The “anti-Mormon” label

March 17, 2009 | 42 comments
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Some years ago I had the idea that Mormonism needs an “anti-defamation league”–a group that reviews news coverage and other public actions and publicly condemns those actions that clearly defame Mormons and Mormonism. But I’ve since decided that this is probably not a very workable idea.

The problem that I’ve discovered is that there is a wide range of ideas about what it means to “defame” Mormons–and a lot of differing views of what is “anti-Mormon.” To put it plainly, I’ve seen way too many Mormons label legitimate criticisms and even simply differences of opinion as “anti-Mormon.”

If we look at some of the major issues from the past year or so, I think you might see where I’m coming from:

  • Last February, Mike Huckabee made his unfortunate statement about Mormon beliefs–a cleverly-worded statement clearly meant to connect to anti-Mormon feelings. While I believe the statement is anti-Mormon, I’ve run into other Mormons that don’t. But I would not label Huckabee himself as anti-Mormon because of it (although using such a statement, regardless of what group it attacks, is likely to get me to vote against a candidate as foolish and intolerant).
  • With the fall-out after voter approval of proposition 8 in November, reaction from the pro-gay-marriage community has been strong, I think it is fair to say. With public access to records of who made donations to support the proposition, LDS Church members have lost jobs and friendships as a result. I know of a case here in New York City where a man who works in the theater has been unable to find work in his field post proposition 8 because his LDS affiliation is well known (I don’t believe he made any donation). As sad as these situations are, I’m not sure that these reactions are actually anti-Mormon. Yes, the reactions target Mormons, but I suspect they have more to do with the loss at the ballot box than any actual feeling about Mormons (althought the feelings in some cases may be moving rapidly in that direction). If another group was predominate among those who funded the proposition effort, wouldn’t that group now be the target?
  • The most recent Big Love episode is another example. Was it anti-Mormon? I don’t want to judge because I haven’t seen the episode myself (don’t get HBO), but the reactions I’ve read cover a very wide range, with some saying it unfairly ridicules what we hold sacred and others suggesting that the treatment is actually somewhat sympathetic or at least artistically fair and defensible. I can’t judge between these two views. But I believe that it comes down to an issue that is a little difficult to know–what the motivations of the shows’ writers and director are.

I guess motivations are the core of the issue. They are often difficult to know. I think that the “persecution complex” we Mormons sometimes unconsciously fall into regularly color our reactions to what we see in the news and what we hear from others, making it very easy to label things as “anti-Mormon.”

Since I first started thinking about a “Mormon anti-defamation league,” one organization has, sort-of, filled that role–FAIR. I don’t have enough knowledge of what FAIR does to really judge if they fill the role the way I think it should be filled (not that my judgment is absolute) or if I have any criticism. At the least, I have the impression that FAIR isn’t looking at the news in a comprehensive way to identify defamation. Nor do I have the impression that any standard, rigorous definition for anti-Mormon or defamation has been set or is in use.

Perhaps that is what is needed–a clear definition for “anti-Mormon” and guidelines for how to apply it. And a way of judging motivations fairly.

In the mean time, we would do well to be very, very cautious about how and when we use the term “anti-Mormon.”

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42 Responses to The “anti-Mormon” label

  1. Kent Larsen on March 17, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Its a fascinating coincidence that Marc has recently added to “Notes from All Over” a link to an American Spectator post where this issue came up.

    After what was an interesting post with no evident intent (IMO) to attack Mormon beliefs, several people raced to the rescue to “defend” what really didn’t need defending, I don’t think.

    Don’t we do ourselves more damage when we come up with these “defenses”?

  2. Adam Greenwood on March 17, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Everything you say about a MADL applies just as well to other ADLs. They seem to create more heat than light.

    Agreed that the American Spectator post isn’t anti-Mormon. But I think it gets Mormonism wrong, and I see no problem with folks in the comments defending Mormonism against what they see as error (I haven’t read the comments, maybe some of them are overly histronic).

  3. Morgan Deane on March 17, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I feel that Huckabee’s comments were anti Mormon. He repeated a common trope that many vehement critics of the Church used, then lied about his motives when confronted, and then quietly apologized when the controversy continued. He was also a key note speaker at the 1998 Baptist Conference in Salt Lake City.

