I’m Anti-Mormon? Really??!?

I believe this “anti-mormon” label is thrown around haphazardly and without merit. This post by chanson (and the ensuing comments) show a little of what I’m talking about. From baptism… I’m not sure when this trend began.

After all my analysis, many may choose to consider me (and others) anti-mormon. That is their right. I don’t consider myself anti-mormon (please see my post here).

I don’t think it’s fair to consider someone “anti” (against) something simply because:

-They ask questions about it (particularly difficult questions)
-They bring up difficult parts of its history
-They protest for change or equal treatment for all members of an organization
-They ask for an accurate accounting of membership and funds of that organization

I would like to compare these types of issues with the opinion of the United States.

As many know, U.S. history is full of difficult episodes. At its founding, the U.S. supported the slave trade and many Americans owned slaves (other human beings). The author of the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson) along with the first president of the U.S. (George Washington) owned slaves on their respective plantation(s) in Virgina. Accounts of human slavery/trafficking are difficult to read and to digest. Suffice to say, it was a dark moment in U.S. history and a specter that hangs over current U.S. policy. Many descendents of former slaves still live in the U.S., and still fight to be treated with equality.

With that said, I have never heard anyone who discusses slavery and its history called “anti-American”. It is common knowledge that slavery existed and that the founding fathers profited from it. Scholars are not deported for questioning U.S. policy about slavery or towards the descendents of former slaves.

In the 60s, many people protested for a repeal of “Jim Crow” laws in the south, which promoted disenfrancisement and segregation of people of different races. While some of those protestors were considered “anti-American” at the time, today they are regarded as pioneers and true innovators. Their sacrifice led to the many gains in race relations here in the United States. The struggle is not over, but I think everyone can agree we are at a better place than we were prior to Brown vs. the Board of Education (and other landmark events).

While some of the protestors may have been anti-American at the time, I don’t think they could all be labeled as Anti-American.

I’ve participated in e-lists and read websites about mormonism (now called the LDS faith) since 1999. Most of these lists/groups are made up of former or inactive LDS.

I have encountered very few people over those years who could be considered “anti-mormon”, and even fewer that encourage any sort of harm against the current LDS faithful.

The vast majority of people that I read are asking difficult questions about the mormon faith. They are questioning why the main governing body (the LDS General Authorities) choose to make the decisions they do. They are protesting for equal treatment for all LDS members. They may bring up unsightly parts of LDS history (and protest against current policy that might harm some members).

I submit that many organizations, even religious organizations, have episodes or other incidents that they are not proud of. Humans make mistakes. The question is, do we encourage a diologue about these policies or issues? Or do we group everyone who is different from us, who brings up difficult issues as “anti-mormon” and as intending harm to that person’s faith?

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45 Responses

  1. chandelle says:

    this was simply an amazing post. amazing. thank you for writing it.

  2. chanson says:

    To be honest, I feel like this practice of simplistically labeling all critics and non-believers as “anti” is diminishing, at least in blog space. I follow a bunch of Bloggernacle blogs, and it seems like they’ve been more careful lately with the subtle distinctions. Visibility pays off… 😉

  3. Seth R. says:

    Well, the last time I actually checked into the exmormon.org discussion board (it was quite a while ago), two shining examples of humanity were having a laugh about how the Martin Handcart tragedy “was a joke” because they “didn’t have it half as bad as the Indians on the trail of tears.”


    For the record, I haven’t read anything much here that I consider particularly hate-speech-esque.

  4. Seth R. says:

    I think “anti-Mormon” is pretty much in the same class as “cult.” Both words are usually used in overwrought arguments.

  5. john f. says:

    I didn’t see accusations of being anti-Mormon in the post you linked or the comments that followed.

  6. exmoron says:

    So, can we get clear definitions of what it means to be “anti-Mormon”?

    Here’s a start:
    An anti-Mormon is someone who wants to see Mormons and Mormonism destroyed physically (i.e., no more religion, no more people).


    As far as I why the label is used, it’s a logical fallacy (or maybe two): ad hominem (attacking the person not the argument) or non-sequitur (it does not follow that because someone criticize Mormonism that want to see Mormonism or Mormons destroyed; see my definition above). Whenever someone calls you an anti-Mormon for criticizing Mormonism, call them on their faulty logic!

    Nice post aerin.

