Christians, Mormons, and Polytheism

Christians, Mormons, and Polytheism August 28, 2012

“We represent the rise of something Christian leaders thought they had vanquished long ago, and we should never forget that initial vanquishing involved the sword far more than persuasion.”Gus diZerega

At the beginning of this year influential conservative evangelical Christian, and former presidential candidate, Gary Bauer engaged in a “thought experiment” for USA Today. The conclusion of this experiment was that voters should  ”support policies that align with their values,”except in once instance.

I wouldn’t vote for a pagan, I’d vote for a Catholic or a Jew whose policies reflect the traditional understanding of marriage and defend the sanctity of human life much more readily than I would vote for the man next to me in the pew who doesn’t support those things.”

In short, political expediency is all well and good to further conservative causes, but there is a theological line in the sand, and if you’re a Christian that line is drawn at polytheism. This isn’t normally a problem for Republicans, who since the Reagan era have tended to nominate socially conservative Christians for office. But the Republican presidential candidate for 2012 is Mitt Romney, and Mr. Romney is a Mormon, something that makes a certain segment of the Republican base very uneasy.


“That is a mainstream view, that Mormonism is a cult,”  [Pastor Robert Jeffress] told reporters here. “Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian.”

Romney is no fool, he knows a number of evangelical Christians are wary, at best, of his faith, and he’s tried his best to reassure them that his social agenda lines up with theirs. However, as Bible scholar Ben Witherington recently pointed out, a big sticking point is the matter of polytheism.


Mormons are polytheists, not monotheists. [emphasis mine] That is, they believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate beings, thus denying the essential monotheistic statements of both the OT and NT that God is One. […] Mormons believe that even God the Father has, and apparently, needs a body, denying that God in the divine nature is spirit. Indeed they believe that God the Father is an exalted man! […] The goal of Mormon soteriology is that we all become as ‘gods’ become both immortal and divine, blurring the creator/creature distinction which was already badly blurred by a theology that suggested that God is actually a sort of uber-human being, with less flaws. One rather familiar teaching is ‘as God was, so we are. As God is, so we shall be’.”

In explaining why he wrote this post now, Witherington explained that he didn’t want Christians to have “false assumptions” going to the ballot box about who they were voting for. In short, if you vote for Romney, you are voting for a polytheist, not a Christian monotheist. Luckily for Romney, conservative Christians have been working to delegitimize President Obama’s Christian faith for years now, so that the choice is between a fake/un-biblical Christian vs. a polytheist Mormon who lines up with conservative social teachings. Pastor Robert Jeffress, quoted above, revealed as much after he caused controversy with his “Mormonism is a cult” statements.

 “I’m going to instruct, I’m going to advise people that it is much better to vote for a non-Christian who embraces biblical values than to vote for a professing Christian like Barack Obama who embraces un-biblical values.”

What’s interesting about this whole issue is that it tests the waters for the day when a truly non-Christian candidate runs for president of the United States. You’d hardly have to change the above quotes if a Hindu, Buddhist, or even a Pagan, someday managed to overcome the massive structural and cultural impediments to non-Christians in our political system and managed to receive a major party’s nomination. It is only thanks to a massive amount of PR work on the part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that America is as comfortable with Mormonism as it is, but even that can’t stop some Mormon candidates from flaming out when they try to reach the heights Romeny has. This is mainly due to the fact that a important part of the Republican party’s base are conservative Christians who are reluctant (to put it nicely) to vote for what they perceive as a non-Christian.

Despite the fact that our very origins as a nation are very “pagan,” many in the United States aren’t ready to elect non-Christians to high office, instinctively assuming that Christians are more moral, giving, or “normal.” This will change over time, but not before many men and women will have to run a gauntlet defending their personal beliefs in a very public manner. Polytheism, the belief in  many gods, makes certain Christians very uneasy because we represent a specter thought long defeated. We are supposed to be the boogie men slaughtered on Mount Carmel, never to return, powerless in the face of true Christianity. We aren’t supposed to be thriving, running for office, or even making demands for fair and equal treatment. We’re simply not supposed to exist.

Romney’s ascendancy creates a tension for the evangelical power-players, because they know they have to support him, and they also know many of their supporters simply won’t , often because they themselves labeled his religion a cult. However, terms like “polytheism”, and “cult”, are going to keep losing their impact as we move into a post-Christian era, and eventually electing a Mormon, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a Wiccan, will be based on their policies and stances, not their theology. Until then, Christians are going to have to wrestle with Mormon “polytheism” at the polls come November.

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102 responses to “Christians, Mormons, and Polytheism”

  1. Thank you for keeping this issue before us. Though I never thought I’d have my electoral and Pagan circuits coincide over a Mormon or a Heathen (Halloran).

  2. Monotheism is an intrinsically incoherent ideology. Every form of so-called “monotheism” is full of inconsistencies and contradictions. This is true of Judaism, Islam and Christianity in all their forms.

    Also, it is important to remember that monotheism is intrinsically intolerant, therefore every form of monotheism has a strong tendency to attack every other form of monotheism … as non-monotheistic (and, thereby, providing evidence of their monotheisticalness).

    But the inability of monotheists to construct a rational theology, or to play nicely among themselves, doesn’t make them polytheists. It just makes them irrational and intolerant.

    And does anyone really believe that Mormonism is any more “polytheistic” than Catholicism? The fact is that all of the Christian sects making up the present day right-wing Christian fundamentalist coalition would be burning each other at the stake if any of them had the power to do so and thought they could get away with it. That is just how they roll.

    The Catholic theologian who founded the magazine First Things once wrote a long essay in which he argued that Mormons aren’t even Christian enough to count as proper heretics! Srsly:

  3. I keep getting adverts for Mormonism on the sidebar of this very blog.

    Truly, they are insidious.

    I have a couple Latin quotes for this kind of situation:

    simillimum est, locum in quo praedicatorem Christianum protervum invenies,
    ventrem leoninum esse

    deum irrites unum, sescenti tibi iam supersint

    Sorry for being Vulgate. 😉

  4. We keep saying ‘intolerant’ as a bad thing, but the last 1500 years or so has shown just how effective intolerance can be in getting your agenda across.