    On the broader topic I define anti Mormon through the purpose and means that they use. If their purpose is to destroy the testimony of Mormons then it is anti mormon (this is similar but still different than the goal of just converting a person which is our every Christian’s goal) And the tactics of anti mormons are also very shrill. They often use unsound scholarly practices riddled with fallacies, elevate the status of comments in order to create doctrine that does not exsist, and many of the meanest turn any doctrinal discussion into a personnel vendetta. Talking to anti mormons also de evolves into a game of “I know you are but what am I?” because they often claim that apologetics commit the same scholarly errors.

    There is a bit of persecution complex as you mentioned, but when white powder is sent to a temple and CA members must organize a neighborhood watch, I think it is no so much a complex but a reality.

  4. Frank McIntyre on March 17, 2009 at 10:03 am

    “If another group was predominate among those who funded the proposition effort, wouldn’t that group now be the target?”

    I’m not sure what to make of this. Suppose Jewish people were key to stopping a ballot initiative, so people mad about this stopped working with all Jewish people regardless of those people’s individual views on the ballot initiative — like your theater friend example. Sure, the motivation is anger over some particular issue, but once you target a _group_ for displeasure, derision, and attack, doesn’t that make you anti to that group?

    More broadly, though, I agree that some people label stuff anti far more readily than I would. Other people (often different ones) label behavior or ideas racist far more readily than I would. Same for gender discrimination.

  5. aerin on March 17, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I think it would be good to have a standard definition of what “anti- mormon” is exactly.

    Is it:

    - someone who has left the church (and had their name removed or been excommunicated)
    -someone who is open about the fact that they have left the church and had their name removed or been excommunicated
    -someone who is privately critical of various LDS church doctrines and policies (and leadership)
    -someone who is publically critical of various LDS church doctrines and policies (and leadership)
    -someone who is critical of mormons as a people or a congregation (and who may threaten violence)
    -someone who is critical of individual mormons

    I have heard the anti-mormon label for all of the above.

    So a clear definition of anti-mormon would be helpful. I think sometimes people are labeled as “anti-mormon”, when in reality they may just be expressing their own opinion about LDS leadership and doctrine.

    There’s a big difference (in my mind) between expressing a dissenting opinion about a doctrine (like the priesthood ban) and threatening violence or burning churches. Yet sometimes it seems like these are viewed as one and the same.

  6. Mark Brown on March 17, 2009 at 10:46 am

    someone who is privately critical of various LDS church doctrines and policies (and leadership)

    aerin, that would include everybody, including the apostles and First Presidency.

  7. Todd Wood on March 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

    So let’s be upfront and discuss another specific example:

    Myself.

    I am a Baptist pastor with a blog, “Heart Issues for LDS”, in Ammon, Idaho.

    What about the “Anti-Mormon” label?

    (Actually, it would be great to have an Authority discuss this during spring conference, too.)

  8. Blake on March 17, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Todd: You are no anti-Mormon. An anti-Mormon is willing to distort and caricature or to act for the sole purpose of tearing down for the sake of destroying what others love.

  9. Kevin Barney on March 17, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I’m heavily involved in FAIR, and I wouldn’t characterize what we do as really anything like a MADL. Rather, our focus is on assisting interested persons (usually members, but sometimes investigators or other non-LDS) whose faith has been adversely affected by anti-Mormon polemic. As an organization we generally do not engage anti-Mormons directly; we rather respond in various ways to their criticisms for the benefit of those adversely affected by them. We do this through a website, a wiki, an “ask the apologist” feature where people can write in with questions, and an annual conference.

    It’s tough to come up with a simple definition of “anti-Mormon” that will work under all circumstances. I agree that the expression is often used too broadly, and that mere disagreement does not constitute anti-Mormonism.

    Countercult ministries whose major goal is to destroy the church and which are willing to bend their ethical obligations as Christians to do so strike me as the clearest examples of that which is “anti-Mormon.” Yet many of these bitterly claim that the label should not be applied to them (James White’s Alpha and Omega Ministries is an example). I’ve always admired the Tanners for having the good sense to own the label and not pretend that they aren’t “anti-Mormon.”

  10. Kent Larsen on March 17, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Everything you say about a MADL applies just as well to other ADLs. They seem to create more heat than light.

    Could be. I’m no expert on ADLs. My hope behind the idea was more one of trying to politely clarify misconceptions and reduce the tendency to use Mormons as a source of derision and offensive humor. In short, I wish some of this stuff were seen as a little less politically correct.

