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Author: Subject: Mormonism is not a cult, okay?

Ultimate Peach





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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 08:44 AM
Good article from Rod Dreher and btw, I don't support Mitt Romney as I feel he's just another "mainstream Republican" who'll be inclined to keep on supporting the "American pluocracy" just like all the other candidates (including Obama), with the exception of Ron Paul. His religion, Mormonism, has nothing to do with how I feel the Romney candidancy.

quote:
Mormonism is not a cult, okay?
Rod Dreher
October 10th, 2011

Mormonism deviates so far from basic orthodox Christianity that I have a difficult time, as a theological matter, considering it authentically Christian, even within an expansive definition of “Christian” that includes believers in this or that heretical doctrine or set of doctrines. Nevertheless, it’s patently absurd to claim that Mormons don’t love Jesus Christ, or are, because of their religion, to be treated with suspicion. In my view, it is an irrational prejudice (and yes, there are such things as rational prejudices) to say a Mormon like Mitt Romney is unworthy of one’s vote because of his LDS faith. The only thing about Mormonism itself that would give me pause in considering a Mormon presidential candidate is the theological role American exceptionalism plays within Mormon thinking. But in truth, the way American politics and culture goes, American exceptionalism may as well be a theological principle for all US Christians. It is an article of faith for most Americans that God has a Very Special Plan for the United States of America, and that we are, in some respects, a Chosen People. I don’t believe this, at least not in the way most people do (if America is exceptional, it’s in a “to whom much is given, much is expected” way, not a triumphalist-nationalist way), but it is quite common. I’m certain that on this point, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Romney and any Republican candidate.

Anyway, it is especially offensive, at least to me, to hear Christians speak of Mormonism as a “cult.” Usually when you hear that word being applied to a church or religious group, it’s designed not to describe, but solely to marginalize. Was it Tom Wolfe who said that a “cult” is a religious group without political power? That’s mostly right. I think cults really do exist, and can be identified in part by their overweening desire to be secretive and controlling of their adherents — e.g., Scientology. (It should be noted that one can find cultish behavior within mainstream religions too.) But I think the Guardian blogger Andrew Brown is more or less correct when he says that a “cult” can be defined sociologically as being far from a society’s mainstream — though by that definition, one would have to call the Amish a “cult,” and maybe even cloistered Catholic and Orthodox monks and nuns a “cult”?

Anybody want to do that? Anybody? Didn’t think so. So why so hard on the Mormons? Especially given that it’s hard to find a more idealistically American group of people anywhere in this country. Here’s Brown:

Modern public Mormons are almost parodically conformist and technocratic. The public image of Mitt Romney is not of a man who holds strange beliefs that he will act on if elected, but the opposite – a man who has no principles whatsoever, and almost no personality. Abstinent, frugal, hard-working and rich, the Mormons have moved from the fringe of American life to its centre – not least because their religion is so intensely American. Whether or not it’s crazy, it has worked.

The sociologist Robert Bellah writes in his new book that the test of the truth of a particular religion is the kind of people it produces. Bellah is not really making a theological statement — I doubt very much that Bellah, an Episcopalian, believes in the foundational mythology of the LDS church — but rather a sociological one. Few people are ever converted by rational theological discourse alone. Rather, it’s more common to look at the lives of people who profess that religion, to find them admirable or otherwise inviting, then open oneself up to the beliefs that produce that way of living. From a Bellah interview:

As I have indicated before, I am nervous about thinking of religion primarily in terms of “truth claims,” which seems closer to what is appropriate in science. Religion provides answers to such questions as “How shall I live?” and “What is the meaning of the universe?” that science has no capacity to answer. But because answers to such questions are incapable of empirical testing by scientific methodology, how can we evaluate the answers that various religions give? As I have said above, the truth of religious beliefs can be seen in the lives of people who live by those truths. And if we see remarkable individuals in other traditions than our own we can accept that they have some kind of truth even if it is not completely the same as ours. When Martin Luther King, Jr. found in Mahatma Gandhi a role model for his non-violent protest he was recognizing the truth that Gandhi always claimed to stand for. King could see that there must be some things of great value in Hinduism to produce such a person as Gandhi, while at the same time seeing that Jesus was also a great exemplar of non-violence, though Christians have long evaded Jesus’s total rejection of violence. So Gandhi helped King to understand another religion while also understanding his own in a deeper way. This is not relativism, nor is it saying all religions are identical. Christianity and Hinduism overlap in some areas but differ greatly in others.

