Mormons: “Dangerous Cult”?

I’m inclined to think so.

Living in America’s second largest Mormon stronghold for many years, including two years in a predominantly Mormon office, I was treated to a bird’s eye view of the squarest, looniest cult in America. And I mean loony. They have every right to practice as they please and believe in whatever they choose to. It’s when they decide to meddle in the law and legislate discrimination that my feelings go from distaste (with just a dash of revulsion) to feeling the need to speak out.

It’s now the time to speak out, as those interviewed in the article make clear. And I don’t care how “icky” some may think the idea of gay marriage it. That’s not the issue. The issue is passing a proposition that is a pure, undisguised act of discrimination, wrapped in the canard of “the sanctity of marriage.” If that were so important to these hypocrites, they would have put all that cash behind a proposition banning divorce.

There’s a delicious irony to seeing all this moral indignation over the sanctity of marriage coming from the not-so-long-ago polygamous Mormons, whose sects in my own state still have multiple wives including child-brides.

Update: Good perspective here as well.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 58 Comments

Every religion is a cult.

– Bill Maher

Back to our favorite cult of all time- FLG.

President elected OBAMA will stop funding this cult for sure. They hate not only homosexuality, but also inter-racial marriages.

November 9, 2008 @ 12:02 am | Comment

They certainly don’t deserve their tax-exempt status.

This year I went from being an agnostic to a hard-core atheist. Organized religion…well, don’t get me started.

November 9, 2008 @ 12:19 am | Comment

That’s actually one of the few thing that I appreciate for living in China, the quasi absence and exposure of religion in daily life.

I am not familiar on how these issues are dealt with in the US, but could it be theoretically possible that the President propose something like what Paul Martin did in 2005 in Canada, with the Civil Marriage Act?

Before this act, as I think it is in the US right now, it was up to the provinces to approve or not, until a Federal law was created. The decline of religion in Canada probably helped also in the process. It seems to be much more strong in the US.

November 9, 2008 @ 12:32 am | Comment

Do Tibetans have the rights to go back to theocracy if they choose to?

Tibetan Buddhism is one weird cult if you ask me. Second only to the cow worshiping, caste minded Hinduism.

November 9, 2008 @ 12:50 am | Comment

What makes a cult is small size. I think LDS has enough followers not to qualify.

November 9, 2008 @ 1:00 am | Comment

Wesley, I have to disagree – strongly. One of the world’s most famous cults of all is the Mao personality cult, and Stalin’s and Hitler’s. These were mass social movements but cults nonetheless. A cult has no dimensions that I know of; Charles Manson and Jim Jones had their relatively tiny cults, while the other “dangerous cult,” the Falun Gong, boasts a membership well over 50 million.

November 9, 2008 @ 1:20 am | Comment

Richard,

Every religion starts as a cult. Over time it becomes more accepted by the society and we no longer call it a cult. Mormonism is no exception. It has been around long enough and should not been termed a cult anymore.

Personality cult means something different to me. It may contain a religious dimension but I mainly think it as a political phenomenon.

November 9, 2008 @ 1:30 am | Comment

Agreed, this is retarded. Yes, this just pisses me off. I’m fine with them believing whatever, but I hate it when they in turn get into my business and tell me what to do, not to mention that the issue in question is probably hypocritical to the core to begin with. Most of these “issues” are fucking non-issues man. I’m all for gay marriage and all that, since I believe homosexuality is a natural thing.

If God was really a control freak I would rather he control freaked me to hell then, no regrets. But I don’t think God is a control freak ;)

I had a manager once that was Mormon. He was a really nice guy. But then it turns out I was smoking cigs with some other dude, and he was like did you know so and so was Mormom, I wouldn’t be drinking all them coffees in front of him, the dude said. I was like what, up to that point I didn’t know at all, no wonder he was always telling me to stop smoking cig (shit, I stopped cigs until I got this job).

I’m not into organized religion, my family is atheist basically, so usually I am oblivious to people’s religion. Which I guess can be a disadvantage in social situations, but I guess it can also be a plus. But all the friends I have are cool with it, if that was a big deal to them they wouldn’t be my friends now would they. (I have a lot of Christian friends.)

November 9, 2008 @ 1:35 am | Comment

Serve the People, Mormonism is not in the category of most other religions. Like the Falun Gong, its premises were made up by its original cult leader, Joseph Smith. (Arch-nutball Li Hongzhi for the FLG.)

Unlike Christianity and Judaism, there is nothing in the book of Mormon linked to any actual historical event in the world. Most of the Gospels and the books of the Bible – the historical stuff, not the miracles and magical stuff – are linked to actual historic fact, such as the reign of Julius Caesar, or the slavery of the Jews in Egypt, the battles between Israel and various enemies over the centuries, most of which is supported by archeological evidence. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, is a pure concoction, a treasure-chest of invented nonsense, a classic combination of horseshit and drivel. There is no factual basis for a word of it. At least we have evidence in the writings of countless scholars over the centuries that indicate Jesus really did live (whether he was resurrected or born from the womb of a virgin is another story – I don’t believe so, but that’s just my opinion), Pontius Pilate really was the Procurator of Judea, there really was a Ruth and an Esther. The fairy tale of Genesis aside (which I see as allegorical anyway), much of the historical outlines for both the New and Old Testament are supported by history, by archeology and by chroniclers such as Josephus (not always reliable but extremely important). Again, I am not saying the spiritual or religious claptrap is proven by history, only that there is more than enough historical evidence to indicate that the many of the characters and events described in the Old and New Testament at least have some grounding in actual history. And then we come to Mormonism.

