Mythbusting, Mormon-Style!

As we recently discussed, Deseret News was lamenting confusion in media news coverage about Mormons and polygamy — while simultaneously helping it along by providing additional confusing misinformation on the subject. I give them irony bonus points for this statement:

And despite confusion in some media coverage, there is no relation between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the LDS Church or Mormons, and the polygamist FLDS or Jeffs.

OK, so the two organizations are not affiliated (or even friendly with one another), but is that quite the same thing as no relation? No wonder the media are confused! Also, the sentence directly implies that only the members CoJCoL-dS — not the FLDS — use the nickname “Mormon” (false). And I had to read it twice to get that they’re not actually claiming that FLDS members are commonly called “Jeffs” — creative!

Then — in a surprising new strategy — Joanna Brooks and the Washington Post decided to try printing accurate information! Or pretty good, anyway. Go read her article, and assess it for yourself, and see if you agree with my grades:

1. Mormons practice polygamy. my grade: A

Brooks’s explanation is probably the clearest and most accurate explanation of polygamy and the modern LDS church that I’ve ever read from a faithful member of the CoJCoL-dS. Deseret News, take note!

2. Mormons arent Christians. my grade: C

Brooks correctly implies that this is a battle that centers around the Religious Right. However, I think she’s missing the boat by not discussing the various possible definitions of “Christianity”. Her explanation seems to chalk the whole dispute up to personal/historical animosity. Special [negative] bonus points for earnestly using the term “anti-Mormon” — without a single mention of how loaded that term is in Mormon circles.

3. Most Mormons are white, English-speaking conservatives. my grade: D

From its American beginnings, Mormonism has grown into a global religion, with 14.1 million members worldwide. Fewer than half live in the United States. More LDS Church members live in South America (about 2.1 million) than Utah (1.9 million).

14.1 million members worldwide? Really? How many of those self-identify as Mormon?

Brooks knows how problematic those numbers are, yet recites them in myth-busting article without a single hint about how far the CoJCoL-dS official numbers differ from reality. Other relevant points that neglected to mention include (1) how the leadership of this extremely hierarchical organization is overwhelmingly dominated by white, English-speaking, conservative men, and (2) active Mormons are the most politically right-wing religious group in the US.

4. Mormon women are second-class citizens. my grade: B

This section is actually pretty good. My biggest beef is with the title. Brooks seems to be implying that women are not second-class citizens in the LDS church. I think she’s using a rather strange definition of “second-class citizen”:

It is true that mainstream Mormonism does not accord women equal status with men. The worldwide LDS Church chain of command including all positions of clerical, institutional and fiscal authority is entirely male. Women cannot hold the lay priesthood shared in by men age 12 and older. The churchs Proclamation on the Family declares that men preside over the household. Unequal gender language is also a part of Mormon temple worship and marriage ceremonies.

5. A Mormon president would blur the line between church and state. my grade: D

Maybe one would, maybe one wouldn’t, but (as in #3) she misses some key points. When making the comparison with Kennedy, she might have also mentioned some differences between Kennedy’s affirmation of the separation of church and state and Romney’s speech about how he’s just as religious as every other good American. Also — even if you think the temple loyalty oath isn’t important — it is a real, legitimate concern, and it’s disingenuous not to even mention it in this context. Then (this is nit-picky, but):

It should be remembered that Mormons have held local, state and federal offices in America for more than a century. Fifteen Mormons now serve in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and few seemed to worry that the LDS Church was influencing his debt-ceiling proposals.

This historical information isn’t very helpful without some discussion of how well the Mormons holding “local, state and federal offices in America for more than a century” did at maintaining the line of separation between church and state.

What do you think?

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93 Comments

  1. 1
    Alan says:

    Also, the sentence directly implies that only the members CoJCoL-dS not the FLDS use the nickname Mormon (false).

    Well, if this is false, then Brooks’ statement that “Mormons practice polygamy” is a myth is also false. Some Mormons today do in fact practice polygamy, just not those with memberships in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No wonder the Church attempted to trademark “Mormon” in the early 2000s. =p

    Number 3 bothers me because, as you say, the Church is highly correlated to what those at the top in SLC think is best. I don’t appreciate overseas folks being used as numbers (colored bodies, “Spanish-speakers” or whatever) to demonstrate diversity, when actual signs of diversity — such as a multitude of discourses — seems lacking because of correlation.

