God's Politics

God's Politics


Tony Jones: Honest Questions for Mitt Romney

posted by gp_intern

OK, I’ll be honest. I’m ambivalent about Mormonism, and, be it Mitt Romney or any other Mormon, I’m ambivalent about the idea of voting for a Mormon. And I’ll bet that a lot of Christians, if they’re honest too, agree with me.

My ambivalence stems, I suppose, from my ignorance. I’m skeptical of a religion that admonishes its adherents to wear sacred undergarments (Andrew Sullivan caused quite a dust-up when he blogged about this last December), that didn’t allow non-whites to be clergy until 1978, and that follows the teachings of Joseph Smith, whose scriptures I find highly dubious. I don’t agree with the Mormon teaching that Father, Son, and Spirit are three distinct gods and that the Father and Son currently have bodies, nor with the teaching that only those who achieve the “Celestial Kingdom” will be united with their families in eternity. There’s a lot to be dubious about.

But listen, I get it. I know that much of orthodox Christianity is irrational, too: I eat flesh and drink blood every Sunday. As Andrew Sullivan has written compellingly in his recent debates with atheist Sam Harris, orthodox Christianity does require faith, but it does not neccessitate an abandonment of reason. So I’m walking a fine line between what I consider reasonable (orthodox Christianity) and what I consider unreasonable (orthodox Mormonism).

What does require an abandonment of reason is biblical literalism, a.k.a., fundamentalism. And, as with any religion, there are literalist Mormons and non-literalist Mormons – I’ve met some of each. The non-literalist Mormons tend to roll their eyes and say, “No, of course I don’t believe that dark-skinned peoples are cursed by God, even though the Book of Mormon says that.” That’s pretty much how I respond when someone asks me if I think that homosexuals and adulterers should be put to death, as stated in my holy book.

So this is the question that Romney will have to answer: Are you a literalist in your reading of the Book of Mormon? Thus far, I haven’t heard him answer that question. People will ask about his underwear, his view of “dark-skinned people,” and his view of homosexuality. What they’re really wanting to know is, are you a fundamentalist? It’s basically the same question that JFK was asked about his relationship with the Vatican.

When Romney was heckled last week, he responded by saying, “We need a person of faith to lead the country.” For that, he received a standing ovation from his audience. But that statement is nearly meaningless, for even Sam Harris is a person of faith. Strident, angry, atheistic faith – a faith in human reason alone.

We all have faith; it’s part and parcel of the human condition. So, indeed, a person of faith will be our next president. But, what fashion of faith? Strident fundamentalism or thoughtful centrism?

P.S. I picked this interesting poll and commentary off of Moby’s blog:

a recent gallup poll asked americans how likely they would be to vote for a qualified
presidential candidate if they were black, latino, gay, female, etc. here are the results:

Black 94%
Jewish 92%
A woman 88%
Hispanic 87%
Mormon 72%
Married for third time 67%
72 years of age 57%
A homosexual 55%
An atheist 45%

so, basically, 94% of americans would happily vote for a black candidate for president, but only 45% of americans would vote for an atheist.
the reason this is kind of funny is that the 3 leading gop candidates are:
a-a mormon(mitt romney, 72% of americans would vote for a mormon)
b-72 years old(john mccain, 57% of americans would vote for someone 72 years old)
c-twice divorced(rudy giulianni, 67% of americans would vote for someone who was on their 3rd wife).


Tony Jones is the National Coordinator for Emergent Village.



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moderatelad

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:11 pm


I don’t think that his being Morman will be a big deal in MN – we voted in the first Muslim and he never answered the ‘big’ questions either. (it is not PC to ask those questions unless you are an evangelical) later – .



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Joey

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:15 pm


I don’t really see WHY it should be a big deal that he’s a Mormon. I’m religious, but as Mr. Jones points out, any religion kind of seems a little nutty if you think about it. Religion is important for political figures based on how it affects their policies. To me, whether or not Mr. Romney thinks God the Father has a body and a wife doesn’t matter much, politically—I’m more concerned about how his faith translates to issues like abortion, foreign policy, etc. God bless.



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MikeJ

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:16 pm


“…even Sam Harris is a person of faith. Strident, angry, atheistic faith — a faith in human reason alone.” Huh? That doesn’t parse as English. Sam Harris doesn’t have “faith” in human reason alone. He has human reason. That’s it. There’s no faith involved in it. He doesn’t say using human reason superior to gods. He says there are no gods and reason is all we have.If you’re going to attack the big bad mean 4% of Americans who are oppressing 90%, you shouldn’t just make stuff up cause you like the way it sounds.



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Payshun

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:40 pm


I would happily vote for an athiest if that person respected people of faith. the idea that God is more inclined to work thru a Christian is laughable. (Looks at the current president) It would just depend on if he/she could respect my views.p



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Lisa

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:34 pm


My concern with Mr. Romney’s religious beliefs is not foremost with the issues you raised here, but with his relationship to the hierarchy of the Church. Mormons believe in a priesthood and that priesthood order has a very direct impact on ones day to day life and decisions. Here are some quotes from the Church’s website (lds.org) that illustrate this point.”When a man receives the Melchizedek Priesthood, he enters into the oath and covenant of the priesthood. He covenants to be faithful, magnify his calling, ‘give diligent heed to the words of eternal life,’ and ‘live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.’ Those who keep this covenant will be sanctified by the Spirit and receive ‘all that [the] Father hath.’ (See D&C 84:33 44.)”And,”We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord, who declared: ‘What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ (D&C 1:38).”Thus, as a priesthood holder in the Mormon church, (which I can only assume Mr. Romney is based on the fact that he’s male and apparently considers himself a good Mormon) Mr. Romney is bound by oath to follow the words of God, including the words of the Prophet – Gordon B. Hinkley. I find that troublesome. I think Mr. Romney needs to address how he intends to uphold his priesthood vows in the White House where he would also be bound to uphold the Constitution and to act in the best interests of all Americans. I simply wouldn’t vote for someone who was bound by oath to do what one man said – whoever that man was. So, I suppose my objection here is not to the fact that he’s Mormon or even to many of the often-scorned beliefs (or perceived beliefs) of the Church, but to the danger of a religious institution having such strong sway over the President of the United States.Of course all of this ultimately comes behind the fact that I fundamentally disagree with many of the man’s political positions and I object to his rather ignorant use of racially insensitive terminology. Perhaps then, as in all things, I should judge the candidate on his merits before worrying about his religious affiliation.



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Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D.

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:35 pm


Tony, Stanley Hauerwas once said that any religion that doesn’t care about what you put in your mouth or do with your private parts (not exactly the language he used…) isn’t worth anything. Maybe “sacred undergarments” count in the “private parts” category….? Maybe not? Thanks for your honesty. Diana



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Faithful Progressive

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:41 pm


I find your comments on Mormon prayer garments intolerant–in fact, I even used that exact flippancy as an example of what not to do if you don’t want to answer intolerance with more intolerance. Would you mock Jewish skull caps or joke about rosary beads–no, but you think it’s ok with Mormons. It’s not funny, it’s not cool–it’s ignorant and reflects intolerance. FP



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kevin s.

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:21 pm


Your comments on mormon undergarments is are completely intolerant, as tolerance is defined these days. That is fine, you don’t have to be tolerant. I think Islam is bananas, and that would affect my voting patterns. So we are both intolerant. Welcome to the club… Please check your smartypants glasses at the door.



