12:27 p.m. October 7, 2012

A Reader Writes: I'm Wrong About Mormons

From: Tac Anderson To: Paul Carr Date: Oct 5th, 2012

Paul,

I'm a big fan of nsfwcorp and have been an early supporter and advocate. Please keep up the good work.

I did however feel a need to write in response to Mark Ames's multiple articles attacking Romney and his religion. Yes, I'm Mormon and no I'm not going to rant or even rebuttal* the many half truths, exaggerations and inaccuracies about our religion.

But I get it. We're pretty weird. I wouldn't expect anyone to fully understand. And I especially feel sorry for Mark, living n SLC (was this by choice or by assignment). Even some of us Mormons outside of Utah think our Utah counterparts can be particularly odd. Nice, but odd. I imagine it'd be like going to Vatican City and hoping to understand Catholics.

But I did want to point out that this isn't the first time people have been concerned with a presidential candidate's religious views. The last one, of course was the current president but the one that jumps out to me is JFK (partially because he was also from Massachusetts). I can only imagine what people in the 1960's we're saying about the Roman Catholics and how the Pope was going to be running the country.

Anyway, I found JFK's response very interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2Jr03ADQmk

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16920600

  • Okay, I can't help but make a few comments, sorry:

  • If everything Mark said was true don't you think your local Mormon politician, Harry Reid, would have changed some things about Las Vegas?

  • Mark is way off base about a Mormon president ushering the Second Coming. Some people may believe that (I've never met any) but it must be a very small group.

  • Part of the reason the early church was a bit touchy towards the US government was the last state they lived in, Missouri, passed a law that it was legal to hunt and kill Mormons on sight. When they went to the POTUS for help he refused to interveen. Hence why they fled to Utah.

Tac Anderson

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From: Mark Ames To: Tac Anderson Date: Oct 5th, 2012

Dear Brother Anderson—

Let me preface my response by saying two things:

1. The more I'm learning about Mormonism, the more fascinated I'm becoming with your church. So understand, my interest and my articles don't reflect mere contempt on my part; otherwise these stories would be shorter and I'd be getting the fuck out of Dodge. As it stands, I'm beginning to think that Mormons are The Epic People in this country's history—and I'm not sure if that reflects my growing understanding, or a creeping insanity that will require Paul to arrange an intervention;

2. No one likes it when an outsider criticizes your ethnic group/religion/family/etc. Criticism within the clan is one thing, but criticism from outsiders is patently offensive—I get that. However, Mitt comes from Mormon aristocracy, he served as a Mormon bishop, his father was profoundly influenced by the church, his first cousin almost headed up the worldwide Church of Latter-Day Saints—and now Mitt Romney is about to rule my life and control the fate of the world. So tough shit for Mormons, your church is fair game, deal with it. Look, when I heard that Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, might be Vice President, I nearly sharted in my longjohns out in Moscow—I mean, he said he can't work from Friday night through Saturday night, what the fuck was up with that? If there's one reason to be thankful that Gore lost it's that Lieberman wasn't one heartbeat from the White House: "Mr. Vice President, The President is on the phone he says it's extremely urgent, something about a hurricane wiping out New Orleans"; "Sorry, I don't talk on telephones, it's Shomor Shabbas." "But Vice President Lieberman, thousands of lives are—" "Shomor fucking Shabbas!" In fact, I find it pathetic that the secular-humanist liberal media is shying away from the Mormon church that has framed and informed Mitt Romney's world view. He's like a blank empty mystery to people, but the one part of his life we know influenced him, and we know we can learn something from, is the one area that liberal media elites avoid as either beneath them or too frightening. But these are the same clowns who got Reagan wrong, Bush wrong, Iraq wrong, and so on...

Okay Brother Anderson, now that we've established that I'm right and you're wrong on the broader issues, let me respond to the finer points in your letter:

Your JFK Analogy is bullshit, and we know it’s bullshit because Mittens’ dad already tried using that analogy back in his day, and he proved himself to be a complete liar and the very opposite of John Kennedy when it came to the religion question. It’s in my article about George Romney calling ERA supporters “moral perverts” and calling the Equal Rights Amendment a homosexual plot to destroy American families—mouthing the batshit John Birch Society psychobabble of your late Prophet Ezra Taft Benson. If you haven’t read the article, let me repeat it then: In 1967, George Romney told a gathering of Catholic and Protestant clergymen that it wasn’t fair of them to insinuate that the Mormon Church’s reactionary and racist policies would influence his commitment to civil rights and to ending discrimination—citing, as they always do, a genuinely courageous and awesome president who meant it, JFK. Cut to: 12 years later, and the LDS Church is waging a hardcore aggressive campaign to kill the ERA amendment...and George Romney, no longer worried about winning over the Gentiles for a run for the presidency, showed his true colors, brutally attacking ERA supporters as “moral perverts” and claiming that the ERA was a “lesbian” conspiracy to destroy American families. He also supported the excommunication of Sonia Johnson, the Mormon feminist, for daring to support the Equal Rights Amendment. Now, let’s compare JFK to Mitt. JFK, for his 1960 speech on how his Catholicism would affect his presidency, went right into the heart of enemy territory as he tended to do because he was a mensch—to speak before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a giant stadium full of Baptists and assorted fire-breathing Protestants—to say in no uncertain terms that not only would the Catholic Church Elders have no influence over his presidential decisions, but more important, JFK made it clear that the Pope wouldn’t have any influence over a Kennedy presidency by reaffirming his commitment to the separation of church and state:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

Now, compare what JFK said there about absolute separation of church and state, and about no public funds to church schools—to Mitt Romney, who has attacked those who promote separation of church and state as a "war on religion" and instead called for more God in politics. Here is Mitt attacking the sort of secularism JFK called for:

“I think there is in this country a war on religion. I think there is a desire to establish a religion in America known as secularism.”

And here is Mitt expounding further on how he wants to undo JFK’s vision of separation of church and state, and instead Talibanize our government and public life much more:

“We should acknowledge the Creator, as did the Founders — in ceremony and word,” he said. “He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our Constitution rests.”

He went on to expand on this theme later in his interview:

“In recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God.

“Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. The Founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square.”

Now let’s compare JFK’s insistence that no church schools should receive public funds to Romney’s voucher plan to transfer public funds from public secular schools into religious charter schools and private schools. You can read more about Romney’s plan to have the public pay for church-run schools (which effectively destroys public education) in this article by a former official in George H. W. Bush’s Dept of Education, Diane Ravitch, the foremost expert on education in this country and a heroic woman who’s been attacked by both Obamacrat neoliberals and by Romney Banana-Republicans.

Finally, here is what Romney himself said about how his Mormon faith informs his life:

Romney said "faith is integral to my life. I have served as a lay pastor in my church. I faithfully follow its precepts."

So Brother Anderson, let’s recap this again: You compared Romney’s Mormon faith to Kennedy’s Catholic faith and argued that Kennedy had already put that to rest. I just showed that the very opposite is happening: Kennedy put it to rest because he said he would strictly ensure the separation of church and state; but Romney has attacked that idea and declared he would reverse that and put more religion into government, and denounced those like Kennedy who believe in separation of church and state as un-American. Romney also says that his Mormon faith is “integral to my life” and “I faithfully follow its precepts.”

In other words: Mitt Romney is no John Kennedy. Or more accurately: Romney is the anti-JFK.

And here’s how that translates into public policy. JFK sent federal troops into the South to protect blacks and forcibly integrate racist whites-only schools; JFK, in 1963, announced civil rights legislation that essentially ended the Democratic Party in the South and could have sunk his re-election bid (JFK’s bills were later passed under LBJ). Watch JFK’s speech, because it’s exactly the sort of thing Mitt Romney, who flips and flops on every issue depending on how it plays at the polls, would never dream of giving.

Here is JFK in 1963, risking his electoral future and the future of the Democrats:

“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is — whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities...”

Now, here is Mitt Romney on equal rights for gays and lesbians. Well, two Romneys. Here’s the Romney of 1994:

“I am more convinced than ever that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent,'' Romney wrote, referring to US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

"If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.”

And here’s Romney in 2006, as he’s downgrading his OS from the more liberal Romney 2.0 down to the 19th century OS Mountain Goatfucker 10.8, which he unveiled to the far-right Human Events magazine (his new base):

“My view on marriage has been entirely consistent over my political career. And that is that I oppose same-sex marriage. I also oppose civil unions.”

So Brother Anderson, do you see the difference yet between Mitt Romney and JFK? Do you understand why you’re seriously deluded or worse if you think that Romney should get the same free-pass over Mormonism that Kennedy didn’t get, but deserved to get, over his Catholicism? Romney and the Mormons can’t just claim that pass without paying for it; Kennedy paid for that, he took radical positions and stuck by them no matter the political consequences, everything that Mitt Romney hasn’t done.

But more importantly, Romney is saying the very opposite—that there should be more religion in the White House and in government, not less.

And that is why the next obvious question is, “Okay, what religion?”