  5. I notice how you falsely claimed the church name to be the “Church of Latter day Saints” instead of the correct name, “The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter day Saints” to further your bogus argument that Mormons are not Christians. Your journalistic and moral integrity and is astounding.

  6. My bogus arguments? Your reading comprehension needs some work. In any case, the name thing was an oversight on my part, I’ve fixed it.

    In any case, if you actually read my post, you might notice that I’m largely sympathetic to the Mormons. It’s the conservative Christians who are busy labeling the Mormons as a polytheistic cult (as if that were a bad thing).

    Here at The Wild Hunt, we LIKE polytheism!

  7. As a former Mormon, I can say that technically, Mormons are polytheistic or henotheistic, but practically or functionally monotheistic. Not only do they believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct persons (unified only in purpose) — the former two having physical bodies and the third being disembodied — but they also believe that there are other (an infinite number of) “Heavenly Fathers” (and Heavenly Mothers) ruling over other worlds/universes. They are quick, however, to say that the one Heavenly Father who rules this world is the only one they worship or concern themselves with. So, like ancient Israelites worshiping Yahweh, while not denying the existence of Ba’al across the border, Mormons believe in an infinite number of deities (hoping to become one themselves some day) but only worship one: Heavenly Father (Heavenly Mother exists but is ignored). They do not “worship” Jesus, but do honor him. Jeez, that’s complicated when I try to explain. Somehow it was all made clear to me when I was 12 years old. So, one the one hand they are even more polytheistic than than suggested by the Witherington quote above, but they are also less polytheistic than suggested, being what I would call “functionally monotheistic”.

  8. In short, they are being told to vote for a white polytheist who will kiss the right butts instead of a black man who actually might worship Jesus. Wow. That’s special sectarian hypocrisy.

  9. John, would you mind going into more detail about the Heavenly Mother and how She does or doesn’t fit into Mormon theology and practice?

  10. Jessica, it was an accident and you seem to have overreacted. Personal attacks aren’t necessary. Personally – and I don’t profess to speak for all Pagans, though I do know some who agree with me – I don’t have a dog in the race of whether Mormons are or aren’t Christians. It’s really not our fight. And even if some might disagree with you on theological terms, self-identification is usually VERY important in Pagan circles. If you identify as a Christian, awesome, I’ll call you a Christian.

    And for the record – I do think of Mormons as a sect of Christianity. Anyone whose theology deals primarily with Jesus, and who identifies as a Christian, /is/ one in my book. Though again, not my religion anymore, not my fight.

  11. Is the ‘Heavenly Mother’ connected, in any way, to the ‘Queen of Heaven’ mentioned (repeatedly) in Jeremiah 44?

  12. Thanks for posting this. It touches on an important issue that we need to face head on as Christianity continues to be numerically dominant, and as violence against various non-Christian religions unfortunately continue. There is much here for Pagans, Mormons and Evangelicals to reflect soberly upon.

    I think this is inter-religious work needs to be done, such as dialogue between religions traditions, as well as intra-religious work within religious traditions such as evangelical Christianity where much work needs to be done so that they will feel more comfortable with non-Christian candidates in politics in the public square.

    And keep in mind that for some of us evangelicals, particularly those working in dialogue and peacemaking, we don’t see you as boogeymen and don’t think you should be slaughtered. Some here who post comments will question the sincerity of my statement in this last paragraph, thinking it nothing more than one of expediency to cover stealth evangelism, but this would be unfair. I have Pagan friends and dialogue partners and work for your equal rights along with those of Muslims, Sikhs, and all others.

    Thanks again for raising this important but difficult issue.

  13. The LDS concept of Heavenly Mother would technically be Heavenly Mothers because Mormon theology necessitates eternal polygamy — not to mention the time for 18B+ human soul-spirits needing to be birthed before the earth was created. The 13.8B years of our universe doesn’t allow much time, actually, for the LDS concept for eternal progression (the hierarchy of many Heavenly Fathers) to happen unless there are oodles and oodles of Heavenly Mothers 😉

    Really, the Heavenly Mother concept is only inferred and intuited by extension from other theology Mormons are a little more clear about. As firm as it gets, canon wise, is an aside mention in the lyric of one of their hymns by one of Joseph Smith’s plural wives. Wikipedia details pretty well the little belief structure there really is: What strength the idea has to Mormons resides more in folk aspects of shared narratives and worldview.

  14. Daniel, our dog in this race is that, if a Romney loss can be explained most easily by Evangelical reluctance to vote for a Mormon, then the no-longer-quite-fringe elements of Christianity that also attack us Pagans would be politically strengthened.

  15. The polytheistic part isn’t a bad thing, the cult part most definitely is. My basic sniff-test for “does this group have some cult issues going on” is “what happens when someone tries to leave?” Mormonism tends to flunk that test pretty spectacularly, in part by chasing after ex-Mormons (I’ve ex-Mormon friends who moved halfway across the country and still had Mormon leaders show up at their door 10 years later trying to guilt them into coming back) so badly. Which isn’t even getting into the misogyny and homophobia of the LDS church. It’s kind of frustrating that it often feels as though the only choices are to tolerate Mormonism without criticism (and as an ex-cult member myself, that’s a hard thing to ask) or to criticize it on grounds of being a “cult” by Christian theological standards. I don’t care if it is or isn’t “Christian enough”, that’s not my problem. I care that it acts like a cult.

  16. Are Mormons Christian? For the moment, let’s say “yes”. Am I a Christian? Let’s also agree that I am. In both cases, Mormons and I have been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit/Ghost (Mormons don’t say “Holy Spirit”). Here’s the sticking point. If I convert to Mormomism, I have to be re-baptized. That means that Mormons don’t accept that anyone other than them are Christians! And, if a Mormon becomes a Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian (any other denomination?)–they must be re-baptized. So, we’re all rejecting each other as being Christian.
    My point is that as much as Mormons want to be accepted as Christians, they don’t accept “us” as Christians. How ironic is that?

  17. Mormon belief is not well developed on this subject though there have been a couple LDS scholars speculate that Asherah, Ishtar, Isis, et al may be ancient concepts echoing a general belief many Mormons think is natural to infer from their theology (humans on earth in marriage-parental [plural] relationships can progress to god/desshood in the pattern that has happened for an eternity before to other deified humans on other planets). But again this is more folksy inference. The polygamous aspect is even diminished much in worldview importance. Mormon belief is not well structured on this subject.

