“Are Mormons Closer to Muslims or Christians?” by Ms. Eliza Wood



A certain Ms. Eliza Wood has just posted an extraordinarily inept entry on Huffington Post entitled “Are Mormons Closer to Muslims or Christians?”


Are Mormons more like Christians than like Muslims?


Her answer is “No.”


First of all, of course, the question is misconceived.  It’s rather like asking whether Fords are closer to automobiles or water buffaloes.  Fords are automobiles.  And Mormons are Christians.


But perhaps Ms. Wood can’t really be blamed, because, quite plainly, she’s entirely unqualified even to have an opinion on the subject.


“Islam,” Ms. Wood  says, “is about as close to Christianity as Mormonism.”


Well, actually, no, it’s not.  And I say this as a Mormon who is, professionally, an Islamicist.


“Both Islam and Mormonism,” Ms. Wood declares, “have teachings from the Christian Bible and believe Jesus was ‘a prophet,’ but they had prophets after Jesus that they believe to be more authentic and current than Jesus.”


I have no idea what Ms. Wood means by “more authentic,” but I can’t really think of any significant sense in which any believing and reasonably intelligent Latter-day Saint would agree that Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young, or Thomas S. Monson, or any other modern prophet is “more authentic” than Jesus.


“More current”?  Well, yes, but only in the trivial sense that Jesus lived out his mortal life in first century Palestine while Thomas Monson is alive right now.


But, anyway, while Islam regards Jesus as a very great prophet, he’s still a mortal and a creature and not divine.  Mormonism, by contrast, believes Jesus to be divine, the only begotten Son of God.  That may be a small detail in Ms. Wood’s mind, but others might think that it would have been worthy of at least brief mention.


“Jesus’ teachings,” Ms. Wood somewhat obscurely says, “were a bit archived in both because Muhammad and Joseph Smith were both visited by angels who told them to receive new orders from God. Both have respected Jesus’ messages but moved forward with other teachings and practices that are not consistent with Christianity.”


But this is merely to say that Mormonism isn’t consistent with Ms. Wood’s version of Christianity, whatever that may be.  It’s rather as if, defining squirrels as non-mammals, Ms. Wood were to point to the things that distinguish squirrels from giraffes, killer whales, and Bengal tigers as “not consistent with being mammals.”  That would be not only rather eccentric but obviously circular.


“Islam teaches that Muhammad was the last prophet,” Ms. Wood informs her audience, “and Mormonism teaches that a line of prophets extended from Joseph Smith all the way to the present with Thomas S. Monson, who is currently considered their prophet.”


Well, yes.  But Ms. Wood doesn’t really explain how the fact that Islam believes the final prophet to have died in 632 AD while Mormonism affirms that there is a living prophet on the earth today supports her claim that the two religions are  similar.


“While in some ways neither Islam nor Mormonism is very much like Christianity,” writes Ms. Wood, who has never actually defined Christianity, but who appears to believe that merely asserting that Mormonism isn’t Christian does that work for her, “the two faiths actually have a lot of similarities. For example, both had founding prophets who received visits from an angel, leading to revelation of Scripture. Both consider the family unit as the foundation for religious life, and both have an insistence that religion is their complete way of life.”


Insisting that religion is a way of life is scarcely unique to either Islam or Mormonism.


And, while both Islam and Mormonism consider family life important, their respective theologies of family bear only the most superficial resemblance to each other.


Yes, though, both religions do really include visits from angels within their founding stories.  Among many thousands of potential similarities and differences, that’s one example.  But the stories and the roles of the angels are quite different in Islam and Mormonism.


“Islam and Mormonism,” announces Ms. Wood, “both require fasting and ritual cleanings.”


Fasting and ritual cleansing (e.g., baptism) are common to religions worldwide, not merely to Islam and Mormonism.


“They both believe theirs is the original religion of Adam,” Ms. Wood writes.


But so, historically, have mainstream Christianity and Judaism.


“Both Islam and Mormonism,” says Ms. Wood, “allowed four wives but both forbid homosexuality and bisexuality.”


Very few religions have traditionally celebrated homosexuality and bisexuality.  It’s true, however, that both Mormonism and Islam have allowed polygamous marriages.   Islam still does.  Mormonism does not.  But, while Islam limited men to four wives, Mormonism never did.


“Both religions,” Ms. Wood explains, “forbid alcohol and gambling.”


Mormonism and Islam are scarcely unique in frowning upon gambling and alcohol.


“This may be alarming to some,” writes Ms. Wood, who very likely hopes that her readers will be alarmed, “but both Islam and Mormonism teach that marriage can extend into the afterlife.”


It’s not at all clear that Islam teaches a continuation of marriage into the afterlife.


“Neither worships their founding prophets,” continues Ms. Wood, “but both hold them with special respect.”


Judaism and mainstream Christianity too venerate ancient prophets and saints.  Ever heard of St. Peter’s Basilica?  St. Paul’s Cathedral?  Santa Ana. California?  San Francisco?  There’s nothing even remotely unique about regarding prophets, apostles, and saints with particular respect.


“Both religions heavily proselytize,” Ms. Wood writes, “and believe everyone should belong to their faith.”


Does Ms. Wood seriously believe that Christianity hasn’t been a missionary faith from its very beginning?  Has she ever read the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles?  What does she think St. Paul was doing on all those trips back and forth across Anatolia and the Mediterranean?  Relaxing on the Lido Deck of a luxury cruise ship?


“In order to lead,” claims Ms. Wood, “both Islam and Mormonism do not require formal seminary training, but take regular members and move them up into leadership roles.”


Ms. Wood seems to presume that the Apostle Peter and his colleagues were professional clergy with seminary degrees.


In any event, she’s wrong about Islam.  To the extent possible, Islamic clergymen are formally trained at such places as (for Sunnis) Al-Azhar University in Cairo and (for Shi‘is) the theological seminaries in Qum, Iran.


“Oddly enough,” marvels Ms. Wood, “both religions had a split after their prophet’s death with one side believing that the faith should continue though the prophet’s descendents and the other side rejecting that. For Muslims, this caused the bloody divide between Shiites and Sunnis that we hear so much about in the press. For Mormons, this caused the divide between the Later Day Saints, which make up about 99 percent of Mormons, and others.”


That’s Latter-day Saints, actually.  With two t’s.  And, yes, there is a curious similarity in the two schisms.  But it’s unclear that there is any real significance to it.  It’s almost certainly mere coincidence.


“Both Muhammad and Joseph Smith were taunted for their work and driven out by locals,” reports Ms. Wood.  “Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina, and Joseph Smith had to move from Illinois to Missouri.”


Actually, Joseph Smith was obliged to move from New York to Ohio to Missouri to Illinois, where he was murdered by an anti-Mormon mob.  Not from Illinois to Missouri.


“Both Muhammad and Joseph Smith established their own city-states,” says Ms. Wood, “with Muhammad ruling Medina and Joseph Smith ruling Nauvoo, Ill.”


Medina already existed long before Muhammad arrived.  Joseph Smith essentially created Nauvoo.  And it wasn’t a city-state.  It wasn’t independent.  It had a charter that was granted to it by the legislature of the State of Illinois.  For part of his time in Illinois, Joseph Smith served as the elected mayor of the city.


“Both Islam and Mormonism have Scripture that can justify violence and murder,” asserts Ms. Wood, “as does the Bible.”


The Aurora gunman evidently thought that Batman movies justify violence and murder.


“While Mormons have not acted violently in the U.S. for quite some time, there was an incident back in 1857 called the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which happened on Sept. 11. The massacre was led by prominent Mormon leader John D. Lee, who was trying to exact revenge on some emigrants but when the emigrants surrendered, the militia killed men, women and children in cold blood, and then tried to cover it up.”


The best treatment of this topic is Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley, and Glen M. Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).  It lays out what really happened, and shows that neither Mormonism nor the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (in which John D. Lee wasn’t all that prominent a leader) had anything at all directly to do with the tragedy.


“We don’t need to be experts on either religion,” Ms. Wood announces, “to see these similarities.”


Truth be told, Ms. Wood’s case would be best served if no expert on either religion were within several leagues of her article, because no real expert could possibly take her superficial and cherry-picked similarities at all seriously.


“They both have common ground with Christianity,” Ms. Wood generously allows, “and much of it.”


Just as the bullfinch and the American border collie both have common ground with the class of mammals, and much of it.  But, in the latter case, it shouldn’t be missed that collies are mammal-like for the simple reason that they are mammals.


Ms. Wood goes on to explain that “both Islam and Mormonism are at best very distant cousins of Christianity with some of the same overarching guidance.”


It’s impossible to know what Ms. Wood means by the phrase some of the same overarching guidance.  But here are some facts about Mormonism that she somehow fails to mention:  Mormons believe, while Muslims do not, that Jesus atoned for our sins, that we must be baptized in his name, that he is our Redeemer, that he is the Only Begotten Son of God, that his is the only name under heaven whereby humankind has any hope of salvation, that he was crucified, that he physically rose from the tomb on the third day, that he ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of God the Father, that he is the second person (with the Father and the Holy Spirit) of the Godhead, and that he will return again at the last day to judge the living and the dead.


I wonder why Ms. Wood omitted those matters.  They seem relevant.