Mormonism is a cult. Contrary to what Serve the People said above, there is absolutely no time-limit at which moment something jumps from being a cult to being a “normal” religion. No special day when a bell rings and a man pops up from behind the curtain and says, “Congratulations, today you pass from being a cult into being respectable! Here is your certificate of respectability.” Thus there will not be a magic date on which the Falun Gong suddenly becomes a non-cult, “serious” religion. Because it is a cult, a fantasy and a snow job spouted by a charismatic and nutty leader. Liker LDS. Anyone doing research into Joseph Smith will see that he was a classic cult leader and that he was either a major BSer or deranged, and most likely a bit (or a lot) of both.

Update. Let’s check the dictionary definition for some unbiased reference:

Etymology:
French & Latin; French culte, from Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate — more at wheel
Date:
1617
1: formal religious veneration : worship
2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual ; also : its body of adherents
3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious ; also : its body of adherents
4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
5 a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book) ; especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b: the object of such devotion c: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

In the fifth definition it does say cults devoted to people or ideas, not religion are “usually small groups,” though that is not a deciding factor. The FLG fits into every category, and it has a huge membership. As does the “Church of LDS.”

November 9, 2008 @ 1:53 am | Comment

I think in Zeitgeist:The movie it’s summed up nicely and clearly.

Religion is the biggest scam in human history and is just another disguised type of politic system designed to exploit and control people’s mind through their primal fear of death.

So for me, Mormon or the Order of the Solar Temple, it doesn’t make an iota of difference, they all contribute to promote ignorance and are a nuisance to the evolution of the human kind.

I do believe in spirituality, but not in some folkloric demented visions from the past that have been constantly reshaped during the course of history to adapt to new politic and moral trends and to support the various churches social, moral and political agendas.

I think the existence of Jesus is probable and if you look at many of the core values of the Bible for example, there is a lot of very simple and honorable values. But it’s been distorted and exploited so much since the original events, that the original message is now lost in a sea of interpretations, giving birth to absurd movements such as the LSD Church (Pun intended).

November 9, 2008 @ 2:10 am | Comment

Richard,

There is special day when a man pops up and says: OK, you guys have suffered enough and found enough suckers to follow you and I now upgrade your belief system to a religion from a cult.

For the Christians, this man was Constantine the Great. He said that in the Edict of Milan in 313 AC. Before that time the Roman emperors treated Jesus as Li Hongzhi and the Christians the wheelers.

November 9, 2008 @ 2:21 am | Comment

Agree with just about everything you said, “Oab.” I would say it is a fact that Jesus lived, but that was a bit of embellishment to his story along the way. In the Book of Mormon, on the other hand, there is no historical verification of anything, no chronicle documenting events, no Dead Sea Scrolls or historical writings or archaeological digs showing where Nephi lived or where Enos or Jarom fought or were buried, etc. This is why it’s relegated to cult status, like the FLG. All of the “truths” were pulled out of the wazoo of a charismatic and dangerous cult leader.

November 9, 2008 @ 2:23 am | Comment

Serve, I never said it couldn’t happen, that a cult moves into the sphere of the respected. but you said that “Every religion…over time becomes more accepted by the society and we no longer call it a cult.” I disagree. It has happened but it is by no means a hard and fast rule. To repeat my earlier point, I believe there will probably not be a day when the teachings of Li Hongzhi are seen as not being part of a cult. And I and other brilliant people like me will always look on Mormonism as a cult.

And on that not, I’m going to try to turn off my PC.

November 9, 2008 @ 2:27 am | Comment

Everything said so far is true. A cult becomes a religion when a leader fails to persecute all the worshippers to death before it spreads.

I agree that Mormonism is a twisted, perverted cult but so are all other strains of Christianity.

November 9, 2008 @ 7:46 am | Comment

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November 9, 2008 @ 8:04 am | Pingback

For me, the issue isn’t whether Mormonism is a cult (I think it is by definition), because we have all kinds of cults. The issue is why the hell do we let government into the business of defining marriage at all?

November 9, 2008 @ 8:27 am | Comment

The issue is why the hell do we let government into the business of defining marriage at all?

because democracy is tyranny

November 9, 2008 @ 8:36 am | Comment

Oh, sod off, you dimwit. If it’s government’s business who can be married or not, then the whole institution of marriage becomes subject to whichever group of goons is in power at the moment. Under one administration you’re married, under another, you’re a criminal. What we really need is an amendment saying “it’s none of your business”.

November 9, 2008 @ 8:49 am | Comment

actually one of the big distinctions between cult and religion as ive always heard it is that cults seek to separate one from society whereas religions try to have a greater part in that society. granted, mormonism is pretty absurd, and people are pretty extreme in many cases, but i’d still see it as religion.

my real hope is that we don’t get anywhere near theocracy in any form and that we continue to be able to distinguish the church, whichever church it may be, from the state. as americans (for those who are) we’ve not always been very good about that.

November 9, 2008 @ 9:47 am | Comment

Yes, the Mormons are weird. But I think that it would be a mistake to assume that they are any more “crazy” than everyone else.

