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Wandering Through the Deseret
September 19, 2010 9:07 PM   Subscribe

In Utah, the Deseret News -- which is owned by the Mormon Church -- has raised eyebrows with editorials supporting a more liberal embrace of illegal immigrants.

The Mormon Church is apparently reaching out to Hispanics -- it has also opened a Spanish language newspaper called "El Observador" this year. Otherwise though, the Deseret News has remained politically conservative.
posted by msalt (64 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good for them, and smart. The Republican party may be too stupid to understand basic demographic trends, but the Mormons sure aren't.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:20 PM on September 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I love the Mormon Church. It's the only place you can go to get a revelation from God in the nick of time to save your tax status.
posted by notion at 9:28 PM on September 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Presumably there's been another revelation recently revealing that Mexicans are also acceptable.
posted by clockzero at 9:31 PM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because 10% of the income of people you hate is still better than 10% of nothing.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:37 PM on September 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is interesting because there is a not-very-talked about rift in the Republican Party between Mormons and the rest of the GOP. Mormons are, broadly speaking, viewed as being non-Christians and perhaps (thanks in no small part to Mitt Romney) viewed as being not-completely-with-this-whole-Conservatism thing.

Sounds silly, doesn't it? I mean, who in America is more conservative than Mormons?

What people tend to forget, though, is that for many on the Right, "conservative" really just means "conservative Christian" in general and "conservative Evangelical" specifically. There is a very definite strain of "GOP platform = Christianity" within the Republican party, so naturally they are suspicious of Mormons, a religion that continually skates along the edge of what can plausibly be considered Christianity.

Another way to think about it is that the GOP seems under no compulsion to reach out to conservative Muslims no matter how much they might agree with the GOP's social platform: because the GOP isn't about conservatism per se, it's about conservative Christianity.

So look for increasing rifts between Mormons and the GOP in the future, especially if Romney makes another acrimonious bid for the White House. I'd also wonder where Mormons would go in a future America where one party rejects their values outright and the other party welcomes them as 2nd class citizens?
posted by Avenger at 9:43 PM on September 19, 2010 [21 favorites]


"...they never sought approval from church officials on any editorial or article they ran. They said the church also never asked to see an article before it was printed..."

If only the same could be said about potential legislation.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:52 PM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


the hispanic convert section of the church has been strong for decades and has only been growing. this isn't really surprising if you look at their missionary numbers and where they visit.
posted by nadawi at 10:00 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Many LDS are progressive, many are libertarian, few are traditionally evangelically conservative, and the church is growing fastest in Latin America. This does not surprise
posted by PinkMoose at 10:00 PM on September 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hispanics are the most populous minority group in the country — and they represent a vast potential constituency for the Mormon church, which has already made considerable efforts to develop strong relations with Hispanic communities. Those efforts include, since February, a Spanish-language paper called El Observador.

The LDS will gladly accept Hispanic tithes in cash, Visa or Mastercard.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:01 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


LDS have had hispanic members since just after Brigham, with their moving into the Chihuahua province. This is not a tax grab.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:07 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've known many Mormons over the years, and while they have their loonier aspects and often espouse some stringently conservative social views, I have never known them to be racist or anti-immigrant. All the young ones I know aren't homophobic, either. I know, I know, hurfdurf LDS, but let's not paint them all as racist hypocrites, hm?
posted by incessant at 10:07 PM on September 19, 2010 [19 favorites]


Show me a religion, and I'll show you a resource-hog. It's almost socially acceptable in some circles love to point at the Mormons as especially bat-shit-insane, or somehow on the "fringe" of established religion , a distinction that is thoroughly lost on me. Shamans, priests, sorcerers, witch-doctors and all the other conjurers and confidence men of this ilk (no matter how "irrational" they appear to other, more "mainstream" belief-constructs) for some reason somehow never lose sight of the main chance. This is really just business as usual, for organized religions.

These thoroughly hypocritical and self-serving behavior-modification systems succeed so spectacularly because of the fear of the unknown and death, and self-knowledge makes humans innately vulnerable to this despicable form of trickery. Meanwhile, protestations and expectations from the brain-washing cabal to the contrary; guess which group, and State, consumes the most porn?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:08 PM on September 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


There is a coffee machine in the break room, despite the church’s discouragement of drinking caffeinated beverages.

Oh man they're crazier than I thought.
posted by WalterMitty at 10:17 PM on September 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, protestations and expectations from the brain-washing cabal to the contrary; guess which group, and State, consumes the most porn?

