More Than Christian?

May 31, 2012 | 34 comments
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Two recent essays provide a new perspective on the never-ending discussion centered around the question, “Are Mormons Christian?” Mormons claim to be Christian, while at the same time denying divine authority and full legitimacy to all other Christian denominations. Consider the specific topic of rebaptism. Previously baptized Christians who join the LDS Church are required to be rebaptized by an LDS priesthood holder, which seems quite natural to Mormons. Baptized Mormons who later choose to join another Christian denomination are generally required to be rebaptized by that denomination because, in their eyes, Mormon baptism doesn’t count, which rather incongruously strikes most Mormons as wrong. We seem to think everyone else should accept our baptism as valid while we are free to reject anyone else’s baptism as invalid. Obviously, we haven’t adequately thought through this question of Christian identity and Mormon identity.

The first essay is “Romney is Mormons’ Path to the Christian Mainstream” by Noah Feldman, a Harvard law prof. Do we want to be part of the Christian mainstream? Yes, in the sense that we want to claim the title “Christian” and be part of the club. No, in the sense that we don’t want to surrender our claim to have the sole authority to perform valid Christian ordinances such as baptism and marriage. [We recognize marriages performed in other denominations as valid civil marriages in legal terms, but not as being valid in the eyes of God in the next life unless there is a later sealing performed in an LDS temple by that married couple if they convert to the LDS Church or unless, after death, such a sealing is performed by proxy in an LDS temple.] So again, we want it both ways: we want to be recognized as Christian by other Christians but, at the same time, we don’t want to grant reciprocal recognition to other denominations. We want to be Christian but also better than Christian, or at least more than Christian.

The first point that Feldman makes is that the Romney candidacy is forcing religious normalization regardless of the sectarian views of Christians:

[A]s a Mormon, Romney is a participant — indeed, he is the most important participant — in the long-term project of convincing mainstream American Protestants that Mormonism is a normal denomination like all the others. … By embracing evangelicals and being embraced by them, he is bringing Mormonism into the denominational scheme that characterizes mainstream American Christianity. … Evangelical Protestants who once believed that Mormonism was a deviant sect, not a legitimate denomination, may come to believe something very different as they prepare to cast their votes for a Romney. The practice of pluralism can come first. The beliefs can come later.

So far, so good. The second point Feldman makes is that religious normalization may bring unexpected changes to Mormons as well:

On the other hand, seen through the lens of history, entering the mainstream poses major risks. If Mormons think of themselves as another Christian denomination, the risk of defection rises. The distinctive Mormon beliefs in a new scripture and in the possibility of joining the supernal realm for eternal life will come into jeopardy precisely because they mark differences with the Protestant mainstream. If you believe you are not that different from others, there will be a tendency to downplay those practices and beliefs that suggest otherwise.

The great model for this assimilationist danger is the German political emancipation of the Jews, which directly led to Reform Judaism. Removing the perception that Jews were fundamentally outside Christian society was a tremendous sociological boon to the German Jewish community in the early 1800s. Entering the mainstream, however, encouraged Jews to adopt practices and beliefs that corresponded to the very “modern” world that was welcoming them.

Feldman is suggesting that Romney’s candidacy will produce the mainstreaming of Mormonism which will naturally, perhaps inexorably, result in the emergence of Reform Mormonism. Not so fast, I hear you say.

LDS blogger and historian Christopher Jones replied to Feldman in “The Limits of Mormon Assimilation.” Jones stresses that Mormonism is not “just another denomination” and is unlikely to become so:

Even as Mormons participate in interfaith dialogue with evangelical Protestants and seek to find theological common ground, they remain distinct, and intentionally so. Recognition of a shared commitment to Christ is not, for Mormons, the end goal. Rather, it is a starting point for Mormons to then explicate the ways in which their own teachings build on the biblical foundation of Protestantism.

Jones agrees with Feldman that Romney’s candidacy is an external force that will move Mormonism toward the mainstream, but emphasizes the internal dynamic of Mormonism that will resist assimilation or the emergence of anything like “Reform Mormonism.” Like corporate executives managing their brand, LDS leaders carefully and actively manage LDS identity to the extent they can do so, the “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign being just one of many examples. While “I’m a Mormon” sounds an assimilationist note, the overall push imparted by LDS leaders over the last two generations has been in the direction of separatism, not assimilation. Right now, that means they are swimming against the current.