I’ve reached the point where I tend to think that the sanest people are religious people (like the Taoists and Buddhists) who realize that the world is hopelessly corrupt, and it’s best to simply remove oneself from it and work towards a better afterlife. The Amish are probably correct: the outside world is corrupt. It’s looking increasingly likely that mankind will destroy itself soon, largely because of its corruption.

I used to read about Jesus’s cruxificion with a sense of awe that he would sacrifice himself for mankind. But now I’m of the view that he was the sanest man alive and knew a good deal when he saw it. He just took the temporary pain in exchange for getting away from all of the spiritual f…ck ups and a life in Heaven.

November 9, 2008 @ 10:16 am | Comment

Richard,

The slavery of the jews in Egypt never occurred, as did any of the events of Moses. The whole thing is an invention of later writers. I suggest you check out the Minimalist vs. Maximilist debates in Old Testament scholarship, particularly _The Bible Unearthed_, along with the work of Tom Thompson (who was denied a PHD by the current pope for his work on the Old Testament back when both were at the same university), Philip Davies, and others I could name. William Devers, who is more centrist, also has a good book on the whole myth of the hebrew sojourn in Egypt. If you email me I’ll send you some other stuff.

I wish I had a nickel for everyone who traveled the path you did, Richard. I remember when the New Zealanders who lived behind me here used to find my hardcore atheism weird. Until they went to some of the local orphanages to check out their adoption services — they eventually adopted 4 kids here — and found out that they were run by American Xtians and that no children would be released to anyone without a letter from a pastor and five church members saying that they were evangelical christians of the far-right nutcase variety. Suddenly the NZers understood…

Before the whole rise of the Religious Right I was pretty easygoing about the whole religion thing. Not anymore. One good thing about the Mormons and the Catholics institutionalizing discrimination is that it will wake up many people to the threat a tiny band of determined, organized, well-funded, centrally-run nutcases can pose in democratic politics.

Michael

November 9, 2008 @ 11:07 am | Comment

I think the existence of Jesus is probable and if you look at many of the core values of the Bible for example, there is a lot of very simple and honorable values.

I don’t believe Jesus ever lived. See Doherty’s _The Jesus Puzzle_ (Website) for one explanation of that point of view. The sayings of Jesus are generally commonly-circulated Cynic-style sayings or Jewish wisdom, etc, while the things that people generally identify as historical in the Jesus tradition are usually either (1) created out of Old Testament passages or (2) conventional in Greek fiction of the day. For exmaple, the entire sequence of entering a city to crowd acclamation, visiting the local temple where portentous events occur, getting arrested though innocent, getting tried by the local potentate, getting crucified/executed though innocent, going willingly to one’s death, and getting resurrected/miraculously escaping death are staples of Greek historical fiction of the first to third centuries.

Michael

November 9, 2008 @ 11:13 am | Comment

Michael, I’d rather avoid these arguments as they are hard to prove and can get pretty intense. I’ll just say there are t least historical records of a Jesus having lived, and references in history to the Jews being enslaved in Egypt. Maybe they can be questioned or in some instances even disproved. But when it comes to LDS, there’s no record or history of any sort that can even be questioned..

November 9, 2008 @ 11:20 am | Comment

there is a lot of very simple and honorable values.

They’re present in the value systems of most civilizations, but at least (for example) China’s doesn’t contain insane quackery the likes of the Old Testament.

November 9, 2008 @ 11:27 am | Comment

“The slavery of the jews in Egypt never occurred, as did any of the events of Moses. The whole thing is an invention of later writers.”

The Bible is basically of compilation of stories that are TRUE irrespective of whether the events actually occurred—parables.

Moses (or God, or Jesus) did not exist in the same way that, for example, a toothbrush exists. To say that God (or religion) is false because God does not exist in the same way that a toothbrush exists is absurd.

November 9, 2008 @ 11:44 am | Comment

Just googling around, you see the opinions of archaeologiusts and scholars (and a fair number of quacks) who argue these points. The BBC points to actual historical records, which the Egyptians kept pretty religiously (no joke intended) showing the existence of Hebrew slaves in Egypt, though they had nothing to do with building the pyramids or other great constructions there. There is reference to Moses, too, in the records. No, there is not proof these things happened, but there are at least historical references to them, and many if not most of the bible’ stories were told around a framework of actual history. They weren’t stream-of-conscious fantasy. Nearly every historian will tell you the bible was something they studied as a historical document at some time in their education (I myself took a college course, The Bible as History), examining how much it is has an historical foundation, and some of it does not. No one ever pores over the Book of mormon looking for historical foundations, as it’s like looking for gravitas in a pile of cotton candy.

November 9, 2008 @ 12:08 pm | Comment

Just remember that at the molecular level the existence of all material things is questionable since everything consists of energy. Thus, existence itself is not certain. Existence is just a hypothesis. Thus, it may be the case (as Gandhi recognized) that the ONLY thing that is real is God.

November 9, 2008 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

To look for God in the archeological record makes about as much sense as looking for God in one’s refrigerator.

Religion is a spiritual inquiry in which the mind is the appropriate instrument, not the microscope, or the archeologist’s rock hammer.

November 9, 2008 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

“…it will wake up many people to the threat a tiny band of determined, organized, well-funded, centrally-run nutcases can pose in democratic politics.”

Sounds like our boys at Zhongnanhai: Thou shalt worship non but us!

