“Do Mormons eat hot dogs?”

Did you know asking a Mormon this question is “religiously antagonistic” and can lead Mormons to take a “defensive posture”? So declares John Enslen, a Mormon lawyer in Alabama in a recent article in the Deseret News.

The context for the question is that Mr. Enslen is talking about ways to counter “anti-Mormonism.” I’ll return to his claimed remedy for anti-Mormonism below, but I want to spend a little time on what appears to be his interpretation of what it means to be “anti-Mormon.” Given that he frames the question, “Do Mormons eat hot dogs?” as an anti-Mormon statement (though he seems to suggest this is a mild-form of such sentiment), the implication is that Mr. Enslen equates ignorance of Mormonism, generally, with anti-Mormonism, as only someone who knows little about the religion would ask, “Do Mormons eat hot dogs?” Thus, if you don’t know much about Mormons, that, apparently, makes you an anti-Mormon, especially if you ask a Mormon to tell you about what they do.

I’m sure he would also agree that most of the regulars here at MSP are EXTREME anti-Mormons because we know a fair amount about the religion, but we are critical of it.

Let me summarize, then, the position of Mr. Enslen when it comes to anti-Mormonism: You’re an anti-Mormon if you don’t know anything about Mormonism and you’re an anti-Mormon if you do but aren’t a believer.

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but it seems like his definition of anti-Mormon pretty much includes everyone who is not Mormon. Thus, all that is required, per his definition, for someone to be anti-Mormon is for them to not be Mormon. Excellent. There are about 7 billion anti-Mormons on the planet today, including the millions who have never even heard of the religion, because ignorance is not, apparently, indifference.

The great irony in Mr. Enslen’s position is that, using his own criteria, this makes Mormons anti-every-other-religion. Mormons aren’t known for their Biblical scholarship, knowledge of the differences between various Christian denominations, knowledge of non-Christian religions, or, well, knowledge of pretty much anything except Mormonism (and even that is questionable). And, based on the little they know, they reject all the other religions as the Church of Satan (per the Book of Mormon). So, if Mormons don’t know anything about a religion, their ignorance makes them “anti-whatever-religion.” And if they do know something about another religion but they reject it, that makes them “anti-whatever-religion.” Ergo, Mormons are, by Mr. Enslen’s definition, anti-every-other-religion.

And, just for the sake of search engines, let’s just make a list. Mormons are: anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist, anti-Semitic/anti-Jew, anti-Muslim, anti-Bahai, anti-Shinto, anti-Sikh, anti-Jain, etc.

I wonder if this holds for non-religion as well. Are Mormons anti-atheist or anti-agnostic or anti-none or anti-secular humanist despite these not being religions? Given Mr. Enslen’s position, I’m going to say yes. Mormons are anti-anti-Mormons, which includes everyone who is not a Mormon.

Granted, I’m taking Mr. Enslen’s position to extremes here. If he were to stop by this site, he’d probably claim that I have mischaracterized his rather poorly written article. And that’s probably true. But I did take the article at face value, and this was the implication.

But let’s continue with the article. His point was actually to claim that the way to counter anti-Mormonism (which really means convert everyone since that is the only way they can cease to be anti-Mormons) is to live the gospel and be Christ-like. He gives an example from an encounter he had with a prominent banker in his town. The banker asked Mr. Enslen about a pamphlet he had received that talked about how Mormons were notadheringto traditional Christian beliefs but seemed like good people. The banker asked Mr. Enslen for his take on this. Mr. Enslen’s erudite response was, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

Why do religious people even bother to use this phrase anymore? Do they not see how it sets them up to be ridiculed?

If the measure of truth of a religion is in the “fruits” or “behaviors” of the members, then I choose Mark Hoffman as the representative of Mormonism upon which I’ll base my views of the religion. Or maybe the Lafferty brothers. Or, well, you get the point. There are plenty of Mormons who have done really terrible things.

I’m sure Mr. Enslen would respond by saying something like, “Those people weren’t really Mormons”. Which is the equivalent of saying:

  • True Mormons are good people.
  • Any people who claim to be Mormons but who are not good people are not true Mormons.
  • Ergo, all Mormons are good people.

This is, of course, known as the “No True Scotsman Fallacy.” Every Mormon MUST be a good person, or they are not “true” Mormons. Thus, in this illogical world, Mr. Enslen’s brilliant response works: His banker friend will no doubt be very impressed by any Mormon he meets because they are all good people.

Mr. Enslen, a word…

Rather than consider all non-Mormons anti-Mormons;

And rather than believe that you can determine the truthfulness of something by observing the behavior of those who believe it;

Why not just let other people believe what they want, not treat them like people who are out to get you, and just try to live a good life?

Published by

profxm

I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

11 thoughts on ““Do Mormons eat hot dogs?”

  1. I’m not sure he equates the softer antagonism with anti-Mormonism, but it is odd to call it antagonistic at all for people not to know what we believe and to ask. I find myself having to tell my own children what Mormons believe now that everything other than generic pray, pay your tithing and follow the prophet stuff has been correlated out of their formal religious instruction. For all most LDS have actually read of the Word of Wisdom, hot dogs might be mentioned. Certainly eating meat sparingly is mentioned in the text but never mentioned by LDS in general or noted when making pot luck assignments for church activities. The most interesting part of the article for me was his equating his neighbor’s church sponsoring misleading anti-Mormon seminars with viciousness. Would he then side with the gay neighbors who were offended by Prop 8 signs going up next door and knowing the people they had watered plants for while they were on vacation were paying lots of money to put ads on TV about how their marriage was irreparably harming children and seeking to overturn the Constitution to allow churches to be run by the state?

  2. Hi Paula,

    I agree that it isn’t clear in his article whether he thinks people asking about what Mormons believe is “anti-Mormon,” but he certainly suggests it is antagonistic, which insinuates that he thinks it is “anti-Mormon.”

    Given his description of what it means to be “anti-Mormon,” I think he would be forced to admit that a gay couple would be experiencing homophobia if their neighbors were openly supportive of Prop 8 like legislation given the example he gave in his article.

    Finally, I did just realize that I never answered the question in the title of the article: There is nothing in Mormon doctrine or thought prohibiting the consumption of hot dogs. So, “Do Mormons eat hot dogs?” Yes, if they want to.

  3. I think you’re being a little hard on the article, profxm. Enslen states that antagonism can “range from an unexpected question in the form of a humorous question from a co-worker like, ‘Do Mormons eat hot dogs?'” Perhaps he has in mind a real experience where a co-worker asked it in a mocking or condescending manner. Really, it’s just a poorly written article in several places, and this is one of them, but I don’t get an “all non-Mormons are anti-Mormons” vibe from the article.

    This jumped out at me though:

    The theme of the article was a common one, a type of back-handed compliment as my mama was apt to call such. In a condensed form, the article said that Mormons are all wrong about the history of Christianity and Mormons are all wrong about Christian doctrines. Nevertheless, Mormons on the whole display a high degree of Christian virtue in the way they live their misinformed lives. They are known for their chastity, morality, family solidarity, honesty, industry, health consciousness, humanitarian service, patriotism, educational achievement and evangelism for their cause.

    What does he think Mormons do when they talk about other Christians? Do they not say that we’re wrong about the history of Christianity and core Christian doctrines, but often go on to praise our other good qualities?

    Interestingly enough, I did engage in some back-and-forth this past week with an apologist at MormonDiscussions.com who essentially wound up arguing that all non-Mormons = anti-Mormons. It’s hard to point to a good starting point in our lengthy exchange, but here is probably good.

  4. I was just reading a Dominionist blog the other night, where the author equated religious pluralism with anti-Christianity and advocated publicly stoning gays and blasphemers. Those last few sentences were a balm for the wounded soul.

  5. Tachyon, it’s so nice to know that there are plenty of intolerant religions to choose from when one needs to feel superior. I can just imagine a bored God with eternity on his hands and no entertainment going around telling his various children that they are really his favorites and then watching them go off and duke it out. Because God must be as petty as the most petty of humans, right?

  6. #6 Paula

    I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not! I didn’t feel superior while reading that stuff, I felt hurt and afraid.

    I don’t even know why I do that to myself. It must be a “facing your fears” kind of thing.

  7. #7 – Tachyon – Don’t worry, you didn’t come across as superior. It just seems to me that those who fear religious pluralism have a need to feel superior that they then need to project onto a God who should be more mature. Sorry I didn’t make myself clear and you thought I was accusing you of being that way.

  8. “This is, of course, known as the No True Scotsman Fallacy. Every Mormon MUST be a good person, or they are not true Mormons. Thus, in this illogical world, Mr. Enslens brilliant response works: His banker friend will no doubt be very impressed by any Mormon he meets because they are all good people.”

    I’ve heard that ploy many times from Christians. Whenever a Christian is in the news for committing some heinous act (bombing a women’s clinic, for example) the cries of “Not a Real Christian” surely follow. And when thousands of Fox News readers called for atheists to be raped, tortured and murdered, the “No True Christian” defense was used.

    What’s amusing is that liberal Christians claim RW Christians aren’t “True Christians” because they preach so much hatred and intolerance, and so little of what Jesus taught. The RW Christians claim liberal Christians aren’t “True Christians” because they tolerate gay people and abortion, among other things, which is clearly un-Biblical. Apparently there aren’t any “True Christians”.

  9. Ah, okies …

    Yeah, they see everything in terms of “with us or against us.” That’s probably why they fear a “one world religion” every time they see people of other faiths cooperating.

  10. I’ve always felt the natural logical conclusion from the whole “by their fruits shall ye know them” theme in LDS scripture is that you CAN judge “Mormonism” or the LDS Church by the bad actions of its members.

    I really don’t have much issue with this conclusion being drawn here as well.

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