What counts as "Anti-Mormon" today?

In this image, Chris H. lords it over all the bloggers at FPR

I used to throw around the label “anti-Mormon” like it was going out of style (speaking of style, will this “style” colloquialism ever go out of style? Good grief, BHodges, the 7th grade called and it wants its simile back. [This analysis of my rhetorical style could start getting out of hand really fast. Notice my strange use of the third person? There are about three people left in the world who can get away with such bravado. Karl Malone, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Elmo]).

Anyway, I’ve found that the term “anti-Mormon” sets off alarm bells amongst folks I’m otherwise trying to converse with. I like to avoid allowing the cows to get out through the holes I leave in the rhetorical fence, so I’ve cut down on its usage in order to keep conversations corralled. I’ve seen people accused of invoking “anti-Mormon” like a voodoo chant to ward off critical thinking. I’ve also seen certain anti-Mormons claim the term isn’t fair because, after all, it’s Mormonism they’re against, not Mormons. So for many reasons the term can stop, rather than facilitate discussion.
A while back I was impressed with a blog post containing useful “types” of anti-Mormonism. I think the types are great for helping people recognize that perhaps things aren’t so black-and-white in terms of being pro or anti, but keeping the anti-Mormon label as part of the descriptor is still going to raise objections. Also, the term risks being watered down. Do I want to roll around McCarthy-esque with a label maker and a cigar, slapdashing my way through internet debates? Maybe next week. For now, not really.
I personally try to use the label carefully by restricting its referents to the counter-cult fulltime exposers of the evils of Mormonism (think Ed Decker). The sort of irrational polemic folk who are more interested in winning a battle than reaching an understanding. So time spent, quality of argument, motive for engagement, are some of the most important factors for me. Anti-Mormonism is something that is enacted more than espoused from this view.
But I just can’t shake the idea that yes, Virginia, there really are anti-Mormons out there. “Anti,” against, “Mormon,” the religion, the doctrine, etc. I don’t object to being called “anti-torture” or “anti-Linkin Park,” I wear the labels with a certain pride. But that’s just me. So how to deal with the fact that I really do believe in anti-Mormons? I explain it when I use it, and I use it for a specific end: not to end debate but to identify the type of debate I am experiencing at the time with the hope of shaming, er, convincing, the other person to consider changing their strategy, or at least to help them understand why I can’t take them seriously from an intellectual standpoint. I hope I don’t use it as an “insult,” but sometimes hopes are just hopes.
I’ll tell you how I use it right now and you can tell me how you use it (or why you object to it. Of course, we’ll know you’re anti-Mormon if you raise questions about what I am about to say, so play at your own risk).
I personally try to use the label carefully by restricting its referents to the counter-culting fulltime exposers of the evils of Mormonism (think Ed Decker). The sort of irrational polemic folk who are more interested in winning a battle or a soul than reaching an understanding with me. I can expect double-standards, irrationality, quote-mining, and a strange smell (if we’re talking in person). Ok, not the smell. (Not every time, anyway.)
So for me I take into account the amount of time spent, the quality of argument, and the motive for engagement. In short: Anti-Mormonism for me is something that is enacted more than beliefs which are espoused.
Your turn, anti.

  • http://boaporg.wordpress.com WVS

    That guy in the pic looks like Phelps. Anti-Linkin-Park? Naughty. I’m more or less with you on this BH. But sometimes I feel the urge to lump in other types, mostly because I know them and their background and motivations. If you had asked “what” is anti-Mormon, then I may still mostly agree with you on the classification. Perhaps I would just add: it depends – on the particular work or even a particular chapter or paragraph, say.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com TT

    Best image caption ever.

  • http://juvenileinstructor.org Christopher

    Awesome image caption, indeed.

    My own use of anti-Mormon is fairly similar to yours, Blair, though I usually use it in reference to nineteenth century writers and antagonists.

  • Mark D.

    I would say that an “anti-Mormon” is best used to refer to those who think Mormonism is a pernicious evil and spend significant amounts of time and energy with the primary objective of weakening, destroying, and defeating it.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    “In this image, Chris H. lords it over all the bloggers at FPR”

    Have my admin powers been restored?
    :)

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com TT

    Chris H., doh! Just restored them. That’s what happens when you quit every 3 months…

    As for the post, I think it poses an interesting problem concerning labels, especially pejorative ones. It seems, as you say, that its use is strategic. Your strategy for invoking the term may differ from others’ strategies, but it is still a strategic use in order to accomplish a certain end. I think that this is a different issue of whether or not there really “are” such things as anti-mormons, especially if an anti-mormon is something someone does, rather than is.

  • djinn

    I think that the phrase “anti-mormon” means in most cases to some one (a family member, a friend, a church acquaintance) that was most likely born Mormon but now has changed. The highly pugilistic nature of the term speaks for itself.

    That is, I think It’s an internal bullet-proof phrase used to both threaten the currently acquiescent (bad things could happen to you if you leave–you’ll be an “anti mormon and thus not holy enough for you or your kids to hang with us, the elect) and to demonize friends and family members that have modified the religious beliefs that was bequeathed upon them at birth. They are shunned–informally, but no less effectively–by… we all know.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    djinn, do you think there is a more legitimate definition for “anti-Mormon”?

  • g.wesley

    i’m going to have nightmares for sure.

  • djinn

    BHodges, the fact that you could ask such a demeaning, threatening, hostile question speaks for itself. People are born, grow up, and live their lives. If these unfortunate souls happen to be born Mormon but later leave it it tells you nothing at all about them; least of all that they should be treated as anti-mormons (and thus anti-family) by those they grew up with. They just went their own way.

    That’s all. BTW, thanks for encapsulating pretty much my entire extended families’ feeling for me (my wonderful father excepted.) So what if someone changes religion? It doesn’t make them anti-their old belief. They just grew up and made other decisions than their parents did.

