criminal isn't in the lineup at all, and that all of you have fingered the wrong man. If you're honest about it, you should be able to admit to yourself that you are just as likely to be mistaken about who you saw as any of the other witnesseses, and that there is therefore a good chance (not merely a possibility, but a probability), that you have made an error. And the same applies to your religious beliefs.

It seemed for a while that you were willing to admit this, but now you're digging your heels in and insisting that your "experiential evidence" is so superior to that of other people that you can be confident that you're right and they're wrong. That's not humility. That's not reason. That's not honesty. It's arrogance and dogmatism.

Posted by: Atheist on April 29, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

If there were a religious group or individual whose faith involved actions that explicitly contravene federal or state laws, would a Mormon be unable to investigate or bring that person or group to justice because that would put them in violation of Article 11, We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.?

Posted by: cld on April 29, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

cld:

No, I don't think so. If Article 12 is sincere, that means a Mormon accepts being pledged to uphold the laws of the land with no contradiction to his/her religion.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 29, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's too easy to imagine circumstances where those two Articles are in conflict, perhaps in many individuals with permanent irreconcilability. Article 11 is claiming a privilege and claims that privilege for all men, in which case how can it be in any way a privilege, except as a possible or expedient violation of civil law?

Posted by: cld on April 29, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

cld:

No, I don't see anything at all insidious in Article 11. I see it as a simple affirmation of freedom of conscience.

It was put in, doubtless, to calm the fears of those who thought that Mormons were fanatics about converting people to what they'd no doubt consider to be the Only True Church.

It's saying that, rather, if you believe in God your own way, that's fine with them. Almost like a declaration of a religious truce.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 29, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

The point is this is an Article of Faith, if you don't believe it literally, you're not a Mormon, or you're a bad Mormon. Is every Mormon in government always a bad Mormon?

If we agree this is benign, then they have no problem with human sacrifice, but they will have a problem enforcing a law against it.

Posted by: cld on April 29, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

cld:

I think you're overthinking this. There's not to my knowledge anything in Mormon dogma that requires breaking of the secular law -- but there certainly was a big one at one time.

Polygamy.

And, when brought in direct conflict between Mormon belief and US law (or at least social custom), the latter won unequivocally.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on April 29, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

If it won unequivocally there wouldn't be these equivocating sects in Utah we hear tell of.

I don't think I can have overthinked this half as much as the average Mormon. "according to the dicates of our own conscience", gives them and any version of "worshipping Almighty God" they might care for any degree of preeminence they might, from moment to moment, feel they need.

There's nothing in that article, or any other, to suggest that they don't mean what they say literally, and these are the central tenets of their faith, there can't be any uncertainty about it.

Even if some, or even a lot, of Mormons don't take that literally, there will be a lot of them that do, and I can't see how that couldn't lead to obvious and irresolvable conflicts with enforcing the law in cases of religious precedence, and, following from that, anything else.

Posted by: cld on April 29, 2006 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

cld,

The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, which is the central repository of Catholic doctrine and dogma, contains a rule virtually identical to the LDS Church Article 11 that you cite:

1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."

Do you believe this doctrine means that Catholic politicians are "unable to investigate or bring a person or group to justice" whose "faith involved actions that explicitly contravene federal or state laws?"

Posted by: Atheist on April 30, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

"There is no religious test in this country"

You are a fool.

You are simply a fool.

Posted by: mere mortal on April 30, 2006 at 6:00 AM | PERMALINK

Atheist,

Yes, I think the Catholic Church all but overtly holds that position, but won't come right out and say it, or allow it to come up in a context where anyone but a serious religious maniac will ever hear about it because that would remind people the Vatican is a foreign country, and that the Church hierarchy is the agent of that foreign country disseminating a foreign ideology of blind allegiance to that country, in explicit contravention of good citizenship.

It almost comes up in stories about abortion, but, somehow, just doesn't, quite.

However, that whole part of the Catholic cathechism is about Conscience,

(1780: ". . .Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis); their application in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods; and finally judgment about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed. The truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason, is recognized practically and concretely by the prudent judgment of conscience. We call that man prudent who chooses in conformity with this judgment."),

and, I think, what they would say, is that 1782 has explicitly to do with moral decisions leading into or out of issues that are directly addressed by Catholicism, like abortion, and not with a more general issue, like your patriotic duty.

In both cases Salt Lake City and the Vatican want it to seem like you might take it as your conscience dictates, but I think we know how they really mean it, and how they'd think a religious person would see it.

As someone put it on Futurama, 'Is the Space Pope reptilian?'

Posted by: cld on April 30, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

And, in a related development,

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws?mode=PF

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

Posted by: cld on April 30, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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