  18. I forgot this: Even the Catholic church accepts my baptism even though I’m Protestant, since I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit/Ghost. I believe that anyone who was intentionally and specifically baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit/Ghost (no matter what denomination), should be accepted fully by other Christian denominations.

  19. I’m LDS and would like to make two points.
    First, the Bible is very contradictory whether Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are one or three seperate beings. In a few verses it states they are one. However, in many verses Christ is speaking about doing His Father’s will and he constantly prays to the Father (was he praying to Himself?) and when He was baptized there was a voice from heaven, Christ was in the water, and the Holy Ghost descended in the form of a dove. There’s also evidence we could make that they are three separate beings.
    Second, a comment on the state of the Holy Trinity today, after the resurrection of Christ. We know that Christ lived, died for our sins and rose again the third day. His resurrection is a reunion of his body and spirit and he rose to heaven. We believe the definition of resurrection to be a permanent state and that Christ still has his body. He ascended to heaven to be with the Father.
    There’s more to say but I’ll stop there to keep it simple. We belive that the three are all part of One – God, or in other words the three are unified in purpose.
    I hope that helps shed some light on how I beleive the three beings to exist,

  20. After reading the middle paragraph on the nature of their god between “regular” Christians and Mormons, I’m only left with the question of why any of that matters. It sounds like mental masturbation with no practical use.

    But then again, I’m just a simple heathen. I guess my mind just can’t handle the awesome power of…oh forget it, I can’t say it with a straight face.

  21. ” We belive that the three are all part of One – God, or in other words the three are unified in purpose”

    See, I grew up Roman Catholic and that’s how it was explained to me as a child as well. That, or they’re all parts of the same noncorporeal being, and a part of that temporarily became corporeal. Either way, it made sense to me back then that they could be both 3 and 1.

  22. Not in official doctrine. Some Mormon thealogians may have suggested the same, but the LDS Church does not recognize theaology or even theology when it is outside of the Church hierarchy.

  23. Mormon Apostle Erastus Snow wrote:
    “Now, it is not said in so many words in the Scriptures, that we have a Mother in heaven as well as a Father. It is left for us to infer this from what we see and know of all living things in the earth including man. The male and female principle is united and both necessary to the accomplishment of the object of their being, and if this be not the case with our Father in heaven after whose image we are created, then it is an anomaly in nature. But to our minds the idea of a Father suggests that of a Mother.”

    ““What,” says one, “do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?” Most certainly I do. If I believe anything that god has ever said about himself, and anything pertaining to the creation and organization of man upon the earth, I must believe that Deity consists of man and woman. . . . there can be no god except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. . . . There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female.”

    She is alluded to in one LDS hymn, “Oh My Father”:

    “In the heavens are parents single?
    No, the thought makes reason stare.
    Truth is reason: truth eternal
    tells me I’ve a mother there.

    “When I leave this frail existence,
    When I lay this mortal by,
    Father, Mother, may I meet you
    in your royal courts on high?”

    Unfortunately this is about all there is to be found in official Mormon doctrine about “Heavenly Mother.” She is rarely spoken of among Mormons and Mormons do not publicly worship or pray to “Heavenly Mother”. Those who have have been sanctioned. (You can Google the “September Six” or BYU professor Gail Houston.) The official explanations for this are transparently patriarchal.

    Although Heavenly Mother is not spoken of often, there are frequent references to heavenly parents (plural), the most conspicuous being the recent Proclamation on the Family by the LDS leadership, part of which declares: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

  24. By that standard every church with an active proselytizing mission would be cult. The fact that they find you years later is just a function incredible organization. If you apply Bonewits’ cult danger evaluation test (, Mormonism will not score any worse than any other well-organized Christian church. The “cult” word is one Mormons are very senisitve about and should not be flung about loosely.

  25. John, I’m not perturbed by calling other churches cults. Have you a reason other than that and Mormon sensitivity for not calling it a cult? (Ie, is its ABCDEF score modest absolutely rather than not egregious comparatively?)

  26. John, there are no major religions/churches with “active proselytizing” programs besides Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mahikari, and the Unification/Moonies. Christian missions just don’t tend to work the way Mormons view the word “proselytization.” I don’t want to sound condescending, but I think you need to get out an experience the world more.

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t unhealthy aspects that are “cultish” in many religious traditions, but I have to agree with Northern_Light that — all nuancing aside — the best measure to look at (Mormon or otherwise) is how such churches/groups treat those who leave. Some churches do worse at this than Mormons, but there is still vast room in Mormonism for improvement were this unhealthy aspect to be healed.

  27. Alternatively it can be argued that those who must use coercive means to “spread their message”, thereby automatically reveal just how unappealing their message really is.

  28. Whether the Bible, especially the New Testament’s context, describes a contradictory or paradoxical Trinity fundamentally comes does to whether you accept the common confession of belief that was in place within 15 years of the foundation of The Way, and solidified via the ecumenical councils to combat early interpretive variations. Creedal believers or otherwise, if we accept the Bible as an authoritative text we hold to interpretive tradition that is more than the primary languages themselves, and as such there is a history of disagreement — but not as much on this subject as you might think.

    That said, what you are assuming is creedal Trinitarian belief is actually modalism (three modes or personalities of one being), which isn’t what is believed. What is believed is that there is one God in essence coexisting in a community identity of three separate persons. The historic disagreements in the early church were never a henotheistic social trinity (what Mormonism teaches).

  29. “…..Mormonism will not score any worse than any other well-organized Christian church…”

    That’s not terribly reassuring. More basic than the cult issue to me is the fact that Mormonism’s apparent technical polytheism in no way creates any substantial ties between them and the greater pagan/polytheist movement. We share no cultural or spiritual DNA whatsoever. I support Mormon’s rights to free exercise of religion as the rest of us, and abhor the idea of any religious test for office. That said, I have no desire to live under their regime. They are, where the rubber meets the road, no different than dominionist evangelicals or the RCC.