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Ngchen

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:55 pm


FWIW, the jab at “fundamentalists” may well be quite unfair. Technically, “fundamentalist” and “fanatic” are not synonymous, and the term has been distorted these days to mean the latter. One can interpret scripture a certain way, and be totally benign (consider say a “fundamentalist” Mennonite, for instance who opposes all war and refuses to fight in any). So the issue is not fundamentalism per se, but simply what he believes and how the beliefs have an impact on him being president. I for one would be more skeptical of someone who stands for nothing than someone who fervently believes even something that’s false.



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moderatelad

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:59 pm


Faithful Progressive | Homepage | 02.21.07 – 1:46 pm | #Get a grip – this is one of the most ‘intolerant’ sites on the WWW. (unless you dis’ the evangelicals – that is encouraged) Later – .



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Jb

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:00 pm


I agree with FP–it is arrogant and mean to comment on Mormon prayer garments. It’s not acceptable. Period.



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bob carlton

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:02 pm


Thanks for framing this, Tony. I’ve got a number of issues that are difficult with Mr. Romney. Ironically, it is not how his beliefs live out as literalism or thoughtful centrism. It is the manner in which he has morphed his positions to fit the expediency of the political campaign he is in. Looking at his changes on abortion & gay rights makes me yearn for the clarity of a John Kerry flip-flop. Wrapping this type of chameleon candidacy in God-talk debases folks like Brownback & Obama, who have taken & stuck to positions based on their own moral compass. If Romney is the nominee, I am eager to hear how Dobson, Tony Perkins & the rest of the Jesusland police contort to his “emerging” moral positions. P.S. – careful on lampooining underwear – today is Ash Wednesday, a day when saints before us would occasionally wear sack clothe (and even worse) under their liturgical robes.



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Payshun

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:08 pm


Moderatelad, This site is not intolerant. It just doesn’t put up w/ right wing bias as much. The number of people that come here for no reason (except to espouse their take and defend their fundamentalist evangelical right of center agenda) do very little actually encourage real debate and come up w/ solutions to love people. Just because some of us are critical of right wing bias, hypocrisy and poor readings of scripture doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends. I can only think of one person on this board that has called you out of name. the rest have respectfully disagreed and attacked what you believed. They did not call it wrong just that they disagreed. Can you say the same? p



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Don

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:10 pm


I posted three relevant comments on another posting in this blog: 1. It’s far too early to know who among all the candidates most deserves my support for the next Presidential election. That includes Mr. Romney. 2. The Constitution forbids any religious test for public office. 3. Martin Luther supposedly said he would rather see his nation governed by a competent Turk (and that to him meant Muslim) than an incompetent Christian. I don’t know if he would add “Mormon” to that if he were around today, but for me the issue of competence will likely be paramount in the next election–far more so than religious affiliation. Peace,



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Bill Samuel

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:35 pm


I really don’t care what undergarments the President wears, and I’m surprised that Tony would bring that up in what seems otherwise an attempt at a serious commentary. This seems pretty ridiculous. I think the evidence is that Mitt Romney is an opportunistic politician in the American mainstream. I wouldn’t vote for him, but it has got absolutely nothing to do with him being a member of the LDS. I know of no evidence that the LDS hierarchy dictates to Mormon politicians (of which there are quite a number, including most elected officials in Utah), so I’m inclined to think that’s a red herring.



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Mark

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:41 pm


Tony – Great thoughts. I appreciate your honesty. I think that Mr. Romney would have an easier time of it if he were a Democrat. Traditionally they haven’t went around courting the Evangelicals with their Pro-life and Anti-Gay messages. If he wants to get the votes from that bloc, I think he would have to renounce his faith and cross-over. Remember you are dust and to dust you will return. Have an uplifting day.



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kevin s.

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:58 pm


So here’s the thing. If a candidate has to change his position on a certain issue because he can’t get elected otherwise, that doesn’t bother me too much. It is not the change of position in and of itself that bothers me, unless I suspect that that position changed won’t be reflected in their leadership. People bring up old voting records all the time, and it is seldom effective. The flip-flop charge stuck with Kerry because he seemed equivocal on the issue. He had to (or felt he had to) pretend to support the war, while opposing the war at the same time, which led to convoluted meanderings on the issue (e.g. “I voted for it before I voted against it”). If Kerry had simply said. I supported the war, but I was wrong and no longer do, the flip-flop charge would have gone away, though he would have lost votes in certain quarters.That’s the game.



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Guy Cross

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:29 pm


Great blog A have to admit I have just learnt about Mormonism from reading your blog, I have been lazy, too lazy to read up. Thanks for the insite and it is great to read a balanced viewpoint of Mormonism from a respected source. Thanks Guy http://guycross.blogspot.com



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moderatelad

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:29 pm


Payshun | Homepage | 02.21.07 – 3:13 pm | #I believe you can look at my posts and you will see where I have told someone that I can not agree with their take on an issue.I – to my knowledge have never refered to someone with a ‘%^&-left’ label.I have not agreed with someones assessment of what the ‘Bible’ says – but have done so respectfully stating that they can believe that but I can not. I believe that they are ‘wrong’ in their assessment – but it is their opinion and one that I do not agree with.Understanding is more important than Agreement.Later – .



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Mike Hayes

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:48 pm


We visited the rebuilt Mormon Tabernacle in Nauvoo, Illinois within the last five years or so, during an open house type event following the completion of the reconstruction (the temple was destroyed in the mid 1800s after the Mormon people left Illinois after the slaying of Joseph Smith and traveled to Utah). We did see the storage areas for the special clothing the members wear (can’t remember whether those were to be worn on every occasion, or not). Two thoughts stuck with me…Mormons believe that the soul of a human person exists prior to the birth of the person and joins the body at the time of birth, and,they believe that unbaptized persons can experience the benefits of baptism after death if their existence is discovered and if some baptism-restoration type celebration is performed on their behalf… thus the exceptional interest by Mormon persons in discovering their ancestors. One other fact that stuck with me was the mention by the host that, after the completion of the open house event, there was to be some purification process performed for the interior of the temple prior to its use in celebrations. Visits to the temple after that by persons who were not Mormons would not be allowable. Something I wondered about at the time and still haven’t researched is whether Mormons believe that Jesus is God… I realize the formal name of the religion includes the mention of Jesus…



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Payshun

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:37 pm


I had issues w/ Mormonism because it starts out as a racist religion and only changes its spots after the Civil Rights Voting Act and even then doesn’t fully change. But I realized I can’t hate a whole religon depsite it’s racist message. Moderatelad, Finally I agree w/you on something. Understanding is more important that agreeing. Mike, Mormons aren’t the only ones that believe the soul exists before birth. Jews do too. In Jewish mysticism there are 3 parts of the soul. The Neshemah is the part that exists before the body is formed and rests w/ God. It shares in aspects of his divinity. As a christian mystic I tend to agree w/ the Jewish ones on that. p



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Faithful Progressive

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:39 pm


My politics are to the left of Wallis and this blog…But I have spoken out for Wallis repeatedly on my own site, which has had well over 115,000 site visits. But if ridiculing the faith practices of another tradition are part of the mix here–by no less than two bloggers on this site!!! (this post and Diana Butler Bass comments above)–please count me out of the discussion on this site. Tony owes us an explanation of why such ridicule is warranted. Rabbi Heschel said an attack on one religion is an attack on all.I stand with the Mormons and against (even Emergent) bigots. There is enough hate and intolerance on the web! Please apologize for your intolerant remarks. FP



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kevin s.

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:03 am


Why should he apologize? His skepticism is based on more than just undergarments. As he says, the church didn’t allow non-whites into the clergy until 1978. It is based on dubious scriptures. He concedes that his intolerance stems from ignorance, and he doesn’t say anywhere that a Mormon should never be president. Perhaps we need a new definition of tolerant. Tony tolerates Romney, believes he has the same rights as you or I, would treat him with civility and maybe even buy him a beer (Pete’s Wicked Ale?) in a bar.The notion that this dude represents an intolerance that needs to be eradicated is ridiculous.



