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The Mormon faith builds bridges while staying true to its self

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"Its self"? Doesn't Erasmus's dictionary have the word "itself" in it?
He notes that "Monson epitomizes the religion's custom of having long-lived, long-serving, white Americans at the helm ... ." But it is impossible to have such a custom, as not even Mormons can know whether their new leader will be long-lived or long-serving. What Erasmus means is "history", not "custom". And as for "white Americans", would Erasmus have expected a black man, who until 1978 could not become a Mormon priest and whose race comprises less than 5% of all Mormons, to become its leader?

Peter Piper 2

The article really ought to give a few more details about Mormonism. that interesting thing about Mormonism is that it is recent enough that its founding is well-documented.

Joseph Smith, the founder was known for telling people he could find buried treasure on their property - for a fee. He was arrested for this and the records of his court case still exist. He later claimed to have found an ancient text', written in a previously unknown form of ancient Egyptian. Smith 'translated' this work by staring into a hat and narrating the text, claiming that God himself was giving him the translation. Nobody ever saw the book of mormon that he dug up and Smith claimed it was taken away by an Angel. Around that time Smith remarked to a friend that 'I have got the fools fixed and will carry out the fun.'

Smith turned up later in Ohio where he was once tarred and feathered, and later tried to start his own unapproved bank, printing his own three dollar bills. He had to high-tail it out of town when a number of people lost their life's savings. Later Smith claimed that an angel of the lord visited him and told him he must marry a series of teenage girls and other men's wives. He also said that not even Jesus Christ ever managed such an accomplishment as he did.

Such a person was Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church.

Peter Piper 2 in reply to rando305

Everything I have stated is correct and supported by historical records, including records held by the mormon church itself.

Concerning Smith's arrest in NY state,

"On March 20, 1826, Smith was arrested by Constable Philip De Zeng[5] and brought to court in Bainbridge, New York, on the complaint of Josiah Stowell's nephew, who accused Smith of being "a disorderly person and an imposter."

"In February 1837, Samuel D. Rounds swore a writ against Smith and Sidney Rigdon for illegal banking and issuing unauthorized bank paper. At a hearing on March 24, the court found sufficient evidence for the case to go to trial. In October, Smith and Rigdon were tried in absentia after having left Ohio. They were each found guilty and each fined $1000."

"After a warrant was issued for Smith's arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Smith and Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri on the night of January 12, 1838"

"After fleeing Missouri, Smith faced attempts to extradite him to Missouri on charges of treason and conspiracy to commit murder. Illinois officials charged Smith with incitement of a riot and later, treason against Illinois."

All this can be checked against historical sources and official records.

Does this sound like someone with the kind of character who you would believe when he said he dug up an ancient manuscript?

rando305 in reply to Peter Piper 2

I am well aware of the facts Peter. And you apparently have dedicated significant time to be informed as well. Why you choose to intentionally misrepresent the facts demonstrates evidence of psychosis. This emotional need to position yourself as an erudite scholar - sprinkling a couple facts - to validate your slander must come from somewhere. Have you considered what is driving this fixation? In what circle does this establish your credentials? There are millions of people who believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God - your misrepresentation of facts isn't particularly interesting to them. There are billions of people that don't know anything about Joseph Smith or don't believe that he was a prophet of God and don't spend any more time worrying about it. Your 'warnings' aren't particularly interesting to them, because they weren't interested in the first place, and probably aren't reading this article (let alone the comments). There are hundreds of people who don't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, and dedicate their life to being the beacon on the hill to alert those gullible enough to depart from the billions and join the 'millions'. But again, the billions don't really care - so you are really just trying to impress a couple hundred people that share your fixation in positioning yourself above those ignorant little mormon minions.

Perhaps you were just looking for a forum to 'publish' your little essay above.
Whoo Hoo! You are published! What an accomplishment.

Peter Piper 2 in reply to rando305

I find it very unfortunate that you choose to attack the messenger and the motivation of the messenger rather than address the actual facts. This does not strike me as the behaviour of a religious person, or someone who is forgiving or even open to discussion.

Peter Piper 2 in reply to rando305

Before you post again, consider that the Mormon church has many ways to get its message out. it has missionaries throughout the world, a very polished website, television ads, an entire PR department, etc.
By comparison this comment page is a very small space to offer a differing viewpoint.
Why be so concerned with the comments of one individual on one article in one publication? I am not making personal attacks on anyone. This is not personal and I certainly have nothing against Mormons personally. I am merely offering historical information and people can take it or leave it, or research it further as they choose.
I suggest that the proper attitude to one who dissents from your views on Joseph Smith is not anger and becoming greatly offended, but instead showing understanding and forgiveness. Wouldn't that be more Christ-like?

