Fear Factor: The Conservative Christian Crusade Against Mormonism

We all know by now how fundamentalist Christians feel about Mormons.  Bryan Fischer and others have made it abundantly clear. They call Mormonism a cult. To be fair, Mormonism turns around and calls other fringe “Christian” religions like Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses cults as well and laughs at their beliefs, so we shouldn’t be too outraged on behalf of Mormonism on that account alone.

But we have a real and very serious problem when one religion attacks another religion solely to convince voters that members of that religion are not suitable to hold public office because of those beliefs. This is done not only to Mormons but to Muslims (Keith Ellison) and even other Christians (Barack Obama), including those with no religion at all – atheists. This is a symptom of the old America; the America Thomas Jefferson fought against and did his best to banish.

The new Republican paradigm, however, completely contrary to the Constitution, is that only Christians – and then only Christians of the right sort – are fit to hold public office, particularly the highest office in the land. Other Christians aren’t really Christians at all; this is a charge that has been flying about since the day Jesus died and as Thomas Jefferson and George Carlin have both observed, millions have died because of it.

Which brings us to the Internet’s favorite tabloid. Under the headline Mormon Bishop’s Daughter Spills Romney’s ‘Secrets‘ …’Would you trust the judgment of a man if he truly believes he’s gonna be a god?'” we read,

The daughter of a Mormon bishop who has abandoned her family’s faith claims in a new book the election of Mitt Romney to the presidency would put the U.S. in danger due to what she calls the Republican’s “outrageous,” “horrific” and “mind-controlling” beliefs.

Mind-controlling…really? Would it surprise anyone to learn that Christianity itself has been accused of using mind-controlling beliefs? Any recovering Pentecostal knows about mind-control and Christianity. Just ask them.

But Joe Kovacks, executive news editor for World Net Daily, wants you to be shocked by what is about to be revealed, as though Mormon beliefs are so far beyond the pale that Romney is determined we never know what they are. I got news for Kovacs: Romney isn’t telling us where he got his money either, or how much of it he has, and that’s more of a concern than his religion:

“While he attempts to portray Mormonism as just another Christian religion, Mitt Romney counts on his skills to shift our attention away from what he truly believes,” says Tricia Erickson, author of “Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters? The Mormon Church Versus the Office of the Presidency of the United States of America.”

Two masters?

According to the current Republican ideology that WND supports, God controls America: political power derives not from the consent of the governed, as Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders asserted, but from God. He chooses our presidents and if we disobey him he gets very angry and kills things.  We fought a Revolution against the idea of the Divine Right of Kings yet here we are again at that very precipice, and not because of Mormonism but because of conservative Christianity.

We have very good reason to ask whether any conservative “believer” serves the Constitution or a holy book. How is a Mormon any different? we might ask. They answer: Oh, well they don’t believe what we believe! They don’t believe the right things!

The correct answer to this: Why does any of that matter?

All that matters – the only thing that matters – is what the Constitution says, not what any religion says; not what one religion says about another.

Gods and holy books and competing doctrines are exactly what the Founding Fathers were trying to avoid.

The Romney question is one which must be settled on its merits and “right” and “wrong” beliefs don’t enter the picture. And from a liberal perspective, to pretend Romney’s religion is any greater threat than conservative Christianity is absurd. Anyone who kicks the Constitution under the bus is a threat to America. Anyone, for any reason, religious or otherwise.

We are told that Tricia Erickson believes that “[i]f the American people knew what he truly believed, they would surely not place him in the highest office in the land.”

Perhaps not, but that’s simple bigotry; it does not reflect the principles upon which the country was founded. What Romney believes is irrelevant according to Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, as irrelevant as what Obama believes and as irrelevant as any other candidate believes.

But because Romney doesn’t believe what Erickson believes we are supposed to be alarmed:

  • He will become a “god” in the afterlife and be given his own planet
  • Satan is Jesus’ literal brother
  • Jesus was not born of a virgin birth
  • He will be given his own afterlife kingdom where he will have sexual relations with his wife, Ann, to populate his kingdom with spirit children as God the Father Himself has a wife on His own planet.

Now as far as outrageous religious beliefs go, many would say that Christians are in no position to talk: we have a person who was immaculately conceived and born to a virgin, was crucified and buried and then zombie-like came back to life. Scholars who point to the impossibility of the resurrection are mocked for pointing out a simple scientific fact: that dead people stay dead. And while we laugh at the idea today, let’s be honest: if the giant talking cross of one early gospel had become canon, no Christian today would blink at it.

To add to the perceived “sin” of zombie worship, it could be pointed out that Christians believe Jesus is not only fully human but fully god, and to make matters worse, he is not just god and man but a trinity of beings – the Father (God), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. Bad enough to be conceived immaculately but to be your own son?