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Virgil

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:28 am


To repeat what was said above, a president’s Mormon faith does not really bother me, especially considering the fact that our three-branched government does not really allow for any specific ideology, religion or faith to be pushed on the citizens. Ultimately, yes, it does provide a venue for advertising mormonism, but that is another issue altogether. Unfortunately, Tony’s poll results did not include a special category for Hillary Clinton. Any idea where she falls? Hehe…sorry guys, I could not resist that one :)



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kevin s.

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:06 am


That poll does seem to single out certain people. Would 43% of people really refuse to vote for a 72 year old, or did a number of people just think “well, not if it’s McCain”?



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Faithful Progressive

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:34 am


Since you did not see fit to reply, I have posted this, asking for you to explain or apologize. Not Funny: Anti-Mormon Bigotry by Tony Jones at God’s Politics Site: http://faithfulprogressive.blogspot.com/2007/02/not-funny-anti-mormon-bigotry-by-tony.html



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Virgil

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:46 am


Faithful Progressive, I really fail to see how Tony’s comments were bigoted in any way…he is taking an honest look at Romney from his perspective; would you rather have Tony lie about how he feels about those issues? And what is unreasonable about asking questions about a faith under which God lives in a physical body his many wives on a planet named Kolob? Tony thinks we should ask questions. I laugh and I choose to watch Battlestar Galactica instead. And guess what? I will likely still vote for Romney. His mormonism has virtually nothing to do with his ability to hold the office of President.



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Faithful Progressive

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:30 am


It is bigotry, pure and simple, to ridicule the faith practices of another faith. I know of several Jewish friends who were teased as kids about yarmulkes, they were called beanies, etc. How is that not wrong? How is it right to do the same with Mormon Temple wear! This makes me really angry that I have to explain this on this site!!! FP



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kevin s.

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:38 am


“It is bigotry, pure and simple, to ridicule the faith practices of another faith.” Not really. If someone’s ritual is to drop kick dead mice into a basketball hoop, I’m gonna think that’s weird, whether it is in the name of their God or no.” I know of several Jewish friends who were teased as kids about yarmulkes, they were called beanies, etc. How is that not wrong?” It’s wrong. But how is it a big deal? Were those kids weird, or were they just (as Tony admits he is) ignorant?Look, as Christians, we know there is one way to get to God, and that is through Jesus. There is nothing sacred about a ritual one performs in an attempt to live out their religion. If Mormons wear sacred underwear, I know they do it for no good reason whatsoever. It’s goofy. God doesn’t call us to do that, so there is no sense holding it in any higher regard than anyone else who claims to wear holy pajamas. Incidentally, if this thread makes you angry, there’s a certain South Park episode you will certainly want to avoid.



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Ryan Beiler

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:01 am


As I posted on FP’s site comments:how is Tony saying “i’m skeptical” a bigoted joke? if examining a standard Mormon practice equals ridicule in your mind, maybe you need to examine your own prejudice. he’s expressing honest ambivalence, and follows it by describing aspects of Christianity he realizes are also incredible. i’m all for PC thuggery, but I think most people who read Jones’ quote, even out of context will fail to see he how he’s making a joke of any kind and wonder why you’re straining gnats. peace, ryan



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Mike Hayes

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:16 am


Payshun, Thank you! My memory sometimes fails me, but I recall that Jewish and Muslim persons believe that human life begins several months after conception. Thomas Aquinas thought that males became human some months after conception and females at a later point. Mormons belive that the soul exists prior to conception and enters the human at birth. That’s my memory… for what that’s worth… I think the significance of all that is that beliefs differ about when human life begins… and that our beliefs are strongly defined by the culture into which we are born… Does God prefer one culture over another… I think not… many others think that their religion/culture is preferred by God over others… I just don’t see how a just God would do that…



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Faithful Progressive

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:22 am


‘Im skeptical of a religion that admonishes its adherents to wear… sacred undergarments…” beanies…” Veils on their head.” If you think that sentence is okay in all three cases, then man, we have very different views on religious tolerance. Any “PC thuggery” involves attacking an unpopular religious group such as Mormons. Go ahead, but I will call you on it. FP



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Mike Hayes

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:42 am


Faithful Progressive: One of the most serious consequences of believing that God prefers one religion over another is that it (the belief that God prefers “our” religion} can lead to a campaign to convert others to that belief system… by force if necessary… or execution of those within our culture who might lead “us” astray… to avoid damnation of those who might listen to them and drift in to “error”… Augustine first justified executions in Christian cultures to prevent “error” being spread among Christians by those who strayed from “true beliefs”… Payshun, I should add that my reference to the variation of beliefs about the point in time at whch a fetus becomes human was not intended to justify any position about the morality of abortion… my recollection is that Muslim and Jewish persons think that abortion is inheirently immoral (and I’m not sure about exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother in those cultures) because they regard the fetus prior to the entry of the soul as “potential human life”… My point is that there are differences in beliefs… and that the substantial percentages of human life today in cultures that do not align with Christianity surely would not be condemned to hell just because they were not fortunate enough to be born in to a Christian culture… Christians who hold to that belief are just as wrong as Muslims or Jewish persons who think they are the “chosen ones” of God… In my view…



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Elmo

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:46 am


I think it’s unfair to say that literalism/fundamntalism requires the abandonment of reason, without providing even a link to any discussion. Besides, the term “literalism” is so loaded as to be totally misleading. As it’s been said many times before, both conservative and progressive Christians read Scripture literally, just not the same parts. Progressives choose to only read the social directives of Christ literally, while conservatives choose to include the rest of Jesus’ commands, along with Paul, James, Peter, Jude, and John’s teachings. And there are great portions that neither group takes literally, because it would be stupid. Jesus didn’t mean for people to start cutting off body parts to avoid sin. If he did even his disciples would have bled to death. When, as a Christian, you start ignoring the parts of the Bible you disagree with (or say they’re “metaphor” or “figurative”, and that they actually represent the opposite of what they say…who’s abandoning reason now?), you’ve crossed a line into very dangerous territory. Besides, the Bible tells us in several places that “[our] ways are not [His] ways” and “the wisdom of God is foolishness to man”.



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kevin s.

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:00 am


“i’m all for PC thuggery,” As you make your bed, my man…



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Van Peebles

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:34 pm


Does “tolerance” has to be a po-faced response to the wild colour, diversity and absurdity of God s creatures? To respond to bafflement with laughter and delight is better than a suspicious glare and hostile Grr…!Initial hilarity when coupled with curiosity is no threat to a tolerant society. And may lead to more enlightenment than a puritanical, “Don’t laugh, dear, they’re just different.”



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Hali

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:40 pm


Not that there’s a chance on God’s green earth that I’ll vote for Mitt Romney – but his theology is his own business and his own right. My question to him – and to any candidate – would be this: How do you view, and how would you protect, the First Amendment’s guarantee of the separation of church and state?



