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"If you’re going to have plural marriage, you need fewer men"
September 8, 2007 6:26 PM   Subscribe

"Over the last six years, hundreds of teenage boys have been expelled or felt compelled to leave the polygamous settlement that straddles Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah..... 'So the parents kick him out because otherwise the father could have his wives and whole family taken away.'"
posted by orthogonality (168 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Under the Banner of Heaven is an amazingly detailed book that chronicles the history and rise of Mormonism in the U.S. and its frightening offshoot, Mormon Fundamentalism, to which these "lost boys" belong. So, so creepy.
posted by sneakin at 6:34 PM on September 8, 2007


And another thing-- I don't understand why polygamy is always painted as the culprit. In my mind, you want to have several wives or husbands and everyone is consenting, the more the merrier. So, it's not polygamy per se that's the problem, but rather the conscripting/coercing of underage girls into marriages (sometimes to relatives, often to much older men, or at all). Two separate issues that seem to get conflated.
posted by sneakin at 6:37 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, also the fact that polygamy is this instance is polygyny.
posted by liquorice at 6:42 PM on September 8, 2007


This article answered a question that's bothered me for quite some time.

It's my understanding that - in a very general sense - polygamous cultures develop out of a need to avoid widowhood - men are killed in war or from disease or from simply not living very long, and women are left to fend for themselves (and for their children) and are "taken in" by the husband's brother or father. Of course, I'm sure the massive subjugation of women throughout the course of history and men treating wives as a form of currency also contributes heavily. But what happens in cultures where men aren't constantly being killed off and there are enough men to act as providers? But - yet - some men still desire additional wives? Somebody has to get the shaft, so to speak.

An interesting note - Dr. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy points out in her fantastic book Mother Nature that across cultures, the chances of a child dying are seven to eleven times higher if the mother is living in a polygamous family than if she is in a monogamous union.

AND another thing. I'd like to point out - because I've not been given a chance to yet on metafilter - that whether you're a fundamentalist Mormon, a fundamentalist Baptist or a fundamentalist Presbyterian, there is simply no valid argument to be made for "traditional" marriage by drawing on scripture. None. Not in the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. The Hebrew Bible is quite possibly the worst place to start - the language it was written in doesn't even contain a word for "wife." It has the designator "his" - as in, "his woman," even for "his first," or "his second" woman and so on. But there's no word for wife. Women are purely property - utterly in the same sense as "his oxen" or "his seventy two slaves and fourteen comely eunuchs." The New Testament is an even worse place to begin - if that's even possible - Paul sure as hell didn't want us getting married. ESPECIALLY (you can tell I'm using science) because the world was about to end - which is what most fundamentalists believe! He says, "Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife." He goes on - "Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as thought they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as thought they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away."

He also states clearly that marriage is not a sin - but there are plenty of things that aren't considered sins in the Bible (drinking wine in moderation) that fundamentalists avoid.

This has always been something that bothered me.

Of course, I suppose I shouldn't look to the fundies for a bastion of clear scriptural interpretation.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:49 PM on September 8, 2007 [34 favorites]


sneakin:

polygamy does contribute to this problem in particular. As the article states, the expulsion of the teenage boys is mostly due to mathematics. Their religion says that salvation requires at least three wives. With birth rates for girls and boys roughly equal, you would have to expell 60% of the male population to ensure the remaining males can have three wives.

It sounds like warren jeffs took it a step further and increased the number of wives he and his associates took. This lead to the need for even more expulsions.

This practice (expulsion) also reinforces the power strangle hold of the leader. By expelling so many, the few that remain are obedient, especially those who have already started a family and have more to lose.
posted by Merik at 6:49 PM on September 8, 2007


sneakin writes "And another thing-- I don't understand why polygamy is always painted as the culprit. In my mind, you want to have several wives or husbands and everyone is consenting, the more the merrier. So, it's not polygamy per se that's the problem...."

Given an even birth ratio (actually slightly more males are born, but slightly fewer survive to breeding age, so it works out), polygamy means some men get many wives and many men get no wives. (See gorillas and elephant seals for examples.)

This may or may not be "good" genetically, but unattached males of breeding age are socially disruptive. (See here, for example.)
posted by orthogonality at 6:53 PM on September 8, 2007


I'm sorry for those boys, but at least they get out. What about their sisters? Presumably they stay trapped in that world, married off to some creepy old guy and pumping out children. Their expelled brothers ought to be banding together to stage rescue missions.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:53 PM on September 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


So, basically, the families are behaving like Lion prides.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:55 PM on September 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Their expelled brothers ought to be banding together to stage rescue missions.

I'd watch that movie.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:00 PM on September 8, 2007 [6 favorites]


A better way to state it, Devils Rancher, is they are behaving like animals.
posted by humannaire at 7:02 PM on September 8, 2007


Salon did a feature article on this topic just over a year ago.

It blows my mind that these boys' parents are going along with this.
posted by orange swan at 7:07 PM on September 8, 2007


So, I'm Mormon. Have been all my life. A few weeks ago, someone found out that I was Mormon and asked me "so, do you follow The Principle?"

I had no idea what they were talking about. But when I asked them what they were talking about, they just had this sort of nudge-nudge wink-wink attitude, and couldn't really explain it.

Now I see that "ThePrinciple" is one of the tags on this thread. So would somebody mind telling me what in the blazes "The Principle" is?
posted by JekPorkins at 7:18 PM on September 8, 2007


Juniper Creek come to life, Jesus.
posted by Falconetti at 7:19 PM on September 8, 2007


Jek, Mormon Fundamentalists commonly refer to plural marriage as, "The Principle." It is more commonly known as Celestial Marriage.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:22 PM on September 8, 2007


Jek, in the HBO show Big Love about a polygamous Mormon family and a compound called Juniper Creek which sounds a lot like the sect in the article, they taking of multiple wives is referred to as "The Principle." I bet that is where that person got that phraseology from. There is also talk of blood atonement (see some theories on the Mountain Meadow Massacre) and other buried Mormon terminology from the days of Brigham Young.
posted by Falconetti at 7:22 PM on September 8, 2007


You know, commonly.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:22 PM on September 8, 2007


Jek - that's how the polygamists on HBO's "Big Love" refer to plural marriage. I'm not sure if they got that from the Fundamentalist LDS groups or what. But it seems these days anyone who's see "Big Love" is now an expert on Mormons. (Not a Mormon, but married to one. Only one.)

On preview: Falconetti for the win.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:25 PM on September 8, 2007


Falconetti writes "'The Principle.'"

The Principle (see tags) isn't just fiction from Big Love; it was mainline Mormon theology until Utah wanted statehood.
posted by orthogonality at 7:25 PM on September 8, 2007


This reminds me of the touching and sad story of Kathy Jo Nicholson and her Escape from polygamy. Via, surprisingly, Digg.com
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:29 PM on September 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Merik and orthogonality: Right, but this unattached extra males thing could theoretically be a non-issue in a polygamous society if the society practiced both polgyny and polyandry more or less equally. Or if just a few people in a group practiced it, instead of all the males in a community, there would at least not be so many excess males floating around. So polygamy in and of itself isn't exactly the problem, it's how polygamy is practiced in this case.

I also just wanted to note that I really like Big Love a lot. I have no idea if it's even remotely accurate, but seeing as (other than some vague memories from anthropology class) it is my only source of info on polygamy, I had to bring it up.
posted by naoko at 7:32 PM on September 8, 2007


it seems these days anyone who's see "Big Love" is now an expert on Mormons

Aaand Banky_Edwards called me out before I called myself out. Ha.
posted by naoko at 7:34 PM on September 8, 2007


One odd quirk about the polygamist families in Colorado City is that many are quite poor. There's been a fair amount of investigation into welfare fraud there. I don't have a great reference handy, but there's some info on this anti-cult site.
posted by Nelson at 7:34 PM on September 8, 2007


Ah. Thanks.
posted by JekPorkins at 7:34 PM on September 8, 2007


it was mainline Mormon theology until Utah wanted statehood.

I don't believe I have ever heard plural marriage referred to as "The Principle" in any context except, apparently, with reference to Big Love. And I have studied both Mormon theology and Mormon history quite extensively.

In fact, when I was asked if I followed it, I assumed that it referred to the principle of continuing revelation through a living prophet. Boy was I wrong.
posted by JekPorkins at 7:37 PM on September 8, 2007


orthogonality, I've been looking for that "Bare Branches" article for years. I have been utterly shamed by my usually flawless Google-fu, and I humbly thank you for posting it here.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:40 PM on September 8, 2007


Dr. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

Blaffer Hrdy?

You lost me at Dr. Sarah.

:)

And who is Mr. Hrdy?
posted by Debaser626 at 7:42 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jek, if you do not know that about Mormonism, then you actually haven't studied texts from outside that faith...try reading Krakauer's book.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 7:45 PM on September 8, 2007


infinitewindow writes "orthogonality, I've been looking for that 'Bare Branches' article for years. I have been utterly shamed by my usually flawless Google-fu, and I humbly thank you for posting it here."

I googled: "sex ratio war", found this, skimmed to the section on consequences, clicked to the footnoot (footnote 45), googled that ("Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population."), skipped the Amazon.com link, and went to the next one.
posted by orthogonality at 7:47 PM on September 8, 2007


Jek, if you do not know that about Mormonism, then you actually haven't studied texts from outside that faith...try reading Krakauer's book.

If I don't know what about Mormonism? That there's a tv show with characters that refer to plural marriage as "The Principle?" Now I know that.

I've read plenty of outside texts, thanks. And Krakauer's book isn't something you "study." If it's your idea of scholarship, you haven't studied.
posted by JekPorkins at 7:52 PM on September 8, 2007


I thought getting rid of competition was the whole reason for sending men aged 18-21 (or whatever it is) on years-long "missions," no?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:58 PM on September 8, 2007


Saw some young male mormon missionaries in the neighborhood the other month (ever see any women doing this "missionary" work?). Reminded them that while they were slaving for free for the church on the road, crusty old elders were enjoying the young girls back home.
posted by telstar at 7:58 PM on September 8, 2007


Serious question: would a Mormon be sanctioned by his Bishop for reading Krakauer's book?
posted by orthogonality at 7:58 PM on September 8, 2007


Serious question: would a Mormon be sanctioned by his Bishop for reading Krakauer's book?

Absolutely not.

Reminded them that while they were slaving for free for the church on the road, crusty old elders were enjoying the young girls back home.

I hope they laughed right in your ignorant face.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:03 PM on September 8, 2007


I hope they laughed right in your ignorant face.

They started praying. For pussy, I guess.
posted by telstar at 8:04 PM on September 8, 2007 [30 favorites]


It really isn't any mystery why Jeffs' followers, or any cult leaders' followers, go along with outrageous demands such as throwing out their own kids. If you live in a cult, your thoughts and actions become conditioned by constant indoctrination and (most importantly) isolation from outside help/escape routes/allies. Considering that violence, murder, rape, and other forms of coercion are also likely being used in a setup like this, and you get a lot of people who are simply too scared to leave and who have been brainwashed into believing they must stay. It's easy for us to sit here and think "I'd never put up with that!" but of course, I doubt any Mefites were raised in a cult compound with a substandard education, no experience of the outside world, and no personal freedoms whatsoever.

Those poor kids, all of them. I wonder how many of them will get any help or be able to build stable lives.
posted by emjaybee at 8:07 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hope this thread doesn't dissolve into another instance of JekPorkin's defending Mormonism from fairly reasonable criticism
posted by delmoi at 8:09 PM on September 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


ever see any women doing this "missionary" work

Yes, all the time.

But it seems these days anyone who's see "Big Love" is now an expert on Mormons

In my case, it was my interest in Mormon history that first attracted me to Big Love. I seem to have posted a lot to Metafilter on Mormons for some reason, now that I look back: see Haun's Mill Massacre, Mountain Meadow Massacre, and the King of Beaver Island.
posted by Falconetti at 8:10 PM on September 8, 2007


fairly reasonable criticism

What? Telstar is acting like a douche.
posted by liquorice at 8:13 PM on September 8, 2007


Yes, all the time.

The door-to-door formal dress-up thing in which they try to never use the word "mormon" when pitching the religion? What part of the world do you live in? Fun times: ask them about the angel Moroni and the golden tablets.
posted by telstar at 8:14 PM on September 8, 2007


Yes, but a fucking funny douche. I mean, I'm sorry, it's insensitive and all that, but I can't stop laughing at his "For pussy, I guess.". It's just so deadpan, so subversive. But I'm restraining myself from favoriting it, because it's offensive. But goddamn, it's funny.
posted by orthogonality at 8:17 PM on September 8, 2007


Big Love did not invent the term "The Principle." That's just probably where the person who asked you about it heard it, Jek. Even if Big Love were that person's only exposure to Mormonism or polygamy, they probably know that mainstream Mormons don't practice polygamy. They were probably just making a joke, assuming you were aware of the show.

I really liked the Krakauer book, but having read it doesn't make me a polygamy expert any more than watching Big Love does.

I've been fascinated with polygamy since my early teens, so I think I liked Krakauer's book and Big Love because of that predisposition. Since the end of the second season, I've been rabidly devouring Brooke Adams's polygamy blog on the Salt Lake Tribune's website. It's very "just the facts, ma'am," so if you want more info without the sensationalism of a commercial book or the bias that comes with official church history, it's a great place to learn more.
posted by lampoil at 8:19 PM on September 8, 2007


Telstar is acting like a douche.

Missionaries. Like we're "darkest interior" who needs to have xtianity pitched to us on a sea of xtianity. Attempts to add us to the revenue stream by chumps who are themselves victims of polygamous dreck. A douching I will go!
posted by telstar at 8:20 PM on September 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


delmoi, that is something I do not need to see.

Jek, though the book is not a scholarly read, it is well researched and well presented and it does refer to polygamists who call that practice "the principle". It is not just from a TV show. I am just at ends to understand how Mormons practicing today can reconcile their present day religion wiht the one that was existent just a few decades ago, and in fact still thrives ( albeit in a decidedly 'overlooked' way by the current LDS church) today.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 8:21 PM on September 8, 2007


What part of the world do you live in

At the time, I lived in northeast Ohio and I only ever saw female Mormons come to the door for missionary work. I was fooled the first time when two very pretty girls knocked on my front door and I overeagerly opened to find out why they were there (what a let down when they started talking religion). I only hope that there was not a subsequent duo of pretty girls that knocked on my door looking to have a blow job contest and I hid behind the couch because I thought they were missionaries.
posted by Falconetti at 8:27 PM on September 8, 2007 [8 favorites]


I don't know about any of you, but when a principle of any faith is based on someone in a position of power getting a good deal while someone else gets shafted, I have to think that God (if indeed God exists) wasn't involved in that particular bit of doctrine.

Folks talk a lot of heaven and what will happen there, but at the end of the day, they're usually behaving in a way that's concerned with worldly power and how they can get more of it.
posted by SaintCynr at 8:34 PM on September 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


BrodieShadeTree writes "I am just at ends to understand how Mormons practicing today can reconcile their present day religion wiht the one that was existent just a few decades ago"

Mormons (JekPorkins will correct any misconceptions I have) believe in continuous revelation. God revealed to a Prophet (the then-current leader of the Church) that polygamy was no longer needful, later that blacks were now equal. So no reconciliation (of doctrine) is required.

Lest anyone impugn the Mormons for this, note that the Israelites, at God's command slew all the Midianites, but only enough of more distant tribes to carve out the land God wanted them to have; that the Catholics only found abortion wholly abhorrent in the late 1800s, Latin Mass bad in the 1960s, and anti-Semitism a sin only in the last few years; and that much of mainline Protestant doctrine didn't find slavery sinful until in many cases after the passing of the 13th Amendment (though some, notably the Quakers, decades prior), and found integration of churches wrong only after Dr. King pointed it out.
posted by orthogonality at 8:34 PM on September 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


Award winning coverage of Polygamy in Arizona, by Jon Dougherty. 33 articles in total.
posted by Brian B. at 8:35 PM on September 8, 2007


Fun times: ask them about the angel Moroni and the golden tablets.

Or, you know, just wait five minutes and they'll tell you without you asking.

I am just at ends to understand how Mormons practicing today can reconcile their present day religion wiht the one that was existent just a few decades ago, and in fact still thrives ( albeit in a decidedly 'overlooked' way by the current LDS church) today.


Some of us think that the Church is quite fallible, yet our personal experiences with God have led us to have faith strong enough to be devoted to helping the Church to gradually become what we believe God wants it to be, in spite of what we regard as colossal mistakes in our past. I, personally, withhold judgment on whether polygamy was what God wanted or whether it was a mistake. I'm glad that I don't have to sign on to it in the current Church, though.

Frankly, I don't think it's much different from Catholics reconciling their present day religion with the one that was existent in the past. So the most egregious actions and policies of that religion were farther in the past than polygamy was in the Mormon church. Why should the passage of time matter?

And delmoi, I'm sorry you don't think it's appropriate for someone to respond to criticism of their faith.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:36 PM on September 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


John Dougherty, that is, with apologies to the author.
posted by Brian B. at 8:37 PM on September 8, 2007


orthogonality: Also, I misremembered the title as "Broken Branches." Kind of like doing a query for "Scott Joplin Charles in Charge."
posted by infinitewindow at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


later that blacks were now equal.

Actually, I don't believe there was ever any revelation saying that blacks were not equal, or that the policy of not extending the priesthood to blacks was based on doctrine or revelation. I could be wrong, so if someone can point to something that suggests otherwise, I would appreciate it.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:42 PM on September 8, 2007


Metafilter: Hiding behind the couch because of pretty girls at the door wishing you to judge a blowjob contest.
posted by Balisong at 8:45 PM on September 8, 2007


I hope this thread doesn't dissolve into another instance of JekPorkin's defending Mormonism from fairly reasonable criticism
posted by delmoi at 11:09 PM on September 8


I'm not one to defend Mormonism, but let's review:

Jews chop skin off their infant sons' penises and celebrate it with a party. But they won't eat bacon. All because the magic wizard who lives in the sky said so, according to the words of some old dead guy 5000 years ago.

Christians believe bread and wine magically become the body and blood of Jesus Christ during Sunday mass, at which point they eat his body and drink his blood. They also wave a graphic sculpture of a naked guy nailed to a cross in front of every kid who walks into a church. But no sex!

Jokes about praying for pussy are hardly reasonable criticism. Demanding an in-depth explanation of why so many American Catholic priests and bishops can't keep their dicks in their pants in front of altar boys, and why the Church provides those priests with job security and legal cover, is perfectly reasonable criticism.

Be thankful they responded with prayer. If I were a devoted missionary, and some guy responded with a crack like that, my mission would become a home invasion.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:52 PM on September 8, 2007 [11 favorites]


Actually, I don't believe there was ever any revelation saying that blacks were not equal, or that the policy of not extending the priesthood to blacks was based on doctrine or revelation. I could be wrong, so if someone can point to something that suggests otherwise, I would appreciate it.

The Seed of Cain.

posted by Brian B. at 8:53 PM on September 8, 2007


Thanks, Brian B.

That link doesn't say anything about a revelation establishing the policy of not extending the priesthood to blacks. (you'll note that the paragraph that begins "As a consequence" has no quotes or cites of any kind.) It's got Bruce R. McConkie opining about things, but he opined a lot, and his opinions were quite often very, very wrong. The fact that he (not the Church) published a book that he titled "Mormon Doctrine" containing mostly McConkie's own speculation and opinion is, I believe, very damaging to the Church, as it has led many people both inside and outside the Church to completely misunderstand what the actual doctrines are.

There was certainly a lot of racism in the Church (and there still is among many of its members, unfortunately), and that racism certainly affected the way people in the Church, including some of its leaders, interpreted scripture. But Joseph Smith extended the priesthood to blacks, and I'm not sure when the Church decided not to do that anymore, though I can guess what the reasons were.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:03 PM on September 8, 2007


Raise your hand if you became a Mormon because Mormonism was defended on Metafilter.


Under the Banner of Heaven was interesting, but the underlying thesis--that the historical violence associated with Mormonism culturally seeped into the Laffertys and made them kill--struck me as tenuous at best. I think there are sociopaths in the world and they dip into whatever cultural context is available to create a language for the horrific things they do.

The other problem with UTBOH is that Krakauer seemed to spend a lot of time rehashing old arguments against Mormonism that both critics and supporters were very familiar with, yet he didn't seem to bring much new to the table. To someone who was unfamiliar with those arguments, I could see it being an exciting read. I still wish he would have been able to interview his first subject, Mark Hoffman.
posted by craniac at 9:03 PM on September 8, 2007


And by the way, that was a really, really poorly written article. Why is anti-mormon literature so poorly written, and why does it never actually support its points?
posted by JekPorkins at 9:06 PM on September 8, 2007


Am I the only one to see parallels between the actions of the Mormons (with polygyny) and the actions of the Chinese Communist party (with their "one child policy") who both end up with too many men?
posted by gen at 9:10 PM on September 8, 2007


Am I the only one to see parallels between the actions of the Mormons (with polygyny) and the actions of the Chinese Communist party (with their "one child policy") who both end up with too many men?
posted by gen at 12:10 AM on September 9


No, because Mormon men can always marry a non-Mormon woman if she converts. Mormon men can thus draw from the same population of women as everybody else. The problem in these Mormon fringe cults, the cult leaders want to keep all the women for themselves, but outsiders don't want to join, which makes them just like every other cult leader.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:13 PM on September 8, 2007



Blaffer Hrdy?

You lost me at Dr. Sarah.

:)

And who is Mr. Hrdy?


Uh... Mr. Hrdy is Daniel, her husband of many years... and she's called "Dr." because she has a Ph.D. from Harvard.

Way to favorite your own comment, as well.

douchelord.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:16 PM on September 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


JekPorkins writes "Why is anti-mormon literature so poorly written, and why does it never actually support its points?"

Because the Mormons are right, obviously.
posted by mullingitover at 9:31 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Polygamy is the culprit. Polygamy creates misery, and miserable young men, not to mention the utter devaluation of the feminine, and those lives thrown away. The young sons of lesser wives, anywhere, are in line for little, and they are the ones so eager to get virgins in heaven, for their suicides.

The lost boys of Utah, are very similar to the sons of unfavored wives in the middle east. When men have fifty wives, or wives they take because of business dealings, and there is no innate interest, the products of those marriages are collateral that can be dealt with any way the patriarch likes. Slavery is acceptable in that realm, if women displease, they and their children can be sold.

In Utah, those troubling boys are sent off for the most minor infractions, and while the girls their age are expected to be sexualized, and married as early teens, they are expected to be with older men, the patriarch hand picks. For all the talk of salvation, I still view this as a creepy pedophile club.

Warren Jeffs and his fundamentalist clan, are a troubling facet of life in Utah. Mainstream Mormons, are as nice as people get, personally, and in groups. Mainstream Mormons don't approve of what the fundamentalists do, as they are not a part of the regular Mormon faith, but mistaken for "funny cousins", by outsiders.

Big Love is not too far off the mark, in some ways. That sit com, blends many true stories of clan rivalry, that were played out right here in Salt Lake City. Shots did ring out.

Anyway, these latter day fundamentalist patriarchs take their powers seriously, and many young men won't get wives, and many other men are stripped of their wives and children, and because of the absolute sway the "prophet" has in the lives of his followers. People obey to hold onto what human pleasure they may.

I have seen young men in their late twenties, and those in their early thirties, for whom wives have never been assigned. They still work for slave wages in cooperative businesses.

Regular Mormons, those missionaries you see, are some very nice people to live around, except for the politics. Those missionaries have paid their own way, to travel for a couple of years and preach. They are great kids I always greet them, when they are planted in front of me . They ask me what my ward is and I reply that I am not a Mormon, and they are always surprised that as old as I am, I have not been converted. I tell 'em, I am a Buddhist. That pretty much derails any further conversation regarding faith.
posted by Oyéah at 9:37 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


ever see any women doing this "missionary" work?

Yup. My one visit to SLC and Temple Square, I was approached by a Scottish female missionary (plastic name tag and all).

I know a female FOAF who went on a mission as well.
posted by dw at 9:47 PM on September 8, 2007


All you fancy pants thinkers with your big city 21st century ways are no match for a 19th century con man with a magic hat and a penchant for child diddling.
posted by 2sheets at 9:51 PM on September 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


>Fun times: ask them about the angel Moroni and the golden tablets.

Or, you know, just wait five minutes and they'll tell you without you asking.


Not so. Tourists through the Temple in Salt Lake City report a much amplified message of "jesus christ" with nary a mention of moroni et. al. as in previous decades. YMMV, please inform me if so.
posted by telstar at 9:54 PM on September 8, 2007


Douchelord.

Awesome. Must. . . Resist. . . Sockpuppet. . . Urge . . .
posted by The Bellman at 9:54 PM on September 8, 2007


Tourists through the Temple in Salt Lake City report a much amplified message of "jesus christ" with nary a mention of moroni et. al. as in previous decades.

Dude, there's a giant golden statue of Moroni on the top of the temple. It's not like they're hiding it.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:56 PM on September 8, 2007


Not so. Tourists through the Temple in Salt Lake City report a much amplified message of "jesus christ" with nary a mention of moroni et. al. as in previous decades. YMMV, please inform me if so.

I asked aforementioned Scot about Moroni and the tablets, and she told me about them without missing a beat and would I like to have a copy of the Book of Mormon or a visit from a local elder?
posted by dw at 9:58 PM on September 8, 2007


Regular Mormons, those missionaries you see, are some very nice people to live around, except for the politics. Those missionaries have paid their own way, to travel for a couple of years and preach. They are great kids I always greet them, when they are planted in front of me.

Well, there's been a couple of those young short-sleeved fellows here in the very small (but with a large international port) city where I live in Korea for the last while, and they've hit on a new strategy -- putting up flyers advertising English lessons for free. There is a such a constant voracious demand from parents for native speakers to teach their kids here that they're being swamped, no doubt, let alone the 'free' part. But I have no doubt that it's a lever to get the door open to start with the God Talk with the little ones.

I don't give a shit what goofy half-assed religion people want to believe in, but stealth-proselytizing is more than a little offensive to me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:11 PM on September 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


dw writes "I asked aforementioned Scot about Moroni and the tablets, and she told me about them without missing a beat and would I like to have a copy of the Book of Mormon or a visit from a local elder?"

If you really want to see 'em squirm, ask them to teach you the secret masonic handshakes.
posted by mullingitover at 10:12 PM on September 8, 2007


I always thought it was funny how Polygny was the Will of God until it got in the way of the political ambitions of the Mormon church.

I'm not saying that it's necessarily all a crock, but when the Will of God changes out of political expedience, that's a pretty good sign that it's all a crock.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:17 PM on September 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


I don't give a shit what goofy half-assed religion people want to believe in, but stealth-proselytizing is more than a little offensive to me.

If it brings souls to Jesus, and getting people saved is the most important thing there is whatsoever...
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:18 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jek, I have a question. The Wikipedia article on celestial marriage says this: In the LDS Church, a man may enter a Celestial marriage with only one woman at a time; however, if his wife dies, he may enter another Celestial marriage, and both marriages will be valid in the eternities and they may live together in the afterlife as a polygamous family.

Do you know if the same is supposed to be true for a woman whose first husband dies? Can she celestially marry again and then she and her two husbands will be a single family in the afterlife?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:21 PM on September 8, 2007


LobsterMitten writes "Do you know if the same is supposed to be true for a woman whose first husband dies? Can she celestially marry again and then she and her two husbands will be a single family in the afterlife?"

Ooh! Suppose the husband fakes his death, disappears to another State and remarries without divorcing the first wife. Then the wife grieves for a while and remarries too. Then the first couple die, and the widow and widower meet and get married. Then they die too. Do they have some crazy four-way marriage in heaven?
posted by mullingitover at 10:26 PM on September 8, 2007


Do you know if the same is supposed to be true for a woman whose first husband dies?

I don't believe so, but I could be wrong. I don't have the handbook close by right now, otherwise I would consult it and give you the answer. Sorry.

Suppose the husband fakes his death, disappears to another State and remarries without divorcing the first wife.

Do you think that would fool God? Because I suspect God isn't all that easy to trick.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:35 PM on September 8, 2007


JekPorkins writes "Do you think that would fool God? Because I suspect God isn't all that easy to trick."

Sorry, I forgot to mention that he prays for forgiveness. We'll assume that we're working with the pacified New Testament god.

The irony of course being that there is no god, but humor me m'kay?
posted by mullingitover at 10:40 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks Jek.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:55 PM on September 8, 2007


SaintCynr writes "when a principle of any faith is based on someone in a position of power getting a good deal while someone else gets shafted, I have to think that God (if indeed God exists) wasn't involved in that particular bit of doctrine."

You make the mistake of anthropomorphizing your god. What's to say the god(s) care anymore what happens to us than we do for the yeast that makes our beer?
posted by Mitheral at 10:58 PM on September 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I forgot to mention that he prays for forgiveness. We'll assume that we're working with the pacified New Testament god.

Huh. I assumed we were working with the Mormon one, who requires true repentance, and not just prayers for forgiveness.

The irony of course being that there is no god, but humor me m'kay?

What's ironic about that?

Lobstermitten, sorry I didn't have a complete answer for you. It's frustrating that the Church doesn't make the handbook generally available, since nothing in it is secret.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:14 PM on September 8, 2007


Oh! What I was so surprised to learn about Jeffs is that, while he's charged with arranging for a teenager to marry another teenager, he actually molested boys.

One of the alleged victims, Clayne Jeffs, committed suicide with a firearm after admitting that Warren Jeffs had sexually assaulted him as a child.
posted by birdie birdington at 11:16 PM on September 8, 2007


Jek, would you be so kind to quote a complete passage of about 100 words from the handbook. Just so we all know you really have it.
posted by Brian B. at 11:44 PM on September 8, 2007


More like Church of LOLer Day Saints, amirite?
posted by mullacc at 11:49 PM on September 8, 2007


Why don't we just cut to the chase and talk about the underwear already?
posted by dw at 11:52 PM on September 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


From Brian B's link:

"To understand why this announcement was of such extreme importance, it is necessary to go back in time to what Mormons refer to as the pre-existence. According to LDS theology, the God of Mormonism, Elohim, resides near a star called Kolob where he lives with his many heavenly wives. Together they are producing millions upon millions of spirit children."

Is this real? Did L Ron Hubbard found two religions?
posted by Mikey-San at 11:53 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jek, would you be so kind to quote a complete passage of about 100 words from the handbook. Just so we all know you really have it.

Why? And how would you verify it?
posted by JekPorkins at 11:55 PM on September 8, 2007


Why? And how would you verify it?

By your eagerness.
posted by Brian B. at 12:00 AM on September 9, 2007


I mostly just wanted to take the Hubbard shot, but I'd love to know if that paragraph is taking too many liberties or not. I realize that the "Mormonism Research Ministry" may not be an unbiased source. And by that I mean they're not unbiased whatsoever, it seems from their motto and about page.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:00 AM on September 9, 2007


Mikey-san, it is taking liberties with regard to the assertion that LDS theology teaches that God has many wives.

But the word Elohim shouldn't surprise anyone, and isn't strange or made-up. And it would be a strange religion indeed if it believed that God created the Earth, but that he isn't from somewhere other than Earth.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:13 AM on September 9, 2007


God. I freaking hate Mormons. Those assholes should have their dicks whittled off with carrot peelers. i mean, not letting boys watch action movies? Unthinkable.
posted by ELF Radio at 12:22 AM on September 9, 2007


Wow, does JekPorkins come in a box? I could give him out as presents to a bunch of my friends; they'd throw out their copies of Bioshock and play with him all the time.
posted by jscott at 12:34 AM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


The problem with mormons is they are so... well... happy.

Everytime I come across a mormon I am amazed and truly impressed at their generally level of happiness, their dedication to family and community, and their faith that is extremely flexible and malleable. So they used to think black people were lesser people. They changed our minds because God told us to. End of problem.

There's a refreshing honesty and faithfulness to that, you know?

So I start to really think mormons may have the corner on this whole spiritual happiness thing.

Then I start slamming headlong into the truly bizarre stuff. The underwear. The baptizing and marrying of the dead. The comical theology. The fact their religion is the most patently manufactured religion on the planet except for Scientology.

The polygamy thing actually would be a draw for me, so I only mind that they had a good idea, then got rid of it.

Mormonism to me seems like an incredibly successful social/communal philosophy built upon an atrociously shaky religious foundation. Methinks they would be better served to just drop the theology totally, and make mormonism a way of life, not a religion. They would convert at least 1/3 of the U.S. population.

I recently met a mormon woman who has 11 kids. She is without question the most pleasant and satisfied person I have met all year. While talking with her I felt the love she had for her family, her rightous and pure nature, and her devotion to what she believed. She was an awe-inspiring woman.

Then I think of her wearing her magic underwear, and I instantly loose all respect for her.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:41 AM on September 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


A man reading secret golden tablets from a magic hat is no stranger than aliens blowing up volcanoes, which is no stranger than a man raising himself from the dead, which is no stranger than a talking burning bush, which is no stranger than the Greek mythos or the Norse mythos or the Mayan mythos or the crazy guy on the corner that thinks his dog is God.

It all pales in comparison with the idea that it all matter and energy and time came from a single point and that complex intelligent life inevitably formed naturally using nothing but the known and measurable laws of physics. And yet this one turned out to be the truth.

Truth is stranger than fiction.
posted by Bonzai at 12:42 AM on September 9, 2007 [10 favorites]


They changed our minds because God told us to. End of problem.

That should be:

They changed their minds because God told them to. End of problem.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:42 AM on September 9, 2007


Let's not get on JekPorkins to heavily; he truly believes and his beliefs are being deried, and he's remaining civil and teaching us stuff we didn't know before and are interested in knowing. It's good to have this source of information. Thanks, Jek.

