Right off the bat, let me quote the breathtakingly horrible Dallin H. Oaks, one of the members of the leadership of the LDS church who said he felt sympathy for those that participated in the Mt. Meadow Massacre (poor little murderers, unable to look at themselves in a mirror.) This is from the opener last night:
"It is wrong to criticize the leaders of the church. Even if the criticism is true."
And that, right there, is why Mitt Romney shouldn't be elected President of the United States. Oh, and why they either need new leadership in the LDS church (I utterly DESPISE Oaks) or why members should re-think their religion. (the sound of Martin Luther hammering away comes to mind)
Things I wished they talked more about:
- The Church's stance on homosexuals. Sure, they said be gay but don't practice it. So Morrissey could be a member. Let's talk (floweringjudas, I miss you!) about how members treat gays. It's not kind. (there are acceptions, but they are rare.)
- The inherent racism in the Church and how that is in DIRECT OPPOSITION to Joseph Smith's earlier teachings. (Interesting, no?) Smith was a HUGE abolitionist. (Remember, 1830-43 is the time frame.) He had NO PROBLEM with blacks, with them holding the Priesthood, with them being members. Fast forward to his death and Kimball taking over. No more "darkies." Not for well over 100 years. I remember CLEARLY when we were told in church (and I was 5 at the time) that blacks could have the Priesthood, and the grumblings. How the men were told to pray and search deep. God wanted it. How many people LEFT the church as a result. (Polygamists still deny black people/anyone not white the Priesthood, and believe specifically that blacks "bear the mark of Cain." Um... didn't everyone but God's elect die in the flood? *g*)
- I wanted more insight into WHY Historians/anthropologists/thinking people decry the validity of the Book of Mormon. (Example: the Nephites/Lamanites - descendants of Hebrews - had horses, steel, highways, major cities. There is NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to support this, in fact, that has been shown to be false again and again. STEEL?! In 200 BC. Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaah.)
- The fact that Joseph Smith was a Mason (one of his plural marriages was held in a Masonic lodge, in fact) and that most of the "rituals" involved in the temple are taken from the Masons.
- And lastly, the Pearl of Great Price and the "lost" books of Abraham and Moses that no one else knows about. And that scholars laugh about.
I felt the automatic knee-jerk reaction of "no, no, they're not getting it right!" that has been ingrained in me since I was a child. See, it's like this. You're told from infant-hood that People Are Going To Try And Sway You. That they are going to take you from the Straight And Narrow Path. So we need to Hold To The Rod! (The iron rod. <-- for the former Mormons reading *g* By the way, we always sang under our breath "Hold to my Rod," which was dangerous as my father was the choir director, so he could hear us. Haha!) Back to the indoctrination. Other churches teach about us at the pulpit. How bad we are. How they need to stop us. (Whether this is true, I've never found, and I've been to maaaaaaany churches. But in Mormon church, this is commonly spoken.)
So you have this mindset of Us against Them. And We Are A Peculiar People. And In The World, But Not Of It. A part of the world, but Apart. So anytime someone that is NOT a member begins any discourse, the immediate reaction is "here we go...." And you roll your eyes and wait for a break in the convo so you can break in With The Truth. And admonish them to search their hearts and pray deeply for God To Tell Them of the One True Church. (Please know that Mormons believe they have the ONLY church that is just what god wants. Either Mormon or cast aside, y'all.) And if you look at the letters on PBS.Org, you'll see how many people have that knee-jerk reaction "this is ALL LIES AND HATE!" *wipes spittle from cheek and blinks*
Let me put it this way: you should know by now my stance on the Mormon Faith. I thought this was almost a fluff piece. I was SINGING THE HYMNS in the background and getting nostalgic. Boy, when that father started reciting the prayer for baptisms of the dead, I was saying it, too. I practically yearned to dip my head back and get right back in there. Why? There was something very telling in the second half of last night: the author, Terry Givens, talked about how each ward (like a parish) was a family. And that's right! You know everyone, you see them almost every day of the week (church isn't only on Sunday) you go to socials, dances, dinners, etc. Mormons are encouraged to do business with other Mormons first. Don't date outside the church, etc. I was one of those devout girls dreaming of going to the MTC (mission training center) and going on a mission. When that little kid was singing "I Hope They Call Me On A Mission" I was singing along. Yep.
And think about how insidious that is. (Oh, they don't see it that way AT ALL.) You go to "Primary" after the sacrament service. Primary is 2 (is it 2? Or 3? I can't remember) through 11. You sing songs, you have a lesson about the church, and then you sing more songs. This is two hours long. Now, some of the songs are silly and fun like "Popcorn Tree." I still sing that to my kids. And some of them are teaching you how to be a Mormon, and what's required of you. A LOT of indoctrination is done through song. (And I should know, my father wrote hymns for the church, and exposed us girls to the Business of Indoctrination that way.)