In my experience, Mormonism produces exemplary people, the kind who form stable families and strong communities, and who make good neighbors. I do not believe in Mormonism, nor do I have the slightest interest in becoming Mormon. That Mormons tend to be good people does not make their doctrines true. But inasmuch as Mormons — and I’m generalizing here — tend to produce people who are often better Christians, in terms of their behavior, than the more orthodox expressions within the Christian tradition, should make thoughtful Christians consider what truth may exist within Mormonism. and what we may learn about how to live well from the Mormon experience.

For example, while Mormons in general have a divorce rate about the same as everybody else, those Mormons who marry in a temple service are far, far more likely to stay married. The Los Angeles Times once explored the reasons for that, and they’re truly admirable. Note that there is nothing explicitly theological about any of these practices; any Christian who took his or her own tradition seriously could pull this off too. But these Mormon practices leading to strong marriages and healthy families grow out of theological convictions, cultural coherence, and social solidarity. The rest of us have a lot to learn from Mormons on living out marriage and family life. It’s easy for me to see why many Christians strongly deny Mormon theological claims; it is very difficult for me to understand why so many Christians look at Mormons with such hostility and disdain, given the kind of people who tend to be faithful Mormons. To call Mormonism a “cult” is polemical, spiteful, and simply inaccurate — and again, I say this as someone who thinks Mormonism has deviated so far from orthodox Christianity that it is doubtful, to me, whether it can be considered an authentic expression of Christianity. Still, as a matter of life in the public square, Mormons ought to be welcomed, because I look at their lives and works and see people with whom I might disagree strongly, but who also, in the way they live out their faith, strengthen American life.

UPDATE: Though I generally endorse James Fallows’s appeal to voters to put aside anti-Mormon prejudice, I think he’s wrong about this:

To be against Mitt Romney (or Jon Huntsman or Harry Reid or Orrin Hatch) because of his religion is just plain bigotry. Exactly as it would have been to oppose Barack Obama because of his race or Joe Lieberman because of his faith or Hillary Clinton or Michele Bachmann because of their gender or Mario Rubio or Nikki Haley because of their ethnicity. I also think that if we were reading handicapping stories about any of those other situations, we’d be getting frequent reminders that what we were talking about was, in the end, simple prejudice.

This kind of mixed-up statement can only come from someone (a well-intentioned someone, in this case) who does not understand religion or take it seriously. Religion is not the same thing as race or gender. Race and gender are not worldviews. Being male or female, or of a particular racial or ethnic background, has nothing to do with what you see as right and wrong, and the way people ought to behave. Religion does — and that’s why the comparison to Joe Lieberman’s Orthodox Judaism is appropriate.

I think it is not only fair, but necessary, to look seriously into what forms the worldviews of our candidates for public office. If they present themselves as faithful to a particular religion, then it is by no means bigoted to consider that religion and its effect on the thought and character of the candidate. The only way it shouldn’t matter is if one believes that religion is a wholly private matter, and says, or should say, nothing about how a politician thinks and acts. My point in this post is that despite having some highly eccentric and unorthodox theological convictions, Mormons tend to produce politicians that are conventionally conservative — for better or for worse.



 
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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 11:20 AM
I honestly don't care what religion a person is, as long that person doesn't force his religion or legislate his religious on the rest of us. You can believe in Zeus for all I care, just don't tell me how to live my life. I really like how John Kerry put it when he was asked about his stand on abortion - He said "As a Catholic I'm against abortion, but I can't legislate it."
 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 12:38 PM
A lot of people won't vote for Romney or Huntsman because they're Mormans. It's just a sad fact.

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 02:35 PM
Oh, I thought he said the Mormons were occult. Never mind....