  7. Hellmut says:

    Great post, Aerin. In his famous book The Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse points out that dead people who are celebrated today, used to be hounded by society while they were alive.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. is a case in point. During his life time, people referred to him as a communist. Today, almost everyone acknowledges that his efforts and his criticism improved the American democracy.

    Just like everyone else, powerful people do not like to be criticized. They will use their power to silence the critics. That’s not a Mormon problem. It’s a human problem.

    However, a well designed institution will recognize that criticism will contribute to the common good and provide protections for the loyal opposition. The absence of such protections harm Mormonism much more than Michael Quinn, Lavina Anderson, and even all the critics combined ever could.

    The Mormon problem is ultimately not that there is abuse but that there is so little that one can do about abuse within the system. In that respect the LDS Church is a backwards and dangerous institution that exposes its members (and increasingly non-members) needlessly to abuse.

    The good news is that the changes that are required to address that problem are relatively minor. One can preserve ninety percent of Mormonism and resolve the issue.

    We only need to acknowledge that LDS leaders are much more likely to proclaim their personal opinions than the will of God and that there needs to be a way to hold them accountable for the consequences of their opinions.

  8. aerin says:

    John F. – I think it was Sheila Hunter’s comments (#25) in chanson’s baptism post.

    In my post
    here I’m accused of denigrating the mormon faith. To me, that means pretty much the same thing as being anti-mormon.

    Seth – as far as the cult thing goes, just because I might consider the LDS faith (the extreme that some people take it to) a cult-like organization – I’m not promoting hate speech.

    Let me explain what I mean. I’ve read the common definitions of a cult. With the extremes that some individual members take it to – it can reach that “cult” status.
    -Don’t question church leaders (check).
    -Eat and wear only things that church leaders say are okay (check).
    -Don’t talk to people outside the faith (check).
    -Read and watch only “approved” materials (check).

    Here’s the definition from wikipedia.

    So let me be clear. I certainly do not think ALL mormons are members of a cult (like Heaven’s gate or Jim Jones’ People’s temple). Some former mormons may disagree with me. But there are some mormons from my experience that DO meet these characteristics/promote that strict adherence. While they may be “fringe” mormons and not the mainstream, they promote unhealthy devotion to mormonism and mormon leaders that could be seen as a cult (from an outside perspective).

    I’ll give two examples. 1 – After I had left mormonism, one of my younger sisters was told in her yw’s class (by that teacher) that she should no longer associate with me. No other reason was given except that I was an “apostate” and had left the faith.

    2 – Before I had left mormonism, before I had even thought about questioning mormonism at all, one sister (another lifelong member) had specifically told her daughters not to associate with me. Simply because I asked too many questions (which was seen as potentially dangerous). I found out about it later from one of the daughters (not sure why she decided to say something anyway).

    Both of these members (in my view) were taking mormonism to an unhealthy level. They were both meeting characteristics of a cult (not talking to members outside the cult, not thinking about things critically or associating with people who think of things critically).

    Again – I feel that most mormons/LDS do NOT meet those characteristics or act that way.

    But some do (and, with that said, just like Hellmut was talking about human foibles, many other people/organizations have these same issues).

    So what can organizations (like the LDS leadership) do? Well – they can stop labeling all critics as “anti”. They can stop excommunicating people who bring up things that they don’t want to hear. They can restructure things so that people with fringe beliefs/unhealthy beliefs are not in power/teaching children.

    And it’s not just saying things in general conference – as dpc mentioned previously, few people listen to general conference anyway. It’s making concrete changes and actions that are clear to the membership.

    This is a very long comment – I guess what I’m saying is, just because I’m asking questions/criticizing an institution, (even to call that institution a cult-like organization) does not necessarily mean that I’m against that institution OR that I’m promoting physical harm against that institution or its adherents. I don’t feel that’s hate speech.

  9. dpc says:

    DISCLAIMER: I am completely opposed to any kind of acronym-Mormonism (TBM, NOM, ExMo, etc.) Once a Mormon, always a Mormon, regardless of your particular organized religion affiliation.

    Exmoron said:

    “As far as I why the label is used, it’s a logical fallacy (or maybe two): ad hominem (attacking the person not the argument) or non-sequitur (it does not follow that because someone criticize Mormonism that want to see Mormonism or Mormons destroyed; see my definition above). Whenever someone calls you an anti-Mormon for criticizing Mormonism, call them on their faulty logic!”