    As a side issue, I’m having a discussion with a family member who basically takes your position–if you leave your parent’s choice of religion you should understand that you are no longer a member of the family. But I think he is mean, and I have known quite a number of painfully sweet Mormons.

    What do you think? Should I be allowed to speak to my Mormon family as an equal or should I just give up and stay away? I’m guessing your answer equates to the second clause.

  • Jeremy

    djinn,

    I think BHodges was simply asking you what your definition of the word “anti-mormon” is. He wasn’t saying that the definition you gave in your initial post was legitimate. In fact, I don’t know many mormons for whom that would be a legitimate definition of the word. If your family is truly treating you as poorly as you claim, branding you as an anti-mormon simply because you’ve left the church, I feel very badly for you.

    Also, I think it’s a large leap to say that all “anti-mormons” should be, or are, treated as “anti-family” by all, or even most, mormons.

  • djinn

    Here’s the OP’s statement in reply to mine in its entirety:

    “djinn, do you think there is a more legitimate definition for “anti-Mormon”?”

    He agreed with me, from my reading; leaving the church of one’s birth is all it takes to be demonized with the phrase “anti-mormon,” which, as I’m sure most can attest, has far reaching consequences to one’s family life. That is, you are out. Or a project, which equals out. Or you have wonderful relatives like my father which still treat you with kindness and consideration–but, word to the wise, avoid the aunts.

  • http://latterdaymainstreet.com/ Chino Blanco

    Re this bit in the OP:

    I don’t object to being called “anti-torture” or “anti-Linkin Park,” I wear the labels with a certain pride. But that’s just me.

    Nah, it’s not just you. I think it’s a valid example of how the term could be used to accurately describe someone. The dishonesty of the Ed Decker variety of anti-Mormonism marks it as mean-spirited; and the way too many Mormons use the term – as in the example that djinn provides from her own family – is similarly mean in its lack of honest acceptance of dissenting views.

    But does any of that make me any less of an anti-Mormon?

    As a vocal ex-mormon, trying to avoid wearing the anti label by insisting that I’m a nice guy or that I remain both vehemently anti-Ed Decker and sappily pro-family is probably no way for an honest person to behave.

  • http://www.smallsimple.wordpress.com Eric Nielson

    I know it when I see it.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    djinn, my question to you was an attempt to bring you closer to the original intention of my post, that is, finding out what people themselves think about the term anti-Mormon as a label, not what they think others think about it. It was hardly “demeaning, threatening, hostile.” Don’t mistake my attempt to keep things on topic as a tacit approval of your comments, or of the treatment you receive from family members. I’ve blogged about that subject elsewhere:

    http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2010/02/i-leave-church-but-they-wont-leave-me.html

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    One more thing, djinn. You said:

    As a side issue, I’m having a discussion with a family member who basically takes your position–if you leave your parent’s choice of religion you should understand that you are no longer a member of the family.

    This isn’t my position at all and nothing I said here would have suggested otherwise. I ask you to refrain from such uncharitable leaps in attribution. Thanks. :)

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    I heard the “I’m not anti-Mormon (person); I’m anti-Mormonism (the church, etc.,)” argument in a podcast a while back, and I cringed, because it was such a BAD criticism of the anti-Mormon label. I mean, basically, they affirmed what everyone else thinks of when they say “anti-Mormon,” just quibbled over the wording.

    I originally didn’t like the breadth of J N-S’s anti-Mormon model…it seems to include anyone who opposes some aspect of the church…

    However, when I look at the definition here, although it first sounds reasonable to me (e.g., anti-Mormons are not just those who disagree, but who are more interested in polemic, quote-mining, taking cheap shots, etc.,) it now seems to have a different problem.

    I suppose you don’t mind being called “anti-torture” because your paradigm for defining “anti-” is just an opposition to torture. It does not say whether that opposition is polemic or nonpolemic, irrational or rational, etc., (You’d probably believe that your opposition to torture is not like the anti-Mormon’s opposition to Mormonism.) Yet, when it gets to anti-Mormonism, you reserve the term for a specific kind of opposition — one that does not flatter the recipient of the label, and one that people would not probably self-adopt.

    Ultimately though, I’d rather have this narrower definition of anti-. I’d like to be able say, “you can disagree w/ the church and be opposed to it without being anti-Mormon.” because being anti-Mormon, imo, is about the methods used and not just the position taken. It just seems to me that this isn’t the way we would use anti- in any other case.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Andrew S. You said: I suppose you don’t mind being called “anti-torture” because your paradigm for defining “anti-” is just an opposition to torture. It does not say whether that opposition is polemic or nonpolemic, irrational or rational, etc.

    Right, that’s part of what I was hinting at in writing: I think the types are great for helping people recognize that perhaps things aren’t so black-and-white in terms of being pro or anti, but keeping the anti-Mormon label as part of the descriptor is still going to raise objections. Also, the term risks being watered down [etc.].

    I think your observation that my use of the anti prefix in this instance is rather specific and unique is about right.

    Note also Chris’s use above, he reserves it as a historical category of the 19th century (the sort of stuff you’d see exained in Givens’s Viper on the Hearth or probably Spencer Fluhman’s dissertation (which I still need to read!)

    TT: Yes, the mode of use for me is more strategic, but it still identifies something I honestly view as “anti-Mormon.” Someone else noted (WVS?) that bits of somethign can be anti-Mormon, a caution against labeling a person rather than a specific claim as anti-Mormon. I think that’s a useful way to look at it. That’s one reason my definition includes the “time” element. Suppose an Evangelical preacher lambasts Mormons on a radio show and the next week he’s after Catholics or someone else. His rant might have been anti-Mormon, but depending on his overall focus he may not be. How much effort, time, means are devoted to that cause? Someone like Aaron Shaf. for example qualifies as an “anti-Mormon” for those reasons. (I’ve had some amicable conversations with Shaf, and don’t think his tactics are always so Decker-outlandish, but the time he spends, the double-standards, the criticizing more than teaching his own view and the pointed focus on Mormonism seal the deal for me.)