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 02:39 PM
Mormonism is not a cult, okay?

Imho, it sure as Hell is.

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 02:50 PM
Depending upon one's definition, all religions are cults.

Except of course your religion.

One's individual beliefs in such matters have no political bearing, unless the form of govt is a dictatorship or theocracy. I don't think that's us, so why can't we get past this issue?

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 03:02 PM
quote:
A lot of people won't vote for Romney or Huntsman because they're Mormans. It's just a sad fact.


As long as he is not a polygamist with a trove of women in Prairie dresses at his compound, that in and of itself would not stop me from voting for him.

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 03:08 PM
quote:
Depending upon one's definition, all religions are cults.

Except of course your religion.

One's individual beliefs in such matters have no political bearing, unless the form of govt is a dictatorship or theocracy. I don't think that's us, so why can't we get past this issue?


Believe it or not, we agree on this one.

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 03:30 PM
quote:
quote:
Depending upon one's definition, all religions are cults.

Except of course your religion.

One's individual beliefs in such matters have no political bearing, unless the form of govt is a dictatorship or theocracy. I don't think that's us, so why can't we get past this issue?


Believe it or not, we agree on this one.


+1

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 03:55 PM
quote:
quote:
Depending upon one's definition, all religions are cults.

Except of course your religion.

One's individual beliefs in such matters have no political bearing, unless the form of govt is a dictatorship or theocracy. I don't think that's us, so why can't we get past this issue?
Believe it or not, we agree on this one.
I actually have faith that there are many things we see the same. We may take a different path to getting there, but the desired end results are probably more similar than not.

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 05:23 PM
I think you're probably correct.

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 06:30 PM
cult yep would I vote for a candidate who was Nope if you have not read their history do it before commenting,the state i live in is very much effected by this religion I also think everyone has the right to pray how they want but that does not mean I would want them leading this countries decisions because we all in the end live close to what we believe, and stand by others who believe the same. sorry if this sounds harsh it is not meant to be that way just what it is..

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 07:55 PM
quote:
cult yep would I vote for a candidate who was Nope if you have not read their history do it before commenting,the state i live in is very much effected by this religion I also think everyone has the right to pray how they want but that does not mean I would want them leading this countries decisions because we all in the end live close to what we believe, and stand by others who believe the same. sorry if this sounds harsh it is not meant to be that way just what it is..


That about sums it up for me also. The roots of the Mormon faith is a rather unique story. I'm not knocking Mormons, but it does require a lot of faith to believe in. Just my personal opinion. I would have a hard time not letting Romney's religious faith of choice influence my decision to vote for him.

 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 08:55 PM
quote:
quote:
cult yep would I vote for a candidate who was Nope if you have not read their history do it before commenting,the state i live in is very much effected by this religion I also think everyone has the right to pray how they want but that does not mean I would want them leading this countries decisions because we all in the end live close to what we believe, and stand by others who believe the same. sorry if this sounds harsh it is not meant to be that way just what it is..


That about sums it up for me also. The roots of the Mormon faith is a rather unique story. I'm not knocking Mormons, but it does require a lot of faith to believe in. Just my personal opinion. I would have a hard time not letting Romney's religious faith of choice influence my decision to vote for him.


One could say any religion requires a lot of faith to believe in. As I explained to my good friend who once asked me why I was not interested in his religion (mainstream Christian), I replied simply that it seems so far-fetched.

If Romney's Mormonism is so dangerous to his ability to govern, I'm sure it would have come out when he was governor. Or, for that matter, Mormon governor Jon Huntsman. If either had proposed something radical, like allowing 12 year olds to marry or something, I'm sure we would have heard about it.

It is already no simple task to decide for which candidate to vote, so I refuse to study a candidate's religion. Also, is there no easier lie to tell than what you believe? Let me see the candidates' actual real-world accomplishments and policy proposals and I'll decide from there.

Finally, if being a sincere born-again is a guarantee of Presidential success, I give you Exhibit A, Pres George W. Bush.


 

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  posted on 10/10/2011 at 09:43 PM
quote:
Depending upon one's definition, all religions are cults.