    Here’s my take:

    I think that ‘anti’ in this case means ‘against’ so I think you can properly define anti-Mormon as someone who is against the Mormons.

    To be against something speaks to someone’s intent. If someone criticizes the Mormons in an attempt to reform or to point out weaknesses with the hope that such weaknesses be corrected, without any other intent, that would not qualify you as an anti-Mormon. If, however, your intent is more than mere criticism, and you intend to weaken or destroy the Mormon church as an institution, then you are treading into ‘anti-Mormon’ territory.

  10. Hellmut says:

    That makes sense, dpc. The problem is that in the Mormon experience, the term anti-Mormon identifies the lynch mobs of Nauvoo.

    And on a larger note, when somebody wants to improve Mormonism by documenting child abuse, like Lavina Anderson, for example, then that person is actually a pro-Mormon.

    Powerful Mormons, however, will do their utmost to label the critic an anti-Mormon, not because that makes sense but because it happens to be in the leaders’ interest.

    In fact, however, people like Lavina are strengthening the LDS Church. The people who have excommunicated her are the real anti-Mormons because they are putting their self-interest before the good of the Church, the members, and our children.

    I am assuming, of course, that child abuse is a bad thing, which should not be controversial.

  11. Wayne says:

    There is that underlying belief, that if you have studied the scriptures, prayed and even been a devout member then come to the conclusion that the church is not “true’ want to be; you have fallen under the power of the Dark one.

    So, anything you say about the church is suspect. Criticism is coming from evil intentions and not good.

    This is how a lot of members see their opposites; even if we don’t see ourselves as anti in any way.

  12. Wayne says:

    Hellmut- I like your take on what anti Mormon is.

  13. Seth R. says:

    I’d apply the term to anyone who is brainlessly critical of everything to do with the LDS faith simply because it’s “Mormon” and therefore suspect – whether they want the Church wiped out or not.

    And yes, I have encountered plenty of people like this. Such people naturally do not like having it pointed out that their objectivity and credibility is hopelessly compromised and thus don’t tend to appreciate the term “anti-Mormon” even though it fits them very well.

    The two idiots I encountered discussing the Martin Handcart company. Oh yeah. Anti-Mormon was a very fitting label. If they don’t like it, maybe they might consider inviting a bit of fairness and charity into their lives.

    Unfortunately a lot of much more reasonable people tend to get tarred by their tolerance of or association with jerks like this.

  14. I would say that I’m anti-Mormonism and pro-Mormon.

  15. Hellmut says:

    Thanks for the compliment, Wayne.

    There is no doubt, Seth, that there is a lot of nonsense on RfM. The other day, somebody suggested that Michael Quinn ought to stop whining and become a greeter at Walmart. When I called the guy, several others agreed. It was almost like Rush Limbaugh.

    Fortunately, a lot of people are getting over that stage within a couple of months.

  16. exmoron says:

    I still think there needs to be a clear definition. If all it takes to be “anti-Mormon” is “brainless criticism of everything to do with the LDS faith simply because it’s “Mormon” and therefore suspect” that is going to lead to a lot of people being “anti-Mormons.” Literally millions of people in the U.S. (and around the world for that matter) think Mormon men still marry lots of women. Is that “brainless criticism”? Does that make these uninformed individuals anti-Mormon?

    Again, comparisons are informative. I know virtually nothing about physics, but if I were to say, brainlessly, that string theory sounds ridiculous (14 dimensions does sound kind of weird), does that make me “anti-physics”? In order for me to be labeled (and labeling people means something – there is a whole subfield and theoretical camp surrounding labeling theory in social psychology) as someone who opposes physics, I think I would need to be a bit more vociferous in my attacks than just making brainless comments. I would consider some young earth creationists who oppose evolution “anti-evolution” and some evolutionists “anti-creationism” because they quite literally want to see those ideas destroyed. But brainless criticism? You’re cutting a very wide swatch of you include that in the definition.

    I think my definition stands:
    An anti-Mormon is someone who wants to see Mormons and Mormonism destroyed physically (i.e., no more religion, no more people).

    By my definition, there may be a few anti-Mormons on this site, but most probably don’t care one way or the other if Mormonism continues they just want to see it reformed.