    Agreed that the American Spectator post isn’t anti-Mormon. But I think it gets Mormonism wrong, and I see no problem with folks in the comments defending Mormonism against what they see as error (I haven’t read the comments, maybe some of them are overly histronic).

    Adam, don’t you think the comments have made some major errors in conversation? By becoming overly defensive, the commentors have made it much less likely that readers of the article will think Mormons are open to conversation on religious topics.

    And I’m not sure how much the article got really wrong about Mormonism in the first place. As I understand it, the Am. Spectator author pulled his list of Mormon beliefs from a FARMS article. His errors are mostly misinterpreting and taking ideas out of their proper context — something that can be corrected by pointing out, in good humor, where the author got it wrong. [But even that, I'm not really sure how worth it arguing is.]

  11. Ardis Parshall on March 17, 2009 at 11:08 am

    And yet there are some — me — who would label Todd’s activities as anti-Mormon because they are targeted at Mormons because we *are* Mormons and Mormonism is oh-so-not-going-to-save-us, he thinks. If he simply presented his brand of Christianity to all alike, or even if he made a special study of the best ways to approach Mormons because he has so many Mormon neighbors but didn’t have as his chief goal the “rescue” of Mormons, I wouldn’t consider his blog and ministry at all anti-Mormon. That he targets Mormons does make him anti-Mormon, in my book.

    But this example does show that not all anti-Mormonism need be discourteous or rabid. Just misguided. And ultimately doomed to failure. :)

  12. MoHoHawaii on March 17, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Re #5, I think the best way to come up with a definition is by comparison with anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is hostility or prejudice toward Jews.

    If we apply this kind of definition in the Mormon context, we can see that none of the definitions in #5 would make the cut, except number four because violence implies hatred. (Providing a critique isn’t the same as being hostile or prejudiced.)

    Using this definition, I would say that the disqualification of political candidates just because they are Mormon is out-and-out prejudice. On the other hand, disagreement with or criticism of the Church’s political actions is legitimate political debate. Etc.

    Like people from authoritarian cultures more generally, I think we Mormons have thin skins when it comes to outside views that don’t agree with our internal self-image.

  13. clark on March 17, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Someone want to define the acronyms for those not well versed in their use?

  14. Kent Larsen on March 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Morgan (#3): “Talking to anti mormons also de evolves into a game of “I know you are but what am I?” because they often claim that apologetics commit the same scholarly errors.”

    I think its clear that apologists do commit the same scholarly errors on occasion.

    IMO, this is one of the reasons why I worry. I’m not at all sure that our defenders are really helping.

    Yes anti-Mormons do exist, and a few have done some atrocious things. Others limit their offense to merely spouting invective to anyone that will listen.

    But I’m not so worried about how to respond to anti-Mormons. The question that worries me is how to respond to those that aren’t intentionally out to injure or offend. I’m worried that we are too often labeling them “anti-Mormon” also.

  15. Kent Larsen on March 17, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Frank wrote (#4):

    I’m not sure what to make of this. Suppose Jewish people were key to stopping a ballot initiative, so people mad about this stopped working with all Jewish people regardless of those people’s individual views on the ballot initiative — like your theater friend example. Sure, the motivation is anger over some particular issue, but once you target a _group_ for displeasure, derision, and attack, doesn’t that make you anti to that group?

    I think it can. But initially, I suspect that for most people these feelings are mostly issue based. I may dislike ethnic group A because of its stand on issue B, but then when ethnic group A does something I like on issue C, my opinion is moderated.

    That’s different from someone who is so upset by ethnic group A that they don’t care what the group does on any issue, the group always bad.

    Perhaps they are both “anti-” to some degree, but I feel like the issue-based group can be persuaded to change their opinion.

  16. Todd Wood on March 17, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Kevin, I will own up to this clearly: there are many doctrines (can I even use that term) circulating within the LDS Church in 2009 that produce within me an “anti” response. And it is because of the LDS challenge to what I love and treasure most dearly.

  17. Raymond Takashi Swenson on March 17, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Anyone who has seen Lawrence O’Donnell’s screed on the McLaughlin Group when he attacked Mormons as stupid and evil can recognize that kind of behavior as anti-Mormon. There was no willingness to regard Mormons as human beings whose sincerity at least should be respected, regardless of what you think about our beliefs. I was surprised that the feisty Pat Buchanan was as mild in his response as he was, since his sister Bay Buchanan is LDS.