November 9, 2008 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

Richard,

I claim that every religion starts as a cult but I do not say that every cult eventually becomes religion. Most cults cannot attract enough followers and they disappear from history.

The day that the LDS church transformed from a cult to religion accepted by American society came in 1896 when Utah gained statehood.

November 9, 2008 @ 2:01 pm | Comment

A Comparison between Mao Zedong and Jesus Christ

This post will make a comparison between Mao Zedong and Jesus Christ. Of course, from an engineering mindset, any comparison must be objective and based on historical data. There are some areas where Mao Zedong is not as great as Jesus, and some areas where Mao Zedong is greater than Jesus.

Let’s first discuss the areas where Mao Zedong is not as great.

First, Mao Zedong’s writings are not as popular as Jesus Christ’s. The published copies of the New Testament book is much much more than the copies of Mao Zedong’s Collected Writings. But of course, the New Testament exited much longer than Mao Zedong’s writings. Another reason is that Mao Zedong’s books are very theoretical and philosophical. But the New Testament book is mostly about stories, and are very “humanity-major”-like stories: very touching, very beautiful words, etc. So even an uneducated people can enjoy those stories. So in this sense, the New Testament book can reach a bigger audience than Mao Zedong’s books.

Second, Jesus Christ is from a wealthier family than Mao Zedong. Jesus’s family is from a rich landowner class, and his mother is even a virgin. Jesus never had to worry about not having enough money to survive. In comparison, Mao Zedong’s family is much worse: it’s a farmer’s family, and the entire family always worried about making a living.

Now, Let’s talk about areas where they are both equal.

First, both men improved the general health of the population. Jesus was a good doctor, and can cure every disease with his hands, and can even bring back the dead from the grave. Mao Zedong mobilized the masses to improve public health, and eliminated diseases such as cholera and smallpox only several years after the founding of new China. Under his leadership, China successfully created the world’s first artificial insulin, and introduced many modern medicine and treatment methods, and started the movement of “barefoot doctors” to spread general public medical knowlegdes to backward villages that lacked modern medical equipment.

But, even though Jesus can cure anything, he can only cure those people he meets, and of course Jesus is a busy man, so he could not meet too many people… Mao Zedong’s mobilization campaigns improved the health of the entire 0.6 billion Chinese population. But Mao Zedong himself is not a doctor, and cannot bring people from the dead. So, let’s just say those two are equal.

Also, both men promoted loving others. Jesus said you should love your enemies just like you love your friends. Mao Zedong said, we must love our class friends, and must treat our friends like the warmth of spring, but treat our enemies like the wind of winter. I still don’t understand why Jesus Christ says we must love our enemies, if you are my enemy, of course I want bad things to happen to you. But anyway, let’s just say they are both equal in this respect.

Finally, let’s talk about areas where Mao Zedong surpassed Jesus Christ.

First, Mao Zedong made Chinese nation rise and become stronger. Before 1949, every nation could push China around. In 1840, a few thousand British soldiers totally beat the crap out of the Qing Empire. In 1858, it’s a few thousand British/French soldiers, In 1894, it’s twnenty thousand Japanese soldiers, then it’s tens of thousands of soldiers from 8 Western countries, then it’s the Japanese Emperial Army in 1931…..

But after 1949, Peng De Huai forced the UN forces to sign the ceasefire treaty on the Korean border in 1954, ending the history where emperial powers can set up a few cannons on the sea outside Shanghai and conquer China. In Korea, China was able to achieve a draw with the most militarily powerful country in the world. American spent 10+ years trying to defeat Vietnam, while it took China two weeks in 1979 to across 3 km’s into Vietnam and occupy some Vietnamese cities….

What about Jesus Christ? The Jews have always been bullied and massacred everywhere. Only in 1948 did they get a land called Israel. But even today, there’s no peace on that land, but instead all kinds of car bombings…

Second, Mao Zedong created for China a complete system of Industry, Farming, Technology and Education. During Mao Zedong’s rule, China successfully researched and built Nuclear Bomb, Hydrogen Bomb, Intercontinental Missile, Nuclear Submarine… But under Jesus’s rule, the Jewish created nothing, and still lived under a primitive/slave society. And also, the ideas of Jesus Christ severely hurt the progress of Science. For example, many bright scientists such as Galileo and Bruno were prosecuted and killed for violating Jesus Christ’s thinking. The middle age in Europe is the darkest age in European civilization.

Third, Mao Zedong allowed the Chinese nation’s population to multiply and prosper. When Mao Zedong first took power, China had 0.5 billion people. In 1980′s census, China had 1 billion people. We know that in biology, the population growth of a type of bacteria is a strong indicator of that bacteria’s environment and health. Stronger growth means that bacteria is living in a very healthy and favorable environment. In economies, there’s a famous term called “Mao Zedong Jump” which is used to refer to a sudden growth in a nation’s population, and is an indicator of a massive improvement in the living standards of that nation. I believe a few years ago a French economist won the Nobel Prize for creating the theory of “Mao Zedong Jump”.

Did Jesus Christ do anything to increase the population of the Jews? No. So in this point, Mao Zedong totally surpassed Jesus.

Finally, Jesus is a very arrogant man, and often acts like he’s an aristocrat. He often brings up his father’s name, and if someone disagrees with him, he’ll claim that his father is God, and anyone who disagrees with him or his father will be punished… And he also forces others to believe him, and does not allow any one to doubt or challenge his opinions, and often emphasizes that he’s the greatest, and no one can compare with him, and he’s the only one who knows the truth, etc etc etc. This is a very bad attitude and only spoiled rich people have this kind of attitude.