So will the currents unleashed by an LDS candidate at the top of the ticket force assimilation upon the Church? Or will LDS leaders dig in their heels and stay the separate course? I am confident Mormons twenty years from now will still be saying, “I’m a Mormon,” but what kind of Mormon will they be?

34 Responses to More Than Christian?

  1. Jonathan Green on May 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Dave, I stopped at your first paragraph: “Baptized Mormons who later choose to join another Christian denomination are generally required to be rebaptized by that denomination, which rather incongruously strikes most Mormons as wrong.”

    Sorry, I’ve never met this idea among Mormons before. Rather, the opposite: Because we require anyone baptized in another faith to be rebaptized to become LDS, we assume the same must hold true for people joining other churches (which it often doesn’t). I’ve just never encountered this incongruous attitude you refer to. Maybe you mean it’s incongruous that Catholics don’t require Lutheran converts to be rebaptized, and so they shouldn’t require the same thing of Mormon converts to Catholicism?

    I’ll keep reading now.

  2. Jonathan Green on May 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Second paragraph: “So again, we want it both ways: we want to be recognized as Christian by other Christians but, at the same time, we don’t want to grant reciprocal recognition to other denominations.”

    I think this also isn’t quite right. Mormons want other Christians to recognize us as a Christian denomination, just as we accept them as Christian denominations, but we don’t expect them to treat our ordinances as valid, just as we treat theirs. What we want is to be treated as we imagine Christian denominations treat each other, with each one claiming to have correct doctrines and authority but recognizing other denominations as legitimately Christian. (Imagination and reality can diverge significantly, of course.)

  3. Jonathan Green on May 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    And, finally, I don’t think Romney’s candidacy will have any particular effect on Mormon assimilationism. It’s just one more even in a century-long process. I think Christopher has the better understanding of Mormon internal dynamics here.

  4. Kevin Barney on May 31, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Jonathan, I agree with your no. 1. I think most Mormons understand and embrace the concept of reciprocity in recognition of validity of baptism among churches. (Or at least that’s the way I personally look at it.)

  5. Dave on May 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for the comments, Jonathan and Kevin. I would certainly be interested in hearing how other readers view the rebaptism issue or sense that others view it. If other denominations reject LDS baptism as not constituting a Christian baptism, I just can’t see many LDS agreeing and saying, “Yes, that’s right, ours is not a Christian baptism.”

    Some may find the general Christian position defensible under a pragmatic tit-for-tat approach, but at the doctrinal level I don’t see how most Mormons would agree with the denominational view that LDS baptism is not Christian. Which is not to criticize anyone who adopts the pragmatic view — that’s the essence of religious pluralism, which is pragmatically wise if doctrinally suspect. That’s Feldman’s point: embracing pluralism undermines doctrinal distinctions.

  6. Curtis Pew on May 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Dave (#5): “If other denominations reject LDS baptism as not constituting a Christian baptism, I just can’t see many LDS agreeing and saying, ‘Yes, that’s right, ours is not a Christian baptism.’”

    Well, I’m OK with other denominations rejecting LDS baptism; what I would call wrong is saying it’s not a Christian baptism. I won’t argue if they say “We accept all Christian baptisms except LDS ones,” but I will if they say “We accept all Christian baptisms, but LDS baptisms aren’t Christian.” The problem isn’t in not accepting our baptisms, it’s how they may label them. Their baptisms are certainly Christian ones, even if they’re not (as I believe) divinely authorized.

    To be honest, I have some ambiguous feelings about the label “Christian”. When Jews or Moslems or other faiths talking about being persecuted by Christians, by all means don’t include Mormons. On the other hand, when most people hear “non-Christian” they think “doesn’t believe in Jesus,” and I think the covenants I’ve made require me to do whatever possible to make it clear that for me Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of the Living God, whose atoning sacrifice I depend upon for my salvation. Therefore, I will insist that I am a Christian and argue with those that deny it.

  7. Kent Larsen on May 31, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I have to agree, along with others, with Jonathan in (1) and (2). I think we get the idea of reciprocity, and I’ve never heard anyone who thought as you describe.

    However, I must admit its not something that I’ve talked with a lot of people about.

