So let’s just clear something up immediately: the term ‘anti-Mormon’ is used to to dismiss and/or demonize the target. I’m critical of many aspects of Mormonism and regret having ever been part of it, but the term has come to be a derogatory and dismissive epithet. Those who use it are not trying to create a healthy dialogue, they are trying to disparage anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
Yet another blog post surfaced today attacking ‘anti-Mormons’ and this one is a whopper. I know nothing about the author, which makes it easy to simply digest and evaluate the content rather than a person’s character.
“There’s Only One Credible Alternative to the Restored Gospel”
The author proceeds to then give a half-hearted attempt to claim that ex-Mormons often become atheists because Christianity without Mormonisms special twists just isn’t appealing. As someone who actually left Mormonism and became an atheist, that wasn’t it at all and the author clearly doesn’t have empathy for ex-Mormons.
I left Mormonism because of two main things: lack of supporting evidence and considerable evidence that disproves it. Yes, there were certainly aspects of the religion that annoyed me, but when contemplating eternal punishments and rewards, truth is more important than how uncomfortable it was to contemplate an untrained bishop privately asking my teenage daughter about her masturbation habits.
The same skeptical, critical inquiry that led me to reject Mormonism led me to reject Christianity as well. It wasn’t that Christianity lacked Mormonism’s prophets or extra scriptures; it was that Christianity was also supernatural nonsense backed by zero evidence.
“Crises of Faith in LDS Communities Are Really Just a Symptom of a Larger Problem”
I think the author is correct in some sense, but is underestimating Mormonism’s problems. Yes, Western society is undergoing a gradual shift away from stone-age religions. There are many theories around it, though most seem to boil down to the information age providing a greater deal of, well, information at someone’s fingertips. Just as the Gutenberg Press dealt a huge blow to Catholicism, the internet is hurting religions worldwide through the spread of information.
But the statistics are showing that Mormonism is hurting worse than most. Could it be because Mormon leaders were particularly aggressive in shielding adherents from truthful church history? Or that Mormonism’s history was uniquely muddy and ugly, including a 30+ year old prophet marrying other men’s wives and multiple 14-year-old girls? Or that Mormonism is adapting slower than many other religions to things like civil rights, feminism, and marriage equality?
“Post-Modern Atheism Is Paving the Way for a New and Destructive Moral Order”
Predictably, this is where the author really starts to go off the rails. There are numerous paragraphs full of doomsday scenarios about atheistic societies, but no actual examination of societies that are and have been primarily atheistic for lengthy periods of time. Why not take a look at Japan, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway? Compared to the US, they are considerably more peaceful and better in terms of equality, happiness, access to healthcare, and dozens of other important metrics.
If Mormonism was the one true religion and led people to be happier, healthier citizens, then why are Utah’s numbers so troubling? Why are the rates of fraud, opioid addiction, and suicide so high in Utah?
“The Book of Mormon Powerfully Responds to This Mindset”
If there’s one thing the Book of Mormon handles worse than anything else, it’s atheism. In an incredibly crude and unbelievable story about an atheist, Korihor, the Book of Mormon showcases the height of Mormon hypocrisy. A religion built upon a strong persecution complex and a heightened desire for religious freedom should not be proud of what its main book does to the token atheist. Korihor essentially was a modern Mormon missionary, traveling around preaching his beliefs. He was treated horribly by the faithful, made deaf and dumb, was kicked out of the Nephite society, and finally was trampled to death. He committed no act of violence and broke no laws. Yet he is treated by both the book and current Mormons as one of the worst human beings to have ever lived, an ‘anti-Christ’. Shocking.
“Lehi explains that for agency to work, man must not only have freedom, but choices. The goal of Atheism, however, is to destroy the moral distinction between choices.“
That is absolutely not what atheism is about. Atheism is a lack of belief in supernatural deities. And without the moral guidelines coming from ancient books or geriatric men, atheists generally believe that moral guidelines should be determined through open discussion, objective evidence, and empathy.
Slavery provides an excellent example of morality determined through religion or through secular manners. Most of us (hopefully) would agree that slavery was an absolutely despicable thing to do to a human being and that a person’s skin color should not have any bearing on whether or not they can be enslaved. Yet the Bible teaches and promotes slavery. Many, many slave owners and defenders of slavery turned to the Bible to defend the practice and continued to thump their Bible to justify racism long after slavery was abolished.
We were able to get rid of slavery and reduce racism through secular means and despite religion, not because of it.
Ask yourself this: why is history replete with atrocities committed in the name of religion? From the Crusades to the Mountain Meadow Massacre to ISIS, a huge proportion of horrific violence can be directly attributed to religious dogma. Maybe atheism isn’t a “new and destructive moral order”? Maybe it’s an improvement over religion?