  • Kevin Barney

    I think of the label “anti-Mormon” in a way similar to you, B.H. For me it’s more of a polemical style than anything else. I certainly reject overbroad application of the term; mere disagreement or rejection does not an anti-Mormon make. It is notoriously difficult to define precisely. For me, it is largely a function of time and energy expended, whether one is responsible with evidence and arguments, whether one ever expresses a positive explication of her own beliefs or only always a negative one of mine, and stuff like that. Viewing Mormonism with disdain is not; spending large amounts of time and treasure with the explicit goal of grinding Mormonism into the dust is.

    (Oh, and the semantic game of being against Mormonism, not Mormons, is really silly.)

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Where did that little semantic side-step start, I wonder? Someone came up with that distinction, most likely noting their love for Mormons as people and the desire to save them from the clutches of Satan, I reckon. I can’t imagine an atheist or agnostic critic coming up with that gambit.

  • ED Decker

    Gee. wow.. Just when I was going to write my next best selling book, The Confessions of a Professional Anti Mormon: Subtitled: Memoirs of that hidious Anti- Mormon Son of Perdition,,,, You go off trying to parse the demon invoking, faith promoting title of Anti-Mormon..

    Kinda takes all the fun out of it..

    Maybe I will repent, rejoin the church, write a book called something like:The Prodigal Son of Perdition returns to the only True church, sell a half million overpriced copies, leave the church again and fade away in to the outer darkness.

    Maybe I have been at this too long to take much of it too seriously any longer.

    You can read my own testimony of why I really left [Admin: at Ed's website].

    by the way, I do enjoy your posts here..

    Old Ed formerly known as Ed

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Ed, welcome to the discussion. I personally wouldn’t flatter you with the “son of perdition” label. Under my view of Mormon doctrine you don’t come near to qualifying for that. But having your polemics as a foil for better-informed or reasonable criticism is handy, so for that I do thank you, my prototypical anti-Mormon. :)

    Before you write your next book I have 2 recommendations.

    One by Booth, et.al. and one by Carnegie. Best luck!

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    By the way, in regards to Ed’s exit narrative, I suggest Seth R. Payne’s interesting paper: “Purposeful Strangers: A study of the ex-Mormon Narrative,” a paper delivered at the Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium, 9 August 2008. Bonus points for anyone who wants to go through Ed’s piece to situate it within Payne’s analysis!

  • http://bit.ly/ldsarc Mike Parker

    Kevin Barney (#19) has got it right — it’s all about where your energies are directed.

    I don’t like artichokes, but I spend absolutely zero time complaining about them. If someone asks me if I’d like to have one with my dinner, I tell them my feelings, but I don’t go out of my way to blog about my hatred for artichokes, how I was once an artichoke lover but now refuse to eat them, or how people who like artichokes are delusional. Doing that would make me anti-artichoke.

    Leaving the Church does not make one anti-Mormon. Complaining about the Church when asked does not make one anti-Mormon. Writing a blog about your awful experiences in the Church and why it’s an idiotic belief system? That’s anti-Mormon.

  • djinn

    Wow, BHodges, my father-in-law called me a daughter of perdition for not taking my daughter to primary. Clearly, standards have slipped.

    Speaking more seriously, in my experience, the phrase Anti-Mormon is an all-purpouse dismissive for a perceived non-mormon stance, heck my mom (my Mother!) got with that name (in Orem) by a neighbor for staying home with her sick husband–I was there. Poof. The problem being that once the term is used, the subject is so very easily marginalized into some sort of enemy, completely unnecessarily.

    In retrospect. and after asking myself difficult questions about my reading ability, I suspect your post and Kevin Barney’s follow-up is an attempt to soften the term–no one likes being unfairly demonized.

    The term “Anti-Mormon” functions in Mormon society, as far as I can tell, as a nice clear dividing line between those that are in and those that are out. Ouch. Thank you for this kind, generous post.

  • http://deleted djinn

    My father-in-law doesn’t act like that any more.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    I suspect your post and Kevin Barney’s follow-up is an attempt to soften the term–no one likes being unfairly demonized.

    Your interpretation of the post (and your initial aggressive response to it) may be due to the personal frustration you’ve had with members of your family who call you anti-Mormon. (Or members of your ward, who apparently use “anti-Mormon” differently than I have ever heard in my entire life.)

    The term is sometimes used quite ideosycratically (like your ward member, who frankly baffles me). My very little effort isn’t made to “soften” the term; if anything I seek to sharpen the term by making it more precise. I also wanted to hear what other people thought of using it. As you’ve seen, there are a variety of answers, but none here have matched your “anyone who leaves the church” definition.

    The term “Anti-Mormon” functions in Mormon society, as far as I can tell, as a nice clear dividing line between those that are in and those that are out. Ouch.

    Labels have a tendency to differentiate, that’s the nature of grouping folks. How people mark the boundaries is varied, and exploring the variations is the point here. (First-hand variations, not pass-along ones.)

  • http://www.newcoolthang.com/ Geoff J

    djinn,

    Based on the stories I have heard you tell about your family over time I am now anti-djinn’s-family. They sound like they totally suck and are an embarrassment to Mormonism.

  • http://www.newcoolthang.com/ Geoff J

    Mike Parker,

    I very much agree with your artichoke example.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    I love artichokes.

  • http://www.mormonmentality.org DKL

    Great post.

    BTW, I’ll stand by your side distributing anti-Linkin Park literature outside of Temple Square any time.

  • Mike H

    I agree with BHodges and Kevin but I sometime wonder if we shouldn’t restrict the term “anti-Mormon” to those who profit from criticizing the Church. This is actually a form of priestcraft per 2 Nephi 26: 29. Those who fight the Church professionally are less likely to see the truth as we see it, although some have:

    http://www.mormonfortress.com/anticonv.html

    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=10150149534920506&topic=14512

    http://www.blacklds.org/renee-olson-full-testimony

    I’m glad to see Ed Decker still has a sense of humor. It seems many anti-Mormon have lost that ability.

    Hugh Nibley once described the compulsion that apostates have with regard to the Church as follow:

    “Apostates become sometimes feverishly active, determined to prove to the world and themselves that it is a fraud after all. What is that to them? Apparently it is everything–it will not let them alone. At the other end of the scale are those who hold no rancor and even retain a sentimental affection for the Church–they just don’t believe the Gospel. I know quite a few of them. But how many of them can leave it alone? It haunts them all the days of their life. No one who has ever had a testimony ever forgets or denies that he once did have it–that it was something that really happened to him. Even for such people who do not have it any more, a testimony cannot be reduced to an illusion.”

    It does seem as though apostate Mormons can not just leave the Church. They have to justify leaving to themselves and then convince others they are right before they will be satisfied. Of course other see that they have lost the Spirit and their ability to see reason so those that actually have a witness of the Spirit remain unconvinced. I suspect that is why the “very elect” are not swayed.

    For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matt. 24: 24)

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Some problems I see with the priestcraft charge include the following non-exhaustive items:

    Practically anyone who receives money in exchange for something related to religion might fall under that precarious sword of Damocles. Also, I don’t want to assess the income of a given person before I declare their attempts anti-Mormon. And you end up looking really lame when the charge misses the mark, say the person is a volunteer, or makes very litle money at it when they might be able to do better under some other cause.

  • Mike H

    What you say is true. The full text of 2 Ne. 26: 29 states:
    He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
    Maybe the other qualifiers in the above verse would fit your definition of anti-mormon?
    Those who preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world,
    1. that they may get gain and
    2. get praise of the world;
    3. seek not the welfare of Zion.

  • Ben

    It may be useful to explore a way of defining Anti-Semitism: http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-f04.htm

    Natan Sharansky provides a “3-D test” to distinguish between legitimate criticism and outright anti-semitism. They are (adjusted by me):

    Demonization. When the Church’s or church members actions are blown out of all sensible proportion.

    Double standards. When criticism of the Church or church members is applied selectively—singled out for a behavior that is known of other groups and ignored.

    Delegitimization. When the Church’s or church members fundamental rights are denied.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Hmmm, interesting. I like the 3Dness.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    I dislike the artichoke analogy, if mainly because it is incredibly insulting to the church. You tend not to have a drastic time, energy, and financial commitment to artichokes (not even getting into the ideological and emotional connection). To compare church membership/agreement to artichoke preference strikes of a kind of relativistic argument, where nonrelativists generally are prone to say, “But some issues *aren’t* like food preferences — they are more serious.” I think in this instance, things relating to the church aren’t like food preferences in that they are more serious.

    When you stop eating artichokes, you generally don’t have to worry about strained relationships from your family and friends because they had little in common with you but artichokes (and your relationships were informally predicated on your acceptance of artichokes with the rest of them), and you also generally don’t have to worry about artichokes taking certain political and social actions that negatively affect you or people you know.

    As a result, I think it’s a little bit unreasonable and unrealistic to make the dividing line between an ex-mo and and anti-mo be, “Well, the good little ex-mo will fade away and be quiet, but the bad anti-mo won’t.”

    I’m not trying to justify anti-mormonism…I just think that there is an extent to which, given the nature of the church, we should *expect* that leaving isn’t a clean break and, that if someone doesn’t have much to say, we should wonder what kind of member they were in the first place.

    I received an email update about a comment from Ben comparing to “3-D” criteria for determining anti-semitism and I liked the summary…but I don’t see that comment anymore, so..?

  • http://www.newcoolthang.com/ Geoff J

    I see Ben’s comment Andrew. Hit refresh.

    I actually agree with your point about the problems with the artichoke analogy.

  • http://latterdaymainstreet.com/ Chino Blanco

    As a result, I think it’s a little bit unreasonable and unrealistic to make the dividing line between an ex-mo and and anti-mo be, “Well, the good little ex-mo will fade away and be quiet, but the bad anti-mo won’t.”

    Word.

    And I wonder if anyone else is struck by the deep irony of prolific bloggernaclers suggesting that earning the anti-Mormon label “is largely a function of time and energy expended”?

    I think #35 has provided a much more useful (not to mention, fair and reasonable) approach.

  • Flat Lander

    I agree with Andrew S.’s comment #37 that the artichoke analogy is very poor.

    Some people can leave the church and seemingly forget about it. It is no big deal to them, they never discuss it again, don’t visit these boards or ExMo boards or anything. Some people, however, have a very difficult time transitioning out of Mormonism, and there are likely to be many different reasons for that. One very common thread I have seen is many ExMormons feel they were lied to by the church and its leaders. They feel they were exploited and used, and they are now angry that they were treated so poorly. Then, factor in the complicated family relationships and other interpersonal relationships already mentioned in this thread, and it becomes all too clear that the food preference analogy is fatally flawed.

    I think many “anti-Mormons” are honestly and sincerely trying to do the same things they did when they were Mormon—namely, live an honest life, and share TRUTH with their loved ones. The difference in opinion of what constitutes TRUTH is but one source of difficulty.