    Where do I stand? Hmm… I would never wish physical harm on anyone based on their religious views (assuming they don’t include wishing physical harm on me) and I would probably like to eventually see religions either morph into something like creedless social clubs or disappear altogether, but I don’t really care if people still adhere to religious beliefs so long as they allow me to not do so. So, I’m not too far from being an anti-Mormon, but I don’t consider myself anti-Mormon.

  17. Seth R. says:

    Believe it or not, Wikipedia has an entry on “anti-Mormon”:


    Nice picture.

  18. Seth R. says:

    Jeff Lindsey has a section on “What is an Anti-Mormon?” that I found pretty good:

    “This is a poorly defined term, but I would say that only the activists who attack the Church in a way intended to generate misunderstanding, fear, and shock are the ones who deserve the epithet of “anti-Mormons.” Many such “Mormon bashers” feel that the end justifies the means, and use tactics that are incompatible with the truthful example of Christ.

    There is plenty of room for decent people to disagree with us. Sometimes I even disagree with “us.” Most Protestants and Catholics who disagree with us are not “anti-Mormons” but simply people of another denomination. But when someone strives to stir up anger toward the Church and relies on misinformation or half-truths, then I’m inclined to apply the anti-Mormon label–especially when they do it for a living. On the borderline are well meaning people who feel an evangelical duty to battle “cults” (which tend to be any group that disagrees with them) and write articles regurgitating the sensationalist and shocking diatribes of full-blooded anti-Mormons. I tend to call such critics anti-Mormons as well (I sense that they usually don’t mind the title, unless they are posing as “loving friends of the Mormons” in order to launch more effective assaults on our faith). Those of other faiths who disagree with us and engage in civil discourse with us about their differences are usually not “anti-Mormons” but perhaps simply critics or just adherents of a different faith.”

  19. Guy Noir, Private Eye says:

    re Hellmut’s posts:

    Unfortunately, in a toe-to-toe choice between ‘church’ principles & ‘Christian’ principles (honesty, kindness,charity, repentance & forgiveness)…. quess which would prevail when a Mormon wants to divorce a (non-adulterous, non-abusive) Christian? Which do you think LDS leaders would side with?

  20. john f. says:

    re # 16, abeling people means something – there is a whole subfield and theoretical camp surrounding labeling theory in social psychology

    This is interesting considering the label you have given to yourself of “exmoron”. By playing on the similarity of “moron” and “Mormon”, your handle ridicules all Mormons by labeling them morons. What makes them morons? Nothing more than the religious beliefs that they espouse. Given your statement in # 16, it seems safe to assume that your handle is a calculated effort at manipulation, ridicule, and mockery. Whether it makes you an anti-Mormon or not is up for debate, as this post shows. But another consideration altogether is what value there is to simply being a nice person who does not engage in such ridicule.

  21. Hellmut says:

    I think John is making a good point. It’s hard to argue with that.

    Of course, people can pick any name they like and I have to admit that I chuckled when I first heard the name Exmoron but John is, of course, correct.

    (Not that my opinion really matters. People can pick any name they like.)

    On the other hand, there are ridiculous beliefs. Just because they are religious that does not make them any less ridiculous. Flat earth dogma or Muslim conspiracy theories come to mind.

    Insofar as people act on their beliefs, the latter have consequences. Therefore it is important that we question our believes, be they religious or not.

    Although the label Exmoron is apparently meant to be offensive, it is first of all an expression of self-criticism. For many former Mormons, self-doubt may well be the most consequential effect of finding out that the LDS Church is not what it proclaims to be.

    That can be a good and a bad thing.

  22. Guy Noir, Private Eye says:

    ‘anti-mormon’ is a handy phrase to classify those who take a look at things.

    LDS, Inc. can’t stand the heat.
    The world was considerably a different place before internet, wasn’t it?

    I think MRomney has nudged the process or at least attention/focus on mainstreaming, but with TM coming onstage, retrenchment will probably be heightened for a number of years.

    LDS culture doesn’t frown on members making choices/decisions.. as long as tscc comes out on top; this is Often at the expense of Christian values/principles.

  23. Seth R. says:

    “The world was considerably a different place before internet, wasn’t it?”

    Yes! I’ll agree with that wholeheartedly.