Mao Zedong, on the other hand, is much more modest. He often says that he has not done enough for China, and often says that it’s possible that he would make mistakes. And he often made many self-criticisms during internal meetings of his Party, and even stepped down voluntarily when he thought he made some mistakes during the “Great Leap Forward”. And later in life, he forced his own party to write that he made many mistakes in official party documents, as he does not want to be remembered as a “God”. So today, if you read the official document on Mao Zedong from the Chinese Communist Party, you’ll find many areas where the document says Mao Zedong made many mistakes.

Overall, I think Mao Zedong is a greater man than Jesus Christ. I don’t understand why many Jesus-believers want the entire human race to worship Jesus, I think Jesus is nothing but a tribal leader. I think there are more reasons to worship Mao Zedong than Jesus Christ. Of course I don’t believe in worshipping anyone, I think everyone is equal and human.

November 9, 2008 @ 2:32 pm | Comment

@Math
“China had 0.5 billion people. In 1980’s census, China had 1 billion people. We know that in biology, the population growth of a type of bacteria is a strong indicator of that bacteria’s environment and health. ”

In any ecological environment, overpopulation beyond a certain point, specially the availability of resources at hand, is a sure sign of an unhealthy situation.

The overpopulation is one, possible the more lasting and intense, of the problems inherited from the Mao era. One of the reasons of the massive poverty in China is the miss match between population and available resources. And one of the reasons of the instability of the system which determine its political and social evolution.

Overpopulations problem was not only present in Mao’s era, but Mao made it far more serious.

It is a direct consequence of lack of restrain and check and balances in the political system. Population scientist where then aware of the dire consequences, but they were sacked.

Now China pays the price, and it will probably keep paying it for the next three of four generations or more.

Each of the fathers who loose their only (allowed) child, due to any “accident” today, pay also the price.

And the sons who must now struggle to find a job, no matter how well educated they are, or must loose hope of finding a female partner, pay also the price.

November 9, 2008 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

@Math
“First, Mao Zedong made Chinese nation rise and become stronger. Before 1949, every nation could push China around. In 1840, a few thousand British soldiers totally beat the crap out of the Qing Empire. In 1858, it’s a few thousand British/French soldiers, In 1894, it’s twnenty thousand Japanese soldiers, then it’s tens of thousands of soldiers from 8 Western countries, then it’s the Japanese Emperial Army in 1931…..”

Same could be said of Hitler, Stalin or any other tyrants in history. This argument is normally use to justify their acts or at least try to put them under a better light.

But same results could have been obtained by far less brutal methods.

I doubt very much that if the kuomintang had won the civil war in China there would be a return back to the times China was bullied by foreign powers.
I could very well be that China had risen in the end faster than Korea. Were would China be now in that alternative history?

Ah yes, and probably Korea would be united and the north population much better than today.

So. it could be a much better world for them. But that of course is an anathema for CCP true believers.

The same could be applied to Europe, without or with a more “reasonable” Hitler it would be a better place. The irony is, that it would have pass into history as the greatest German politician, even greater than Bisckmark, if he had just have stopped with Czechoslovakia, maybe even with Poland.
Even the prosecution of the jews would not have damaged that image much.

But well, parallel universes are… different universes, lets hope we do not make things worser in the one we have. ;-)

November 9, 2008 @ 3:20 pm | Comment

Buck: To look for God in the archeological record makes about as much sense as looking for God in one’s refrigerator

You completely misunderstood me. I said nothing about God. Only that many of the historical events described in the bible, such as the occupation of Israel by the Romans, are backed up by historians’ writings and by archaeology. Nothing at all spiritual or having anything to do with God or miracles, just the historical outlines are what I am referring to. Archaeology will never find God. But it can find at least some of the ancient temples and other places referred to in the bible. The actual cities and towns referred to in the bible as well – at least they exited. Again, with the Book of Mormon it’s all pure fantasy.

November 9, 2008 @ 3:57 pm | Comment

Ecodelta, don’t try to make sense out of Math’s gibberish. He is here solely for comic relief.

November 9, 2008 @ 3:59 pm | Comment

I’m with the “most religions are essentially cults” faction. The passage of Prop. 8 in California pretty much proves it for me. You can break down that vote in a lot of different ways, but what it really comes down to is, people who go to church regularly tended to vote for Prop. 8. Strong church attendance was the greatest predictor of Prop. 8 support.

November 9, 2008 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

richard,

I’m not going to address your complaints about Mormonism as a religion or cult, because that would be a long and futile endevour. But when you attack the LDS church as evil for “meddling in the law and legislating discrimination”, I have to speak up. Are you kidding me? They were campaigning for proposition 8 in a fully legal, democratic way, just as campaigners on the other side had, I don’t see you attacking them. Do I agree with the mormon position on proposition 8? Not necesarrily, as you said they should have instead sought for the outlawing of divorce (personaly, I think only abuse or infidelity can be an excuse for divorce), as the number of divorced families is enormous and far more damaging to the social fabric of america than the SUPPOSED risk brought with legislating gay marriage. But I see absolutely nothing wrong with the campaign brought out by the LDS church, as a social organization it has every right to support what it believes as moral legislation. Liberals are great at supporting liberal values such as democracy, until democracy itself does something they don’t like. The bottom line is that you’re pissed off at the LDS church, when in reality you should be pissed at the citizens of California. You’re a sore loser looking for a scape goat. Stop crying and get out and earn hearts and minds the way your hated mormon foes did, and maybe better legislation may come working in your favor. Until then, respect the vote.

