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Getting On : Faith


from Gar - Monday, August 04, 2003
accessed 1639 times

I thought that since a few of you were talking about Mormonism this article would interest you.

Not long after leaving my screen writing career in Hollywood, I was hired to assist on a documentary produced by a Christian film company. The subject was Mormonism and the company's initial screens were not very successful. They hoped that my film experience and input would help improve the project. I was familiar with the theology of Mormonism through my previous work on a documentary addressing multiple cults; so after reviewing the docudrama a couple of times, my solution was to re-edit the film so that it focused primarily on the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, simply what Mormons believe. That hardly seems like a brilliant idea, or even a particularly interesting one. Perhaps -- but then you may not be familiar with the teachings of Joseph Smith and LDS's so-called Apostles and Prophets.

Historians have marveled at how quickly so many people flocked to Joseph Smiths new theology. Within a decade he had thousands of followers. A principle reason for this rapid rise in popularity was Mormonism's startling and distinct contrast with what the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and various other Christian denominations believe. To begin with, Smith taught that most of the beliefs of Christianity had become hopelessly corrupted, including the Bible, and that which had been supernaturally revealed to him would restore Gods truth. The main attraction, however, was theological novelty.

Today the LDS Church has taken a different tactic involving new name preferences (play down "Mormonism," play up "Church of Jesus Christ") and other strategies (e.g., create an image of being a part of mainstream Christianity through advertising campaigns). It's working. After Islam, Mormonism is now the fastest growing religion in the world, although little has changed doctrinally from the Churches novel beginnings.

Mormonism teaches that God has a physical body and lives on a planet near a star called Kolob. He is but one of an infinite number of Gods, each ruling over his own world located somewhere in the universe. Supposedly, each God has untold numbers of goddess wives who produce millions of spirit children. Amazingly, these spiritual offspring of God and his goddesses must then be birthed through physical beings (non-gods) on earth. This obtains for them the physical bodies necessary to become Gods and goddesses, who create and rule over their own worlds. Polygamy was a major part of Mormonism. It met the need for producing bodies for the spirit babies birthed by multiple mother goddesses. It is still practiced among Mormon sects today. The Latter-day Saints focus on the family has more to do with the Churches biblically unorthodox theology than with domestic well-being.

According to LDS teaching, Jesus was one of those spirit babies (as was his spirit brother Lucifer, who became Satan). The conception of Jesus was unique but not virginal; God, who is physical, had intercourse with Mary. Furthermore, since producing children is critical to a Mormon males progression to godhood, Jesus had children through the women (the sisters Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene, etc.) who accompanied him. Supposedly, he married them at the wedding feast of Cana.

Mormonisms salvation accommodates nearly everyone in one "heaven" or another. The death of Jesus on the cross was redemptive only in that it provided physical resurrection (bodies) for all. Obeying the commandments and performing Church duties and rituals are necessary in order to reach the Celestial Kingdom. Those who fall short of such requirements may still enter in as Celestial servants, and, if not, they can abide in the Terrestrial Kingdom. Moral non-Mormons may spend eternity in the Telestial Kingdom. Hell is a purgatory-like place and is eternal only for those few who commit the "unpardonable sin," such as apostasy. Nearly everyone has a chance to improve his eternal status after death.

Although we've heard the saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction," Mormonism seriously challenges this idea. The most sacred scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is The Book of Mormon, which reads like rather bizarre but poor fiction trying its best to be taken as revealed truth. If that opinion sounds a bit "intolerant," bear with me.