SPQR762 in reply to rando305

Peter Piper 2 is coming off much better in this exchange than you, rando305. He's presenting facts. You're holding your breath and stomping your feet in protest of those inconvenient (for you) facts.

Here are some other facts you may find inconvenient:

1. Mormons are having fewer children.
2. Missionary work is yielding diminishing returns.
3. Mormons are quitting the church in droves.

These are unavoidable demographic bombs. Go ahead - try and stop them.

I hope you had a happy Festivus.

Peter Piper 2 in reply to SPQR762

Unfortunately, it is a human trait to feel angry and upset when core beliefs are challenged. I suppose this is what has happened with our friend rando305.
I was thinking that perhaps we'd hear some sort of debate about why Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, in spite of claiming to have dug up a golden book written in a previously unknown language, that he translated by putting his face into a hat and not even looking at the book (his own mother wrote that this is how he did his translating); or in spite of starting an illegal bank causing many people to lose their life's savings (this doesn't seem very prophetic), or in spite of 'marrying' (and I use the term loosely) 34 women, which even the Mormon church now admits is true, (The common Mormon claim that those women needed husbands is most certainly not the case as ten of them were already married to other men. ); or in spite of translating part of another ancient Egyptian text which he called the Book of Abraham from hieroglyphics into English which scholars later determined to be complete nonsense as the original papyrus has absolutely nothing to do with the biblical Abraham. I could go on and on about this, but I'm sure you get the idea.
It's actually a fascinating topic and there are lots of excellent resources on the web for anyone who wants to do further research.
But I do understand and sympathize that if one believes that Smith was a true prophet of God, and has believed this from an early age onwards then it is disturbing to hear information that tends to point in the opposite direction.

Peter Piper 2

Mormons teach that Jesus Christ came back to earth for three days following his resurrection and destroyed 16 cities in America by fire, floods and earthquake including innocent children. I know it sounds incredible, but it's all there in the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 9 (you can find it easily online). This is quite a difference from Jesus Christ of the Christian Bible.

Peter Piper 2 in reply to rando305

I have read the Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 9, and I invite anyone else to read it and decide for themselves what it says.
It makes quite clear that it is the voice of Jesus Christ speaking and announcing that he has just destroyed 16 cities.
But don't just take my word for it, read it for yourself.
Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 9
"In the darkness, the voice of Christ proclaims the destruction of many people and cities for their wickedness—
12 And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people,
15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. "
I don't know what other meaning you can give to it but that Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon destroyed 16 cities since that is what the book of Mormon clearly states.
Which is completely opposed to the Jesus Christ of the Bible who preached peace and forgiveness and love for your fellow man.

John M M

I am Jewish. My wife is neither Jewish nor Mormon. We were married and our children were baptized by her father Rev. William Hamilton.

leonmen in reply to John M M

But there is no problem there. In Judaism the children automatically take on the religion of the mother, baptized or not.
From what I understand Mormons want to baptize dead Jews.
Ah the dilemmas of the religious!

VMLynam in reply to leonmen

The baptism of deceased Jews is nothing but a ploy to bolster numbers.

In any case, you cannot posthumously baptize someone of a different faith, who never expressed an interest in the baptizing faith, as it is null without informed consent. I believe it is different for babies who die shortly before or around birth as their parents are carrying out a ritual which would have been performed anyway had the baby lived. In this instance it brings a certain amount of comfort to people experiencing a tragedy and in distress.

rando305 in reply to leonmen

You apparently don't understand Mormons. Mormons want to offer the ordinances of salvation to thier deceased ancestors. Some get carried away and in a misguided, but well intended effort, go beyond their direct ancestoral connections.
Oddly, as the article points out, it isn't Jews that are offended, as they see that the Mormon church is attempting to fulfill it's commitment to the policy established years ago. 20 people in 5 years, is 'infinitesimal'? It's some 'ex-Mormon' digging up the rare exception to policy to create a tempest in a tea-pot.