    O’Donnell is one of the producers of, and a regular actor in, “Big Love”. So I think we have an insight into the anti-Mormon nature of the people managing that enterprise.

    My other candidate for anti-Mormon are most of the polygamist groups that prey on Mormons, that try to take legitimacy from the Church by using the name “Mormon” while they reject the prophets and apostles and, demonstrably, basic principles like avoiding abuse of authority.

  18. Kent Larsen on March 17, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Clark (#13):
    Try:

    MADL – Mormon anti-defamation league
    ADL – anti-defamation league.

    Those are the only acronymns I saw.

  19. Hunter on March 17, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I agree with Kent’s original sentiment that the Church needs some defending in appropriate circumstances. And I’ve longed for an ADL-like organization for the Church, too. For me, I think the Church’s beefed-up Newsroom presence is filling this need nicely.

    So, while I agree that there exists a need to defend and define the Church, difficulties with defining what constitutes “anti-Mormon” is not the issue. The question should be, instead, WHEN to defend outright lies, mistruths or bigotry against the Church and its members.

  20. Kevin Barney on March 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Todd, I took a look at your blog, and what I saw struck me more as amiable disagreement than anti-Mormonism.

  21. Kaimi Wenger on March 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I wouldn’t call Todd an anti-Mormon. He’s interested in friendly discussion and dialog, even if he does think we’re wrong. (He’s wrong on that, of course!)

    The same goes for other folks who engage in dialog, like Bridget Jack Meyers and the folks at LDS-Talk. And it’s not just evangelicals; we’ve had inter-blog discussions with UU blogger Philocrites, for instance.

    Anti-Mormonism is more than just thinking that the substantive doctrines of Mormonism are incorrect. Otherwise, a huge swath of the populace is anti-Mormon.

    For me, anti-Mormonism is collecting the scurrilous and presenting it with a view to attack. It is an essentially polemical approach, rather than a dialog approach.

    The Tanners are anti-Mormons. Ed Decker is anti-Mormon. Sites like exmormon.org (recent link title to Julie’s post: “Frothing mad Morg blogger spews bile”) are anti-Mormon.

    Not all former Mormons are anti’s. Some are very friendly and happy to engage in dialog. One would have to be nuts to label as anti-Mormon people like John Hamer or Mike Peterson (MikeInWeHo).

  22. Sonny on March 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    “but I feel like the issue-based group can be persuaded to change their opinion.”

    But until that time comes (if it does), you would classify their actions as anti-mormon, correct?

  23. Kaimi Wenger on March 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    So, I guess, for me the key is a desire to understand and engage, versus just the desire to attack.

    Some indicia of anti-Mormonism (not to engage or discuss, just to attack):

    -Emphasis on unusual facets of church doctrine, given the most hostile spin possible. “Jesus and Satan are brothers”; God having sex with Mary; “you get your own planet.” All of which can be put together from various statements of church leaders over time, but all of which are very far from lived Mormonism today, and are used to ridicule.

    -Use of belittling nicknames and acronyms, like Morg. Not a lot of intent to engage in that one, is there?

    -Immediate characterization of individual Mormons as over-the-top, without regard to what they say. Calling Julie “frothing mad”; I was attacked by one anti-Mormon and called an unquestioning sheep (which is pretty funny). Immediate, self-reinforcing bias that anything said by church members is bad.

    -Crazy conspiracy theories.

    This is not to say that all criticisms of church doctrine or history or leadership are anti-Mormon. I think it’s entirely possible to discuss issues, and to suggest that certain points of church history are problematic, for instance.

    However, that requires some amount of becoming informed about those issues.

  24. Justmeherenow on March 17, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Where critical voices are serious in intent, such an organization, I trust, would tend more to simply put information and analyses out there, right? not label them decidedly “anti”, I’d assume. (Eg stuff analogous to anti-African American aspects of Warren Jeff’s theology could out-and-out be labeled “anti,” in its effect — while serious or subtle criticisms analogous to those of Charles Freeman’s or to Steven Spielberg’s of Isreal should be philosophically examined for their possible tendencies or effects rather than being simply reflexively and broadly labeled such….)