    When I look at COJCOLDS I see an organization that does significantly more harm than good. Regarding the discussion of being anti-torture, I would consider myself “anti-torture.” In that same sense, I would consider myself “anti-Mormon(ism).” Since both have overwhelmingly negative effects on society, with minuscule positive benefits, I see only benefit in eradicating both from the face of the Earth. But, alas, that task is much easier said that done.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    re 38:

    ahaaaa, that was the issue, Geoff. That’s what I get for having a window of FPR open for an entire day while I go to class…

    re 39:

    Chino, I’m not getting what you’re saying about. Mormons should be spending a bunch of time and energy discussing Mormonism.

  • http://latterdaymainstreet.com/ Chino Blanco

    re 41: I’m cool with Mormons spending a bunch of time online defending Mormonism. I’m just curious as to what badge they earn when they do so? As far as I can tell, we antis have yet to come up with an equivalent, corresponding, catch-all term for these folks. Until then, I’m merely suggesting that before including “time and energy expended” as a criterion, it might be useful for some of these Mormon bloggers to step back and ask themselves: “I know you are but what am I?”

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    But defending a religion is a reasonable expectation of being a *part* of that religion. Do members “earn a badge” when they are diligent in attending meetings…or are they simply satisfying reasonable expectations of what they should do as members? Nevertheless, if you want to distinguish and make a different badge, then that badge is “apologist.” (literally, someone who speaks in defense…)

    The issue is some people don’t think that it is a reasonable expectation of ex-es or other non-members to spend such time and energy on something of which they are supposedly not a part. The counter isn’t JUST to say, “WELL MORMONS AS WELL…” but either to argue that 1) Mormons are not expected to spend time and energy (online?) or 2) ex-Mormons can be or are expected to spend time and energy (online).

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    A few words about responses to the artichoke analogy. Andrew S. makes the point that the church is not akin to a food, and of course, any analogy breaks down when we zoom in. That’s fine, but let’s consider the reasons. It is mentioned that alienation from family or friends and political raifications result from leaving the Church, and while that isn’t always true, it is true sometimes. But this isn’t restricted to the LDS Church, or even to religion in general, but can happen when someone changes political views. We can’t conclude that politics by nature is only harmful and that the bad side-effects represent the whole of politics. Further, we’re looking past the fact that *people* not an *institution* are causing difficulties. Church leaders have repeatedly encouraged families to love and accept those who choose different paths. You could argue that leaders haven’t said enough in this regard, but you can’t argue that Mormon doctrine demands the shunning of people who leave the church. Critics are also overlooking their own potential part of the problems they might experience. People who leave the church and then flaunt it probably shouldn’t expect warm fuzzies from friends and loved ones about it. (And not all who leave flaunt it or complain or make problems, either, and family ostricization isn’t simply the fault of the person who leaves, I am saying we should consider their potential impact on the situation as well, individually).

    As a result, I think it’s a little bit unreasonable and unrealistic to make the dividing line between an ex-mo and and anti-mo be, “Well, the good little ex-mo will fade away and be quiet, but the bad anti-mo won’t.”

    I certainly never said otherwise; did anyone else?

    And I wonder if anyone else is struck by the deep irony of prolific bloggernaclers suggesting that earning the anti-Mormon label “is largely a function of time and energy expended”?

    Not in the least. Take Kevin Barney for instance. He blogs quite often, but he isn’t just a cheerleader for all things Mormon. He talks about it because he believes it, or because he wishes to clarify something, etc. The irony doesn’t fit because the opposite of an anti-Mormon would be a pro-Mormon, and a pro-Mormon, like an anti-Mormon, could spend a good deal of time, etc. No irony there in the least. Which brings me to the next point, the interpreting of “anti-Mormon” as an insult or attempt to marginalize. As I have noted, I use it in a very specific way, and in a sense, to marginalize what I see as destructive, overbearing, or unreasonable criticism of Mormonism. Which brings me to FlatLander.

    Some people, however, have a very difficult time transitioning out of Mormonism, and there are likely to be many different reasons for that.

    Most def.

    One very common thread I have seen is many ExMormons feel they were lied to by the church and its leaders. They feel they were exploited and used, and they are now angry that they were treated so poorly.

    Sure there are people who feel this way. I think in many cases its a criticism lacking in charity or reason. The charge of “lying” is a harsh charge and conjurs up a conspiritorial air that LDS leaders, low and high, really know what’s up but are pulling the wool over the eyes of the innocent. I don’t really buy that. When people are mistaken or uninformed on a certain matter it just as well might be a mistake on their part, not an evil “lie.” Further, some of the things people say they were “lied to about” are still inaccurate. Look at the popularity of Grant Palmer’s very problematic book on “Mormon Origins,” this is the sort of thing people read and say “Boy, I was lied to!” and Palmer’s book has many of its own problems. So people go from being hoodwinked by the LDS Church to being hoodwinked by Palmer? (I wousldn’t call Palmer an “anti-Mormon, either, just a misinformed guy who needs a better grasp of presenting historical materials accurately and according to a solid methodology.)

    Then we get this from FlatLander:

    When I look at COJCOLDS I see an organization that does significantly more harm than good…Since both [the church and torture] have overwhelmingly negative effects on society, with minuscule positive benefits, I see only benefit in eradicating both from the face of the Earth.

    Look, I’ve been in plenty of boring church meetings myself, but this is simply over the top. If you thinkthe LDS Church is a beacon of human suffering I suggest you get out in the world a little more and open your eyes. IMO anyone who crusades against the Church with the belief that it is utterly evil (like torture!) is either fighting supreme evil in a very, very weak way (by popping into blog discussions and commenting) or has a very poor grasp on evil in the world and needs to get a sense of preportion.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    ps, how friggin annoying is the acronym “COJCOLDS”?

