“Why I Love Mormonism”

 

A detail from Michelangelo’s painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City

 

Many of you perhaps missed this item from last year, but, if you did, it’s worth a read.  There are remarkably few serious thinkers outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have engaged Mormon theology at all seriously, so, when one does, it’s fun to see how s/he reacts:

 

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/why-i-love-mormonism/?_r=1

 

Obviously, I don’t agree with everything Simon Critchley says.  But he at least does us the honor of actually considering Mormon ideas.

 

Incidentally, the Mormon philosopher named “Jim” to whom Professor Critchley refers is my friend and colleague Jim Faulconer, with whom I and another colleague had an excellent Thai lunch on Friday.

 

(My thanks to Nathaniel Hancock for reminding me of Professor Critchley’s essay.)

 

 

  • CSHed

    The link you provided goes to the forum homepage, and my site search availeth nought. Can you find a better link?

    • DanielPeterson

      Sorry. That was entirely the wrong link. It’s now fixed.

  • Crixus

    So an academic who is close friends with some other Mormon academics claims Mormonism is being mistreated because critics are misinformed. Yet, his first remark is also misinformed. For instance, there aren’t “13 million followers and counting” as he claims. Not even close, really. The actual figure isn’t even half that.

    His second comment is equally misinformed. “[Polygamy] was made illegal in Utah and banned by the church in 1890, wasn’t it?” So what? How does this change the fact that it was practiced by high ranking Mormons after that time, and that this move was made for political reasons only, and that the Church’s founder practiced polygamy in secret, subsequently lied about it in public, and then coerced young teenage girls to marry him? He and Brigham Young even took wives who belonged to other men. Funny how his rant against Mormon critics seem to be picking on the lowest hanging fruit and the dumbest forms of argument against it. In fact he doesn’t even reference who these people are who make these bad arguments, so for all we know he is just publishing a long winded string of straw man arguments.

    • DanielPeterson

      Hi, Kevin Graham/Crixus.

      As always, despite your dire suspicions and my terrible lying censorship, your post has gone up.

      • Crixus

        Baby steps Dan. Baby steps.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      I like the idea that “dumb[] forms of arguments against [Mormonism]” ought to be disregarded, so that only the smarter ones are considered. It would be very helpful for someone to identify the “dumbest” arguments, so that none of us would be guilty of responding to them in the future.

      • Crixus

        Dumb arguments against Mormonism are precisely the ones mentioned in that article. For example, “Mormonism is a cult.” “Polygamy is a Mormon doctrine” etc. My point is that Critchley’s viewpoint is also based on misinformation. So should we attribute his “love of Mormonism” to his misinformed viewpoint? For example, there aren’t 13 million members as he said. At best, we’re looking at roughly 5 million people on this planet who actually consider themselves Mormon. Likewise, Critchley seems to suggest Mormons have rejected the doctrine of polygamy but it is still very much a doctrine. The Church gradually stopped practicing it through the 20th century after decades of political pressures.

  • disqus_dZxWlEYaW5

    Why do I love Mormonism? Yes, the doctrines of the nature of God are refreshing and have vast depth — there is thick substance instead of nebulous mystery and confusion. And, yes, there is an almost endless barrage of hostility and twisted truth designed to disparage the faith and mislead the public; this alone would make me almost certain that Mormonism contains something true, valuable, and very powerful.

    But, for me, the really stunning doctrine comes down to our own individual responsibility for our own personal quest for truth. After sitting through church services, Sunday school classes, seminary, and many other doctrinal discussions for the best part of a century — I’m impressed by how often us Mormons are repeatedly taught to go directly to God and find out from Him the truth of all things. As it says in the new testament, “Ask, and it will be given to you: seek, and you will find; Knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” My own personal quest began in the New Testament; and after years of experience I realize that that verse contains a promise with power to change lives. Truth and understanding can be delivered in unmistakable clarity to us directly from God — but it’s a very personal and individual delivery. Even though I wish, at times, that I could hand that off to my kids, I realize that I can only encourage them to find it for themselves — it’s up to them.