  25. bfwebster on March 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Well, let’s go back to Ken’s original example: what is anti-Semitism? Well, it usually involves one or more of the following:

    – a blanket condemnation, criticism, or distrust of Jews just because they are Jews;

    – a willingness to repeat clearly false stories or tropes (Protocols of the Elders of Zion, blood sacrifice of gentile infants) either out of knowing deceit or easily-cured ignorance;

    – unsupported extrapolation of beliefs and/or actions of small groups or past groups to all present day Jews;

    – deliberate use of hateful, perjorative, or inflammatory language designed either to offend Jews or to incite others against them;

    – deliberate mocking of that which is most precious or sacred to Jews (rituals, circumcision, dietary laws, etc.).

    One can just as easily plug in “Islamic”, “Catholic”, “Christian” or “Mormon” to those five aspects above and see examples of them. So, yes, true anti-Mormon statements, actions, and materials exist, as do anti-Semetic, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and anti-Islamic items.

    Clearly, not all (or even most) criticism of the LDS Church, inside or outside of the Church, qualifies as being “anti-Mormon”, just as LDS discussion of what we consider to be the “great Apostasy” or incorrect doctrines in other churches isn’t (necessarily) anti-Catholic/Protestant/Christian.

    But I have (at least) the good sense to know just how silly, wrong, and inappropriate it would be for me to talk or write authoritatively about “what Catholics really believe” based on my interpretation of some past event or statement in Catholic history and in the face of denials (accompanied by documentation) by actual Catholics and Catholic scholars. Yet that is exactly what many of those who are truly anti-[some religion] do, including to the LDS Church. ..bruce..

  26. Morgan Deane on March 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    You make a good point Kent (#14). If I can clarify, I think committing a fallacy by mistake happens on ocassion to even the most studious scholar. Doing it on purpose in order to make a case would be descriptive of an anti mormon. For example, I have people use unreliable third hand sources in trying to prove that Joseph Smith taught that they were men living on the moon. Or many others would make the issue about me and my character flaws in order to attack the church. (Fallacy of composition) Post #23 contains a good number of anti Mormon additional behaviors. So a defender of the Church that makes a mistake is different from an attacker of the Church that deliberately uses those tactics.

  27. Bridget Jack Meyers on March 17, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    In my opinion, anti-Mormonism is more than just having a poor attitude towards Mormons, it’s about activism. I’ve met my share of evangelicals and other Christians who expressed negative feelings towards Mormons (for whatever reason), but I would not call these people anti-Mormons. They aren’t regularly passing out literature, posting on web sites, or focusing on all of the negative things about Mormons and Mormonism (true or not). Their views may quietly line up with what anti-Mormonism is, but functionally they’re just jerks with bad attitudes towards another religion.

    In that same vein, I have met Mormons who persistently share with me all of the weaknesses they see in evangelical Christian dialogue and focus on every negative thing we do, always looking for the best spot to hang a target. I wouldn’t call those people anti-evangelicals, they’re likewise just jerks with a poor attitude towards us. If they start creating web sites and publishing literature about why we’re wrong and Mormonism is superior, then they’re anti-evangelicals.

    While anti-Mormonism exists and should certainly be dealt with, the comments on the American Spectator article provide very poignant examples of Mormons with persecution complexes. It just leaves me shaking my head. When Mormons “defend” against supposed “attacks” like that, it makes them look paranoid.

    BTW, I definitely would not call Todd Wood’s web site anti-Mormon. There is nothing wrong with respectfully desiring to convert each other; it’s a very natural action flowing from our respective soteriologies.

    All that said, I have to say that I’ve been very pleased with my interactions with Mormons on the bloggernacle and evangelical-LDS-themed blogs and visitors to my blog. I’ve gotten exposure here to a lot of philosophies and ideas within Mormonism which I never got at BYU, and people on the bloggernacle have been much more willing to let their understanding of evangelical Christianity grow and expand. It’s nice to be able to talk with people and not feel like you’re merely being sized up for the best spot to hang a target.

  28. Rob Perkins on March 17, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    A person whose views quietly line up with calumny and falsehood is still a person who harbors slander and lies in his heart. Call me paranoid, but I think that can’t be good.

  29. Ray on March 17, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Personally, Todd, I think you are a great example of the complexity of this issue.

    I agree that you and your site are not “virulent anti-Mormonism”, but I also have read enough of your comments to have read some that really are “anti-Mormon”.