Crooked Timber looks at the porn study.
posted by mecran01 at 10:35 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


A lot of smoke and noise there , but not much signal. Is he saying that Utah isn't the largest consumer of porn? Because the study shows that it is.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:42 PM on September 19, 2010


Blazecock Pileon: Just a correction. We pay tithes in cash or check (cheque). The church doesn't take credit cards.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:44 PM on September 19, 2010


I know, I know, hurfdurf LDS, but let's not paint them all as racist hypocrites, hm?
They were officially racist until 1978. The fact that society has progressed beyond that point doesn't mean the LDS had anything to do with it, or wanted it to happen in the first place until after the fact.

They are still spending tens of millions trying to outlaw the gay lifestyle, so as long as they're preaching hate against others, I have no issue exposing their beliefs as they themselves have described them. Letting the followers off the hook doesn't make any sense. Passive acceptance of those beliefs is still acceptance. If the rest of society hadn't punished them for their beliefs in the 70s, they might still be a Whites Only religion.
posted by notion at 10:58 PM on September 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Technically, they were only racist to African Americans. Huge controversy in the early LDS church about exactly what race the polynesians were. It was internal pressure about new missions in Africa and the Caribbean that opened up the church to all members of colour.

It is an odius and shameful time in the churches history, and one that we have not fully begged forgiveness for, but not quite on topic.

(The African American subject was a huge conundrum, because there were LDS priests blessed by both Smith and Young---see this documentary for a lot more info)

(as for queer lds voices, well that is a whole other mess, but D Michael Quinn would be useful to read)
posted by PinkMoose at 11:17 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Any religion that includes Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck, Donny Osmond and Ken "Jeopardy" Jennings can't be that monolithic.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:24 PM on September 19, 2010


Just a correction. We pay tithes in cash or check (cheque). The church doesn't take credit cards.

Well they took all of my grandparents, only one of which I ever met

I was at a convention in SLC, and we did all the usual stuff, including a morning service with the Tabernacle Choir which was great and the building itself was breathtaking.

Then we went to whatever library they had, and the missus and I typed in our ancestors names from a geneology database POV. Guess what?

All of our German/Polish born in the blood Catholic great great whatevers are considred (by them) Mormons by faith. Bullshit.

I dont worry too much about religion in general, but I was very offended by that. Just for my father, who went to mass every week. Religiously.
posted by timsteil at 11:33 PM on September 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


there are lunatics in every religion. the mormon church might breed proselytizing fanatics, but as far as racial, ethnic, gender and socio-economic status goes, the mormon church is the most accepting by a landslide if you were to compare it to, oh, i don't know, judaism or the catholic church.

the tithe money supports BYU, church members facing hard times and humanitarian efforts/out reach programs. it doesn't line anyone's pockets. the mormon church puts heavy emphasis on acquiring and utilizing secular knowledge; education is at the top of the list for men and women. that being said, many church members are wealthy by their own efforts.

/rant.
posted by thistle at 11:54 PM on September 19, 2010


the tithe money supports BYU, church members facing hard times and humanitarian efforts/out reach programs

Church money also supports LDS-sponsored programs such as front operations like Hawaii's Future Today and the National Organization for Marriage, as well as numerous other illegal political advocacy efforts that all have the goal of taking rights away from Americans.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:06 AM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mormons are, broadly speaking, viewed as being non-Christians...

Primarily because they are non-Christians. Starting with a basis of the Torah (Jews), you add a new book or revelation, and you get Christians (New Testament) or Muslims (Koran). Mormons (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants) are as much Christians as Christians are Jews.

Granted, this is a bit of a simplification, but claiming to be a Christian doesn't automatically mean you are. Schisms are caused by human interpretation of gospel or revelation, and while there are different sects of Christianity, none claim additional, later revelations by God or Jesus.
posted by explosion at 3:58 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Granted, this is a bit of a simplification, but claiming to be a Christian doesn't automatically mean you are. Schisms are caused by human interpretation of gospel or revelation, and while there are different sects of Christianity, none claim additional, later revelations by God or Jesus.