If it all ended there it would sound crazy enough to many people but we are further assured a prefect being is capable of hating people and wants to punish them for thinking for themselves even though he gave them free will. This allegedly perfect being acts as though he were a tantrum-throwing 3-year-old who kills not only birds, but people when he gets pissed.

As a disclaimer, I should admit that I thought some of these beliefs were crazy too when the Mormon missionaries first came to my house,  just as crazy as the idea that God did not want black men to hold the priesthood. But I later came to realize that I thought the mainstream Christian beliefs were equally crazy and that, in fact, any religious belief could be deemed crazy from the eye of the beholder.

And let’s face it folks: for many non-Christians and from the perspective of science, the idea that a man was born of a virgin is far more absurd than the idea of a man not born to a virgin!

I am also required to point out that what finally drove me from the Mormon Church was the belief that we became gods of our own worlds after we die. Upset about this revelation, I asked the missionary who had recruited me to the church why they had not told me this important detail up front, and he muttered something about how that would be serving dessert before the meat. I got up and left and never went back. I thought it was a ridiculous belief then and I think it a ridiculous belief now.

But no more ridiculous than the idea of a trinity. And  realistically, none of these beliefs mean anything to me except to the extent they pose a threat to my freedom of belief. They’re not my beliefs; it’s not my god. They are beliefs for others and others are welcome to them. The American political system was never meant to be about religion or religious beliefs – that is why the Constitution was written as it was, to protect America from the fate of the Old World: centuries of bloody and divisive religious wars.

So when Erickson tries to sway our vote by saying of Romney, “I kind of believe, you know, that he should be completely sane and he should have discernment and good judgment. I mean if the man truly believes he’s gonna become a god, would you trust the judgment of somebody like that?”

So if you don’t believe certain doctrines you’re insane? If you believe certain others you’re insane? Erickson might be on to something if she could prove the truth of any doctrine, but she can’t. It’s belief, not science. If Erickson’s position is valid, atheists could claim that anyone holding any religious belief is insane. But what atheists believe is irrelevant too, according to the Constitution.

We are told by Kovacs that we should fear Romney because of this:

The Boston Globe reported in 2006 that Romney’s political team quietly consulted with leaders of the Mormon Church to map out plans for a nationwide network of Mormon supporters to help Romney capture the presidency in 2008.

I can only ask what about fundamentalist plans to do the same thing on behalf of Christianity, plans dating back to 1964? And point out that in 2001, these plans worked. And worked again in 2004. They failed in 2008 but you can bet your last dollar they will be trying equally hard to make them work in 2012. So what, it’s only okay if fundamentalists do it?

All any of this amounts to is conservative Christians whining about the idea of somebody they don’t consider a Christian winning the White House. Nobody else will ever be legitimate in their eyes. They’ve become convinced that America is their’s, that it was meant for them, that this is how God wants it.

If Romney was an atheist we would be in the same place: then they would be attacking atheism and some former atheist turned Christian would be the subject of Kovacs article, and the same is true of Islam, Paganism or any other religion you care to name. Meanwhile, pulling former religionists out of the shadows might not be a road down which Christians want to go. There are a multitude of former conservative Christians out there and the stories they tell make Erickson’s pale by comparison.

So if we’re going to talk dangerous religious beliefs, let’s not limit the field to Muslims and Mormons but include Christians as well, because according to the Constitution, we cannot favor one over the other when it comes to our government. But better yet, let’s concern ourselves with the Constitution, and defending and upholding it, not one religion’s place over another, for that is not, and was never meant to be, the role of government.

The lesson our conservative Christian friends need to learn is that we can have no expectations of Romney that we do not have of everyone else, including people like Sarah Palin, who thinks she is Esther reborn, and the half-dozen others who, like Michele Bachmann, say God told them to run for president, but get free passes from Evangelicals in the sanity department.

Screw what anyone thinks God wants. In this country what matters is what the Constitution says. Believe what you want, but obey the Constitution. It’s as simple as that.

20 Replies to “Fear Factor: The Conservative Christian Crusade Against Mormonism”

  1. hrafnkell, you filed that Limbaugh story late last night and then this one maybe a ship’s watch later. So much nausea, so little time! How do you do it? The Pepto Bismol company must be thanking you for the business.

  2. “…I asked the missionary who had recruited me to the church why they had not told me this important detail up front, and he muttered something about how that would be serving dessert before the meat…”

    One small point on one small, simple concept that melds all these belief systems together;lying is OK as a means to suspend the universal constant of “cause and effect” (which is the actual definition of karma) if the means justify their ends.

    It is the “sin” of all “sins”. Lying, deceiving, betraying begets all the other commandments; killing, stealing, sleeping with your neighbor etc.