Examples: "An Angel Came to Joseph Smith"
"We'll Bring The World his Truth"
"Book of Mormon Stories" (that my teacher tells to me...) Man, I can hear the piano of Sister Broadbent just LOOKING at this title. It has fun hand movements, whole body twirls... And loads of Mormon dogma. Like "Families Can Be Together Forever." (I can garan-damn-tee you than any Mormon or former Mormon is singing everyone of those songs under their breath right now.)
But that's their right, right? They have a church, why not sing songs that celebrate that? It's because the songs have an exclusionary element to them. (Except, and seriously now, there's not much sweeter in this world than when the Primary sings in sacrament meeting on Mother's Day and sings, "Mother, I love you" and I'm TOTALLY TEARING UP THINKING ABOUT IT, AUUUGH. Little four year olds?! And then they walk to mom and give her a flower. Gaaaah.)
So enough with the singing, Laura, get to a point about something. Okay... Did anyone see that woman that had been converted, that had come from a life of drugs and pain? And she was singing a gospel-type song? (I'm talking about the black woman.) Ooh, Laws. That does NOT happen in the Mormon church. It is calm, ever peaceful. No applause EVER. You murmur "amen" when someone sings a magnificent (or terrible) solo, plays a piece of music, etc. I bet that sounds really weird to a lot of you church-going types. The first time I went to a black church, I was blown away. That is NOT how it's done in the LDS church. And this is significant.
I hope you noticed how the Mormon leaders spoke. How the devout Mormons had a special cadence to their voice - they ALL adopt it. (As well as a middle initial. you can search high and low to find a male member that doesn't aspire to a higher office of the church that doesn't use an initial. I used to tease my dad about how he needed one to move up the ranks. ...because it's true.) Hinckley, the current president, closes his eyes and speaks with a lulling cadence that he got from the previous president, Hunter. Who got it from Ezra Taft Benson. Who ... You get my point. It goes back to David O. McKay, the first clean-shaven prophet of the 50s that was buddies with Eisenhower. All Mormon males - who want to move higher in the offices, and they all do - adopt this weird "blessed and peaceful" tone of voice, this weird lilting of speech, and it's like a sleeping pill. (Ask anyone who had to sit through General Conference.)
So they, in a way, anesthetize you with their speech patterns. And then get to say things like Boyd K. (see the initial? hee!) Packer in 1993:
"The greatest dangers to the Church are gays, feminists, and intellectuals."
Keep in mind that this was a GENERAL ADDRESS to the ENTIRE population of Mormons. (And an upstanding Mormon reaffirms his beliefs in everything the prophet has said, as well as the Priesthood, at a general Conference. Right hand raised and everything.)
So that crap squeaks by in a quiet tone, and gets planted in the subconscious, then we all sing "We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet" and everyone goes home.
Baptisms for the Dead
Boy, that's a controversy, isn't it? I felt utter shame last night at a) remembering my times doing it with fondness (because you're taught that you're fulfilling God's mission on earth, and He Loves You for it) and b) wanting to rant and rail at the church for doing Holocaust names. That man broke my heart last night. "My family was killed for being JEWS. I want them to remain on the record as JEW." And he has every right to expect them to comply.
And the church leader they asked about that seemed like such a nice guy, right? So polished and quiet and thoughtful... All that was missing was an initial. *g* But listen to what he said: (paraphrasing) we have stopped this since 1995, and have complied with the requests of this group." (The group of Holocaust survivors and the Orthodox Jews.) But here's the thing that he said that maybe went past your radar:
"UNLESS THEY ARE NAMES SENT IN BY OUR JEWISH MEMBERS."
How can you be Jewish and Mormon? Ask my Uncle Jerry, born and raised Heeb from Jersey. Converted in his 20s to Mormonism, devout as they come. Still goes to temple on Saturday, Mormon church on Sunday. (Mormons believe they are a Lost Tribe of Israel, and also the Elect.) SO, if my Uncle Jerry gives names of Holocaust survivors to the temple workers, they'll continue on. THIS IS WRONG. And the man had a point: 200 years down the road, the church has legal documents (church documents of marriage, birth, death and baptism are legal historical docs) showing that Moeshe Rosenbaum was baptised Mormon. EVEN THOUGH IT WAS DONE POST DEATH. Wrong wrong wrong.
A Mormon would argue that the person is in the next life (the Spirit World) and has the presence of mind to accept or reject that baptism. And... who on earth is recording the yeas or the nays? EXACTLY. This isn't something they think about, because they are entrenched in the idea that They Are The Truth, and it's a Gift they're offering. (I'm thinking of Seinfeld's parents being aggravated and upset by the Fruit of the Month club. Hahaha.)