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Gerry Hart

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:31 pm


It’s clear that you have little knowledge of what the Church of JCLDS (i.e. Mormonism) is about. Yes, like yourself and most evangelicals, it strays dangerously close to inerrant biblical literalism, but I’m not sure that should disqualify one from serving a political office – even the president. I’m a Catholic and I, of course, find biblical literalism (‘fundamentalism’ as you say, however I think these two, though equally disturbing, can be further distinguished from one another – i.e. they are not synonymous as you are using them) ridiculous and theologically dangerous, but within the sphere of politics (morality) it tends to be of little consequence. You even acknowledge yourself that of course you don t think homosexuality, and women in the church, is sinful (even though they are both proffered literally in your scripture), so what makes you think Mit Romney and the most of those with the LDS – maintain dark-skinned folks are evil and practicing polygamy is ok? Check with the LDS church and you will find both of those tenants are abolished – just as Roman Catholicism doesn t practice crusading or inquisition anymore. You need to be more careful and study up a bit (a lot) on this before you go pasting articles all over the place. 1) You need to separate the Church of LDS (of which Romney is a member) from Mormonism or the RLDS (reformed church of JC Latter day saints) and also from Fundamental Mormonism (e.g. those crazies in Colorado city who practice polygamy). 2) You really need to study more about Mormonism and in particular the Church of JC LDS, especially if you are going to do political commentary on Gov. Romney. Furthermore, there are plenty of Mormons in office today who are stand-up servants of the country. In the realm of morality (politics), I think it is adequate to judge one s performance on their fruits, not their roots. I.e. By their actions, not their theology. Yes, theology matters, but Mit Romney isn t running for Pope or pastor of a church. He is running for an elected official of a public secular state. Maybe if we were in theocratic Iran, then theology would matter. You, by evaluating him on his theological assumptions, are no less fundamentalist than those you are deeming fundamentalist. But then again, you are a protestant conservative evangelical, so I would expect you to only vote for one of your ownI think your evangelical protestant theology is mostly ridiculous and poor, but if you were to run for political office, I think I d probably vote for you. I find most evangelicals, like yourself, to hold lousy theological beliefs, but in this country, it is the evangelicals who tend to be on the forefront of lived morality and politics and I like that.



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HASH(0x11653ec4)

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:33 pm


as a Mormon and a liberal I was disappointed in Tony Jones’ comments. I can appreciate that some Mormon thought is “out of the mainstream” but one should keep in that the fundamental belief of Mormonism is in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer. Tony is right; he is ignornant of Mormonism. But ignorance should in thoughtful Christian people motivate an effort at greater understanding instead of disrespect. Tony would benefit from reviewing the rebuke the Savior gave to his followers in Mark 9:38-40.



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Ryan Beiler

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:40 pm


FP, for the record, i hope everyone realizes the “PC thug” remark was self-referential if you followed the link to one of my posts from a few weeks back.i think we’re just not agreeing on what constitutes mockery here. having grown up mennonite, and having many friends and relatives who wear head coverings, i’ve experienced the difference between mockery and mere honest questioning and description. i would not be offended if someone said, “i’m skeptical about a religion that asks women to wear prayer caps.” (or some similar mangling of what we usually call them.) “beanies”–would offend me. but tony’s word choice “undergarments” seemed fairly straightforwardly descriptive. regardless, even if you think his comment is insensitive, it’s obvious he wasn’t making a joke of any kind–so you get credit for changing your headline (and breaking the link in your earlier comment here) that accused Tony of joking–though your content still makes the charge.



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timks

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:16 pm


As a former student of LDS beliefs and someone married to a Mormon (now ex-Mormon), I think Tony’s brief description of LDS beliefs was accurate. It wasn’t meant to be exhaustive or systematic, but it was illustrative. Tony then expresses his opinion that from his orthodox Christian perspective, he is skeptical of those beliefs. This is bigotry? If “bigotry” gives you the vapors, then don’t read any LDS literature. They make no bones about their belief that the LDS religion is superior to all others including other “Christian” churches (scare quotes are the LDS’, not mine).



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Payshun

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:43 pm


Elmo, Progressives (especially mystics and contemplatives) take the bible seriously. We don’t ignore all of it. We just understand context better. Conservatives believe that Timothy and many of the letters of Paul were meant to be adhered to now. We understand the context that that’s not true. Some commands were meant for all, while others were meant for that select town. We understand that it’s about loving people w/o conditions. Conservatives put conditions on almost everything. Giving mere lip service to love and grace. It’s always about right behavior despite the love. It’s always about guilt and shame over grace and forgiveness. Hope dies at the feet of judgement and righteousness. The book of James is a perfect example of this. First John is a counter example that progressives (mystics and contemplatives, evangelicals, catholics, orthodox) live by. Progressives tend to focus more on the prophets while conservatives tend to focus more on the law. We can see where that goes. p



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Sharon Martinez

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:31 pm


I hope this isn’t the only information some of you have gotten on Mormonism. Try LDS.org if you really are opened minded enough to at least see it. I would say that Mitt Romney is not a fundamentalist Mormon for sure. He’s like the rest of us who are born into a religion. He believes because he believes. He has faith just like everyone who is religious. Guess I’m not getting the paranoia about the Mormon underwear I have on. So what…it’s about me and my religion…not about you or politics. IMHO it’s unamerican to insult someone elses religion. He can live his religion and run for office and be in office just like every other American. Or am I reading the constitution wrong? Any questions feel free to email me.



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Payshun

posted February 23, 2007 at 1:54 am


No I don’t have a problem w/ his faith. I have problems w/ some of the history of his church but I have the same problems w/ Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and other faiths.If I remember correctly Mormons did not want to call themselves Christians until the last decade or two. I don’t mean to be rude or anything but I can’t see how they can call themselves Christians when they believe: 1. that Jesus was not the begotten son but one of many, 2. that heaven is constantly evolving and some enter based off of race while others go to another heaven based off of race and 3. That divine revelation is progressive and not constant. It changes content and form depending on what is going on in the society.I don’t mean to bash Mormons or say they lack faith. Quite the opposite. I just wish they would call themselves Mormons and keep it at that. Calling themselves Christians just seem disengenous when all the other sects, churches and divisions all adhere to some specific creeds and they don’t. p



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Payshun

posted February 23, 2007 at 2:32 am


Some favorable sites for Mormons to call themselves Christians. http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ%5FChristian.shtml#are http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/general/christians/ Some against. http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ456.HTM I wish more Christians had a very Jewish view of the old testament that way they keep speak about issues of being created in God’s image… People take that passage so out of context. p



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Payshun

posted February 23, 2007 at 2:36 am

Payshun

posted February 23, 2007 at 3:08 am


One more about blacks and mormons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blacks_and_Mormonism p



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Elmo

posted February 23, 2007 at 6:18 am


Payshun -Well, I think we understand the context better, so there :p (We could go back and forth on who’s understanding is “better” all day, so let’s not). You’ll have to explain to me why there would be any command that first century Christians were supposed to adhere to that we aren’t. I mean, right down to women not adorning their hair with gold. I understand historical and literary contexts just fine, and I disagree with you. Why do you assume I’m only paying lip service to love and grace? I believe deeply in the grace of God, otherwise I have no hope. I know I can never be passionate enough or pious enough or loving enough to merit His favor. It’s by His grace that I live. “The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses…” Why can’t it be about faith and action? Donald Bloesch, a UCC minister (lest you think he’s one of us intolerant conservatives), writes in A Theology of Word & Spirit: “The nature of divine justice can be understood only in the light of the tension between God’s holiness and his love. The holiness of God is his transcendent majesty and purity that cannot tolerate sin. His love is his everlasting pity and compassion that will never let sinners remain in their sins. The Bible sometimes indicates a noticeable tension between God’s holiness and his love. At the same time, it also provides firm ground for seeing them in a paradoxical unity so that God’s holiness is informed by his love just as his love is informed by his holiness.” (emphasis added) That paradoxical unity is key in understanding the Gospel. You seem to think that just because conservatives acknowledge guilt it is our aim. As though we relish the agony of someone who realizes their sin. Well, if we do, it’s only because we know it’s part of the path to repentance, which is what John the Baptist called Israel to in preparation for Christ. Repentance is necessary, and that means behavior matters. Faith without works is indeed dead, so we should all emphasize right behavior alongside (and subordinate to) God’s grace.



