An ex-Mormon bishop using the nick “monomor” did an “Ask Me Anything” Q&A on reddit today. His answers are fascinating and, sometimes, quite heartbreaking. Worth a read, especially if you enjoyed the recent podcast with Brad.
Mr Deity (aka Brian Dalton) has a laugh at the expense of the Book Of Mormon in the latest episode of Mr Deity. Close to his heart – he’s a former Mormon (or FoMo) himself as you would already know if you listened to my interview with him back in 2007.
Seriously though – my dear Mormons – your book is so far removed from historical fact – how do you take it seriously?
My guest today is Brad Heitmann. Brad lives in Utah, has a background in investment banking and start-up strategy and loves history. Today, however, he joins me to talk about his religion – The Church Of Latter Day Saints aka Mormons. To all those people asking me for years “when are you going to a show about Mormons” – you can now shut the hell up.
Brad and I discuss the life of the founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith – I especially wanted to focus on his trial for being a conman (he was found guilty), his polygamy and the reasons behind his eventual murder. We also discuss the methods by which we search for Truth.
I’d like to thank Brad for having the balls to come on the show. He was a good sport and I hope he takes me up on my offer to come back soon. You can follow him on Twitter @bradheitmann
If you’re interested in the Mormon religion, here’s a few links I recommend:
I totally endorse this rant by Penn Jillette. Sure, what Mormons (and Scientologists) believe sounds batshit crazy to most of us. But is it really any crazier than what mainstream Christians, Jews or Muslims believe? Hell no. “Just more modern, not more crazy”, as Penn says.
I’m as confused as Penn is about how otherwise intelligent-sounding people can just spout crazy stuff and act like it’s totally normal. It’s especially scary when you hear it from politicians, the people who are supposedly running the country. Surely there should be a sanity test that you have to pass before you can be elected to public office.
I wonder how many Mormons know Joseph Smith was put on trial for being a conman a few years before he founded the church?
The story goes like this:
“For several years preceding the appearance of his book, he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker: pretending, by means of a certain stone, or glass, which he put in a hat, to be able to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, &c. Although he constantly failed in his pretensions, still he had his dupes who put implicit confidence in all his words. In this town, a wealthy farmer, named Josiah Stowell, together with others, spent large sums of money in digging for hidden money, which this Smith pretended he could see, and told them where to dig; but they never found their treasure.
“At length the public, becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of Justice. But, considering his youth, (he being then a minor,) and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape. This was four or five years ago. From this time he absented himself from this place, returning only privately, and holding clandestine intercourse with his credulous dupes, for two or three years.”
The above account is taken from the first published telling of events, written by Abram W. Benton and published in the Evangelical Magazine & Gospel Advocate in 1831, about 5 years after the events occurred (via Omninerd).
The LDS apologists I’ve read online (including the author of the article on Omninerd) tend to try to brush it off by saying “well back then money digging wasn’t unusual”, missing the point that he wasn’t tried for “money digging” per se, he was tried (as far as we can tell from the surviving records) for being a conman, that is, he kept pretending he actually could locate buried treasure using his supernatural powers when, in fact, as far as the records show, he was totally unsuccessful in finding any treasure.
It speaks about the man’s character. And this trial happened 6 years after Smith claims that he had been visited by Jesus. I’d like to ask Mormons to engage their critical mind and ask themselves: is a conman who was going around the country trying to scam money out of gullible people the kind of person that you would put your trust in today? If someone who was a known conman turned up today and told you that he’d been visited by an angel or Jesus, would you believe him?
Read more about Joseph Smith’s career as a hustler here.
In addition, there is plenty of evidence that a lot of Mormon rituals and symbols were copied by Smith from what he learned from the Freemasons. His father was made a master Mason in 1818, quite a few of the original Mormons were also Freemasons and Smith himself became a master Mason in 1840. According to “MORMONISM AND MASONRY” by S.H. Goodwin (1920), Mormon temple worship shares an extensive commonality of symbols, signs, vocabulary and clothing with Freemasonry, including robes, aprons, handshakes, ritualistic raising of the arms, etc. The LDS church was started during a time in the United States when there was a backlash against the Masons. Did Smith just transform the Masonic lodge into a church?
Anyone interested in Joseph Smith’s story should read the classic “No Man Knows My History” by Fawn Brodie published in 1945.
Oh no, Mormons aren’t trying to deny a minority group their basic rights. It’s the MORMONS that are a minority group who are being attacked. In fact, they are just like the African-Americans who lived in the South during the civil rights movement.
The fucking BALLS on these people!
Oh sure – they commanded their brainwashed hoards to spend millions promoting fear and lies in the lead up to the Prop 8 vote – but that’s just because they are a small, attacked minority.