    For aberrant/radical belief systems, truth is not relevant nor is normal human behavior. However, in reality where gravity prevails, it’s all about the behavior because everyone knows, belief doesn’t/cannot/will never “cause” a warm blooded creature to live after the brain and body are dead for 3 days causing them to just “fly” away…it’s a lie. It’s their behavior we should be chasing down, not the belief.

    It’s all about the behavior, not about the belief.
    (Everybody, say it 10X’s)

    And the day we start holding all of these con-cultist accountable to their behavior is the day we get rid of these awful lies that they tell little children called “belief”; the result will be little more peace on earth, good will to men.

    (…you can’t have the meat before desert; that’s a good one! Now see what you’ve done?! You’ve given out a new lie to put into their true believer Welcome Wagon bag of divine deceptions!)

  3. Yet they have NO problem listening to what Glenn Beck says and hold him up as a respectable conservative leader.

    And Mormons are not the only people who think people can be raised from the dead.
    My son, when he was younger, liked this girl.ALOT. Who was into a very Fundamentalist religion, but mainstream. Assembly of God? They have a church near us and she invited him to go to a night service. Didn’t plan on him being home for dinner.
    About 45 mins later in walks my son.
    He was laughing and kind of shocked at the same time. The “preacher” had told the congregation that he had personally raised 13 people from the dead. He was shocked that people really believed this guy and this man really really believed that he had done this miracle.
    He left the girl there, walked home and never dated her again.

  4. Adherents to any religion can decide how strongly or not said religion influences their lives. How are claims that Romney would obey his church over the laws of the nation any different from the claims that JFK would take orders from the Pope? I am a mainline Protestant, but do not literally believe that Jesus was born of a virgin or corporeally resurrected. I do my best to follow His teachings and example, because that is to me the true essence of Christianity. If we wanted to truly be a Christian nation we would do much better than currently at caring for the least among us, and less focused on the favorite wedge issues of abortion and homosexuality about which Jesus Himself said nothing.

  5. Having some personal experience with the AOG, I consider them some of the kookiest out there. When a Christian, I would not have considered them members of the same religion. I have been assured that they would have felt the same about mine.

  6. “Any recovering Pentecostal knows about mind-control and Christianity. Just ask them.”

    Uh… Hrafknell, that describes a lot of people including me, and the Christianity I follow doesn’t use mind control – not only that but we fight against it.

    You’re using too broad a brush again. Your own beliefs can be the source of derision even as you’ve said derisive things about those of others – the beliefs of anyone can be derided (even atheists). One’s beliefs aren’t the problem – it’s how one treats the Other that is the problem (I’d agree that if they believe they have the right to abuse or disenfranchise others, their belief becomes a problem).

    As far as Mormonism and fundamentalist/dominionist Christianity, I see little difference between them. Both are bad news, not only for the people they’ve enslaved but for everyone around them (being in those churches IS a form of slavery, and even as in the old south you had house slaves vs field hands, so people experienced different depths of slavery in those churches). They both use their beliefs to justify dominating and abusing others. Contrast that to other belief systems (such as mine) which insists that we must treat others as we would want to be treated… including being treated with respect.

  7. That was the denomination I walked away from. It took nearly 30 years to regain a lot of the memories of the period I spent in that church – only a little over three years. I now realize that I was little more than a slave in that church – even less because in slavery, the “master” provided for the needs of the slave (if he or she didn’t, the slave would die) – in the Assemblies, we were to supply our own needs and still be at the beck and call of the church – and even when given nearly half of my paycheck in “tithes and offerings”, they demanded more and weren’t nice about it.

    Their rule over people’s lives was (or they tried to make it) absolute… the preacher and hierarchy even wanted the right to decide one’s sexuality and if one married or not.
    For some reason they got it in their heads that I was meant to be single all of my life. Well… six months after I walked I met my wife – and we’ve been married for over 29 years. They also decided I was meant to be nothing more than dumb grunt labor – I’ve already got my MA and am entering the doctoral program in a month (thanks to them, my life was put on hold for 25 years).

    I can and will say that they also try to take over other churches – I used to hang out with the “Ministry Students” who were being taught how to do that. As a general rule, you can tell how steeplejacked a church is by how fundamentalist/conservative they are.

    Even some people who have been in those churches don’t really know how bad they can be. Dogemperor, Leah Burton, and a few others know (also myself), along with quite a few walkaways who got the full treatment.

  8. I respectfully disagree, Walkaway. I have known both active Pentecostals and married a recovering Pentecostal who went through hell at revivals in Florida, in their churches and at home at the hands of their families.

    I am far from the only observer who has experience of these things and the web abounds with sites like that I linked.

    If your religion isn’t practicing mind-control then you are obviously not “one of them”

  9. Something you mentioned in passing caught my attention – regarding the source of Romney initial money. Sure, his father was wealthy, but wealthy enough that the stake he left Mitt was able to generate $250 million (or more)? Or was his stake from his church? And what are the implications of this?