(Now, if you want to deride him for naming himself after a bit-player in Star Wars, that I can get behind, says the guy named after a comment on comp.lang.c++....)
posted by orthogonality at 12:45 AM on September 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


Er, "too" heavily, damn it.
posted by orthogonality at 12:47 AM on September 9, 2007


And yet this one turned out to be the truth.

You believe whatever the current state of general scientific consensus is to be "the truth?" That, my friend, is the most bizarre belief of all.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:47 AM on September 9, 2007


I was curious to see how Mormons handled the plural suffix on Elohim and Wikipedia says it's generally recognized as "council of the gods" so now I'm curious what the council of the gods is.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:58 AM on September 9, 2007


You believe whatever the current state of general scientific consensus is to be "the truth?" That, my friend, is the most bizarre belief of all.

Obviously science learns more all the time, but basically yeah from the first .1 seconds onward I think they got most of "how it all began" pretty much nailed.

It sure as hell makes a lot more sense than the 6-day, man made of mud, woman made of rib theory.
posted by Bonzai at 12:59 AM on September 9, 2007


You believe whatever the current state of general scientific consensus is to be "the truth?"

No, I believe the current state of general scientific consensus is flawed and will most likely be replaced by something more accurate in the future, but in the mean time the predictions make by said current state of general scientific consensus are accurate enough that I'll keep in them mind when living. Gravity is a great example.

"Belief" doesn't enter into it.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:30 AM on September 9, 2007 [5 favorites]


Oh gods, if we're going to have another yammerfest about invisible bearded sky-fathers versus science, can we at least agree on the terms?

There's belief as in "generally acknowledges to be true" and then there's spiritual belief as in "worships, pledges faith to, and so on."
(Someone pointed this out nicely a few days ago.)

The people who believe in the current state of general scientific consensus don't worship it, they just think it makes sense. (The fools! Maggots actually come from rotting meat, the same way mice come from rotting grain or mud generates frogs.)

If we're going to dog-pile on Mormonism, (while being utterly polite to JekPorkins), let's look at their behavior towards gays and lesbians, which is reprehensible.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:24 AM on September 9, 2007


"Passive acceptance of the teacher's wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils; it is moreover the way to win the favour of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position."

- Bertrand Russell
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:33 AM on September 9, 2007 [5 favorites]


Ynoxas: The fact their religion is the most patently manufactured religion on the planet except for Scientology.

Scientology is not a religion. It's a scam.
posted by sour cream at 2:33 AM on September 9, 2007


That link doesn't say anything about a revelation establishing the policy of not extending the priesthood to blacks. (you'll note that the paragraph that begins "As a consequence" has no quotes or cites of any kind.) It's got Bruce R. McConkie opining about things, but he opined a lot, and his opinions were quite often very, very wrong. The fact that he (not the Church) published a book that he titled "Mormon Doctrine" containing mostly McConkie's own speculation and opinion is, I believe, very damaging to the Church, as it has led many people both inside and outside the Church to completely misunderstand what the actual doctrines are.
Well after he published the second edition they made him an apostle, a reviewer said "The most obvious difference between the two editions is a more moderate tone". (and the fact that the second edition fails to identify the church of the devil 'the roman church') my first edition also has this,"Where added explanations and interpretations were deemed essential,they have been taken from such recognized doctrinal authorities as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young,JosephF.Smith Orson Pratt ect ect . he was not opining. I think bookcraft is owned by the church.
posted by hortense at 3:22 AM on September 9, 2007


The problem with mormons is they are so... well... happy.

If you were eating that many happy pills, you'd be that way too!

(I figure if you're not allowed to drink alcohol, smoke dope, drink coffee, etc. you'll end up taking whatever drugs they'll let you.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:01 AM on September 9, 2007


There's been a fair amount of investigation into welfare fraud there.

This is an accepted part of fundamentalist Mormonism and known as "bleeding the beast."
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:14 AM on September 9, 2007


You believe whatever the current state of general scientific consensus is to be "the truth?"

It's true, as far as it goes, but that word "belief" is the problem. My belief is conditional; if new evidence or a more comprehensive theory comes along, I'm prepared to adjust my belief. My "truth" evolves.

My understanding of revealed truths is that they don't change, they can't change. My apologies if I misunderstand.
posted by bonehead at 6:15 AM on September 9, 2007


(I figure if you're not allowed to drink alcohol, smoke dope, drink coffee, etc. you'll end up taking whatever drugs they'll let you.)

They also get their kicks from sugar, which is available in 25 pound bags at the supermarket, and apple pie filling is served on the same plate as the rest of the meal, as a vegetable.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:39 AM on September 9, 2007


This is an accepted part of fundamentalist Mormonism and known as "bleeding the beast."

Only fundamentalist Mormonism? Sco vs. IBM suggests to me that the practice is a little more widespread than just some fundamentalist Mormon sects.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:56 AM on September 9, 2007


[Mormons] also get their kicks from sugar

It must be rough to be an ADHD Mormon kid.
posted by bonehead at 6:59 AM on September 9, 2007


If you were eating that many happy pills, you'd be that way too!

Fascinating. 2x the rate of the rest of the country.

I wonder if it is primarily from mormons who are trying their best to keep up appearances, or if it is from the non-mormon population in Utah trying to cope with the mormons.

Whatever the reason, its definitely worth looking into.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:05 AM on September 9, 2007


On the other hand, it makes a pretty fine euphemism for masturbation.

"I'm getting divorced."

"Oh, why is that?

"I caught my husband on the internet, looking at photographs of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, while he was Bleeding the Beast. Polygamy is one thing, but I can't be putting up with that kind of heresy."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:06 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I missed this whole conversation, sorry. I went to sleep after I commented. I just wanted to say that I am still not convinced that polygamy, as a practice in general, is what is problematic. I think the way it is practiced by Warren Jeffs and other Mormon Fundamentalists definitely makes it so. But I was referring to the demonization of the general concept of polygamy, which, unless I am totally misinformed (a distinct possibility) is simply the idea of "plural marriage," or having more than one spouse at a time. If all parties are consenting, I don't see a problem with this. Obviously in this case, for the reasons you guys have pointed it out, boy is it ever problematic. But I have friends who have been in polyamorous relationships and it's worked out fine-- same as any other romantic relationship. That is my now unrelated comment for the thread, which has moved on to other things.

And, by the way, craniac, interesting point. I sort of bought whole cloth the idea that Mormonism has developed as a religion that does in fact accept and even encourage violence in protection/defense of its beliefs/adherents/cause, but I see your points. I should re-read.
posted by sneakin at 7:11 AM on September 9, 2007


Did Mitt Romeny do consulting work for Big Love? kidding. That said, there are 32 lovely ladies in the one family/marriage. Now the question: of the three, if you had to settle for but one, which would it be?
posted by Postroad at 7:29 AM on September 9, 2007


The Card cheat: beautiful quote and dead on center in how we influence young minds. Thank you
posted by francesca too at 7:34 AM on September 9, 2007


Postroad writes "That said, there are 32 lovely ladies in the one family/marriage. Now the question: of the three, if you had to settle for but one, which would it be?"

Gotta be the lovely but terrifying Rhonda, 14 year old soon-to-be-wife of cult-leader Harry Dean Stanton.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:58 AM on September 9, 2007


I (being a non Mormon) lived my Highschool years in Utah, not long after the Blacks recieved power of the priesthood. I was in the Provo/Orem area which at the time was about 95% Mormon. My dating life was sorely restricted, as on three separate occasions I was told after the second date by the girls father that was to be the final date, as there was obviously no future for us, since I was not of the faith. Of course, there was no such 2 date rule for my sisters. I can only imagine that this was because there was a general assumption that the Male would determine the spiritual life of the family.

Jek, given the shots taken at you, you have been remarkably cordial.

I just love it when the Fundamentalist Atheists join these threads and smugly deride anything that isn't based on the Unchanging Bedrock of Science (giggle-snort). Your closed mindedness makes you as rediculous as anyone who believes in the FSM, or some derivation thereove.
posted by prodigalsun at 8:05 AM on September 9, 2007


stavrosthewonderchicken:"Well, there's been a couple of those young short-sleeved fellows here in the very small (but with a large international port) city where I live in Korea for the last while, and they've hit on a new strategy -- putting up flyers advertising English lessons for free. There is a such a constant voracious demand from parents for native speakers to teach their kids here that they're being swamped, no doubt, let alone the 'free' part. But I have no doubt that it's a lever to get the door open to start with the God Talk with the little ones.

I don't give a shit what goofy half-assed religion people want to believe in, but stealth-proselytizing is more than a little offensive to me."