The Book of Mormon claims to be a record of two migrations of ancient people to the Americas: the family of Jared around 2000 B.C. and, 1,500 years later, the family of Lehi. The first migration supposedly took place when the Tower of Babel was being constructed. A central character, curiously referred to only as the "brother of Jared," is instructed by God to build eight watertight, rudderless "barges" to carry people and animals (including bees and fish) to the promised land. The brother of Jared realized that breathing and seeing might become a problem aboard the all-wooden, "tight like unto a dish" crafts and asked God for some design modifications. God told him to bore a hole that could be plugged in the top and bottom of the barges for air, and to place a shining stone in the end of each vessel for light. Chapter 2 of Ether states that the barges were tossed about and "buried in the depths of the sea" many times. This rather implausible sea journey (even for a supernaturally guided one) took nearly a year and delivered the people to the uninhabited Americas. There the Jaredites grew from 30 or so to multiple thousands and then perished because of their wickedness.
In the second migration to the promised land, Israelites left Jerusalem around 600 B.C. on a single vessel guided by a supernaturally provided "brass ball." Soon after their arrival, Lehis sons, Laman and Lemuel, rebelled against God; they and their followers were cursed by God, which resulted in "a skin of blackness to come upon them." They were called Lamanites, and Mormonism claims that these dark-skinned Hebrews are the original ancestors of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. The followers of Nephi remained "white, exceedingly fair and delightsome" and throughout their history these groups were at enmity with each other.

Shortly after his resurrection, the Book of Mormon claims that Jesus came to America, where he taught the Nephites the gospel (of works salvation), ordained disciples and gave instructions concerning the sacraments of communion and baptism.

Around the fifth century A.D., the Lamanites finally destroyed all the Nephites so that only the dark-skinned people remained in the Americas. Following the final battle, the last surviving Nephite, Moroni, finished recording on plates the events of his people and hid them beneath a rock on the Hill Cumorah (located in upstate New York). Approximately 1,400 years later Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr., giving him the location of the "gold plates" and instructing him to translate them into English.

The process of translation involved Smiths putting a "seer stone" into a hat and covering the opening with his face. The stone would then glow, Reformed Egyptian symbols would appear, and the English rendering would manifest below them. Smith dictated the translation and the image remained until it was transcribed correctly. Written in the introduction to The Book of Mormon are these words of Joseph Smith: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."
Is this "the most correct" book on earth? The veracity of that statement is critical to the faith of 11 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 10th President of the Mormon Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, made plain what is at stake: "Mormonism...must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground...." Yet when the "ground" of his having been "a prophet of God" is examined reasonably, it begins to look more and more like swampland.

The errors found within the Book of Mormon have filled volumes. Even the LDS Church has made thousands of corrections since the books first edition in 1830. Some problems, however, cant be resolved without expunging major parts of the book. For example, first and second Nephi were supposedly recorded in the fifth century B.C.; yet, astonishingly, these books quote passages from the New Testament, which was written in the first century A.D! The book recorded by Alma dates between 92 and 53 B.C., yet uses the word "Christians." Acts (covering the timespan A.D. 33-62) tells us that name was first used in Antioch to refer to the followers of Christ. Moreover, Nephi, supposedly a Hebrew prophet writing from America, used Greek terms such as "Christ" rather than "Messiah." Its also more than odd that these transplanted Hebrews knew far more about Jesus prior to his coming (and alleged later visitation to America) than their brethren in Israel did, while at the same time, details in the Book of Mormon regarding the Mosaic and Levitical laws are almost nonexistent. One glaring example: the necessity of keeping the Passover is neither endorsed nor even mentioned. All of this adds up to an obvious New Testament bias on the part of the writer of this Mormon sacred scripture.

There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence that Joseph Smith had more than supernatural assistance in compiling the Book of Mormon. Speculative writings concerning the origins of the Indians were popularized in his day through such works as Ethan Smiths The View of the Hebrews and the writings of Rev. Solomon Spaulding. These and other relevant works were certainly available to the Mormon prophet. However, his plagiarism of the Bible is the most convincing indication that Joseph Smith fraudulently produced the Latter-day Saints holy writ. Jerald and Sandra Tanners Joseph Smiths Plagiarism of the Bible (see resource page) provides exact quotes and parallels found in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. They write, " the Book of Mormon we have Lehi, the father of Nephi, quoting from the New Testament book of Revelation almost seven centuries before it was written!" Thousands of other examples follow. Furthermore, some KJV quotes include italicized words not found in the Hebrew, Greek or Latin manuscripts from which they were translated, but were inserted by the A.D. 1611 translators simply to clarify the text. Did the inspiration process include translating Reformed Egyptian, written by Hebrew-speaking scribes, into the centuries-later King James English (including some Greek and Latin terms) complete with italicized words, or did Joseph Smith simply contrive the Book of Mormon together with ample help from a KJV Bible and other sources?