    My concern with (4) is that Brooks is basically saying Mormon women are neither victims nor empowered, and to “prove” it, she mentions Heavenly Mother and Mormon feminists. I see how the mentioning of Heavenly Mother is itself an exercise of Mormon feminism, since church leaders hardly mention Her. But there comes a point in which an outsider will say, “Okay, elaborate on this Heavenly Mother and Her significance for Mormon women since it seems to me that Mormon women are indeed treated as second class citizens given what you say about ecclesiastical inequality.” And from everything I read, Heavenly Mother was envisioned as the Wife of God who perhaps co-creates, but has an infinitely large and tireless womb like a queen ant, and is biography-less. She is said to not be worshiped or prayed to. Her existence is not in itself enough to convince outsiders that Mormon women aren’t treated as “second-class citizens” in the similar manner as Catholic women. Nor is the mentioning of “thousands of progressive LDS women and men today [who] call ourselves ‘Mormon feminists’” convincing. Some Catholic churches do ordain women against official policy — and plenty of Catholics have urged a change in policy. I understand Mormonism is much, much smaller, but I’m not sure I see quite the same kind of activity. What would be fascinating is if overseas wards, say in a progressive areas of Europe or South America start to ordain women and marry gays.

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  2. 2
    chanson says:

    Well, if this is false, then Brooks statement that Mormons practice polygamy is a myth is also false. Some Mormons today do in fact practice polygamy, just not those with memberships in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No wonder the Church attempted to trademark Mormon in the early 2000s. =p

    That’s a good point.

    Statements like the Deseret News quote above (where members of the CoJCoL-dS are “Mormons” unlike the FLDS) really bug me. The DN people who wrote that know about the court case, and they know the CoJCoL-dS doesn’t own the term “Mormon”. So they’ve decided on a new strategy whereby they actively pretend that they own the term — knowing full well that the mainstream media won’t bother to question their claim. Their strategy is intentionally dishonest.

    I agree with your points on 3 & 4 as well. Considering that Joanna Brooks is one of the most honest and forthright media Mormons out there, it’s actually kind of disappointing to see her mythbusting article laced with as many misleading half-truths as it is.

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  3. 3
    Ms. Jack says:

    My biggest issue with Joanna’s WaPo article is that she calls these things “myths,” then pretty much admits that most of them are at least somewhat true. I guess I wish it had been called “Five Half-Truths About Mormons” or something.

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  4. 4
    parker says:

    If you go back and examine Church talks prior to the sixties you will find that Christ was seldom mentioned. The hero was Joseph Smith who restored the Gospel. Mormons did not identify themselves as Christians, and in fact shunned the term, because they had nothing in common with the apostate Christian world. Until the Christus statue was placed on Temple Square during the fifties, there wasn’t anything there that suggested Mormons believed in Christ–it was all about the restoration and pioneer heritage. Then people started referring the LDS Church as a cult and non-Christian, and the Church suddenly discovered Christ. Now the Church seems desperate to be identified as part of the previously shunned and demeaned Christian world.

    So on the one hand LDS folks object to being told they worship the wrong Christ and, therefore, aren’t Christians. But then they go out and say that Christians are worshiping the wrong Christ and practicing a false religion. As the Buddhist monk says: “Strange religion.”

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  5. 5
    chanson says:

    Ms. Jack @3 — I agree, that would be an improvement in accuracy. But that would make the piece unpalatable to Mormons; practically “anti”. All five are things the CoJCoL-dS wants the media to say are not true at all! When, really, they’re all at least a little bit true (as Brooks admits in the bodies of some of them).

    parker @4 — I thought about that as well. I recall that when I was a kid, it was a big deal that we were a new “World Religion” — as big a leap from Christianity as Christianity is from Judaism. I read Brooks’ answer on that one again, and it really is just “because the other Christians are mean to us!” Personal/historical animosity is certainly a big part of it, but to present that as the whole story is (at best) misleading.

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  6. 6
    parker says:

    Searching for something else a few minutes ago, I ran across this statement by John Taylor: “We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense . . . . It is as corrupt as hell; and the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the Nineteenth Century.”

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  7. 7
    Chino Blanco says:

    In JB’s defense, “Five Myths” is a bi-weekly WaPo series, so she’s not to blame for titles.

    That said, I’d like to direct the attention of any evangelicals here to something JB has said recently about your kind:

    “…there are people out there who are actively scheming for our [LDS] young ones. …And they are. They’re predatory, and it’s offensive to me.”

    I’d totally be on board with setting up a neighborhood watch program to report any predatory activity around here. Or maybe just to help guard Mormon Matters.

    Nothin’ personal, Ms. Jack.

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  8. 8
    Badger says:

    I think point #5 is the most important and most interesting. I’m not sure highlighting the record of Mormon elected officials in state and local positions helps her case. I’m thinking of Utah, obviously, and events like the overnight 180-degree turn the state legislature made on ERA ratification after the Church announced its opposition. I personally don’t think that particular example gives much useful information about relations between the Church and a potential Mormon president, but others may disagree. In either case it can hardly be said to be a point in favor of Brooks’ argument. Harry Reid works much better as an example, but as a Democrat he has some built-in credibility for independence from the Church’s prevailing Republican politics.

    I’m with Alan on point #3. The article starts off by saying that Romney, Huntsman, and the Book of Mormon Musical are putting Mormons in the public eye. In that context, averaging white middle class Mormons in the US together with less-white lower-class South Americans doesn’t address the point. The Latino converts she mentions are relevant and interesting, but how large is the “majority of converts in recent years” compared to the size of the US church? Presumably it’s a minority, but is it substantial or tiny? Does anyone here happen to know? Is there any way to know? For that matter, how does Brooks know they are a majority of recent US converts? It’s not that I don’t believe it, but any source that can provide reliable Mormon demographics at that level of detail deserves more visibility. In other words, I’d like to know about it.

    On point #1, it’s a minor matter but it seems to me the LDS church could benefit from getting its act together on the word “Mormon”. I’ve seen statements “on the Internet” (in other words, by who-knows-who) in the same week from different Mormons taking the positions that (1) “Mormon” is a hurtful term used to refer disrespectfully to members of the CoJCoLDS; and (2) it is wrong and disrespectful to refer to any group other than the CoJCoLDS as “Mormons”. This is untidy, and I imagine it could be cleaned up easily by publicizing the official position more widely within the Church. I think right now it’s (2), isn’t it? (1) is obviously a losing battle based on syllable count in any case. But I’m just ark-steadying here; it’s no skin off my nose.

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  9. 9
    chanson says:

    Chino @7 — Wow, that’s a pretty strange comment from JB, but it kind of goes along with what she said in myth #2 about “anti-Mormon” Christians. Her commentary seems kind of hit-or-miss: sometimes excellent, other times people can hardly tell her from Michael Otterson.

    And, while free-associating on JB, did you see the comments on this W&T thread? Wow, when even a borderland LDS group “hands the keys” of authority to an atheist feminist, just watch the fireworks!

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  10. 10
    chanson says:

    badger @8:

    Im not sure highlighting the record of Mormon elected officials in state and local positions helps her case. Im thinking of Utah, obviously, and events like the overnight 180-degree turn the state legislature made on ERA ratification after the Church announced its opposition.

    Or, more recently, the similar instantaneous 180-degree turn the state legislature made on gay anti-discrimination laws after the Church came out in favor. I think the local politicians don’t really help the case for arguing that Mormon politicians can be trusted not to take orders directly from the COB.

    Re: #3, yeah, good stats on this are hard to come by. Also, I want to reiterate Alan’s point about correlation. People outside of Mormonism might not realize how much of the discourse in a Mormon church service is dominated by reading and presenting materials published by the COB in Salt Lake City. According to Daymon Smith’s research, part of the motivation for correlation was to make sure that all of the foreign converts weren’t messing up the doctrines by interpreting them and presenting them in their own way. And specifically, white anglophone Americans often go by nothing more than their own prejudice when deciding what kinds of church materials Spanish-speaking members want and need (see here).

    It’s a little like the standard complaint about the “I’m a Mormon” ad-campaign. It’s more than a little ugly to trot out “diverse” people as proof of Mormon diversity when those same people’s voices are marginalized within the church walls. I’m starting to think the grade I gave JB for #3 was too generous…

    Ive seen statements on the Internet (in other words, by who-knows-who) in the same week from different Mormons taking the positions that (1) Mormon is a hurtful term used to refer disrespectfully to members of the CoJCoLDS; and (2) it is wrong and disrespectful to refer to any group other than the CoJCoLDS as Mormons.

