Friday, June 15, 2007

What About the Mormon Religion?

By me, the beliefs espoused by Mormons are ridiculous. But, let me hasten to say, they are no more ridiculous than the beliefs espoused by Christians. Or in fact, the beliefs of any other religion. The thing that sets the Mormon myths apart is that the Mormon Church was founded only 177 years ago. Back in 1830 when Joseph Smith started his Church of Christ, later called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jedediah Smith and William Sublette lead the first wagon train on a 500 mile trek through Indian country that proved overland travel to the Pacific was possible. The year 1830 is a year Americans can get in touch with through our own history. As opposed to the event that happened 2000 years ago and jump-started Christianity or the event 4000 years ago that gave rise to Islam. The touchstone of both the Mormon belief and the Christian belief is Jesus Christ. But the Mormon belief adds a few new wonders to the old wonders of virgin birth and man-God. And the Mormon wonders are only 177 years old. Those Mormon marvels include golden plates given to Joseph Smith (who was a renowned charlatan in Manchester, New York) by an angel named Moroni. And the plates had strange writing on them that looked like hieroglyphics but not really. The writing only could be translated by Joseph Smith with the help of special spectacles and two divining stones called Thummim and Urim (not the same as the divining stones used by ancient Hebrews, but in the same category). And after Smith translated the writing on the gold plates, the Angel Moroni took them back and disappeared to the realm from which he came. Well okay, all religions have their myths. But Mormon and presidential candidate Mitt Romney is being roundly criticized by other Mormons for saying that Jesus will return to Jerusalem. All Mormons know that Jesus will come back to Missouri and that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri. Yes, I have a hard time with the Virgin birth and Jesus being a man-God. But hey, that was a long time ago and religions tend to embroider on original events over a long period of time. But I have a harder time with the Mormon myths that were being thought up about the time my great-great-grandmother was born. A lot of the original Mormon tenets have been shit-canned. All that polygamy stuff and black bigotry ugliness and who knows about the magic underwear? But, Mormons still believe that Jesus is supposed to come back to Missouri where he was born and that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri. Another thing I find hard to swallow is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) converted to Mormonism. He wasn’t born into it like Mitt Romney. A lot of us accepted a lot of nonsense when we were born into religions. A lot of us took a look and said, I don’t think so. But converting is something else altogether. When I was married to a Roman Catholic I went to classes to see about converting. Okay, I admit, the priest running the classes looked like Montgomery Clift. But I took the whole idea of converting seriously and I studied and I thought about it and read about it and prayed about it and finally I said, Look, Monty...I mean, Look Father, I can’t do this. I just can’t swallow this stuff. Not now. Not at my age. And Father Monty said, in effect, I understand. But Harry Reid and his wife converted to Mormonism. They were grown-up people and they took a look at John Smith and his con games in New York and the Angel Moroni, and the Golden Plates and the strange writing (which turned out to be gobbledegook), and Jesus being born in Missouri and the Garden of Eden and Genesis all happening in Missouri and they said, Right! That’s for me! I just don’t understand that. Religions are all fantastical, but the Mormon Church is breathtaking in its bizarre beliefs. Which makes Thomas Jefferson’s idea of keeping church and state separate very wise indeed. Jefferson wrote his letter to the Danbury Baptists about a "wall of separation between church and state," in 1802. And that was 18 years before Joseph Smith had his first “vision” and thought up his Mormon scam. At least science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard came out and admitted his dianetics (Scientology) nonsense was a con job. But when money started rolling in from the sale of his book, he said "the creation of dianetics is a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch." What’s better than turning lead into gold? Inventing a religion.


ButtonGear said...

You know ... An astounding number of seemingly sane people have embraced the LDS teachings (a.k.a. "Mormonism"). I think the membership numbers are like, over 20 Million worldwide.

You have to wonder what these people from all walks of life have seen or experienced that made such a dramatic change in their lives.

Barry Schwartz said...

'... 4000 years ago and gave rise to Islam.'

Do you mean Judaism, or do you mean this is a point at which the story of Islamic mythology diverges significantly from the story of Jewish and/or Christian mythology?

Sometimes the embellishments of religions are allegorical, which unfortunately provides an easy-out for otherwise 'analytically' oriented people, since they can claim that stuff like the world of Genesis being flat is just part of the allegory. Oh, well, what are you going to do, if a bigshot scientist like Roger Penrose can go around suggesting that 'consciousness' is some kind of subatomic particle, and less qualified dupes like Thom Hartmann latch onto that as a way of rescuing their religion sentiment from the light of observation?

BTW my great-great-grandparents Dougherty were already starting to make babies around 1830, but I'm really not sure it's the date that matters, so much as the documentation of con-artistry.

Anonymous said...


Maybe these people derive great joy and happiness from their religion.

If so, what does it matter to you or me?

Have you ever attended a Mormon Church on Sundays? They are always open to visitors. Perhaps you should attend once and see for yourself. Whether you agree or disagree with the doctrine, it is very difficult to argue with the "fruits" of the religion. Mormons are as about as Christian as you can get in practice and theory.

Go check it out once, you might be surprised. 95% of what you read on the internet about Mormons is not accurate or honest. ie. Mormons do not believe that Christ was born in Missouri.

Google for Harry Ried and Mormons and let him tell you in his own words why he converted.

Can you tell I like Mormons! Frankly, I would much rather engage in religious discussions with a Mormon than an evangelical. Mormons are more rational! Go see for yourself!

FreeThinker said...

Is Mormonism all that weirder than Christianity (The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so that he can remove from your soul an evil force that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree ... ) ???

Anonymous said...

Just a small point. I understand that Joseph Smith, whose family was near bandruptsy a few years before, died leaving an estate valued at about 1.5 million and that Brigham Young, a few years further on, left an estate worth 15 million. How much these values would be in todays dollars, I don't know, but these pillars of the Church became very wealthy men. In fact Joseph Smith copyrighted the Book of Mormon to protect his profits, and went to court to protect his copyright. My feeling after reading a lot about the Mormons is that they started out as a very insecure group and that money was foremost in their minds.

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