  24. exmoron says:

    The moniker “exmoron” doesn’t refer to my former Mormon status. I chose the moniker after having spent about 4 years in graduate school. I realized at that point that I was a “moron” before entering graduate school. Of course it was also a play on the “mormon” “moron” connection, but that honestly is not what it is intended to imply. I don’t think of most Mormons as “morons” and I don’t mean any offense by the moniker. As Hellmut pointed out, it is more self-criticism than inflammatory name calling.

    I do find it interesting that that is the first thing most Mormons think of when they see it. People with no association with Mormonism don’t find it offensive at all and are usually intrigued by it. At worst they might call me “pretentious” for thinking I’m no longer a “moron,” which is a legitimate point – I may very well still be a moron and still not know it.

  25. exmoron says:

    It just dawned on me – John F’s comment is a perfect illustration of the very controversy spawning this post: He is assuming that something I said or did (in this case, my anonymous online moniker) is an affront to Mormons and is somehow designed to ridicule Mormons. I can understand this: as a Mormon, you probably see the world through Mormon eyes and everything somehow relates to Mormonism.

    But, just like calling critics of Mormonism “anti-Mormons,” considering my moniker a mockery of Mormons is misinterpreting what is occurring. It’s taking criticism – useful or not (Lavina Fielding Anderson is a good example here) – and turning it into an attack. Why can’t a criticism be useful? I’m guessing every critic of Mormonism on here could come up with a top ten list of things they think Mormonism should change, and all of these things would be useful criticisms. But they are immediately turned into attacks (sometimes by the critics, sometimes by Mormons).

    Here’s my list:
    1) give women the priesthood (this gets turned into “Mormonism is patriarchal and oppressive to women”)
    2) repudiate past racist ideas (this gets turned into “Mormonism is inherently racist”)
    3) admit Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect (this gets turned into “Joseph Smith was an adulterer, woman-monger, liar, etc.”)
    4) allow the members greater say over the direction of the religion (this gets turned into “the leadership is dictatorial”)
    5) allow outsiders to see financial records (this gets turned into “the leadership is secretive”)
    6) publish accurate membership information (this gets turned into “the leadership is intentionally misleading”)
    7) embrace scientific understandings about Native American ancestry (this gets turned into “the Book of Mormon is a worthless, fraudulent document”)
    8) recognize the fallibility of Mormon leaders (this gets turned into “Mormon prophets contradict each other”)
    9) donate more money to charity (this gets turned into “Mormonism is money grubbing and just a business”)
    10) promote more minorities (this is another “racist/prejudiced” issue)

    Are my criticisms, in their base form, all that inflammatory? I’m guessing people like Seth and dpc would probably agree with some or most of them. But if I say them in an inflammatory way, they all get dismissed as “anti-Mormon” rhetoric. And even if they aren’t said in an inflammatory way, some Mormons think it is a sin to criticize, which still turns the criticisms into “anti-Mormon” rhetoric. I think the inflammatory approach gets attention (even if it is hyperbolic and annoying to Mormons). That doesn’t make it right, but dismissing criticisms on the basis that they are anti-Mormon is a logical fallacy and avoids addressing the criticisms.

    (Anyone else have a top ten list of criticisms?)

  26. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    How about (have I said this before??)
    Get back to a closer focus/loyalty to Christ, even if compared to that for church leaders?
    Focus on Christian principles-concepts-values, more than LDS themes.
    Tell people explicitly (plain & clear) that Christian values should always trump others/what we see around us (details from Morland).
    Aren’t Christ’s parables/sayings understandable? what about the Golden Rule, the Good Samaritan, prodigal son?

    just an idea…

  27. chanson says:

    Speaking of assumptions, I’ve frequently faced what Wayne mentioned in comment #11: Because I was Mormon and now no longer believe, my motivation in talking about Mormonism at all is suspect, hence anything I say about it is suspect. That was my own reaction the first time I met an ex-Mormon (described here). Even being nice can potentially be interpreted as Satan trying to trick the faithful into thinking that ex-Mormons aren’t 100% evil.

    However, I’ve found that being sincere and consistent about trying to find common ground is a very effective way to dispell incorrect negative assumptions. People so often live up to the expectations one places on them. I expect civil, constructive dialog, and I’ve been successful at building some, even with people who have fundamental philosophical disagreements with me.