  8. Stephanie on May 31, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    The rebaptism issue came up once in a Gospel Doctrine class I attended. The Vatican had just ruled that former Mormons must be rebaptized to be received as Roman Catholics, and a newspaper article quoted several Mormon-watchers who seemed to think this was a big deal. Our Sunday School folks, to a person, shrugged and said things like, “Well, of course–we don’t recognize their baptisms either.”

  9. john f. on June 1, 2012 at 6:03 am

    My observation has always been in line with what Jonathan Green has written in his three comments.

  10. Last Lemming on June 1, 2012 at 8:54 am

    The Vatican had just ruled that former Mormons must be rebaptized to be received as Roman Catholics, and a newspaper article quoted several Mormon-watchers who seemed to think this was a big deal.

    I happened to be visiting Provo when this happened, and the indignant letters to the editor far outnumbered those acknowledging the reciprocity issue.

  11. Manuel on June 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I definitely see what Dave is saying and the problem with reciprocity. I however, did not grow up in the US Mormon safeheaven, rather, I grew up as a young Mormon having converted from Catholicism in Mexico, where there are still heated confrontations regarding the legitimacy of Catholic Priesthood vs the legitimacy of LDS Priesthood (which we claim was restored since it was lost due to a “Great Apostasy.”

    Growing up among Mormons in Mexico, I heard countless times from Mormons the Catholic Church was de facto the “Great and Abominable Church” spoken of in the scriptures.

    I cannot possibly believe the people here claiming they have never known a Mormon as described by Dave in the OP. I am having a real hard time believing that and that little frustration of the “all is well in Zion, we are such good and belevolent people who are simply mistunderstood by others unwillingness to understand us” pathology really starts to seem like a creepy problem among Mormons.

    At the same time, now living in UT, I realize there are in fact places where Mormons remain completely isolated from certain aspects of our interaction with other faiths, and thus many of them simply ignore what really goes on, how we ourlseves attack others. Assuming that their view is the general reality of our interfaith relations seems quite a bit presumptuous (and ignorant of course).

    The language we Mormons use against other denominations is definitely strong (even Richard Bushman has noted this). We claim to have the restored Priesthood, we claim no other denomination has such priesthood therefore, no other denomination has the legitimate authority to celebrate sacraments in the name of God with true validity.

    We make claims “the Lord” stated the denominations found in the time of Joseph Smith are “an abomination” to Him.

    We do seem to completely forget (or completely conveniently ignore) these things though when we cry and moan that other denominations don’t aknowledge us as Christians, and we paint ourselves as a benevolent group trying to be good buddies with others with parallel beliefs.

    See it’s easy to play victim, but we really aren’t. We are vicious at playing the name calling game and making strong claims of our own Christian legitimacy vs other denominations’ Christian illegitimacy. We play the game and we play it good. I am with Dave on this one that it appears as if we have not thought things through.

    People who don’t see the problem of reciprocity do need to think things through, study and perhaps get a bit more acquainted with actual interactions between regular LDS members and their non LDS peers.

  12. JKC on June 1, 2012 at 10:41 am

    To be clear, Manuel, we don’t claim that the Lord said the denominations were an abomination, but rather than “their creeds” were an abomination. Maybe that’s saying the same thing, but I think there could be a difference.

  13. Jettboy on June 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I am another who has never ever heard anyone complain that other Christian’s don’t accept Mormon baptisms. We don’t accept authority from them so its only natural that they don’t ours. However, as has been pointed out, Mormons bristle at getting called not Christian. One is an authority position and the other theological. My guess is that the angry letters in Provo, and we would have to go back for sure, is against the language used to deny Mormon baptism as properly Christian than the rebaptism itself. As for what Manual said if true, then personally I feel they need to repent and get some charity and humility. We are not to be at war with any denomination even if we must at times defend the faith.

  14. Adam G. on June 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I have to agree with JG.

  15. Manuel on June 1, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Re:12
    Agreed. In the practical front lines of interactions between regular LDS members with non-LDS members, when it comes to a discussion about this, I am willing to bet it will not make a huge difference… let’s get real.

  16. Manuel on June 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Jettboy,

    What do LDS people need to repent of? It was Apostle Bruce R McConkie who identified the Catholic Church as being part of the “Church of the Devil” and “the Great and Abominable Church,” in his 1958 edition of his book ironically called “Mormon Doctrine.”