The Bible has been scrutinized, analyzed and criticized for thousands of years, yet nothing has been exposed which undermines the Book that declares itself to be Gods Word. Moreover, mountains of evidence from diverse fields of study support its claims of supernatural origin.

Nothing of the kind can be said for the Book of Mormon. Archaeologists have found nothing to support the land, cities, monuments, or peoples the book presents. History, anthropology and linguistics are likewise silent. But one field, molecular biology, has had much to say lately, and its not good news for defenders of the Mormon faith.

The introduction to the Book of Mormon underscores an important claim made by this alleged sacred text: "After thousands of years, all [i.e., the white Hebrew descend-ants of Lehi] were destroyed except the [dark-skinned] Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians." When Joseph Smith was young, one of the popular mysteries of his day was the origin of the Native Americans. It made for interesting speculation but seemed far beyond the possibility of proof. Not so today. The science of DNA supplies such proof, which will stand up in a court of law. It is now possible to trace a persons DNA back through centuries to accurately determine ones ancestry.

There is a stunning new video now available on this subject titled DNA vs. The Book of Mormon (see resource page), which is both groundbreaking and powerful in its simplicity. Among the featured scientists is Dr. David Glenn Smith, a molecular anthropologist and researcher from the University of California at Davis who has studied Native Americans for 30 years, and whose lab is this countries leading test center for Indian genetics. Here is his view, as well as the consensus of scientists in his field: "If you look at genes in Native Americans...they came from their ancestral populations....You can look for those genes in Jewish populations but you don't find them....they don't coincide at all. The homeland of Native Americans is East Asia."

The video includes anthropologist and Mormon scholar, Thomas Murphy, who summarizes the dilemma for the LDS Church: "...we don't have a single source from ancient America outside the Book of Mormon validating a single place, a single person, a single event....We don't have any of that, so the problem that DNA poses for the Book of Mormon, in a sense, exemplifies the difficulties that we already have....There's never been any evidence that would show us that there had been an Israelite migration to the New World. Not in genetics or for that matter in any other source, historical, archaeological, or linguistic."

If there was no Israelite migration, then there were no Nephite or Lamanite people; therefore, Joseph Smith was a fraud and the Book of Mormon -- "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" -- is patently false. Worse yet, it is soul-damning fiction. That's the grievous plight of millions of Latter-day Saints faithful to Joseph Smiths teaching.

If the opportunity arises for you to interact with Mormons, please don't avoid them. Christ died for them. Although most Mormons cling to their false faith in the Book of Mormon based upon feelings (a "burning in the bosom" experience), their irrationality is being confronted more and more by irrefutable evidence from science. Increasing numbers are facing the fact that they were duped by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, et al. Show them the love of the biblical Jesus by being informed about their beliefs and, most importantly, share with them the truth which set you free (Jn 8:31,32). Pray for a mass exodus from the bondage of Mormonism.

T.A. McMahon

Reader's comments on this article

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from Cultinvator
Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - 00:02


It appears that a lot of these new religions do borrow ideas from each other, and incorporate other more occult aspects of challenging religions to the traditional major faiths. We had some representatives of the LDS church give a speech and I guess the whole class was rather turned off to the idea that they believed that obeying leaders or those that be of authority in the land, is more important than chosing to dissagree and disobey out of conscience when unethical. In other words, it was ok for a mormon living in Nazi Jermany to exterminate Jews if his authority told him to, so the blame would be for his authorities to bear, explaining that mormons from the Allied forces often had to kill other mormons that were nazis in germany not out of hate but out of duty. A load of crap if you ask me, diverting the power of choice and will to a structure of order instead of personal choice.

