Mormons Leading the Way to a “New Dark Age”?

April 15, 2004 | 118 comments
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Darren Roulstone was kind enough to pass along a pointer to an article in the most recent issue of Fortune, which lies unread on my nightstand. The article — entitled “Which Nations Will Go Forth and Multiply?” — is adapted from Phillip Longman’s book The Empty Cradle. The main thrust of the article is that declining fertility rates bring lots of benefits, along with some risks for the future. Longman describes the worst-case scenario as follows:

Even more sobering are the implications for modern civilization’s values. As urbanization and globalization continue to create a human environment in which children become costly impediments to material success, people who are well adapted to this environment will tend not to reproduce…So where will the children of the future come from? Increasingly they will come from people who are at odds with the modern world–who either ‘don’t get’ the new rules of the game…or who believe they are (or who in fact are) commanded by a higher power to procreate. Such a higher power might be God speaking through Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, or some latter-day saint, or it might be a totalitarian state. Either way, such a trend, if sustained, could drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, gradually creating an antimarket culture dominated by fundamentalism–a new dark ages

Darren rightly observes in his email, “One has to search hard to find such a bizarre notion. I suppose Longman doesn’t read T&S or he’d know the problem with Mormons is we like capitalism too much, right? Not to mention that we place a great value on education and are no different from the average church-going population in terms of income and non-church associations (proxies for our connection to society). (Longman also seems ignorant of the fact that LDS believe that God speaks through Abraham, Jesus and modern prophets–I guess that like Newsweek, Fortune doesn’t fact check references to Mormons very well.)” I couldn’t have said it better, and I won’t even try. But I hope that doesn’t stop the rest of you from chiming in.

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118 Responses to Mormons Leading the Way to a “New Dark Age”?

  1. lyle on April 15, 2004 at 8:37 pm

    I like the Longman argument. If his prediction is correct…America will become increasingly religious. However, it is worrying in that it doesn’t take much to imagine a neo-Malthusian movement that seeks: First, to take away the tax credit after the first two children. Second, to impose other measures to control who can have children & determine their numbers. Then again, I’m just thinking about folks in Utah who want to blame the Mormons for the woes of Public Education due to the large family sizes/small tax base mix [Catholics escape because they often attend private Catholic schools].

  2. Greg Call on April 15, 2004 at 8:44 pm

    I don’t think that “latter-day saint” is a direct reference to Mormons here. Longman seems to be borrowing our language to refer to any contemporary “fundamentalist” group.

    In any event, it’s all in the eye of the beholder: Zion would indeed seem like the dark ages to a modern, individualist, market-driven man; conversely secular modernity seems to be approaching a kind of dark ages in the minds of many Mormons (see the Spiraling Downward thread). So, I don’t find anything really “bizarre” in the quoted paragraph. Just a (perhaps overly alarmist) modern viewpoint.

  3. lyle on April 15, 2004 at 8:50 pm

    For the record, I don’t think Mormons, Catholics or Evangelicals will begin a new dark age, unless you consider the Light of Christ to be darkness. The Evangelicals tend to home school…and onward. CHeck out this recent NYT article (abstract below)

    “Patrick Henry College, first college primarily for evangelical Christian home-schoolers, serves as pipeline for students into conservative politics; 4-year-old Purcellville, Va, school with some 240 students supplies interns for Bush administration and many conservative members of Congress; college’s knack for political job placement testifies to increasing influence that relatively small number of Christian home-schooling families are building within conservative movement through their passionate political views, close-knit grass-roots network and financial support from few wealthy patrons.”

    NATIONAL DESK | March 8, 2004, Monday
    College for the Home-Schooled Is Shaping Leaders for the Right

    By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK (NYT) 1586 words
    Late Edition – Final , Section A , Page 1 , Column 1

  4. Adam Greenwood on April 15, 2004 at 9:04 pm

    The oddest thing is that Mr. Longman concedes that there might be an actual higher power who is actually commanding us to procreate. Is it Mr. Longman’s contention that God is the Devil? I know he’s just being PC, but what a self-defeating way to be PC.

  5. Russell Arben Fox on April 15, 2004 at 9:14 pm

    “I suppose Longman doesn’t read T&S or he’d know the problem with Mormons is we like capitalism too much, right?”

    I would think that if the last couple of weeks of T&S prove anything, it would be this proposition is false, or at least highly questionable.

  6. Greg Call on April 15, 2004 at 9:57 pm

    Coincidentally, an article by Davis Bitton in Meridian argues that that even the Dark Ages weren’t the Dark Ages.

    Excerpt: “The thousand years usually denominated the Middle Ages in European history had its examples of cruelty, superstition, corruption, immorality, and degradation. But with all their inadequacies, men and women of the Middle Ages were not devoid of sincerity, kindness, sacrifice, and love of God. It was a mix. The modern world we live in (or post-modern according to some definitions) can be described in almost identical terms.”

    http://www.meridianmagazine.com/historybits/040415darkages.html

  7. Jim F. on April 15, 2004 at 11:11 pm

    Bitton’s point, by way of Greg, is an important one: there probably never were any dark ages, with our without capital letters. The time from about 500 to about 1000 was–in Western Europe–a time of political fragmentation. But it wasn’t so in the Orthodox world nor the Arab world nor the Chinese world. And even in Western Europe, it is odd to assume that political fragmentation is an absence of intellectual or spiritual light.

  8. brayden on April 15, 2004 at 11:12 pm

    I don’t know what Longman is worrying about. In many parts of Europe fertility levels are so low that the population replacement rate is now negative. This, many fear, will have negative economic consequences. Longman’s neo-Malthusian fears seem paranoid to me.

  9. jeremobi on April 15, 2004 at 11:17 pm

    Greg is surely correct. If Longman ment an individual leader of the Church he would either capitalize latter-day saint, or mention a modern Joseph or Brigham.

    Kudos to Greg for also pointing out that the so-called Dark Ages weren’t so dark. For a great read on this topic (and a lot more) check our The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes.

    “For the record, I don’t think Mormons, Catholics or Evangelicals will begin a new dark age, unless you consider the Light of Christ to be darkness….
    “Patrick Henry College, first college primarily for evangelical Christian home-schoolers, serves as pipeline for students into conservative politics; 4-year-old Purcellville, Va, school with some 240 students supplies interns for Bush administration and many conservative members of Congress…””

    Lyle: another Bush administration truly would be a Dark Age. ;>)

  10. Kristine on April 15, 2004 at 11:28 pm

    Lyle, do you actually *know* any evangelical Christian homeschoolers? I know a lot (I’m from Tennessee, my mom homeschooled my brothers), and I feel very, very nervous about a government staffed in any large proportion by them. For one thing, many of them have a deep and well-cultivated dislike for Latter-day Saints.* The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.

    *I think it’s obvious, but let me be perfectly clear–I am speaking in gross generalities about the beliefs of many evangelicals, not their Christian behavior or their wonderful qualities as individuals.

  11. Davis Bell on April 15, 2004 at 11:29 pm

    I think Greg makes an excellent point that, “In any event, it’s all in the eye of the beholder: Zion would indeed seem like the dark ages to a modern, individualist, market-driven man.” I think Zion would seem Dark to the modern man not only for its communalism; consider how your average American (or for a more violent reaction, your average European) would react to a society with the following characteristics:

    - Couples that are married and monogamous(no co-habitation or adultery);
    - No abortion, smoking, drinking, or pornography;
    - A theocratic government; and on an on.

    PS – Greg, I was looking at your bio and saw you live in Oakland — do you know Nathan Bell?

  12. Greg Call on April 15, 2004 at 11:34 pm

    I wouldn’t say I know him, but he did my temple recommend interview.

  13. john fowles on April 15, 2004 at 11:41 pm

    I think that Longman was indeed specifically referring to Latter-day Saints, not just to any marginalized “fundamentalist” religious group. But for exactly that reason, he is badly misinformed.

    At any rate, Longman should be glad that LDSs have so many children–after all who does he think is going to pay for his retirement? Given the fertility rates in any country in Europe, it will take the entire GDP of each country just to fund their social security/pension systems. That’s not to mention all of the other social programs those gov’ts guarantee their dependant peoples.

    On another note, I do not agree that someone like Longman would perceive it to be a new dark ages if he lived in Zion. No matter how vituperative such an individual might be toward the Church right now, if that person survives to live in Zion, they will not find it to be a new dark ages. It will, I believe, certainly be an age of light. It will far surpass anything produced by the western enlightenment that has engendered the prosperous (if decadent) secular democracies in which we live. I cannot believe that anyone who has survived the calamities of the last days to live in Zion will think that it is a new dark ages. It is true that they will likely feel very uncomfortable practicing homosexuality, for example, since people will have no more disposition to do evil. But they will still hold to their own beliefs, if I understand our doctrine correctly. Granted, they (read Evangelicals) might have to get used to the idea that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the world government under Christ, but it shouldn’t cramp their style too much, since (in my opinion) Christ is more “liberal” in every good sense of that word than could be any possible earthly gov’t.

    Well, now back to cramming for exams. . . .

    John

  14. Julie in Austin on April 15, 2004 at 11:51 pm

    I need to second Kristine on the evangelical homeschoolers. I went to a curriculum fair sponsored by an evangelical group and you could buy a program that taught about the Civil War that read as if written in South Carolina in the 19th century.

    These people (again, generalities, I know some nice individuals) are scary. Many of these kids have absolutely no exposure to things their parents don’t approve of, such as evolution or even Greek myths.

    (Lest anyone want to go down this path, there’s a big difference between LDS parents telling their kids not to drink and the evangelical homeschooling equivalent: denying that alcohol exists.)

  15. Davis Bell on April 16, 2004 at 12:42 am

    He’s my uncle. I won’t tell him you run a website for Mormon intellectuals and dissidents. ;) Anyway.