    I find the study church doctrine and history very interesting. I find it amazing to see how twisted the anti-church propaganda becomes as individuals and organizations fight to taint the public perception of “Mormons”. I love to see the other side of their rants, accusations, and arguments — I love to see how simply some of their accusations can be dismissed when rational though is applied. But, all this so-called “intellectualism” is small spuds compared to the powerfully clear revelation that comes from God when we ask, seek, and knock.

    I love Mormonism, in large part, because it so constantly encourages me to go directly to God and seek for truth.

  • Stephen Smoot

    Not to derail the comments too much, but I want to say something about Kevin Graham’s claim that the Manifesto was the result of “political reasons only.”

    That’s not what the most cutting-edge historical scholarship says. Richard E. Bennett, current president of the Mormon History Association, has just published a piece in the latest issue of BYU Studies Quarterly discussing the factors behind the Manifesto.

    One of the pressing factors that prompted President Woodruff to go before the Lord, according to Professor Bennett, was to ask “which is the wisest course” –– to abandon plural marriage, and thus keep the Church’s temples in the hands of the Saints in order to continue the newly implemented practice of extending temple blessings to the dead, or to continue plural marriage and thus jeopardize the Church’s ability to maintain the temples and the work for the dead?

    After a lengthy and careful look at this, Bennet concludes: “A fundamental reason for the Manifesto, in addition to the overwhelming legal and political pressures then being placed on the Church, was very much a religious one whose roots preceded plural marriage and which extended back to the very beginnings of Mormonism.” (Richard E. Bennett “‘Which is the Wisest Course?’ The Transformation in Mormon Temple Consciousness, 1870-1898,” BYU Studies Quarterly Vol. 52, no. 2 [2013]: 43.)

    In other words, there was a profound religious dimension behind why President Woodruff issued the Manifesto, specifically with regard to LDS temple consciousness at the time. As Professor Bennett told me in person not too long ago, “The federal government didn’t stop plural marriage. The Lord did.”

    Indeed, if Kevin Graham is right that the Saints just caved to political pressure, then we must wonder why the didn’t Mormons stop practicing plural marriage with the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862, which was deliberately aimed to stop Mormon polygamy? Why also the defiant civil disobedience for almost thirty years afterwards? Why did John Taylor die in hiding from federal agents out to arrest him for practicing “the Principle”? Why these words from President Woodruff himself, “I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do”?

    With this in mind, we’re thus left to accept either the wild claims of some ex-Mormon on the Internet with a rather obvious axe to grind, or a professional historian writing in a peer reviewed journal.

    I know who I’m going with.

    • DanielPeterson

      Excellent post, Br’er Smoot. Be prepared, though, for considerable personal abuse from ex-Br’er Graham. Those who disagree with him are typically either idiots/morons or liars. It will be interesting, if he responds, to learn which one you are.

      • Crixus

        I see you’re still poisoning the well with this falsehood. Does it really bother you so much that I have civil disagreements with a number of Mormon scholars not named Hamblin or Peterson?

        • DanielPeterson

          Nothing about you bothers me, Kevin.

          I very seldom think about you.

          • Crixus

            What value do these remarks add to any discussion?

          • DanielPeterson

            Precisely none.

          • Crixus

            They why insert them?

          • DanielPeterson

            Why insert them?

            I don’t “insert” them. I simply allow them to appear.

            I allow them to be posted, mostly because, with very few exceptions, I’ve blocked NOBODY, but also because it amuses me to prove your predictions that I would block you wrong.

            You’d squawk awfully loudly if I didn’t.

            Heck, you attacked me for months, claiming that I didn’t even PERMIT comments here, while others were commenting freely in hundreds of posts.

          • Crixus

            Dan, the useless comments I am referring to are your well-poisoning remarks. You don’t just “allow them to appear,” you’re directly responsible for writing them and inserting them into the thread. If you agree they add no value to the discussion, then why insert them? Given my long history of failed attempts in getting you to debate the issues, the answer is obvious to me. You clearly want to bias your readers against me any way you can. This tactic is the hallmark of someone who really can’t argue the points, and must therefore place all focus on the messenger.