  30. @facebook-1170545330:disqus I don’t fling it around loosely, I throw it with care having observed the fallout of Mormons trying to extricate themselves from Mormonism and having the church going way way beyond to try to get them back– no, most churches won’t do that, organization or no organization. I’ve never heard of a Catholic or a mainline Christian denomination that shows up on the doorstep of a walkaway ten years later. That’s not organized, that’s creepy as hell. If your “no” isn’t respected in any way, that’s a giant red flag. If your family breaks contact the moment you leave (not in every Mormon family, but in many), that’s also a red flag.

    It’s a longer comment than I have time to make, but I have issues with the Bonewits framework– the cult I was in was plenty darn culty, but to score it properly you’d need to be well enmeshed in it. Cults lie to recruits, they don’t show off their worst organizational elements to people who aren’t well ensconced in it (and once you’re in deep enough to know enough to score it badly on the Bonewits framework, trying to leave will leave psychological skid marks). How people who leave/try to leave are treated is a basic thing that can be observed from outside– if it’s problematic, with -any- group, I’d advise a potential convert to avoid the group, because if they don’t respect your consent on one thing, it’s almost assured that the problem runs deeper.

  31. It’s very simple to disassociate yourself
    from the LDS Church. You simply give a signed letter (on even a scrap of a paper
    bag) to the Bishop asking that your name be removed from the records of the
    Church. He’ll probably get in touch with you to verify that it’s your name confirm
    your intent lest there be some duress involved (battered wife syndrome perhaps)
    and your name will be removed. Otherwise it is reasonably assumed you do have
    some affinity for the Church and if fellowship would be welcomed, other members
    will try to provide such. The LDS Church has no magic tracking system but they
    do seek out member’s whereabouts that seem to presently not be assigned to a
    congregation, primarily through their extended family. Some, trying to “hide” from
    the Church, are surprised when found and wonder why the Mormons can’t take a
    hint. It may surprise some that quite often “found members” welcome being found
    and do rejoin the flock so to speak. So who’s at fault really when a person who
    wants out is sadly found? Not the LDS Church who is reaching out to all members
    in love and fellowship and is careful not to drop a person’s membership without
    being sure that’s what is wanted by them. For example, say a Mormon is married to
    a non-Mormon and another Mormon shows up on the door step to inquire about the Mormon
    reportedly living there, should the Church take the word of the non-Mormon that
    the Mormon wants his or her name removed or should that come directly from the
    member? At times, it seems the Mormons who say they want out really wants to
    just continue in hiding rather than to ask for official removal from the
    records, perhaps thinking that it would negatively impact their parents who are
    still active in the Church and who continually hold out hope that their son or
    daughter might come back. If that’s the case, the hiding member can ask that
    their records remain but that there be no contact, but there might still be an
    annual contact just to verify their continued presence in the congregation’s
    boundaries. In spite of the Church’s interest in fellowshipping all it members,
    just “hiding” can be quite successful for many years.

  32. I wouldn’t say that was an alternative. More an obvious conclusion.

    Doesn’t alter the fact that we could stand to learn from the use of intolerance. (Who was it that said “The only thing I do not tolerate is intolerance”?)

  33. “…the Bible is very contradictory…”


    Now, in context:

    “First, the Bible is very contradictory whether Heavenly Father, Jesus
    Christ and the Holy Ghost are one or three seperate beings.”

    This is likely due to multiple authorship and changing socio-cultural views. The early Jews were polytheistic, after all. They had their god, YHWH, but that didn’t mean they did not recognise the existence of others (a certain golden calf springs to mind).

    Further to that, the Bible, as most know it, was a product of the political agenda of a Roman emperor. Some scholars have made the claim that the early followers of the Christ believed he was a human servant of YHWH, rather than his physical manifestation. It has been claimed that, in order to make Christianity more palatable to the Roman Empire, Yeshua was ‘deified’ in a similar manner to Romulus and the earlier Roman emperors.

    In fact (I could be wrong here), Islam holds that Jesus was a mortal prophet, like Moses. Just not quite so important as Mohammed.

  34. This is just Jason’s usual delusional wishful thinking. Despite this claptrap about Mormons being polytheists, Mormons view themselves as Christians. They share the same core values with Christians. At worst you can consider them to be another people of the book, like Jews and Muslims are grudgingly considered to be by Christians.

    I attended college in Utah in the mid 1980s at Weber State College, now University, I knew plenty of Mormons, not one of them,considered themselves as anything but Christian.

    They show the same drive to convert other to their faith as do other Christian sects. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, headquartered in Utah, fielded 55,000 full-time missionaries and over 22,000 part-time church-service missionaries worldwide in 2011.

    Despite what many Fundamentalist Christians say, when push comes to shove at the ballot box, they will hold their noses and will support a Mormon candidate as a fellow Christian because they know they will come down on the same side on the issues they support.

    All Jason’s specious crap like this serves to do is direct us away from the real issue. That it is us against a hoard of religious imperialists that demand everyone grovel as slaves before their god and will use the power of the state to achieve this goal. That we need to be ever vigilant and always at the ready to battle them if we are to remain free to worship our gods and goddesses.

  35. Problem is about that “Not taking a Hint” – If a Mormon left because of Mormon church leadership issues – the church leadership bullies them by refusing to hear “no” and “don’t come around again”. Mormon leadership reacts to being told off not unlike a company hired to collect debts, except they send people around in person – frequently. They don’t break knee-caps, but they don’t seem to understand easily that they should then stay away from their house. No, they campaign towards disgruntled former members trying to get them back.
    Former friends of mine quit the church because an abusive Apostle in said Church tried to bilk them of their property for their personal gain. There’s 12 Mormon Apostles, and they’re almost considered infallible, but there’s a history of bunches of them being crooks. After said friends quit, and after repeatedly informing the Church they wanted to be left alone, they had to enlist member friends of theirs to finally stop other Mormons from coming around frequently trying to “save” them again.

  36. Frankly, there are very few Christian denominations who don’t point to other denominations with accusations of not being ‘real’ Christians. From this Pagan perspective, y’all are all pretty similar (along with Jews and Muslims.) It’s all the same thing – worship of the god of Abraham; just different details. ::handwave::

    I honestly find it a bit bewildering that y’all get so hung up on the details. The gods I worship can be approached in many ways – these are important to the individual worshiper, but they’re not a litmus test, even with regard to a single deity (if I worship Aphrodite Ouranos and another worships Aphrodite Porne, there’s not going to be any animosity – they are led to worship Aphrodite in one guise, I in another. So what? She is larger than all of us.)

    This is a real problem with ‘revealed’ religions versus the experiential religion I practice – y’all get hung up on one person’s experience and try to use it to invalidate everybody else’s experiences of your god, as if your deity is small enough to be pinned down by mortal language. ::shaking head::

  37. If you were Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian, you’d likely have to be re-baptised in Assemblies of God, Pentacostal, and Southern Baptist Churches.

  38. I’ve heard these stories before. But having the Mormon missionaries show up on your doorstep and ask if you would like to come to church is hardly coercive or not respecting consent. They leave when you say no.

  39. Tell the 50 different Christian churches all typically on the same street in a small town where nobody in them ever attends a different one.

  40. @ Baruch Dreamstalker: I think we need to save “cult” for organizations with true cultic activity. They exist and should not be conflated with ordinary evangelistic behavior. IMHO, many Pagans are too sensitive to the proselytization issue. Of course, I am biased, since I was one of those Mormon missionaries once. I was a Mormon for 25 years and still have major issues with the LDS Church, but cult-like they are not. Just enthusiastic. As far as their scores, I would say comparable to other conservative Christian churches (mid- to high) on the first 7 and very low on the last 11.

  41. My experience of 25 years of membership before I became Pagan was the opposite. As Grizz explained above, whenpeople “leave”, meaning they stop coming, but don’t bother to remove their names from the church roles, then they can expect a friendly invitation to come back to church. I did it official and no one has bothered me. There is no “campaign against former disgruntled members”. Mormons have too much success talking to people who want to talk to them to waste time harassing those who do not. I will not say that your friend’s story is untrue, since I don’t know the facts, but I can confidently say that it is *extremely* unusual and in no way represents a policy or regular practice of the LDS Church.

  42. I agree. Pagans should in no way assume that the “technical polytheism” of Mormons will make them allies of Pagans in any way. Mormon values are typically pretty far right and antithetical to many Pagan values.

  43. Considering the history of evangelistic behavior and its detrimental effects on indigenous faiths, cultures other than Christianity, and its continued use in places both in American and in Africa where it has emphasized witch-hunting Pagans and other non-Christians have every right to be wary of ‘evangelistic behavior’. Often it is triumphalist, its narrative suspect of anything outside of itself if not actively denigrating (read: xenophobic and ethnocentric). Having had conversations with flesh-and-blood evangelicals, they care little for my rights, and would be just as happy if I and all other ‘non-believers just went away’ or ‘were converted whether we wanted it or not.’

  44. Oh yeah, let’s get out the swords and go to work, eh? I wonder sometimes if Pagans have learned anything since the old days. The trap in the so-called “Mt. Carmel moment” is that the Pagans were duped into having a contest to begin with! Let’s get beyond the “I hate you/you hate me/let’s fight” mentality. The truth is, like in Martial Arts, you give more power to those you struggle against. Instead, finding ways to connect and work with others toward common goals is an exercise in LOVE. Ever heard of LOVE? Oh, yes, when pushed, pull. When pulled, push. That’s a way to give your opponents a rest AND not give away your energy to them.

  45. I get the local non-denominational evangelical churches on my doorstep all the time. I call that active proselytizing. Mormons *are* more organized though. I disagree that the *best* measure of cultishness is how a church treats those who leave — it is one of several. But even looking at that issue in isolation, I do not see how Mormons are any worse (or better) than your average Christian church. As Grizz explained above, when people “leave”, meaning they stop coming, but don’t bother to remove their names from the church rolls, then they can expect a friendly invitation to come back to church. I did it official and no one has bothered me. My father and brother left but didn’t do it official, and the missionaries or church members come around once in while to invite them back, and they say no thank you, and that’s it. No big deal. Not to be condescending in return, but maybe you should study the world of real cults more to put this in perspective. If you want to see a real cult, check out the Mormon polygamous fundamentalists.

  46. I agree. But there is a difference between what you are referring to and having two friendly 19 year-old Mormons come to your door and ask you politely if they could share a message with you about Jesus Christ. There is evangelizing and then there is evangelizing.

  47. Yes, agreed. One evangelism does not equal another when forced conversion versus the more open evangelism you describe. However, both operate on the principles of triumphalism and colonialism, that everyone who is not part of the religion must be converted. It is not a question, but an article of faith. So long as this remains an article of faith, regardless of how nice the terms are couched or how respectful individuals within religions of Abraham are, this narrative will continue to poison monotheists, and in turn, whomever and whatever they touch.

    I think, though, that if people are going to ‘share a message with me about Jesus’ actually 1) them listening to me when I say that I have already heard this message and have rejected it would be nice in both a) saving me time and b) being respectful of my choice, and 2) having dialogue rather than what amounts to a sales pitch would be less of a waste of time for both of us. You may not convert me, but understanding why your neighbor rejects your religious narrative may be more helpful to your understanding of that neighbor, and why your own religion may lack what we find elsewhere.

    At the core of both cases the problem I have is a basic lack of respect of Christians for the choice that Pagans, indigenous people, and other non-Christians make: to follow our own Gods, spirits, and Ancestors.

  48. “both operate on the principles of triumphalism and
    colonialism, that everyone who is not part of the religion must be
    converted. It is not a question, but an article of faith. So long as
    this remains an article of faith, regardless of how nice the terms are
    couched or how respectful individuals within religions of Abraham are …”

    I am 100% with you on this and Mormons are at least as guilty of this as other Christians and probably more so.

  49. The Catholic Church requires that Mormons be rebaptized, and at least two “mainline” Protestant sects (United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church USA) has this as its official policy as well.

    And as a general rule, evangelical Protestant sects officially repudiate infant baptism and don’t recognize it at all, so anyone who is Catholic or Orthodox must be rebaptized to become a “saved” evangelical.

