Another Article on ‘Anti-Mormons’

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?

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The Bundy Bunch

After every major terrorist attack committed by Muslims, some of my xenophobic facebook acquaintances passive aggressively question why moderate Muslims don’t speak out. The implication is that the actions of a few radical extremists speak for the entire religion. Of course, countless moderate Muslims do speak out against the violent radicalism. But that doesn’t fit the narrative, so it is ignored.

I’m no fan of Islam (or religion in general). I abhor particularly its sexism, propensity towards violence against those who leave or criticize, and general lackadaisical attitude for progressing human rights. But I find it incredibly hypocritical that many Christians lambast Islam for not doing enough to combat Islamic terrorism while simultaneously ignoring Christian terrorism, which is both frequent and deadly. Attacks against health clinics like Planned Parenthood are reprehensible, yet are largely ignored by right-wing conservatives in their war against Islam.

The most recent example is from Mormonism itself. Though the religion has a long and storied history of violence, culminating in one of the deadliest terrorist incidents in United States history, it is perceived in recent times to be a peaceful religion. Yet active, believing Mormons such as the Bundy’s continue to break the law and attempt to get into a violent shootout with government agents.

Yesterday’s news that two Bundy’s illegally occupied a federal building in Oregon and plan on defending themselves by killing any federal agents is frightening. But it leaves me wondering why the Mormon church, both its members and its leaders, are not speaking out against such threats and actions. When women like Kate Kelly are excommunicated simply for wanting gender equality, why are the Bundy’s treated with institutional silence and allowed to remain members?

My tongue is firmly in my cheek of course, but does this mean that the Mormon church endorses and encourages such violent, illegal measures?

Sexual Slavery

Recently, I have become aware of a phenomenon in some conservative circles that wives should never say no to their husbands in regards to sex. At first, I had a hard time not believing it was satire. It’s such an incredibly sexist, backwards way of looking at marital intimacy that it left my jaw nearly on the floor.

But it is real. And many people who support the idea are unafraid to say so. This trend may have really took wings with Dr. Laura’s old book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, where she essentially blames the victim (the wife) when a husband cheats. From her blog on the subject:

“Typically, the person who has been cheated on jumps to blame instead of looking at their participation in their spouse’s fooling around.  They make it all about how they’ve been hurt, and ignore the fact that they’ve betrayed their vows by not supporting or paying attention to their spouse.”

Dr. Laura, my wife never vowed to have sex with me whenever I want. That’s not in any marriage vows I have ever heard of. If I cheat on her, it is entirely my fault and not hers. This extremely sexist fear-mongering makes gullible women feel that they must be subservient in the sexual arena in order to prevent their husbands from cheating.

Other people have been more explicit than Dr. Laura, claiming that wives should always acquiesce their husband’s sexual desires. Just ask Michelle Duggar, the prominent mother-figure from the famous Duggar family, who quotes on her blog advice from her friend:

“Anyone can iron Jim Bob’s shirt, anybody can make lunch for him. He can get his lunch somewhere else. But you are the only one who can meet that special need that he has in his life for intimacy. You’re it. You’re the only one. So don’t forget that, that he needs you. So when you are exhausted at the end of the day, maybe from dealing with little ones, and you fall into bed so exhausted at night, don’t forget about him because you and he are the only ones who can have that time together. No one else in the world can meet that need.
“And so be available, and not just available, but be joyfully available for him. Smile and be willing to say, ‘Yes, sweetie I am here for you,’ no matter what, even though you may be exhausted and big pregnant and you may not feel like he feels. ‘I’m still here for you and I’m going to meet that need because I know it’s a need for you.’”

Jim Bob sounds like an asshole.

Or perhaps we could look at biblicalgenderroles.com’s advice:

“If your wife is un-submissive in the sexual arena and chronically denies your sexual advances (without legitimate medical or psychological reasons for doing so) then perhaps that upcoming trip you were going to take her on gets canceled. Maybe that wardrobe upgrade your wife was looking forward to gets downsized or canceled.”

It’s particularly troubling that the first two people I quoted are women. They are perpetuating the patriarchal sexism that has existed throughout human history. This is nothing short of sexual slavery. And really, it approaches rape. If a woman doesn’t want to have sex with her husband, she should not have sex with her husband! And for him to force her out of guilt, fear, obligation, or biblical nonsense is an unacceptable and shameful coercion.

I could probably write another post or two about how society and culture repeat the false claim that men always have higher sex drives than women. Or maybe a post about how strident opposition to masturbation makes normal differences in libidos a much larger factor in marital distress. But what do I know? I’m just a happily married guy who treats his wife as an equal instead of as a sex toy.