            And I find it amusing that you admit allowing my posts to finally appear only because you want to prove me wrong when I say you’d otherwise disallow them to appear. Think over that real hard and then maybe you’ll understand how this admission pretty much validates my previous claims. When you and Hamblin started your blogs I submitted a few comments never to believe they’d actually appear. It was more of an attempt to communicate a point to you than anything else, but I never received any email confirmations of the post appearing. I only received an email from Hamblin accusing me of “identity fraud” because I jokingly posted using a different name (I forget which, but it may have been Schryver). During that time I also tried to engage you on the forums only to see you complain about me being who I am, and “squawking loudly” to your MAD audience that you will continue to avoid me at all costs. Now given these remarks, and your repeated attempts to disavo me at every turn, how does all this jive with your supposed willingness to have a dialogue with me on your private blog?!?! Given your responses thus far, it doesn’t seem you’re willing at all. Again, validating my criticism of you over the years.

          • DanielPeterson

            I knew, of course, what you had in mind, Kevin/Crixus.

            But where on earth did you ever come up with the notion that I’ve somehow expressed willingness to have a dialogue with you on my blog?

            Allowing your comments to appear is one thing. Interacting with you is quite another.

            Let me be perfectly clear: I haven’t the slightest interest in discussing anything with you. And not merely because I’m a liar, a moron, and a coward, as you like to say. You’re not stupid, but you’re extraordinarily unpleasant and unreasonable. I thoroughly dislike your online persona. I grew tired of your hyper-combativeness and your insults a number of years ago, and I have no intention of attempting further “conversation” with you.

            Moreover, while I don’t currently plan to block your posts here, if I sense that you’re beginning to turn my blog into a colony of Scratchworld I’ll block you without hesitation, in a heartbeat.

          • Crixus

            == Allowing your comments to appear is one thing. Interacting with you is quite another.

            But your responses are evidence of attempts to interact. Good grief Dan, you really have no communication skills at all. You spend hours and hours, and tens of thousands of logged posts on other forums, and at the end of the day you say you don’t debate any of these people because you don’t want to. Well, that’s dysfunctional to say the least.

            == Let me be perfectly clear: I haven’t the slightest interest in discussing anything with you.

            Of course you don’t. You’ve lost too many times on that front. The best thing you can do now is try to disparage me within your little cultural corner of the Mormon universe.

            == And not merely because I’m a liar, a moron, and a coward, as you like to say.

            Well, this is a false statement. Why do you persistently say this? Is it a desire to place yourself on the altar of persecution so all your LDS followers can feel sorry for you? You’re in a really sad state right no Dan. You’ve lost your primary pouting pulpit at Maxwell, and now you’re starting a blog because you think the world is a horrible place without your ramblings.

            == You’re not stupid, but you’re extraordinarily unpleasant and unreasonable.

            Coming from you this is a compliment. I can assure you that you are far more disliked than I ever will be, and this only about ex-Mormons you’ve attacked. There are a number of Mormons who do not find your tactics very … well, let’s just say, Christ like.

            == I thoroughly dislike your online persona.

            Of course you do. I’m your mirror image, only with the truth on my side. That is what’s so upsetting to you. It is why you spend so much of your life attacking critics and beating up straw man arguments, all the while using your blog as a bully pulpit (now that Maxwell was taken from you) so you can delude your followers into thinking you’re some kind of victim.

            == I grew tired of your hyper-combativeness and your insults a number of years ago

            No, you enjoyed them when we were fighting on the same side. And to reduce my persona to nothing but combativeness and insults is nothing short of dishonesty. Again, if anything you said about me were true I highly doubt I’d have as many LDS friends as I do. People you know too.

            == I have no intention of attempting further “conversation” with you.

            Or, Metcalfe, or Luke, or Jeffries, or any number of reasonable, much liked people who have ever challenged you on specific points. You don’t debate anyone in public because you lose. And then you make excuses for why you don’t debate. God knows how you ever got the label as best defender of the Church. You attack everyone, rant in ignorance and whenever anyone tries to bring some sense of self-awareness to you, you freak out and blackball them on other forums. And you wonder why I think you’re a coward? Well, you don’t have the self-awareness or humility to even consider the possibility, that it is because you are.

          • DanielPeterson

            Crixus/Kevin: “Good grief Dan, you really have no communication skills at all.”

            LOL. So very true. So I’m not going to bother trying.

            Crixus/Kevin, quoting incapable Dan: “== And not merely because I’m a liar, a moron, and a coward, as you like to say.”

            Crixus/Kevin, responding to that remark: “Well, this is a false statement. Why do you persistently say this?”

            Crixus/Kevin, in this note alone: “This is a false statement . . . so you can delude your followers . . . nothing short of dishonesty. . . You . . . rant in ignorance . . . you wonder why I think you’re a coward? . . . it is because you are.”

          • kiwi57

            Crixus:

            “And I find it amusing that you admit allowing my posts to finally appear only because you want to prove me wrong when I say you’d otherwise disallow them to appear.”

            Only?

            What Dan actually said:

            “I allow them to be posted, mostly because, with very few exceptions, I’ve blocked NOBODY, but also because it amuses me to prove your predictions that I would block you wrong.”

            Dan said that it was “mostly” because he’s never blocked anybody. Crixus thinks Dan’s admitted allowing his posts “only” to prove him wrong.

            There’s a very basic failure of communication going on here. I didn’t find Dan’s statement either ambiguous or difficult to understand. Am I missing something?

            Crixus seems to suppose that Dan has some kind of obligation, not only to engage him, but to actually provide him with a forum on which to abuse and accuse Dan to his heart’s content.

            I cannot imagine why he supposes that.

        • kiwi57

          “I see you’re still poisoning the well with this falsehood.”

          What a remarkably uncivil way for a guest to treat his host. If Professor Peterson chooses not to allow any more of your posts, you will not be able to credibly claim “censorship.”

          Although you probably still will.

          “I have civil disagreements with a number of Mormon scholars… ”

          One presumes that you achieve that by not accusing them of poisoning the well with falsehoods.

          The incivility before us all flows in one direction.

          • Crixus

            == What a remarkably uncivil way for a guest to treat his host. If Professor Peterson chooses not to allow any more of your posts, you will not be able to credibly claim “censorship.”

            Dan is the one who decided to engage in incivility the second he chose to make that false remark about me and how I treat those who disagree with me. I’ve proven him wrong on this on a number of occasions but he continues to propagate this falsehood demonstrating just how weak his positions are against me. When you focus on the person and ignore the argument, you’ve already lost the debate. All I have done is point out that this is what he is doing. Of course, I don’t expect his followers to admit that he could possibly be wrong, especially in the way he acts towards those who disagree with him. I also do not expect you to understand the lack of civility behind Mr. Smoot’s attempt to poison the well in highlighting my status as an “ex-Mormon” (I’m actually counted as one of the “14.7 million” according to the Church) with a so-called “ax to grind.” Apologists love to throw these kinds of announcements out there before any discussion begins, ruining any hope of civil dialogue, because they’re only interested in scoring rhetorical points for whatever audience they’re trying to entertain.

          • DanielPeterson

            Vintage Kevin Graham.

  • brotheroflogan

    I cringed when he said that only men can become Gods. I don’t think that’s true. Although how Godhood works in the afterlife is not entirely clear in my mind.

    • RaymondSwenson

      Yes, even they who love us can still miss some points. Any non-Mormon writing about the LDS should have a real Mormon proof his copy. It is like a person writing in a foreign language in which he is not perfectly fluent.

  • kiwi57

    Crixus:

    “The same way it was forced to abandon the racist policy towards blacks/priesthood.”

    Since that change was in no conceivable way “forced,” you may well be right — but not for the reasons you think.

    • Crixus

      The reason it changed was because the Church decided to expand in Brazil before realizing just how much of the population contained negro blood. It was impractical to think they could hope to expand further without allowing the locals to operate as priesthood holders.

  • bcspace

    Is the time delay the thrust of Richard E. Bennett’s argument? I think it would
    behoove Smoot to give Bennett’s reasons. I do agree that political
    pressure is not necessarily the only impetus given the delay. Wouldn’t
    matter to me though if it were as such is not catastrophic in any way to
    the Church’s truth claims.

    I think it would also behoove Kevin to give actual evidence for the accusation that: “the Church’s founder practiced polygamy in secret, subsequently lied about it in public, and then coerced young teenage girls to marry him” especially considering the lack of children and evidence of cohabitation in the marital relations sense as compared to say, the doctrine and practice of John C. Bennett.