  50. You’re right with regards to the view of Jesus in Islam, and I believe that the same view of Jesus as a mortal prophet was held by the followers of Bishop Arius, as opposed to the followers of Bishop Athanasius, who were Trinitarians. Early Christianity experienced a great deal of violence between Arians and Athanasians, and the Arians were eventually wiped out (in the crusade against the Albigensians, if I recall correctly).

  51. Don’t forget that Senate majority leader Reid, Democrat from Nevada, is also a Mormon.

  52. Whether or not the “opt out” system works well in practice, at least they have one. The RCC does not even acknowledge the possibility of being an ex-Catholic. Under Canon Law, you’re locked in for eternity by baptism, whether you wanted it or not. For a few years, the church at least had a procedure which recognized your right to leave the church on an organization level, but as soon as people started using it in earnest a couple of years ago, they abolished it. That’s pretty cult-like. Even Scientology’s Sea Org limits it’s enlistment contract to 1 billion years!

  53. The LDS believe that after all of the 12 Apostles died or were killed the priesthood was no longer on the earth. The priesthood is the power to perform sacred ordinances (baptism and conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost, among others) and is conferred by the laying on of hands by someone else who has this special power. it was no longer on he earth and this time period is known as the great apostacy (also known as the dark ages (at least part of it). Many truths were changed and altered to fit man’s view and also fulfill political agendas, as others have mentioned on this blog. Teachings were distorted and I agree with what’s been posted – a church seemed to function as a political mechanism spewing intolerance, breeding ignorance and oppression during these times.
    in 1820, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (two separate beings) appeared to Joseph Smith and he was called as a prophet to restore the same church Christ implemented in Jerusalem. There is a current prophet who leads and guides us today.
    Christ is our Redeemer and He made it possible for us to return and life with Heavenly Father again in the next life.
    I know this is a blog for pagans and it seems strange to ask you to have faith, but that’s what it takes. One of you reading this may be touched in your heart and will know that it’s true. Science can’t prove it, but you will know.

  54. No general campaign, but then you probably didn’t have an corrupt Apostle even knowing who you were, and where your family lived. I’m glad nobody came after or tried to harm you.
    About something else – I cringed at “success talking to people” since I’ve heard about the Mormon conversion campaigns in Mongolia. They are “successful” in terms of grabbing numbers, but also done in a way that’s to my mind unethical and corrupt. Reputedly they encourage people to destroy the rare cultural pieces they have left after Soviet occupation because they aren’t Mormon Christian. I realize Christian churches have gone blase about missions and cultural erasure, (because “their religion is best”) but I think if the Mormon religion really was great and truthful, it wouldn’t have to be pushed so darn hard on those who already have so little and require they destroy things.

  55. No, but dishonoring people’s free will is creepy and cult-like regardless of the underlying theology.

  56. LDS Articles of Faith
    1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
    2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
    3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
    4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
    6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
    7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
    8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
    9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
    10 We believe in the literal agathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal gglory.
    11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
    12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
    13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
    That is the primary statement of LDS beliefs. I don’t see anything sinister in there.

  57. And in the interests of balance, the LDS Church requires rebaptism of former Protestants and Catholics. There is sufficient enough differences in understanding of the ritual of baptism, as well as issues like apostolic authority, that both “sides” in this divide disagree enough to require this process.

  58. I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I doubt your credibility in this instance. As has been stated before, if you submit your letter to the LDS Bishop directly, your name will be removed from the records.
    It should be noted that you and the Bishop need to communicate to ensure that it is actually you that desire this and that the removal is followed through.
    As in virtually all endeavors sometimes things like this fall through the cracks.
    When your name is removed, that does not stop visits from relatives or friends still in the church. There is no shunning.
    Also be advised that since there are Mormon missionaries actively working in most areas of the world, they may occasionally show up on your doorstep. Don’t be paranoid. They have not been set upon you.

  59. Whether it sounds “sinister” or not is neither here nor there for purposes of this forum. If Romney is punished at the polls for his theology, it will be at the hands of fellow Christians. I would venture to say that no pagans hold a special animosity for LDS for having heterodox or heretical Christian theology. The problems we have with Mormons are all part and parcel of the problems we have with monotheists in general.

    My guess is that conservative pagans will vote for Romney on the basis of economic policy. Many of the rest of us will not vote for him for reasons of womens rights, gay rights etc. I have no gripe about Romney because he is a Mormon. I simply see him as another element in the Christian Right that offers a vision of governance and society that are alien to my values in every way.

  60. It’s not the least bit ironic. It’s the defining pattern of monotheism which has been in place since day one.

  61. I believe in the New Testament Jesus Christ, the one
    who said on many occasions that his Father was greater than he, that his
    testimony alone was not true alone but that his Father also testified of him
    and his testimony was true. He said that “I and my Father are one”
    and then in John 17 made it clear that this oneness was one in purpose and
    faith but not one in body. He prayed, as noted in that same chapter, that we
    would be one in him as he was with his Father, thus not a corporate oneness but
    one in purpose and faith.

    As he began his atoning sacrifice he said (John 14-16) that he would pray to
    the father (a separate being) that he would sent the Holy Ghost (a separate
    being) as a comforter. Jesus Christ believed and taught that he, his Father,
    and the Holy Ghost are three separate personnages. Using the term
    “polytheism” to describe this situation really makes no sense. These
    three are united in helping and guiding us.

    The Monotheism of the Old Testament only confirms that Jesus Christ, the
    Jehovah of the Old Testament, is the God and Savior of this world. He is
    “the way, the truth, and the life” our only way to salvation. All that
    we do we do in the name of Jesus Christ.

  62. This is a great discussion, but just to clarify. Arianism was pretty much wiped out by the late 6th to 7th centuries when the Vandals in North Africa were dispersed. The Albigensians were Cathars who were a demi-gnostic sect probably influenced by the Bogomils.

    I loves me some medieval history 🙂

  63. Thanks. I remember reading some theory that the Albigensians were Arians, but it wasn’t a firm conclusion.

  64. “Jesus Christ believed and taught that he, his Father,
    and the Holy Ghost are three separate personnages. Using the term
    “polytheism” to describe this situation really makes no sense. These
    three are united in helping and guiding us.”
    In an apartment fire, the fire crew are unified in helping and, where necessary, guiding people trapped inside. But it makes no sense to therefore say there is only one fireman.

  65. Oh, I have faith alright. Just not in the way you’d like it.

    If you’re not going to bother reading anything we say or respect our beliefs, then why are you bothering to comment on here? You’re just doing the online equivilant of what’s been criticized this entire thread.

  66. huggyface: As I understand from my time in the LDS Church, faith is not required. The church teaches that one can learn the truth of its claims by testing the experientially.Pray and you will receive a witness or testimony. The only faith that is required is faith that God answers prayers. It was one of the things I liked about Mormonism.

  67. Having belief is easy. Having conviction is likewise easy. Faith, on the other hand, is not something I have.

    Christ is your redeemer, not mine. Heaven is your paradise, not mine. There are alternatives. I already have my post-material itinerary sorted.

  68. “The Monotheism of the Old Testament”
    Ummm… What monotheism of the Old Testament. The OT is notorious for having a polytheistic slant to it.

  69. First of all, the Bible doesn’t say that God the Father and Jesus Christ are the same person. In fact, there are many more scriptures in the Bible that elude the to fact that they are separate…..For instance when Christ said, “The Father is greater than I.” When Christ spoke and said, “The Father and I are one,” he was speaking metaphorically as he often did. They are one in purpose and direction. There is a scripture in John where Christ also prays that he and the Apostles would be “one.”
    It is easy to argue whether or not the early Church in the time of the Apostles taught or believe in the “Trinity.” Trinity doctrine came abount in 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicea by the Catholic Church. So who is closer to the truth on this matter….Mormons or mainstream Christians.
    Also in Genesis, if you study the original Hebrew text, the Hebrew word is for God is Elohim, which is the plural of Eloah, or God.

  70. Also in Genesis, if you study the original Hebrew text, the Hebrew word is for God is Elohim, which is the plural of Eloah, or God.”

    Plural in form, yes, but not necessarily in meaning. Singular nouns with grammatically plural endings are common in Hebrew (for example: panim ‘face’, shamayim ‘sky’, rachamim ‘mercy’, chayim ‘life’).

  71. @f8949b81170097930c8d7e04ace68dd2:disqus Please forgive me if you felt disrespected by my comments. I’m sorry if you feel threatened by someone sharing a conviction about a belief that you once had, but no longer posess. That’s just me opening up about my belief. Please don’t confuse that with me telling other people how and what they should believe. That’s not the case! I made no negative comments about anyone else’s belief or practices but only shared my beliefs and commented on the discussion. I stumbled upon the article and thought the readership of the blog could benefit from the perspective of a practicing LDS member. I’m not pushing my faith on anyone, just attempting to conribute to the discussion to the topic at hand.
    I have many friends in other faiths and some with not faith. That’s fine by me, it’s their life and they can chose how to live it. If we believe differently, that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, neighbors, co-workers etc.
    This discussion has been enlightening and am gaining valuable insight to the belief and opinions of pagans (and others) on the topic. Thanks everyone.

  72. The anon’s experience matches those of two people I know personally who did write the letter saying they wanted no further contact and got contact anyway.

    Regardless, you shouldn’t need to write an official letter for “no” to be heard and acknowledged as “no”. And I agree wholeheartedly with anon about people who left for any number of reasons that boil down to “I fear my local leadership” thinking any contact at all is risky. Bottom line: if you say you don’t want contact and you keep getting bothered, that’s saying “we don’t respect your consent”. That’s controlling and it’s really not okay.

  73. @johnfromil I don’t care if they come to -my- doorstep, as I’ve never been Mormon, the issues there are different ones (the below mentioned triumphalism, etc.). As for “there is no shunning”, there are a lot of gay ex-Mormons who might be surprised to hear that. I’ve heard more than a few “my Mormon family threw me out because they found out I was gay” accounts on ex-cult communities, they’re not at all uncommon.

    As for the letter, I said upthread that I know of at least one person who tried this and it still did not work. I don’t know if they communicated with the Bishop to ensure it didn’t “fall through the cracks”; I find what you just described alarming, actually, depending on the conditions under which someone may be leaving. I’ve read of quite a bit of, for instance, affinity fraud in the LDS church. Will a person who wants to leave because they’ve been defrauded be treated the same way as someone who wants to leave because they’re just not interested? Will someone who is gay? Someone who left because of sexual misconduct by a local leader? How about someone who has left and openly criticizes the LDS church– some of these people have received no small amount of harassment, which I also consider a large red flag. Some of these people may well fear communicating with a bishop– and if, when called or visited, they say “I do not want further contact” and they’re still contacted because they haven’t done it the “right” way, that’s not okay in my book.

  74. @facebook-1170545330:disqus Just wanted to correct something Bryan Jensen said– I don’t think it’s the -best- measure of cultishness (or more generally an alarming tendency toward control), but it is the most basic. I’ve noticed that even very image-conscious and image-careful groups with control issues will screw up in that area, particularly with openly critical ex-members. Most importantly, it’s something that can be observed without having to join first, which is critical for people trying to feel out a group they’re interested in possibly joining. Are there are a bunch of other things to look at? Absolutely. But I’ll stand by the advice that if a group has problems with how it treats its ex-members, it’s almost definitely going to have problems in other areas as well.

    (Also, if you reserve any use of the word “cult”, including “cult issues” or “tendencies toward cult behavior”, for the most egregious, most awful examples of high-demand-and-control groups, it ill-serves a lot of people who’ve been damaged by groups who aren’t as obvious and flagrant with their dysfunction. I think the LDS Church has some alarming tendencies toward cult behavior. That I’ve seen worse does not excuse them.)

  75. And Nixon was a Quaker. And the great-grandfather of modern fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, was an anti-imperialist, a feminist and basically a socialist. It’s very confusing.

  76. You made no obviously negative comments, but lines like this ” One of you reading this may be touched in your heart and will know that it’s true” still are disrespectful of us by claiming your belief to be true (and making no attempt to suggest that ours are also true). You’re also asking us to have faith…in what, if not your own beliefs in Jesus and related beings? That’s simply self-centered promotion wrapped up in pretty words, and this is not a place for proselytizing, or even a hint of such.

    If you want to speak from the perspective of an LDS member, then do that. That doesn’t require telling or asking us to do anything regarding “knowing what’s true” or to “have faith”.