    Not only that, but — despite the CoJCoL-dS’s “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign, apparently one of the GAs recently gave a talk in conference reiterating strategy (1), advising members to shun the use of the term “Mormon”. The CoJCoL-dS can’t control the word “Mormon”, but they won’t stop trying to control it (in ways that confuse even themselves…).

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  11. 11
    Chino Blanco says:

    I thought that W&T post was unfortunate. One thing I like about Joanna Brooks is that it doesn’t matter what the topic or position might be, she won’t hesitate to affirm that “everybody’s got a right to some breathing room” when it comes to talking about this stuff we talk about. I’d say the same about Russell Arben Fox, Kristine Haglund and any number of folks whose beliefs I might not share but who conduct themselves in such a way that guarantees they’re gonna get a baseline of respect even from this dirty f*in’ exmo. Reading that W&T post makes me regret some of my own antics that have crossed into performing in-group/out-group work rather than promoting safe discussion. I’m thinking specifically of how I used to go after John Dehlin when he was doing the whole StayLDS thing. That was poor form on my part then and it’s regrettable watching what’s happening on W&T now. And that’s another thing Joanna Brooks has been right about: something about Mormon culture makes ‘em mean and maybe more Mormons ought to be thinking about what that something is.

    Edit: Since I’m on the subject, I’ll just mention that this comment from the author of that post over at W&T kinda cracked me up:

    I kind of like the controversy, but I have a real problem with open antagonism toward the church…

    B-b-but what about those of us who prefer our porridge piping hot?

    Thank goodness the Goldilocks gendarmerie is on the case!

    *eyeroll*

    Edit2: Just finished listening to this Michael Quinn (re)podcast. Recorded 15 years ago and Quinn’s been proven right about one thing: recent Mormon generations aren’t bothering with Sunstone/Dialogue/Bloggernacle/et.al. on their way out and are heading straight for exmo territory. Reading that post at W&T, or comments under that Quinn podcast, or watching BCC from afar, it’s not hard to imagine why.

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  12. 12
    chanson says:

    Id say the same about Russell Arben Fox, Kristine Haglund and any number of folks whose beliefs I might not share but who conduct themselves in such a way that guarantees theyre gonna get a baseline of respect even from this dirty f*in exmo.

    True, and I think it’s good to be willing to point out people from the other side of the aisle who are good examples to emulate.

    something about Mormon culture makes em mean and maybe more Mormons ought to be thinking about what that something is.

    Top-down information flow in which the people with the microphone aren’t faced with any accountability for what they say; church leaders questioning the righteousness of people who disagree with any part of the [incredibly micromanaged] message. It’s enough to frustrate anybody. IMHO, it encourages some rather unfriendly boundary maintenance.

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  13. 13
    Alan says:

    Mormons crave diversity in their ranks to feel justified and true, but demand mimicry to maintain this truth in the face of the diversity. Hmmm…sounds just like a colonizing force. I’m glad that you pointed out, chanson, that Brooks and Otterson seem of like minds when they tout the Church’s diversity, but fail to mention the whiteness of the Crown.

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  14. 14
    Jeff Spector says:

    It’s kind of funny that you are criticizing Joanna’s POV with your own POV. When in fact, many other’s actually in the Church would have differing POVs from either of you…..

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  15. 15
    chanson says:

    Its kind of funny that you are criticizing Joannas POV with your own POV.

    Who else’s POV am I going to write from but my own? If you have any objections to the points I’ve brought up, let’s hear ‘em.

    (ETA: It’s not like JB’s article was about how chocolate shakes are the most delicious, and I’m saying “Nuh-uh! Everybody knows strawberry is best!” She’s specifically claiming that the public has their facts wrong about 5 points about Mormonism. It’s reasonable to discuss how correct her “corrections” are.)

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  16. 16
    Jeff Spector says:

    “If you have any objections to the points Ive brought up, lets hear em.”

    So you can do the same thing to me? I don’t think so.

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  17. 17
    chanson says:

    OK, well, thanks for your input anyway.

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  18. 18
    Jeff Spector says:

    “Its reasonable to discuss how correct her corrections are.”