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nofolete

posted February 23, 2007 at 4:24 pm


One of the central tenants of Mormonism found in the LDS Articles of Faith (which are considered canonical) is this, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” That includes the separation of church and state. As a Mormon myself I feel there would be no doctrinal impediment to another Mormon serving as chief executive. As a member of the LDS church it would be his/her duty to uphold the constitution on all counts. My main concern would not be that LDS doctrine or the church hierarchy would somehow cause problems, but that the prevailing Mormon culture, which tends to step further right than I think it ought to (thanks in part to an old John Bircher in the LDS presidency a couple decades back), would get in the way. But then, it would probably interfere less than GWB’s Dominionist buddies. No fair making fun of the magic underwear. Would you object to a Zoroastrian or Mandaean president on the same grounds? And the “not Christians” argument is pretty old. The church has included Christ in i’s name since the 1830s. The central message of the Book of Mormon is Christ’s gospel as preached in the Americas, and while you don’t have to believe the book, at least understand that the message is unequivocally Christian. As for creeds, I for one am glad we don’t have to rely on Orthodox misreadings of ancient Greek philosophy in order to consider ourselves true followers of Christ.



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timks

posted February 23, 2007 at 5:49 pm


nofelete, no one is debating whether the name of the LDS church includes the word Christ. All Tony did was point out some significant differences in LDS beliefs from small “o” orthodox Christian theology. That part of his piece was factual, but really wasn’t even the main thrust of his piece. In that vein, though, the name on the building isn’t what makes someone a Christian, or else Lutherans and Baptists, etc. would not be Christians. But since LDS traditionally has taught that the the highest ideals of Christianity are only found in the LDS, it seems ironic that now so many LDS people want to have their cake and eat it too, by claiming they’ve being shunned by their fellow Christians.



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coltakashi

posted February 23, 2007 at 6:40 pm


If you want to know how his Mormon faith would affect Romney’s performance as President, look at how it affected his performance as governor of Massachusetts (which has maybe 1% Mormons in its population, mainly centered around the universities in Boston), how it affected his performance as manager of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and how it affected his management of Bain Capital and other companies. Basically, its main affect was to make him an honest, hard-working guy who respects other people as children of God. Mormon men are taught that no success in business or the community is more important than being good husbands and fathers. Mormon men are taught that having a position of leadership presents temptations to abuse authority that must be resisted, and that true leadership requires “gentleness and meekness and love unfeigned.” Mormon men and women don’t have career clergy, so they do all of the work of the church on an unreimbursed, volunteer basis, and they fast from meals one day a month so they can donate the money to care for the poor, both locally and worldwide in response to disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami. Mormon men and women devote Saturdays to working on Church farms that raise food for the poor. In the LDS Church one’s income does not determine one’s church position; in most cities, where Mormons are scarce, the mix will represent all the socioeconomic levels in the community, so that the Bishop who heads the congregation could be a FedEx delivery driver and his two assistants could be a doctor and college professor. In over a century of Mormons serving as members of Congress and state governors and cabinet secretaries for presidents like Eisenhower, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43, the LDS Church President has never told the Mormons what to do in their official duties on matters of government policy. Frankly, the Church leadership is fully engaged doing what they consider God’s work to waste time worrying about the next US budget authorization bill. Over 50% of Mormons live outside the USA, and over 50% of Mormons speak a language other than English. In other words, most Mormons don’t have a direct interest in what the US government does on a day-to-day basis. The LDS scriptures that talk about obedience within the Church are addressing matters of itnerest to the Church: Are you a loving husband, a caring father? Are you honest with your neighbor? Are you staying out of debt? Are you maintaining your health and avoiding substances that can impair your health and your self control (like drugs and alcohol)? Are your sexual actions confined to your marriage? Are you willing to accept responsibilities within the Church, such as being a Boy Scout leader or teacher of the 10 year olds? I am 57 years old and teach the New Testament every Sunday to the adults in my congregation. We do NOT get directions on how to vote on anything or anyone. Our concern is helping each other to live thye way we understand Christ wants us to live: to care for “even the least of these, [his] brethren,” as we would if we were caring for the Savior himself. (Matthew 25)The temple garments we wear as underclothes are a reminder of the promises we make to God in the temples, basically specifically pledging to do what the Savior enjoins his disciples to do in the Sermon on the Mount. So yes, it does tend to interfere with committing adultery. As you can learn from the Church web page, lds.org, the temples review the story of creation, the Fall of Adam, and our redemption through faith in Christ. They enjoin us to be humble followers of Christ (and always have). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has from its inception been focused on faith in Christ, a belief in the need to restore the same church organization and doctrine as was had among Christ’s original apostles. If you regard having a living apostle who receives visions from God to be scary, then you would have helped Emperor Nero crucify Peter and Paul. One point that anti-Mormons never acknowledge about the Book of Mormon is its emphasis on the freedom of mankind to choose whether or not to follow God. Latter-day Saint doctrine teaches that the original sin of Lucifer was that he wanted mankind to be forced to be “good”, but God the Father knew that no one can really BE good unless he chooses to do so freely. Using government power to force anyone to believe in Mormonism or to coerce other people in any way is just as much anathema to Mormons as it would be to Quakers and Mennonites. The fear that people claim to have of 96-year-old Church President Gordon B. Hinckley is totally born out of ignorance and malice. He cannot and does not force even baptized Mormons to be obedient; exactly why would he force non-Mormons to do anything? On the weekend of March 31 and April 1 the LDS Church will have its annual general conference in Salt Lake City, which is broadcast over the internet through the lds.org web page. Watch and listen and see if there is anything really scary about the talks given by the Church leaders to the members. What you will see is that the talks center on the teachings of Christ, that every talk is given in the name of Christ, that every prayer is made in the name of Christ, that the songs sung by the choirs worship Christ. And it has always been that way, back to the Church’s founding in Fayette, New York in 1830. You can see the entire text of the Book of Mormon on lds.org. Go to the index and see all of the references to Christ. The Book of Mormon affirms, most of all, that Christ was Jehovah of the Old Testament, that Christ is the Son of God, that He is the only way we can enter the presence of God, that he was resurrected (remember, with a BODY), that He is God (still with that BODY), and lives with the Father, and at a time of the Father’s choosing Christ will (with his BODY) return to earth to reign, as its creator. The greatest sin of Mormonism in the eys of secularists and non-literalist Christians is that Mormons take the Bible at its word, God, angels, prophets, resurrection, miracles, and all. I think the problem that some Bible-believing Christians have with Mormons is that we believe the Bible is not just a sacred book, but that it describes a continuing reality, and that there is no reason mankind cannot have the same kind of relationship of open communication with God that was had by Peter and John and Moses and Abraham, who wrote the Bible. All Christians who seek to have the living intervention of the Holy Spirit in their lives are affirming that God can speak to us in 2007 just as He did in 1800 BC on Sinai. Mormonism simply affirms the whole package of the New Testament with its living prophets and authority from God. As for the rationality of Mormonism: I will put up the smartest Mormons against the smartest atheists or Baptists or Jews any day. Kim B. Clark, PhD, just retired from being Dean of Harvard Business School to become president of BYU-Idaho. Henry B. Eyring was a chemistry professor who was internationally honored for his research. Rex Lee was Solicitor General of the United States and president of BYU. Mike Young founded the Japanese Law program at Columbia Law School, was Dean at George Washington University Law School, and is now president of the University of Utah (a state school). David Gardner was President of the entire University of California system.Because the Mormons have no career clergy, the Church’s senior leaders have mostly distinguished themselves in other fields before devoting full time service to church work. You can’t do that if you are “irrational” or out of touch with reality. As for thinking you can grow to be an adult Mormon without ever thinking hard about its truth claims, the constant persecution Mormons receive (like this blog) makes that very hard to do. You have to know what you believe and why. A recent extensive study of teenagers of many different religions found that Mormon youth have the best understanding of what their church teaches and know what they themselves believe and why
they believe it. Spending two years as a volunteer missionary, confronting thousands of people who want to argue with you and repeat the same kinds of ignorant accusations that this blog does, gives vast numbers of Mormons the chance to confront themselves and decide whether they are really committed to this religion. Many Mormon youth do drop out, for a variety of reasons, but those who don’t, know why they are Mormons and can explain it to you.