Sure – in 1997 Time Magazine called them one of the wealthiest churches in the world per capita – but you can still be uber-rich and be a persecuted minority…. can’t you?
Sure – in 1967, Mormon Apostle (and later church President) Ezra Taft Benson, said “the Negroes” fighting for civil rights were getting their “planning, direction, and leadership… from the Communists”.
Sure – in 1954, one of the LDS “elders” tried to justify segregation, saying “I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation? It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Only here we have the reverse of the thing — what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.”
Read some of the speeches of Mormon leaders during the civil rights battles and then compare them to this most recent speech about the gay rights movement and you’ll see the VERY SAME RHETORIC being used. “It’s God’s Law”, “It’s always been this way”, etc etc. It’s a disgrace and any Mormon who doesn’t have the integrity to do what Todd Whitaker did, deserves our contempt.
Todd Whitaker, the Mormon who bravely spoke out against LDS bigtory inside the church and had uploaded his speech to YouTube, added some background to the story in the comments section to my post. He said:
Todd here…WOW What a Great Thread this is, I Guess speaking the truth in my ward seems to have caught on to many other wards here in california. The church is trying to Silence what is happening just as they tried to silence me but I have had several phone calls in reference to My testimony and how it has inspired so many to think outside the box and see how wrong this church was in participating in a political election. So Many are waking up Now to LDS Policy and are having their names removed from all church records by the Hundreds, As a 7th Generation Pioneer Heritage Mormon with family that died at the hands of Indians settling in southern Utah under the direction Of brigham Young in a Ghost town called “Grafton” My Family has shed Its Own Blood for this Church, Im Very Glad To have brought So Much Truth and uncovered an Evil Act Towards Minority groups in America, as I have stated on several other posts, I Only video Taped this event so that My Father who is Very Old and Ill, could witness this event as he is so very proud of his children for Not allowing Bigotry into their lives…This WAS an Honest Testimony and With my tithe dollars and fast offerings They Still shut off the Mic…Im glad the world has a chance to see the REAL MORMON CHURCH in action for a change’….Todd Whitaker
Once again Todd, you have my respect for taking a stance against this bigotry. With a family background such as this, I’m sure it was a difficult thing to go through, but hopefully it will give other Mormons the courage to follow in your footsteps. Sure – most will stick their head in the sand and just repeat their mantras over and over to justify their actions. But history has taught us that it only takes a relatively small number of people who have the courage to speak out against intolerance to start the snowball rolling. Hopefully you’ve started something.
As some of you may know, my girlfriend Christine (aka @fddlgrl) is a “formon” (that’s an ex-Mormon, I have to thank Mr Deity himself for introducing me to that term). She grew up in Utah in a tiny, mostly-Mormon town, the full deal but she broke away from the church when she was about 18.
Anyway I know she’s had lots of debates with active church members about Prop 8 (the Californian law, sponsored in large part by the Mormons last year, which banned gay marriage) and whether or not Mormons are allowed to speak out against it without being ostracized. This clip supports her argument that Mormons can’t speak out without fear of retribution. This guy tried expressing his disappointment with the LDS’ church’s support of Prop 8 and watch what happens.
So what does this tell us about religious organisations like the Latter Day Saints? They don’t appreciate it when people inside the church start thinking for themselves. Why not? What do they fear? That one person actually thinking for themselves might start a trend? If they aren’t scared, why not let the guy speak his mind? If they are so sure of the moral superiority of their position, why not allow, in fact ENCOURAGE, free and open debate?
Because, my friends, religion is an act of mind control. It exists to pray on the minds and the wallets of the weak.
This is the same reason Father Peter Kennedy was defrocked from the Ca$holic Church earlier this year and why Father Bob Maguire in Melbourne has been told to resign. They had the temerity to think for themselves instead of obeying orders and sticking to the script.
If you are a member of either of these religious “institutions”, I invite you to argue with me in the comments section below.
Angie – you are my new hero.
Angie goes online and chats with Mormon missionaries – then posts the whole discussion on her blog, complete with witty and acerbic asides. You go, girl.
Wikipedia defines bigotry as:
“A bigot is a person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles or identities differing from his or her own, and bigotry is the corresponding attitude or mindset.”
Anyone who voted for Prop 8 in the recent Californian elections or who contributed money to the campaign for it – the Bill which introduced a ban on same-sex marriage into the Californian constitution – is a bigot, plain and simple. Prop 8 was, of course, mostly financed by the Mormons, The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The Mormons are understandably copping a lot of heat for their actions including an investigation into whether or not they broke Californian disclosure laws.
I think Jack Black has it right in this video: