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« Too Funny | Main | A Paradox of Faith and Law »


Kit Lloyd

Thanks for the link. I appreciate any thoughtful, well-written article discussing Mormonism, even if one or two aspects are innocently mishandled. I especially liked his response to the common criticism: "Mormons aren't Christians." Not only are Mormons Christians, they are Post-Christians, an extension and correction of beliefs perceived to have been distorted through the Dark Ages into modern times.

In 1821, Thomas Jefferson wrote the following in a letter to Timothy Pickering, nine years before the formal organization of the LDS church:

"The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers. . . Happy in the prospect of a restoration of primitive Christianity, I must leave to younger athletes to encounter and lop off the false branches which have been engrafted into it by the mythologists of the middle and modern ages." (Emphasis added)

-- In H.A. Washington, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 7, pp. 210, 257


I read this the other day and appreciated it also, despite some points of disagreement.

I wonder if it isn't just prejudice against any behavior that is strange but voluntary. Race isn't something anyone chooses, so most people realize that its a random draw and it's what is inside the individual that counts.

Mormons, evangelical Christians, practicing muslims, even harmless hipsters, choose a lifestyle or behavior that others don't understand and therefore deride. But it's ok, because it's something they chose and didn't receive upon birth.

Dave Tufte

Kit: I'm not sure exactly what he meant by post-Christian, but I didn't read that the same (positive) way you did. My take was more like post-impressionism: following, somewhat different, and not even measurable as better or worse.

Outside of LDS circles, the Jefferson quote (and a large volume of others) are used to argue that Smith was merely reflecting his times.

Dave Tufte

Rodet: the fact that you saw this the other day is proof you need to start blogging again so that you can share stuff like this :)

I think you're too positive about prejudice towards Mormons. As someone that non-Mormons feel free talking to, I'm quite often shocked at the nasty irrationality of it. A lot of people really don't seem to want to know any different.

Having said that, I also think the complex and overlayered doctrine that has formed by the process of continuing revelation has not helped Mormons sell their positions as broadly acceptable. I once had a friend describe it as similar to the game of fizzbin in the original run of Star Trek. If someone who was trying to understand drew that analogy, it seems to me that someone who isn't trying would readily regard the whole thing as a snow job.


I think you make a good point about the continuing revelation. I am starting to understand slightly the non-Mormon point of view on this by attending church in California where many Mormons I associate with joined as adults and considered this a challenge. It's healthy for me, I believe.

Perhaps I am too positive. I don't know if it's benefit of the doubt or that I am not exposed to the nastiest prejudice face to face. I've experienced it, no doubt, but I'm likely ignorant and a bit naive in some respects.

Dave Tufte

1) Ooh ... Cortney ... you should talk to some of the faculty or students at SUU. There are a lot of Mormons here from out of state who have considerable difficulty with how things are practiced in the Utah society where everyone is used to the doctrine. Someone we both know actually sold their house and moved to get into a ward that had less Utah Mormons in it (because they didn't feel accepted).

Funny story ... it took me less than a month after moving here to recognize ... and then go and corner an administrator who was serving as a bishop ... to ask why non-Mormons seemed to have an easier time here than did out-of-state Mormons. He said it was because someone like me will always be, to some extent, an outsider who can probably find other outsiders. But often an out-of-state Mormon has an expectation that they will be treated like an insider, and the problem stem fro that not being fulfilled when they move here.

2) Perhaps "too positive" is the wrong phrase. I think your earlier comment was right: most people understand that they shouldn't behave prejudicially, and try not to do it. But when they lapse, I think the typical American's prejudice towards Mormons is particularly ignorant, and more than a little vicious. What's interesting is that the behavior of evangelicals towards Romney is (to me) a microcosm for all of American society. Evangelicals have this deep distaste for Mormons, but now many of them regard him as "their Mormon" so he's OK. But you go out to liberals, like Simon Critchley's circle, and it all comes out because Romney isn't on their side.