Stav, when I was a missionary we taught english class every week, and we avoided any sort of religious discussion. If people wanted to know more, they were welcome to stay after class and ask questions, but we always made it a point to actually teach english, not use it to preach. Believe it or not we did actually want to serve, and it helped people understand that we wanted to help, not force our beliefs on anyone. Of course, it's up to the individual missionaries, so YMMV.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:12 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mormons ... believe in continuous revelation.

Super-secret codespeak for making it up as you go along/back-pedaling/retaining your power base/maximizing your revenue stream.

But Mormonism is hardly alone in this.

Your favorite Invisible Sky Wizard sucks.
posted by sourwookie at 8:45 AM on September 9, 2007


You believe whatever the current state of general scientific consensus is to be "the truth?" That, my friend, is the most bizarre belief of all.

Hey! Lets get so relativistic that nothing is real! Then we can justify anything!!11!!!11!1 K3WL!!1!!
posted by sourwookie at 8:50 AM on September 9, 2007


Jek, given the shots taken at you, you have been remarkably cordial.

I just love it when the Fundamentalist Atheists join these threads and smugly deride anything that isn't based on the Unchanging Bedrock of Science (giggle-snort). Your closed mindedness makes you as rediculous as anyone who believes in the FSM, or some derivation thereove.

We were smugly deriding racism and polygamy, which Jek knee-jerk equated with anti-Mormonism. I won't further comment on this "amateur apologetics mistake" of his because he may actually be apologizing for racism and polygamy itself. Apparently It didn't matter to you. That said, I will be willing to read your pro-racist misogynist theory now, before I get any further close-minded.
posted by Brian B. at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


(ever see any women doing this "missionary" work?)

Yes, plenty. A lot of older retired couples also go on missions, too. Just because you haven't seen them doesn't mean they aren't doing it.

I was curious to see how Mormons handled the plural suffix on Elohim and Wikipedia says it's generally recognized as "council of the gods" so now I'm curious what the council of the gods is.

Mormonism teaches that those who achieve the Celestial Kingdom become gods of their own planets. I'd imagine the council is all of those Celestial gods.

The "origins" of black people in the Americas are to be found in 2 Nephi 5:21:

Und er hatte wegen ihres Übeltuns den Fluch über sie kommen lassen, ja, einen schweren Fluch. Denn siehe, sie hatten ihr Herz gegen ihn verhärtet, so daß es wie ein Kieselstein geworden war. Da sie nun hellhäutig waren und überaus schön und angenehm, ließ der Herr Gott - damit sie für mein Volk keinen Anreiz mehr hätten - ihre Haut dunkel werden.

(I can't find my English version, basically, it's saying that since the Lamanites had hardened hearts against god, he didn't want them fraternizing with the Nephites, so he made them black.)

And I guess that qualifies as quoting from the "handbook," though you guys may be talking about something else entirely since I had never heard of "The Principle" until this thread either. Though I wouldn't be surprised if I had never heard of it simply out of lack of exposure. I've studied Mormonism for a long time while I was a teenager and I had never heard of or been told about the magic underwear until I moved to Salt Lake City.

Joseph Smith was a clever kid but he was on the cusp of the science of archeology. He didn't think it would be a problem to invent civilizations because he didn't realize that archeology would be able to prove him wrong.
posted by effwerd at 9:06 AM on September 9, 2007


What effwerd was quoting, from the English version, and with more context:

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.
24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.
25 And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to astir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction.

posted by goatdog at 9:26 AM on September 9, 2007


Fascinating. 2x the rate of the rest of the country.

This needs to be put into perspective. Utah's "number one" statistics are all interrelated. Utah is the most Mormon (62%) with the very youngest population in the US, a third under 18. Accordingly, they have the lowest rate of smoking and heart disease, but spend least per pupil on education. Unfortunately, they also have the highest rate of bankruptcy from year to year, and the highest rate of antidepressant prescriptions--mostly women, which is also twice the national average.

The main key to making sense out of all these inputs is their alarming rate of fraud (affinity-, mortgage-, insurance-, and internet fraud, for examples) which is so high that its referred to as the scam or fraud capitol. This fraud stems from both the anti-government sentiment, and the church-group oriented multi-level marketing approaches that the state excels in. The state's laws protect the get-rich-quick side businesses and pyramid schemes that most of their families have in order to feel like they are surviving, and has led to Utah being the friend of the boiler room phone operators and various other businesses that thrive on gullibility.
posted by Brian B. at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks, goatdog.

Oh, and polygamy: You have to realize, outside of a few Western states, you'd be hard pressed to find any Mormons who think anything of this except that it is an embarrassing part of the faith's history. This isn't to say polygamy in Fundie Mormon cults isn't a problem, it's just that it's limited to points West (in the US). Similarly with the happy pills: You might be surprised to learn there are Mormons outside of Utah. But, it may actually be that all the happy pills in Utah are because of the particular LDS culture in and around Utah where Morons have great influence though not necessarily a majority of the population. My brother, a devout Mormon, believes that the LDS church in Utah is controlled by Satan. When in New Jersey, the faith emphasized free agency and Jesus' plan for all of us to attain a body and return to heavenly father. Here in Utah, the emphasis seems to be on blind obedience and getting married as young as legally possible and having lots of children. Then again, I've never attended a service here but that's the impression I get from my contact with those Mormons I know out here.
posted by effwerd at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2007


Quoth mitheral:

You make the mistake of anthropomorphizing your god. What's to say the god(s) care anymore what happens to us than we do for the yeast that makes our beer?

I don't anthropomorphize my God; I know what people are like. They use the idea of God and what God wants to screw their fellow human beings.

My "God" is a Way, BTW.
posted by SaintCynr at 9:48 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


And I guess that qualifies as quoting from the "handbook," though you guys may be talking about something else entirely...

The handbook is a restricted-access manual that outlines policies about what members should say or do in the context of doctrinal expression and personal interviews (the latter of which is a major institution on par with Jehovah Witness interrogations, Scientology auditing, and Catholic confession). For example, it may inform a leader as to the proper time frame that a lapsed mom or dad can get their temple card, so that they can see their kid get married (perhaps if they pay all back tithing they might speed the process, for example). It probably also governs the sexual content of church interviews as well, like how to best find out if a 12 year-old girl or boy is masturbating yet (which is a prime concern of most cults, because controlling sexuality is key to mind control).
posted by Brian B. at 9:52 AM on September 9, 2007


We were smugly deriding racism and polygamy, which Jek knee-jerk equated with anti-Mormonism. I won't further comment on this "amateur apologetics mistake" of his because he may actually be apologizing for racism and polygamy itself. Apparently It didn't matter to you. That said, I will be willing to read your pro-racist misogynist theory now, before I get any further close-minded.


Mmm...you reading the same thread I am...I'm seeing alot of shots at the mormon religion, independent of multi-wives.

And...what filters you have in place to have read my post as being racist or misogynistic. I said I thought the reason they did this was because they were subtly misogynistic. As far as racism, not really sure where that came from.

And, no, If you take of your religion hating blinders for just a second, you might see that Jek was not making any applogies for either, He actually commented that the church reversed Smith's approach to giving the power of the priesthood to blacks, and insinuated that it was because subsequent church leaders WERE racist.

But go on hating and snarking. I will pray to the Flying Spagetti Monster for the salvation of your almost irretrievably lost soul (or is that Sole, I can't seem to find my Tevas).
posted by prodigalsun at 9:52 AM on September 9, 2007


You believe whatever the current state of general scientific consensus is to be "the truth?" That, my friend, is the most bizarre belief of all.

And you believe in the nonsense made up by a criminal back in the 1800s. Don't feel too bad- I believe in the nonsense made up by a handful of stoners and hippies back in the late 50's and early 60's.

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing

I love flipping through the Book of Mormon. It's like a semi-literate guy back in the 1800s was trying to imitate the style of the King James Bible but just wasn't up to the task.

Oh, right.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:00 AM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mmm...you reading the same thread I am...I'm seeing alot of shots at the mormon religion, independent of multi-wives.

It started when Jek arrived to cast doubt on references to "the principle" and then worked himself into the conversation in order to discuss Mormonism. I directly addressed his questions about racism, which he also doubted, as if his doubts reflect some sort of expertise. Apparently his faith is no match for his pride.
posted by Brian B. at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2007


There is a Mormon sect in BC in an area named "Bountiful." They have been under investigation for any number of abusive practices. A few women/girls have escaped and told their stories; it really is horrible how the cult leaders are brainwashing and abusing their church members. There is, IMO, a lot of child abuse going on over there.

The investigatory prosecutors have recently decided not to press criminal charges: they figure the religious freedom climate in Canada is such that the Bountiful creeps would win, setting an unhealthy precedent.

Given that our Elections Canada has decided it doesn't actually need to see a person's face as proof of identify, they're probably right: we'd just end up with their abusive practices confirmed A-OK under our Constitutional right of freedom of religion.

Bah.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 AM on September 9, 2007


I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I understand women can't go to heaven on their own. At least in a celestial marriage kind of way. The wife can only go to heaven when her husband calls her. If you don't marry, you aren't going to heaven.

The problem I have with the Morman religion is the secrecy (and the secret ceremonies). The basis of any religion should be up front, otherwise, it operates more like a cult.

This is, of course, just my opinion.
posted by whatever at 10:23 AM on September 9, 2007


The handbook is a restricted-access manual that outlines policies about what members should say or do in the context of doctrinal expression and personal interviews

Very interesting. Thanks. Brian B. My brother is on a track to get more involved callings in his ward, I wonder if I can get him to let me see it if he's ever issued one.

For example, it may inform a leader as to the proper time frame that a lapsed mom or dad can get their temple card, so that they can see their kid get married (perhaps if they pay all back tithing they might speed the process, for example).

I'm pretty sure that's in there. My mother had recently become active in the church again and she was telling me that her bishop told her that in order to get into the temple, she has to pay all of her back tithing. I've heard this same story in plenty of other cases as well. I had to explain to her that any religion that demands money in return for access to the benefits of the faith is a scam and a common cult tactic. But I was ambivalent because she really loves and needs the social life that she gets from being involved, I just don't want to see her duped out of her retirement money.
posted by effwerd at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2007


She should take up bowling. Just as social and half the cost.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 AM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


FFF, the Bountiful situation is much more complicated than a religious freedom matter. (as an aside, recent reviews of polygamy laws threaten to bring the issue to the forefront again) It's my personal speculation that polygamy - and consequently Bountiful - are so desperately avoided in Canadian political dialogue for pragmatic reasons. It's simply an enforcement issue: any attempt to enforce law in Bountiful will probably amount to a complete destruction of the society, as I'm sure many charges could be brought against most, if not all, of the patriarchs... even ignoring polygamy, there is a lot of abuse going around down there. Remove the patriarchs and the community would almost certainly dissolve.

Given how long Bountiful has existed, I'm sure an attempt to interfere with the status quo would get violent and very complicated.
posted by mek at 11:49 AM on September 9, 2007


"But I was referring to the demonization of the general concept of polygamy, which, unless I am totally misinformed (a distinct possibility) is simply the idea of "plural marriage," or having more than one spouse at a time. If all parties are consenting, I don't see a problem with this."

You've obviously never been to probate.
posted by klangklangston at 11:58 AM on September 9, 2007


She should take up bowling. Just as social and half the cost.

Heh. I've suggested exactly that before.
posted by effwerd at 12:00 PM on September 9, 2007


You've obviously never been to probate.

Good point. The idea that one man can legally bind himself in the framework of family law and child support is just one absurdity of polygamy. Others include early competition for the youngest brides, genetic bottlenecking, and the civic context of social benefits for maximized offspring. The inability to be able to feed or clothe the fruits of polygamy, or offer them any inheritance, is why polygamy is so misunderstood and its reasoning so often ignored. Former insiders have detailed nearly all known movements as communist havens for inbreeding, mental illness, personality cult, child abuse, welfare fraud, and abject poverty and family violence. If polygamy wannabes who benefit from normal childhoods want to blame the followers for not doing it right, then they are just blaming the victims. Note that free love has absolutely nothing to do with polygamous type social contracts.
posted by Brian B. at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2007


It started when Jek arrived to cast doubt on references to "the principle" and then worked himself into the conversation in order to discuss Mormonism. I directly addressed his questions about racism, which he also doubted, as if his doubts reflect some sort of expertise. Apparently his faith is no match for his pride.

Um, what? Jek asked what it was and then thanked people for the information. As far as "worked himself into the conversation" goes, that's not exactly considered subversive around here. It happens every time someone hits "post". Your assertion that Jek is somehow responsible for other people's comments by asking questions and responding to other posts and DISCUSSING MORMONISM in a thread about Mormons is bizarre.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:34 PM on September 9, 2007


OMG, that kid's name is Woodrow Johnson.
posted by zekinskia at 3:11 PM on September 9, 2007


I read in a somewhat dubious Psychology Today article that the size differences between human males and females (men are ~10% larger) can be explained by the extensive practice of polygyny. The same size differences can be observed in elephant seals and gorillas, but to a larger degree.
posted by mullingitover at 3:36 PM on September 9, 2007


Your assertion that Jek is somehow responsible for other people's comments by asking questions and responding to other posts and DISCUSSING MORMONISM in a thread about Mormons is bizarre.

Bizarre to someone who missed the thread. I was responding to this comment in self-defense to someone who invoked Jek. Now you are proving me right because we were told we shouldn't post in opposition to Jek. By the way, mainstream Mormons dropped polygamy and racism, although there are many sympathetic to these positions since they are scriptural. It seems to me that their apologetical detail has fundmentalist leanings.
posted by Brian B. at 4:02 PM on September 9, 2007


IANAM, and I have my own reservations about that (and other - in fact all - religions) but I think that Jek is being civil and polite in the face of of uncivil and impolite assclowns, so you all better lighten up. Or I"mma gonna get Old Testament on your asses.
posted by arcticwoman at 5:21 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


"By the way, mainstream Mormons dropped polygamy and racism, although there are many sympathetic to these positions since they are scriptural. It seems to me that their apologetical detail has fundmentalist leanings."

Defending something you believe in from the casual 'Yeah I heard Mormons were a buncha inbred jerks,' sort of criticism isn't apologetics. And taking him to task for the whole of Mormon history, even if he has studied it, isn't fair.

What this seems to amount to is elaborate ad hominem reasoning against anything Jek might say.

I'm not a Mormon, but I got over my "More like angel Moron-i! They should call 'em the Morons!" in high school.

Further, as is worth noting, we're not discussing mainstream Mormons, except by the back door of "Well, they believed the same thing once too!"
posted by klangklangston at 5:31 PM on September 9, 2007


And by the way, that was a really, really poorly written article. Why is anti-mormon literature so poorly written, and why does it never actually support its points? - Jek

The above is a pure form of apologetics, because it contains all of the necessary components and not a drop more.
posted by Brian B. at 5:37 PM on September 9, 2007


Bullshit. It's literary criticism.

Especially within the context of religion, Apologetics has a specific meaning. And even under the broader meaning, an apologetic is not just someone you disagree with.
posted by klangklangston at 6:51 PM on September 9, 2007


Bullshit. It's literary criticism.

Then so is all apologetics. What you may have missed were the overt and often lengthy apologetical dodges that went with it, basically using his own theories to defend his personal theory against traditional sources, which ...has led many people both inside and outside the Church to completely misunderstand what the actual doctrines are. What the actual doctines are? He apparently knows more than the guy who wrote the book for Mormons to use (called Mormon Doctrine), which he dumped on in favor of his personal copy of a secretive church handbook which changes annually and is not doctrine because it can't even be quoted. No harm, you obviously aren't expected to spot the posers.
posted by Brian B. at 7:07 PM on September 9, 2007


He apparently knows more than the guy who wrote the book for Mormons to use (called Mormon Doctrine), which he dumped on in favor of his personal copy of a secretive church handbook which changes annually and is not doctrine because it can't even be quoted.

The book "Mormon Doctrine" is, in spite of its unfortunate title, not authoritative in any way on the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and never has been. It was published not by the Church, but by an independent vanity press.

If you're suggesting that a vanity press opinion piece is more authoritative on official Church positions than the Church's actual official manual of policies, I humbly submit that you couldn't be more wrong.

Your use of the term "apologetics" in an effort to discredit my honest attempts to explain my own beliefs is disingenuous. How dare you criticize me for stating my own beliefs, and for thinking independently of how you think my church must require me to believe? Apparently you have an ax to grind for some reason. Don't grind it on me, please.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:02 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey McConkie went on to be a member of the 12 Apostles and his book is in a third edition,I mean he was by office, a church authority, maybe you overlooked the link in my last comment. and trying to present BookCraft as a vainity press is disingenuous, it is one of the oldest church publishers, and like I said, McConkie was an authority of the church, high priest and apostle for christsakes . The main reason the first edition was withdrawn was it named the church of the devil as the Roman church and its authoritative tone.
posted by hortense at 8:36 PM on September 9, 2007


The book "Mormon Doctrine" is, in spite of its unfortunate title, not authoritative in any way on the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and never has been. It was published not by the Church, but by an independent vanity press.