  28. Why can’t a criticism be useful?

    I don’t think this of all faithful Mormons, but some believe that Mormonism is perfect because it is God’s “one true church”. These Mormons concede that Mormons aren’t perfect, but insist that the Church is. If that is true, then any criticism of Mormonism as a church or ideology must be untrue since you can’t criticize perfection. If you’re lying about the church, then you’re up to no good. Given the assumption that the LDS church is perfect, it is a perfectly valid conclusion that all critics are anti-Mormon.

    I had to step out of that mindset that the church was perfect (it started to happen on my mission) in order to see criticism of Mormonism as anything other than Satanic.

  29. Hellmut says:

    Well, I thought that your name played off Mormon as well. In the context of Internet Mormonism, most people may read it that way.

  30. john f. says:

    On a blog that features harsh criticism of the Church and often outright ridicule of the beliefs of members of the Church (this blog is about nothing but Mormonism, exmoron), it is hardly a stretch to assume that someone who uses the handle “exmoron” is playing on the similarity between the words “moron” and “Mormon” (this has been done a lot before, you surely realize), especially given the common use of the term “ex-mormon” for people who have left the Church. In fact, by far the most natural reading of the handle in the context of this blog is that you are referring to yourself as “exmoron” for precisely the reason of invoking “ex-Mormon” but doing so in a way so as to emphasize that all Mormons are morons for what they believe (i.e. you were once a “moron” too but are no longer because you have left the Church — it is silly to have to go into such a lengthy explanation for what is the most obvious and natural meaning of your handle in this context).

    Hellmut also thought this and he agrees with your views, so this isn’t about people not being able to take criticism. My guess is that virtually everyone who reads this blog also thinks this because the context of this blog is unavoidable. Thus, throwing the blame for this interpretation back onto me by asserting that as a Mormon, you probably see the world through Mormon eyes and everything somehow relates to Mormonism is illegitimate. You need to take responsibility for your own choice of handle on a blog that only exists to criticize Mormons and Mormonism. The most natural reading remains the most natural reading, even after your explanation in comment # 24.

  31. chanson says:

    To be honest, I always thought “exmoron” was a play on “exmormon” as well. Maybe you didn’t mean it that way, but really it’s a pretty natural assumption in this context…

  32. exmoron says:

    I’m not denying the obvious interpretation, but I don’t use “exmoron” exclusively in this context. It is also the handle I use on my personal blog (sonsofperdition.blogspot.com) which now does not discuss Mormonism basically at all as I post on that exclusively here. I also use it on occasion when I want to maintain anonymity on the internet.

    As for “throwing blame”… I don’t think you understood my point. I’m not blaming anyone. chanson, hellmut, john f., and probably everyone else who encounters me here at this site probably has that interpretation. I recognize that. But it doesn’t change why I originally came up with the moniker.

    Does the name really evoke so much anger that people are unable to focus on what I’m saying and instead just fixate on the fact that I call myself “exmoron”? If so, maybe it’s time for a new online handle… 🙁

    (I’m actually quite intrigued that this has somehow turned from a discussion about someone being accused of being anti-Mormon for criticizing the religion to criticizing my moniker… Not sure how that happened.)

  33. Seth R. says:

    Guess it seemed like a good example.

    The problem is, let’s face it, Mormons are rather touchy about things. Kinda like Jews I guess. We both have ugly pasts of persecution (not for a moment to suggest I’m comparing the holocaust to anything, OK…). And we both have a strong sense that we continue to be picked on, whether we really are being picked on or not.

    And again, let’s face it, things are said about Mormons that just aren’t allowed to be said about other groups. One non-Mormon journalist called it the last soft bigotry that otherwise rather liberal folks allow themselves. It is perfectly OK, if not encouraged, among the enlightened to say things like “well of course those Mormon beliefs are absolutely ridiculous” or “of course their religion is full of sh!@#…” Stuff you’d never get away with in polite conversation about other religions with equally fantastic claims.

    I know of non-Mormons from the east coast who moved to Utah and were utterly appalled at the sheer venom and hatred that absolutely PERMEATES the counter-culture scene in Salt Lake City. They were shocked that people could actually get away with saying some of the things these people are saying.

    One of my friends in drama reported his experience at University of Utah was that some of the faculty would deliberately require you to do a sex scene and cite profanity-laced script lines as soon as they found out you were a Mormon.