  77. I think it is a shame that the word ‘cult’ is so often stigmatised to being synonymous with ‘bad’. It can be used in a neutral way, after all.

    I think that early Christianity was a cult of Messianic Judaism.

  78. As I recall, Elohim works as a combination of two root words, one a feminine singular and the other as a masculine plural. Which actually gives a trinity as its minimum number.

  79. Even when I was Christian, I was not allowed inside the LDS Temple, unless they were just about to rip out all the interior furnishings. They have a visitor’s center, and they have LDS Churches I could get to, but the Temple’s off-limits

  80. The phrase “tough love” was used much by “Dr.” Dobson to advocate neglect and child abuse. I have been told Dobson had once been a decent sort in person and with advice, but as time passed got increasingly radicalized and mean.
    Oddly enough, the worse he got, the more devoted and large his following.

    Anyway, “tough love” as it means now is different than the kind of love that someone gives when they use harsher words, force, or discipline to protect themselves or others. I’m guessing that’s what you meant. 🙂

  81. What I mean by “tough love” is the kind of love a parent gives when disciplining a child–like giving them “time outs” or taking away their priviliges.
    I definitely do not advocate any kind of abuse. As I was taught in Martial Arts, you stop someone who is attacking you and give them time to think about what they are doing. Or, if you can, you remove yourself from the situation.
    Self-defense is a way of practicing self-love. But we don’t have to get out swords and slaughter our fellow human beings. If we are smart, we can make sure we stop others from hurting us, without hurting them. It can be done.

  82. “Even when I was Christian, I was not allowed inside the LDS Temple, ”

    It’s worth pointing out that even Mormons aren’t allowed inside an LDS temple unless they meet certain requirements. In the Mormon tradition, the temple is not the place of worship, but the place for specific initiatory mysteries.

    Would it have meant that you weren’t being recognized as a pagan or an Athenian or some such if you weren’t allowed inside the telesterion at Eleusis without being an initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries? (Actually, most initiates probably weren’t allowed to be there except during the Mysteries.)

  83. From your second paragraph I figured right that you don’t mean being nasty and requiring the servility of others.
    “tough love” is an industry. And its influential viewpoint has done terrible harm to many at vulnerable ages.

  84. @LeohtSceadusawol:disqus That’s the biggest problem with the word, it has three meanings and even though it’s generally clear from context which one is being used, it still causes confusion. Religious studies uses the term in a neutral context, as you did. Then there are the two negative forms, “cult” in the theological sense as the Evangelicals mentioned here use it (i.e. this group doesn’t conform to our understanding of proper Christian theology), and “cult” in the sociological sense that I’m using it, to refer to a group with high-demand or coercive/controlling issues.

    I’m open to the idea of newer terminology, and I’ve seen some people in fields who study cults or help ex-members using either “coercive or controlling” or “high-demand” instead. The latter can confuse people, since demanding a lot from a member isn’t an intrinsically bad thing (if it comes in the form of hard work, instead of, well, the damaging forms of “demand” that the term refers to). I like the former, because it puts the focus on problem behaviors and doesn’t simply say the group is completely bad; sometimes an otherwise good group can develop some very damaging dysfunctional behavior that hurts members and that being insular they don’t see as the problem that it is. “Cult” has a lot of baggage that cuts two ways– on one hand, members who might be open to being told that their group has behavioral problems shut down if they hear that word, but OTOH it can be really liberating for someone caught in a problem group who’s trying to get out to be able to put that name to what they’ve been through. It cuts through a lot of the guilt and self-blame members of high-demand groups experience and lets them realize that they’re not the problem.

    (tl;dr, I kind of agree with you.)

  85. I am not a big fan of overly stigmatising words. Words are useful, it seems a shame to make the unusable.

  86. I am currently forging my own path, but it is strongly influenced by Northern Traditions (notably historic forms, and Hávamál.)

    I’d say it is a religion of balance. Love has it’s place, but is not the only (or most important) passion.

  87. I do. Stop them, because by being sexually abusive, they are hurting others and hurting themselves. Give them a “time out” to think about what they are doing. Some may require a longer time-out than others.

  88. Ian, This wasn’t about that. Also, the root basis for the separation you mention has nothing to do with bigotry and intolerance of another person’s religion. My comment was in response to thread where a Christian felt other Christians ought to recognize each other fully.
    When I was Christian, I felt the same way as Gerald Donnelly does about it. I was annoyed I wasn’t Christian enough for the Baptists, I was annoyed my Catholic Church didn’t approve of most other Communions, and I didn’t like I wasn’t allowed into the LDS Temple. I felt like I was Christian, they were, too – with different viewpoints but still end of story.

  89. And some may never show remorse. Sexual abuse is the one crime I could never condone. The best cure for a rapist is a rope.

  90. Leoht, I’m not going to defend Rapists. I’m also not going to defend any kind of bloodlust. I will leave you with a quote and will end my discussion with this:
    A Native American warrior (Mad Bear) speaking to a group of White Americans put it
    this way, “You people have such anger and fear and contempt for your
    so-called criminals that your crime rate goes up and up. Your society
    has a high crime rate because it is in a perfect position to receive
    crime. You should be working WITH these people, not in opposition to
    them. The idea is to have contempt for crime, not for people. It’s more
    useful to think of every individual as another YOU—to think of every
    individual as a representative of the universe. Even the worst criminal
    in life imprisonment sitting in his cell—the center of him is the same
    seed, the seed of the whole creation.”
    (Mad Bear, quoted in the book Rolling Thunder by Doug Boyd, 1974, Dell Publishing Company)

  91. I’m not a humanist, but I am not full of bloodlust (contrary to popular belief), either.

    I disagree with what he says inasmuch as I think we should look to the society that creates criminals rather than looking at the symptoms of that society.

  92. Actually, there isn’t any ‘general rule’ or consensus in regards to infant baptism. I was born into the United Methodist church, which does have infant baptism, then my parents converted to Pentecostal; I was baptized again at the “age of accountability.”

    The statement made by Gerald is correct in that all Christian denominations take exception with all other denominations and would most likely require someone to be baptized again and/or make a statement of faith that they now believe in the doctrine one and denounce the doctrine of the other.