Except of course your religion.

One's individual beliefs in such matters have no political bearing, unless the form of govt is a dictatorship or theocracy. I don't think that's us, so why can't we get past this issue?


Damn right.

When can we elect an atheist president????

 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 06:14 AM
Just wait until a Scientologist runs.

 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 07:13 AM
I like Romney, he has good values. Are mormons christians? No, because they don't believe Jesus is God.
I'm sorry, but Jesus is either who He says He is, or He's a liar and or a lunatic. A persons religous veiws would not keep me from voting for them I'm a born again christian who has muslims and wiccans for friends.

 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 10:48 AM
Love this quote from the middle of the article, and many Christians (especially those of the evangelistic bent) would do well to consider it.

quote:
competence for public office is also an important Christian concern, as is made clear in Romans 13. Christians, along with the general public, are not well served by political leaders who, though identifying as Christians, are incompetent. The Reformer Martin Luther is often quoted as saying that he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk (Muslim) than an incompetent Christian. We cannot prove that Luther actually made the statement, but it well summarizes an important Christian wisdom.



quote:
Against Southern Baptist parochialism
Rod Dreher
October 11th, 2011

As my regular readers know, you can find me and the Southern Baptists on the same side of many social issues, but I think those that follow First Baptist Dallas’s pastor Robert Jeffress on the question of Mormons in politics are being unbelievably parochial and small-minded. I could be wrong about this, but it seems like leading Southern Baptist theologian Al Mohler thinks so too. In an essay he just posted, Mohler strongly defends the Southern Baptist teaching that Mormonism is not, theologically speaking, a Christian faith. But then he says that Southern Baptists and other Evangelicals have got to quit being so parochial in their political thinking. Excerpt:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Evangelicals stating a desire to vote for candidates for public office who most closely identify with our own beliefs and worldview. Given the importance of the issues at stake and the central role of worldview in the framing of political positions and policies, this intuition is both understandable and right. Likewise, we would naturally expect that adherents of other worldviews would also gravitate in political support to candidates who most fully share their own worldviews.

At the same time, competence for public office is also an important Christian concern, as is made clear in Romans 13. Christians, along with the general public, are not well served by political leaders who, though identifying as Christians, are incompetent. The Reformer Martin Luther is often quoted as saying that he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk (Muslim) than an incompetent Christian. We cannot prove that Luther actually made the statement, but it well summarizes an important Christian wisdom.

Hear, hear. This kerfuffle over Pastor Jeffress brings to mind a story my wife tells on herself about her training at First Baptist Dallas. (I repeat it here with her permission.) Julie was raised at First Baptist, and studied at the church’s parochial school. She loved it, and made many good friends there. Though she’s no longer a Southern Baptist, she’ll tell anybody who listens that she’s so grateful for her Baptist childhood, because that’s how and why she came to know Christ and to love Scripture.

That said, she regrets the deep parochialism about religion that was part and parcel of her formation there in the 1980s and early 1990s. She talks about having been shown filmstrips explaining why the “poor, precious Catholics” aren’t really Christians, and need to be reached for Jesus. The idea that there is any kind of real Christianity outside of born-again Protestantism was never really considered, she said. She tells of a mission trip her high school choir made to Barcelona for the 1992 Olympics. They were invited to sing in a small Catholic parish somewhere on the city’s outskirts. In a private moment before the performance, one of the Baptist adults present gathered the choir together and offered a prayer of thanksgiving that God had brought them there to proclaim his word “for the first time in 500 years.”

That is, since the Reformation. Because, you know, even though the church had been continuously used by Catholics since the Reformation, the Word of God had been absent, given that Roman Catholics aren’t really Christians. Or so these particular Southern Baptists thought.

Mind you, the lesson here is not that Roman Catholicism is right and the Southern Baptist confession is wrong, from a theological point of view. The thing that stands out about this anecdote is not that Baptists think Catholic theology is seriously misguided (of course they do! So what! Catholics think the same thing about Southern Baptists!). The thing that stands out is the rock-solid belief that the Word of God had been entirely absent from that particular parish church for 500 years. It’s as if the day Martin Luther was excommunicated, the Holy Spirit abandoned that little parish entirely, and was never heard from again until a group of fresh-faced Baptist teenagers from Dallas, Texas, showed up five centuries later to sing “Shine Jesus Shine.” It boggles the mind to think of it.