    I’m sorry, but a professor ought to be fired for that kind of bigotry. And some of the countercultural rags in Salt Lake City coffee shops deserve to be sued, or at least to have a crowd of outraged protesters outside their facilities.

    It’s a bad combination all around.

  34. chanson says:

    the last soft bigotry that otherwise rather liberal folks allow themselves.

    I think you’re exaggerating a bit to consider Mormonism unique here. First of all, the Scientologists are generally considered even less favorably (sometimes by Mormons), see an interesting fMh discussion. Then there are smaller and more obscure religions whose beliefs receive even harsher criticism (Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, Aum Shinrikyo), perhaps deservedly?

    On the other end of the spectrum, many “people of faith” — liberal and conservative — think atheists are evil beyond the pale, and see nothing wrong with holding and expressing this view. A recent president openly stated that an atheist can’t be a patriot, atheist children are made to pledge allegiance to a nation “under God” (and don’t get much tolerance if they complain about it), they’re routinely equated with Satan-worshipers, openly excluded from public discourse because they don’t fit the “Symphony of faith” in a country where “freedom requires religion,” etc.

    That said, I don’t think playing the “who’s the most oppressed” game is generally very constructive. Rather we should work to understand the connections among the ways minorities are treated.

  35. chanson says:

    Additionally, there is a huge difference between bigotry and criticizing a belief, even to the point of considering it ridiculous.

    If I told you that the Earth is balanced on the back of a turtle, wouldn’t many ordinary people think that’s ridiculous? Yet some people really do believe that the Earth is balanced on the back of a turtle? Are they all bigots for finding this belief ridiculous?

    I personally think it’s ridiculous to consider Mormon beliefs to be significantly more fantastic than Christian beliefs. Many people fervently believe the opposite. So am I a bigot for considering their beliefs about Mormonism ridiculous?

    If bigotry includes thinking that some belief (fervently held by someone on the planet) is ridiculous, then every single person on the planet is a bigot, rendering the term completely meaningless.

    As far as “Stuff you’d never get away with in polite conversation about other religions with equally fantastic claims” is concerned, you clearly don’t hang out in the same circles I do. One of the most frequent themes in the atheosphere is the idea that Christian beliefs shouldn’t be off-limits to the kind of scrutiny that other beliefs and claims are subject to.

    I know you think that those big mean old liberals think it’s okay to ridicule Mormons and no one else, but in reality it’s not that simple.

  36. Guy Noir, Private Eye says:

    Where would you be / with whom would you be associated were you invited to the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor?

    your quote: “And some of the countercultural rags in Salt Lake City coffee shops deserve to be sued…” FOR WHAT???

    where are you about the First Amendment;
    inspired or ‘otherwise’?

    It’s utterly amayzing how many sides of their mouths the faithful can speak…

  37. aerin says:

    Haven’t been able to return to this discussion as I had liked to – first of all, I read through the wikipedia “Anti-mormonism” entry and it was FASCINATING. Thanks Seth for providing that link – I guess you never know what will appear in wikipedia. I might have some updates myself at some point.

    At some point I will write a post (and hopefully start another discussion) about anger towards the mormon church and (some past, some present) policies of that church. I think we (just humans in general) try to reduce things to the simplest terms – but often whose to say that when someone criticizes “the church” – they’re not criticizing the policies, not the belief system that its members have.

    Or if I criticize “the gospel” by calling into question whether or not a work was divinely inspired – is that bigotry? Really? I think LDS doctrine actually criticizes the KJV bible by suggesting that it “hasn’t been translated correctly”. So everyone who believes the KJV is misguided (and therefore discriminated against).

    I can’t speak for other people’s opinions or actions in SLC – whether or not there is real discrimination there.

    Another side of this – what about all the criticism I heard growing up mormon/LDS about other religions? Specifically that the Roman Catholic church was the church of the devil (i.e., the church discussed in Lehi’s dream).

    Whether or not that has been denied by SLC and repudiated repeatedly by the leadership- some members still believe/teach such rhetoric.

    I’m not denying (and I think the wikipedia article agrees) that anti-mormonism and anti-mormons are real in some quarters. I just think it gets very difficult to claim/prove discrimination/bigotry.