Beyond the respectful teachings that the mormon church promotes as a matter of faith concerning the Jewish people being the "chosen people of God", one must understand the mormon history of religious persecution within the United States that inevitably forced them to leave the United States for the West for religious freedom in order to see the connection they feel toward the Jewish people.
At the time of their abandonment of most of their possessions and the city they built in Illinois (Nauvoo) in the mid 19th century, the city was the size of Chicago and their temple therein was the second largest constructed building in America.
Read the account, or at least the first 12 pages, of a non-mormon (a prominent man who later became a Major General due to his valor at Gettysburg), who travelled west with the mormons to observe their experience. He was, therefore, a man who could speak coherently about them. He delivered his remarks to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1850. Through his remarks, one can gain an appreciation of this people who were driven unfairly from their lands and homes at the tip of a sword in an exodus and had their temple ransacked and debased by the uncouth victors. This account helps explain some of the kinship that mormons feel toward the Jewish people. They've "been there," although to a lesser extent.
(Thanks to the Internet Archive Project and Microsoft Corporation for digitizing the document and funding before the discourse was lost to history)


As a Mormon and a jew let me agree that the furor over a few accidental posthumous baptisms of holocaust victims is overblown. They were unintentional and against policy. As a previous post states, spot on, Mormons have strong kinship (and theological linkage) to Judiasm. Mormons though are 100% Christian - they worship God Father and Jesus Christ and nothing else. They believe baptism is an ordinance necessary for exhalation (returning to God‘s presence) that must be performed on earth by a valid (i.e. Mormon) priesthood holder (yes male only). Since spirits can convert to the „true gospel“ after leaving the earth through death, they still need a way to receive the baptismal ordinance. Hence posthumous baptisms. Now I disagree with many Mormon teachings and policies, such as discrimation against gay marriage and children in those families, and am agnostic im my faith, but the Mormon church still has many wonderful teachings, good policies and helps mold positive character. Mormons are generally very high quality people, and if you know some personally you would likely agree. So the church is a source of goodness in our world. Thus, despite my differences with Mormonism, I will always speak respecfully of the church and of other churches as well.

VMLynam in reply to CrawfordE

Thank you CrawfordE for your very insightful comment - it has answered a few questions I had from reading the article. You are right when you say Mormons are generally high quality people - the few I know are!

rando305 in reply to leonmen

You apparently don't understand Mormons or Jews.
'Jew' is a very complex word and is not narrowly confined to an adherent to Judaism. Some Jews are athiests, but they are still Jewish. You might want the world to fit into your collection of boxes and use the term 'of Jewish descent' but it doesn't. Peter and Paul were Jews - yet Christians. Deal with it.

Tokarian in reply to CrawfordE

Would those high quality people include Warren Jeffs - felon, child molester and convict serving a life plus 20 year sentence in prison and others who committed pedophilia and incest? Or are they not counted as LDS, despite their name and claim?

leonmen in reply to rando305

No you are not correct. The Nazis thought like you and gassed many a good Christian because they were of Jewish descent or race (they were all 'Jews' to them). On the other hand the Spanish accepted the conversion of Jews to Christians and many of the 'Hebrew' race reached the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy. But many were still burnt alive because the Catholics thought they were not sincere.

Christ was also a Jew but believed he was the son of God. Not quite sure what that makes him. But still the yardstick should be: Christians believe that Christ was the Messiah ,Jews don't.


As an atheist none of all this makes any sense to me whatsoever. Can anyone explain what the hell is going on?

leonmen in reply to Clint.Southward

Well to start with have got to believe in God. Then you have got to believe in an afterlife. Then you have got to believe that prayers from below will help those trying to reach this after life and that they will somehow affect God 's attitude to you if you are of the religion of those praying for you below. Once you accept all these things then you can understand the problems of the religious.


It should be noted that Monson's allowed the 2015 anti-discrimination law to go forward only when there was a carve out allowing for discrimination by the LDS and the Boy Scouts.


Religions have always been a problem for humanity. Since times immemorial all the way to this very day, religions pit one individual against the other rather than bringing them together as they should.
As an atheist I find this article rather funny, to say the least: it looks like the editors did not have enough material to fill the pages of the magazine and were forced to also include "The Mormon faith ......".
This being said, or rather written, I will go back to reading Mad Magazine that is often funny and does not make me feel like I am wasting my time.


While hiding under the façade of Christianity and sweetness, the Church of Latter Day Saints is actually a polytheistic cult where every good Mormon expects to be a god governing their very own planet. With an infinite number of possible gods, Mormonism rivals Shirley MacLaine in her quest to turn humans into gods. This strange cult, with nice, but confused followers, albeit with fancy underwear, should never be associated with true Christianity. To confuse the two is like saying that Nancy Pelosi is a good Catholic, while she promotes abortion.