For those who have read my other posts on Mormon church history, did you nod when they mentioned how the church reprinted the Book Of Mormon and changed the logo? I've been saying it for years: the fact that they constantly change their image is upsetting and wrong. Be who you are - a bunch of wackadoos. Hahaha. The current church has very little resemblance to the church Joseph founded, aside from the beliefs in the Book of Mormon and the temple rites. (And those have been changed, too.)
Joseph spoke with passion (and acted out on his passions, AHEM.) The current trend is mild, passive, peaceful, calm. *falls asleep* But that's a great way to keep your populace in order, something Joseph had EXTREME difficulties doing. He claimed to get revelations (very convenient ones, coming up btw) so his membership did, too. And then, all of a sudden! God spoke to Joseph and said that no one has the power of revelation that will affect the Church aside from Joseph. You can only get PERSONAL revelation. (Like, what job to take, who to marry, which business venture will be successful. God is now your personal Magic 8 Ball! ...ask me again later. *g*)
So this 13 year old girl shows up in Kirtland, Ohio, and boy, is she a looker. And Joseph tells her that God commanded they wed. (This will be spiritual wife #8) And this girl says Nuh Uh. And Joseph comes back to her with a revelation just for them! (In her words)
"[God commanded he take me for a wife] He (Joseph) got afraid. The angel came to him three times, the last time with a drawn sword and threatened his life. I did not believe. (good girl) If God told him so, why did he not come and tell me? The angel told him I should have a witness. ... I was afraid. Joseph said he came with more revelation and knowledge than Joseph ever dare reveal. Joseph said I was his before I came here and he said all the Devils in Hell should never get me from him. I was sealed to him in the Masonic Hall...."
~Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, in her biography printed by the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine. This is also in an account in the Navoo Temple record.
Surely the insidiousness of Joseph is apparent. But Mormons are taught that this is proof! This is proof of Christ's Hand in everything, and how important it is to Obey. Boy, do they love obedience.
Fact: you will go on a mission if you are a boy, or you will have a hard time getting married, getting further in the priesthood, and having respect of your peers. (Did anyone else notice the missionaries ignoring that homeless guy on the street? Uh huh. He has no tithe to pay.)
If you do not have children (or even get married by 30) you are pitited. Or if you're a man, suspect. I had a cartoon on my desk at work (I worked at the University's Arts & Letters dept.) that had a young BYU coed and some women clucking sadly over her. "23 and not married? Poor thing. They'll find you a mate in the next life." And some girls - those that are either closeted or unattractive by the Mormon Male Paradigm (assholes) - resign themselves to spinsterhood because Mohonry Moriancumer, the hot guy in the ward with everything going for him, won't have them, and they won't marry outside their faith. And besides, there are all those slain men (like Joseph Smith's brother Alvin!) that died before being sealed in the temple, so you can be sealed like baptisms for the dead! NICE.
NO THAT ISN'T CRAZY TALK.
I could go on and on and on. About my friends on their missions being held at gunpoint by guerrilla soldiers in Columbia and Chile. Contracting life-threatening diseases, almost dying, and trying to go back on their mission so God Isn't Disappointed. About families that hold conferences to discuss whether Mother and Father should go to a hotel room for the night and Make a Baby so their spirit children can come forth. (!!!!) About how Margaret Toscano, excommunicated for asking too many questions, should have shut those men up with D&C 121 (men wielding unrighteous dominion) but they wouldn't listen to her. About how I remember CLEARLY the blue posters on the bulletin boards at my church growing up telling women and men to fight ERA. (Oh, they didn't say it in sacrament meeting, but it was in the Sunday school classes after, and discussed with the Visiting Teachers that came once a month to your house.)
About how they claim to be all about the family, but ask ANY member where their dad/husband is on Sunday, his one "day of rest." He's at the church in a meeting, or with another family teaching them. He sure isn't home.
Gah, I'm getting an ulcer. Or maybe it's that I haven't had breakfast yet... Probably that last one. :D
Let me say this in closing: the Mormons are tight familial units. Sometimes that' s a bad thing. Sometimes it's something amazing. They care about their community. They have the BEST welfare system in the world, and I don't say that lightly. They are organized, they believe fervently in doing what they think the Lord has commanded them, and for the most part, they make excellent employees because they tend to be honest to a fault.
But if you look at what their church has hidden, what their church prevents THEM from knowing... It's not worth it, imo.
For further discussion/reading, hit the tags on this post. There's several posts about this, and great discussion in the comments.