This coming from someone who would have voted against prop 8 if I were a californian citizen.

November 9, 2008 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

Yeah Chip, I am a sore loser – not. Not at all. The courts will overturn this illegal proposition in good time. I’m annoyed that this pseudo-church spent $70 million to legislate discrimination. Period. And I would be just as upset with them if Prop 8 had been defeated. Seriously, you have it all wrong. You have no idea of my long history of issues with LDS, going back to 1998, so don’t hypothesize when you don’t know.

November 9, 2008 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

And Lisa, I’m tending to agree with you that all religion is a cult, only some more than others. I’d put reform Jews and Unitarians at one end of the scale, maybe at 1, then I’d put Mormons around 7.5, rock-hard Christian fundamentalists at 8 and Jihadists at 10. I’d put Wagnerians at 3.

November 9, 2008 @ 4:34 pm | Comment

> while the other “dangerous cult,” the Falun Gong,

I’m a bit surprised you’re using the the definitional jiu-jitsu of the Chinese government as a pillar of your argument here. Or do you say this because you think that the Falun Gong is a dangerous cult?

I have to agree with #7 that “cult” in “personality cult” vs “religious cult” have different meanings to me. I don’t see many parallels between the Obama (or Palin, take your pick) personality cult and the Branch Dravidians.

November 9, 2008 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

I guess that should be “definitional gongfu”, since this is China after all. =)

November 9, 2008 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

Wesley, I have always defended the right of the FLG to exist and to be left alone. I also have no choice but to see them as a most peculiar cult. And peculiar cults are fine. When you look at what they stand for it all sounds decent enough, and not that radical. It’s in dealing with them that you learn just how indoctrinated and obedient they are. I’m thinking of a specific work issue I had to deal with in 2003, where I saw that under the gentle guise of being something akin to a heath and/or exercise group. its adherents have been programmed to to do radical things. And that’s all I can say about that. Anyway, sorry to have brought the FLG into this conversation. We’ve talked about them enough in the past and everyone should know that my own policy toward them is to stop persecuting them. The current story is similarly programmed adherents marching in lockstep to fulfill morally questionable instructions from their leaders.

November 9, 2008 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

How is this proposition illegal? Also, the government overturning a legislation passed by a DIRECT VOTE? A bit authoritarian, don’t you think?

November 9, 2008 @ 7:16 pm | Comment

Look Mormons just want to live nice lives while obeying the bible. There society is one of the cleanest societies in Amerika that still exsist. Who is to say that anybody else way of living is no diffrent. You have to understand this is one of the weird and wacky rules of the West world, which is if you have a anti violent society and they make the country look like more then a bunch of whities yelling “My Nigga” then I say keep em.

About women, So what. Women allways get treated like crap in Amerika. Amerika is probably the first place where a woman could get divorce and have no chance of survival and end up raising there child off barely anything with no self dicipline, while suffering in proverty. Amerika proves that a women could live inside box for there entirety with no ounce of materialism.

The only reason they don’t run away is the fact there society has other freedoms. If they ran then they would only be running from there own culture. How many Chinese women don’t run away from there hubby knowing that it is just a endless life of being scolded or proverty stricken? I know for a fact that there is a mess of wives out there who is doable and would drop there husbands for any other guy and anytime. However to escape there life of luxury is the only reason why they don’t say anything to begin with. If any woman is big mouthing then it is there husbands fault to begin with. Treating women as eqauls is something called common sense.

However I miss when women were women and wore dresses and did not carry ugly celluar phones. When I could walk up to one and get a grab or blow a kiss without being called names. You know how many homosexauls have been produced dew to the so called pro-womens right ideas in the USA.

November 9, 2008 @ 9:43 pm | Comment

Chip, it will eventually be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, There is an interesting discussion of the topic on Metafilter, if you want to see the differing points of view. My view is that it will take some time but it’s rejection by the court is inevitable. I don’t want to get into an argument about that here, as it’s something we cannot resolve, only offer our opinion and/or prediction; I’ve made mine clear. Take it or leave it.

Elijah, congratulations on writing the single most inarticulate, logic-free, fact-free, thought-free comment this blog has seen in some time.

November 9, 2008 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

Thank you for your comment Elijah.

November 9, 2008 @ 11:39 pm | Comment

November 9, 2008 @ 11:46 pm | Comment

Not to hijack the discussion, but you cannot blame the passage of prop 8 solely on the LDS church, majority of the Catholics (Latinos) and blacks voted YES on 8. It’s telling that Ireland and Italy are two of the European countries that don’t recognize same-sex marriage.

All religions are cults, one thing I really like about China is that stupidities are officially illegal. I know, being stupid is a basic human right.

November 10, 2008 @ 12:53 am | Comment

There are few religious groups that I really have a problem with, except perhaps the Traditionalist Catholics. Rejecting the Second Vatican Council I mean…… o_0

Makes me think about that episode of Family Guy.

Man: Wow, it’s the Pope!

Francis: Slothful sinners! You’re here to work, not sit around with your…. Holy Mother! It’s the Holy Father. I am not worthy.