So what do we call the sect after the Paul's revelations were added to Jesus' teachings? Your logic would seem to suggest that "Christians" is not an appropriate name, because Paul (and John) added later revelations. Paul never met Jesus, that we know of, but did have a vision in which God told him to do things, not unlike the additional revelations by Muhammad and Smith. The only difference is the amount of time that elapsed between the revelations.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 4:34 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funny, I thought Christians were folks who believe that Christ was the messiah.
posted by amro at 5:24 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Technically, they were only racist to African Americans. ... It is an odius and shameful time in the churches history, and one that we have not fully begged forgiveness for, but not quite on topic ... (as for queer lds voices, well that is a whole other mess... )

It is not an "other" mess. It is the same one. LDS bigotry is not the church's "history". It is its living legacy. The church is an organized political hate machine fueled by the tithes of its members - who are accordingly on the hook for the very real evil it commits, however pleasant they might be as co-workers.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:36 AM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Funny, I thought Christians were folks who believe that Christ was the messiah.

In as much as Jews are folks who believe in worshiping only Yahweh (God, Allah) and forsaking all others.
posted by explosion at 5:53 AM on September 20, 2010


There is a difference between supplementing the teachings of Christ and superseding them.

Paul did the former, or is thought to, Muhammad and Smith did the latter.
posted by oddman at 5:59 AM on September 20, 2010


FWIW, the prophet Joseph Smith was a strong abolitionist, and ordained Elijah Abel as the first black member of the Mormon priesthood (and is among the first black prechers ordained by a white person in America) in 1832. Smith continued to ordain free black men to the Priesthood, and wanted blacks freed, educated, and given equal rights (Compilation on the Negro in Mormonism, p.40). He invited people "of every color" to join the Church and worship in the Nauvoo Temple (Times & Seasons, 12 Oct. 1840). Reports are that the Mormon Church at Nauvoo was fully intergrated.

Smith didn't start out an abolitionist, of course, but by the 1830s he'd changed his mind completely, preaching that black did have souls and under other circumstances would be completely equal to whites. He even ran for President on an anti-slavery platform.

Such policies won the Mormons no friends in Missouri, of course, so they had to be careful. There was a ban on making blacks part of the priesthood if their masters didn't consent, for example. But free blacks enjoyed equal status within the church under Smith.

The LDS didn't start being officially racist until Smith was dead and Brigham Young took charge. Even Young didn't have any problems with the Church's official stance on blacks, but then a half-black/half-Native American Mormon Elder named William McCary reportedly seduced a number of white Mormon women. He'd've probably gotten away with it, but rumor has it that Young (a notorious horndog if there ever was one) wanted a few of those women for his own harem. All of a sudden McCrary's excommunicated for apotasy and Young's preaching the "Curse of Cain" Doctrine.

I have no use for Joseph Smith in general--as far as I'm concerned, the man was the L. Ron Hubbard of his day. But there's no denying that he tried to do right by black folk. It's too bad that later Mormons abandoned, and even covered up, the example that he set.




/me has Mormon friend who told me all about the McCary/Young scandal.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:06 AM on September 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Republican party may be too stupid to understand basic demographic trends, but the Mormons sure aren't.

This has been the most mystifying thing to me about the GOP's embrace of the really rabid anti-immigrant rhetoric. There's plenty that could be said about immigration without needlessly alienating such a large (and growing) share of the electorate, no?
posted by Forktine at 6:27 AM on September 20, 2010


This has been the most mystifying thing to me about the GOP's embrace of the really rabid anti-immigrant rhetoric. There's plenty that could be said about immigration without needlessly alienating such a large (and growing) share of the electorate, no?

Racism is the triumph of hate over common sense.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:46 AM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


This has been the most mystifying thing to me about the GOP's embrace of the really rabid anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Mystifying to me because conservatism has been an odd schizophrenic collection of interests that likes immigration, and hates immigration at the same time. The ascendancy of the tea party has simply given a stronger voice to the immigration hater wing of the party. Even more interesting is that this also mirrors the left side of the spectrum, except for the ideological purges going on in the conservative movement. Immigration is simply on of those fascinating issues that simply refuses to follow clean party/ideological lines.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:08 AM on September 20, 2010


All of our German/Polish born in the blood Catholic great great whatevers are considred (by them) Mormons by faith. Bullshit.

In related news:
Mormons and Jews Reach Agreement on Posthumous Proxy Baptism.

Mormon Baptism of Dead Jews and Other Theological Nonsense.
posted by ericb at 7:31 AM on September 20, 2010


There is a difference between supplementing the teachings of Christ and superseding them. Paul did the former, or is thought to, Muhammad and Smith did the latter.