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Very annoying.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    I guess it’s better than “TSCC” and “LDS Inc.” which are favorites on the very interesting “recovery” website.

  • Flat Lander

    I use the term COJCOLDS, because the leaders of that particular branch of the Latter Day Saint movement have specifically and repeatedly asked NOT to be referred to as the “LDS Church” or the “Mormon Church,” and to type out the full name of that church is time consuming.

    And, I admit analogies, comparisons, metaphors do sometimes break down upon close examination. My mentioning that COJCOLDS does more harm than good in society was clearly labeled as my perspective and not offered as objective fact upon which we can all agree.

    The “I was lied to” feeling many Ex-mormons have isn’t harsh at all, in my opinion. The membership is taught very strict definitions of truth and lying, and there are dozens of talks by GAs and many manuals, etc. that suggest even telling partial truths is lying and unacceptable.

    There is evidence, however, that the lying in the church is in fact conspiratorial. There are the published accounts of Joseph Smith and John Taylor lying about polygamy. There are records of church early leaders stating that they MUST lie to protect the Prophet Joseph and the Church. There is significant evidence of dishonesty associated with many aspects of the Kirtland Bank Scandal, perpetrated by the leadership of the church. There are many records of church leaders returning to Utah in the early 20th Century and bragging that they lied to the Congress about polygamy. There are the recent statements by DH Oaks that criticism of leaders is NEVER appropriate, even when the criticism is true. There is the statement by BK Packer that not all truth is useful, and some should be avoided. Talk about bad analogies, in that same talk BK Packer compares teaching actual, factual, true church history to spreading disease. There are the statements by GB Hinckley saying things like “I don’t know that we teach that.”

    A recent COJCOLDS manual indicates that the investors in the Kirtland Bank were angry with the church because the bank’s directors were members of the church. That is at best a half truth, since the investors were angry with the church because the bank’s directors were the leaders of the church and were promised by Joseph Smith that God would guarantee their investments.

    The Teachings of the Prophets manual about Brigham Young only mentions one wife and if one read the entire book one would get the impression he had exactly one wife, and that the definition of Celestial Marriage that he was teaching didn’t involve multiple wives. The church’s own website about Joseph Smith talks singularly about his wife Emma, and no others, and gives an impression very different from what one would get from reading credible histories and documents from other sources.

    The church’s website about the prophets lists “significant dates” in the lives of all of the prophets, but lists no marriages for Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and other polygamous prophets. This seems to be lying by omission to many of us, and lying by omission is one of the things we were specifically taught in church NOT to do. So, yes, the lying seems conspiratorial and planned and orchestrated and sanctioned by the COJCOLDS leadership to many Ex-Mormons.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Here at FPR “LDS Church” or “Mormon Church” are just fine. We are rebels like that.

    I have also found that the capacity to ignore what Pres. Packer says and has said is useful.

  • http://www.newcoolthang.com/ Geoff J

    I wish all anti-Mormons were as rabid and crazy-acting as Flat Lander.

  • Flat Lander

    I wish all faithful Mormons were as willing to ignore Pres. Packer as Chris H.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Fair enough, I’m just saying COJCOLDS annoys me. :)

    And, I admit analogies, comparisons, metaphors do sometimes break down upon close examination. My mentioning that COJCOLDS does more harm than good in society was clearly labeled as my perspective and not offered as objective fact upon which we can all agree.

    Granted. No one said otherwise. My point is: even if that is one’s view I believe such a person lacks a potentially greater and more global perspective.

    there are dozens of talks by GAs and many manuals, etc. that suggest even telling partial truths is lying and unacceptable

    Being mistaken or having a different opinion or perspective, or other subjective matters, doesn’t qualify for a “lie” in my book. I use the term, as I do with anti-Mormon, very deliberately to refer to a knowingly misleading falsehood. (I also recognize more breathign room than you apparently do, for instance if someone asks me if I like their new hair cut and I think it’s terrible I likely will find a different way to answer, ‘my that is really interesting!’ or something. Or how about lying to protect the Jews in the attic in a WWII situation? Or what about the lies that you’ve told? Does that put you past acceptability and place you in the camp of the horrors of God’s green earth? I’d say no.)

    You then proceed to list the usual suspects, polygamy, Kirtland bank, etc. without due regard for historical records or conflicting opinions. Does that mean you’re lying to me about them? You didn’t tell me how the Kirtland Bank episode is handled in B.H. Roberts’s “Comprehensive History,” and thus by not sharing that perspective can I call you a liar too? Of course not. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty I would like to see different in Church manuals, etc. but again, I wouldn’t call the problems “lies.”

    “were promised by Joseph Smith that God would guarantee their investments

    This is a good example of what I mean when I say your scholarship is lacking. It seems to me your criticism about how the Church manual handles the episode is marred by your own misrepresentation. You fault the manual for not telling the whole story while you are also not telling the whole story (or differing views on it).

    As for polygamy on the church website, I would think it fabulous to have that information there. I’ve blogged on that subject elsewhere, it’s a conversation for another day though.

    My overall point is, you don’t live up to the standards you hold the Church to, and thus fall into the same evil camp as they (accd. to your own standards, not mine). By calling these issues “lies” you leap to the least charitable explanation when other explanations are possible.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    You can have the last word, btw.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    The trick it ignoring Geoff J, who wears jean shorts.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    B,

    Please, refer back to the caption in the OP. I alway get the last word.

  • http://www.newcoolthang.com/ Geoff J

    Lol — There’s another example of your Mormon lying Chris H! Why don’t you tell these fine Mormbots about the secret you divulged just yesterday about your apparel!! Your jean shorts confession was another example of the fashion evils you Mormons perpetrate on the world…

    (Look no further than to Flat Lander on proper dress and grooming standards.)