“Neither Islam nor Mormonism,” says Ms. Wood, “is a close enough relative to ever be confused with Christianity.”


But she’s provided not a single actual fact to justify her position with regard to Mormonism.  (Muslims, of course, don’t claim to be Christians.)


“If,” continues Ms. Wood, “a Christian of any denomination inadvertently walked into a Mormon tabernacle or a mosque, which would be fairly difficult since both allow only members of their faith to enter, there is no way the service could be recognized as a Christian devotion to Christ, but there is plenty of devotion to God going on.”


Flat nonsense.  All Mormon tabernacles (there aren’t that many of them) are open to the public, as are all Mormon chapels, the ordinary places of Sunday worship.  As are virtually all mosques.  Ms. Wood is confusing Mormon temples, which are closed to the public, with Mormon chapels.  This is an elementary distinction that somebody presuming to lay down such judgments as Ms. Wood is offering ought to be clear about.


The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City


The Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City (directly adjacent to the Temple)


A Typical Mormon Meetinghouse or Chapel


But Ms. Wood is wrong, in any case.  Every prayer in every Mormon service and every sermon given is closed “in the name of Jesus Christ.”  Every week, the sacrament of the Lord’s supper is administered in Mormon worship services, commemorating Christ’s atoning flesh and blood.  Hymns are sung about Christ and his sacrificial atonement.  Lessons are taught and talks given about Christ.  Paintings of Christ adorn the walls of our buildings.  The name of Christ is emblazoned on their external walls:  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Book of Mormon proclaims itself “a second witness for Christ.”


The Christus Statue, on Temple Square in Salt Lake City


Ms. Wood is bearing false witness, a sin explicitly condemned in the Bible.


“All three of these faiths,” writes Ms. Wood, “have scores of excellent people, possibly some who would make excellent American leaders and even U.S. presidents. But, the next time you read in the press about how Mormons are really Christians, you might want to put on your critical thinking cap.”


I hope you’ve already put it on, so that you won’t be taken in by Ms. Wood’s garbled misinformation.


“It rarely is the religion but the candidate’s behavior that determines if she or he is a good person,” Ms. Wood concludes, “and that is what Americans really care about, but getting a bit snowed is getting a bit old, don’t you think?”


Yes, it’s grown a bit old.  So one has to wonder why Ms. Wood is still attempting to snow people.  My suspicion, given the fact that Islam worries and even terrifies many Americans, is that she’s attempting, in a not very subtle and not very ethical way, to demonize Mormonism and to damage Mitt Romney by linking them with Muslims and terrorism.  Which, if true, is both disingenuous and irresponsible.



P.S.  I note that, in one of her responses to the comments following her article, Ms. Wood asserts that both Muslims and Mormons consider themselves Christians.  This is absolutely, flatly, unambiguously false.  Muslims do not claim to be Christians, any more than Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or Sikhs do.  Islam, though plainly part of what might be called the Abrahamic tradition — Arab Muslims often term Judaism, Christianity, and Islam together al-adyan al-samawiyya (“the heavenly religions”) — is a separate and distinct faith.


P.P.S.  A friend has written to suggest that I be explicit about my qualifications to comment on Mormonism and Islam together, and perhaps I should:  I’m a Mormon or Latter-day Saint myself, a former missionary and an ordained bishop in the Church, and a rather extensively published author on Mormon topics (including a book, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints, on whether Mormons are Christians).  I’m also a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University, the Church’s flagship school.  I’ve lived in Jerusalem for a year and in Cairo for four years, and visit the Middle East and the Islamic world every year (twice so far this year, with at least one more trip coming next month).  I hold a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles in Arabic and Islamic intellectual history; teach courses on Arabic, Middle Eastern history, and Islam; edit a series of dual-language classical Islamic texts that is distributed by the University of Chicago Press; and, among a fairly large number of other relevant things, have published a biography of Muhammad.


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  • http://byubathrooms.com Jesse

    Funny that she mentioned that the MMM happened on Sept. 11. As if to help us make a connection with the massacre to holy war declared on the United States by a religiously motivated extremist group.

  • http://bethandherspinrad.blogspot.com Beth

    Perhaps this is just my bias showing, but why on earth would the principle of eternal families be considered “alarming” to anyone? Ms. Wood doesn’t offer any explanation to her logic, so I’m left to wildly conjecture.

  • http://www.kurtsperspective.blogspot.com Kurt

    This is such an unfortunate article. Politics and religion invite disagreement and contention, but it’s not necessary. Whether out of a temporary lapse of journalistic integrity or something more consciously vindictive, Eliza Wood has published an article littered with untruths that damages her reputation while misleading her readers about the Muslim faith and the Mormon faith.