    Such statement may not have had a lot of impact in the Mormon corridor where Catholics are no big deal, but in Mexico, where 99.99% of converts come from the Catholic Church, believe me it was.

    As for repentance, well, yeah, a lot of members may have to “repent” for following the teachings of their religious leaders (even at the level of the first presidency and the twelve), but don’t you think that approach is a bit amiss?

  17. Dave on June 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. It is clear there is a wide range of opinion on the issue of Christian rebaptism (or at least on the acceptability of the rationale that non-LDS Christians provide to justify their determinations that LDS baptism is not a Christian baptism).

    The LDS criterion applied to rebaptism of LDS converts is very clear (as stated in True to the Faith and reproduced under the topic baptism at LDS.org):

    The Savior revealed the true method of baptism to the Prophet Joseph Smith, making clear that the ordinance must be performed by one having priesthood authority and that it must be done by immersion.

    Since LDS doctrine and history hold that only LDS priesthood holders currently have “priesthood authority,” which came from angelic messengers to Joseph Smith and his associates early in Mormon history, only LDS baptisms are valid, period.

    For the various Christian denominations, the question is much more involved, as each must decide which other denominations perform valid baptisms and which not. Those choices, and spelling out a general justification for why some are accepted and others are not, generally require considerable investigation, prayer, discussion, and consultation. They write long reports summarizing their inquiries and recommendations. At least it is an inquiry they take seriously.

  18. James Olsen on June 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Feldman’s sounded this note before – he really does seem to hope that Mormons will simply settle down in good conformist fashion, joining the sectarian ranks even if we keep a few, watered down, quaint eccentricities. I don’t much understand it. But I’m certainly in agreement with Jones that he’s wrong (as I’ve written here: http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2011/11/why-bloom-et-al-are-wrong/).

    I suspect that in 20 (well, maybe 40) years the “I’m a Mormon”s will be substantively different than those of today. But I’m also convinced that they won’t be of a more Protestant stripe.

  19. Alison Moore Smith on June 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I think both problems stem from the way the exclusion is made.

    Catholics accept Lutheran baptism as valid and exclude Mormon baptism. We are singled out. (I haven’t researched this, but don’t recall a reason for the discrepancy being given.)

    We don’t accept ANY other baptism, because we have particular parameters for a valid baptism: priesthood authority, particular prayer, complete immersion, etc. We don’t even accept our OWN baptisms if not done exactly as specified (you’ve all seen a do-over, right?)

    Just about anybody on earth who claims Christianity — no matter the brand — is accepted under the “Christian” umbrella. Doctrine is all over the place and contradictory. And there are all sorts of “Christian” preachers who almost never discuss Christ or morality at all, but are almost purely political. But Mormons (and Jehovah’s Witnesses and 7th Day Adventists) are often excluded for reasons that aren’t terrible clear or that vary widely.

    In my experience, Mormons tend to have a pretty broad, inclusive definition of Christian, to mean something like “everyone who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

    I once had a long discussion with a Christian pastor in West Palm Beach. He said I wasn’t Christian. I asked him what a Christian was. He gave me a definition and before I could respond jumped back in and said, “Oh, no, that can’t be it. That would mean Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christian and we know they aren’t.

    In other words, it’s not really about whether or not Mormons (or other “undesirables”) are Christian, it’s about the fact that some Christians want to be exclusive and will define (and redefine) Christianity to exclude the groups they don’t like.

    Lame.

  20. J Town on June 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Perhaps I’m alone in simply not caring too much either way. I take it as a given that other religions would not consider our baptisms “valid”. I would think that Mormons (loath as I am to speak for an entire faith) don’t consider their baptisms valid either. That’s due to my faith in the revealed word of God as I have received it. I see no reason to either apologize for this or to be smug about it. This is simply my faith. Obviously people in other churches don’t believe that. And that’s their right. Why fight over it? Why “join the club” with other churches? Why can’t we simply be kind and charitable, but still hold firmly and unapologetically to our beliefs? Why is that creepy?

    Please don’t get me wrong; I can certainly understand how that belief could be insulting to someone of another faith. But I simply don’t understand why any member of the church should be ashamed of that belief. It’s either the Lord’s church or not. If not, why are we in the church to begin with? If so, I certainly am not ashamed of it, nor should I be.