  16. lyle on April 16, 2004 at 3:00 am

    Yes, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I know quite a few evangelicals, most of them the product of home schooling. First, I’m in favor of home schooling to begin with (wow…parent’s actually being personally accountable for raising & educating their children). Second, if I can accept that Evangelical’s often don’t like Mormons, or consider us “Christian,” I hope that others can accept that this just means we need to reach out to them since they won’t reach out to us. Otherwise…distrust, misinformation, etc…will continue to dominate. I think the SMPT program did a fab job of inviting in evangelical scholars. If our evangelical sisters & brothers don’t like us…we should redouble oure efforts to reach out to them in christian friendship, fellowship, & service…and what better way to do that than by praying with them, voting with them, & campaigning with them? :)

  17. brayden on April 16, 2004 at 3:08 am

    Why not vote with an atheist Lyle? Are we restricting missionary work to those who believe in God now? ;)

  18. lyle on April 16, 2004 at 3:35 am

    Julie: If they are ignorant of known historical facts (does such a thing exist?)…all the more reason to reach out to these kids & their parents. Really…that alcohol doesn’t exist? I suppose the book said that alcoholics are possessed by demons? Perhaps they took a prohibition pamphlet just a tad too literally? ;)

    Brayden: nice jest. :)

    my comments in no way indicate that one couldn’t vote with an atheist. i’m sure some or even many atheists & evangelicals support & vote for the same candidates. Either way…neither camp is very open to missionary work…nor should we approach them as potential converts.

    :)

  19. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 3:44 am

    I would hope that we could approach them as potential converts. It isn’t easy, but we shouldn’t shy away from letting them know what we stand for, just for fear that they might be offended. Of course, I would also hope that we do so diplomatically and as the spirit directs.

  20. Mike on April 16, 2004 at 6:30 am

    I think Longman was referring to latter-day saints AND to other people viewed as fundamentalists AND to those who have children for entirely different reasons.

    And he does in fact raise a good point.
    In a world where we are economically rewarded for not having children- and not having many children or being some one who does not desire to do so increases your ability to thrive.

    usually within an evolutionary framework it is assumed that each generation will be superior to the previous one because those with the atributes that allow them to thrive will be able to procreate the most.

    What aobut when the atributes that allow you to thrive also don’t allow you to procreate?

    If the only people having children are the poor and the religous fundamentalists, does this mean that two generations from now, every one will be either poor or a religous fundamentalist?

    no
    of course not.

    but there are interesting questions raised.

    this brings me to some other interesting questions which I thought about a lot when I was in high school biology but never asked.

    If evolution is driven by survival of the fittest and natural sellection does that cease to exist when we have created a society so full of safety measures and medical advances that nearly every one born lives to procreate, does that mean we will cease advancing through evolution?
    Or, more likely does it mean that natural selection will work in a completely different manner?
    OK, this will sound horrible, and that is why I never asked the question in junior high or high school.
    BUT
    if when seeking a mate we either seek some one of about our level in societal desirableness, intelligence, atractiveness, etc. (or, if we don’t seek some one of that level we end up settling)
    Well, the beautiful people marry one another and the smart people mary one another and of course vice versa.
    Now, we all know that humans don’t gain thier spiritual atributes through breeding, BUT there are physical charecteristics and limitations that are inherited.
    Atractive people are more likely to have attractive children. Intelligent people are more likley to have intelligent children- even if it is just because they are more likely to teach them at home.
    So, if pretty people have pretty children, are ugly people more likely to have ugly children?

    As I sat thinking about this at the age of 14, I figured that eventually the gap would get bigger- it would just have to. The middle would start to thin out. It isn’t something we would notice in only a ten or fifteen generations- and really that is as long as we have had a society that would foster it. But after 20, 100, 1000 generations would it then be noticable? I used to think that a thousand years from now the gap would be huge.
    would this mean that the people at the “top” would continue to evolve, and further that the people at the “bottom” would de-evolve?
    This sounds absolutely horrible, and it makes me think of Eugenics. But as a high school student I used to think “who needs Eugenics?- it’s happening through natural selection.”
    I never really thought of it in horribly sinister terms, but I often thought of humans as a whole “de-evolving” and figured that if there wasn’t a gap then humanity as a whole would likely “de-evolve”
    and I’m part of it.
    I have horrible eyesight, bad allergies, etc. And I will mary some one with similar problems in other areas. And our kids would then inherit all of them.
    my great great grandchildren will need corective lenses from birth and be allergic to everything on the planet.

    and I always found that kind of funny.

  21. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 10:11 am

    Gosh, evangelical kids are not properly being educated about evolution and Greek mythology? Egads! Western civilization cannot help but irretrievably decline under such circumstances!

    In all seriousness Julie, and with all possible respect, I think kids being educated at home by their religiously faithful parents are much more likely to end up better educated than their peers in public schools.

    For crying out loud, I graduated from the California public school system, from a presigious magnet school no less. From what I learned there, um, I think evolution is real and Christians are crazy psychos for even considering otherwise, and, um, the Greeks had a bunch of myths they really liked and a bunch of Gods they worshipped who toyed with them and had sex with them (wouldn’t it be cool if everyone still believed this and this country hadn’t been screwed up by those Nazis the puritans). We didn’t really have time to learn anything particular about evolution or Greek myths of course, because there were more pressing matters taking up our time, like learning the proper technique for putting a condom on a bananna.

    And frankly, despite having graduated from BYU with a degree in Philosophy and having successful completed law school, my knowledge and understanding of evolution and greeks mythology is still not much better than what I just described coming out of high school with.

    Is it really fair to say “these people” are “scary” because of not knowing much about evolution and greek mythology? If so, we should be making a much louder indictment of the public school system these religiously faithful (if somewhat misguided from our persepctive) people are trying help their children escape from.

    I think most public high school graduates are probably a lot more intellectually scary than most homeschooled evangelicals. Myself included

  22. Gordon Smith on April 16, 2004 at 10:57 am

    Greg, I wondered about the lower-case “latter-day saint,” too. While Longman might be attempting to make the term more inclusive than members of the LDS church (he could have just said Mormons for that), he would have to be a complete idiot not to understand that this language would invoke thoughts of Mormons for most of his readers. Using the language suggests that he wants to use Mormons as prototype fundamentalists, which displays a pretty gross ignorance of the differences between the groups.

    When I read columns like this, I try to remember that the author’s main goal is to sell the book. How does one best accomplish that? By saying something infammatory. The last paragraphs of the column, which are partly quoted in my post, are just stupid, and I suspect that Longman knows he is really reaching. One thing that intrigues me about this — and similar incidents, such as the Newsweek article alluded to by Darren — is that Mormon-distortion is both interesting and acceptable in mainstream culture. As it has been from the beginning, I suppose.

  23. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 11:22 am

    Thom, slow down there! I don’t think either Julie or I would want to give you an impassioned defense of public schools–she homeschools her kids, mine go to a private religious school. My original point, reacting to Lyle’s apparent endorsement of the Patrick Henry school and its graduates who were going to usher in an era of light in Washington, was no indictment of homeschooling by evangelicals or anyone else.

    My nervousness about having evangelical homeschooled kids staffing the government is not that they don’t know about or accept the well-established theory of evolution, or have at least passing acquaintance with Greek mythology, it is that they have been schooled in an environment where dogma is more important than evidence or argument. I don’t want public policy based on dogmatic opinions–I much prefer policies based on the best evidence available and reasoned argument about what that evidence means. That’s all. It was a very narrow point about kids who have been schooled exclusively (K-college) in a very controlled and dogmatic environment influencing public policy for a complex and diverse society.

  24. lyle on April 16, 2004 at 12:22 pm

    Kristine has a great point. Dogma is the main downfall of many of my evangelical friends. And coincidentally, it ties right into the T&S discussion re: prooftexts. :)

    Actually, I’m not endorsing Patrick Henry. It would appear that they wouldn’t accept Mormons as students. I’m going to call & ask today.

    However, reading re: their biology classes…they require that the classes teach ALL theories of evolution…religious & secular. While evolution may be poo-pooed, it would get taught…along with its flaws.

  25. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 12:28 pm

    Kristine, well said.

    I think my bottom line stands up to your point however. That is, we should realistically be more concerned about the vast throngs of publicly educated kids (and a goodly number of the privately educated ones) that emerge from high school, college and even grad school entering government service who have been educated “in an environment where dogma is more important than evidence or argument.”

    The dogma of these folks has to do with left-leaning secular humanism with a powerful anti-religious bias that is almost entirely focused on the class warfare aspects of a vague notion of “social justice,” while being wholly bereft of any useful understanding of real-life economic principles. This particular dogma appears well-entrenched in this country’s educational system, and it is every bit as resistant to evidence and argument as any homeschooled evangelical kid.

    Furthermore, there are a heck of a lot more of these types of graduates in public service than than there could ever be evangelicals, so I find your alarm with Patrick Henry College and its students a little misplaced. We are already missing out on “policies based on the best evidence available and reasoned argument about what that evidence means.”

    By the way, in re-reading my previous post, I was embarassed by the numerous misspellings and gramatcial errors, at least until I realized they sort of reinforced my argument regarding the sad state of American public education. But then again I went to a private college and law school, so, I guess I just try to type and post too fast.

  26. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 12:42 pm

    In the interest of full disclosure and to point out that Lyle is likely right, a couple of months ago I investigated applying for an adjunct faculty position at Patrick Henry, because I too am a wacky, politically conservative Christian, and I liked what I heard about their efforts to put politically conservative kids into government internships. That, and the school is only about 15 miles up the road from me. They had a part-time adjunct position available teaching Constitutional law, and so I thought, why not?