If you're suggesting that a vanity press opinion piece is more authoritative on official Church positions than the Church's actual official manual of policies, I humbly submit that you couldn't be more wrong.


Mormon Doctrine is currently sold in bookstores owned and operated by the Mormon church (Deseret Book and BYU Bookstore) The Mormons don't publish their own commentary in books, because it is traditional for apostles and other leaders to write these comments for their personal gain, such as the author of Mormon Doctrine.

If you are suggesting that the article I linked can be dismissed because it happened to quote a Mormon apostle from a book that is still sold in LDS bookstores, then you are only saying that the article I linked is inaccurate because of the book, but that Mormons don't know it yet, or the leadership disagrees with you. Disingenuous indeed. By the way, the handbook you speak of cannot be read by the mainstream members. It isn't sold in their bookstores.
posted by Brian B. at 8:37 PM on September 9, 2007


I do have a Mormon bible of some sort easily enough at hand, if that's of any help.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:34 PM on September 9, 2007


If you are suggesting that the article I linked can be dismissed because it happened to quote a Mormon apostle from a book that is still sold in LDS bookstores

I am not suggesting that the article you linked can or should be dismissed. I pointed out that it was completely un-helpful in answering my question, since it cited nothing re: the only relevant paragraph. And that it is poorly written (which you haven't disputed).

Mormon Doctrine is currently sold in bookstores owned and operated by the Mormon church (Deseret Book and BYU Bookstore)

So is Moby Dick. So what?

By the way, the handbook you speak of cannot be read by the mainstream members. It isn't sold in their bookstores.

What's your point?

The Mormons don't publish their own commentary in books

Actually, they do. The Church itself publishes quite extensively, and its publications are searchable online. "Mormon Doctrine" is not among the Church's extensive publications.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:36 PM on September 9, 2007


So is Moby Dick. So what?

The title doesn't explicitly claim to be Mormon Doctrine, that's what.

"Mormon Doctrine" is not among the Church's extensive publications.

Only you say that this means it can't be used as a source, and that makes you an apologist because you aren't quoting Mormon leadership on opposing doctrine, or even their opinion of the book in question. I might add that the article linked is loaded with direct quotes from past Mormon leaders and you tried to discount it by citing the presence of an apostle's book currently sold in a Mormon bookstore under a title that claims to be Mormon doctrine.

Fact is we're talking about Mormon beliefs influenced by quotable bigoted doctrine in the past and present, not Mormon ignorance of the correct beliefs nobody really understands, as you would like to believe.
posted by Brian B. at 9:53 PM on September 9, 2007


Bizarre to someone who missed the thread. I was responding to this comment in self-defense to someone who invoked Jek. Now you are proving me right because we were told we shouldn't post in opposition to Jek. By the way, mainstream Mormons dropped polygamy and racism, although there are many sympathetic to these positions since they are scriptural. It seems to me that their apologetical detail has fundmentalist leanings.

You can post whatever you want. No one said you couldn't post in opposition to Jek. And you chose to get bent of of shape because of my general swipe at Fundamentalist Atheists making fun of those who believed in a supreme being and all that, I targetted nothing at you. Perhaps you took umbrage with the fact I complemented Jek on how he responded graciously to those making the "Mormons are inbred troglodyte" type remarks. Now you're complaining because people are posting in opposition to you.

The Flying Spagetti Monster is displeased, and he might start smiting stuff.
posted by prodigalsun at 10:22 PM on September 9, 2007


Jeffs jury trial starts tomorrow in St.George
posted by hortense at 10:28 PM on September 9, 2007


To give context to this debate, on the last link by hortense, a Mormon is denying any Mormon involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
posted by Brian B. at 10:43 PM on September 9, 2007


Brian B., I really am trying to be as civil as possible. But you've really started to be confusing. Maybe you can clarify what, exactly, your point is.

Only you say that this means it can't be used as a source


I did? And why don't you address the fact that the article you linked didn't cite anything in its only relevant paragraph? I mean, I do definitely believe that the book "Mormon Doctrine" is not a valid source for those who wish to determine what God's actual doctrine is, if that's what you're saying. It seems like maybe your point is that, regardless of whether I believe the book to actually be doctrinal, the fact that he was not stopped from publishing it means that it can be cited as an authoritative source on what the doctrine is. If that's what you're saying, my response is that I respectfully believe that you are mistaken.

and that makes you an apologist because you aren't quoting Mormon leadership on opposing doctrine, or even their opinion of the book in question.


Are you really trying to have an argument about whether you can call me a name? Opposing doctrine to what? I didn't realize that I had been asked to quote something. Please point out where I was asked for quotes. If you want to know what I believe, ask me. If you want to engage in an analysis of what church authorities have disagreed with Bruce R. McConkie through the years, explicitly or implicitly, I really don't care to participate. I'm already more than convinced that much of what he said and wrote was merely his own opinion. You don't have to convince me any further than I was before this thread began.

Fact is we're talking about Mormon beliefs influenced by quotable bigoted doctrine in the past and present, not Mormon ignorance of the correct beliefs nobody really understands, as you would like to believe.


What do you mean "we?" What part of what I have written do you disagree with? What is your agenda? What's your problem with me?
posted by JekPorkins at 10:48 PM on September 9, 2007


Don't worry too much about Brian B.— he starts out rational, if not a very credulous leftist, and ends up "drooling on your forehead," I believe the phrase was.

At the very least, he hasn't learned how to avoid question-begging.

Since any way that this thread could end is going to involve Brian convincing himself that you couldn't take his truth-beams anymore, you might be wiser to bow out sooner rather than later. No real discussion's gonna resume, on Jeffs or on Mormonism.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't worry too much about Brian B.— he starts out rational, if not a very credulous leftist,

You say that as though credulity was a good thing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:48 AM on September 10, 2007



The Mormons don't publish their own commentary in books

Actually, they do. The Church itself publishes quite extensively, and its publications are searchable online. "Mormon Doctrine" is not among the Church's extensive publications.
yes it is
posted by hortense at 3:04 PM on September 10, 2007


hortense, I assume that your post is a joke, since the page you linked says exactly the opposite of your apparent assertion.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:30 PM on September 10, 2007


hortense, I assume that your post is a joke, since the page you linked says exactly the opposite of your apparent assertion.

Oh my. Hortense linked a page from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, which is a "semi-official" publication of the LDS church, and in produced with full cooperation of the LDS church. This proves the point of the statements on the page itself, which is that the LDS rely on private commentary, but it also lists the book Mormon Doctrine as a contributor to the understanding of Mormon doctrine.
posted by Brian B. at 9:49 PM on September 10, 2007


Must. Beat. Dead. Horse.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 PM on September 10, 2007


City of God contributes to an understanding of Catholicism, but official Catholic doctrine is not that Catholics need to disengage from the political world.

Stop trying to prove bad faith with bad faith.
posted by klangklangston at 10:44 PM on September 10, 2007


from my link notice the title 'Doctrinal Works' ok, farther down the page,'Following is a list of books that have made significant contributions to the understanding of doctrine....' and there near the bottom we find, Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1958, rev. 1966); no joke. I swear by the covenant under which I was born,(b.i.c.) brother McConkies book is not his opinion any more than the compiler's work at Brittanica is their opinion. The only reason I posted here is I could not let you pass off McConkie as a crank.
posted by hortense at 12:11 AM on September 11, 2007


Yes, but "significant contributions" is different than official doctrines higher on the page.

But I guess the Augustinian reference above went past you. Let me reference him again—Saint Augustine is considered a Saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church (as well as most Western churches), and his On Christian Doctrine is a classic. But that doesn't mean that the Orthodox Church believes in the filioque of the Nicaean Creed.
posted by klangklangston at 8:01 AM on September 11, 2007


RELIGION, n.
A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

"What is your religion my son?" inquired the Archbishop of Rheims.

"Pardon, monseigneur," replied Rochebriant; "I am ashamed of it."

"Then why do you not become an atheist?"

"Impossible! I should be ashamed of atheism."

"In that case, monsieur, you should join the Protestants." The Devil's Dictionary
posted by hortense at 6:09 PM on September 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well that certainly answered my objections. Beirce is always pithy refuge when sense fails.
posted by klangklangston at 9:18 AM on September 12, 2007


APOLOGIZE, v.i.
To lay the foundation for a future offence.
APOSTATE, n.
A leech who, having penetrated the shell of a turtle only to find that the creature has long been dead, deems it expedient to form a new attachment to a fresh turtle.
posted by hortense at 11:26 AM on September 12, 2007


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