    I think this highlights how difficult it is to categorize something that is defined solely in opposition to something else that is not static and easily defined. “Mormonism” is hard enough for members to pin down into an easily encapsulated summary; “anti-Mormonism”, therefore, is just as hard to define.

    I am in favor with the idea of a MADL, IF it is limited exclusively to legal rights. Anything else, and I oppose it vehemently. In those cases, “turn the other cheek” is perfectly appropriate.

  30. Emma on March 17, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    I left the church because I wanted to sin and I was offended- NOT

    I left because I discovered a long laundry list of troubling things about the church; Fanny Alger, the BoA origins, the 2 hill Cumorah theory and so on and so forth. I feel that I was dupped and am angry that I was lied to. This does not make me an Anti-Mormon. My friends, my family my neighbors are all Mormon. I love them all. These are the people that I love the most in the world. It is ridiculous to claim that someone who speaks out actively against the white washed history and doctrine of this church is anti-Mormon. If I am anti-Mormon then all Mormons are anti-exMormons or anti-nonMormons.

  31. msg on March 18, 2009 at 1:27 am

    If you want to know whether something is anti-Mormon try this exercise. Substitute the word “Mormon” with “Jew” and read it out loud. It’s quite an eyeopener.

    And as for do we need an anti-defamation league of our own–
    The Jewish Anti-Defamation League will come to the aid of anyone not Jewish –so thank goodness for them.

    However we have plenty of LDS lawyers who could join them or create an LDS chapter. It’s just wise to have good representation.

  32. msg on March 18, 2009 at 1:47 am

    BTW–how does the Jewish Anti-Defamation League define something as being “Anti”? Is it language that incites hateful acts against a group? Or is their definition milder?

  33. Daniel Ortner on March 18, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Coming from a Jewish background with several friends who have worked or interned for the ADL I can share my view that the ADL overreacts to almost any perceived anti-semitism and actually does harm rather than good in some significant ways. Grouping protests in Europe against Israeli policies as anti-Jewish has in my view done a lot of harm to the reputation of the faith in many minds. I think that a more cautious group modeled on what Media Matters does as a media watchdog might be considerably more productive.

  34. Kent Larsen on March 18, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I haven’t responded to everyone who has commented, but in general, I think the comments have confirmed what I’d already believed — that defining what is “anti-Mormon” is difficult and the idea of a Mormon ADL could be fraught with problems.

    The more I think about it, the less I think that I could come up with a workable definition of what is “anti-Mormon.”

    The best new idea I’ve come up with is that there are degrees of “anti-.” On one extreme there is true and actionable hate–the kind that would involve police. On the other is simple (probably incorrect) assumption, not strongly felt, that a group is bad for some reason.

    Is it more complicated to try and classify different kinds of “anti-Mormon” views?

  35. Raymond Takashi Swenson on March 18, 2009 at 11:54 am

    It is always legitimate to express what you yourself believe to be the truth, and to express what you understand to be the difference between what you believe and what someone else appears to believe.

    There is a problem only if the statements devolve into:

    “I know your beliefs better than you do, so when you tell me you believe something different, I know you are a liar.”

    “Your beliefs are so irrational that you must be stupid or crazy or evil.”

    “Your beliefs are so offensive that you should not be allowed to say or write or broadcast them.”

    There are militant atheists like Richard Dawkins the evolutionary biologist who have said these things about ALL religious believers. They are anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and anti-Mormon to boot. Among such aggressive materialists, Mormons are particularly targeted because we are unavoidably specific in asserting that our religion happens in the real, material world.

    And for both materialists and certain kinds of Christians, Mormons are targeted because we are perceived as both strong and growing and therefore a threat to the prevalence of their own viewpoints. Those who opposed Mitt Romney’s election because they were afraid of making Mormons “legitimate” were in this category.

  36. BHodges on March 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Emma: The guilty flee where none pursue…

    ;)

    I think talking about the issue is the right beginning. I appreciate the conversation. BCC had an interesting post a while ago you may like.

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2006/11/29/six-anti-mormonisms/

  37. BHodges on March 19, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Kent, that link addresses some degrees, if you will, or at least categories. I am personally careful in how I use “anti-Mormon,” and typically reserve it for the counter-cult types who make ti their mission to attack Mormonism, and do a very poor job of it. I tend to use the word “critic” more.