  10. You should be a bit more careful in your wording then, because the way it reads, it suggests that Christianity in general practices thought control. I’d suggest taking “and Christianity” out of the sentence, then you’d be 100% accurate (and probably would have gotten a laugh out of me).

  11. There are some things that the present day Mormon leaders cannot scrub to make them more like Mainstream Christianity. And that’s the prohibition against dishonesty.
    I am waiting (patiently) for the Mormon president Monson, to make some kind of public condemnation about Mitt Romney’s constant lying. Romney is not just a follower of the faith but a bishop. He would certainly be a role model for young Mormons and therefore, it would seem some kind of statement is in order.
    Romney is, after all, a man who cannot tell the truth and dishonesty, by the Church doctrine, ranks on the list of grievous offenses near the top, along with murder and stealing. In fact, honesty is a steadfast principle of salvation. In February of 1831, the Prophet of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, in a revelation before twelve elders in Kirtland Ohio stated:
    Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.

    If I were cynical, I might presume that the $3 million donations that Romney gave to the Church was to buy their silence in this matter. Or perhaps that rumor about Lying for the Lord is true after all.

  12. …One’s beliefs aren’t the problem – it’s how one treats the Other that is the problem….”

    That’s what I said, and, that’s what I will continue to say over and over until it starts to sink in.

    Why? Because it’s a fact, it’s simple formula to remember or “test” when logic fails to relate, plus, it works on every single person or group of people who says they are a follower of any and all mythos…regardless of origin.

    If you wanna’ lie to yourself, keep it to yourself; it’s you own consequence and it should not directly affect others. If you wanna lie to others, then in some way, you have harmed them and that is the biggest sin of all…harming the innocent for personal gain.

    It’s all about the behavior, not the belief.

  13. A former neighbor, who was shunned from the Mormon church because her new non-Mormon husband would not convert to Mormonism, told me that she was taught that to lie in inadvancement of their religion was not a sin.

    This is why Mitt lies every time he opens his mouth.

  14. I lived among the Mormons in Utah as a little child, and have had run-ins with them since then. I’ve caught them lying several times, and ex-Mormons (especially those who were higher in their hierarchy) I’ve communicated with say that it IS official doctrine, but one they don’t want others to learn about and are ordered to try to suppress the knowledge.

    They’re as bad and dangerous as dominionists in my opinion.

    They not only are not above lying to try to promote their religion, but they are also some of the most bigoted people around (and they lie and try to deny that too, even in the face of evidence that they are). Their religion is officially bigoted towards my own people (Native Americans) and a few years back I ended up confronting a Mormon student trying to convince (college) students that their Book of Mormon was true, especially about Native Americans. He (and they) were trying to make scientific claims based on religious ideology, which opens up their religion (those claims specifically) to scientific investigation and criticism. We’ve (scientists including archaeologists, historians, and people from other disciplines) proved their book to be full of errors, even as the Bible is full of errors. (I’d argue the Book of Mormon is more so, because their entire book is based on something proved to be untrue. Once you prove that there were no “lost tribes” of Israel on this continent and the description of the prehistoric cultures was bogus, it all falls apart.)

    They also are not above trying to convert children and try to turn them against their parents, even when the kids are really small. I only vaguely remember this, but my parents used to talk about it – when we lived in Utah, they’d take my brother and I to Mormon Bishop’s houses and try to convert us… while telling us how evil our parents were because they weren’t Mormons (a lie). My parents weren’t permitted in Mormon houses. I was maybe 5 or 6 at the time. I do clearly remember many other horrific experiences, including being left for dead because I was “nothing but a Gentile Brat” – as a little boy. I also remember that they were very cold and cruel towards non-Mormons and that many of the stores wouldn’t sell anything to my parents (and my folks have said that the ones that did usually demanded far higher prices from them because they weren’t Mormon). Just like the dominionists, they’re only friendly when they think they can convert someone. Once they realize that the person is just not interested, the mask comes off (again showing they lie).

    As I said, I don’t consider them to be much better than the dominionists and both religions are very much alike. When confronted with the truth about their religion, from the testimony of ex-Mormons- they are just as willing to use violence.

  15. Nice article. I have came up with the new GOP bumper sticker talking point.

    “Even our fundies are into magic undies”.

  16. The above comment was meant for Nomad, above. Wandering replies, couldn’t be my fault. LOL! Learning from Romney.

  17. By not voting, that is a vote for Romney and a Mormon Theocracy. President Obama has disappointed me at times too, but he really cares about ALL of us and has accomplished many wonderful things for the American people. Give him the chance to continue the positive changes he’s been making. Romney will drive the Country over the cliff.

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