    Anyway, it turns out, to apply I would have to sign a statement of “Christian Faith” that requires belief in and adherence to a series of theological positions that I couldn’t honestly endorse as a member of the LDS Church. I’m pretty sure prospective students have to sign the same statement, and so it is likely LDS kids would not be admitted to the institution.

    I’m still a fan of their business model though.

  27. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve previously expressed doubts about the LDS-evangelical alliance, in an early, early post (one of the first on this blog, actually) titled “Should Mormons consider the “Christian Right” as Friends?”

    See http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000072.html

  28. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 1:20 pm

    Oh, for hell’s sake, Thom! The problem with the public schools is that they can’t teach kids to READ. If they did that, the ideological crap would take care of itself.

    (I’d argue with you that there’s not as rigid an ideology as you suggest, but I don’t have time today to take on all the conservative boilerplate stuff you’ve reproduced above.)

  29. lyle on April 16, 2004 at 1:21 pm

    Thom: however, they do have a statement of “religious neutrality” which might indicate that they would allow an LDS student. Faculty…prob. more difficult. If BYU is an example of a rel. school, they have moved towards an exclusive LDS tenure-track hiring policy if there are qualified candidates available policy.

  30. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 1:44 pm

    Wow! Such a response! Do I get some sort of an award for getting Kristine to swear at me for innocently stating deeply held personal beliefs?

    Boilerplate indeed. Philosophically speaking, can something be considered boilerplate if it acurately relfects the perceptions one has from having lived through certain experiences? I am the one who got to learn how to put a condom on a banana, after all.

    I thoroughly enjoy being able to engage in dialogue with people of such intelligence and passion. Thank you for your response Kristine, in all seriousness, I enjoyed it. I hope I do not so offend as to become unwelcome in this enlightened and tolerant forum.

  31. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 1:50 pm

    Kristine – I think you are right however. Because my father taugh me to read and love reading, liberal Union man though he was, I was able to cut through and survive all the “ideological crap” I was exposed to in high school and law school.

  32. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 1:50 pm

    So, Thom, when you were putting the condom on the banana, did you find yourself thinking “this is awful; I’m being oppressed by secular humanists with a powerful anti-religious bias?” I doubt it. And I’m guessing I could find some of the sources for that kind of language. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t fit what you think, but it’s hard to imagine that you have broad enough experiences in public schools to come up with that kind of indictment without some help from, say, William Bennett and NR. (Then again, maybe you’re a lifelong public school teacher or the Deputy Secretary of Education and know a lot more of what you’re talking about than I do. If so, I’d be interested in hearing more about what experiences have led you to those conclusions).

  33. Dan on April 16, 2004 at 1:57 pm

    Here are three interesting texts for Mormons thinking about population growth:

    1. Elder Faust’s Ensign article shortly after joining the First Presidency.
    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1995.htm/ensign%20september%201995.htm/First%20Presidency%20Message%20Serving%20the%20Lord%20and%20Resisting%20the%20Devil.htm

    2. A much older Ensign article by Philip Low.
    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1971.htm/ensign%20may%201971%20.htm/realities%20of%20the%20population%20explosion.htm

    3. Contemporaneous with the Low article, the lyrics to a song from a popular Mormon musical.
    http://www.smcox.com/culture/lyrics/saturdays_warrior/zero_population.html

  34. Davis Bell on April 16, 2004 at 2:03 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with Kaimi’s take on the alliance between Mormons and evangelicals. My Mom, bless her heart, has always felt a duty to take a part in the culture wars (i.e. abortion, innapropriate entertainment — one time she’d heard so many bad things about the video game Mortal Kombat that she went to the nearest gas station to see if it was as bad as she’d heard; of course, she couldn’t figure out how to play, so she paid some kid a quarter to play it for her while she watched); in participating in the culture wars, the only groups she came across with values similar to hers were the evangelical groups (the AFA and Dobson in particular).

    However, it always bothered me that she allied herself with people who thought so little of her beliefs. I guess it boils down to whether you accept the proposition that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In this case, I don’t. Evangelicals are not our friends; never have been, never will be. We have a few things in common, but at the end of the day I’d rather have a liberal secular President and Congress who apply their cultural relativism to Mormonism than an evangelical President and Congress who see us on the wrong side of their Manichean divide.

    Incidentally, I think it’s unfortunate that there aren’t more Mormon-run and -founded organizations that represent our values in the culture wars, thus remedying the need some feel to ally themselves with the evangelicals.

  35. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 2:18 pm

    Kristine – I’m sure you are right. I didn’t think I was being “oppressed” by the secular humanists with the powerful anti-religious bias at the time. Buts that’s probably because I have a fairly high threshold for what actually qualifies as oppression, discrimination, exploitation and the like.

    I do remeber thinking that I was being intoduced to something on school property and on school time that my parents, seminary teacher, and Bishop would not approve of, by secular humanists with a powerful anti-religious bias. While I did not learn much greek mythology, I did infact learn a ton about secular humanism, and the anti-religious bias at school was palpable. When I said “Greeks had a bunch of myths they really liked and a bunch of Gods they worshipped who toyed with them and had sex with them (wouldn’t it be cool if everyone still believed this and this country hadn’t been screwed up by those Nazis the puritans)” in my previous post, I was literally quoting my 11th and 12th grade English teachers.

    Anyway, I am only vaguely aware of who William Bennet is, and it took me several seconds to try and figure out what you meant when you referred to “NR.” Assuming you mean National Review, honest to goodness, I only became aquinted with it a couple of weeks ago, and yes, I have it listed in my web-browser’s favorites, just like T&S. If having read two or three articles there somehow disqualifies me as a reasonable person, then so be it. I like what I have seen there so far.

    My father, mother, brothers and wife of eight years can testify that my political conservatism goes back a long, long way, that it did not originate with them or how I was raised (other than by my upbringing in the church) and that its development was mostly spurred by the catalytic experiences I had in a very intellectual and very liberal California public high school.

  36. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    Thom, I can be nicer about this–sorry. Here’s my problem with that flavor of criticism of public education:

    It’s easy to come up with a ridiculous example of vaguely leftist ideology run amok in the classroom. If you compile a list of those ridiculous examples from all over the country (a la Sylvia Finlayson’s “culture clips”) it’s easy to conclude that the entire country and particularly the education establishment has gone completely insane, and that that insanity is tinged with weird Marxist/Darwinist/Freudian overtones. However, I think that any one child/young adult’s educational experience is unlikely to be that left-leaning–you had to put a condom on a banana, I had to listen to E.O. Wilson tell me that having more than two children was irresponsible and ONCE in the dining hall someone harrassed me about not signing an abortion rights petition, but it’s unlikely that either one of us was subjected to the barrage of left-leaning cultural cannonballs that one would think kids have to dodge every day if one takes her/his picture of American education from the National Review.

    I went to public schools and then to Harvard, the very center of the liberal hell-hole, and I frankly never encountered anything like the kind of ideological pressure described by folks on the conservative side of the culture wars. If your mileage has varied, I’m interested in hearing about YOUR experience and your ideas, but I don’t just want to read catchphrases like “secular humanism” and “social justice.” Sorry to have been snippy about it.

  37. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    Thom,

    I suspect that one thing that might be annoying Kristine (it certainly annoys me) is that the term “secular humanist” is almost exlusively employed by people criticizing the alleged secular humanists.

    I’ve always thought that it was a bugbear of the right. Until last week, I had never heard someone self-identify as a secular humanist. Ever. And I live in Babylon, and hang out with crazy liberals. (I had a conversation — exactly two days ago — with a person who mentioned at one point that they were a secular humanist. I found that admission startling, since I didn’t think that secular humanists really existed; I had been under the impression that they were more-or-less a figment of Rush Limbaugh’s imagination.)

  38. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 2:34 pm

    But Kristine, you do admit, then, that the Left (and their public schools) is staffed with “secular humanists with a powerful anti-religious bias”?

    I would like to see secular humanism in the United States without that “powerful anti-religious bias.” I would like to see the secular state celebrate religious pluralism (even though the secular state believes religion is absurd) with the same enthusiasm that they promote every kind of abberational lifestyle possible. But of course, relgious groups have not traditionally been the pet social causes of the Left, now have they? I am always fascinated by the relativism of the “freedom of speech” in the eyes of the Left: e.g. in the public schools it only protects teaching (Godless) evolution, forced acceptance of homosexuality, reinforcement of the misnomer “freedom of choice” (the real issue is whether it kills babies or not–not, as the Left has succeeded in framing the debate, whether “conservatives” can oppress women) and other concepts tantamount to social engineering. There is no protection in the public schools under freedom of speech for someone to believe the Bible e.g. that homosexuality is a sin.

    I would also like to take issue with your “boilerplate” left-wing argument that any resistance against the Left’s agenda is merely “conservative boilerplate” argumentation. Why can’t conservatives have come to their conclusions through analytical thought and careful consideration–that is, through thinking for themselves? I for one would hope that I am thinking for myself by now (or else obtaining a bachelor’s, master’s, and JD has been a waste of time) and yet I can find a variety of arguments that fundamentally question the Left’s premises on these issues (and that at the very least highlight the blaring internal inconsistencies in the Left’s theories/philosophies).

  39. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 2:38 pm

    Ditto Davis Bell. Having grown up in bible belt in Dallas, and having had to deal with the aftermath of periodic anti-Mormon sermons in the big Baptist churches the next day at school, I can confirm your sentiments.

  40. clark goble on April 16, 2004 at 2:38 pm

    Kristine, I think secular humanist as a label has gone out of favor simply because of the success of those opposed to it. There used to be a journal focused on it and were two different manifestos on it. (Pre- and post- WWII) We’re seeing the same phenomena with liberal. No one wants the term, whether it is apt or not. (Instead we have the term progressive)

    I do agree, however, that the right is often riled up with anecdotal evidence rather than more rigorous evaluations. Often the anecdotes are unusual or (frequently) simply misunderstood. Yet at the same time I think that many of the cultural observations do have strong validity. Some of the silliness of “political correctness” in the 90′s was all too real, for instance. (And unfortunately not totally transcended yet in many areas)

  41. clark on April 16, 2004 at 2:42 pm

    Whoops, I mean Kaimi, not Kristine. Anyway, I do agree that “secular humanist” probably isn’t too useful as a label anymore.