    I hope Wood will rewrite her article. There is a world of difference between laying out the facts and saying, “I see that differently than you,” and what Wood did. It would be challenging to acknowledge such severe shortcomings and do a rewrite, but it would also set an example of civil discourse that could influence discussions elsewhere.

  • http://nathanrichardson.com Nathan000000

    The sad thing is, she could have made a comparison between Mormons and Muslims just to show some of the interesting coincidences and parallels (e.g., both Mohammad and Joseph Smith married a woman older than themselves). They’re trivial parallels but still interesting. But instead of leaving it at that, she had to draw such bizarre conclusions and make plainly silly claims. There are better ways of getting people to read your column.

    The more I read strange pieces like Ms. Woods’s, the less inclined I am to lend my trust to reporting in general. If the supposed advantage of major networks and newspapers (over new media, personal blogs, etc.) is that their information is vetted and fact-checked, and that their writers are professionally trained, then why do I see crazy columns like this over and over again? It calls into question everything published by the news agency that publishes it—and I’ve seen these kinds of pieces on virtually every major news outlet.

  • Krista

    Thanks for your expertise and excellent points. It’s good to see such a shoddy article refuted so professionally and so well.

    My only issue is with your simile: if Mormons are the border collies (because Mormons are Christians and border collies are mammals), then Muslims cannot be the platypuses (because Muslims are not Christians, but platypuses ARE mammals, albeit unusual ones).

  • Ray

    I think Ms. Wood knew exactly what she was doing. She was trying, through innuendo, to connect Mormonism to Islam(Muslim) to the radical extremist factions. Thus connecting Mitt Romney and induce fear into the electorate. From now to November and beyond we need to look for the political motivation in these attacks.

  • Tom Walker

    I don’t think a finer autopsy has ever been performed, Daniel. Not only was your dissection of Ms. Woods’ nonsense complete and exacting, but your concluding PPS to support your standing to speak on these questions puts the author to complete shame. We might call it, “Is Eliza Wood Closer to a Journalist or an Eggplant?”

  • http://www.jburdimages.com Jason

    I think you’ve hit upon Ms. Wood’s point, Beth. Her bio says she’s a Harvard grad so presumably she has the skill-set to write an informed article, but this she has not done. Why not? My favorite of Dan’s sentences is, “Ms. Wood is bearing false witness, a sin explicitly condemned in the Bible.” Gave me a good laugh. I’ve been guilty of bearing false witness plenty of times and had all my reasons for doing so lined up in a row. I imagine she has hers. But, again, it seems to me her objective IS to elicit ‘wild conjecture’ – to get people chattering and chasing that flurry of feathers she’s just released into the wind. Her tone presumes the support of authority and wisdom but for anyone actually paying attention to the words, her offering is the substance of gossip. Who doesn’t love a to catch a bit of gossip, eh? That’s a very naughty Eliza Wood. Someone ought to let Harvard know; they might want their degree back…

  • Joel cannon

    I can only guess, but for some people, marriage=sex=sin. Mormons do not hold this equation.

  • Tamara

    Did anybody pass this blog post along to Ms. Wood or Huff? What an absolutely ridiculous article. Thank you for you points of clarification.

  • http://bit.ly/ldsarc Mike Parker

    Oh, and there’s so much more:

    “Both [Mormonism and Islam] had founding prophets who received visits from an angel, leading to revelation of Scripture.”

    Just like Judaism and Christianity, whose scriptures are littered with examples of prophets who conversed with angels and received written scripture (Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Mary, Peter, Paul, and John are only a few examples).

    “Both religions had a split after their prophet’s death.”

    Judaism is split into orthodox, conservative, and reform factions. Christianty has been fractured since the first century, and is now broadly split into Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and Restorationist movements, with almost limitless individual sects within each one (particularly Protestantism, which has liberal and conversative sects, evangelical and non-evangelical sects, Calvinst and Arminian sects, and so forth).

    “Both Muhammad and Joseph Smith were taunted for their work and driven out by locals.”

    Unlike Jewish and Christian prophets, who were never taunted or driven out of their homelands? (Is Ms. Wood even aware of a little thing called the Diaspora?)

    Ms. Wood shows no signs of being even reasonably aware of Mormon, Muslim, Jewish, or Christian history, writings, and teachings. The Huffington Post should be ashamed for publishing her horrid article.

  • Kent G. Budge

    I think it’s a bit unfair to accuse Ms. Woods of bearing false witness. Based on the article, I can’t rule out the possibility that she’s an honest ignoramus. And by “ignoramus” I mean the kind of person who is not merely ignorant about some things (as we all are; personally, I don’t know all that much about Zen Buddhism or native Nigerian art) but who is so ignorant that she bloviates in front of a national audience without even realizing she doesn’t have a frikkin’ clue.