The Pope: Rise, my son. You are indeed worthy, for you have raised a fine son. His zest for life is an affirmation

of God’s great love within us all.

Peter: Wow! And that’s from the freakin’ Pope! So I guess you were wrong about me, huh, Dad?

Francis: I was wrong all right.

Peter: Stand by, boys.

Francis: I was wrong about you! You’ve gone soft on me, Holy Father! Even a tambourine-shaking Baptist could tell this boy’s no good!

November 10, 2008 @ 1:18 am | Comment

@tree sitter – I agree that you can’t pin it solely on the LDS; however the Mormon Church donated money to the effort far out of proportion to their numbers in the population, and most of the money came from out of state. As to African Americans, again, I would correlate that with high church attendance and religious belief. It’s tough because historically, African American churches’ role has been nothing short of heroic. But this is an area where they are in general less than helpful.

November 10, 2008 @ 2:55 am | Comment

All religions are cults, one thing I really like about China is that stupidities are officially illegal.

That’s a good one! If that were true, most shows on CCTV would be illegal and Yang Rui would have to find a real job.

I know, being stupid is a basic human right.

Exercised by quite a few regular commenters on this blog posting their diatribes against the evil “West” from English speaking democracies.

November 10, 2008 @ 3:30 am | Comment

@Math

First, the Chinese did not intervene in the Korean War until late 1950 (not 1949). Second, although the Korean War transformed the PLA into a modern force (thanks to the Soviets), it is absurd to paint an outcome that forced both sides to essentially return to the pre-war status quo as one side “forcing” the other to do anything. China was able to achieve a draw in Korea precisely because the U.S. was one of the two most militarily powerful countries in the world, and the other, the U.S.S.R., was China and North Korea’s ally. In other words, it was the Soviets (and Europe) who counted, not the Chinese! Finally, the cease fire went into effect on 27 July 1953 (not 1954). As for Vietnam, America spent 10+ years trying to build a Vietnamese Armed Forces that could defeat its Communist rival. The Americans no more fought the “Vietnamese” than they did the “Koreans”, they just had better luck with the latter, possibly because so many founders of the ROK armed forces came out of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Richard, you know that I respect the Mormons, and view them overall as a positive force in much of the world, so I won’t rehash that here. We will agree to disagree. I do understand that the civil definition of marriage touches upon a host of rights. Try visiting your critically ill or injured significant other in a hospital without some handy document that proves a “marital” relationship. Likewise, there are issues of inheritance, commonly held property, living wills, etc. Most of those can be addressed before some life-threatening event, but not everyone does so and so a single common identifier would certainly protect both partner’s rights. Gay Americans certainly deserve to have those rights recognized in the same manner as straight Americans. Thus I voted against Proposition Two (I believe) in the recent Florida election. Now, if we could only revoke the religious tax exemption for all churches, and do away with deductions for “charitable” donations as well. Let the churches stand on their own, and let those who give to charity (as I do) take it out of their income without getting a tax break.

November 10, 2008 @ 5:43 am | Comment

Richard,

I actually agree with most of what you say on this blog, and I personally see no problem with legislating gay marriage. A devil’s advocate approach would claim gay marriage will damage the moral fiber of society, which I find questionable. While there are 18,000 gay couples in CA (obviously much more than that), there are millions of heterosexual families dysfunctional because of alcohol addiction, infidelity, verbal and physical abuse, etc, and pose a far greater threat to society than Adam and Steve. There is no legislation against being a selfish jerk in america, and yet all of the problems in america are caused by selfish jerks. My point is that if people truly wanted to legislate based on moral standards, there are a whole series of behaviors that are far more rampant and damaging to society than that those addressed in prop 8 (as I said earlier, divorce standards could really tighten up a bit, as an example). But since the law can’t exactly force people to be nice to each other all of the time, I personally find it futile to try to legislate moral standards.
I personally think we should all be able to “sin” freely, and let God sort it out.

And so while I personally see more good than bad could come from a more inclusive legislation, the gray area is that marriage is not just two people together in a relationship. It is a relationship that is acknowledged by the state, and brings with it numerous benefits and privilidges that are payed for by the state, and in turn taxpayers. And as we can see, a majority of taxpayers in that state are uncomfortable with the idea of giving marriage status to a couple that is NOT a man and a woman. Although I think it’s not that big a deal, the democratic process should be respected. Your arguement is flawed and immature in that you fail to acknowledge that the majority of CALIFORNIAN CITIZENS voted for Prop. 8. Since that is too huge a number for you to fight against in your arguement, you instead choose to attack the LDS church for campaigning for Prop 8. The LDS church did nothing illegal nor unprecidented, as various civic groups or churches have done so in the past. There were campaigners on all sides, and people have the right to free speech. You found a scapegoat for a decision made by 36 million people.

The thing I find most irritating about your argument is that you are pissed at California for voting for prop 8, but by attacking the LDS church, you’re implying that the citizens of California are too stupid to think for their own, and hence were brainwashed by the campaign brought by many churches INCLUDING the LDS. This implication is simply disgusting. Tell us what you REALLY think about the people who voted for prop 8, because so far you’re inferring that they’re too stupid to think on their own.

November 10, 2008 @ 9:39 am | Comment

Oh my!