  42. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 2:42 pm

    John,

    I’m a little confused by your statement,

    “There is no protection in the public schools under freedom of speech for someone to believe the Bible e.g. that homosexuality is a sin.”

    First, free speech has nothing to do with ability to believe something. I can believe anything that I want, regardless of free speech protections.

    Second, free speech in public schools can be limited for valid pedagogical and other purposes. Yet, students certainly have a right of free speech, which they can exercise. See, e.g., Tinker v. Des Moines.

  43. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 2:45 pm

    Kristine,
    Should Thom and I and other conservatives just start linking directly to NRO, cut out the mindlessman middleman, so to speak? Ah, for the innocent days of my youth, when I smiled benevolently on condomed bananas, soothed by the wafting tones of left-wing rant.

    Seriously, Kristine, you’ve never been extraordinarily tolerant of opposing views, which is to be expected of any of us, but of late you’re growing less so.

  44. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 2:45 pm

    John,

    To follow up even more, here’s a statement by the NYCLU — certainly a left-leaning organization — that supports students’ rights to express ideas, including the idea that homosexuality is immoral.

    “A student who believes in separation of the races, or that girls belong in the kitchen, or that homosexuality is immoral, has a right to say so, even in school (although perhaps not in math class). If those views are expressed with insensitivity or even hostility, the first response of the school should be to educate rather than to punish. The First Amendment does not permit the government to punish a student for expressing an idea, no matter how controversial, unpopular or upsetting to others. In the unique setting of a school, however, speech that is seriously disruptive, or that actually interferes with the right of another student to receive an education, may be regulated.”

    See http://www.nyclu.org/leg_dignity_2001.html

  45. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 2:47 pm

    Kaimi,

    “Secular humanism” is one way to translate the French laicite. In French and European circles, it is a much used word. And it is proudly donned by the anti-religious Left there (people who would prefer to abolish religion as the opiate of the people but who are at least sensible enough to realize how illiberal that would be).

    I would just like to see state neutrality in religious affairs take the form of the promotion of religious pluralism, rather than the equal detriment of all religion. I would like to see secular humanism from a true (eighteenth-century) enlightenment perspective, and not in it god-hating modern variant.

  46. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 2:50 pm

    Kaimi,

    See Canada: anti-homosexual bumper sticker alone not prosecutable hate-speech, but coupled with reference to bible constituted hate speech.

    John

  47. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 2:52 pm

    Kristine – No worries, and no offense taken. I really do enjoy it when people have passionate responses to my thoughts, and I really was hoping for some sort of award.

    I think John Fowles’s post is right on, in that it doesn’t take the “cannonballs” you and I may have experienced in academia to cause a chilling of speach about and belief in religious or conservative principles. I think it is the freedom of speech and thought hypocrisy on the part of the left in the educational establishment that so annoys those of us on the right.

    As my AP Government teacher so aptly put it, “Liberals claim to be tolerant until you say something they don’t like, whereas conservatives never claimed to be tolerant.” She was the one teacher I had in high school who consistently played both sides of the ideological spectrum so that we might be able to actually learn something and judge for ourselves.

  48. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 2:56 pm

    John,

    See Canada’s lack of a First Amendment. Canada is not a useful analogy here. (Not your fault — others like John Leo love to play fast and loose with this.)

  49. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 3:00 pm

    You will say that that is Canada and not USA–you are right, even an “unthinking” conservative can see that.

    But from what I can tell, it is only the American right that is shoring up the Left’s slippery slope that leads directly to the Canadian malaise (via political correctness, god-hating secular humanism, and the like).

  50. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 3:04 pm

    What good will the First Amend. be once the Left succeeds in saying that e.g. an anti-homosexual sermon is a violation of the “freedom of speech” or of the XIVth Amend. for homosexuals?

  51. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 3:06 pm

    Kaimi – Your ACLU quote makes my point exactly. It presupposes that a student who rightly believes that homosexuality is wrong and deigns to mention it needs to be “educated” by his teacher on this point. It doesn’t say that the students point of view should be tolerated or respected or explained as coming from a particular perspective that not everyone agrees with, but rather that the student should be made to feel ignorant and in need of a proper secular education.

  52. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 3:09 pm

    Irony of the Left: protesters can be as vile and disrespectful as they want outside of conference (and the ACLU wants to force the Church to allow it on their private property) but what would happen if a group gathered outside a Jewish synagogue yelling anti-Jewish slogans, whether on the synagogue’s private property or not?

    Another bad analogy? Please expatiate.

  53. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 3:11 pm

    Kind of like saying, “If you and your parents weren’t so dumb and uneducated, you’d think like us. If you want to get along around here, you’d better smarten up and think like us, no matter what tripe your oppressive parents and their church spew at you.”

    Progressive indeed, but progressing toward what I can only imaginee.

  54. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 3:14 pm

    “But Kristine, you do admit, then, that the Left (and their public schools) is staffed with “secular humanists with a powerful anti-religious bias”?”

    No! “The Left” doesn’t exist, as far as I know, nor does it own or operate schools. Schools are staffed with lots of people who are doing the best they can and trying to come up with a way to deal with an incredibly diverse set of problems that interfere with learning. I think teachers are unfortunately misinformed about what the First Amendment ought to mean in the context of schools. Let’s face it, people are basically conservative–if prayer in schools is not allowed, and there’s the possibility that improper religious speech is going to result in a lawsuit, then most people, lacking the time or desire to study the intricacies of the relevant case law, are going to avoid religious speech of any kind, and try to get others to avoid it as well, “just to be on the safe side.” It’s not some vast left-wing conspiracy, it’s just a bunch of dumb people doing dumb things in a gigantic bureaucratic system that is just trying to survive with a minimum of conflict. The “anti-religious bias” is mostly ignorance of the law.

    And, at least in my high school experience in Tennessee, it wasn’t that widespread–we never had school activities on Wednesday nights, because that was “church night;” my American History class debated the issue of slavery (heck, we practically re-fought the “War of Northern Aggression”) with both sides basing their arguments on biblical prooftexts, half of my English class wouldn’t read _Catcher in the Rye_ because of the profanity, so the teacher found a different book, we argued in class about whether George Herbert’s poetry was appropriately Catholic…

    Here in “liberal” Massachusetts, our neighborhood school just had a big “heritage fair,” where the kids learned about all different religious holidays celebrated by their Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, etc. classmates, and the parents were invited to hear a series of speakers from a local mosque, two different synagogues, the Catholic church, the Church of Spiritualism, and the Unitarian Universalists. You can argue that that’s shallow multiculturalism, but I don’t think you can argue that it’s virulent anti-religiosity.

    I certainly won’t argue with you against vigorous religious pluralism as the ideal; I’m just not sure that conditions on the ground are as far from that as one might believe from conservative media accounts.

  55. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 3:14 pm

    “But Kristine, you do admit, then, that the Left (and their public schools) is staffed with “secular humanists with a powerful anti-religious bias”?”

    No! “The Left” doesn’t exist, as far as I know, nor does it own or operate schools. Schools are staffed with lots of people who are doing the best they can and trying to come up with a way to deal with an incredibly diverse set of problems that interfere with learning. I think teachers are unfortunately misinformed about what the First Amendment ought to mean in the context of schools. Let’s face it, people are basically conservative–if prayer in schools is not allowed, and there’s the possibility that improper religious speech is going to result in a lawsuit, then most people, lacking the time or desire to study the intricacies of the relevant case law, are going to avoid religious speech of any kind, and try to get others to avoid it as well, “just to be on the safe side.” It’s not some vast left-wing conspiracy, it’s just a bunch of dumb people doing dumb things in a gigantic bureaucratic system that is just trying to survive with a minimum of conflict. The “anti-religious bias” is mostly ignorance of the law.

    And, at least in my high school experience in Tennessee, it wasn’t that widespread–we never had school activities on Wednesday nights, because that was “church night;” my American History class debated the issue of slavery (heck, we practically re-fought the “War of Northern Aggression”) with both sides basing their arguments on biblical prooftexts, half of my English class wouldn’t read _Catcher in the Rye_ because of the profanity, so the teacher found a different book, we argued in class about whether George Herbert’s poetry was appropriately Catholic…

    Here in “liberal” Massachusetts, our neighborhood school just had a big “heritage fair,” where the kids learned about all different religious holidays celebrated by their Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, etc. classmates, and the parents were invited to hear a series of speakers from a local mosque, two different synagogues, the Catholic church, the Church of Spiritualism, and the Unitarian Universalists. You can argue that that’s shallow multiculturalism, but I don’t think you can argue that it’s virulent anti-religiosity.

    I certainly won’t argue with you against vigorous religious pluralism as the ideal; I’m just not sure that conditions on the ground are as far from that as one might believe from conservative media accounts.

  56. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 3:14 pm

    John,

    I can’t speak to hypothetical worlds, except to (1) point out that they don’t exist, (2) voice my doubts about this particular rhetorical device.

    Every year Nadine Strossen says that Roe is about to be overturned, and every year Roe stays just where it is. Every year, people say that society is on the verge of making it illegal to express religious opinions, and every year, the law stays the same.

    Yes, in a hypothetical world, if we remove the first amendment and a lot of case law, there could be problems.

    In the real world, student expression continues to be governed by Tinker v Des Moines and the first amendment.

  57. Russell Arben Fox on April 16, 2004 at 3:16 pm

    “Evangelicals are not our friends; never have been, never will be.”