    • http://religiousreason.wordpress.com/ Dan Larsen

      Kent, I can appreciate your caution, but there is nothing wrong about holding professionals to a higher standard. I’d even encourage it! A journalist who is responsible for reporting the truth, or at least accurate representations of it, is accountable to each of us for doing much better than Wood did.

      And Dr. Peterson, thank you for your response. Not all Latter-day Saints have the perspective you do, and I can at least speak for myself when I say thank you for helping me respond to these types of accusations.

  • christine

    Kent if i( and I hope you too) do not know much about Zen Buddhism it takes about 3 minutes to read up on it online. This is called research and it is usually required in the preparation for writing a newspaper article.
    maybe the Huffington Post does not have such rigid requirements…. in other words this paper is the perfect vehicle for Ms Woods to promote her upcoming mystery novel by saying something outrageous muddling facts to the extreme and being very topical since we all might be in danger of electing a Mormon as president, about whom no one knows anything and who could really be a purporter of just another flavour of Muslims, Muslims being people whom Ms Woods might have met in Bahrein and apparently, did not like or see fit to be presidents of the United States.

    this found Online:
    “Eliza Wood is a religious reporter, founder of http://www.progressplanet.com, general editor of The Pacific Bible and author of the suspense novel, “Crisis of Faith.” Through various media, Eliza brings awareness to the many positive ways world religions impact society, while simultaneously encouraging the modernization of certain religious teaching and scriptures in an effort to reduce hate and violence and bring about positive social change.

    Eliza is a graduate of Harvard University, where she studied social sciences. She is considered a social thought instigator on religious-driven topics. Residing in California, Eliza has lived and traveled extensively throughout the world, including stints living and working in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and most recently, was a resident of Bahrain, in the Gulf Region of the Middle East. “

  • http://PureMormonism.blogspot.com Rock Waterman

    Thanks for this excellent response, Daniel. I still sit here slackjawed at the ignorance expressed in Ms Wood’s piece. Huffington Post has soiled its reputation with this one.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    As a non-Mormon I heard that God has a wife. I was wondering what her name is.

  • Rick

    There may have been a number of reasons or causes for Ms. Wood’s monumental errors and omissions. It could have been her lack of investigative ability, though having supposedly graduated from Harvard, one would expect a better grasp of how to research a subject better than this feeble attempt glaringly demonstrates. One might also think this is a purely political hit piece. It is not unthinkable, given the current political climate, that Ms. Wood could be acting out of a specific political agenda. Whether that be the case or not, her gross lack of research is not only noted, but blatantly obvious. The critique of her blog entry is spot on.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    In August, 1863, Quantrill’s Raiders, a Confederate militia based in Missouri, a slave state that had not itself seceded from the Union, attacked Lawrence, Kansas, torched many buildings and ouright killed over 150 people. This was the climax of a border war between Kansas settlers opposed to slavery and slavery supporting Missourians that had been.going since before 1857 (the time of the Utah War) that involved murders on both sides that had previously kilked about 60 people and gave Kansas the appellation “Bleeding”. No doubt the Raiders were ordinary Christians of their time and place. They demonstrated in their small way that murderous stupidity dors not require affiliation with an exotic religion.

    After the US Army expedition to Utah was frustrated in its desire to attack Mormons by the peaceful agreement negotiated between.incoming governor Cummings and outgoing governor Young, they took the ovcasion to attack an.Indian vilkage, leaving some hundred people dead. But because massactes of Indians were so common in that era, it is little noted today as a reflection of the murderous propensities engendered in the human psyxhe by military service.

    In other words, every time someone uses the Mountain Meadows.massacre as an event that offers insight into Mormonism, they are being dishonestly selective by disregarding all the evidence that mass murder in a “war” is a defect of human nature that is broadly distributed among people of all religions and nations.

    • Don Harryman

      Perhaps you can give us the ‘war’ in which MMM took place? Who was invading? Who else was killed other than the 120 unarmed men, women and children murdered by Mormons? How do you justify MMM and the decades of lying and cover up that followed? How do you account for the fact that the murdered people were left naked and unburied, and their clothing and property given to the tithing house in Cedar City? How do you account for the fact that when the US Army buried the dead, and constructed a rock cairn to cover the remains, BY ordered it torn down? I have cited facts, all heavily documented in Mountain Meadows Massacre, Brooks, and in fact completely supported by Massacre at Mountain Meadows, Turley.
      All you have is some mythical ‘war’ that justified MMM. You make me sick.