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Steve

posted February 23, 2007 at 7:50 pm


This discussion has been a bit frustrating to me as an active member of the LDS church (Mormon, by the way, is a nickname). Oddly enough, I’m not a Romney supporter. I agree with the criticism that he has changed positions for political benefit. But, some of the swipes based on Mormonism are a bit odd from my perspective.Bear with me as I try to approach this from a Q&A format: * Do LDS/Mormons believe in Christ? Yep. The name of the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Here’s why the debate: Traditional Christianity believes in the concept of the trinity (ie. Christ/God the Father/Holy Ghost) are one omnipresent being. The LDS Church has a different take. Jesus is a being who has a literal father. And, the Holy Ghost is yet another being. Thus, when Jesus in the New Testament prayed to the Father he was not praying to himself. That is the “heresy.” Is Christ a god. Absolutely. And, he and he is Father are supreme. It is different than much of Christianity but it is neither irrational nor unfounded in scripture. * Do LDS members follow slavishly every word of their prophet? I think many an LDS leader wished that were true. But, in reality, LDS prophets are like Old Testament prophets— they try to teach what they believe is the word of the Lord. The current prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley constantly encourages members to do things like be kind to their neighbors, get an education, pray and read the scriptures. He is an exceptionally kind-hearted man who is always admonishing folks to try a little harder. If you want to see what he asks people to do, go to http://www.lds.org and type in the search “Hinckley”. You’ll find all kinds of talks and articles. * Don’t Mormon political figures follow the dicates of their religious leaders? I used to work for the Governor of Utah. He was a mormon and a very savvy politician. He always told me that he considered the church another interest group. They would lobby on issues like liquor and then the governor would craft a policy that he thought was right for the state. A perfect example is Sen. Harry Reid-D and Sen. Orrin Hatch-R. Both are LDS. Yet, Reid is the Senate Majority Leader and the leader of the Senate Democrats. He is moderately pro-choice, loves federal program and opposes the President vigorously on Iraq. Hatch is the exact opposite. Mormons cross the political spectrum and have a host opinions. * Is the LDS church racist? This is an odd issue that many Mormons are reluctant to deal with directly. Here’s why. Church founder Joseph Smith ordained blacks to the LDS priesthood. His successor, Brigham Young, reversed that position. Some church leader in the 19th century and through the 20th century tried to justify that change by making references to race. They also referenced LDS scripture that referred to light and dark people (I think the reference is to spiritual darkness not skin color). In 1978, the current Mormon prophet issues a revelation opening the priesthood to all worthy males. This is a sticky issues but is tinted by the prejudice of American society that existed before the rise of the civil rights movement. My own belief is that is was a reflection of the broader culture and that the reason for the exclusion of minorities from the priesthood (from a theological perspective) was that the members weren’t ready yet. Today, the LDS church actively proselytes minorities throughout the world. One of my favorites images of the current LDS prophet shows him greeting some members in Nigeria. My fundamental point is that this is an old issue. But, God is not a respector of persons and neither is today’s LDS church. * Don’t members were sacred underwear? Doesn’t that make them weird? This one is pretty silly. Active Mormons do wear undergarments that are designed to remind them of the covenants they make in their temples (the covenants are easy to find: following the gospel, fidelity spouse, etc.). Are they magic? No. Are they similiar to other religious items like the cross or yarmulkes? Yep.



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blm

posted February 23, 2007 at 9:56 pm


As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have become accustomed to reading the barbs and misconceptions of the scoffers and unbelievers, who have a difficult time with modern revelation and modern prophets. Although I continue to applaud the work Jim Wallis and the organization are doing, I was surprised to find such on Sojourners. There is much I could say in rebuttal, but it is not my purpose to stir up strife and contention. The Church has grown and prospered. It will continue to do so. Souls will be saved. Members will continue tithing and happily donating their time and talents to maintaining and expansing God’s kingdom on earth. Young men and women will spend 18 months to two years of their lives, at their own expense, teaching the Good News. Older couples will share their testimonies, skills and knowledge. Wells will be dug, agriculture will improve, children will be vaccinated, wheelchairs will be distributed, those struck by natural disasters and other afflictions will receive aid.



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timks

posted February 23, 2007 at 10:26 pm


blm – What barbs and misconceptions about the LDS church did Tony express in his piece? I thought Tony was respectful. He gave a short list of LDS beliefs with which he does not concur. He did not ridicule or mock. If Tony misrepresented LDS beliefs, then please correct him. But don’t take offense just because he was honest enough to state what LDS beliefs he disagreed with.



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Steve

posted February 24, 2007 at 1:42 am


blm – The issue was not just Tony’s article. It was the followup comments and the accompanying disdain. What is hurtful to members of the LDS faith is snide comments based on twisting of beliefs like I indicated above. A simple example. Tony indicated that the Mormon church “didn’t allow non-whites to be clergy until 1978 . . . .” The problems? A multitude: * The LDS church DOESN’T HAVE CLERGY as the term is understood. There are no paid ministers or such. There are local leaders but they are volunteers. There are general authorities but they handle general church duties, not local congregations. * The “1978 issue” was the LDS priesthood which is an issue with lots of historical nuances. The focus with blacks and it, I believe, was heavily tied to 19th century attitudes (see my discussion above). Unfortunately, there are plentiful examples of this kind of bias throughout American society — many with vestiges that have carried forth until relatively recently. * Non-whites as a group have never been restricted. The LDS church has ordained Asians, Hispanics, etc. since the beginning. My point is that be careful, accurate and respectful.



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Faithful Progressive

posted February 24, 2007 at 2:19 am


The response of many Mormons Commenters certainly confirm that I was not alone in finding the Tony Jones piece immature, insensitive and poorly informed. Bigoted–perhaps not. I believe that Tony was sincere in his questioning.But I do not think that even sincere “honesty” justifies a member of a majority religious group sincerely but ignorantly mocking the faith practices of another tradition.I would still call on Tony and Diana Butler Bass to apologize for their insensitive and ultimately intolerant remarks. As Madeline Albright has said, We had better find a way of putting out old fires rather than starting new ones. Tony’s post does exactly the opposite. We have to find the theological maturity and spiritual depth to accept other good faith efforts to love God. Faithful Progressive



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timks

posted February 24, 2007 at 2:48 am


Steve -I appreciate the distinction you’re making between clergy and LDS priesthood, but I have to come to Tony’s defense here. I believe Tony knows the LDS stance on clergy, but I bet the vast majority of people do not, nor would it matter to them. Describing the LDS priesthood and differentiating it from the normally understood term of clergy would have distracted from Tony’s point. Rather than make a digression with an arcane description of LDS priesthood, he used a short cut. I don’t believe it made his point any less meaningful. Thanks for the correction to Tony’s use of the term “non-whites”. However, I’m not sure it helps your case any to say that there was no prohibition on non-whites holding the priesthood, only blacks. With ordination to the priesthood denied them, what’s the point of being a male member of the LDS? Whether it was meant or not, they automatically felt less worthy since priesthood is only available to those considered worthy. They could not give priesthood blessings, they could not become Bishops or High Councilors or Stake Presidents, etc. I’m sure that practice explained the miniscule number of black members pre-1978. By the way, I’m not singling out the LDS’s historic racism because as you pointed out, they were hardly unique in that, it’s just that they are the ones mentioned in Tony’s article. However, I found it rather interesting that no LDS apologists have corrected Tony’s statement that the LDS church is polytheistic.