    False. (Also paranoid.)

  58. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 3:16 pm

    Okay, I’ve had my fill of hijacking this thread. No need to alienate all of our friends here with the Thom and John show. Everyone please return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

  59. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 3:17 pm

    It is an example of the selective view of the First Amendment that the Left is more openly advocating these days.

  60. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 3:23 pm

    John,

    Where? How? I’ve provided a cite and a quote from a major liberal organization showing the opposite — that students definitely do have a first amendment right to express the view that homosexuality is immoral. Yet you seem to think that “the left” is against this. Do you have a source for this?

    (And if possible a non-fringe one please — let’s see a major organization or thinker that advocates this. We all kow that there are fringe wackos on both sides of the political spectrum.)

  61. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 3:30 pm

    Thom, I don’t think you’re alienating anyone, and hijacking threads is the name of the game around here! Don’t run off just yet.

  62. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 3:30 pm

    If the Left does not exist, does the Right? We shall have no more politics.

    No, I have to agree that not every silly attack on religion or religious expression is done as a conscious expression of an insidious ideology. You’re probably right that most are done through ignorance, fear, or an equation of law with truth (‘the law excludes religion, therefore religion is wrong’). But where do you think these laws come from? Why are the fears so one-sided? So the left, like any political movement, has unwitting agents, cringing subjects, and useful idiots. So what?

    And anyway, I can testify from my own experience that many teachers were left-wing. Most of them weren’t vicious proselyters, but they still couldn’t help but treat me as an oddity.

  63. Davis Bell on April 16, 2004 at 3:31 pm

    Rusell, maybe you could support your refutation of my argument with something beyond saying it’s false and paranoid.

    Thom, you misread the statement Kaimi posted about the NYCLU (not the ACLU). The statement suggest education only if the student’s views are, “are expressed with insensitivity or even hostility,” not if the student’s views aren’t politically correct.

  64. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 3:32 pm

    How about the Judicial Confirmation Hearings, where democrats are holding up nominations because they are minority individuals who exercised their freedom of speech in favor of “conservative” policies?

  65. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 3:35 pm

    Okay, sorry, just one more point.

    Kristine – Do I think a “left-wing conspiracy” is responsible for the secular anti-religion bias I and other concervatives have perceived in education? No. I simply think that liberal intellectual types are virulently intolerant of opposing views and use all kinds of social pressure to quash thought and debate that challenges their unsupportable positions. Religious and conservative kids learn to keep qiuet in the face of such hostility from their teachers and fellow students.

    But then again, I do think there is some sort of left-wing conspiracy working to so distort the judicial process and establish caselaw such that even religious and conservative teachers need to worry about being harassed, fired and sued, so they end up staying quiet too.

    Your educational experieces in Tennessee sound just about as opposite mine as can be. Perhaps neither of our experiences represent the norm accross American society. I hope to heaven that mine doesn’t. Although, I suppose I’m sort of gratefull really. I wouldn’t be the archconservative I am today without my liberal high school, and I like who I am.

    All right, all right. I’m sorry. I’ll officially quit ranting now. Thanks

  66. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 3:36 pm

    Adam, the law doesn’t exclude religion–a cringing, overly careful interpretation of the law does.

  67. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 3:37 pm

    John,

    That really won’t cut it.

    The First Amendment guards freedom of speech. In the context we have been discussing, it guards students’ rights to speak without being punished. The first Amendment certainly does _not_ include any indication that one’s speech will not be analyzed if one is appointed as a federal judge. (That position is absolutely insane — has anyone even advocated this??).

    Federal judges are correctly scrutinized by both sides for what they have said. If the Senate thinks their remarks are inappropriate, they may be denied Senate approval.

    Do you have any other examples?

  68. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 3:44 pm

    Some opinions are so insubstantial than a mere denial is enough to wisp them away. The statement that evangelicals are not now and never will be our friends qualifies. It flies in the face of evidence, my experience, the experience of others (talk to the Grey Fox himself, or to Gary Cooper, to name a couple on this board) and the human inability to predict the future. I agree that Jack Chick may never be our friend, now, if that’s the argument you’re wanting to make. As for the rest, well, of course they’ll be our friends. Many already are. The rest may have their moments of unease, but we have so much in common that really the only thing that could prevent growing friendship would be to refuse to associate with them.

    Also, if evangelicals can’t succeed without our help, what fear that they will be able to turn on us? This simply isn’t realistic in today’s America. The chances of a secular tyranny, though they appear slim, are much higher than the chances of an evangelical tyranny. We have an evangelical in office right now and yet I still haven’t had a Bible nailed to my forehead.

  69. Steve Evans on April 16, 2004 at 3:44 pm

    “I can testify from my own experience that many teachers were left-wing”

    That’s because the Right go on to become captains of industry, to trample the poor, and own big yachts.

  70. john fowles on April 16, 2004 at 3:45 pm

    I’ll be signing off now–have to go take an exam. Thanks for engaging me on this Kaimi and Kristine. Maybe I will look for another source later but I must admit that I have little desire to do so.

  71. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 3:47 pm

    John,

    I’m sorry if I reacted harshly — your example really stunned me.

    That position seems indefensible to me. That reading would completely destroy the “advise and consent” power. (In addition, are you saying that any job decisions can never be made on the basis of someone’s prior speech?) It’s certainly an interesting idea, but it seems more like a quirky hypothetical than any possible real application of the first amendment — it opens up a lot of cans of worms.

    And it would certainly be an incredibly activist reading of the First Amendment — taking current law and going way, way beyond it.

    Possibly because of this (or possibly because no one has seriously considered it), I can’t recall seeing anyone, anywhere suggest that the first amendment means that the Senate cannot consider a judge’s statements in deciding whether or not to confirm her. (And I read quite a bit, and much of it is conservative — I subscribe to the Weekly Standard, and I read a lot or NRO — so I’ve seen many tpes of critiques of the judicial nomination process).

    Hey, if you really think you can defend this idea, run with it — you may have a law review article waiting to be written. But this seems to be a very difficult position — maybe impossible — to really defend.

  72. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 3:55 pm

    I realize you’re joking, Steve, but I’m in a snit.

    First, on this blog it’s pretty clear that the wealthiest persons are also the more leftwing. I doubt any of you own enough to have a big yacht, but if you do please accept my apologies for any offenses given, large or small, and consider what a great conversationalist I am, which would help pass the time on those tedious voyages.

    Second, I had thought that the wealthiest tended democrat. Could be wrong.

  73. Thom on April 16, 2004 at 3:56 pm

    Yes, Davis, NYCLU, and you are right, “if” a student’s rightful expression is perceived as “insensitive” or “hostile,” the statement recommends trying to educate first before punishing.

    In my experience, any statement in support of religion or traditional family values in the presence of a liberal is invariably perceived as being insensitive or hostile. I tend to believe that the guilty take the truth to be hard, but I admit there could be other reasons for this phenomenon.

    To my ears, the NYCLU statement also seems to be one counseling restraint — ie liberal educators for whom the natural tendency to immediately punish the statment of liberal challenging beliefs ought to at least try “education” first, so as to avoid law suits that add another anecdote of embarrassing educational behavior to that darned list the right-wingers are keeping.

    Also, I can’t help but read the quote to say that the darned kid really does need education as to how his stupid belief is wrong because it has been hoisted on him by his idiotic, red-neck, oppressive parents and church, rather than saying the kid needs to be educated as how to engage in the socially acceptable methods of engaging in the educational debate of alternative viewpoints.

    Sorry, some long sentences there.

  74. Steve Evans on April 16, 2004 at 4:12 pm

    “I had thought that the wealthiest tended democrat. Could be wrong.”

    I think you are… based on taxation policies, at least. Of course, it depends on how you’re delineating the wealth line.

    Sorry about the snit!

  75. CB Stewart on April 16, 2004 at 4:17 pm

    Davis,

    I have to say I agree with Russell; your comment about evangelicals was excessive and hyperbolic.

    It seems to me that when it comes to the public arena, we have a lot more in common with evangelicals and other fundamental Christian groups than we do with than those of the “liberal secular” bent you would choose to ally yourself with. Yes, perhaps evangelicals disagree strongly with our doctrines and beliefs, but I see no reason why we can’t set our theological differences aside as we join forces with like-minded Christians in the many cultural battles we face today.

    In all honesty, I think evangelicals pose little risk to our fundamental beliefs or our way of life. I can’t say the same thing about liberal secularists.

  76. Davis Bell on April 16, 2004 at 4:21 pm

    Adam,

    Wow. Hard to know where to begin with the statement, “Some opinions are so insubstantial than a mere denial is enough to wisp them away.” So what happens if I say that your argument is insubstantial and should be wisped away? Well, not much. Who gets to decide, without the benefit of consideration and debate, what is unsubstantial and what is not? I have my opinion, you have yours, and because both us are being subjective and closeminded, we’ve shortcircuited the process of dialogue and debate.

    You may feel that a certain idea is ridiculous and decide not to engage it; I don’t think, however, that you have the option of saying, “You’re idea is so insubstantial that I refuse to engage it. I’m right, you’re not.” I think it helpful to remember that many, many of the ideas tossed about on this site (including the idea of the Restored Gospel itself) are regarded by many (some of whom are learned and wise) as being so insubstantial that they don’t merit consideration.

    So, assuming that you decide not to argue by fiat, perhaps you can tell me:

    1. To what “evidence” you refer?
    2. Your experience is certainly valid, as are the experiences of thos you cite; what to do, though, with the fact that I and others have contradictory experiences?
    3. I don’t know who the Grey Fox is.
    4. Granted, we can’t predict the future, so perhaps my use of the word “never” is probably too strong. (See what happens when we engage? We start to see that maybe we weren’t as right as we thought!)
    5. I’m not sure I said they can’t succeed without us.
    6. I should clarify: I’m not referring to evangelicals as people. I have evangelical friends. I’m referring to the political and sociocultural movements of evangelicals. In my opinion, were these movements to gain more prominence they would be as much of a hindrance as they would be help.