      If the Mormon Church were a Christian organization, it would have issued an apology for mass murder–it NEVER has and NEVER will.

      • Michael Scott

        If you did just a little research you would find that the military action to which you refer has been called by non-Mormon historians the “Utah War”, the “Mormon War” or more popularly “Buchanan’s Blunder”. Even without an official name, it was still looked upon by the majority of Americans as a “war”. Besides, moving a military force that was equivalent of one quarter to the standing United States
        Army across two thirds of the continent a scant three years before the outbreak of the Civil War could hardly be considered maneuvers.
        I find it extremely disengenuous of you who have stated numerous times on several Mormon sites that you have children when you have in fact never fathered a single child, or present yourself as a professional dancer when you’ve taken a few classes, to be approaching the height of hypocrisy. Your vitriol seems endless, indeed it appears to have become your whole raison d’etre.
        Get on with your life, it’s more than half over already. You have left the Church, we know it is not for you, then turn your back on it and find some source of genuine joy and happiness before your life is spent. All that bitterness and bile will make of you one extremely distasteful curmudgeon and no one will
        want to have their wheel chair next to yours.

        • Don Harryman

          As I predicted, attacking me based on falsehoods rather than dealing in facts or issues is your only option–you know nothing about me, my family, nor my dance credentials. If you did, you wouldn’t make a fool of yourself by repeating falsehoods in public. Perhaps you can give a citation of where I presented myself as a professional dancer?

          There was never an invasion, nor was there a single shot fired in the ‘Utah War’, nor were Mormons ever attacked. Movement of troops does not constitute a war, and it certainly isn’t a reason to commit mass murder. Since you are unable to deal with the facts of MMM, I can understand why it is necessary for you to attack me instead.

          Readers can judge for themselves where the vitriol is coming from–I have not made a personal attack based on falsehoods. You have–no surprise there.

        • Don Harryman

          BTW, I would like you to substantiate with facts and citations what you have said about me. If you make charges about me personally, then you had better be ready to document them. If you think that your personal attack on me will deter me from posting here or anywhere, you are wrong. I am waiting for your citations and facts.

          • Dallin Greenhalgh

            I hate to say it, but Michael Scott got ya pretty damn good,Don.

    • Don Harryman

      Now of course I will wait to be attacked as ‘anti Mormon’ and every other manner of name calling since no one can explain MMM, kidnapping of 17 children, theft, and decades of lying by the ‘Only True Church’ which has NEVER apologized.

      • danpeterson

        I guess, Don Harryman, that you’re talking to Raymond Takashi Swenson. I have no idea whether or not he’ll be back to respond.

        But who is “justifying” the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Nobody that I’m aware of. It was horrible, without excuse, reprehensible, and immoral, and it’s a blot upon the history of Mormonism. I’ve never met anybody who feels otherwise.

        And leaders of the Church have, in fact, expressed their regret and sorrow for what happened.

        But does the Church itself owe an apology for its role in the tragedy? I don’t think so, because the Church, as such, HAD no role in the tragedy, any more than the Vatican is implicated in the acts of a mafia boss or the University of Colorado for the Aurora theater shootings. Moreover, I can’t imagine that an apology for the Church would do anything to lessen the hostility of certain critics toward Mormonism. It would be like sharks scenting blood in the water, or dogs sensing fear; the critics wouldn’t see it as ending the controversy but as an admission of guilt justifying further attacks.

        “Massacre at Mountain Meadows” demonstrates, quite persuasively, what happened in the massacre and why, and neither Brigham Young nor the Church as such is really culpable in the crime. The planned sequel to “Massacre at Mountain Meadows” will, as I understand it, examine the aftermath, including the “cover-up.” I have reason to believe that it won’t sustain your extremely antagonistic view of the story.

        • Don Harryman

          It is amazing that you can read the post of RTS and wonder who is excusing MMM. He is. He brings up MMM (I did not) as an example in his contention that ‘mass murder in a “war” is a defect in human nature…’ Of course he fails to mention what war he is speaking of–since there wasn’t one–and that the victims were all unarmed men, women, and children who posed no threat of any kind to Mormons in the area. Subsequent to the massacre, theft and kidnapping was a systematic denial and coverup orchestrated by the Mormon Church which blamed for many years the massacre on the Paiutes, and yet you see no excuses? For decades, the nearly sixty perpetrators were hidden, and only one person was ever brought to justice. You still see no excuses?

          The Mormon Church, only after decades of denial, finally, nearly 150 years after MMM, did express regret–but carefully stated that there is no apology. Regret is something that anyone–even someone completely removed from the incident can and should feel. However, MMM was in fact committed by members and leaders of the Mormon Church who were also members of the local militia. Your contention that it is so far removed from the Mormon Church that it doesn’t merit an apology is specious, ridiculous, and insulting to the victims of the crimes committed.