  21. Jeff Hoyt on June 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Add me as one more that agrees with JG. I would be curious as to why Dave would conclude “most mormons” have a problem with other denominations not accepting our ordinances. I guess I have not discussed this issue with many members, but only because I think of it as a non issue.

  22. Dave on June 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Jeff, based on comments in this thread perhaps “some Mormons” would be a better term. The potential effect of mainstreaming was supposed to be the focus of the post, not the rebaptism question. Maybe I’ll do a separate post on rebaptism (with some additional information) next week.

  23. Manuel on June 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I think being baptized is generally accepted as the defining moment of becoming “Christian” or an actual disciple of Jesus Christ.

    Since certain denominations do not accept us as being “Christian,” by implication, they reject our baptism and ordinances, they reject our efforts to show we want to follow Jesus Christ. They don’t seem to apply to us the loose definition that Christian is anyone who believes and tries to follow Jesus.

    Some Mormons may not have an issue with the baptism rejection in particular (I know some that do), but we (or at least General Authorities) most definitely have an issue with being denied the “Christian” label.

    Why we want to be part of the club somoene asks: apparently for purposes of political agendas, marketing and proselytism, since being acknowledged a Christian or not by other denominations does not limit our ability to actually be Christians and behave Christlike. But that question may be better directed to the GAs. I for one, cannot possibly care less if Evangelicals acknowledge me as a Christian.

    What is creepy is the sense that Mormons seem to feel very entitled to be part of the club and demand to be acknowledged as Christians by other denominations, in the process, they act victimized or missunderstood by the name calling and label deniying by others, but at the same time they act very innocuous about their very own participation in the name calling and label denying, which is plain hypocrisy.

  24. Sarah Familia on June 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I’m with Curtis (#6). Sometimes (particularly outside of Protestant America) it is not a bad thing to be disassociated from mainstream Christianity. When I consider our respective beliefs, I find that I am just as much Muslim or Zoroastrian as I am “Christian” in the sense that my Christian friends mean it. So yes, I think too much is made of the label.

  25. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    If someone decides to leave the LDS Church, I could not care less how many ordinances he has to go through in his new church. I understand conversion to Catholicism is a rather drawn out process, while some Evangelical groups don’t even require baptism.

    I don’t think that Mormons want to accepted into communion with Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant churches, so that we could have our religious passports stamped to participate on par with the official members of any of those denomibations in taking the eucharist, for example. I don’t need their permission to be resurrected, saved or exalted and return to the presence of the Father. Feldman totally misunderstands this.

    What does bother me and most other Mormons are the liars and the lazily ignorant in those churches who tell falsehoods about what we believe. Claiming we are no more Christian than Muslims is the kind of lie that people ought to spend at lrast a weekend in hell for. There are Sputhern Baptist pastors who look at the dectease in their membership and the increase in ours and draw the conclusion that we are their most significant enemy. They can’t very well target the phenomenon of people becoming unchurched, generic believets in God, so they target Mormons. They want Mormons to be anathematized from society so their own followers won’t ever have any opportunity to hear the Mormon version of religion. They have been at this for decades, and it isn’t working all that well, but they are so wedded to their strategy that they think the prominence of ekecting a Mormon to the ptesidency would violate the second class citizenship they have created for Mormons. Most of the impetus behind the “Romney is a slippery flip flopper” slander is based on their long standing theme that “Mormons lie about being Christuans”, which was stated by the head of the Southern Baptist Convention in South Carolina when he announced proudly that Baptists were going to deny Romney the delegates of Sputh Carolina, and because SC had voted for all of the eventual nominees in the last half century, the.nomination. Obviously there are limits to the bigotry that even Southern Republicans can indulge in.

    Over on First Things blog, an Evangelucal pastot is asking why he shpuldn’t be able to take communion in any other Christian church, including Catholic. The responses are running pretty.much against him, with most pointing out that the meaning if communion is different in different traditions, and it isnassent to each meaning that defines who.us “in communion” with that particular church. There are still pkenty of big theological gaps between Catholics, Orthodox, And diffetent varieties if Protestants.