Jonel31 in reply to guest-ajalease

By "true Christianity" you probably mean Catholicism - a faith promoted by the Roman Church since the 4th Century when it was actually invented and then imposed by the Roman emperor Constantine I.
In my not so modest opinion, all Christian religions, sects and ... whatever, are equal. They promote Jesus the Son of God via Mary the Virgin: whoever doubted the validity of such fairy tale used to risk one's life and limb, including being burned alive by the Roman Inquisitor and his 'gang'.
No wonder that Catholics, especially after the latest financial and sexual scandals that afflicted the clergy throughout the world, are deserting the Roman Church and joining the endless variety of Protestantism including the so-called Mormons with their strange mentality and funny rituals.

guest-lnmaomj in reply to guest-ajalease

Have you actually investigated Mormon theology? Because you have their beliefs totally wrong. It’s not a polytheistic faith. They believe in one God. They also believe that Christ is their savior. By definition that makes them Christian.


First, I noticed that you dodged around a few topics that Latter Day Saints believe in. You made it sound like we don't allow women to have the preisthood in the paragraph stating:

He boosted the role of women in decision-making bodies and as members of the church’s corps of young missionaries, but resisted demands to ordain female priests. The leader of a campaign for female ordination was excommunicated.

Females that have been endowed in our temples already have the power of the priesthood. There is no ordination required. The only thing that they are lacking is the title, and most Ladder Day Saints don't understand that. The woman that was excommunicated didn't know that, and her followers didn't either.

Second, you said:

Although Monson epitomised the religion’s custom of having long-lived, long-serving white Americans at the helm, he broadened the church’s leadership by elevating to the inner circle of leaders a German, Dieter Uchtdorf, who proved an active ambassador for the faith.

We believe that Brother Monson didn't make the decision, but that God did.

You also said:

Stories abound of Monson excusing himself from important meetings because of a sense that somebody elsewhere needed his help.

We also believe in the Holy Ghost, which is essentially the messenger of God. Monson didn't just have a sense for these things, he was warned that someone needed his help.

Macrol in reply to arimfexendrapuse

The reference to women in the church is accurate. The LDS website is pretty clear that female ordination is not allowed ( and that this state is a "divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.. The church website do not mention "in name only" and it seems odd that women can have all the trappings of priesthood but that "most Ladder Day Saints don't understand that." If no one understands that they are priests in all but name, how respected are they? It also seems odd to excommunicate a group of people over a misunderstanding when it appears she was questioning fundamental precept.

Regarding President Monson and his revelations, just because you believe in divine inspiration doesn't mean the rest of us do and journalism should reflect reality over fantasy when possible. It is amazing a German white man counts as a break towards diversity in a global faith.

Following the example of church policy towards black people I assume that once there is enough public or legal pressure there will be two more "divine revelations" regarding how discriminatory the church is allowed to be towards women and homosexuals.


As a person of the Jewish faith and the acquaintance of many LDS people, I find the uproar about posthumous baptism to be absurd. Mormons have shown time and again their kinship and respect for the Jewish people from the church's inception. Jews were the first separate religious group recognized by the Mormon church and the first synagogue was erected with participation from the Mormon community on land personally donated by Brigham Young. There were Jewish mayors and elected officials in Utah long before anywhere else in the US. As friends to Israel the Mormons have been second to none. In addition, both share an unhappy history of persecution, exile, and ultimately redemption - as well as cultural values of family, education, and personal accountability. Finally as any Jewish person knows, Mormon missionaries will immediately (and politely) cease any proselytizing once informed that you are Jewish. The practice of posthumous baptism is a kind and compassionate gesture on the part of Mormons who truly believe that it will ease the departed's road to heaven. Much like buddhist chants for the dead or other rituals that practitioners of other religions may apply to people of different faiths I see this as in no way similar to what was forced on Jews through years of persecution and forced conversion. I think it's time we really stop focusing on reasons for conflict and instead look at all the commonalities that bind Jews and Mormons together - which are vastly more significant in our troubled time.


The practice of baptising the dead and those arguing about it reminds me of those "scholars" who spent their time arguing about how many angels can fit on the point of a pin. Seriously? This is the 21st century.


I appreciated this thoughtful piece. As a believing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I'm grateful for the life and example of Thomas Monson.