          NO ONE else committed the crimes of MMM except members and local leaders of the Mormon Church. No One.

          Of course, it is predictable that–rather than address issues–you compare critics of MMM to dogs and sharks–very nice. However in so doing, you draw closer to the real issue:

          The Mormon Church always attacks it critics rather than addressing issues because at its core, the Mormon Church’s leaders and members believe that anything they do is justified, therefore they never have any need to apologize for anything.

          Unless I misunderstood, apology and restitution are core teachings involved in the process of repentance. Apparently, repentance is for others, but not for Mormons. No one else committed MMM except Mormon members and leaders. No one else lied and covered up for decades. No one.

          As far as my ‘antagonistic’ view of MMM–how would you prefer that I view mass murder, violation of corpses, theft of property, kidnapping, desecration of a burial site and decades of lying, hiding the perpetrators and blaming the Paiutes? What would your preferred view (or the view of the current PR firms employed by the Mormon Church) be? What is the Mormon Church’s preferred view of the story?

          • danpeterson

            Your remarks are so over the top with regard to anything that I’ve actually said that, on the whole, I think I’ll just let them stand as they are.

            Except to comment that, in fact, there WAS a kind of war going on at the time of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It’s called the “Utah War.” And, though (mercifully) very few shots were fired in it — which is, to at least a significant degree, owing to the desire of Church leadership that there be no violence — there WAS an atmosphere of fear and dread and uncertainty among the population of Utah, and especially among those in remote rural settlements. Under conditions of hysteria and unclarity, even good people can and do sometimes do really horrible things. Massacre at Mountain Meadows sketches this situation really well. Its sequel will, I understand, treat the “cover-up.”

            I see no real historical reason for your hyperventilating. It was a very sad story. Nobody living approves of it, and I doubt that anybody back in the nineteenth century really felt very good about it, either, after the dust settled.

  • http://www.kurtsperspective.blogspot.com Kurt

    Eliza Wood’s article is unfortunate. Politics and religion invite disagreement and contention, but it’s not necessary. Whether out of a temporary lapse of journalistic integrity or something more consciously vindictive, Eliza Wood has published an article littered with untruths that damages her reputation while misleading her readers about the Muslim faith and the Mormon faith.

    I hope Wood will rewrite her article. There is a world of difference between laying out the facts and saying, “I see that differently than you,” and what Wood did. It would be challenging to acknowledge such severe shortcomings and do a rewrite, but it would also set an example of civil discourse that could influence discussions elsewhere.

  • Dan

    Dr. Peterson, I Thank you for explaining everything so well. I suspect tthat there will be many more articles of this nature in the very near future, and I too believe that they are for political purposes. Thank you again!

  • http://www.slcmma.com BartB

    Ah… I love when a widely distributed canard gets drained of its blood. I would have loved a deeper and truer analysis of doctrines between Islam and the faith of the Latter day saints. In any case, I hope Ms Wood will revisit her article and respond to this criticism. With honest research, better late than never.

  • Lowell

    I find Dr. Petersons response and the original article interesting in another sense. Often religious skeptics claim religious people – especially those who are afiliated with the often referred to “cult” – to be ignorant, non questioning or brainwashed. I would suspect that many of those who will read Ms. Wood’s article will accept it as truth because it fits well within their ignorant, non questioning, brainwashed world view and dismiss Dr. Petersons response as bigoted whining from an ignorant, non questioning, brainwashed pretender. Such is life. Occasionally we hear of a genuine seeker of truth who finds a joyful inner peace because of a more enlightened perspective. When we do, it becomes an event to be remembered. All too often what we see is the Ms. Woods of the world continuing to write what they, in their hear of hearts, know to be true and their readers continuing to find a certain satisfaction in words that bolster their preconceptions. The hope that she will re-write or defend the article, I suspect, will be a fruitless hope. I fully suspect, she and her audience will go on from here fully satisfied in the validity of their view of the religious world. And she will eventually write another piece based on her ignorant, non searching and brainwashed perspective to her readers great satisfaction.

    • Dallin Greenhalgh

      If I could somehow double vote this comment, I would.

  • Luke D.