    Mormons are not asking to be “in communion” with Catholics ir Presbyterians. We just want them to stop misrepresenting what we do believe, and slandering men like Joseph Smith. A number of Protestant theologians have admitted that, afyer yeats of teaching about Mormons, they finally READ the Book of Mormon and were astonished to find that “Mormonism is obsessed with Christ”. Richard Mouw displayed his own integrity when he confessed that Protestants have been tellung lies about Mormons, and it has not even worked as a tactic to deter people joining the LDS Church. Traditional Christians don’t need to deny their own theology in order to acknowledge that Mormons sincerely worship the Jesus depicted in the Bible, even if they disagree with our other beliefs.

    As for the characterization of the Catholic Church as the “Great and Abominable Church of the Devil,” McConkie was just adopting rhetoric that had been used since the Refornation by Pritestants. They were the same ones who created catalogs of reasons to comclude the Church.of Rome was apostate from the true Church of Christ. This should not surprise us. In 1830, Catholics wete not a significant part of the population of former British.colonies. the Protestants who dominated the early US were convinced that Catholicism was a wicked institution that threatened Protestants, based on experiences like the Spanish Armada. That view of Catholucism and the adoption of Young Earth Creationism are two of the ways in which Mormons have been a bit too eager to adopt Protestant views uncritically.

    The falsehoods told about Mormonism have negative effects on the ability of the Church to operate in other countries. They affect the ability of Mormons to find work, and they affect the ability of Mormons to participate fully as vitizens, including being elected to office. They affect the decisions made by zoning authorities about cobstruction of new meetinghouses and temples.

    One of the more absurd falsehoods is the claim Mormons are racist. The Church needs to post in easily viewable form the pictures of all the Area Seventies so that even the laziest repirter can have his nose rubbed in the fact of the ethnic diversoty of the Church memberrship.

  26. Stephen R Marsh on June 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I am in line with the first comment on baptism.

    Alison, the Catholics used to accept only those with lines of authority from the Orthodox and Catholic Church. Then they expanded. Now it is basically any credal Christian Church. We are in the group that does not follow the creeds.

    I am not quite certain the current limits. Bit the above is a rough guide.

  27. Chris Kimball on June 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Regarding baptism/rebaptism/intercommunion, my experience is:
    a. most Mormons don’t care or come so quickly to “we don’t, so why should they” that it amounts to don’t care;
    b. some Mormons, upon learning that there is such a thing as full communion and partial communion, and a sometimes lively discussion about those categories including different meanings (often) for Protestants and Catholics, are kind of bothered by the fact that the LDS Church is not in any kind of communion with anybody–it’s a big “outsider” flag;
    c. when non-Mormons I have known get serious and careful about recognizing baptism or intercommunion or any status for the LDS Church, the language isn’t “Christian or non-Christian” but rather “Trinitarian or not” which moves rather quickly to the creeds.

    And an interesting counter-example, that a from-birth-Mormon woman I knew about converted as an adult to the Roman Catholic church. She was insistent on her (Mormon) baptism being recognized. The final decision was that notwithstanding what the LDS Church says its baptism means and signifies (which would not qualify), based on what her baptism meant to her and how she understood it, her actual individual experience was accepted as a Christian baptism. (This was some years ago, however, and I suspect the lines have hardened since then.)

  28. Manuel on June 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Raymond’s response is rather interesting and common among Mormons. McConkie’s public relations flop is of course minimized. Concern about why others’ don’t consired us Christians is non existent: the reason is deducted, they are “liars.” Furthermore, the typical brutal ignorance about their own doctrine, history and practice: “One of the more absurd falsehoods is the claim Mormons are racist.” That is the true lie here.

  29. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Manuel, Richard Mouw apologized on behalf of Evangelicals for a long-established practice of “bearing false witness” against the Mormons, misrepresenting what we believe and how we live. That is “lying”.

    It does not bother me at all if someone who belongs to another religion makes an effort to persuade individual Mormons that he has a superior religious organization and doctrine. That is what we do all the time as LDS missionaries when we teach people of other faith backgrounds. We don’t need to misrepresent the beliefs of other churches in order to persuade our members of the truths of our own. After all, every Mormon ward, especially outside Utah, has people who used to belong to several of those other churches and can tell you why they chose to become Latter-day Saints.