(reply to this comment)

from Mir
Thursday, August 07, 2003 - 06:55

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
it's incredible the lengths that some men will go to in order to justify screwing as many women as possible
(reply to this comment)
From Wolf
Thursday, August 07, 2003, 09:29

And you haven't even seen the lengths I go to yet....but then again I don't use religion as a pretext. (reply to this comment
from FreeThinker
Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 02:49

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

I agree that Mormonism rests on shaky ground. But that doesn't make your fundamentalism any better. If you want to attack them from a doctrinal perspective, fine. But it is ridiculous for you to claim that: "..mountains of evidence from diverse fields of study support it's (the Bible's) claims of supernatural origin." That simply isn't true. If you believe that God inspired the Bible, then for you it's true, for those of us who don't, it's mythology.

You rightly criticize the LDS for having no genetic or archeological backup for their fables, but then you say: "the Book of patently false. Worse yet, it is soul-damning fiction".

Ha! You might as well threaten them with coal from Santa. The Mormons have no more or less a valid religion than yours.

This reminds me of that joke the family used to tell about the guy giving tours of the asylum who said: "This guy's here's the craziest of all, he thinks he's Napoleon. How can he be Napoleon, when I'm Napoleon?!"

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal enmity toward every form of tyranny over the minds of men" -Thomas Jefferson

(reply to this comment)

From geo
Thursday, August 07, 2003, 22:11


I agree with you that christianity may be just as made up as any religion. And I think its funny that the writer states "The Book of Mormon, which reads like rather bizarre but poor fiction" as if major parts of the bible donít. I think if one read the bible objectively (yeah i know thats probably impossible if youíre already a christian) they may be surprised at how "bizarre" it seems as well. Its somewhat pointless when people try to knock other religions because theyre weird or bazaar as almost every religion i know is pretty freakin weird when you think about it, and i donít think "weirdness" is really a good way to gauge a religions validity if it where possible to do so.

On the other hand though i donít agree that christianity is no more valid than what the mormons preach. I say this because though im not able to tell you which religions i think are right, if any, i feel i can say which religions i think arent. If this sounds confusing give me a moment to explain why i think this.

There are many different religions and sects that believe they have claim to the truth. And conveniently for them its usually a matter of faith as to wether or not you believe their word over everyone else. But then there is this special class of religion that im able to completely disregard off hand as being bull just based on logic. Mormons are a good example they claim to be christians and believe in jesus and all and then pretty much go contradict everything in the bible, all the prophets they use from the bible to back theyre religion really do the exact opposite. It would be much harder to discredit them if they didnt claim to be christian and try to use biblical history to defend theyre religion, and then of course theres that hole science and history thing that doesnt quite jive with their sacred writings, but thats beside my point. Islam was another example where they claim biblical prophets in their religion, moses, noah, isaiah, jesus etc. and then mohamed says things that really contradict what these "prophets" have said i.e. that drunkenness is the greatest sin, or that no man can bear another persons sins and everybody has to pay there own penance etc.

I also see the same thing with some new age beliefs or yuppie type philosophies where supposably every religion is the same and they all take us to heaven or whatever (many paths same mountain). But common sense would tells us that all religions are obviously not compatible, another problem is that an important belief of many religions is that everyone who happens not to believe their religion will suffer painful punishment for eternity, i think that kind of kills that idea. So while its possible that all religions may be false its very impossible that they could all be true.

While im not saying christianity cant be proven false i am saying that these other more fringe religions (like TF) really set themselves up for failure by aligning themselves with the bible as it gives a very simple basis to discredit them by. So you can, for example, see how weak the beliefs in mormonism are without even having to know the validity of the bible.

I know iíve used some horribly large generalizations about religion here, thats something i hate doing, and i could go into more detail especially with the examples i use in mormonism and Islam but it really isnt my intent to just single out those religions (or do lots of cut and pasting). Point being that while most religions require you to be at least cynical and analyze their claims some religions, in this case mormonism, belong in a special class as they have an almost laughably weak basis for theyre beliefs and all you need to use is a little logic or common sense and they fall completely apart.(reply to this comment

From Just Thinker
Wednesday, August 06, 2003, 10:33


It seems to me that this article was posted for information. It was not written by the person posting it, nor was it endorsed by the person posting it. (reply to this comment

From EyesWideShut
Wednesday, August 06, 2003, 23:12

Yeah, I realize that. I'm not harping on the person that posted it, but the farce that ended a good expose' by offering some other nonsense as the alternative.(reply to this comment
From EyesWideShut
Wednesday, August 06, 2003, 10:07

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I agree. Mormonism is quacky, but Christianity is a leap too. Any kind of "salvation" belief is situated directly in the center of La La Land.(reply to this comment
From porceleindoll
Thursday, August 07, 2003, 00:06

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Any belief in religion requires faith, if you look deeply into any religion there are elements which are strange to others who were not raised in that religion.