Muslims would say exactly the opposite. My point is that the question of whether Mormons are "Christians" depends on your religious perspective.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:09 AM on September 20, 2010


I'd also wonder where Mormons would go in a future America where one party rejects their values outright and the other party welcomes them as 2nd class citizens?

thoroughly enjoyed your comment, tho it's important to understand that the church itself claims political neutrality, although the top brass does espouse platforms that they interpret as having a specifically moral nature. for me, as a mormon, i have had a hard time with this--i see many of these issues (gay marriage, for example, which i think should be a right for all) as overlapping normative considerations that ought to be reconsidered to better serve a democracy. i was firmly against any support to ban same sex marriage, as were many mormons (including many high profile mormons). i think the church's official stance is in favor of according same sex couples all the rights of married couples, but still not going so far as to legitimize the marriages themselves (which saddens me).

i have a lot of tensions with the church that i cannot resolve, many of which have been included in the comments above (racism, plural marriage, whitewashing of our history, Glenn Beck (who many mormons outright despise), but i see it as i see most religions or organizations for that matter--an unwieldy enterprise that lumbers along doing its fair share of both damage and good.
posted by Grizzlepaws at 9:21 AM on September 20, 2010


One of the greatest benefits of being Mormon and being not only very active in many aspects of the church but also well-informed and skeptical of and troubled by various aspects of the church's history and culture is that it provides an immediate touchstone on just how uncritical and generally full of crap someone is who writes on the internet. This is true of many things that a person might have direct personal knowledge about, as well. But Mormonism is a good one because people who write on the internet - from the most ignorant to the most allegedly-objective and educated - cannot seem to keep themselves from posting blog posts and the like about Mormonism at least once or twice. So all I have to do, when I wonder what the general full-of-crap level is of any particular author, is do a quick google search for whatever that author has written in commentary about Mormonism.

And if I find that the author has written half-cocked, uninformed, inflammatory comments about Mormonism that make broad negative assertions that I know are not only false but that no true critical thinker could arrive at without leaping over critical thought, neutral fact-checking, and careful, accurate commentary, I consider it an indictment on the general intellectual rigor and trustworthiness of all of that author's assertions on every topic. It is very, very useful.

But it does disappoint me whenever MetaFilter discusses Mormonism. It makes me re-examine my general agreement with people here on other topics. Maybe that's a good thing, given that critical thinking and factual rigor are important. But still, it sort of sucks.
posted by The World Famous at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


My best friend is a pastor, I am a-religious at best. I know Catholics I like and respect, I intensely dislike the Catholic church. I know Americans I like, although I have some serious reservations of the American government that transcend whichever party or individual happens to be president. I know Canadians I like although Harper gets right up my nose.

And hey, I even have Mormon friends although I consider the Mormon church pretty damn wacky...
posted by edgeways at 9:30 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, and this is probably because I was raised irreligious and consider myself agnostic if not atheist, I don't understand the Mormon baptism thing. Why should you care if somebody outside of your religion says something about your ancestors? The rites of a completely different religion have no bearing on what you or your ancestors believed. If somebody told me my great-grandparents had been baptized by proxy, I would just give them a weird look and say "... OK... I'm going to walk away now, don't follow me crazy-talking person."
posted by kmz at 9:48 AM on September 20, 2010


I also like to remind myself that, whenever someone claims that the United States is a "Christian Nation," odds are that person also has a ridiculous and narrow definition of "Christian" and believes emphatically that Mormons are not Christian. When I hear "The United States is Christian nation," I automatically hear "and you're not welcome here" appended to the statement.

And when I hear Glenn Beck say it, it just gives me one more reason to despise Glenn Beck. Though, to be fair, I cannot imagine how he can top his admonition to leave any church that has the words "social justice" anywhere on its website. I know several Mormons who appear to hang on Glenn Beck's every word. But not one of them followed his instruction to search the Church's website for the term "social justice" (let alone leave the Church once they found it). From that, I conclude that it's no secret, even among his biggest fans, that Glenn Beck is a hypocrite and a fool. Or maybe they just remembered that at least one recent President of the church and at least one senior apostle were outspoken and prominent Democrats.
posted by The World Famous at 10:01 AM on September 20, 2010


There is a difference between supplementing the teachings of Christ and superseding them. Paul did the former, or is thought to, Muhammad and Smith did the latter.

Boy, that's a whole can of worms. I couldn't disagree more. 95% of all the negative crap associated with Christianity seems to flow right from the pen of Paul -- the dualism, misogyny, authoritarianism, you name it.
posted by msalt at 10:17 AM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


kmz, A few things play into it I believe.