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HASH(0x116b60f0)

posted February 24, 2007 at 2:53 am


Faithful Progressive,I have to stand up for Tony once again. I consider myself pretty well informed on the LDS church and I did not consider Tony’s article to be intolerant or mocking of the LDS church, even in ignorance. I admit I did not understand Diana’s comment.



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timks

posted February 24, 2007 at 2:54 am


Dang! Anonymous | 02.23.07 – 9:58 pm | was me.



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Steve

posted February 24, 2007 at 3:21 am


Timks –I couldn’t let the polytheistic canard slide by. . . Who is worshipped in the LDS Church? Jesus the Christ and God the Father. That’s it. As discussed above, they are considered two seperate beings. But, there is simply nothing equivalent to the pantheon of Greek gods in Mormon theology.



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timks

posted February 24, 2007 at 6:00 am


But, there is simply nothing equivalent to the pantheon of Greek gods in Mormon theology. I did not mean to slide a canard by. A canard is a deliberately false statement. I was being factual. Polytheism is defined as “belief in, or worship of multiple gods or deities.”Your statement says the LDS only worships two divine beings, but you neglected to mention they believe in the existence of numerous divine beings. Even if they believed in the existence of only two, that fits the definition of polytheism. By the way, the Greeks believed in lots of different gods, but no Greek worshipped all of them. There were cults of Zeus, Diana, etc. It isn’t my intention to debate LDS theology here, just to make the point that Tony described LDS beliefs accurately, except for the “non-white” statement.



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nofolete

posted February 24, 2007 at 12:10 pm


Timks, The bulk of my comment was directed toward the general tone of the comments found here, rather than the piece itself (for the record, payshun specifically made the claim that we did not call ourselves Christians “until the last decade or two,” I wished to correct that misconception by drawing attention to the fact that the church has been called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the mid to late 1830s). Unfortunately I have met far too many people who seem to imagine that Mormons worship Joseph Smith (or even Satan), using that as a basis for their arguments against our being Christians. Aside from that, I wasn’t trying to beg into the club. I am proud of our doctrine, its materialism, its progressive nature, its undercurrent of gnosticism, its belief in a God who is willing to to extend ALL his blessings and glory to his children.As for our polytheism, it’s complex, based as much on biblical scripture, as on our own modern revelation. We believe Christ is our savior. We also believe that Christ is a god (little “g” along with the Holy Ghost) in whose name we worship God the Father (big “G”). I’m sure I’m just prejudiced, but it seems more logically consistent than the orthodox trinity as formulated in the Athanasian creed. It’s just not something you can shame us with, I’m afraid. Of late the LDS church has been atempting to extend the hand of ecumenicism, focusing on shared beliefs, as a way of magnifying the good we try to do in the world. Our beliefs are Christ centered, but no, they are not orthodox. Unfortunately our shared vocabulary leads to a fair amount of confusion, even among Mormons, some of whom are beginning to mistake some protestant beliefs for their own. A Mormon unaware of his latent Calvinism is quite a sight to see. Living up to Brigham Young’s mistakes, his racism, and the way he let it inform church policy is another matter. I am glad that those days are behind us, as I’m sure that most Christians whose churches practiced forms of institutional racism are. However, for someone to claim that my father was a bigot, as a way of somehow implicating me, is a weak argument. Also, for the record, I found out about this post thanks to Faithful Progressive. I’m afraid he made it out to sound worse than it was, and I wish he could have toned down the rhetoric. Diana’s comment could easily be read in a positive light, depending on your opinion of Stanley Hauerwas. Many of us in the LDS church (myself included) have ancestors who were tarred and feathered, forcibly relocated, even hanged from their own porches on account of their Mormonism. Some of us can feel small in comparison to these heroes in our past, and will look for persecution anywhere we can get it. Perhaps it is an attempt to prove our mettle.



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Steve

posted February 24, 2007 at 3:44 pm


nofolete — I really liked your comment. Brigham Young is an interesting topic. He was forceful personality who held the church together after Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob, organized a mass migration across the wilderness to Utah, and drove the development of vast network of communities in a vast desert Yet, he had human flaws. Of limited education, he had his biases. He was true 19th century American character. As to the role of 19th century persecution in the modern Mormon character, I’m reminded of my great-great-great-great grandfather who was driven from his farm near Nauvoo yet joined the Mormom Battalion during the Mexican-American War and walked to San Diego.



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timks

posted February 24, 2007 at 4:45 pm


Steve and nofolete -I apologize if my comments caused offense. That was not my intent. I agree there are lots of people who are ignorant of Mormonism’s basic beliefs. I also agree that the history of the LDS church and people is vivid, compelling and inspiring. I’m not one of those who thinks Mormons can’t possibly be Christians, but I do agree with you that LDS theology is unorthodox. My view can be summed up as: “Mormons can be Christians, but Mormonism is not Christianity.” People are free to make up their own minds, of course, I just pray they will do so with accurate information, as I did. I also have ancestors who were Mormons. One of my great-great-grandparents fled Utah in 1850 due to disagreements about polygamy. En route to California, my great-grandfather was born. He was violently anti-LDS his entire life (perhaps understandably). I like to think I closed that chapter in our family history when I married a beautiful Mormon lady.



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nofolete

posted February 24, 2007 at 5:03 pm


Steve- There are some real heroes back in our past. I think what’s most amazing about your g-g-g-g-grandfather’s story is how commonplace it was. 500 men out of a church membership of roughly 20,000. That’s as though 300,000 of our on-the-books membership were to go fight in Iraq. Or 150,000 of our US membership (if you want to quibble), while at the same time their families are homeless, crossing the great-plains on foot. I think if that were to happen today we would have a mass exodus from the church rather than a mass exodus from the mid-west.Thanks.



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nofolete

posted February 24, 2007 at 5:34 pm


Timks- No worries. Though you seem to imply that those of us who have made up our mind in favor of the LDS church have done so without “accurate information.” But no offense taken, I’m sure you have your reasons. To attempt to draw this back to Tony Jones’s original post. I do agree that the last thing we need in the White House is another religious fundamentalist, of any denomination. I have no idea where Romney stands on that rather slippery issue. If it can be ascertained it would be a deciding factor in my vote, unless I happen to like the other candidate better. Then it just wouldn’t matter.



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Steve

posted February 24, 2007 at 7:05 pm


Wow. This series of posts sure wandered around. Kind of fun. I have to agree that Tony’s original point about fundamentalism was worthy of consideration. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a big Romney fan — mainly because of the flip-flops. Thanks to everyone for your posts.



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timks

posted February 24, 2007 at 8:46 pm


nofolete – That wasn’t my implication at all. I was endorsing the concept that decisions, whatever they are, be made with accurate information and compared to Scripture. I read LDS sources and made up my mind, not sources from those with a particular axe to grind. Just like I wouldn’t go the LDS when I want to know what Lutheran doctrine is, for example. The whole question of fundamentalism is touchy. I think one would get as many definitions of that word as you would people asked. Many who you or I would label as fundies would not identify themselves as such. As far as Romney, Hillary, Obama or whoever, I am on hiatus for about a year. Once the field has been winnowed, I’ll start paying attention.