    • Stephen Smoot

      “I think it would behoove Smoot to give Bennett’s reasons. ”

      I’m not going to do your homework for you. Go to BYU Studies’ website, download the article (I think it only costs two dollars if you don’t have a subscription), and read it for yourself.

      Cheers.

  • Daved6

    Crixus: ” All you did was say he argued for another factor that was taken into account; a “religious” one. That may be true, but it doesn’t refute my point.”

    Your claim previously: “this move was made for political reasons only”

    Now you say, ” All you did was say he argued for another factor that was taken into account; a “religious” one. That may be true”

    I think it’s clear your point, dogmatically stated previously, has been refuted. Just admit it and move on.

    We all get carried away when we’re trying to complain about a religion afterall.

    Here you say, dripping with sarcasm, “Yes, the latest faith-promoting piece written by a faithful servant of Mormonism will always be understood by the apologetic flock as the “cutting edge in scholarship.””
    Attempting, it is clear, to poison the well. Sadly, such a thing is decried by you in this thread. Not only was your point clearly refuted, and you had to take your foot out of your mouth to try and repaint the point as something else, but you also went after a Mormon person trying to discredit him through the medium of sarcasm by painting the person or those who look up to his scholarship as little more than idiots.
    Seems Dan was exactly right.

    • DanielPeterson

      I do have it exactly right. Sadly, I’ve seen Crixus/Kevin in action for many years now, and I know his modus operandi all too well.

    • Crixus

      Here is what I find fascinating about the way the old school apologists choose to deal with critics. It is sometimes called the FARMS way, and I’ve made this observation for quite some time now.

      In my initial response, I made very specific arguments against Critchley’s insinuation that critics are critics only because they’re “misinformed.” I did this by pointing out that everything he said in response was also misinformed. If critics are critics because of misinformation, then maybe he “loves Mormonism” because he is misinformed. He certainly has a very shallow understanding of Church doctrine and history, after all.

      Critchley first made the laughable assertion that there are “13 million followers and counting,” and I debunked that. He also said polygamy was “banned by the church in 1890,” which is not really the whole truth. If it were successfully banned there wouldn’t have been a second Manifesto years later. I also pointed out that polygamy was practiced after both Manifestos, even by high-ranking Mormons. I pointed out that Joseph Smith practiced it in secret, that he lied about it in public, and that he used his position of authority to get little girls to marry him. I also pointed out that he and Brigham Young had no problem marrying women who were already married to other men. For me, and most people who don’t sport bullet proof testimonies, this is more than enough to discredit Joseph Smith as a true prophet, or Mormonism as a truly “family values” kind of religion.

      So we’re talking about at least eight devastating, irrefutable facts that Mr. Smoot was compelled to ignore. So what does an apologist do when confronted by so many irrefutable facts? Well, the answer has always been very simple for the FARMS crowd. Just spend some time digging to find something, ANYTHING, that that person said which is NOT an irrefutable fact. No matter how trivial or insignificant it is, just make it the centerpiece of your rebuttal so that people reading your response (who most likely never read the critic’s post to begin with) will think you’ve actually refuted everything that was important.

      To understand just how desperate and petulant this really is, just consider that Mr. Smoot wrote eight paragraphs and 430 words in an attempt to refute an irrelavant remark which he dug out of a long list of irrefutable facts. This is a phenomenon we’ve found in a number of FARMS reviews.

      But the FARMS tactic doesn’t stop there. Smoot has to go on to suggest his opponent is somehow academically or intellectually inferior for not being completely up to date on the “cutting edge of scholarship,” as he calls it. Again, the FARMS way is to steer the focus off the argument and onto the person whenever possible. This sums up what FARMS did through the years when it published various “reviews” of books critical of the Church. And no matter how hateful, sloppy, ignorant and disrespectful these reviews were, Dan Peterson stood by them. In fact, one might argue that he encouraged them. After all, he personifies the tactic perfectly. He cannot even speak in teh same room as I without constantly informing his audience that I’m about to insult them or by reminding them that, unlike the other “Brothers” in the room, I am just a measly “ex-Brother.” After all, it is important that we know who is on our team so we can know who to cheer for. We can’t just allow or hope all arguments fall on reasonable ears with a minimal bias. No, he has to rig the game from the start so everyone knows this is just the usual “don’t listen to him because he is an ex-Mormon” scenario.

