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?