Well, I think: Lisa and Richard, if youz think this is an important issue, (I think it’s pretty interesting…), then why not come up with a definition for cult that is a bit more up to date? The definition that Richard pasted is kinda not very interesting because what I can tell is that when people say “cult”, they mean something negative right? But in that definition, it does not denote anything wrong… I think the wrongest thing in that definition is the idea of it being “regarded as unorthodox”. But even that is stupid cause “regarded” … it’s like Richard might regard something as UNorthodox, but I might regard it as orthodox, so, what’s the deal?

Tree,

“President elected OBAMA” will not have to stop funding Falun Gong, cause the US gov’t does not fund it, please do not just spread such silliness. Unless you know something I don’t?

November 10, 2008 @ 10:41 am | Comment

@Richard: ask an evangelical. Know any?

I say again: self-proclaimed atheists are generally angry people. Broad brush I know, just an observation. As my father in law says: God is love. All the rest is fluff.

Saw an interview with Gov. Scharznegger today (sp?). He was disappointed that the amendment failed. Said that the people had spoken. What is amazing is that Obama won by nearly 15% in that state, but the amendment failed. It’s more than LDS or the Catholics here. It’s the same people who voted for Obama, at least some of them. How fascinating. Care to criticize them — the blacks and Hispanics?

November 10, 2008 @ 10:53 am | Comment

Agnosticism…. Refraining from judgement… It’s like saying “I donno, so I ain’t gonna say nothin’”

Atheism…. BELIEF that there is not god?

Um, so what’s the difference in people who BELIEVE there is god and stuff, and people who BELIEVE there is not?

And agnosticism, don’t you have to BELIEVE in staying away from the issue?

Agnosticism, I can understand that, it’s safe, it’s sorta not being willing to go with the instinct to believe…Right?

Take Falun Gong, the stuff sounds weird and unbelievable, so you say that it is not true, but can you prove it? So then aren’t you believing that it is not true? You have the right to believe what you want, but I think it is only wise and humble to rationally accept our ways of reasoning.

I might believe that gay marriage is good or bad, or that the freedom for same sex marriage is good or bad, but it is all within the realm of belief, and that is something that should normally be within the religious community. Marriage is something done under gods isn’t it? ISn’t it something done by religious people? So it can be the religions decision whether they want to preform the marriage. And if Nancy and Sue can’t find anyone to accept their marriage, then I’m sure they will still go on living the same as before. Or there are plenty of more modern sects that will marry them. If people are so desperate to be married officially by the state for tax exemptions and other marriage benefits, then that’s not marriage that’s a business partnership.

I mean, who would care whether an atheist state recognized their marriage? And to take it further, who would even care if a religion recognized it? This depends on what marriage is.

November 10, 2008 @ 10:56 am | Comment

How can people who are atheists be so cocky and look down so much on believers?

Well, heh, there’s lots of reason eh. Like pervert priests, like the example M.Turton gave, like personality cults such as Mao and Hitler…, like people fighting against science, like so many crimes done in the name of some god, like dispicable, pathetic people who are lazy and sin all day and think they are saved from paying for their sins, like crazy people who put signs on their lawns that say God hates fags!

But, just cause all these things are horribly wrong… does not prove there is no god right? I mean, maybe theres a god and he loves atheists the best, ha ha ah, of course I’m joking, but just trying to say that it’s totally normal to be sour on many aspects of religions and religious people, but that actually, to me, is not much to do with god and whether it exists.

Saying that these examples rove that there’s no god is like looking at a bad child and saying that his grandmother must have had syphilis. She may or may or may not, but there’s a host of possibilities…

How can atheists be so cocky as if they are truly objective? I think if you look at the top top scientists and ask them whether it is scientifically feasible to rule out the existence of god, they would definitely not be able to concur. Look at quantum physics and stuff, other dimensions and stuff, all sorts of stuff, it is all very very weird and not at all something we can understand and none of it is provable to the end by our sciences. Are sciences have not reached any final conclusions, with each answer there is another question.

So that is to say that atheism is definitely not some kind of true objectivity, it is more like a religion, a way of life based on some mental patterns and assumptions, it’s a belief system. That’s what I think.

November 10, 2008 @ 11:14 am | Comment

Matt, yes there were those groups you mentioned that helped make Prop 8 pass. But it wouldn’t have passed without the $70-million push from our friends in Utah, which played on the fears of those very people.

Chip, I love California.

Snow, as usual I’m afraid I can’t make sense of your comments.

Bottom line: A group from another state funneled money to California to push for discriminatory legislation. They now will face the music. People who married because they love one another and choose to swear fidelity and make a lifelong commitment to the one they love have had their marriages rendered illegal. Maybe it would have happened without the LDS funding. Maybe. But the LDS did provide the funding and it’s our right to condemn them for it. This is not what religion should be about. The proposition will eventually be overturned by the Supreme Court as it is blatantly unconstitutional, unless there is an amendment in the US Constitution making gay marriage illegal. Since there is not, this proposition is ultimately doomed. Meanwhile, this whole episode confirmed my other, more personal beliefs about the Mormon cult. Like the FLG, they should be left to practice as they choose. If they choose to meddle outside of their cult and seek to swing gullible voters to follow their will for discriminatory purposes, I and many others are ready to call them on it. And that’s all.

Lirelou, you are and always have been just about my favorite commenter. Thanks as always for your intelligent contributions.

Thread closed, thanks to all.

November 10, 2008 @ 11:17 am | Comment

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