      Now back to the subject of Bennett. He obviously believes the Church was just following the Lord in banning polygamy. This is strictly a personal, religious statement. Nothing in his paper proves this or even strongly suggests it to be true. I disagree with Bennett’s belief that the temple factor was that important. All he has done though is present a case based on what Woodruff said, which as I said before, could have just as easily been a convenient excuse for him to give the faithful polygamists. And obviously the temple factor didn’t seem to carry much weight with many of the members since the practice continued well after he made these remarks.

      So did Bennett “refute” my claim? No. He doesn’t accept it, and he thinks he has made a good case against it. But it isn’t a refutation. This is very much like the way the Church changed the priesthood ban for political/social reasons, and then suddenly coming up with a “revelation” saying that it why it was done. No reasonable, non-Mormon in his right mind would ever say the “cutting edge in historical scholarship” proves the change was made more for religious reasons, just because that was the excuse given by the Church to its membership.

      If I were still an apologist using the same FARMS tactics Smoot and other FAIR apologists can’t seem to break free of then I would have fought fire with fire and diverted all attention from the actual subject and start a 500 word essay on Smoot’s ignorance about the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862 and the agreement the POTUS made with Brigham Young. Notice how Smoot completely ignored that response as well.

      But I’m not like that anymore. I actually want to discuss the issues that matter. People like Smoot and Dan are a rare breed of anti-truth propagandists. They’re not really interested in what’s true or debating what’s true, and this is proven by their actions. They’re only interested in putting on apologetic shows for their faithful watchers. They can’t do this where there is a level playing field. Whenever one of these types steps outside teh safety confines, they end up making complete fools of themselves (take for example Scott Gordon’s interview last year!). They have to restrict themselves to the sanctuary of apologetic organizations, forums that make it difficult to follow discussions without registering, and internet blogs controlled by people who flaunt their power to ban/block you as a preemptive measure.

      • Daved6

        Crixus:

        “Here is what I find fascinating about the way the old school apologists choose to deal with critics. It is sometimes called the FARMS way, and I’ve made this observation for quite some time now.”

        Why don’t you stick to the discussion instead of trying to poison the well with these types of generalizations? It seems to me you have done little else besides that which you have complained about.

        “In my initial response, I made very specific arguments against Critchley’s insinuation that critics are critics only because they’re “misinformed.””

        I didn’t read that from him. I think you’ve misunderstood, perhaps set up a strawman and in so doing wished to generalize about a certain crew of Mormons and paint this whole thing as something it is not.

        “For me, and most people who don’t sport bullet proof testimonies, this is more than enough to discredit Joseph Smith as a true prophet, or Mormonism as a truly “family values” kind of religion.”

        So? His point has nothing to do with you or those who don’t sport bullet proof testimonies. It seems you are missing the big picture of his piece.

        For instance, you seem very proud that you know that actual number of members on record is over 14 million right now. Who knows when his comment, as he quoted, in his piece was made? Perhaps it was a few years ago? And whether polygamy persisted beyond 1890 or 1904 misses his point as well.

        Sorry bub, it seems, generally speaking, you have missed his point, and tried to force this into a complaint about LDS folks–like Peterson or Smoot. I say, take a deep breath and reconsider what is actually being talked about here. I think it’ll do you some good and will actually help this discussion, that is if it’s not already buried and gone, essentially, going in a positive rather than negative direction.

  • RaymondSwenson

    There are groups practicing polygamy today. The reason the LDS Church does not, is because Wilford Woodruff believed that he received direction from God to stop new plural marriages. There would have been serious effects on the Church and its other missions, but Woodruff made clear he would have accepted those if he had not felt directed otherwise.

  • Stephen Smoot

    This will be my only reply, as I have neither the time nor the desire to engage in a drawn out debate on this subject, least of all with the likes of Kevin Graham.

    “Yes, the latest faith-promoting piece written by a faithful servant of Mormonism will always be understood by the apologetic flock as the “cutting edge in scholarship.””