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Payshun

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:37 am


Elmo, You said: Faith without works is indeed dead, so we should all emphasize right behavior alongside (and subordinate to) God’s grace. Only if love is the goal. If love is not the goal then all the right action in the world is nothing more than legalism, it relies on grace to exist but it’s goal is self rigtheousness, which cannot exist if it is all about grace. Right action is nothing w/o love and grace. I see more conservative evangelicals relying on one w/o the other. Grace must go further than how you have defined it. you say grace and righteousness must coexist in human behavior. I say the other cannot exist inside of man. Even when the holy spirit is involved it is his righteousness that shines, not our own. The funny thing is God tolerates sin all the time. Whether it be peter’s attempted beheading of a guard or God allowing Saul to hurt, kill and maim the early church God seems to be really tolerant of sin. Even look at King Solomon, he worshipped other gods from the beginning of his reign to almost the end and yet God did not kill him or take away his throne. Solomon was allowed more leway because he loved God much same thing w/ Paul. As I recall he allowed hundreds of years to go by before he executed judgement against Israel and Judah. Oh and the next time you greet your brothers w/ an open mouth kiss is the next I know you are following all the commandments Paul layed down. Remember he did tell his disciple to greet his brothers w/ a heavenly kiss.But you’re right we could be here all day debating context. So I will leave it alone.p



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Payshun

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:38 am


Tim said: I’m not one of those who thinks Mormons can’t possibly be Christians, but I do agree with you that LDS theology is unorthodox. My view can be summed up as: “Mormons can be Christians, but Mormonism is not Christianity.” People are free to make up their own minds, of course, I just pray they will do so with accurate information, as I did. I agree w/ you. I know it’s a first. p



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timks

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:57 am


Payshun, I agree w/ you. I know it’s a first. No, it’s not Payshun. Thanks. Also, there have been numerous times when I’ve agreed with you, but didn’t take the time to say so. John Knight, I don’t expect you’ll see this or answer to it, but if you read through my message again, you’ll see I did not resort to name-calling like you and he did. I did get perturbed when Ace lumped a venal, oleaginous, hypocritical huckster like Pat Robertson with Chuck Colson who for 30 years has performed works that help the least in our society.



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Sidney

posted February 26, 2007 at 4:46 pm


Timks writes, “Whay intelligent things does Ace have to say? He’s shown he knows how to spell idiot and mispell ugly” Who mispells what? The dirt be in your own eye Timks – you name-caller. Sidney



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timks

posted February 26, 2007 at 5:46 pm


A message of mine seems to be missing. The one where I realized that describing someone accurately as an ass could be construed as name-calling and I apologized. It was posted about 6:30 am my local time but it’s not here now. Oh and Sidney: we both misspelled “mispell”. But then I didn’t call out anyone by claiming they were an idiot, either. What is it with these Mormon trolls? They’ll give Mormons a bad name. I know it should be no reflection on the vast majority of them.



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Elmo

posted February 27, 2007 at 1:26 pm


Payshun, In your clever wordiness you managed to lump me in with some other people, rather than arguing against what I actually said. What I said is that right behavior (not personal righteousness) must be emphasized beside, and subordinate to God’s grace. Love is inherent in an understanding of God’s grace. I agree with Paul, that if we don’t have love, then even if we give all we have faith and give to the poor, we are nothing. But love is not the “goal”. Glorifying God is the goal. Grace, love, and holiness are the means by which the goal will be reached. When I say “holiness” I don’t mean that we can be holy in an of ourselves, but we are purified through Christ’s sacrifice, and that imputes his righteousness on us. Our responsibility is to live out that righteousness…to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) Loving God comes first, and I show my love for him by doing my best to obey his commands. Yes, God “tolerates” sin by letting sinners live. That is true. Of course, if he executed every person when they sinned there would be no people left. Every person has sin in their life (with the notable exception of Jesus, of course). That is a fact of the world. There’s no getting around it. What God doesn’t tolerate is the willful and unrepentant disobedience of those who purport to be his followers. That is the definition of taking the Lord’s name in vain. Are we saying that God isn’t worth the effort of trying to follow the commands he laid down? I thought trying to be obedient was the least that I could do. I can’t earn salvation, or pay it back, but I can show my appreciation. That means obeying his commands about mission, ministry, church life, family life, and personal holiness.I’ve heard a lot of definitions of “holy kiss”, and I just spent ten minutes looking up more. Your “open-mouthed” mockery doesn’t even register. I’ve kissed men on the cheek before and I’m sure it’ll happen again in the future, so I’m not worried about that.



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Harry Garcia

posted February 27, 2007 at 4:57 pm


I am an emergent Christian, and I hate mormons. They are so stupid, igrnoarant and intolerant in their beliefs. Why can’t the world just wake up and realize the postmodern context we are in demands that they see things the emergent way? It’s an all inclusize mode of christinaity….uh!!!



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Jack Mormom

posted March 2, 2007 at 11:53 am


Wow, Harry! I’m baffled by how you can consider yourself a Christian and *hate* a group of people? (All in the same sentence even!) So you hate these people even though you’ve never even met the vast majority of them, then turn around & label them as intolerant? If your views are the definition of a true Christian then I’d be very ashamed to admit being one…fortunately Christ’s views & actions represent the model for Christian behavior- not yours.



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tt

posted March 2, 2007 at 6:38 pm


Okay I know from an atheist or non-christian many christian doctrines and beliefs seem ‘incredible’. However, let’s be clear – Mormons believe we will all be the “Jesus”, a god, of our own planet someday (well at least the males). That Jesus and Satan were created beings alike and are brothers. Decide for yourselves if that can described as legitimate ‘Christian doctrine’. Joseph Smith was an incredible womanizer and frequented prostitutes and vulnerable women in his role as “God’s Prophet” – this is documented fact. When caught in his dealings and lies, he had a ‘revelation’ from God on the whole plural marriage thing. Funny how what God consistently ‘told’ him matched exactly up with the lifestyle he wanted to live. And his followers bought into it. A great book by the fine author Jon Krakaur “Under the Banner of Heaven” is a good documentation on the origins of Mormonism and the many, many fundamentalist mormons still in our country who adhere to all of the original teachings including plural marriage and the nature of women and blacks, to the shunning and even (in the most radical but doctrinally sound according to Joseph Smith teaching) killing of apostate mormons to save their souls. (krakauer documents a famous case of this from recent history in utah) If the government hadn’t came down hard on them, all of these things would still be practiced and I believe are still secretly held in high esteem by Mormons. May not be pretty – but it is what it is.



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smtieb

posted September 2, 2007 at 11:46 am


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Ken Howell

posted September 21, 2007 at 2:30 pm


Okay, what’s the fuss over Romney and the Mormons? After a little research, this is what I found of their beliefs. Lions and tigers and Mormons – oh my! Oh, come on people. Heck, I would love to have neighbors like these.
The Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
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.
5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
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.
9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
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.
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.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
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.



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chad

posted January 4, 2008 at 8:11 am


I am quite frankly upset with the tone of this post altogether…not much ‘emergent’ about your opinion on the LDS huh?
Guess that even so-called compassionate evangelicals are still just religious bigots at heart.



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Doug

posted February 7, 2008 at 1:33 am


All I know, is that if Mitt Romney was NOT a mormon. He would have one every state so far…. (mostly likely every state) Its just peoples bias to the mormon faith.



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Doug

posted February 7, 2008 at 1:34 am


12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
That pretty much takes care of everything thing you guys put out.



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