Dave Tufte

I had a really interesting epiphany about continuing revelation. I'm going to put it in a new post.


I get what you are saying about the dichotomy of Utah and non-Utah Mormons. There are several related reasons why we'd hesitate to move back to Utah. I completely understand the point of view of our common acquaintance, but it was something I was aware of and disliked, and frankly couldn't believe was normal, before I moved out of state. Strange indeed.

People tell me they are surprised to find out that I enjoy living outside of Utah (don't get me wrong, I love a lot about it). They get the impression that Utah Mormons living outside of it put Utah on a pedestal and can't wait to get back. In my experience, I know many more who are the opposite, but maybe there is selection bias in who I tend to hang out with.

Again, there is a lot to love about Utah. Many reasons to enjoy living there. But strangely enough, it is the culture of some of those from which I come that I dislike. It's funny because I'll often here Mormons complain about their ward because it feels too much like a "Utah ward."

I wonder if there is a general phenomenon in places where there is a high concentration of people of a similar culture (perhaps another word is more appropriate?). The prejudice within Utah wards based on socio-economic status certainly stands out in my experience. There is tension in humans' psychological make-up for wanting to be unique but part of a group at the same time. Perhaps when the group part is ALMOST determined from birth, humans find ways to find their niche. Some are perhaps better than others.

David Tufte

I think you're probably right out about self-selection bias. I've felt the same thing about people I know who've moved out of the northeast (like me).

I can't say that I've heard much about "Utah wards" specifically. But I have heard that there is an issue with pioneer descendents. I've heard complaints that because their families grabbed a lot of good land way back when, that there are many who are still resting on their laurels, so to speak.

I know what you mean about the use of the phrase "local culture" in Utah. It isn't quite right, and perhaps it's a little pejorative, but I haven't come up with a better one that is widely understood.

I haven't heard too much about distinctions in Utah about socio-economic classes. That used to bug Derek Snow quite a bit, but he's the only one I heard it from a lot.

I think your last paragraph is pretty much correct. I have seen this in the northeast where there is a lot of segregation based on municipal boundaries. I've also heard about it in the South, where one town might be predominantly Baptist, and the next one might be Methodist. The other group notices when it is the minority in the others' town.


Big deal. Even the devils beevlie, and shudder.Do you consider the FLDS or RLDS or any of the hundreds of off shoot groups of Joseph Smith followers to be Mormons? Are they Mormons too? Can we lump together those groups with the Utah Mormons and call all of you Mormons? So Warren Jeffs is Mormon, right? He beevlies Joseph Smith to be a true prophet and beevlies in the Book of Mormon to be true also, so using your logic the FLDS are Mormons. Since they still adhere to Joseph Smith's original teachings on polygamy, they say they are the original Mormons. Sound familiar??Most Mormons will say NO! They are not Mormons! Even though they beevlie in their prophet and book! But then can't see why Christians don't consider Mormonism to be a part of Christianity even though they say they beevlie in Jesus and the Bible, and have Jesus' name is in the title of their church. (Which was added in, it was originally the Church of Christ in 1830, then they actually REMOVED his name in 1834 and it was called the Church of the Latter Day Saints for 4 years.)Mormons have a completely different perspective of who Jesus and God are and have completely different doctrines than that of Christianity. And since Christians were around first (provably through history) sorry, you guys don't make the cut. Whether you beevlie it or not doesn't matter. Not to say some Mormons are not Christian, I'm sure there are some. I became a born again Christian while I was still Mormon and didn't remove my name from the records until 2 years later, so it's possible. Different people from all religions can be Christian. But Mormonism is not Christianity. That is a fact. You can even Google it, they are NOT the same thing. I can call myself a little tea pot all day long, it doesn't make it true. Just like Warren Jeffs can call himself Mormon, but you'd deny association with him.

Dave Tufte

Everyone's entitled to an opinion.

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