    I have no real problem with this idea, but it is an interpretation of correctness. If I were to say, for instance, that I don’t think women are 2nd class in the Church, you would immediately disagree. But from the POV of the Church, they are not.

    so, what is the use?

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  19. 19
    chanson says:

    If I were to say, for instance, that I dont think women are 2nd class in the Church, you would immediately disagree. But from the POV of the Church, they are not.

    I already said that one comes down to a differing definition of “second-class citizen”.

    so, what is the use?

    That depends on what your goal is. Are you hoping to have an interesting exchange of ideas, for example…?

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  20. 20
    Chino Blanco says:

    Oh fer cryin’ out loud. If disagreement flabbergasts you, maybe you need a new hobby (i.e., anything other than blogging).

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  21. 21
    Jeff Spector says:

    “If disagreement flabbergasts you, maybe you need a new hobby .”

    Do you honestly think that’s true?

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  22. 22
    chanson says:

    Well, disagreement kinda comes with the territory (exhibit A: this exchange). But please, make up your own mind on the matter, with my blessing.

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  23. 23

    Chanson, thanks for the link to my post. (I’m always glad to see you’re reading my stuff.) Chino, I am assuming that my “unfortunate” comments dealt with Ms. Welker. I have been a little surprised at the little attention paid to my comments about Fred Collier and his anti-Semitic comments. Would you consider my comments about Fred “unfortunate” as well?

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  24. 24
    Chino Blanco says:

    MH, I’m just letting your own picture editing lead the discussion, i.e., Brian, Janice, Joanna, and Margaret get captions with names under their photos, Holly sits nameless in the corner, and Fred is right out.

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  25. 25
    chanson says:

    MH — Personally, I found the whole bash-Holly-non-believers-have-no-business-at-Sunstone theme in the comments was quite unfortunate. I only had the pleasure of attending Sunstone once, but Holly’s presentation on Johnny Lingo was probably the most thought-provoking session I attended (see my thoughts on it).

    OTOH, I thought your point here was spot-on:

    If a Mormon runs as a democrat, he has already distanced himself from the church. Russell said that when Morris Udall ran for president in 1976 against Jimmy Carter, religion was a non-issue. It also seems to be a non-issue for Harry Reid.

    Indeed (bringing this back to the subject of the original post), it’s a point JB might have made in her WaPo article to improve her discussion of myths #3 & #5.

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  26. 26

    Chino, I couldn’t find a photo of Fred (or Newell or the other guys without a photo.) If you can find a photo of Fred for me, I’ll be happy to put it in with a caption. I also added a caption to Holly’s name if that makes you feel better.

    So were my comments about Fred “unfortunate”?

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  27. 27
    Chino Blanco says:

    Typical. As soon as I mention your doctrine of celestial, terrestrial, and telestial photo placement, you go and change it. What’s so hard about just owning it?

    Anyway, I dug up this photo of Fred for you and feel free to use it over at W&T.

    Lyndon LaRouche

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  28. 28
    chanson says:

    MH — Personally, I don’t have a problem with your remarks about Fred Collier. If you think he gave a poor presentation, you are welcome to say so. (I have no evidence to the contrary — I’ve never even heard of the guy before this.) And if he thinks it’s funny to make anti-Semitic jokes in the Q&A, then you’re right to call him on it and request an apology.

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  29. 29

    Chanson, I did write in comment 16, “I dont want this to turn into a bash holly session.” While I found Holly’s words and actions a big turn off, I was surprised that she got more comments than Fred or the rest of Sunstone in my post, and I did try to steer the discussion away from her. For some reason, Fred’s just not as polarizing, I guess.

    I’m all for listening to other perspectives so long as they’re respectful points of view. I guess that’s my big turn off with Holly: she is not respectful and downright hostile. Fred was the same way with Jews, and I can’t fathom why such behavior is acceptable in a forum that has been billed as “Mormon Artifacts and Material Culture”.

    To be honest, her behavior last year was much worse on the women and priesthood panel. She rolled her eyes and buried her face in her hands for every speaker (Tom Kimball, Robin Linkart, and Lisa Butterworth.) Once again, I have no problem with respectful disagreement. Holly can be an atheist for all I care. But if she’s disrespectful, I’m going to call her out on it. If Fred Collier is anti-Semitic, I’m going to call him out on it. If I’m disrespectful, I expect people to call me out on it.

    I didn’t agree with everything Brian Hales said either, but I felt he was fair and respectful.

    As for the democrat comment, I can’t claim credit. That goes to Bill Russell. I haven’t read the JB article yet, but it would have been nice for her to highlight Mormon democrats such as Harry Reid.

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  30. 30

    Chino, that is not the Fred Collier who gave the presentation. He has a white beard and lots of hair. Keep trying. And would you please answer my question about Fred, instead of avoiding it?

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  31. 31

    Chino, that is not the Fred Collier who gave the presentation. He has a white beard and lots of hair. Keep trying. And would you please answer my question about Fred, instead of avoiding it?

    Chino, I made a mistake, owned it, and corrected it. Anything wrong with that?

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  32. 32

    Chino, that is not the Fred Collier who gave the presentation. He has a white beard and lots of hair. Keep trying. And would you please answer my question about Fred, instead of avoiding it?

    Chino, I made a mistake, owned it, and corrected it. Anything wrong with that?

    I also didn’t post the wrong photo of someone.

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  33. 33

    Sorry for the multiple comments–not sure what happened there.

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  34. 34
    Chino Blanco says:

    Dude, chill. I’m cracking jokes. That’s Lyndon LaRouche, world-famous anti-Semite.

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  35. 35
    chanson says:

    Chanson, I did write in comment 16, I dont want this to turn into a bash holly session.

    I know that. I’m not blaming you for all of the unfortunate comments.

    While I found Hollys words and actions a big turn off, I was surprised that she got more comments than Fred or the rest of Sunstone in my post, and I did try to steer the discussion away from her. For some reason, Freds just not as polarizing, I guess.

    Im all for listening to other perspectives so long as theyre respectful points of view. I guess thats my big turn off with Holly: she is not respectful and downright hostile.

    When I attended and saw Holly on a panel, I didn’t notice any kind of disrespectful behavior towards any other panelists. She said some things that shocked some people, but it wasn’t shock-for-the-sake-of-shock — she made an extremely substantive and interesting contribution to the conference. (If you say she was rude this time, I don’t have contrary evidence, since I wasn’t there.)

    As far as Fred is concerned, I don’t know who that is, but I’m willing to believe that presentations at Sunstone vary in quality.

    As for the democrat comment, I cant claim credit. That goes to Bill Russell. I havent read the JB article yet, but it would have been nice for her to highlight Mormon democrats such as Harry Reid.

    She did highlight him. My objection was more that she elided the difference between liberal and conservative Mormon politicians.

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  36. 36
    Alan says:

    I don’t understand this comment at W&T in support of Holly:

    If you were aware of what she has done behind the scenes, and the willingness she has shown to support Sunstone under her real name and reputation, I doubt you would condemn her quite so harshly.

    Why would a person be reluctant to support Sunstone under her real name and reputation, especially if that person is a feminist, atheist ex-Mormon?

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  37. 37
    chanson says:

    I don’t know. I wasn’t aware of anyone using pseudonyms at Sunstone.

    BTW, I don’t think Holly self-identifies as “atheist”.

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  38. 38
    Chino Blanco says:

    That last time I attended was back during my BYU days and when I ran into one of my favorite profs he quipped, “I didn’t see you, you didn’t see me, and what a nice surprise to not see you here.”

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  39. 39
    chanson says:

    Chino — LOL!

    Admittedly people who are affiliated with BYU have more motivation than feminist atheists to go anonymous at Sunstone. But it’s theoretically possible for a feminist atheist to be in the closet about her connection with Mormonism. ;)

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  40. 40
    Holly says:

    Why would a person be reluctant to support Sunstone under her real name and reputation

    Mormon Heretic is for some reason extremely anxious to remain anonymous–I guess so he doesn’t have to take any responsibility or suffer any ill consequences for his “heresy”?

    As for his assertions that I was “rude” either last year or this year–well, I invite people to listen to the sessions, and will say that they only panelist out of either session who objected to what I said was Tom Kimball, whose basic position was that the priesthood should remain a male-only organization because the only time he expresses physical or verbal affection for his children is after he has done something priesthoody with them. He also said, with considerable smugness, that the only reason LDS women didn’t have the priesthood was that they hadn’t really asked for it, and that they’d get it when they were actually willing to sacrifice for it. I think those are solid reasons for eye-rolling and face-palming.

    On top of which I was doing exactly what Tom specifically asked in his proposal to Sunstone:

    Men and the Priesthood: Taking on the Feminine
    I would like to write a thesis of why the Priesthood forces men to take on the unnatural role as nurturer. [Note: unnatural role of nurturer!] And that this may be a positive consideration as to why women may want men only to have the priesthood.

    I guess Ill be setting up a straw man of sorts because I want a strong Women Only response panel including folks like Holly Welker, Lavina, [redacted names], and probably one of the Feminist Mormon Housewives crew. It would be nice to have ONE woman who would say, “I don’t want the priesthood.” Maybe a polygamist wife.

    Certainly I dont have a death wish. I basically, think it would be an interesting discussion about the possible pros, and certainly the cons of our male only priesthood.

    Lisa Butterworth volunteered to be the fMh representative, but I was listed as Tom’s first choice for panelist.

    On top of which Tom’s wife told me I had nailed her husband’s bad behavior, asked for a copy of my comments, and told me about the fight she planned to have with him on the drive home.

    On top of which fMh was collectively horrified and embarrassed by Lisa Butterworth’s comments. There was plenty of eye-rolling and cringing over what she did–particularly after she published them on fMh as an essay entitled “Defending the Patriarchy.”

    On top of which Susan Skoor, an apostle in the CofC, talked to me at length after the panel about how I was right, and about the difficulty of reaching people like Tom Kimball (and Mormon Heretic, I suppose).

    As for this year, Janice, Margaret and Joanna were all pretty happy with how the session went, and any could address significant errors in the way MH portrayed it.

    And Chanson is right: I don’t self-identify as atheist, but my concept of god is so amorphous and impersonal that I fit most believers’ idea of an atheist.

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  41. 41
    Holly says:

    Hmm. Block quotes didn’t work. But this passage is from Tom, and should be blockquoted:

    Men and the Priesthood: Taking on the Feminine
    I would like to write a thesis of why the Priesthood forces men to take on the unnatural role as nurturer. [Note: unnatural role of nurturer!] And that this may be a positive consideration as to why women may want men only to have the priesthood.

    I guess Ill be setting up a straw man of sorts because I want a strong Women Only response panel including folks like Holly Welker, Lavina, [redacted names], and probably one of the Feminist Mormon Housewives crew. It would be nice to have ONE woman who would say, I dont want the priesthood. Maybe a polygamist wife.

    Certainly I dont have a death wish. I basically, think it would be an interesting discussion about the possible pros, and certainly the cons of our male only priesthood.

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  42. 42

    Sorry Chino. I guess I’m not used to your sense of humor. I only visit MSP occasionally, so I can’t tell when you’re making a joke.

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  43. 43
    Badger says:

    I commented on the W&T thread, but kind of skipped over the comments about Collier and Welker because I’m in a position of complete ignorance: didn’t attend, don’t know either of them, etc. I will go so far as to say that I find it hard to imagine a hypothetical defense of Collier’s statement that begins “Well, I did say that, but…” But what? Something about a previously undiagnosed brain injury might work, although I certainly hope there’s nothing like that behind it. Also, mixing Cain with Jews and international bankers doesn’t sound very normal to me, even for a racist conspiracy theory. Doesn’t Cain=Black for such purposes, or am I missing something?

    I did ask a question about the comparison of Democratic vs Republican Mormon politicians (MH, thanks for your answer). Getting back to JB, I’ve already said (and chanson agreed) that citing state and local Mormon politicians is not obviously a helpful reference point. Now I’m wondering about US senators from Utah, and Orrin Hatch in particular. I can’t think of any conspicuous Church-influence issues with him (are there any?), and as a Republican he is more directly comparable to the current LDS presidential candidates. If I’m not confusing him with someone else, and apologies to Sen. Hatch if I am, he supported embryonic stem cell research when the “default” Republican position was opposition. If the Church took a public position opposing it, not that I think it will, I wonder if he would fall into line? I can imagine it going either way. I can also imagine that mutual embarrassment for Sen. Hatch and the Church might work against the Church taking such a position, although that’s pure speculation.