The lesson — at least the lesson my wife drew from it — is that she and her deeply sincere young Southern Baptist Christians operated from a position of supreme confidence that was completely unfettered by an awareness of history, nuance, or context. It’s a problem, this culturally-conditioned unsubtlety of mind, and it’s one that Al Mohler speaks to fairly eloquently in the context of conservative politics.



 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 01:29 PM
quote:
Depending upon one's definition, all religions are cults.

Except of course your religion.

One's individual beliefs in such matters have no political bearing, unless the form of govt is a dictatorship or theocracy. I don't think that's us, so why can't we get past this issue?


I was just going to write something almost identical to this... thank you.

 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 01:35 PM
quote:
Depending upon one's definition, all religions are cults.

Except of course your religion.

One's individual beliefs in such matters have no political bearing, unless the form of govt is a dictatorship or theocracy. I don't think that's us, so why can't we get past this issue?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----



Damn right.

When can we elect an atheist president????



Gotta say it's a relief to see some independent freethinkers around here. It was getting kind of medieval for a while, I was expecting someone to start a thread calling for witch burning.

As far as Mormonism goes, read "Under the Banner of Heaven," by Jon Krakauer, THEN let's discuss whether or not a Mormon president is a wise choice. They're ok honest decent folks, run a clean state, more than likely to help you out if your car breaks down on a Utah highway than most average Americans, but when it comes to political power... well, I better back off at this point. Let's just say I don't trust anyone who is happy to park their brain in the cages freely provided by religious authorities

[Edited on 10/11/2011 by scrambldybones]

 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 01:56 PM
I won't vote for him primarily because he thinks we spend too little on Defense and wants to increase the amount of our GDP spent on the military as well as increase the number of standing troops in all branches. Because, apparently, over a TRILLION dollars per year and a military which employs 3.2 million Americans just isn't enough for some politicians. Despite the same politicians wanting to cut the size of the federal gov't. Odd how these types exempt the largest branch of said federal gov't....

I should mention that he proclaimed all this in a speech presented last week at The Citadel, another organization which has a hard on for all things military (given, of course, it's a military school). Given Romney's propensity to tell whatever it is a particular audience at the time wants to hear, maybe he doesn't actually feel this way and so I should wait to see what he says about this subject in front of a different audience.

Mormon, Christian, Pagan, whatever their religious bent, some people should simply not be trusted. In my opinion, Romney is one such individual.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 02:11 PM
I don't hold anyone's religion or lack thereof against them as long as it is not a religion that calls for harming other people.

 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 02:13 PM
Our strongest beliefs guide our decisions. That is a given. Now look more closely at the practices of the Mormons and consider just this one:

Baptizing the dead into the Mormon faith. This is why they're so into genealogy; they want all their ancestors, and everybody they can get, in the Church. They got into a bit of trouble a few years ago when it was revealed that Mormons were posthumously baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Consider the mindset that would lead to this; these are people who died because they were Jews, and you're going to 'baptize' then into your faith?
This reveals an arrogance of outstanding proportions, the kind that leads folks to 'know whats best' for everybody else......




 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 02:19 PM
quote:
Just wait until a Scientologist runs.


Travolta/Cruise 2012!

 

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  posted on 10/11/2011 at 02:48 PM

quote:
But in truth, the way American politics and culture goes, American exceptionalism may as well be a theological principle for all US Christians.


I disagree with the author's claim that most or all Christians think the USA has a special place in God's plan.

Christ's Love is given freely to all that would believe in him, regardless of nationality,creed,sex or race.

That is a basic tenet of the Christian Faith , that this author clearly has no understanding of.

American Exceptionalism may be a part of our Culture, but is not according to Christian Doctrine or practice as I know it.

God created the entire universe, the United States of America is Man's doing.


 

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