    Bruce McConkie’s following Protestants into demonizing the Catholic Church was obviously something he recognized was not justified and which he repented of. I simply pointed out that he did not originate the idea, which came from some of the same Protestant sectarian animosity that continues to be directed against Mormons.

    Manuel, since I am a Japanese-American, and have been an attorney for over 30 years, including administrative litigation involving claims of racial discrimination, I think I know a bit about the history of racism in America and can recognize racial discrimination. I have never experienced racism within the Church. I have seen continuing racial animosity towards “Japs” growing out of the World War II experience for certain surviving veterans and their families around the US, but I have never seen it among Mormons. Mormons were just as heavily propagandized as the rest of America toward hating the Japanese, but they did not clamor for the Japanese Americans already living in Utah to be put into the internment camps in southern Utah and southern Idaho. After the war, when my parents and I came to America, Apostle Matthew Cowley, who oversaw Asia and the Pacific, was speaking in the stake conference of my grandparent’s stake, where we were intiially living, and he recognized my parents and called them up to the stand. He called on the Latter-day Saints to embrace my mother as a Sister in the gospel, and they did. Even though some of them had fought in the Pacific or lost family members there, my mother never experienced any racism from Mormons.

    I have lived in wards and branches in Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Maryland, Virginia, Mississippi, California, Idaho, Washington, and Japan. I have visited LDS congregations in several other states, including Hawaii and the territory of Guam. I have never experienced or observed racism.

    If you experienced racism from some particular person who you know was Mormon, it was because of some peculiarity in that person’s upbringing, not because of the Church and its teachings.

  30. Dusty Rhoades on June 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Mormons are inchristian.

  31. Mark B. on June 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    But, of course, those same Mormons who dominated the Utah legislature then (just like now) enacted a law that prohibited marriages between Caucasians and Asians. So, if it was a peculiarity in a person’s upbringing that caused him to be racist, it was an unfortunately widespread peculiarity.

  32. Manuel on June 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    “Manuel, Richard Mouw apologized on behalf of Evangelicals for a long-established practice of “bearing false witness” against the Mormons, misrepresenting what we believe and how we live. That is “lying”.”

    So… are you going to use that as an umbrella to say everyting Evangelicals or any other denomination say about Mormons are simply lies? Yeah, you are definitely a lawyer, and that is definitely a flawed approach and manipulative approach to the interaction and dialogue between Mormons and other denominations.

    I fully agree with your second paragraph. But it is hard to say our stance on the issue is representative of the Church membership in general. In my experience it is not.

    I’m sorry but I am not aware of McConkie “repenting” of such statement. He certaintly removed it, but as far as repenting, especially in the LDS sense of the term, I don’t believe so. And who cares where the idea originated? It was still used by LDS leadership to identify a non-LDS denomination.

    And thank you for the background you provide regarding Mormons and Japanese people. But, do you realize there have been other ethnic minorities that have had to deal with Mormon racism? Yes, read it well: MORMON RACISM. Do you realize even President Hinckley was aware of ongoing racism among Mormons and spoke against it? Oh, and where were you weeks ago when a BYU professor regurgitated once again publicly some of the RACIST folklore once propagated by General Authorities and that as a matter of fact the Church has FAILED to efficiently address within its members?

    “If you experienced racism from some particular person who you know was Mormon, it was because of some peculiarity in that person’s upbringing, not because of the Church and its teachings.”

    I disagree. Actually I have, and yes, the “peculiarity” of that person’s (people’s) upbringing is that it includes DECADES OF MORMON RACISM and a PLETHORA OF RACIST MORMON FALSE TEACHINGS PROPAGATED BY THE LEADERS OF THE CHURCH THEMSELVES. In my experience, the problem still exists. The current leaders have done a MINIMAL effort to address it in the proper venues to reach all members in a global and official fashion. In fact, the current First Presidency has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, notwithstanding the notorious and above mentioned RACIST gaffe by a “beloved” BYU professor.

    Open your eyes. Thank you.

  33. Adam G. on June 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    For me, “I’m sorry, but” is the new Godwin’s Law. Anyone who says it has just lost the argument.

  34. Manuel on June 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Well Adam, I don’t see the connection to Godwin’s Law. I see how it can be annoying to read it but I think your comparison is (in the Peter Griffin sense of usage) rather pedantic. So who cares.