Once again I find that irrational hatred gets top billing. Well, I hope that it doesn’t stay that way. Christopher Hitchens posted a piece pretending to be an expert on Mormons and their cultish ways. All he really managed to do was to prove himself to be ridiculous.
Point one of his ridiculous rant was that the church’s supreme leader was the President/Prophet. Wrong. The Leader of The Church is now and has always been Jesus Christ; hence the name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Point two of the tirade was that members could be ordered to shun someone. Ahem… not so. We are not ordered by anyone. The choice for Free agency (free will) is the paramount feature of being here in this world. We might be asked not to pay any attention to the sad ravings of an obviously frustrated and unhappy individual, but nobody is ordered to shun anyone. In fact, there will be efforts to address the unhappy persons needs as long as that person is willing to tolerate the visits from members. As soon as a person tells his visitors that he or she does Not want any more visits, the members will stop bothering him or her.
As for underwear, whose business is it what underwear anyone wears but the wearer? Frankly, Christopher sounds a little jealous there. Does he wish that he could wear the distinctive underwear too? I’m sure there’s some underwear out there somewhere that is special enough for him to enjoy wearing instead.
Point four seemed to suggest that members of the church are somehow superhuman in their adherence to moral and health codes. Would that it were actually so. Any adherence to moral or healthy food restrictions is strictly done by personal will power. Abstinence from any practice is a personal choice, not a built-in feature. Temptations are every bit as hard for any member of the church to resist as it is for the average Jill or Joe. Repentance is a very real and welcome feature in the gospel.
Point five claimed that there was some word (not indicated from where) that said leaving the church was harder than joining it. Well, I haven’t found either one to be difficult. I have been both in and out of The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) and back in again. I had the privilege of being raised inside the church where I was reminded frequently that I was a worthwhile individual, and that God cared about what happened to me.
When I made the mistake of believing that just because the Doctrine was excellent, that meant that the people were supposed to always do what I expected them to do, I walked away from the church for a while, looking for a more perfect group of people to associate with. In five years of looking, I did not find a more perfect group of people. The doctrines I encountered outside the church were sadly, much less perfect. Eventually I went back to the church and was welcomed with open arms.
Point six had to do with Tithing. Tithing is one tenth of your yearly increase. It’s a flat tax that works, but it’s voluntary, and private. There is no passing the plate around for anyone to see you make a contribution of any kind. Any other monies you wish to donate for various causes is also voluntary. In the case of those with more than enough, a Bishop may ask if you would be willing to assist a little more in something that needs more assistance, but it’s never an amount that the giver can’t afford to give even if it might be difficult. Sacrifice sanctifies the individual who makes it. And again, it’s voluntary.
Point seven: Hmmm…. how to answer such rubbish. It would be more dignified Not to answer it, but this person has a rather large platform to spread his hatred with, so I’ll make the effort anyway. Christopher claims to Know that Joseph Smith was a fraud and a conjurer. He bases this on someone else’s book, another hater who also did not live in the same place, or time as Joseph Smith, Jr., and whose information all came from others who also hated. I’d like to point out that a complaint against someone does not mean that an actual misdeed was performed by the person the complaint was made against. Just because someone did not get what they wanted from Joseph, does not mean that he was a fraud or a conjurer.
As to whether you believe or not, in what Joseph presented, that is entirely between you and God. Read the material, and then ask God what it is. Being afraid of reading a book is just silly. Do you not have a mind of your own? Does not your brain function properly? Or your heart? To believe that reading false material and then praying to a loving God about it, that you would get an answer that will lead you astray….. What kind of loving God would do that? If it’s false would he not tell you that it was false? If it’s true, would he not tell you that it was true? That is if you believe in a God at all. If not, then this is not for you.
Point eight…… Where he got the idea that Joseph Smith, Jr. ever had any knowledge of the Islam, let alone the Koran is mystifying to me. He never had any contact with that religion. Joseph Smith never said anything of the kind. Utter trash. Joseph Smith and the church helped found several small cities before he was murdered. One in Ohio, several in Missouri, and one in Illinois. They were thriving communities, very orderly and clean. The fact that the church held together after his death should speak to anyone that there is something more to it than just the schemes of a conman.
The Church did not believe in slavery and Joseph Smith actually ran for President at one point in order to present his platform which detailed a method for reimbursing the slave owners by giving them portions of the Louisiana purchase in exchange for freeing their slaves. The fact that the church did not hold with slavery was the real reason behind the persecution that drove them out of Missouri. Many powerful people in Missouri wanted the territory to come in as a slave holding state, and the votes of the Mormons were seen as a possible block to that desire, especially as they were bringing in new members from England who were also against slavery.
After the church was driven out of Missouri and the powerful interests succeeded in getting Missouri brought in as a slave state under the Missouri compromise. The same interests tried the same tactics in Kansas, against those who were not members of the church. The massacre of all the men and boys in Lawrence, Kansas rallied the rest of the territory of Kansas and it came in finally as a free state.
The rest of Christopher’s rant is equally ridiculous in it’s assertions. Members of the church don’t pray dead people in. Some of them do baptisms for the dead, as was done in the ancient church. Reference the King James Bible, 1st Corinthians Chapter 15 verse 29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?
Even in the world of the dead, those who have passed on still have their free agency. They choose whether they wish to accept the baptism or not. It is a physical ordinance, therefore it has to be done in the physical world, though by proxy. The baptisms and other ordinances such as marriages, are performed by proxy in order to link family members together from this side through to the other side. The church teaches that family is the most important structure we can aspire to. No other success can compensate for failure in the home. If, as some believe, that none of that is possible,that no one rises after they die, that there is nothing for us after we are dead, then what harm does it do if someone wants to indulge in the fantasy? At least the church is very helpful in assisting anyone who wants it with their family genealogy.
If Christopher Hitchens or anyone else does not wish to be a part of any of it, he or they will get their wish.