In our modern, busy world there’s always a need for a guide to this or that. Hence we see guides for coin collecting, guides for fitness, guides for video games, guides for travel, and guides for sports. Since, by some accounts, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is teetering on the brink of oblivion (even though, you know, it isn’t), and its (especially younger) members are leaving “in droves” (even though, you know, they aren’t), it seemed only appropriate that I craft a quick and easy guide for how to be a successful millennial ex-Mormon in the 21st century.
This guide isn’t necessarily for denizens of the ex-Mormon subreddit (although said denizens may still find my guide useful) or other equally lovely Internet cesspools. Rather, it is for beginners. It is for those who, after an intense week of “careful research” (read: browsing Wikipedia, the CES Letter, and Zelph on the Shelf), are ready to abandon their covenants and the faith of their fathers for the trendy, hipster pop-atheism that’s all the rage these days. (By the way, did you hear that Neil deGrasse Tyson has a new stand-up routine called Religion? LOL! alongside Seth MacFarlane? You should totally check it out on Netflix.)
So, dear neophyte, follow along as I take you through the first five steps towards becoming a successful millennial ex-Mormon.
1. Remember, all of your ideological opponents are acting in bad faith
Rule number one of any ideological warfare is the delegitimization of your opponent. For your new purposes, that means delegitimizing faithful Mormons (or, as you’re hereby required to pejoratively call them, “TBM”s or “true believing Mormons”) as insincere, conniving, avarice-soaked, unscrupulous, brainwashed, emotionally-stunted idiots who only continue to believe in the face of the CES Letter because of social or monetary reward.
Case in point: the apologist. As you’ll quickly discover, those filthy apologists at such dens of irrationality as FairMormon and the Interpreter Foundation are the embodiment of everything that’s wrong and loathsome about TBMs. They know full well that the Church is false and that their preposterous nonsense is rubbish. (If you have any doubt that the peer reviewed academic work of such PhDs as Hugh Nibley, John Gee, Stephen Ricks, Royal Skousen, Steven Harper, and John Welch is nothing but pseudo-scholarship, be sure you read the non-peer reviewed, self-published work of the non-PhD Jeremy Runnells.) But Midway, Utah villas don’t pay for themselves, and so they collect weekly cheques from TSCC (another helpful acronym you’re going to need to learn: “the so-called Church”). As such, the apologists are more than happy to feign faithfulness for the sake of piling up those fat stacks. Ergo, they are acting in bad faith. They don’t really believe this stuff. And if they do, well, it’s because they’re deluded morons.
“But Stephen,” you may interject, “what about people like Richard Bushman or Terryl Givens? They aren’t apologists with FairMormon. They’re university professors. And smart ones, to boot. They’ve published in highly respectable academic venues. And they’re totally faithful. What do we do about them?” A very good point. You’re catching on quickly. In cases like this, you have to remember all of the emotional and social benefit these (supposedly intelligent and thoughtful, as if it were possible) TBM scholars receive by remaining members. Sure, they may not get money from TSCC (so far as we know; see #4 below), but they’re so emotionally attached to their subject that, bless their hearts, they just can’t help themselves.
(An important caveat: only TBMs derive social or monetary benefit from their activity. I mean, sure. John Dehlin makes his money counseling people out of their Mormon faith, and Jeremy Runnells has set up a way for you to donate to his campaign so he can work full-time on the CES Letter, and both of these men enjoy considerable social clout in various ex-Mormon circles, and both of them are highly emotional and partisan about championing their work, but it’s definitely not at all the same thing. Don’t let any TBM trick you into thinking otherwise.)
Likewise, as an ex-Mormon, you’re now uniquely qualified to evaluate the psyche of your ideological opponents. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never met your opponent in real life, or if you don’t know a thing about them. They are TBM apologists, so have at it! Make sure you liberally throw out such phrases as “confirmation bias” and “cognitive dissonance,” even if you don’t actually know what they mean, in your online encounters with anyone who defends the LDS Church.
You got that? Basically, all apologists are either paid liars or intellectually dishonest hypocrites.
Because remember, they’re all acting in bad faith.
2. Don’t think too hard about this stuff. After all, homework is for squares
One trick the TBM apologist typically tries to pull is to encourage you to do some reading and research beyond the CES Letter and Mormon Stories podcasts. The ruse typically goes something like this:
“You know, the factors surrounding Joseph Smith’s practice of plural marriage are complex, and the historical evidence is often ambiguous and contradictory. I would recommend reading the work of such scholars as Todd Compton and Brian Hales to get some different perspectives on this highly nuanced, intricate issue.”
Or it may go something like this:
“I can understand why someone would be bothered by a lack of DNA evidence for Semitic people in ancient America. But have you considered that the way you read the Book of Mormon may in large part determine how you evaluate the DNA evidence? In other words, there are issues of paradigm and interpretation that must be accounted for in order to come to a solid conclusion. Have you looked at the work of John Sorenson and Ugo Perego that discusses this?”
Dear reader, don’t be misled by such deception! As is invariably the case, the simplest, quickest, easiest explanation is always the right one. (I mean, that’s just science. Ockham’s razor, amiright?) You might suppose that the TBM apologist is trying to get you to “think critically” or “carefully reconsider your views” about the issue, but this is not the case. No, this is a diversionary tactic. I mean, really. Who in their right mind is going to read John Sorenson’s 800-paged, heavily-footnoted opus Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American Book? That stuff is boring, hard to read, uses lots of scholarly jargon, and will ultimately just draw you away from precious Reddit time.
If you think about it, it’s understandable why the TBM apologist would have you waste time reading stuff. After all, the Mormon God (whose glory is “intelligence” [D&C 93:36]) requires his disciples to “seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom,” and to “seek learning” (D&C 88:118). Therefore, if an apologist asks you to look at stuff beyond what’s being featured on Reddit’s front page, you can safely conclude that he or she is trying to confuse you or bog you down with stupid things like “nuance,” “thoughtfulness,” “critical thinking,” and “evidence.”
Furthermore, if anything an apologists says or argues confuses you, or otherwise challenges your beliefs, simply deflect the unwanted new information by deeming whatever he or she said “mental gymnastics,” dismissing the published work as “unofficial,” and moving along. You don’t want your confidence in the CES Letter shaken, do you? Best not to think too hard about these things.
But fear not, dear reader. Thanks to the Internet (that infallible spring of truth), there’s a way you can appear both sophisticated and trendy at the same time!
3. Memes are your friends
Say what you want about Richard Dawkins. He may be a cranky racist on Twitter, but he gave us the Internet meme. (Well, not really, but you know what I mean.)
Memes are an absolute pleasure and allow you to look hip, cool, well-informed, intelligent, deep-thinking, and Internet-savvy all at the same time.
Here’s an illustration. Joseph Smith, as TSCC was forced to admit by the Internet back in the 1980s and 90s, gave different accounts of his First Vision. Normally, a trained historian would look at these documents and provide careful commentary that takes into account such things as composition, transmission, chronological context, the purpose of the account, how the accounts compare to each other, how memory works, etc. Screw that noise! As an impatient millennial you’ve earned the right to get instant, simple answers to everything. Enter the meme:
Voilà! Now you have a nice little image for your Facebook page (just watch the “likes” stack up) without having had to do any of the heavy lifting.
If an apologist counters by pointing out that a meme is highly misleading, factually inaccurate, or downright deceptive, or if he or she counters by encouraging you to “read some books” on the subject written by “actual historians,” just refer to #2 above. What matters isn’t whether the meme is “true” or not. What matters is the emotional response it’ll evoke in the people who see it, and that it gives you, dear reader, the sense of sophistication and erudition that you so desperately need in the presence of a phalanx of history PhDs at the Joseph Smith Papers and the BYU Church History Department.
Of course, though, being factually correct and totally unbiased all the time and in all things (which is totally what you are) isn’t enough. No, you have a moral duty to rid the earth of TSCC filth. As such, you now have a very important job.
4. Root out conspiracy (even where it doesn’t exist)
We live in a dangerous world where dangerous forces are lurking in every corner. No institution, however, is more dangerous than TSCC. You must, therefore, quickly learn to implicitly trust those authorities who, out of their sense of moral duty to the good of humanity, have infiltrated the nefarious cabal of TSCC and have returned to Reddit to (anonymously, of course) report their findings. No time to waste seeing if the person’s claimed identity as President Monson’s personal assistant’s cousin is legit. You have those poor wretches in the pews to save from the clutches of The Brethren.
Therefore, no matter how outlandish or (almost criminally) absurd a conspiracy may seem, your duty is to support those intrepid whistleblowers at all costs. If the TBM apologists are crooks, you can only imagine what their white, cisgendered, patriarchal, bigoted, homophobic, heteronormative, geriatric (those are the only adjectives you’re allowed to use in describing them) overlords are like. They have no decency, morality, or sincerity whatsoever, and so you’re perfectly free to openly postulate grand schemes, “factions,” “power vacuums,” and the like amidst their ranks on even the most tenuous evidence. If it helps, make sure you bring up any possible private mental health problems that some of the Brethren may be suffering to bolster your case (even if you’re a mental health practitioner). If anyone asks you for evidence, just remind them that they have the burden of proof to prove you wrong. (Because that’s how it works. Always is the burden of proof on the defender. Again, that’s just science.)
Speaking of, as with any good conspiracy, always keep in mind that the less evidence there is for a conspiracy, the deeper the conspiracy undoubtedly runs. So when volunteers with FairMormon provide firsthand testimony assuring everyone that they’re not being paid by TSCC, obviously that’s just a lie; they are being paid by TSCC (see #1 above). The same absolutely goes for actual Church officials (duh). So when Michael R. Otterson gets up and says, “There are no factions among the Twelve. I have been in those meetings enough to see the diversity of opinions and different perspectives aired and thoroughly talked through. My experience is that unless the Brethren are united on something, the issue just doesn’t move forward. They always go for unity, complete unity, which is what you’d expect in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” that’s just a lie. Likewise, when Elder Cook insists, “Some have asserted that more members are leaving the Church today and that there is more doubt and unbelief than in the past. This is simply not true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been stronger. The number of members removing their names from the records of the Church has always been very small and is significantly less in recent years than in the past,” you can absolutely bet that’s a lie. (What would he know about Church membership retention and numbers anyway, right?)
Basically, if it in some way undermines the conspiracy, it’s a lie. Plain and simple.
As an added bonus, if you want to be really edgy as an anti-capitalist, atheist whistleblower who’s saving the world from religious fanaticism and capitalism, make sure you set as your profile pic a mask mass-produced in China of a 16th century homicidal religious fanatic.
Oh, and whatever you do, make sure you compare TSCC to Orwell (you know, that guy you once kinda read in high school). Because the Internet totally hasn’t made comparing something you don’t like with Orwell into a meaningless cliché.
But it’s okay if you use clichés or anything else as a newly minted ex-Mormon, because . . .
5. The ends always justify the means
Don’t forget: you are right, they are wrong. You have the truth, they have lies. You’re an unbiased, rational thinker, they are deluded, brainwashed sheeple. You have a moral imperative to save those people from their superstition and bigotry, they have the moral imperative to simply accept whatever you say and whatever methods you employ. That means you’re free to vandalize, cyberbully, lie, provoke, obfuscate, mislead, deceive, spin, or do anything else you need to do to get the job done.
This is especially true in your efforts to obediently proselytize for Jeremy Runnells. So go right on ahead and make deceptive pass along cards, vandalize Church property, leave the CES Letter behind for people to “unsuspectingly” encounter, or, if you’re especially enterprising, exploit a mistake and spread the word with a spam email.
But be careful. You need careful branding, otherwise the TBMs will see right through you. This guy on r/exmormon, talking about the idea of a CES Letter app, gets it.
Filming people in the privacy of the temple without their consent and posting it online? Lying through your teeth in order to placate bishops and family (only to then turn around and mock them behind their backs for not catching the lie)? Leaking private or sensitive information and documents? Targeting youth through deceptive hashtags on social media? It’s all good. So long as your intentions are pure, don’t worry about whether what you’re doing is the most ethical thing or not. It’s all for the greater good.
I hope, dear reader, that you’ll find these suggestions helpful as you begin your exciting new life in the world of ex-Mormonism. Now that you’re free from being blindly obedient to a cult that asked for your time, money, and unfailing ideological loyalty, I hope you find joy and goodness in being blindly supportive of an online cause (but definitely not a cult) that asks for your time, money, and unfailing ideological loyalty.
Wherever your road may take you as you venture away from Mormonism and into the brave new world of (probably) atheistic nihilism, just remember: if anything bad ever happens to you, or if your feelings are ever hurt in any way, it’s probably somehow Dan Peterson’s fault.
135 thoughts on “How to Be a Successful Millennial Ex-Mormon (A Guide for Beginners)”
How to be an anti-Mormon:
Step 1: Realize the church isn't true.
Step 2: Say anything that contradicts current teachings of latter-day prophets.
Done. You're an anti-Mormon.
That usually isn't considered sufficient to qualify as an anti-Mormon, but rather as a former Mormon. Anti-Mormon as a classification generally requires that one go out of their way to attack the Church after during or after their disaffiliation.
Go out of their way to attack the church?
You mean, by pointing out historical realities that paint the church in a negative light?
If I say, "Joseph Smith engaged in extramarital relationships and deceived the public, his followers, and Emma," am I making an anti-mormon statement?
If you say it to your friends or whoever, no, you're just an ex-mo. If it makes you so upset that you have to go register a domain, tweet about it thousands of times, or print up and hand out a bunch of hardcopy fliers, then yeah, that probably qualifies as anti.
I keep my faith more or less to myself unless I feel really strongly that it would help someone to hear what I believe. If I was not a believer, I think I would behave roughly the same way: if it came up organically I wouldn't restrain myself from commenting on it, but I wouldn't make it my life's purpose to tear down other people's beliefs either.
If you feel strongly enough to "go register a domain, tweet about it thousands of times, or print up and hand out a bunch of hardcopy fliers". Sounds like a strategy the church employs, no? Rightly so. How about we drop the labels and focus on evaluating the content of the actual arguments on both sides rather than stipulating what is anti this or not. I think what you'll find is that the majority of people whom you call anti are in fact the passionate and concerned, despite your disagreements with them. The problem as I see it is not the "anti-mormons" or the "anit-anti-mormons" but those who are simply too bother to come to the center and understand each other. You might call that kind of listening and caring a Christlike attribute.
I would be very interested to know where those who are critical of the LDS Church "come to the center and understand" Latter-day Saints. The vast majority of message boards and other forums I've visited over 20 years online are full of sarcasm, vitriol, and bile against Mormons, Mormon beliefs, Mormon worship, Mormon sacred clothing, and anything else that is remotely Mormon.
Please tell me where I can go to find this sensitive and enlightened discourse.
I spent two years reading the refutations of the apologists at fairmormon, especially Brian Hales in the context of Polygamy and Polyandry during the Nauvoo period. In the end, there was simply too much stacked against common sense and the very foundations of morality as taught to me while growing up in the church. The very church and leadership that gave me a lot of my moral thought, is now saying those same morals somehow didn't apply to J. Smith, or that they are nuanced. Last time I checked, nuance wasn't a word that typically comes up in a temple recommend interview. The historical records written by the very hands of those involved are pretty damning. So to say that I simply didn't read enough of the defense is a pretty arrogant position.
"The historical records written by the very hands of those involved are pretty damning."
Indeed. So damning, in fact, that those same hands (such as Joseph's plural wives) abandoned the Prophet en masse and denounced him as a libidinous lecher.
A few of Brigham's wives did. It also happened with several of the apostles during the early Utah years. As far as Joseph is concerned though, he used his position and perceived relationship with God to manipulate them. For the record, there are testimonies of women who did refuse his advances too (Jane Law being one I can recall off hand). In any case, using someones feelings about whether it was kosher or not are not very good gauges when looking at it from the outside. Eva Braun loved Hitler, so what, doesn't mean Hitler was an awesome guy. It just means he had some charming qualities about him that she admired. Some of the most dangerous immoral individuals can also be very charismatic.
Because devoted followers ALWAYS abandon their abusive cult leaders, just like all of Warren Jeff's wives did.
Some of the women did indeed reject the Prophet's proposal of marriage. (Nancy Ridgon was another one.) And while it's true that you can't automatically gauge someone's morality based on others' feelings, when it comes to reconstructing the morals and character of historical figures, I tend to give preference to accounts and recollections from those who knew the figure the most intimately.
But that's just me.
And that is what I mean by damning accounts. Sure, a big portion of the leadership followed him until the end. It can't be ignored that a pretty sizable number of them did not. The Nauvoo Expositor was funded and run by people that also used to work very closely with Joseph. If you read through it, there aren't a lot of accusations that are false. Those men and women who defected were disgusted by Joseph's actions. Again, to say that some stayed loyal isn't a very useful argument. There are too many examples in history of loyal followers of genuinely reprehensible leaders.
Actually some of Warren Jeffs' wives have abandoned him and from what I have learned, there would be at least several more who would leave if they were allowed to. They are basically being held prisoner.
Thus we have examples of plural wives of Warren Jeffs abandoning him as opposed to Joseph Smith. Furthermore, none of Joseph Smith's wives were held prisoner in remote compounds with armed guards.
And David, sure there will always be examples of people leaving, writing exposes, etc. That has happened throughout history. But, as Steven wrote, "I tend to give preference to accounts and recollections from those who knew the figure the most intimately." And i have probably read every available account from the plural wives of Joseph Smith.
These women strongly defended Joseph Smith and his teachings and actions. Unlike Eva Braun, etc., many of these women had spiritual confirmations of Smith and plural marriage. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner wrote about it, the Partridge girls wrote their testimonies. Helen Mar Kimball became one of the most outspoken defenders of both Joseph Smith and plural marriage.
And before you even go there, Helen Mar Kimball and the other young women most certainly were of marriage age (legally and culturally). Feel free to read The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy.
Just a few thoughts.
I have to say David, your comparison to Hitler was incredible. That has to be one of the fastest and most ridiculous fulfillments of Godwin's Law I've ever seen. To quote Ron Burgandy, "I'm not even mad; that's amazing."
How many of Jeffs wives abandoned him by the time he was 38? And CFR that any of them are being held prisoner. Eva Braun was but one example of many. You want to apply an apologetic in one case while ignoring the fact that the same apologetic doesn't work in further examples later in your apologetic?!? You say that Eva Braun didn't have a spiritual confirmation of Hitler knowing full well that most of Jeff's wives and followers DID have a spiritual confirmation of him. This is called cognitive dissonance and it's a prime example of what makes apologetics so repugnant to rational people. Many of Jeff's wives have expressed the very same view of him as Joseph's expressed of him. If there is no moral relativism in mormonism (and we're told this every conference), why are you giving a pass to Smith for the exact same behavior exhibited by Warren Jeffs? Oh, and I would definitely go there concerning Helen Mar etc., as the normal age for women to be married at that time was in their early 20s. There were examples of young women marrying earlier but it was almost always without exception to someone much closer to their own age, not someone old enough to be their father. FAIR's apologetic concerning this is especially weak so please don't point me there.
"This is called cognitive dissonance and it's a prime example of what makes apologetics so repugnant to rational people."
See #2 above, the penultimate paragraph.
"as the normal age for women to be married at that time was in their early 20s. There were examples of young women marrying earlier but it was almost always without exception to someone much closer to their own age, not someone old enough to be their father."
Answer truthfully: have you read the two essays by Todd Compton and Gregory Smith/Craig Foster/David Keller on this? The ones that appeared in volume one of the "Persistence of Polygamy" series?
I ask because if not, you really should.
"why are you giving a pass to Smith for the exact same behavior exhibited by Warren Jeffs?"
"See #2 above, the penultimate paragraph."
I understand that rather than articulate a rebuttal to my clear representation of the cognitive dissonance employed by the above post, you would rather respond with this…..nice.
"Answer truthfully: have you read the two essays by Todd Compton and Gregory Smith/Craig Foster/David Keller on this? The ones that appeared in volume one of the "Persistence of Polygamy" series?"
Answer truthfully: Have you read the plethora of articles and books discussing marriage in the 1800's that weren't written by LDS apologists with a priori assumptions?
I ask because if so, you would understand that apologetic manipulations can only get you so far….
Typical. You can't address this in any substantive way as it's far more than just rhetoric…so you sigh as if it's been addressed….somehow….somewhere….by someone far more intelligent than you or I.
Let's not confuse "normal marrying age" with "legal marrying age," because they are not the same thing. "Normal" implies that the highest number of people do something. These are effectively the same as those who get a "C" (read "Average") grade in school or who drive, say, a Camry. Laws don't always set the norm, and marriage laws are no exception. My own mother was eighteen when she married married, and was a month away from nineteen when I was born. Today she would be considered a teen bride and mother, and she was STILL three years older than a couple of my aunts who were married at the legal age of fifteen.
Joseph Smith's youngest brides were of legal age. Perhaps that wasn't "normal," but then he also married a couple of women who were older than he, and beyond child-bearing years. Somehow this fact is never mentioned by Mormonism's critics. Was marrying women at either extreme "normal?" Possibly not. Legal? Most certainly.
Legal age, yes. Legal, no. It was against the law as they didn't have the legal right to perform marriages (at least in the beginning). But, I guess they were spiritual marriages anyway, right? Honestly asking, not trolling. Is there any evidence of paternity from his wives other than Emma?
@Eusebius: I'm definitely not confusing the two and these marriages would have been both illegal AND aberrant. The law at this time was that no person under the age of 21 could marry without their parents permission but there were bigamy laws in place. I agree that laws don't always 'set' the norm but are in fact derived from the will of the populace for the most part and in this case I would argue they were a representation of the "normal" sensibilities of the time. Presentism doesn't appear to be a factor in this criticism.
Critics always criticize all of Joseph's plural wives but the younger innocent ones are at the center of the criticism and with good reason. I find him marrying Helen Mar as somewhat disconcerting but I find his marriage to his foster daughters reprehensible. He took them into his house and established a position of trust with them. He groomed in much the same way as a sexual predator would and then married both of them as teenagers. This is far worse in my eyes. Again, the legality of these marriages has no bearing on the criticism, but rather Joseph Smith's behavior. Again, in a religion where moral relativism is summarily rejected, why should we "give Joseph a break" when we would never dream of doing this for anyone else?
Where is your evidence for the notion that most women in the 1840s didn't marry until their early 20s? I have scoured thousands of marriage records from this period and do not agree at all. Typically women would marry within a very few years of puberty whereas men were expected to wait to marry until they could support a wife. In Kentucky the legal age of marriage for women was 16 and 21 for men, yet the marriage bond and marriage license records are brimming with parental consents for brides who were only 14 or 15. My own great great grandmother was married at age 14 to a man who was eight years her senior.
As to the Lawrence girls, they were 17 and 19 when they were sealed to him. He was actually not appointed their guardian until after the marriage. They had no one else to look after them following the deaths of their parents. The marriage may have been mainly for their protection and to make them part of Joseph's eternal family, as contrasted with a sexual purpose. It is questionable whether Joseph Smith ever consummated the "marriage" as Maria was reportedly examined by a physician in connection with William Law's lawsuit, and found to be a virgin.
There are many resources that discuss this. See here http://www.nber.org/papers/h0080
Your information is anecdotal and studies concerning this subject paint a different picture of the demographic at this time. The statement "Typically women would marry within a very few years of puberty" runs contrary to anything of substance that I've read regarding this time frame. Also, of the women that were married at a young age, very RARELY will you ever find that their husbands were very much older than they were, certainly not a 20+ year difference.
Please see the following in response to your comments regarding Maria Lawrence :
In regards to your comments about Joseph Smith being appointed the guardian of the Lawrence sisters, I'd like to see evidence of this as everything I've read indicates they went to live with him at ages 15 and 17 and he was appointed their guardian at that time. Why on earth would he be appointed the guardian of a 19 year old girl?
On the age of wives in 19th century frontier marriage culture, see:
Craig L. Foster, David Keller, and Gregory L. Smith, “The Age of Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives in Social and Demographic Context,” in The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy, ed. Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L. Foster (Independence, Missouri: John Whitmer Books, 2010), 152-183.
The key issue is *frontier* marriage culture. Any study that doesn't account for that is bound to be misleading in the case of early Mormon polygamy, as Foster, Smith, and Keller explain.
On the Lawrence sisters, the best work hands down is:
Gordan A. Madsen, "Serving as Guardian under the Lawrence Estate, 1842–1844," in Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith's Legal Encounters, ed. Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch (Provo: BYU Studies, 2014), 329–356.
Tell us again about how an angel with a burning sword ordered Joseph Smith to marry 14 year olds and women who were already married to other men?
As far as I'm aware, it was Heber C. Kimball, father of Helen Mar Kimball and decidedly mortal during the 1840s, who proposed the sealing between the Prophet and his daughter.
I don't hold it against you, though. History can be tough. (Consult #2 and #3 above)
Not a burning sword. A drawn sword.
"As far as I am aware"
Yeah… You really should consult point 2 and maybe do more homework.
Clear as day on LDS.org as the author of this article. You are a hypocrite for not even knowing church published facts on the matter and claiming the exmormons don't do their homework.
"the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully." Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo, lds.org.
Not necessarily to marry 14-year-olds, even though he did. He used the account to convince women to marry him. Oh, and also promised salvation/damnation for them and their families depending on their decision. Oh, and don't forget that ALL of these marriages were illegal as no marriage licenses were given to the mormon clergy at the time.
Anon @ 8:15 PM,
Please read my comments in context. We're talking specifically about the Prophet's union with Helen Mar Kimball.
No angelic intervention in that case, as far as we know.
It's pretty awesome when you're best apologetic is that one of the founding leaders of your church proposed to the founder of your church that he marry his 14 year old daughter…..and the founder graciously accepted. Combine this with his modus operandi concerning his proposals with many other young women….flaming sword….salvation at stake…etc. and we have a very "inpired" portrait of the man.
Way to completely ignore the point….as well as most of Joe's wives, including another 14 year old.
Just curious, and this is an honest question, do you think the fact that Heber proposed that Joe marry a 14 year old makes it ok? And I ask that without regard to whether they ever had sex or not (although there is that unhelpful Oliver Cowdry out there on that subject…..).
And, to correct your "as far as I'm aware" statement, here is what da church says on the subject:
During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.
Poor Joseph. Being forced by that mean old angel to marry so many teenagers and women who were already married and, in some cases, sealed to other men……
Your comment here is deeply confused (on factual particulars, no less), as well as, I suspect, purposefully leading.
Nevertheless, I will say this: that Joseph's union with Helen Mar Kimball was (A) almost certainly non-sexual, (B) arranged by her loving father, whom I have no reason to suspect was acting out of debased motives, and (C) was something Helen came to accept as meaningful to her, even if initially challenging (but not for the distorted reasons given by critics), means I am not scandalized over the incident.
I enjoy watching TBM's try to justify the marriage of a 37-year-old man to a 14-year-old girl. Let me guess, your about to tell me that I can't use my modern social norms to evaluate the actions of someone in that time. Turns out I can.
This post (I won't grace it with the term article) is one giant ad hominem against former members of the church. There is no substance here, not even trying to address the issues, only a sad attempt at a generalized character assassination of an entire group of people. The irony here is your attempt to belittle ex-Mormons simply comes across as no different than what you accuse them of in your post.
I wish you the best of luck in your quest to help TBMs by disparaging ex-Mormons. The best part about these articles is they sow seeds of doubt. Those seeds start to grow when people begin to explore the issues. Some, like yourself, are aware of the issues but choose to stay. Bushman himself said that he chose to believe. Many, like myself, become aware of the issues and choose to leave. Keep on providing people with motivation to study, maybe even send them to FAIR or MI. In my experience those organizations are more successful at destroying testimonies than John Dehlin and Jeremy Runnells combined.
You really just don't understand how satire works, do you?
Sigh. What a mess. This is why I rarely waste my time commenting on these things. Your comment, again, provides nothing of substance.
Here, a Princess Bride reference of my own, just for you: 'Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.'
Van writes: This post (I won't grace it with the term article) is one giant ad hominem against former members of the church. There is no substance here, not even trying to address the issues, only a sad attempt at a generalized character assassination of an entire group of people.
You realize you've just done the very thing you're condemning right?
I think you misunderstand the term ad hominem. I did not attack him, belittle him or berate him as a person. I identified the post (aka his ideas, not his person) for what it is, a generalized character assassination. This post is such because he DOES attack, belittle and berate an entire group of people.
FYI for future use, try and keep up:
adverb & adjective
1. (of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.
"vicious ad hominem attacks"
I don't think Bushman is a liar or is deluded. His work convinced me the Church isn't true.
Odd, his work had the exact opposite influence on me.
To each their own, I suppose.
Funny, cause Bushman's work didn't convince Bushman the Church isn't true.
That post rocked thank you for putting that together
Thanks, James. 🙂
You seem like a smart guy, you'll join us sooner or later :). Right before my epiphany, I was a fierce apologist.. Now I realize I was just subconsciously fighting the obvious. Let me guess Stephen, born and raised?
Thank you for demonstrating rule #1 of my guide. 🙂
"Let me guess Stephen, born and raised?"
Well, I am a descendant of a guy whose name is on a BYU building, so… 🙂
Lol the number one rule you MADE UP. According to my personal rule book, you just broke my # rule for being a TBM.. (In denial). See what I did there? It's not fair, is it? I'm from pioneer stock, and I've had to reconcile my pioneer stock with intellectual honesty, and have found a healthy medium ground
I did make it up, yes, but it's based on much personal observation and an abundance of samples to base it on, including many right here on my own blog.
"I'm from pioneer stock, and I've had to reconcile my pioneer stock with intellectual honesty, and have found a healthy medium ground"
So have I, but none of that included me abandoning my faith.
Guess different people just have different responses to these things and come to different conclusions.
Quite the piece of satire, props, seriously, a real gem of wit. It's a bit too ad hominem coming from an apparent intelligent person such as yourself, but then again, I wouldn't expect any-less from a FAIR Mormon blog editor… always full of personal attacks.
As I'm reading your blog, Im genuinely curious if you are friends with any ex-mormons in-person? It's clear you pay attention to many of the ex-mormon online communities. But again, I'm wondering if you regularly interact with ex-mormons in person rather than online? It's a little shallow and babyish to generalize with such inditement. Even if some of these things are true (albeit only online) which I grant, I guess I would expect a "defender of the faith" to be a little more christ-like rather than, well, the person you present yourself to be when you write this…
"always full of personal attacks. "
You know, it's really hard for me to feel sorry for people on r/exmormon complaining about how their feelings have been hurt by those nasty brutes at FairMormon.
Sorry, but I've seen enough of the crap that goes down there to not really have a pricked conscience when I'm landed with this complaint.
"As I'm reading your blog, Im genuinely curious if you are friends with any ex-mormons in-person?"
I am. I have extended family and friends who are either disaffected or ex-Mormons. We get along just fine online and in person. Why's that? Because, for one thing, we agree to set our differences aside and show each other respect and courtesy, even when we disagree with each other.
"It's a little shallow and babyish to generalize with such inditement. Even if some of these things are true (albeit only online) which I grant, I guess I would expect a "defender of the faith" to be a little more christ-like rather than, well, the person you present yourself to be when you write this… "
You do know how satire works, right? Like, the whole point of satire is to use things like hyperbole, exaggeration, stereotyping, irony, and the like for comedic effect. (Not that I'm directly comparing myself to him, but think of the satire master Stephen Colbert.) Of course I don't think *all* ex-Mormons are like this. I'm using a small sample to humorously illustrate a broader point through irony and exaggeration (although, in some cases, the exaggeration isn't too far off base).
Furthermore, I'm dishing out to online ex-Mos a bit of their own medicine. It's a troll or be trolled world out there on the Internet, after all.
Based on the reactions I've seen here and on reddit, it's obviously worked.
Sure, there are some things to complain about with the exmormon community. Not everyone that leaves the church has the privilege of being as bright as you. That doesn't make the church any less false. You are painting us exmos with an ultra wide brush, the same thing that you are accusing us of doing with apologists and members.
> "written by actual historians,"
Its interesting that you should invoke actual historians to come and sort out a dodgy meme. You must mean the historians at BYU? I don't think "unbiased", unaffiliated historians support the historicity of the book of mormon.
"You are painting us exmos with an ultra wide brush, the same thing that you are accusing us of doing with apologists and members. "
Oh dear. How many times do I have to say this? Please re-read my post, and then look up the definition of "satire."
"You must mean the historians at BYU? I don't think "unbiased", unaffiliated historians support the historicity of the book of mormon."
If you think the scholarship of Steven Harper, Richard Anderson, Richard Bushman, Larry Morris, Milton Backman, and others is compromised because of their bias, then I'm more than happy to see your case for why.
Please be very specific in pointing out how their analysis of the First Vision accounts is prejudiced by their background as Latter-day Saints.
In the mean time, your objection here is pointless.
Also in the mean time, maybe you'd be interested in these comments by the non-Mormon scholar Stephen Prothero:
> Oh dear. How many times do I have to say this? Please re-read my post, and then look up the definition of "satire."
Nice cop out
> Please be very specific in pointing out how their analysis of the First Vision accounts is prejudiced by their background as Latter-day Saints.
Does their faith allow them to come to any conclusion that is supported by the evidence? If they are barred from conclude that the first vision didn't happen, then their analysis is necessarily biased.
> Also in the mean time, maybe you'd be interested in these comments by the non-Mormon scholar Stephen Prothero:
Interesting scholar. The quote of his that you mention echos the apologist arguments. Note that, however, he is more than casually familiar with LDS beliefs and is not a member. Maybe you should email him and ask him why. Maybe invite him to hear the missionary discussions and get baptised. Or is he biased in some way that prevents him from learning the truth?
"Your comment will be visible after approval."
Censorship and truth so often go hand in hand.
"Nice cop out"
No cop out. If you don't understand what satire is, then why are we having this discussion?
"Does their faith allow them to come to any conclusion that is supported by the evidence?"
Of course, namely the conclusion that people like Wesley Walters and his intellectual heirs (including Runnells) don't know what they're talking about.
"If they are barred from conclude that the first vision didn't happen, then their analysis is necessarily biased."
How do you know they've been "barred" from anything?
Guess there's only one way to find out, huh? Maybe you should read the books I linked to with an open mind and see what the evidence says.
"The quote of his that you mention echos the apologist arguments."
Maybe because the apologist arguments are correct, and actual scholars, non-Mormon and otherwise, recognize that.
"Note that, however, he is more than casually familiar with LDS beliefs and is not a member."
This is much more common than you may suppose.
"Or is he biased in some way that prevents him from learning the truth?"
Dunno. Never met the guy. He seems perfectly reasonable after I read his book, however.
Anon at 11:03 PM,
I took much relish in approving that smart aleck comment of yours, if only to show the world how foolish you look.
AnonymousOctober 26, 2015 at 11:03 PM
"Your comment will be visible after approval."
Censorship and truth so often go hand in hand.
Says the guy who's comment on imagined censorship still managed to get posted. And from someone posting anonymously no less.
FOR ALL THOSE WHO WHINE ABOUT BIASED LDS SCHOLARSHIP
Mormon Apologetic Scholarship and Evangelical Neglect:
Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?
Carl Mosser and Paul Owen
1997 Evangelical Theological Society Far West Annual Meeting
April 25, 1997
These are guys who think the LDS faith is false. Please read their scholarly, peer reviewed paper before claiming LDS scholarship is poor.
I could also say that my rule #1 (you being in denial) is proven by your blog. But of course, we always take what we might from the conversation to satisfy our intellectual drive to prove ourselves right! You proved my point! (See what I did there? 😉 ). Different people come to different conclusions, but I'm the one who doesn't get ripped off paying 10% of my Parhetic wage to a multi-billion dollar organization because they do SO MUCH GOOD (city creek mall, prop 8, mitt Romneys campaign to start). A fool and his money are soon par
"but I'm the one who doesn't get ripped off"
But remember, folks, it's only the nasty FAIR apologists who stoop to such personal attacks.
The Church supported Mitt Romney's campaign? There's rule #4 in action.
Lots of critics commenting here, and it's enlightening to note that not one of them has even asserted that Smoot's characterization is inaccurate, much less supported that as a proposition.
Most of them are just repeating the same old anti talking points, as if we haven't all heard them and explained them a thousand times (and as if Helen Mar Kimball somehow explains chiasmus in the Book of Mormon or a million others evidences).
They all sound like smart people. Can they really not be aware that they're largely illustrating the points Smoot made in his post? To put it another way, most of these anti comments look like they could have been written as part of the original satire.
"Can they really not be aware that they're largely illustrating the points Smoot made in his post? To put it another way, most of these anti comments look like they could have been written as part of the original satire."
I wish I was clever enough to have written the comments of all of the anonymous ex-Mos above as part of my satire, but I am not.
Those are as real as they come, people.
Ok, I assert that Smoot's characterization is inaccurate. I thought I saw more than one comment which called out the outlandish characterizations, to which the proper reply is evidently "you don't understand satire!".
I'm sure you could find individual people who fit each of the points in this articles, just like I could point to examples of convicted criminals within the church, but it would be ridiculous for me to believe that most church-goers are criminals. I don't doubt that Stephen's clumsy satire is based on real stereotypes, I just don't believe the stereotypes are very accurate for the group as a whole.
The most I've seen is people complain that I'm "too broad" or "over generalizing," which would of course imply there's truth to my satire, only that it's unfair to say *every* ex-Mormon is like this. (That, and the usual complaints that I'm a vicious, insensitive, heartless monster for mocking their behavior.)
As I've made it very clear, I don't actually think all ex-Mormons are like this. But the point of satire such as this is largely to highlight the follies of a group or movement by exaggerating the foibles of some members of the group. Again, think of Stephen Colbert lampooning Republicans with his exaggerated, caricatured version of one, based on foibles seen in members of the party.
As for whether the stereotypes are accurate or not, well, all I'll say is that you and I perhaps have had different experiences observing the ex-Mormon crowd on reddit. I see this stuff at every turn on r/exmormon, and think it's fair game to call it out and satirize it when I see it.
Others obviously disagree with me.
You've drawn the angry ones out of the basements today with this … you must be right. 😉 Thanks for a good read.
I'm not angry.
Is that last picture from the movie Hot Fuzz? If so, nice call. I think the movie fits your satire very well.
Indeed it is. Glad you noticed.
I almost shot Dr Pepper onto my computer via my nose when I saw that. Well played, Smoot; well played.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go water my peace lily.
I love how you satirically cite Sorenson and Perego as credible sources. Sorenson has been shown to consistently misuse sources and misrepresent the data. While Perego may offer DNA apologetics, he has never published anything in a reputable journal specifically dealing with these types DNA apologetics because he would be unable to. Can you point me to any non-lds venue that Sorenson or Perego have published scholarly articles in dealing specifically with either Book of Mormon Archeology, or Semitic DNA in the americas? If they are such reputable sources, surely the mainstream academic world would see them as such?
Yeah, I'm going to say this the most kind way I can.
You don't know what the hell you're talking about.
Here is a list of Ugo's scientific papers on issues related to DNA ancestry and genetics, including the ancestry of Native Americans:
As for Sorenson, see his bibliography at the end of "Mormon's Codex" to see where his work has appeared.
Seriously, dude. Just stop before you make yourself look like more of an oblivious fool.
"Sorenson has been shown to consistently misuse sources and misrepresent the data."
That's not what Michael Coe thinks.
Again, have you actually read anything from Sorenson? And I mean Sorenson himself, not the "TL;DR" bulls*** you insufferable redditors do all the time.
And for the record, here's the entire corpus of Ugo's work:
Again, for your sake, just shut your ignorant mouth.
I absolutely LOVE your vague terms when referencing these articles as you know FULL WELL that they in no way answer my question. So I'll ask you again to refer me to ANY scholarly work by Perego that SUPPORTS the assertion of semitic DNA in pre-columbian american indian populations. You see, just because Perego publishes scholarly articles on genetics, doesn't mean he can publish a scholarly article at a reputable journal making any type of claim that semitic DNA has or may be detected in pre-columbian indian populations in the americas originating in the timeframe of the Book of Mormon. You are very aware of this and to actually list these articles that don't support your position nor answer the question I posed is dishonest. And to be quite frank, should be embarassing to you. As a more specific question, which one of perego's articles at a non-lds affiliated journal suggests that semitic DNA was introduced to the americas any where near the timeframe of the Book of Mormon?
Are you aware of any comment that Coe made that contradicts my assertion? Because I'm fully prepared to demonstrate exactly how Sorenson consistently misused his sources to promote his narrative. Again, it's laughable that you would cite an expert such as Coe in an apologetic comment knowing full well what Coe thinks of Sorenson's approach.
For everyone's sake, keep talking and illustrating the utter weakness of your positions.
Steven Smoot @11:10AM
Whoa, you mad bro?
jcw writes: "So I'll ask you again to refer me to ANY scholarly work by Perego that SUPPORTS the assertion of semitic DNA in pre-columbian american indian populations."
Why are you asking Stephen to produce something that doesn't exist, that Ugo Perego himself doesn't believe can be found, and that LDS apologists don't argue for?
If you've been keeping up on the Book of Mormon DNA debate (and I'm guessing you haven't), that ship sailed somewhere around 2003.
@ Mike Parker: There IS no Book of Mormon DNA debate. Which is precisely why it is hilarious to satirically cite Perego as he hasn't published ANYTHING regarding this so-called debate. So if you've been keeping up with the comments of this post (and I'm guessing you haven't) this is only one of many ships that sailed long ago, none of which have proved well for mormonism and it's claims.
Actually, he has published on the subject, but since you're looking for something he's written "that SUPPORTS the assertion of semitic DNA in pre-columbian american indian populations," you're going to be disappointed. Because those DNA markers don't exist, and for very good reasons that you don’t' seem to be aware of.
I'm aware that he's published on the subject, but you seem to be ignoring my qualification of a reputable, non-lds journal, of which the article you're linking to would never see the light of day…and with good reason.
We're agreed that those DNA markers don't exist but there ARE no good reasons why they wouldn't if the Book of Mormon were in fact an authentic history of the inhabitants of this continent. The only way for you to even suggest genetic drift or any other excuse for the non-existent DNA is to wrest meaning and narrative from the Book of Mormon that quite frankly doesn't exist. And reject the plain wordin and narrative that does. You must then throw almost every prophet under the bus from Joseph Smith almost up to the current one in order to re-define not only what they understood the Book of Mormon to be but how they themselves read the plain language contained in it. Would you care to comment on Joseph's vision in which an angel related the following :"he said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham". What do you think the angel meant by "literal" and who do you think the angel was referring to when he said "indians"? I can tell you who Joseph Smith thought he was referring to, but even Joseph isn't safe from the apologetic steamroller.
There are problems with expecting a geneticist who happens to be LDS to publish on Book of Mormon DNA in "reputable, non-lds journal." One is that scientific journals, including those dedicated to genetics, are not going to be interested in publishing anything which addresses a religious belief. Thus, any such paper, no matter how valid, is not likely to see the light of day in such a journal. If we had anything close to a clear picture of what Lehi's DNA looked like, I suppose such a paper could be worded in such a way to argue that a small group of colonists from the Middle East landed in Mesoamerica 2600 years ago. That, however, opens an entirely new can of worms, in that such an argument supports Diffusionism. While I personally believe this is a valid theory explaining the colonization of the New World, there are certainly still holdouts in Academia who are not of the same mind as I am.
You seem to be of the opinion that there is no such thing as a reputable, LDS journal. That smacks of religious and/or academic bigotry. Would you dismiss similar journals published by institutions affiliated with Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Jews, etc., simply because of the religious affiliation? Or should the quality of the scholar and the research be more important? I know what my answer would be to that question.
Let's look at this from another perspective. The current research shows that the Native American groups who have been sampled have DNA from Central and Western Asia and Eurasia. Asia stretches from the Arabian Peninsula all the way to China. Eurasia includes lands which border on the modern Middle East, or more, depending on which map you consult. The research indicates that Asians and Eurasians began arriving here in the New World beginning around 25,000 years ago. Some of the earliest apparently sailed (yes, sailed) to the western coast of South America, predating the Clovis Culture by several centuries.
So, by 2600 years ago, we have a mish-mash of people who have predominantly Asian DNA already in place. Imagine this is a big pot of mud made from soil gathered (for the sake of argument) in the general area of the Aral Sea. Now, take a dropper full of mud gathered from the banks of the Jordan River and mix it into that other bucket of mud. After doing this, analyze the mud and see if yo can separate out those elements of the mud from both areas which are peculiar to them.
Do you see what the problem is? Both samples are going to contain a lot of the same type of material, with only trace elements peculiar to each region standing out in any way. Obviously, it will be much harder to separate out the Jordan River mud.
Such is going to be the problem with finding Lehi's DNA.
What Eusebius said.
Also see section #1 of the original post, above.
You seem to be taking the article posted by Smoot very seriously. I mean, really, you follow his outline of how to be a millennial anti-Mormon so well.
Bravo, my friend. Bravo.
The problem with publishing in reputable non-lds outlets is hardly that there would be no interest. If there was any merit behind the assertions or any tangible evidence at all to support a claim as major as semitic DNA in pre-columbian amer-indian populations, they would love to take a look at such an article. The problem is that there isn't any scientific data to support it whatsoever. So trying to leverage Perego's expertise as a geneticist to establish a scientific backing for his faith based beliefs is dishonest at best. Even his publications in LDS venues only go so far as to say that it MIGHT be possible that through a genetic bottleneck and genetic drift that the Nephite/Lamanite DNA was lost amid the populations of the pre-columbian amer-indians. Unfortunately, with every new discovery the chance of discovering this lost DNA does not increase, but rather it decreases substantially when we look at the probabilities using Bayes' Theorem. At this point, my own calculation leaves a chance of almost 0.
You are also grossly misrepresenting the science concerning admixture and our ability to understand population migrations based on DNA evidence. In Hellenthal et al. (2014) we learn just how precise we are able to measure the influx of admixture into a population and understand not only the origin but he time of the incursions. With the science progressing at this rate, every year that semitic DNA is not found in the pre-columbian amer-indian population reduces the chance that it will ever be found exponentially.
Of course, if we were to take the Book of Mormon at it's word, this is all for not anyway. It clearly describes a land devoid of population. It also describes the Nephites/Lamanites as having complete control of the political power in the communities that it establishes. How would a very small incursion such as Lehi and company completely take over the political and religious culture of a society numbering in the millions? Not only did they take it over but they did so immediately according to the implications of your apologetic and yet, left no trace of themselves….. Do you realize how insulting this insinuation is to the descendants of amer-indians?
Your first paragraph is amusing. How much of general Biblical studies do you see in in the journal Nature? None? Why is that, do you think?
Your last paragraph is perplexing. You claim that the Book of Mormon "clearly describes a land devoid of population," while Book of Mormon scholars have been pointing for years (long before BofM DNA was an issue) that it clearly doesn't (see here and here, for just two examples). You also ask "How would a very small incursion such as Lehi and company completely take over the political and religious culture of a society numbering in the millions?", without bothering to ask if the existing cultures the Lehites encountered absorbed them. The origins of the Lamanites (in 2 Nephi 5) have all the indications of one group of Lehites adopting the existing customs of an outside group.
Brant Gardner's book Traditions of the Fathers goes into all of this in great detail. Oops, sorry — that was written by a Mormon, and I know that you automatically discount anything Mormons write because they're Mormons and therefore biased. Ah, well.
Here's my problem with the DNA "studies" cited. The original (correct me if I'm wrong ) used mDNA to show that JEWISH mDNA was not found in native american groups. The Book of Mormon supports that finding. Judah's mother was not Joseph's mother, and more importantly, Joseph's wife (Asenath), mother of Lehi's family was egyptian. There is sufficient physical evidence that Egypt had commerce with the America's and the Far East prior to the Israelite origins (see findings on substances found in egyptian royal families). Where there's commerce, there's interbreeding. It is entirely possible Asenath had mDNA from the Far East, hence Lehi's descendants would too. In any case, Amerindians would have different mDNA than modern Jews- the Bof M states they were of different maternal stock.
@Mike Parker I'm glad you're amused by the suggestion that a geneticist attempt to publish scientific genetic research in a reputable outlet if he feels there is merit behind the research that has led to his opinion. I guess that would be amusing to someone who wants an excuse as to why this doesn't happen rather than face the reality that it is nothing more than faith based opinion masquerading as expertise.
I found both your links and Brant's books to be reactionary apologetics that pick and choose what evidence is relevant and what is not. Attempting to use the internal inconsistency of the Book of Mormon as proof of it's authenticity is genius I must admit…..yet fatally flawed. You see, the book contains an inumerable amount of useless information but was incapable of describing a basic tenet of it's surroundings in the narrative. Not to mention the fact that the implication of these types of apologetics would be that this small incursion of 20+ people were able to completely take over the political and religious culture of a well established people, yet leave no trace of that culture. They are playing word games to get around the plain wording describing a land kept from all other nations. They are also throwing the understandings and REVELATIONS of the founders of the religion regarding this book under the bus in order to explain these internal inconsistencies. It's not very impressive and entirely unconvincing.
"I found both your links and Brant's books to be reactionary apologetics that pick and choose what evidence is relevant and what is not."
Have you actually read Brant's new book, or does your ex-Mo powers of clairvoyance tell you he's wrong right off the bat, and so you don't have to?
If you have read it, please be very specific (including, if you could, page number and direct quote) where his argument is lacking and why.
"It's not very impressive and entirely unconvincing."
Well of course not, when all you've read is ex-Mo reddit's "TL;DR" version of it and not the actual thing.
Why is it I suspect you haven't read this material (or at least haven't comprehended it)? Because of the numerous straw men you make out of what Gardner has actually argued.
In your own words, your comments are therefore not very impressive and entirely unconvincing.
I’m sorry that the nuanced reading of a complex text by intelligent, educated professional scholars with actual earned advanced degrees doesn't impress you. I'm certain that it's much easier to wave one's hand, shout "BAH!", and dismiss the text in question altogether.
The narrative in the Book of Mormon is a tightly limited to internal matters, and it even says so repeatedly in the text. But by your standards I'd guess that you'd argue that the Bible is a modern forgery because it doesn't mention a thing about Ebla or the Akkadians, two of the most powerful empires in the Ancient Near East that everyone living in the 2nd millennia B.C. knew about.
"You see, just because Perego publishes scholarly articles on genetics, doesn't mean he can publish a scholarly article at a reputable journal making any type of claim that semitic DNA has or may be detected in pre-columbian indian populations in the americas originating in the timeframe of the Book of Mormon."
If you actually get around to reading Ugo's work, you'll see his published stuff on population genetics answers EXACTLY this question.
Here's how it works. Ugo publishes a lot of stuff in mainstream scientific journals on population genetics, including issues on how to recreate the genetic ancestry of Native Americans.
Ugo then takes the results of these studies, looks at the Book of Mormon, and says, "Hmm, you know, this has a lot of relevance for the claim that DNA science has disproven the book's historicity."
Ugo then proceeds to write a bunch of peer reviewed scholarship explaining how his mainstream publications and research is directly relevant to the Book of Mormon, including answering the critics.
So for you, an anonymous Internet commenter, to strut around and pooh-pooh Ugo's work when you haven't even read the stuff is the height of hypocrisy, and absolutely betrays your ignorance on the matter.
Thus, this from you, "As a more specific question, which one of perego's articles at a non-lds affiliated journal suggests that semitic DNA was introduced to the americas any where near the timeframe of the Book of Mormon?" shows you don't even know which questions to ask, since Ugo's work shows exactly why this can't be answered the way it's framed.
Hence my plea for you, for your own sake, to simply stop until you've done the homework (#2 above). Mike Parker has very helpfully encouraged you to do this as well. I recommend you do it.
Apologetics is really a sad trade to be in these days. These types of arguments are so easily defeated because they are based purely on posturing and appeals to authority. I'm very aware of Ugo's work and have summarized it quite well in my comments. Of course you wouldn't challenge my summary and attempt to refute it, but rather you turn to these asinine tactics.
If Ugo were to attempt to publish his apologetic articles in a mainstream reputable journal, why would they reject it? Anti-religious bias? Bigotry? Or is there a much simpler answer that doesn't malign the character of these outlets? His best apologetic simply says that if you summarily reject the opinions, claims, revelations of the originators of the Book of Mormon and furthermore reject the plain wording contained in the book itself, there are genetic principles that MIGHT allow for a small incursion to very hard to detect with our current technology. Unfortunately for him, the technology is advancing fast and we are able to map more and more markers every day. And even more unfortunate for his apologetics, when mormons start to reject the claims of the founder of the religion, they usually leave soon thereafter. Time is running out for his apologetic and it will soon be null and void.
So please assert your appeal to authority fallacy again and avoid the very valid points that I've had to repeat again and again.
As a follow up, I'd like to point out that you claim that Ugo answers my question "EXACTLY", when you know very well this isn't true. He in no way answered it, he only tries to provide excuses as to why he believes it CAN'T be answered.
@Mike Parker, There are many examples of scholars with advanced degrees chasing pseudo-science and it's often times related to religion. An argument must consist of more than just an advanced degree, it must have substance and have a basis in objective reality.
How often does the the bible refer to other populations in the region? How often does the Book of Mormon? Now compare the two answers and you'll see a vast difference. Your point is fallacious and you are well aware of that. With that being said, there is much in the bible if not the majority that is in fact not historical, but I personally don't need it to be. Unfortunately though for you, you need both the bible AND the Book of Mormon to be historical in order for your religion to be what it claims it is.
"Anti-religious bias? Bigotry?"
Much more common than you'd think.
"His best apologetic simply says that if you summarily reject the opinions, claims, revelations of the originators of the Book of Mormon and furthermore reject the plain wording contained in the book itself, there are genetic principles that MIGHT allow for a small incursion to very hard to detect with our current technology."
You have no clue what Ugo has argued, and this is as blatant a straw man as they come.
"Unfortunately for him, the technology is advancing fast and we are able to map more and more markers every day."
Are you going to lecture Ugo Perego, of all people, on the advances of modern genetic ancestry testing? Seriously?
The breathtaking, arrogant gall of ex-Mos sometimes.
Thank you for doing precisely what I suggested you do. Continue to posture, appeal to authority (which you haven't demonstrated you even understand), and refuse to engage in any substantive way.
Any respect I had for you, Stephen, is gone after reading your response to people's comments. You aren't going to change anyone's mind by calling them ignorant or telling them to shut up, or that they don't know what they are talking about. You are full of insults and nothing more. Where is your understanding or love towards people? Just because they don't agree and attack you doesn't mean you have to do the same back and descend to their level. Where is any Chris-like love on your part? I am ashamed to call you a fellow follower in Christ. Why would I ever want anyone defending my religion in the way that you are?
I expected more from you.
Why should Stephen care if your respect for him is gone? You're no one (no, literally, that is all I can assume since you're anonymous).
Why should he be ashamed? John cried that the pharisees were a generation of vipers (or, in our vernacular, sons of bitches) and yet he was a prophet of God praised by Jesus.
I can still show love to someone, wish them the best and pray for their souls, while telling them to shut the hell up because they don't know what they're talking about.
Stephen, is it possible the church isn't true?
If it weren't true, how would you know it?
I love the anger from the apostates in this post. Seems to hit a nerve has he? Well done Mr.Smoot
In all the comments from the ex-Mormon critics here, notice that not one of them has made any attempt to show that Stephen's claims in the OP are false or misleading.
Instead, they've fallen back on the tired ex-Mo tropes of "JOE SMITH WAS A PREVERT!!1!" and "SMOOT IS MEAN!!"
Weird, but not unexpected. (I've browsed enough Reddit to have seen it coming.)
Well, Stephen, it would appear that a number of the people who responded to your article would take Jonathan Swift's "A Delicate Proposal" quite seriously. I suspect they also would not enjoy the humor in Hugh Nibley's "How to Write and Anti-Mormon Book." Personally, I enjoyed the article, and I find it wryly amusing that you seem to have struck some nerves. Perhaps next time you shoot set your shotgun's choke on "Cylinder" so the shot will hit a wider pattern, and by so doing you won't annoy so many. 😉
The trolling is strong in this one. And you nailed it on the head. The exmo's would rather listen to their new found friends who state, "Don't trust anybody- except me, of course.." And they fall for it. Rather than asking God and seeking answers from those who have faith, they turn to those who have doubt and say that faith is for the weak, the stupid or the uncool and millenials would NEVER want to be any of those. It's the common preying tactic.
Rather, let us seek after the Lord.
Yikes. The subreddit ex-mormon community apparently has had a conniption over this little post. Why get so bent out of shape by a little satire?
"The guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center" (1 Ne. 16:2).
Or, as an old Polish proverb stated: "If you throw rock into a pack of dogs; the one that gets hit yelps."
There are 24,000 people subscribed to that subreddit, so it's not that surprising that many of us are willing to engage in either a respectful debate or a yelling contest, whatever we're presented with. The tone of the satire set the tone for the discussion, but I don't think we're bent out of shape just yet. A substantive, rational discussion about this post already happened over at Reddit.
Stephen, this is a beautiful bit of rhetoric, and it's having the intended effect. Like SJWs, "uncorrelated Mormons" so often have such sensitive little amygdalas, so ripe for hijacking.
This was a great read especially the comments. I know we cannot give in to the spirit of contention and maybe you have gone too far in some of your retorts, Stephen, but somewhere we need to let the faithful members know that the "criticisms" offered by the anti-Mormon Reddit crowd are neither new nor sophisticated. They are indeed of the same class of thoughtful criticism that football jocks offer as they push the skinny science nerd into his locker. To those experiencing the assault it may seem traumatic and as though all the world is against them. In this hopelessness some may even choose to suppress their natural interests and even help terrorize others in order to fit in. Most however will quietly endure. The reality is that in a few years that science nerd will be hailed as a great member of society and the football jock will probably be dealing with a restraining order from his third ex-wife.
That was epic Gilgamesh!
That's a bold mischaracterization, but I'm not mad. I know why you feel that way. There doesn't need to be contention between Mormons and Ex-Mormons, we're both victims of the same scam. Study it out, you'll see for yourself. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The critics do the very things they say the LDS church does. The rabid critics demand "real" scholarship from LDS ( because LDS scholars are not qualified in anything) but accept anything from anyone as long as it attacks the LDS church.
Those mainstream Christians and ex members who join other religions always attack Joseph Smith's character. If we had in depth biographies of Biblical Prophets and Apostles not very many people would remain Christian, or even Jewish. People conveniently ignore what the ancient church leaders did. "Abraham was a sex trafficker and David was a rapist"…..article headline in Christianity Today…. and very true. They had concubines, were polygamists, murdered, committed adultery, lied, and more.
And Christians conveniently ignore the inconsistencies in the Bible and all the translation errors.
Rabid LDS critics are masters of hypocrisy. Like the racist fascist spineless elites that are destroying this country.
This is SATIRE people. Get a clue.
Runnells and Dehlin and their kind show their evil side and don't have good arguments. Thanks to them I stayed in the church. I researched their claims and found they lie. They ignore a lot of information and parrot the McKeever's, Slick's, and their ilk.
As a matter of fact, the person helping Runnells is a McKeever anti Mormon website contributor, and he has his own anti Mormon site. These people brag about setting up Mormon missionaries to ambush by pretending to be investigators. Oh so honest and real Christian of these…….liars.
Spot on. I really enjoyed this comment: "Targeting youth through deceptive hashtags on social media?"
That was actually my introduction to AntiMormonism. I was on YouTube and someone who found out I was Mormon called me a plethora of rude names, calling me a liar and whatnot (I was about fourteen when this happened.) It was quite alarming and I didn't understand that. But, at the same time, I'm thankful I had the experience so I can share it with others.
Isn't it great how people in ex-Mormon culture can claim without proof that anyone that supports the Church must be in the Church's employ and cannot possibly be persuaded otherwise. I think it ultimately goes to show that they genuinely can't account for the existence and effects of faith and the idea that it would motivate someone to give freely of their time and energy. It is difficult to comprehend what one is not.
Any nastiness or loss of temper in these comments has been (and will continue to be) my fault.
Thank you for your attention.
That was some tasty satire! I enjoyed it even more because I have seen it so close in the form of a few people I am well acquainted with. As the saying goes, it is a bad idea when folks show up unarmed to a battle of wits. Bravo, Brother Smoot, Bravo!
I didn't realize you were LDS, Brother Sherwood. See you at VP.
I thought I had seen you around. I did not know you were a VFM. Good to meet you here!
You might have been better off not choosing a "persecution" for your meme that stems directly from Joseph Smith cheating on his wife with a 16-yo girl (Marinda Nancy Johnson).
This myth has been so thoroughly exploded, I'm genuinely surprised you're bringing it up.
From no less than Todd Compton: “There is no good evidence supporting the position (found in Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 119, 462) that Joseph Smith was married to Marinda Johnson . . . or had an affair with her, in 1831, and was mobbed by ‘her brother Eli’ and others as a result.”
Symonds Ryder, the leader of the mob, was very clear that they were tarring Joseph AND Sydney Rigdon over property (law of consecration) disputes, not some alleged tryst Joseph had with Marinda. That claim arose a good half-century after the event, by an anti-Mormon who had no firsthand knowledge of any of the factors behind the incident.
But nice try.
And that's why it's a total coincidence that Marinda Johnson was later secretly sealed to Joseph Smith.
Circumstantial evidence be damned. Joseph secretly married dozens of other women, and that is widely accepted, even by the church, but that particular one- Marinda- that he was later sealed to? Why, no evidence whatsoever that there was any type of affair between the two of them earlier in their lives. That's just absurd.
"Why, no evidence whatsoever that there was any type of affair between the two of them earlier in their lives. That's just absurd."
So here's the deal. If you're going to make a positive claim, like, say, Joseph Smith had an affair with Marinda Johnson in 1831/32, the burden of proof (there it is) is on *you* (the claimant) to establish it. Historians don’t entertain pure speculation simply because there is no evidence that something *didn’t* happen. And any submitted "circumstantial evidence" is only going to carry so much weight before it collapses under the load of direct evidence that contradicts it (in this case, you know, the fact that the mob leader explicitly stated the mob's motive for tarring and feather Joseph AND Sydney).
So yes, it is absurd. You have no evidence for this myth, and your "circumstantial evidence" proves absolutely nothing. It is pure, unadulterated fantasy on your part that Joseph Smith was intimate with Marinda in 1832.
Therefore, to quote Hitchens, I can dismiss without evidence that which is being asserted without evidence.
But please, don't let the small inconvenience of you having absolutely no evidence for your claim stop you from uncritically parroting the standard ex-Mo trope.
"But please, don't let the small inconvenience of you having absolutely no evidence for your claim…"
Lol, sorry, not gonna waste my time with the absurdity of your position, Mr. "Let me tell you all about how Jews settled the Americas and the Book of Abraham is a special kind of translation that's not really a translation and an angel with a sword forced poor Joseph to secretly pork young girls."
Evidence is pretty important, amirite?
See, here you go again. The Bof M emphatically states Jews did not settle the Americas. The Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is pretty plain right here- if you can't get that easy and simple fact right, why should I take anything you say seriously?
Seeing as how you have changed the subject, and have offered no substantive response to my rebuttal, I will happily accept your concession of defeat on this point.
Br'er Smoot: I was amused to see that some are now blaming your satire on your long marination in the right-wing views of the Tea Party polemicist Ann Coulter. Repent!
Can you blame them? My Democratic voting record (twice for Obama) should be a clear signal that I am an establishment Tea Party fanatic.
Mr. Smoot, I'm very happy to have found your blog through Daniel Peterson's Facebook post. This has been some fun reading over the past day. I think the volume of ex-Mormon vitriol is a pretty good indicator you got the satire spot on!
I'll be following your posts from now on. Happy to make your acquaintance!
Thanks, Trent. Glad you like the blog.
Fawn Brodie was called out on some falsehoods she claimed. ….and she corrected them. But her book is still sloppy and biased. It would not have been praised had it been a different subject matter. My non LDS college history prof said Brodie's book was badly researched and slanted.
I have researched as many anti Mormon claims as possible, way before computers were available for households, with the Internet.
I was out of the church and looking for more information. My research led me back to the church. The critics and anti Mormons lied so much I became disgusted. And how some obtained their information is inexcusable.
Some of the deception used today by anti Mormon groups is how they design their websites to mimic legitimate LDS sites. They mimic everything LDS to fool people into believing the site is pro LDS or run by the LDS church.
Another example is the anti Mormon zealot Lee Baker. His site name appears to be pro LDS. Everything he writes he makes sure everyone knows he was a Bishop and High Priest…..ooohhhhh, he was high up in the church….ooohhhh. He and his wife go to LDS pageants and Temple open houses and wear name tags identical to what the LDS missionaries wear, to lure in faithful LDS to speak with them. Other evangelicals are starting to use this tactic as well.
Some groups pass out tissue packets during conferences with hidden business cards inside with a derogatory message and phone number to call for help in leaving the church. If its deceitful, the anti's do it.
All successful cults control information. If you want to get something into North Korea, you have to be a little creative. LDS members are conditioned to the church's brand. There's a careful selection of colors, fonts, and clipart to give just the right impression and let you know that the information is "safe". Pretending to represent the church is clearly out of bounds, but I'm not aware of that ever actually happening.
Anyway, It's a good thing the church doesn't do anything deceptive, that would really muddle your argument.
actually anti mormon groups mimic the church all the time on the internet and twitter, and in how they dress during conferences and pagents. of course you are not aware because you choose to be a dipwad and anti mormon
Bushman is trotted out as a historian who is also a believer. I read his first effort when he responded to Wesley P Walters first paper on the revival and the first vision in Dialogue Spring 1969. In a ward I asked some American LDS what the GAs might think of Dialogue. They responded that some GAs thought that a certain writer did not do a good response to Walter's article on the revival.I had not at that time read the paper. Some years later I wrote to the Tanners asking them if they thought Milton Backman's book on the FV answered Walter's arguments. They forwarded my inquiry to Walters. He responded that there were certain exaggerations.misuse of data and even failed to mention Walter's article.It was a rumor that Backman did not want to draw attention to it. Quinn seems to article that challenges Walters however this has been commented on by Dan Vogel. When did the family join the PC? 1820 or 23-24.? Bushman in a footnote on page 570 (RSR). "It is possible that she (Lucy Smith) did not join until later Palmyra revivals in 1824." Smith Snr refused because a preacher said his dead son (1823) had gone to hell.
Vogel comments about Quinn "Ultimately, after all his unnecessary
and unfair attacks on Walters’s character, Quinn agrees with Walters’s main
finding—that Joseph Smith’s 1838–39First Vision story contains elements
from the 1824–25 Palmyra revival.That’s more than some of the early apologetic defenders were willing to concede to Walters. Although Walters may have overstated its significance (which advo-cates on both sides of the debate have done), his observation about the text
and its relationship to verifiable histori-cal facts remains essentially legitimate http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V41N04_10.pdf
I would hope that even the most ardent member would realize that there's a lot of pain involved in a faith transition. Unfortunately, people in pain tend to act badly at times. I guess I've never considered people in pain very fruitful ground for humor.
So yes, I understand how satire works. It just seems the great satirists chose better targets.
Agreed. Good satire doesn't have to be funny, so this post certainly could qualify as satire. But good satire punches down. By and large, people who leave the church do so because they're in pain. It's bad form to kick people when they're already on the ground.
"By and large, people who leave the church do so because they're in pain."
This may be, but it in no way justifies the utterly contemptible behavior I see in this class of ex-Mormons all the time over at such places as r/exmormon.
So long as they keep this behavior up, I'm going to call them out on it. You don't get a pass on bad behavior just because your feelings may be hurt.
This is a site that discusses metallurgy in Mesoamerica, responding to the arguments of John Sorenson. http://www.mormonmesoamerica.com/metallurgy.html
How to be a successful Mormon apologist:
1. Mental gymnastics. Lots of them (see above article for examples).
2. Begin with the conclusion.
3. Rely on an entirely unreliable epistemology that always leads to the same general answer.
4. Be a white, heterosexual, American male who was born into the church and has tremendous social pressure to believe, and/or have an income/career that depends on believing.
5. Perpetually demonize the outgroup (those pesky "anti-Mormons") so that one's ingroup bias is so strong as to inoculate oneself against critical thought.
This will get you most of the way there. Oh, and more mental gymnastics will always come in handy.
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