Blame Bishop Romney, Brother Anderson. And get used to it.

For the rest of you folks, if you’re wondering “what crawled up Brother Anderson’s Magic Undies?” I think this Pew poll pretty much says it all: Mormons are infatuated with their own violins. 46% of Mormons believe that they are “discriminated against” in America—and I’ll bet all of them vote Republican, because that is the party of white male crybabies—while in that same poll of those same Mormons, only 31% of them said that blacks were discriminated against. That’s right: Mormons believe that they suffer 50% more victimhoodization than blacks do in this country. That could be because Mormons didn’t even meet blacks until 1978, since until then blacks were considered sub-human devils and were barred from entering the Mormon priesthood—which barred them from the church, since every male Mormon enters the priesthood at age 12. Or that the President/Prophet/Seer of the Mormon Church, Ezra Taft Benson, denounced the Civil Rights Movement during the 60s and 70s as a Communist plot directed by Moscow. See, Mormon Elders can’t say that in public anymore, which is why Mormons are right to view themselves as more discriminated against than blacks—try getting a job if, during your job interview, you say that blacks are subhuman descendants of Cain and born in sin, and that the Civil Rights movement was a communist conspiracy—then you’ll know true discrimination—you black people have it sooooo easy!

I could go point-by-point on where Brother Anderson’s own history of Mormon oppression is factually wrong, but I don’t want to get into that now because the truth is, I’m too engrossed with this material and I’m gobbling it up as the first truly interesting American phenomenon I’ve come across since being forced out of Russia a few years ago. We’ll have plenty of time to argue over the finer historical points, Brother Anderson.

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From: Tac Anderson To: Mark Ames Date: Oct 5th, 2012

Mark, I'm glad you're a fan, even if you show it in an unusual way. Why does everyone thing a difference of opinion means people are upset? I didn't take offense to your articles (I've read so, so much worse), I just know that you're wrong about several points of our doctrine.

And I absolutely think that Romney and his actions and beliefs are fair game. This might actually surprise you, but I'm not a supporter of Romney for President. I voted for Obama last time and I plan to again. (Of course you might not believe me because apparently us Mormons will say just about anything). As you well know, there are quite a few Mormon Democrats.

Also, I've never felt "persecuted" because of my religious beliefs. I've been mocked and teased and threatened but I would never have claimed to be persecuted. I don't believe blacks to be subhuman, or really any of the other rubbish you're gobbling up in the rabbit hole.

The main reason I bring up JFK (besides the fact that they came from the same state) s because he points out that there are checks and balances in our government that keep the conspiracy theory stuff you mentioned from happening. Look what the Republicans were able to stop Obama on, and most of that stuff made sense. What radical laws do you really think Romney will pass? I personally don't think any president will get much done over the next 4 years.

I don't even take issue with you comparing Mitt and his father (apparently the sins of the father will be upon the heads of the children). But I do take issue with the way you present things about the church as doctrine.

The LDS church, like all organizations, have their crazies, but just because some Mormon says something does not make it doctrine. Even if that Mormon is a church leader. Unless he is acting in his official capacity, a Prophet's words are just the words of any other man. I realize that get's confusing for people, but that's why we have so many more books of scripture than other religions. And as in the case of caffein, there are some things the church leaves up to it's members to decide for themselves.

As an example of non-doctrine: The White Horse Prophecy

As it mentions in the article you linked to, but failed to mention, it's just plain wrong:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it does not accept the legend - commonly referred to as the "White Horse Prophecy" - as doctrine.

"Romney says he doesn't believe in the supposed prophecy, nor did his father when he ran."
"The LDS Church denounces the premonition, which was recorded 10 years after Smith's death. A church spokesman pointed to a quote from the faith's sixth president, Joseph F. Smith, who called the prophecy "ridiculous."
"It is simply false; that is all there is to it," the church prophet was quoted saying."

As for the Law of Consecration, it is not, as you said, "a vow to always put the laws of the Mormon Church first and foremost, above all other laws, when called upon." it is just what you printed, a dedication of our time, talents and all which the Lord has blessed us with. Which is mostly lots of our time doing service for others, and giving 10% of our income as tithing.

In fact in our 13 Articles of Faith, says: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

I like arguing as much as anyone on the Internet (and yes, you are far better at this than I am) but I doubt you or I are going to change either's point of view, which I still respect BTW. I think we're a very easy religion to misunderstand and we don't always make it easy. Just don't believe everything you read and please don't paint all Mormons with the same broad brush, we're not the mono-culture you make us out to be.

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