Explain it to me better: A Response to CNN on Mormonism

For a reason that is hard to understand, there have been Mormons that are impressed with how a short CNN web segment explains the Mormon religion. They might not agree with everything on the video, but the respect for it runs strong. Perhaps Mormons are grateful for any perceived neutral or positive presentation of the religion. Perhaps they are happy for any secular mention considering the lack of outraged response to the blasphemous and disgusting “Book of Mormon” musical. A growing and influential religion deserves better than what has come out of obscurity, although a lack of respect and understanding about religion in general is part of today’s society.

The short report by CNN religion editor Dan Gilgoff is bad enough to deserve a critical review. This isn’t even “Mormonism for Dummies,” but just dumb. It doesn’t touch on more than the most basic of basics; some of that only half of the information necessary for understanding. There isn’t much detail to go into to pull from, but that is part of the problem. Superficially it might not have been wrong, yet so far as contexts and relevance it leaves out a lot of important information. This hampers its worth for those who want to know more. Continue reading

Book of Mormon Socialism: The Marxist Gadianton Robbers

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

Some LDS proponents of Socialism like to compare capitalism to the infamous Gadianton Robbers in the Book of Mormon. It seems a simple line to draw between the “Profit Motive” of Capitalism and the secret combination of the Gadiantons to “get gain.” Too simple in fact. A more careful reading shows that in some ways the Gadianton Robbers seem to be more like Marxist Revolutionaries.

Chapter 3 of the book of 3rd Nephi in the Book of Mormon is interesting in that it is one of the few sections of the text which purports to give us a glimpse of how the Gadianton Robbers viewed themselves, rather than how they were viewed by Mormon and his Nephite protagonists. Verses 2 through 10 are the record of an epistle written to the governor of the Nephites, Lachoneus, from the leader of the Gadianton Robbers, Giddianhi:

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The Myth of New Mormon Feminism

Recently there has been a lot of talk about a new or resurgent Mormon Feminism developing. With so many words and discussions about it, one would think it was a reality rather an expectation. The truth is that a “war” between Mormons and Feminists happened, and Feminists lost. There was a time when Feminists were very active with staging protests, holding marches, signing petitions, writing letters, mobilizing grassroots forces, and making bold calls to action. In the end those Feminists either left the LDS Church or were ex-communicated. Despite minor changes, the goals they had didn’t materialize.

The last time there was any “action” of note taken was after Sister Beck’s now famous talk about the importance of defined female roles. Feminists sent roses to LDS Church headquarters to protest her message and newspapers filed a report. The response from the intended target? A courteous thank you. Concerns behind the gift were promptly ignored. Other recent activities have gone unnoticed or are personal to individuals with no direct social impact. Continue reading

The Truth in Politics Act

Day 1:

Wally: I’m Wally Cronkquist and that popping noise you just heard ring round the world is the sound of 250 million corks simultaneously celebrating the passage of the Truth in Politics Act. Only two years ago the controversial “Referendum Amendment” passed, allowing individual citizens the right to create their own bills and put them on a national voting ballot. The Truth in Politics Act is the first use of this new process.

With me is Chuck Sneadman, political professor from Harvard, here to explain the new law.

Chuck: Well, Wally, it’s quite simple, really. From this point forward, all politicians are required to receive a chip implanted in their brain that gives them an electric shock every time they try to either lie or spin the truth. At last all political problems will be solved because only honest politicians will stay in power!

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Religious Conservatives Don’t Need the Center

Politics and religion haves always had a rocky relationship as the Founders of the United States understood. They sought to alleviate some of the worst conflicts of the two and allow as much freedom as possible for both to thrive. More recent times, foes of religion have used the wisdom of the Constitution to silence religious voices in the public square. Although on the surface what they argue sounds reasonable, the actual practice goes against the spirit and perhaps letter of the law. The freedoms they claim to protect become restricted with vague notions of what is public and private. It is one thing to make a case of disagreement and a different matter to ridicule and accuse without presenting an argument. As no fan of Skousen’s simplistic research, but in agreement with the spirit of Glenn Beck’s ideas , I think both have been treated unfairly to the detriment of honest debate.

The same goes with how those who are most influenced by them, The Tea Party, are continually dismissed. Even when they garner success, such as the latest U.S. election, it is as if they have failed. The truth is those on the left and the right who don’t like them either deliberately misrepresent or seriously misunderstand the movement. An article by Nathan B. Oman that is critical of the religious members ignores the actual history of who comprises the electorate. The vital conservative religious vote is cast as a recently developed nuisance that, “will render conservative religious voices irrelevant to serious political discussion,” compared to more moderate conservatives. It is hard to believe considering voting outcomes over the last 30 years. What will happen is that moderate religious pundits will become irrelevant to other pundits. Continue reading