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Geoff,

    Today I am wearing the same jean shorts with a dress shirt (untucked). I am also wearing crocs. I think this has more to do with being a prof than it does being a Mormon.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Chris, we just received 34 hoodie orders for a fellow whose mailing address says “Chris Aych.” I sense a shift in power coming? (I’m the guy with the beard on the left.)

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    My apologies to Steve Evans that we don’t carry the 3XXL.

  • Flat Lander

    Referring to your original discussion of “anti-Mormons.”

    I do proudly admit that I am “anti-Mormon(ism),” because I have seen great harm done by Mormonism.

    Many Mormons seem to use the “anti-Mormon” as a “thought stopping term” and if someone or something is “anti-Mormon” then they ignore anything from the “anti-Mormon” source as evil and untrustworthy.

    I associate with a great many Ex-Mormons now, including people whose marriages broke up solely (they claim) because they stopped believing the truth claims of Mormonism and their spouse could no longer love them. Many Mormons seem to actually believe that a demon has possessed the souls of people who no longer believe and that apostates are literally dangerous.

    Many of the Internet Mormons are much more tolerant and accepting and open than the Chapel Mormons. Many Chapel Mormons seem to take a very literalistic approach and “believe as a child” “have unquestioning faith” and cannot allow for even the slightest deviation. GB Hinckley said repeatedly things like “It’s ALL TRUE, or it’s ALL FALSE” and many others have made these pronouncements as well.

    I applaud the Internet Mormons for figuring out that much of this stuff isn’t meant to be literal. I think the Internet Mormons are doing their beloved church a great disservice by not helping the church to a new and improved level of enlightenment.

    Unfortunately, many Internet Mormons would be seen as “anti-Mormon” by the most literalistic True Believing Mormons if the Internet Mormons tried to share their enlightenment. And, once they applied the “anti-Mormon” label to you, they would see you essentially as they see me.

    It’s a tough spot to be in, and I feel for you guys. I wish you luck, because as the church retrenches into more and more correlated teachings, I think the chasm between Internet and Chapel Mormons will grow.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    re 44? (can’t see the leftmost number of comments):

    B,

    First, sorry for the length. it’s my Unique Evil Obnoxious Ex-Mo Vice.

    I don’t think the point is to say this is a problem that only happens in the Mormon church. I’d say that wherever it happens, we’re going to see the same kind of “backlash” actions taking place.

    But I suspect that you’re still underestimating the depth that Mormon culture and religion reaches. So while these things aren’t restricted to the church or to religion in general, I think that the LDS church is more pervasive into family life than some other churches, and has deeper ramifications than certain other things.

    Whenever the people v. institutions argument comes up, I don’t know precisely how to respond. In a way, everything is about people. The institution is nothing *but* people.

    But if you want to frame it as leaders vs. members, or official vs. speculation/folk, or whatever, then I think there are still issues. You mention that church leaders have repeatedly encouraged families to love and accept those who have taken different paths, but I think there are several issues with this:

    1) Church leaders have said a lot of things over time. So one can use “church leaders have said” for nearly any position. Since church leaders generally phase out old doctrine quietly (rather than sweeping public repudiations and analyses of “what went wrong”), different members can think different doctrines (or explanations or interpretations of them) are OK. Members each have their own processes for granting relative “weights” to the authorities of various authorities past and present, and that’s not something that has been universalized.

    2) The more pertinent issue than “church leaders have said” is “church members have internalized.” If church members have internalized past positions, or cultural positions, or speculative positions that make orthodoxy or orthopraxy more important, then church leaders today won’t reach that audience. To say something like “Well then, the *people* are the problem, not the institution” isn’t too comforting, because the people are who we deal with, the people live the policies, shape the policies, etc., If we have this body of Christ metaphor, and all the people are organs, then it’s not really comforting to say, “All of our organs are failing, but the body is ok.”

    3) For church leaders to tell family members to love and accept doesn’t clarify *how* they are to love and accept. For example, “love and accept” may mean, “Pray that they will return to the fold and try to pressure them to come back.” It may mean “guilt and shame them.” It may mean, “Since the church doesn’t support gay relationships, don’t entertain a ‘wayward child’s’ sinful relationship.” It may mean accept the wayward family member as a son/daughter of God, but do not accept his/her beliefs, actions, etc., which are contrary to revealed understanding of beliefs/actions befitting of a son/daughter of God (according to whatever scriptures or other church authorities the member has internalized.)

    and you know what: I UNDERSTAND the tension. Because the definitions of “love and accept” that other people want directly impose against religious goals. (e.g., “If you accept me, then you’ll support [x thing I do that I know doesn't agree with your religion].” I UNDERSTAND this just won’t be acceptable. Someone’s going to lose.)

    So, there’s a lot of room for abuse.

    I mean, could you imagine how “Avoid even the appearance of evil” can be abused? Nay, how it HAS been abused, because it isn’t even interpreted correctly (because “appearance” doesn’t mean anymore what it once did, as several bloggernacle articles have addressed) I mean, you say, “you can’t say mormon doctrine requires shunning…” but many members certainly interpret doctrines in such ways without being disciplined for it. So, for someone who finds himself shunned with family members who bring up familiar scriptures or familiar sound bites from church leaders in support of their actions, it feels like being pinned to the wall. They have the church support here. They have the scriptural support. (Even if they really don’t and are misinterpreting things.

    I think you have good points regarding critics’ underestimations of their own possible culpabilities in bumpy exits (I cringe at some of the things my fellow DAMU associates do and say around the interwebs…which of course makes me certain that someone is cringing at the stuff I do and say.) BUT I don’t completely concede this point, because I feel the flip side is that people are deprived of a voice. “Just never complain, because if you do, you’re bringing all of the backlash on yourself. Never air your doubts, never raise up issues that trouble you, because if someone is threatened by it, it’s your fault.”