  77. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 4:24 pm

    Another apology!

    What’s your argument from taxation policy? That Republicans tax the rich less? That assumes that the rich act solely based on self-interest, which probably isn’t true. The evidence I’m thinking of is actual, empirical studies of voters.

  78. Steve Evans on April 16, 2004 at 4:32 pm

    No apology… just expressing sympathy for the mood. I shall perhaps swear that off too.

    “assumes that the rich act solely based on self-interest” — you don’t think that’s a valid general assumption? What about assuming that people in general act according to their self-interest?

    I’d agree though that empirical studies would be better (and probably have been done) — not of voters, though, but of legislators. Too lazy to look it up, though.

  79. Kristine on April 16, 2004 at 4:39 pm

    Adam, how would you have any idea about who among the posters here is “wealthiest” or how that correlates with their political positions?

  80. Steve Evans on April 16, 2004 at 4:42 pm

    Kristine, it’s because only the richies have all that book-learnin’ like you & me. Which explains the typin’ and such.

  81. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 4:46 pm

    Kristine,

    Perhaps Adam is an intern at the IRS. . .

    :)

    In all seriousness, I have no idea who among the bloggers is wealthier or less wealthy. The one thing I can attest to is my own utter lack of wealth.

    I suspect that as a general matter, older people are wealthier than younger people, having had more time to accumulate wealth. So, if I really had to guess, I would guess that the wealthiest people here were the oldest. But with a sample size this small, there’s really no way to apply general trends. For all I know, Nate may have a blind trust with a zillion dollars in it.

  82. Davis Bell on April 16, 2004 at 4:48 pm

    Cody:

    We meet again, my old nemesis. I think your ideas are insubstantial, and I hereby swat them away. Just kidding.

    The question of whether evangelicals are our friends is a complex one. Here’s my take: I think we need to change our paradigm. Granted, we agree with evangelicals more than we do liberal secularists when it comes to personal beliefs and conducts. That much is evident. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s relevant.

    While it may not be readily apparent, I firmly believe that our view of the public sphere is more in line (or if it’s not, ought to be) with the secularists than it is the evangelicals. Why? (First, this argument requires some generalizing — I know there are exceptions to all of these characterizations). I think you need only look at the example cited above regarding the professor who didn’t think Mormons or Hindus should be allowed to teach. Is that an extreme example? Perhaps (although I’m not convinced it is). Even if it is, I think it’s indicative of a larger trend: the political evangelical activists seek to instiutionalize and officially sanction their personal and private beliefs. Another prime example of this is the school prayer debate that originated in Texas, and mentioned earlier in this thread.

    Like it or not, Mormons are a small minority group (like Hindus, Muslims, gays, etc.) While the liberal secularists may go to far in seeking to ban all religion from public life, I would prefer that to success on the evangelical’s part in establishing a public sphere in which they are dominant and we are disenfranchised.

    Anyway, that’s how I see it. I could be wrong. If I am, disabuse me of my ignorance.

  83. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 4:52 pm

    The fact of contradictory experience doesn’t phase me. I wasn’t making the claim that all evangelicals were always and always will be our friends.

    The Grey Fox is Russell Arben Fox. They called Cardinaly Richelieu that, and it amuses me to use the name. I apologize for the obscurity; usually I only use it where context is helpful.

    As for success without us, I understood your argument to be that our alliance with evangelicals was dangerous because it might put them in power. If they’re getting to power anyway, then the dangers of our alliance are less obvious.

    Fundamentally I think you don’t have a clear understanding of the political dynamics within the Right and the political possibilities that the Right has. Purely evangelical political groups actually have very little traction. They supply ground troops, money, etc., but they aren’t viable by themselves. I would say that evangelicals as a whole are very influential in the Right, but in a large part they have left their exclusive groups to do it. In so doing, they have met and mingled with Mormons and Catholics and have come to a rapprochement. In fact, I think the evangelical/Catholic experience directly belies your claim. National Review, with its distinctive Catholic flavor, is now the preeminent voice of the Right, Catholics and Evangelicals alike. First Things, a much more distinctively Catholic magazine, is probably the preeminent voice of the religious Right. It also hosts Catholics and Evangelicals. When it ran its infamous symposium on the End of Democracy, the main contributors included evangelical luminaries like Chuck Colson and James Dobson. Make no mistake. Evangelicals once, and some still, hated Catholics as much as they hated us. Political necessity has changed that, and the familiarity engendered by exposure has brought about a real brotherhood in many ways. Note that these groups are starting to reach out to us, too. I do not for a moment belief that the rapprochment of evangelicals and Catholics, and of both with us, is Machiavellian, that the real scheme is something like, First the atheists, then the agnostics, then the liberal protestants, then the Catholics, then the Jews, then the Mormons, and the Orthodox, and so on. I think evangelicals genuinely care about family, the Ten Commandments, etc., and I think the gratitude they feel for our help is genuine and the friendships formed in mutual assistance are real.

    So that’s the social right. Now, the social right can’t really accomplish much without the aid of the economic right, and neither can accomplish much without the indifference of the country’s middle. So evangelicals have to push for positions that are broadly acceptable to their religious brethren and not too likely to offend the middle. Instead of official protestantism in forced-attendance schools they’re going for Judeo-Christian prayers (a sort of civic monotheism) and school choice. For the foreseeable future, the United States of the Handmaid’s Tale is wretched lie.

    See this thread for more. http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000560.html

  84. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 5:01 pm

    I was going on the assumption that people, like Kaimi, who work on big law firms are likely to have big salaries. Also, as you say, that Jim has been around long enough to have paid off his house, etc. I thought he was politically on the left but I may be mistaken. I vaguely remembered that your husband did some sort of business thing and that you lived in a nice place, Kristine, but I emphasize the word ‘vague.’

    I wonder if people are taking wealth solely to mean accumulated capital? I had income in mind also.

  85. lyle on April 16, 2004 at 5:07 pm

    Thom hit it right on Davis. I held an affirmative action bake & anti-slavery in Africa & anti-legacy program bake sale a few months back. Not withstanding that I included one liberal, one conservative & one consensus policy to my event…

    I was branded insensitive, cruel, blah blah blah & have since been blackballed as something of a racist.

    Of course, this was Rutgers law school, where Justice Ginsburg decided to teach because it was so open to “diversity.” [She is a great example in and of itself...spends lots of time with NARAL & NOW, yet...never bothers to recuse herself...unlike that fascists rule-of-law guy Scalia...who taught at Chicago, not a 3rd tier school].

  86. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 5:20 pm

    Lyle,

    What a strange comment.

    You may want to fact-check some kinds of statements before making them — note that Justice Ginsburg taught at Columbia Law School.

    See http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/justices/ginsburg.bio.html

    Like all of the Justices, she often gives speeches at many different law schools. For example, here’s a link to a description of Justice Scalia’s speech at Drake Law School.

    http://www.law.drake.edu/newsEvents/oppermanscalia.html

  87. Gary Cooper on April 16, 2004 at 5:25 pm

    I’ve been pretty busy today, and haven’t been following the threads of this post very closely till just now. I have to jump in, though, on Davis Bell’s statement about Evangelicals not being our friends, and that they never would be.

    Now, come on, Davis. Don’t you see that as an unnecessarily broad brush stroke? I have a number of friends who are evangelicals, one in particular who is a very close friend whom I love like a brother. We disagree on some doctrinal issues, but are friends never the less.

    Now, maybe you meant to say that evangelicals are not and never will be friends to the Church as a whole. This would be a stronger argument, but I’m not sure it would mean much. You could say that atheists are not our friends, but does this mean I can’t work together with the ACLU, in which many atheists participate, on some common issue? Are Catholics our friends (there was plenty of anti-mormon literature put out by catholics that I saw on my mission in Italy)? Charismatic Christians? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Where does this end?

    This has been addressed here at T&S on other posts, so I’m reiterating when I say that I really hope that, some bright and future day, we as members can get over this exclusivist, “us vs. them” mentality about other Christians. It might have been excusable in the 1800′s, but not today. How effective are we going to be at making our society a better place if we demand that others working on the same goal have to do it on our terms, or else we work separately? I can’t help but think that Satan laughs his head off at how evangelicals get so worked over Mormons, and Mormons get so worked up over evangelicals, that neither group can see the common religious, economic, and political freedom both depend on being eroded.

    “Mormons leading the way to a ‘Dark Age’”? Hmmm…I get the impression that when people flee to Zion in the Last Days, more than a few Mormons may have difficulty refraining from acting just like the saints did in Missouri towards the local inhabitants. That was really effective misionary work, huh!

    Let me conclude by asking if all of us can’t work just a little harder at being as forgiving and open, and tolerant, as not only the Savior is, but as we wish non-members would be towards us. I’ve heard plenty of anti-mormon nonsense from otherwise decent people here in Oklahoma, the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”, but I recognize it as such, and don’t respond in kind. “It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile.”