I don't care what Mormons believe, or athiests, Jews, Christians, as long as they don't push their beliefs on me, cause I no longer believe there is only one way to Heaven. It seems sort of silly that God limited the entrance to His Kingdom to one belief system.(reply to this comment

From Joe H
Thursday, August 07, 2003, 15:02

That's precisely the problem with Mormons, they ARE trying to push their beliefs onto you, and on top of that, they wear those hideously boring outfits while they're at it. It's a religion that's just plain wrong on so many levels.(reply to this comment
From porceleindoll
Friday, August 08, 2003, 01:17


Worse than the Mormons though are the Jehovah's Witnesses! Man, they are always at my door trying to shove their literature into my hands. It's embarassing to think I used to be like that.

But one of my best friends is a Mormon and there are a lot of things about her I like, and she has never once tried to push her religion on me or make me feel guilty about not being a Christian much less a Mormon.(reply to this comment

From Just Thinker
Thursday, August 07, 2003, 17:20


Just out of curiosity, Joe, is there any religion that you personally do not find "just plain wrong on so many levels". You regularly bash religion(s) or the adherents of religion(s), but I haven't been able to catch what it is you do believe to be acceptable in any particular religion.

What I personally find extremely annoying (and this is not directed at you personally) is not only religious people that try to preach their religion at me, but also atheists and non-religious people that try to preach their non-religion at me. Either way it's pushing a particular notion on someone else, it's just that one happens to be more politically correct than the other. I find both to be equally annoying.(reply to this comment

From Joe H
Thursday, August 07, 2003, 19:36

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Well first of all you missed the point of my comment. I was making a joke about the Mormon's being way off, not only in their beliefs, as was being discussed, but also in their fashion sense. I like to routinely bash people for their clothing choices as though it was a big deal, it's kind of a running gag for me.

Your post brings up a more interesting point though, and to answer your question, Fuck NO, there is no religion that I do not find "just plain wrong on so many levels." They are all just plain wrong on so many levels, because they are organizations that favor ideology over the individual and keep stupid people stupid. Religion is responsible for a large majority of the suffering of the world today. Take South America for example. Instead of using birth control and working hard to get out of poverty, all those devoted catholics just keep pumping out the babies and praying to Santa Maria because the Pope continues to forbid birth control (though he has approved the rythm method, which raises the question of why God thinks it's okay to use math to prevent pregnancy but not physics [eg. condoms] or chemistry [eg the Pill]) In the film Amores Perros, one Mexican explains his plans to move to the border to another Mexican, who replies "My Grandma always used to say 'If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans' " This is the kind of fatalistic attitude that Christians call "faith" that ensures that the down-trodden will continue to be trod upon. What about Hinduism, which tells its followers that their lot in life is due to their sins in a past life? I spit on your religion and hope for a day when its theocratic tyranny will be forgotten. Save your opium for the masses, I don't want it. (reply to this comment

From Albatross
Thursday, August 07, 2003, 15:52

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
For a very interesting read on LDS, Mormon fundamentalism, poligamy and religious violence, read "Under the Banner of Heaven" By Jon Krakauer. There are some striking similarities between early LDS and TF. The charismatic leader, the unusual sexual proclivities of the leader and the attempt to justify and legitimize them by folding them into the dogma all bear a striking similarity to Berg and his sexual-religious experimentations. (reply to this comment
From FreeThinker
Thursday, August 07, 2003, 00:15

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(
I agree, and I have no problem with religious beliefs. What I don't like is exclusivism, and this article reeks of it. (reply to this comment

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