I think the reaction you describe might be the reaction most people would have if the entity in question was some small, non-powerful, insignificant storefront operation. Which the Mormon church is not.

As well, for many their belief is an important and vital part of themselves and their identity, often times this stretches back generations. So for some large powerful church that has little to nothing to do with your heritage comes in and co-opts it, it not only is historically inaccurate, but so offensive it strikes at the core of identity, tradition and sense of family. It is an historic lie.


You may not value religious belief, but to many it is fundamental to being. As indicated above I am not religious, but I recognize it as a human institution that can achieve good things and has tremendous value to many people. It also has been the anvil upon which many evil things have been hammered out upon. IMO though those that perpetrate evil are perfectly willing to use any convenient institution to do so, church or state, or other.
posted by edgeways at 10:18 AM on September 20, 2010


As well, for many their belief is an important and vital part of themselves and their identity, often times this stretches back generations. So for some large powerful church that has little to nothing to do with your heritage comes in and co-opts it, it not only is historically inaccurate, but so offensive it strikes at the core of identity, tradition and sense of family. It is an historic lie.

I think this gets into one of those things where it's hard for somebody to understand something without walking in the other person's shoes. I totally understand and appreciate the first part of that paragraph, but having never been religious I can't quite come to terms with the latter part. Oh well, I'll just chalk it up to another thing I don't understand in my ignorance.

Ah, wait, I think I've come up with an analogy that helps me understand. If somebody "re-nationalized" my great-grandparents to be Japanese, while I still wouldn't care all that much, I could definitely see and understand if my grandparents were extremely offended by that.
posted by kmz at 10:29 AM on September 20, 2010


And if I find that the author has written half-cocked, uninformed, inflammatory comments about Mormonism that make broad negative assertions that I know are not only false but that no true critical thinker could arrive at without leaping over critical thought, neutral fact-checking, and careful, accurate commentary, I consider it an indictment on the general intellectual rigor and trustworthiness of all of that author's assertions on every topic. It is very, very useful.

Sure, because your pet topic is obviously something that a) you are 100% correct about and b) has direct and incontrovertible bearing on "the general intellectual rigor and trustworthiness of all of that author's assertions on every topic".

Give me a break. I think people are dead-wrong about a lot of issues, also, but that doesn't make them wrong about everything... and asserting that it does is a textbook example of "leaping over critical thought, neutral fact-checking, and careful, accurate commentary".

Oh, but I am willing to make negative assertions about the Mormon church, so I guess I'm just not a true Scotsmancritical thinker... oops!
posted by vorfeed at 10:38 AM on September 20, 2010


Sure, because your pet topic is obviously something that a) you are 100% correct about and b) has direct and incontrovertible bearing on "the general intellectual rigor and trustworthiness of all of that author's assertions on every topic".

I don't have to be 100% correct about it. I just have to be able to recognize, based on what little I am correct about, when someone is spouting crap without any honest attempt at critical thinking or fact-checking.

As for "direct and incontrovertible bearing," I don't really care what you think in that regard. If someone is sloppy, uncritical, and dishonest about something that I care deeply about and know a lot about, I lose respect and trust for their analysis of everything else.

Give me a break. I think people are dead-wrong about a lot of issues, also, but that doesn't make them wrong about everything...

I will not give you a break. I didn't say it makes them wrong about everything. I said it's an indictment of the general intellectual rigor and trustworthiness of all of that author's assertions on every topic. They may or may not be wrong about things. But they are clearly not uniformly intellectually rigorous and trustworthy.

Oh, but I am willing to make negative assertions about the Mormon church, so I guess I'm just not a true Scotsmancritical thinker... oops!

I said no such thing. Either you are intentionally mischaracterizing what I did write or you didn't read it carefully. Say anything negative you like about the Mormon church. There are plenty of negative things to say that are true and that are not intellectually dishonest. I say them, as well. But if you make "half-cocked, uninformed, inflammatory comments about Mormonism that make broad negative assertions that I know are not only false but that no true critical thinker could arrive at without leaping over critical thought, neutral fact-checking, and careful, accurate commentary," I won't be committing any logical fallacy when I conclude that you're not a trustworthy source.
posted by The World Famous at 10:49 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


If someone is sloppy, uncritical, and dishonest about something that I care deeply about and know a lot about, I lose respect and trust for their analysis of everything else.

I didn't say it makes them wrong about everything. I said it's an indictment of the general intellectual rigor and trustworthiness of all of that author's assertions on every topic. They may or may not be wrong about things. But they are clearly not uniformly intellectually rigorous and trustworthy.

No one is uniformly intellectually rigorous and trustworthy. No one is "a trustworthy source", full stop. People are not robots; they always know more or less about different topics, and are always more or less willing to subject them to critical thinking. If you choose to judge whether they are "a trustworthy source" not on the substance of what they say about a topic, but on their statements about some other topic, you are indeed committing a logical fallacy -- you're assuming that their intellectual rigor and trustworthiness on one topic overrides their intellectual rigor and trustworthiness on another, even though trustworthiness and rigor can and should be judged with respect to the topic at hand.
posted by vorfeed at 11:16 AM on September 20, 2010


Sorry, vorfeed. If you're unapologetically full of crap about something I know and care about, I will respect and trust you less as a result.

To the extent you're arguing that Mormonism is a topic where even generally-trustworthy sources cannot help but diverge from intellectual honesty, I actually agree with you there. For some reason, even some people who are usually critical and careful in their assertions and analysis go off the rails and start spouting uncritical crap when the topic of Mormonism comes up.

But I'm afraid I'm not going to apologize for losing respect and trust for them. I don't just assume that everything that person says or writes must be crap. But I do trust it quite a bit less.
posted by The World Famous at 11:24 AM on September 20, 2010


I'm not arguing that "Mormonism is a topic where even generally-trustworthy sources cannot help but diverge from intellectual honesty". I'm arguing that Mormonism is a topic just like any other, and should be judged that way rather than becoming your own personal yardstick for trustworthiness. Treating one particular topic as though it's more important or revealing than all others, based solely on your own relationship with it, is neither critical or rigorous.
posted by vorfeed at 11:47 AM on September 20, 2010


Treating one particular topic as though it's more important or revealing than all others, based solely on your own relationship with it, is neither critical or rigorous.

I don't treat it as though it's more important or revealing than all others. It is revealing, though. And it's useful because it is so widely discussed by people who are uninformed and who generally discuss totally-unrelated topics. In reading commentary on the internet or elsewhere, I find it helpful to know if the commentator is willing to opine publicly and negatively without intellectual rigor on something that they know is very personal to a great many people.

When someone willing to parrot crap on one topic without any intellectual rigor, it is logical to then suspect that they may be giving the same treatment to other topics. It's not a question of the importance of one topic over the other.

Let me just make sure I understand what you're saying: You appear to be arguing that intellectual dishonesty in one instance is not a rational basis for suspicion as to other instances. Am I reading you right? You don't think it's logical to be suspicious of sources that have proven untrustworthy in prior analysis?
posted by The World Famous at 12:07 PM on September 20, 2010


World Famous,

I feel a bit bad for Mormons because their Church is young, and therefore naked to criticism. Mormonism also makes specific historical claims that are plainly false under the illumination of modern archeology, and because the new books were written in English, it can't hide behind translation errrors. In time, with pressure, those claims will be quietly removed, just as the racism and polygamy were, but until then you are stuck volunteering your association with those lies.

I'm not saying Mormonism is any more wrong or right than Catholicism, but the dogmas that the Catholic Church promoted against the realities of science have been given up (for the most part). Until Mormonism has passed the point where it's solipsism is less important than the truth, it will continued to be ridiculed by everyone outside of it.
posted by notion at 12:35 PM on September 20, 2010


Let me just make sure I understand what you're saying: You appear to be arguing that intellectual dishonesty in one instance is not a rational basis for suspicion as to other instances. Am I reading you right? You don't think it's logical to be suspicious of sources that have proven untrustworthy in prior analysis?

Given that the subjects in question are unrelated, no, I don't think it is strictly rational nor rigorous to be suspicious of a person's argument based on their perceived intellectual dishonesty in another instance. Especially not when you choose to do this with one instance, but not another, based on your own personal relationship with the subject of the first instance.

Part of critical thinking is a willingness to admit that you may not be seeing things clearly, especially when strong emotion comes into play. You're not doing that -- you seem to be arguing that someone's opinion on Mormonism can tell you what the "general full-of-crap level is of any particular author", yet you refuse to admit that Mormonism is a specific topic which may or may not have any bearing on what the author's general full-of-crap level is. It could be that Mormonism is the one of only a few topics on which they're full of crap, in which case your suspicion will be incorrect in most cases... and it's irrational to insist upon a rule which doesn't hold in most cases.

You yourself claimed that "Mormonism is a topic where even generally-trustworthy sources cannot help but diverge from intellectual honesty", so it's totally ridiculous to claim that this topic has strong bearing on people's general trustworthiness. You just admitted that it doesn't.

You can't measure the depth of a river in one place, with one special ruler, and then claim you know its depth generally. I don't care how much your ruler matters to you, or how much you think you know about your ruler; these things have nothing to do with the actual depth of the river, and in fact tend to interfere with its measurement.
posted by vorfeed at 12:39 PM on September 20, 2010


you seem to be arguing that someone's opinion on Mormonism can tell you what the "general full-of-crap level is of any particular author", yet you refuse to admit that Mormonism is a specific topic which may or may not have any bearing on what the author's general full-of-crap level is.

I'm making an assertion regarding the intellectual rigor of one's factual claims and assertions and analysis based thereon. Not mere opinions. I don't care if someone disagrees with me about Mormonism. I don't care if they think the religion is a fraud or if they hold all sorts of negative opinions about it. But if they arrived at that opinion without sound analysis and intellectually-honest analysis of facts, I lose respect for their analysis generally and I assume that, in other areas of inquiry, they will be similarly willing to reach conclusions without intellectual rigor. You disagree with that. Fine.

notion,

I don't understand why you're directing your comment at me. I disagree with some of your factual assertions, as well as your conclusion. But I don't understand why you are specifically addressing me. Did I say something that you're responding to?
posted by The World Famous at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2010


One of the greatest benefits of being someone inclined toward rational thought and being not only very active in many aspects of critical thinking but also well-informed and skeptical of and troubled by various aspects of the crazy beliefs that religious people have is that it provides an immediate touchstone on just how uncritical and generally full of crap someone is who writes on the internet. This is true of many things that a person might have direct personal knowledge about, as well. But Mormonism is a good one because people who write on the internet - from the most ignorant to the most allegedly-objective and educated - cannot seem to keep themselves from self-identifying as Mormon. So all I have to do, when I wonder what the general full-of-crap level is of any particular author, is do a quick google search for whether that author is Mormon.

And if I find that the author is Mormon then I know he or she is no critical thinker because I know someone couldn't adopt that religion without leaping over critical thought, neutral fact checking, and careful, accurate commentary. I consider it an indictment on the general intellectual rigor and trustworthiness of all of that author's assertions on every topic. It is very, very useful.

But it does disappoint me whenever MetaFilter discusses Mormonism. It makes me re-examine my general agreement with people here on other topics. Maybe that's a good thing, given that critical thinking and factual rigor are important. But still, it sort of sucks.
posted by andoatnp at 1:13 PM on September 20, 2010


That's cute, andoantp.

Now do other religions and anything else you think a person cannot be a part of without leaping over critical thought, neutral fact checking, and careful, accurate commentary. I won't even ask you to explain your assertion.

Also, are you criticizing me for self-identifying rather than remaining anonymous? I don't understand that particular jab.
posted by The World Famous at 1:28 PM on September 20, 2010


Also, andoantp, does your cute comment mean that you agree with me? I mean, taking it at face value, it looks like you actually agree with me 100%. Is that right?

Or are you trying to say that I'm wrong by baiting me with an insult?

Ultimately, if you think I'm full of crap about one thing, it's reasonable for you to be suspicious of my assertions on other things and to look closely at my assertions to determine whether they, too, are full of crap.
posted by The World Famous at 1:38 PM on September 20, 2010


I'm making an assertion regarding the intellectual rigor of one's factual claims and assertions and analysis based thereon. Not mere opinions. I don't care if someone disagrees with me about Mormonism. I don't care if they think the religion is a fraud or if they hold all sorts of negative opinions about it. But if they arrived at that opinion without sound analysis and intellectually-honest analysis of facts, I lose respect for their analysis generally and I assume that, in other areas of inquiry, they will be similarly willing to reach conclusions without intellectual rigor. You disagree with that. Fine.

To take a page out of your playbook, I don't just "disagree" with that. I'm saying that it displays the same lack of intellectual rigor you're deploring in others. You cannot just "assume that, in other areas of inquiry, they will be similarly willing to reach conclusions without intellectual rigor". I just demonstrated that this conclusion does not necessarily follow from a single lack of rigor on a single topic, especially a topic which you yourself admit is an outlier; the fact that you continue to insist that it does suggests that your position has nothing to do with reason.
posted by vorfeed at 1:40 PM on September 20, 2010


That's cute, andoantp.
Thanks!