    Anyway, I think Hatch would have made a better example than the state and local elected officials. He’s been around for ever, would be better known than Sen. Reid if not for Reid’s leadership position, is certainly better known nationally than any individual state or local Mormon politician, and unless I’ve missed something, which is very possible, has no history of seeming to be a puppet of the prophet.

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  44. 44
    chanson says:

    Badger — good point. A few words about Hatch’s record would probably have helped her case.

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  45. 45
    Alan says:

    The new Mormon Defense League has an answer to the question of using “Mormon” to describe the FLDS:

    Q. But arent they still Mormons because they believe in the Book of Mormon?

    A. No, they arent. You certainly wouldnt ask if Lutherans are still Catholic because they believe in the Bible. It is most appropriate to call them by the name of their church. The term Mormon is used for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So it is inappropriate to use that term with other groups, unless it is modified. Some modify the term Mormon with Fundamentalist, however, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints objects to that usage as that usage leads to confusion between the groups and isnt very accurate.

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  46. 46
    aerin says:

    I think the notion of what is respectful behavior should be a part of this discussion. I wasn’t at any of the sessions myself, so I don’t know. But I think there is definitely a split within American culture about what is appropriate or inappropriate. Often it has to do with age. Then, within academia, challenging an opposing view and visibly reacting would not be seen as disrespectful (I could be wrong about that). Now interrupting someone could be considered poor form, but the context is important as well.

    Finally, who cares where a presenter stands in terms of their personal beliefs. If they are open about them, open about their biases, it shouldn’t matter. What is Sunstone anyway? Another church meeting? It certainly sounds to me like some people might have been expecting it to be.

    In the world, people disagree and dissent all the time. People even share unfortunate or distasteful opinions (anti -seminitism). The organizers have a right to ask (or not) whomever they choose. It’s then up to the audience to decide if they want to participate or not.

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  47. 47
    aerin says:

    PS. and as for the original post, LDS church leaders don’t make it easy for anyone to dissent from their message. Or even assert various facts about mormons, polygamy, support or not for Prop. 8, etc. We’ve discussed the numbers, finances and doctrinal minefields here before.

    I can understand the impulse towards defending the Utah LDS church, but it’s a near impossible task.

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  48. 48
    chanson says:

    Alan @45 — Yeah, I was thinking of looking up their answer to this question, just for the LOLZ.

    If you wanted to know what you should call the Lutherans, would you ask the Catholics? Or, more to the point, if you wanted to know what to call the Mormons, would you ask the Evangelical Christians? No…? Well, then, the opinion of the CoJCoL-dS on the correct name for the FLDS is kind of vaguely interesting, but fundamentally irrelevant when deciding what the FLDS should be called.

    (Aside: the Sami people are commonly known by a term they consider pejorative “Lapps”, largely due to this same error of relying on not-necessarily-friendly neighboring people for what they should be called.)

    This particular entry is a giant red flag that the MDL is (for all practical purposes) a joke — in case the blue ribbon Chino noted didn’t already tip you off.

    p.s. to all — as a procedural question: Do folks of the community here think it is OK that MH’s IRL identity has been posted without his consent? Naturally, I understand the motivation, but should it be allowed? What say you?

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  49. 49
    Badger says:

    I used to object to statements that Mormons aren’t Christians. I would say, look, nobody says the Arians, or the Pelagians, or what have you, weren’t Christians even though the creeds cited to exclude Mormons were written to exclude those groups. Call Mormons heretical if you like–it’s just the other side of the Great Apostasy coin. But “non-Christian” just makes you look like ungracious squabblers to actual non-Christians, to whom you and the Mormons may well look as alike as peas in a pod.

    Then the LDS Church started telling the world that only they could decide who could be called a Mormon, and I gave up. I still think my first paragraph makes a lot of sense, but given the LDS position it seemed like time to recognize that the world just doesn’t work the way I think it should on this issue, and move on.

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  50. 50
    chanson says:

    I think the notion of what is respectful behavior should be a part of this discussion.

    I think it is an important question, but not necessarily for this discussion. The critical point for me is that essentially nobody here at MSP was present for the panel in question. We have some (perhaps questionable) reports about what Holly did, and to respond by launching into a highbrow discussion of “what is repsectful behavoir” at this point would be unfairly putting Holly in the hotseat.

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