    I am a Mormon that teaches at a university with a large population of Muslim students and Christian students — and while I agree with Dr. Peterson’s responses, I must say that in my experience the Mormons and Muslims behaviors arem uch more similar in that they they strive hard to live good lives centered on faith and family, and they are willing to sacrifice a lot of things (time, alcohol, tobacco, premarital sex, extramarital sex) whereas the Christian students are a lot less willing to dedicate or sacrifice anything. They do not know nor attempt to keep even the most basic of the 10 commandments given to Moses. So I have started to feel that Muslims are much closer to Mormons than most Christians because they at least try to live their religion. Nobody is perfect, but I like to see people at least try. Mormons are Christian, and the beliefs are largely the same. But in terms of behavior, I see a lot more effort from the Mormons, Muslims, and Jehovah’s Witnesses than I see from lots of other Christian groups… and I’d like to see that change. I’d like to see Christians that really read, know, and live even the most basic 10 commandments.

    • mikebutler

      Luke D, I’m sorry to hear of the difficult situation some of your students appear to be putting themselves in.

      I must say, though, that I also feel for your students if you as a university teacher can be willing to make such unfounded judgements about them. Of course I do not know where you teach, but I have to infer that your student body is far from representative if (1) it has a large population of Muslim students and (2) you somehow know the religious faith of even a small proportion of your students, let alone enough of them to form a representative sample. If your student population is so far from the norm for this country, it’s not clear to me how you can offer up such sweeping generalizations about “Christians” as you do, merely on the basis of your observations.

      Similarly, it’s unclear to me how adherence of students to the religious rules of your own faith concerning “time, alcohol, tobacco, premarital sex, extramarital sex” is a valid concern for students whose Christian faith may prescribe life choices that are different from those Mormons or Muslims may choose.

      Lastly, I have to question how many students are actually left on campus, given the number of murders that must be occurring because the Christian students “do not know nor attempt to keep even the most basic of the 10 commandments “. If you are willing to pass judgement on your students with this sort of unnecessary hyperbole, any observer should wonder what else about this situation you may be exaggerating to prove your point.

  • Scott Wallace

    I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

    Mahatma Gandhi

    • Neil

      That quote was never made by Gandhi. It’s a shame to see Gandhi used to attack Christians and claim he didn’t like them when he geniunely loved countless Christians, respected them, and actually developed alot of his non-violent tactics from the Sermon on the Mount.

      Gandhi didn’t dislike everyone. He loved everyone. He was one of a the few really good examples of loving one’s enemy. It’s a shame to see him besmirched by a falsely attributed quote.

      • Dallin Greenhalgh

        Show me evidence that Gandhi didn’t say that quote, please.

        • DanielPeterson

          Proving a negative in such cases is notoriously difficult. Virtually impossible, in fact.

          How could anyone possibly prove that, over the course of his fairly long life, Gandhi absolutely never so much as whispered that sentiment even to himself while all alone in a forest?

    • Jahnke

      That is a fake quote.

  • Joe Harris

    I’ve only read about 4 or 5 articles from the Huffington Post (as compared to hundreds from Washington Post, NYTimes, etc) but every single one of them has been just downright embarrassingly ignorant and inaccurate. It’s rapidly getting to the point where I feel it’s just quicker to read the Huffington Post article and assume that the truth is the opposite of whatever they printed. I just don’t understand how a company stays in business like that but I guess there’s a solid % of the population who just wants to be told what they already believe.

  • Dallin Greenhalgh

    The religions may not be alike, this is true. But Muslims and Mormons both live their lives in a very similar way, and are usually respected by one another. In my life experience, Christians, however, are very rarely respectful when it comes to Mormonism or Islam.

    Just Google “Mormons and Christians”. You will be hit with a slew of mean spirited things that Christians, many of whom are preachers, have to say about Mormons.

    Google “Mormons and Muslims” or “Mormons and Islam”, and there are stories about how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sets aside their chapels on Fridays so that Muslims who don’t have a place to worship can do so. You will read about how Mormons donated money in Salt Lake City so that the Muslims could build their own mosque. You’ll also read about the respect that Muslims have for Mormons.

    If you Google “Mormons and Jews”, the same types of articles will show up, but in greater number, and with more evidence.

    Also, The Huffington Post writers are often non-paid writers, so they’re probably not putting their best work out there, wouldn’t you say?

    • DanielPeterson

      I never speak of “Christians”and “Mormons” as distinct groups.

      • Dallin Greenhalgh

        Why not? Many “Christian” preachers speak of “Mormons” as a separate and distinct group, even a group outside of Christianity.

        If all other Christian churches agree on the idea that “Mormons” are not “Christians”, then what authority do you have, as a Mormon, to disagree with them?

        Also, Mormons call themselves “the only true church’, which means that they too are separating themselves from all other religions.

        So why wouldn’t you separate the two?

        This is not a hypothetical question, I honestly want to know.


        Dallin Greenhalgh

        • DanielPeterson

          You might, Dallin Greenhalgh, consider reading “Offenders for a Word.”

          My argument is laid out there in specific detail.

  • Dallin Greenhalgh