    I certainly never said otherwise; did anyone else?

    See Mike Parker’s criteria for an anti-mormon vs. someone who leaves the church. The good ex-mormon leaves the church and doesn’t bring it up unless if asked.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Flat,

    No need to feel for me. I am happy. This mostly has to do with my generous sense of irony…Diet Coke helps.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Andrew, we’ve discussed this exact thing before, I don’t see anything new here so I just refer back to my older responses because it’s easy!

    http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2010/02/i-leave-church-but-they-wont-leave-me.html

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    I think the chasm between Internet and Chapel Mormons will grow

    And I think the “chapel v. internet mormon” division is largely pseudo-social science; the unrigorous philosophies of men mingled with polemics.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Oops I said you would have last word, my bad. Quit introducing new weak arguments! ;)

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    PS- for an interesting take on the loaded term “True Believer,” check out Hoffer’s old study. I read it at the advice of Shawn McCraney. It’s cheaper than dirt on Amazon. I was surprised how often it could just as soon apply to Recovering Mormons as to still-around Mormons. Let’s get rid of “TBM” and start calling them “SAM’s.”

  • Flat Lander

    From #66: “It’s cheaper than dirt on Amazon”

    Can you buy dirt on Amazon? I can’t imagine it is cost effective once you consider shipping. When I need to buy dirt (rarely) I do it locally. I believe in supporting the local economy whenever possible, and purchasing dirt would certainly seem to be an example of buying local being better than buying from Amazon.

  • http://rameumptom.weebly.com Rameumptom

    I consider anyone who disagrees with me on any point, religious or otherwise, is an Anti-Mormon. Why? Because I am a Mormon, and therefore if they disagree with me, they are against me, a Mormon. :)

    In reality, I pretty much agree with your view, Blair. An Anti-Mormon is someone who spends a particularly large amount of their life trying to destroy the Church, even if it means they must use lies, damn lies, or statistics.

  • Flat Lander

    Rameumptom,
    I think the dangerous Anti-Mormons are the ones who use the Truth that BK Packer finds “not useful.” Truth, for example, that is not “faith promoting.”

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/ BHodges

    Can you buy dirt on Amazon? Of course.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Flat,

    You have had your say. Please move on.

  • Flat Lander

    Have I acted badly, Chris? If so, I apologize.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    FL: go buy a hoodie.

  • Flat Lander

    I have a hoodie that I wear on cold days. I don’t understand the reference here.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    FL, I meant a limited edition hoodie: http://tinyurl.com/399lumg

  • http://rameumptom.weebly.com Rameumptom

    Oooohhhhh!!!! Do those come in tie-die?

  • Flat Lander

    I gotta get something in tie-dye. I’ve been wanting something in tie-dye, and a tie-dye hoodie might just be kinda cool. Oh, well, thanks for the suggestion.

    The photo of the guy with a beard, mustache, glasses, and funny headwear reminds me of something I’ve seen somewhere before . . . probably kindred spirits . . .

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    Great Scott, FL, are you BHodges from the future? Because if so, you are *seriously* threatening the space/time continuum by showing up here.

  • Flat Lander

    The dark side awaits . . .

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    According to you, my being a member of the church means I already am part of the evil empire, remember? Future me is not inspiring confidence. :/

  • http://www.newcoolthang.com/ Geoff J

    I can’t get over how much I am amused by Flatlander’s site. I almost wonder if he is really a faithful Mormon doing a spoof on insane, repulsive anti-Mormons. Sort of one of these deep cover situations…

  • http://rameumptom.weebly.com Rameumptom

    Wow Geoff! That’s really deep. I just thought of Flatlander as one of those AntiMormons (or is it Anti-Moron in his case? Pro-Moron?) that we’ve been discussing.

  • http://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com Andrew S.

    Flat Lander is definitely the leader of all the morons. don’t know anything about Mormon. ;)

  • Flat Lander

    Geoff,
    I’m glad you enjoy it. It appeals to different folks on different levels.

    And, BHodges, I am one of the people who draws a distinction between the “leadership” of what you called the evil empire, and the followers. Followers escape all the time. In #44, above, BHodges draws the distinction between the “people” who cause problems (in that case shunning ex-mo family members) not the “institution.” He then positively cites the “leadership” of the institution which suggests that the “leadership” of the institution IS the institution, not the followers (like himself) or those other follower people who shun Ex-Mo family members). Here, we are largely in agreement. The leadership is essentially the “institution” and the people who follow them are not responsible for the actions of the leaders. I do think, however, that the leaders are to some degree responsible for the actions of those they lead.

    So while it seems to me this “evil empire” as you term it, is led by men who don’t have a high regard for the interests of their followers, the followers are generally devoted to their leaders, but there are exceptions as noted by Chris’s reservation of the right to ignore Pres. Packer and what Pres. Packer teaches is “useful.”

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    I didn’t realize Flat Lander had a site. Had I been more familiar with his work I might have ducked out much earlier.

  • Flat Lander

    BHodges,

    I have to admit I am completely unfamiliar with your body of work or your blog or anything about you, but I engaged here and tried to play nice, based on what you wrote here.

  • Flat Lander

    P.S. — But, now, that I’ve visited your Life on Gold Plates and read your bio, I also admit, I probably would have bowed out of this conversation long ago (in reality, would probably never have posted to begin with).

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Don’t hate BHodges for being a Ute.

  • http://www.lifeongoldplates.com BHodges

    If only, Flat Lander, if only.

    I think the discussion has reached max capacity, let’s shut it down and go get some ice cream. The empty comments in the parallel post at LifeOnGoldPlates remain open for any questions/comments that haven’t been addressed.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Ice cream on BHodges, Sweet. Thanks for the post and comments. (See #55).


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