  38. msg on March 20, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I too have Jewish relatives and as a Latter-day Saint I would agree that people in both cultures have a heightened sensitivity
    to criticism–but that is simply because they’ve been persecuted and so often that they come to expect it. And that makes it hard for anyone to hear constructive criticism or simply a different viewpoint without suspicion.
    My point about the ADFL is that for too long the LDS Church has been silent letting Evangelicals and others speak for us.
    Controversy didn’t go away because we turned the other cheek. People just thought we were really weird.
    Now the GA’s are saying that we need to be more vocal and stop letting others do the speaking for us about us. Well, a lot of damage has already been done so it’a a little late to put out a raging fire but better late than never.
    And that’s what we can learn from our cousins, the Jews.
    Stand up for your beliefs because no one else will.

  39. Seth R. on March 26, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    It’s a hard word to pin down. But, just from a personal standpoint, you’ll go a long way with me in not being considered an anti-Mormon if you are willing to not always be “on script” whenever you talk with me.

  40. nrajeff on March 27, 2009 at 7:27 am

    It is not that hard to identify those who are AGAINST the LDS, and thus merit the label “anti-LDS.” The problem is that within that group of people is a spectrum–a range of HOW MUCH against us they are. Some are more militant and extremist than others who are just mildly anti-LDS. Some are more accurate and honest in their accusations, others are horrendous liars in the tradition of anti-Catholic Maria Monk. What is needed is a nomenclature that includes these different DEGREES of anti-LDSism. Otherwise, the mild or honest antis are either insulted because they are lumped into the big tent with the Deckers, or else we feel that the fair thing to do is to refrain from labeling the anti-LDS even though they are–they just are the “good” kind of antis.

  41. DB on March 28, 2009 at 12:29 am

    I don’t feel that the original post is too far off. But the core thing is that we do in fact need to just ignore it, largely, and go forward, being friendly and warm to those sincere questioners and ignoring those who seem to have bad spirits.

    I would, however, like someone to make a list of all those scriptures that clearly indicate that either God is being a ventriloquist or there is indeed a Heavenly Father King of the Universe and there is his Son Yeshua with the English name of Jesus Christ, our Savior the Messiah. The list of scriptures would be long.

    Here is the punch line, brothers and sisters: Do unto them as you would have done to you. And a whole bag full of other teachings. Huh? I’m saying that we need to not do as we don’t like them doing. (By the way, I nearly said a Jewish teaching that pre-dated Jesus ministery on earth.)

    We need to knock off those sweeping generalities we are saying about those protestants, Catholics, and Jews. Many times they are NOT true of all the beliefs of ALL of those individuals or denominations, when examined in detail. They weren’t true of my very Lutheran sister. And some of those things said are just plain not true.

    You may be surprised to know that I have a book on my shelf by some pastor. Some of what he says is balony. But he has a very good chapter about transgression and the whole correct spiritual thing about repentance, and the resultant meaning of repentance (heart turned back to God from sinful or other ways). That is contrary to what we too often say about “them”.

    So let’s knock off this “we – they” stuff, quit going down to the opposite end of the football field, and adopt the correct charitable teachings of our current and prior Prophet that were repeated so many times but not usually quoted. (Why not quoted? You tell me!)

    Let’s put love and charity and fairness and correctness back in our hearts and “just be what we should be ourselves”. Don’t be latter-day Pharisees.

  42. DB on March 28, 2009 at 12:38 am

    I just read something else, must add to this. I read: Substitute the word “Mormon” with “Jew” and read it out loud. And The Jewish Anti-Defamation League will come to the aid of anyone not Jewish –so thank goodness for them.

    YES! I personally know of this. A couple decades ago when Ed Decker was doing his misguided thing, I saw on the bilboard of a Babtist church announcement of Temple of Godmakers. (Do NOT ever view it. It will leave you feeling that the adversary has nearly had you; you will shake and shiver.) The Jewish ADL had put out a letter against those films, how they create hate and tell lies and half-truths about Mormons, and at the most benign parts make something evil out of benign truths. I made 100 copies of the ADL letter and put it on the windshields of all the cars there. The film wasn’t shown again.

    By the way, behind closed doors and out of others ears, after I gained the trust of two (OTHER) baptist pastors, they said some amazing and most heart-warming statements. Too much to explain, but see what I mean?