    I thought I would conclude there, but let me just share a story, that illustrates not only my point, but I think may direct back to the subject of this original post. Immediately after the Oklahoma City bombing, my National Guard unit was called up to help with security. This gave me the opportuinity on several occasions to speak with the various rescue workers and other specialists, most of whom came from all over the country, not just Oklahoma. Many of these people had also worked at the (first) World Trade Center bombing. Every one of these men and women I spoke with (and this was the experience also of others I’ve spoken to who were there and had similar conversations) said the same thing, how truly overwhelmed they were by the goodness and generosity and positive religious feeling of native Oklahomans. At the world trade center, they’d come off 18-hour shifts, bone-tired, thirsty and very hungry, only to see street vendors try to sell them cans of soda for $5, and hotdogs for $15-$20 a piece. In Oklahoma, in exactly the same situation, they’d encounter people GIVING AWAY food, beverages, anything you can think of, FOR FREE. Chiropracters, masseuses, therapists, etc. set up booths and offered the workers FREE help. Some of the workers openly wept as they related this, and how it restored their confidence that despite the horrible things they were seeing as they dug up the bodies of the victims, that there was still decency and goodness to be found amongst the human race. The people they were speaking of were Southern Baptists, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, etc., the same people I work with, politic with, etc. I’ve seen this goodness too, and I love these people for it, even if they do think I belong to a cult. If a “Dark Age” can be defined as a time when men are “without natural affection”, when the “love of men shall wax cold”, when neighbor lifts the sword against neighbor and men neither borrow nor lend and sleep with their swords to defend what is their own, are we describing these good people? (I’ve met a few mormons that we WOULD be describing this way!)

    I’m not worried that evangelicals who believe in limited government, private property rights, and a restrictive Constitution are going to burn down my home, take my rights and kill me. I am worried that some day this could happen from a secularized, authoritarian mindset that sees politics and power as everything, and which openly mocks morality and Christianity. The ideology that destroyed the Branch Davidian complex and crushed to death the children there , in the name of “saving them”, is the same one I can see marching through our temples and closing down our meeting houses. I prefer to fight real enemies, not innocents who “know not what they do.”

  88. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 5:26 pm

    Another follow-up (I should complete the thought before hitting “Post”) –

    Justice Ginsburg did begin her teaching career at Rutgers. According to U.S. News, this is indeed a non-first-tier school. (It’s second-tier, see http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/law/brief/lawrank_brief.php ).

    And, I don’t think there’s much dispute that women were excluded from many top positions until recent years. (See, e.g., Sandra Day O’Connor).

  89. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 5:34 pm

    I’m told that the consensus view is that race and gender and above all religion are better predictors of voting habits and party identification than class, but I’m having a hard time tracking down a good source online.

    Here’s an paper about the preeminent correlation between voting habits and religion.

    http://thepublicinterest.com/archives/2002fall/article1.html

  90. Gary Cooper on April 16, 2004 at 5:40 pm

    I got interrupted a few times before I finished posting my last thread, so I didn’s see that Davis had clarified his comment on evangelicals. I still stand by what I have said though. Let us direct our efforcts against the followers of Korihor, not against “those Samaritans”-the evangelicals.

  91. lyle on April 16, 2004 at 5:41 pm

    Kaimi:

    My bad. However, the point being made re: illiberal intolerance is right on.

    Also it isn’t just speeches. The level of her involvement with NOW & the ACLU is far & above that of the other justices with any political groups they participate in. I’m just saying…if we are going to play ball…let’s be equal opportunity offenders. I admit conservatives are often intolerant…why can’t the “left” do the same?

  92. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 5:53 pm
  93. Jim F. on April 16, 2004 at 7:03 pm

    Since Adam has speculated about my wealth and politics, let me say something about each. As for politics–I think that I am probably more apolitical than anything, but because I hold to some positions identified with the Left and others identified with the Right, I tend to be middle of the road. For Adam and other conservatives, that means I am to the left of them, but I don’t think many would identify me with “the Left.” As to wealth–having obtained my first full-time teaching position when I was in my mid-30s and unable to buy a house until after that, I’ve not yet paid it off. I probably won’t until about the time I retire. I live comfortably–the effect of my children being grown and of having worked longer than most–and I have no complaints about my income (though more is always welcome), but I know that I make less than either of my sons do (both in business), and I know from student reports that many professional starting salaries are only slightly lower than my present income. In comparison to most people in the world, I am incredibly wealthy. In comparison to the rest of America, I pretty much in the middle.

  94. Jim F. on April 16, 2004 at 7:11 pm

    Lyle and others: It seems to me that the charge of intolerance is almost always leveled when one feels to be in the minority and disenfranchised. My experience in Utah and the Utah Church has been that there is little tolerance for political views that do not agree with the majority. It isn’t just that others do not agree with me. It is that they don’t think it possible for there to be any other view than their own and, so, will not even consider other positions as worth discussing. I assume that your experiences have been similar, though in the other direction. Thus, I doubt that either side has a lock on intolerance. I think “intolerance” and “majority” go hand-in-hand.

  95. Russell Arben Fox on April 16, 2004 at 9:15 pm

    Adam, a few things:

    “We have an evangelical in office right now and yet I still haven’t had a Bible nailed to my forehead.”

    Brilliant; that one had me laughing out loud. I appreciate your and Gary’s support (I’ve been away from the computer most of the day today). I understand Davis’s concern (which has also been voiced by Nate on different occasions) that we are a minority, and that evangelical majorities will likely be hostile to such. But I don’t understand why that should indicate anything more than a need for the same civility and reciprocity which pluralistic societies need generally; the idea that evangelicals and Mormons have some special historical tension, ever likely to explode into conflict, seems more like an exercise in victimhood to me than a reflection of the actual practice of Christianity in most communities in America today.

    “The Grey Fox is Russell Arben Fox. They called Cardinal Richelieu that, and it amuses me to use the name.”

    And I like it. (I should come up with a nickname for you. Maybe for everyone.) I’ve heard the Ricehelieu reference before, but actually the first one that always comes to my mind is the wonderful old Richard Farnsworth movie ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6301166671/102-6599404-0234528?v=glance ). I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to be a “gentleman bandit”?

    “On this blog it’s pretty clear that the wealthiest persons are also the more left-wing.”

    Not to turn this into a race to the bottom, but since Jim was willing to come clean, allow me to point out that my paycheck (while certainly adequate for northeastern Arkansas) is very likely the smallest out of all the regular bloggers here, and I’m the resident crazy quasi-socialist.

  96. Kaimi on April 16, 2004 at 9:28 pm

    Adam,

    I’ll grant that big law firms have higher salaries than many other jobs; I’m not sure that really helps you. Greg and I (probably liberals) may be the only ones here who are currently employed by Biglaw, but that seems to be more an accident of timing than anything else. Matt’s bio indicates that he worked for a big DC firm; Gordon worked for a big firm pre-academia; Nate is most likely on his way to employment at a big firm.

    And I don’t think I’m particularly representative of big law firm church members — I would guess that I’m the most liberal Mormon at Cravath, for example. (Sample size: 5).

  97. Matt Evans on April 17, 2004 at 12:38 am

    According to a story on NPR last week about the lawsuits surrounding the new 527 groups, like MoveOn.org, in the 2000 campaign, prior to the restrictions on soft money, seven individuals donated over $1 million to the DNC, and only one person donated over $1 million to the RNC.

  98. Ivan Wolfe on April 17, 2004 at 1:23 am

    This is interesting, because the book “What Liberal Media?” argues that media corporations are conservative (and thus the media overall slants to the conservative side) because they have lots of money.

    I think the media gets a bad rap from both the left and the right, and while the accusations usually have some merit (in specific instances), I tend to think there is not any true overall slant to media bias (except on certain NPR shows).

    But “What Liberal Media?” is a deeply flawed book because he assumes that lots of money – conservative and he never double checks his assumption or attempts to prove it. He assumes it is obvious to anyone with a brain.

    And here on this list we’re arguing over if lots of money = liberal.

    Maybe lots of money = lots of money. ;-)

  99. Mike on April 17, 2004 at 8:17 am

    “Irony of the Left: protesters can be as vile and disrespectful as they want outside of conference (and the ACLU wants to force the Church to allow it on their private property) but what would happen if a group gathered outside a Jewish synagogue yelling anti-Jewish slogans, whether on the synagogue’s private property or not?”
    Why Irony? Stupidity maybe, but irony? What would happen if people protested outside a synagogue? Well that happens all the time- and guess what the ACLU defends their right to do so. The ACLU tries to force the Chruch to allow protesters. They also try to force cities all over the country to allow klu klux klan marches and the free speech of racist groups.
    Most ACLU members probably hate the views expressed by the Klan, but they pretty much argue that anybody has the right to do and say anything they want as long as they don’t physically harm some one else.

    Thom-
    The experiences you had in Callifornia mirror the ones I had in Oklahoma and Arkansas- except that in Oklahoma I got the exact opposite.
    And I don’t think that all schools work the way the ACLU thinks. Further, the ACLU wasn’t even advocating that all schools teach that children who have anti-homosexual views should be “re-educated.” They made the argument that a school which was already going to PUNISH some one for having those views could not do so- but could as an alternative educate rather than punish. Is this likely wrong as well. OF COURSE. But the ACLU, as crazy as they are, wasn’t even advocating this always be done. They were arguing that a school couldn’t punish students for holding or expressing views no matter how horrible the school (or the ACLU) thought those views were but the school could educate in some manner.

    Teh question remains, can schools do that? Eh, it is darn hard to answer. Because mos on the left say “of course” when the education is favoring their views. But, those on the right do as well. Many evangelicals desire for morals to be taught in public schools- they have no problem with the concept of public schools telling what things are morally right and wrong- they just want the schools to use their framework.

    So, really if you reject the system itself you kind of have to reject both sides.

    as for siding with evangelicals- I don’t think we should look at them as our enemy. As individuals, of course we would be friends. As a political group I think you side with them when you agree- just like any other group.
    I think the criticism levelled at befriending evangelicals is that lately many church members seem to be more than willing to reach out to such an extent that we claim “hey we are part of your group, we are one of you” or even further that we change or sacrifice things that are important in order to attempt to be so.