  38. john f. says:

    oes the name really evoke so much anger that people are unable to focus on what I’m saying and instead just fixate on the fact that I call myself “exmoron”?

    Apparently you’ve never had a conversation before with someone who simply calls you a “moron” the entire conversation.

  39. john f. says:

    I’m actually quite intrigued that this has somehow turned from a discussion about someone being accused of being anti-Mormon for criticizing the religion to criticizing my moniker… Not sure how that happened.

    It happened because you said, labeling people means something – there is a whole subfield and theoretical camp surrounding labeling theory in social psychology. This statement revealed that you are sensitive to labeling and that you know something about the roots, effects, and theory of labeling. It only seemed appropriate, therefore, to analyze the main post’s claims about how Latter-day Saints tend to label those who ridicule and mock their beliefs (and also criticize Church policy on the side) “anti-Mormon” through the lense of your own labeling choices. This becomes particularly relevant given your claims about understanding labeling theory and what motivates it and what agendas might be driving aspects of labeling. And yet you state that Mormons are engaged in fallacious argumentation when using the label “anti-Mormon” at the same time that your very handle labels them “morons”.

    It is also the handle I use on my personal blog (sonsofperdition.blogspot.com) which now does not discuss Mormonism basically at all as I post on that exclusively here.

    Responding by saying that you also use the handle “exmoron” at your personal blog, which is called “Sons of Perdition” doesn’t seem to score many points in this debate about labeling. Somehow Mormons illegitimately use the term “anti-Mormon” but the labels you choose do not invoke the same problems?

  40. Guy Noir Private Eye says:

    In many if not most things LDS, there is an Obvious double-standard.
    LDS gets to decide who Mormons are, but mainstream Christians don’t get to decide who ‘Christians’ are…
    the whole Mitt Romney thing highlighted mainstreaming in a way that no one else was likely to…

  41. Seth R. says:

    Guy, the First Amendment has to be one of the most overestimated protections in US law. It doesn’t provide even half the protection you think it does.

    About the Nauvoo Expositor, just curious, where would you stand on a private newspaper in Utah that specifically called for violence against people of Hispanic birth. Even going so far as to set up anti-Mexican rallies and co-ordinate plans?

    How would you feel if the state AG’s office shut it down as a threat to the peace? Would you feel their rights to free speech had been trampled.

    Let’s take it one further. Does your right to free speech include the right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater.

    And finally, does the First Amendment say anything, anything at all, about whether or not talking out your butt is protected against private lawsuits? Or does it only protect against government interference?

    You’re mixing up a whole lot of issues in your comment actually.

  42. Seth R. says:

    Finally, just to clarify, if I were king in the Church Office Building, I would NOT be advocating suing the counterculture rags in the area.

    As for the Expositor, I really don’t know where I would have fallen. But I will say this – I’m not in the slightest bit sorry their printing press was destroyed. I don’t think Joseph had much to apologize for there, any more than he would have to apologize for punching a guy who barged into his house and started threatening Emma with a club. Just not too heartbroken over it, I’m afraid.

  43. Guy Noir, Private Eye says:

    the taking of someone’s else’s property and/or civil rights is an affront and Threat to ALL.

    saying ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre is a ‘Clear & Present Danger’, the standard that should apply to all….
    are you saying it was OK to destroy the Expositor because harm Might have resulted from the printing/publishing?
    Do you KNOW what the content was going to be in the future? If yes, pls tell, giving the source material/citations.

    First Amendment Freedoms are more important than ANY silly newspaper, isn’t it?

  44. Seth R. says:

    I think it was a little bit more than a “might” Guy.

    Besides, American society in general back then just didn’t prize these rights as much as our modern sensibilities do. If I were to time travel back with the benefit of hindsight, maybe I would have opposed it. If I had been one of the people born and raised in that time period, I probably would have cheered Joseph on.

    Do I think he was right in destroying the press? No, not really.

    But I don’t think he was half as wrong as most of the critics I’ve heard on this issue assert he was.

    By the way Guy, if it’s relevant to this little exchange, I actually wrote my casenote in law school on the legal battle over, wait for it… the Main Street Plaza. I actually sided with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Utah judge’s ruling missed the point and that protests had to be allowed to continue on the plaza.

  45. Chieftain Michael of the City of Light, The Great says:

    Hallo. I am Chieftain Michael, I do not agree the Mormon Church.

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