Now do other religions and anything else you think a person cannot be a part of without leaping over critical thought, neutral fact checking, and careful, accurate commentary. I won't even ask you to explain your assertion.
Well, copying and pasting in the other beliefs I hold up to ridicule might take a while, but suffice it to say that it includes all sky fairies and the religions that worship such beings, and people who believe in ghosts, unicorns, the power of minutely diluted healing potions, and anything else obviously made-up that the simple-minded choose to believe.

Also, are you criticizing me for self-identifying rather than remaining anonymous? I don't understand that particular jab.
I wouldn't call it a criticism per se, I'm just describing what happens. When I'm reading something that I find insightful or smart or truthy and the person acknowledges that they also hold a belief that I find completely irrational it makes me reconsider how I feel about the other points they have made. [On preview, yes, I'm agreeing with you but from the opposite perspective.]
posted by andoatnp at 1:41 PM on September 20, 2010


people who believe in ghosts, unicorns, the power of minutely diluted healing potions, and anything else obviously made-up that the simple-minded choose to believe.


I believe in unicorns. Just saying.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:55 PM on September 20, 2010


World Famous, it's just an observation based on the conversations you are having. I've been having the same sort of conversation with people who believe only the faithful are capable of critical analysis of their faith, which is in my opinion too convenient. Appealing to authority is a lazy way to dismiss criticism.

When it comes to supernaturalism, your faith is no different from any other. People believe Jesus was born of a virgin even though science thoroughly denies that it's a possibility. Mormons believe that there was a vast and literate civilization of iron wielding Jews who rode horses in the Americas before Columbus arrived, and again, there is no science to support that claim. The point is, you cannot dismiss my claim because I'm not a Mormon, unless you're willing to give up your right to criticize other faiths and philosophies for the same reason.
posted by notion at 2:08 PM on September 20, 2010


To take a page out of your playbook, I don't just "disagree" with that. I'm saying that it displays the same lack of intellectual rigor you're deploring in others.

Well, first, I'm not deploring anything. Second, I suppose the question for you, now that you think I lack intellectual rigor in this particular instance, is whether you will consider all of my other writings with a clean slate or whether your perception of my lack of intellectual rigor here will make you suspicious of my assertions on other topics.

andoantp: For some reason, I am reminded of the scene in Patton where Patton and the Russian general are at a banquet and eventually decide that the one thing they are both willing to toast to is that they're both sons of bitches.

notion: The point is, you cannot dismiss my claim because I'm not a Mormon, unless you're willing to give up your right to criticize other faiths and philosophies for the same reason.

I don't dismiss anyone's claim because they're not a Mormon. Nor do I give any particular weight to someone's claim or analysis if they are a Mormon. Whether a commentator is Mormon or not, if their analysis indicates a lack of intellectual rigor, misrepresentation or misunderstanding of the factual assertions forming the basis of the analysis, or a willingness to take at face value the assertions of others without checking sources, I am suspicious of their analysis generally.
posted by The World Famous at 2:25 PM on September 20, 2010


I don't dismiss anyone's claim because they're not a Mormon...

One of the greatest benefits of being Mormon and being not only very active in many aspects of the church...

This is why I assumed you thought otherwise, but I'm probably just a son of a bitch. Cheers!
posted by notion at 2:57 PM on September 20, 2010


I don't dismiss anyone's claim because they're not a Mormon...

One of the greatest benefits of being Mormon and being not only very active in many aspects of the church...

This is why I assumed you thought otherwise,


Well, you intepreted what I said very differently from what I inteded to convey.
posted by The World Famous at 3:19 PM on September 20, 2010


Alright, anyway, can we stop this now? This has turned from a discussion from the topic at hand to an argument between you guys about you guys.

The LDS Church knows which side their bread is buttered on. They know that they're rank and file members will predominately Latino in just a few decades. Plus, though they aren't always good at this sort of thing, they know that ultimately, if the Church is to mean anything in the future, it has to help the needy of today, and this is it.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:26 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every crowd has a silver lining. - Phineas Taylor Barnum
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:46 PM on September 20, 2010


PareidoliaticBoy, what does that have to do with the immigration stance of the LDS church?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:52 PM on September 20, 2010


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