  100. Mike on April 17, 2004 at 8:25 am

    As for Russels comment, on why evangelicals shouldn’t be any different than interacting with any one in a pluralistic society.

    i think that is exactly the point-
    they shouldn’t be.
    There is no reason to have a special institutional friendship type status. And I think that Kaimi’s argument that it isn’t that we need to oppose them or keep them from coming to power, but that we can’t support them in setting up a system where they can pick people out or discriminate against people within the public sphere because of their beliefs or morality- because many want to exclude mormons for the same reason. If a the school board in a primarily southern baptist town can keep some one from getting a job as principal because they are an athiest and we support them in that and set up a system where that is the norm, then we also set up a system where a mormon can be excluded as well.

    So, lets just be careful.
    be friends, but don’t be willing to jump through hoops we should not jump through just to be able to hang out with the cool kids.
    and don’t work with others to set up an unfair system that we like, because it can lead to an unfair system we don’t like

  101. john fowles on April 17, 2004 at 8:05 pm

    I like your point a lot Mike. I suspect it is one reason why the Church opposed vouchers when most others on the “religious right,” including some individuals within the Church, think it is a fabulous idea.

  102. Lyle on April 17, 2004 at 8:22 pm

    John: When did the Church oppose vouchers?

  103. john fowles on April 17, 2004 at 8:39 pm

    oops. Should have said “some in the Church oppose school vouchers”

  104. Mike on April 18, 2004 at 5:09 pm

    The Church didn’t oppose vouchers, so when I read that I was a bit confused, but initially assumed you meant government support for faith based initiatives.

    The Church didn’t vocally oppose, BUT did turn down requests to join with other religious groups in pushing for it and pretty clearly expressed we wouldn’t take the money for such initiatives but would continue our welfare work regardless.

  105. Adam Greenwood on April 19, 2004 at 12:17 pm

    I’ve been reading ‘Washington’s Crossing.’ Pretty interesting to find out that Washington was frequently referred to as the ‘Old Fox.’ Robert E. Lee too, if I recall, maybe in conscious comparison?

    I seem to have touched off a degree of touchiness on income. People seem personally offended that I thought they may have wealth. I apologize; I had no pejorative intent. People also seem to think that I intended to prove that the rich were liberal via the membership of this blog. Not so; I only intended to overturn the easy assumption that people vote for self-interested financial motives.

    Anyway, I think I’ve got more poverty prestige at the moment than any of you. Family of four living off of minimum student loans. Take that! and that!

  106. Ryan Bell on April 19, 2004 at 2:07 pm

    I hate to be uncouth, but I’d like to return to the topic of the original post. I’m surprised that no one has pointed out how badly Latter-day Saints (assuming Longman is referring to Mormons, as I believe he is) fit into the doomsday analysis. Remember that Longman’s threat is from “people who are at odds with the modern world–who…’don’t get’ the new rules of the game…” He also says these people will push the world away from its current “Market-driven,” and “individualist” path.

    In other words, today’s culture it threatened by people who hold two characteristics: 1. They reproduce at a higher rate than others and 2. They do not accept the rules/norms/practices of modern society. While Mormons definitely fit into category one, they are decidedly unfit for category two. By most measures, the average Mormon is the model American citizen, devoutly capitalist, individualistic, pro-market, self-reliant, and adhering to a host of other values that can only be described as fundamentally American. In other words, if Mormons keep reproducing at higher rates than the rest of the population, it would only have preservative effects on Western civilization, rather than the opposite.

    Obviously, there aren’t enough Mormons to counteract the reproductive strength of the other groups Longman is afraid of. Still, instead of alluding to us with gloomy pessimism, he ought to be grateful to us ever fertile Latter-day Saints for providing some countermeasures to the proliferating anti-western menace.

  107. Adam Greenwood on April 19, 2004 at 4:35 pm

    Fess up.

    Someone here has written to the National Review. http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/04_04_18_corner-archive.asp#030272

  108. Jim F. on April 19, 2004 at 4:46 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out why people think that Longman was referring to us rather than to a hypothetical, self-professed saint living in these days. The absence of capital letters is, presumably, not just a typographical error on his part. So, I take it that Oral Roberts or some other contemporary evangelist would count for him as a latter-day saint. There is evidence that he wasn’t referring to us. What’s the evidence that he was? I think Longman can be criticized for his argument itself, as well as for not recognizing the the phrase “latter-day saint” was likely to be misunderstood. But I don’t see how he can be criticized for attacking the LDS.

  109. Davis Bell on April 19, 2004 at 9:05 pm

    I still can’t decide if Longman was referring to Mormons or not. I agree with Jim the absence of capitalization casts doubt on the idea that he had us in mind. He very well could have meant “latter-day saint” in literal terms. At the same time, the term is almost exclusively associated with Mormons. If he is indeed referring to us, it’s strange to me that would say “some latter-day saint” instead of the more appropriate “some Mormon prophet.” If he knows enough to use the term one would think he’d also know that it refers to any member of the Church. Weird.

  110. Davis Bell on April 19, 2004 at 9:05 pm

    I still can’t decide if Longman was referring to Mormons or not. I agree with Jim the absence of capitalization casts doubt on the idea that he had us in mind. He very well could have meant “latter-day saint” in literal terms. At the same time, the term is almost exclusively associated with Mormons. If he is indeed referring to us, it’s strange to me that he would say “some latter-day saint” instead of the more appropriate “some Mormon prophet.” If he knows enough to use the term one would think he’d also know that it refers to any member of the Church. Weird.

  111. Mike on April 19, 2004 at 11:31 pm

    I think he was referring to both Mormons and others with the latter day saint comment.
    A much broader group than us- but it includes us.

    And I like Ryan’s comments, that really most LDS people fit into category 1, but not category 2.

  112. Ryan Bell on April 20, 2004 at 1:27 pm

    Let the speculation cease.

    I attach the content of an email I received from Mr. Longman in response to a question I sent him about the meaning of our controversial paragraph:

    “Dear Ryan,

    Thank you for your query, and for drawing my attention to the blog site. In answer to your question, by “latter day saints” I am referring to any new or rising charismatic group that might be inspired by religious motivations to ignore the high material costs of children.

    Do Mormons answer that description? In my book, The Empty Cradle, I note that Utah’s Mormon population produced something of a baby boom in the early 1990s, similar to boomlet created by middle-class Catholics in the 1990s. In both instances, I note, the high cost of children made these trends unsustainable. Fertility for both groups has since dropped substantially, though Utah’s birthrate remains the highest in the nation. Mormons are clearly affected by the same forces that are driving down fertility among other groups in Western Society, but have better able to resist them, presumably through strength of faith.

    On the blog site, I notice several contributors struggling to divine my attitude to Mormon Church. My hope all along has been that the book would help to encourage Mormons in their pronatalism, and cause others to view Mormon attitudes toward family in a more positive light. In warning secularists that they face a world increasingly dominated fundamentalism, I am not condemning Mormons, but rather the opposite. I am saying that today’s secular values and institutions don’t lead to replacement level population, and that therefore, unless those values and instructions change, secularism will fade away, and deservedly so.

    What replaces it is the big question. Will it be a wholesome form of religious revival that is consistent with economically productive values, as we see in the example of the Mormon Church today? Or will it be a sinister form of religious fanaticism or totalitarianism that opposes markets and human rights, such as we now see in so many corners of the Middle East?

    If you are in a position do so, please share these thoughts with anyone you might think will be interested.

    Sincerely,

    Phillip Longman”

    While he doesn’t explain the reason for his confusing use of the words “latter-day saint” in reference to all modern charismatic movements, I give Mr. Longman credit for knowing more about Mormons than I would have assumed, and having an informed take on the role they play in the whole battle for the soul of Western civilization. It seems his view of Mormons’ “western-ness” accords with my own comment above– that rather that posing a threat to Western civilization, Mormons fit the Western ideal as well as anyone.

  113. Kristine on April 20, 2004 at 1:59 pm

    Aw, Ryan, now we can’t engage in fun, totally groundless speculation anymore!

    (Seriously–good work; thanks for taking the obvious step of just asking him what he meant. Why didn’t we think of that??)

  114. Ryan Bell on April 20, 2004 at 4:06 pm

    Well, that doesn’t mean we can’t still argue about whether Mormon birthrates will help us take over the world, and whether that would be a good thing or not.

    P.S. does anyone else think it’s interesting that the Mormon/Utah birthrate in the 90′s was “financially unsustainable,” causing a decline in the more economically difficult recent years? Maybe I’m just naive, but I would never have guessed that our reproductive patterns would have been so tied to economics. At least not so closely, anyway.

  115. lyle on April 24, 2004 at 5:54 pm

    Speaking of Mormons:

    Nik Kristoff of the NYT either thinks it is ok, or unnaccetable, can’t tell which, to say nasty things about Mormons & Jehova’s Witnesses.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/24/opinion/24KRIS.html

  116. Kaimi on April 24, 2004 at 6:05 pm

    I think it’s pretty clear, he’s saying that liberals shouldn’t mock the religious — including Mormons. Kristof has written this before.

  117. John David Payne on April 24, 2004 at 6:20 pm

    Yeah, but much of the piece reeks of hostility toward Christianity masked as patronizing attempts at humor. Which really IS humorous, considering that the ostensible purpose of the editorial is to remind the non-religious to be friendly and nice to the religious. (‘Try to hide your contempt for these poor deluded fools when you point out the irrationality of their supersitions.’)

  118. Chelse Okubo on July 11, 2004 at 11:04 pm

    Hey I am 14 and am an active member in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I think things that people say about us are extremely childish, you can not judge anything when you don’t even know the whole story, and how would you know all these things if you have never been to our church and never read the Book of Mormon, it is not “our Bible” it is another testament of Christ, and we still use the Bible on Sunday. We don’t go around and make a huge deal about your beleivings and make it a big deal and we are not leading anyone to a “dark age” or whatever, so find out more before you talk about it and make people believe that we are bad people cause we aren’t.