    You know something Kevin, it takes special kind of arrogance to pull this kind of nonsense. Here we have a professor who has a PhD in American history and is the current president of the Mormon History Association publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. And what is your response? Oh, he’s just an apologist hack.

    So tell me, what exactly is your academic expertise? Where did you get your PhD? Was it in American history like professor Bennett? And how many publications in Mormon history do you have to your name? No, your rants on MDB don’t count. I mean books and articles. Have you published anything on the Manifesto, for example?

    Get real. Someone sure is a hack here, but it isn’t professor Bennett.

    (I’m not saying, by the way, that professor Bennett is automatically right because he, by all objective standards, is immensely more qualified than you in almost every respect to render a sound verdict on a nuanced, complex historical issue. But I am saying, as I said before, that I’m more inclined to trust a man who’s spent decades researching, teaching, and publishing on American and Mormon
    history than a disgruntled ex-Mo troll on the Internet.)

    “Of course, Bennett provides no evidence that refutes anything I said.”

    Do you mean to suggest that in his article of 40 pages and 128 footnotes Bennett offers no evidence for his thesis? Are you serious? Have you even read his article?

    “Is it completely lost on you how Bennett’s remark, “overwhelming legal and political pressures,” establishes my point? All you did was say he argued for another factor that was taken into account; a “religious” one. That may be true, but it doesn’t refute my point.”

    Not at all. I never denied that there were political and legal pressures behind the Manifesto. I specifically was refuting your foolish claim that the end of plural marriage was only because of said political reasons.

    “That is a religious statement, baseless opinion and hearsay. Not a historical fact supported by evidence.”

    Hearsay? Well, I suppose, strictly speaking, I did hear him say that. But are you trying to say that this is some kind of rumor of disputed authenticity that I’m just passing along? If so, you’re wrong. I spent literally the entire summer with professor Bennett back east at various Church history sites, where we discussed his research, including the research behind his article. And that’s where I heard him say this.

    Also, it’s not just religious sentiment. Per the quote I posted last time, this is exactly what President Woodruff said, which you’ve either missed or ignored; although I’m sure you’ll just dismiss him as some sort of liar anyway.

    “Thank you for establishing my point. You seem to be lost on the context of this exchange. We’re discussing Critchley’s comments and what they imply. As you are pointing out that Mormons continued to practice polygamy despite the Manifesto,
    you’re highlighting the significance of this doctrine in Mormonism while essentially undermining Critchley’s attempt to render it a relic of the past with no doctrinal significance.”

    No, I’m discussing your bogus claim that the Manifesto was the result of the Mormons just caving into political pressure. Professor Bennett has exploded this ridiculous myth, and shows beyond any doubt that, political pressures notwithstanding, the ultimate decision to end plural marriage was that President Woodruff felt it more important to keep the temples than to keep
    plural marriage, and felt this was the will of the Lord.

    Again, you’d know this if you actually bothered to read his article.

    “The fact is polygamy is very much a part of Mormon doctrine. The reason it isn’t practiced today is because the Church was pretty much forced to abandon it, the same way it was forced to abandon the racist policy towards blacks/priesthood.”

    No, the Church ceased practicing the Principle because President Woodruff felt the Lord directed him to stop it in order to save the temples, and thus maintain temple work. Again, as President Woodruff himself said, he’d be willing to let all the temples be
    lost, and let himself go to prison, if he hadn’t received the revelation ending plural marriage.

    Now, you can disbelieve that President Woodruff received a revelation to end plural marriage if you’d like. (In fact, Kevin, I’d be surprised if you didn’t lob a few obligatory accusations of lying and deception at President Woodruff at this point.) But to insist that there was no religious cause behind the Manifesto is historically
    indefensible.

    “That the Church abandoned the practice so quickly after it was implemented further demonstrates that the Church isn’t what it claims.”

    This is, to borrow your phrase, nothing more than a “baseless opinion.” But that’s fine, since you’re entitled to your wrong opinion.

    And that’s all I’ll say on the matter. Leb wohl!

    • Crixus

      I posted a response to this the same day Smoot posted it. Is there a reason why my response didn’t post?

      • DanielPeterson

        Everything that you’ve submitted today has been posted, so far as I can tell.


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