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Anti-Mormon is a term generally used by LDS to refer to any person or material that appears to be openly against Mormon beliefs, practices, leaders, history, or members. Mormons are easily offended and tend to dismiss such critiques with an "anti-Mormon" label. As one Mormon put it, "It is customary to demonize anti-Mormons."[1] J. Nelson-Seawright, an LDS, also writes that "the terminological sleight of hand involved in the label ‘anti-Mormon’ allows us to ignore the differences between honest and honorable men and women who oppose us, on the one hand, and unprincipled villains, on the other."[2] Thus, the LDS faith often removes itself from authentic religious dialogue and suffers from an inability to accept criticism from both outside and inside their religion.

Vaughn J. Featherstone, who was of the First Quorum of the Seventy, attempted to discourage members from reading critical material by identifying it as "theological pornography":

"Compare the majesty of this magnificent soul [Spencer W. Kimball] to the spiritual pygmies who hurl their own faithless frustrations upon the Church or try to drag others down to their level of empty faith. Elder Packer said, 'They leave the Church but they can’t leave it alone' (Utah State University baccalaureate address). They publish theological pornography that is damaging to the spirit. None of it is worth casting an eye upon. Do not read the anti-Mormon materials. That is not the way you resolve questions about the truthfulness of the restored gospel. Simply go back and read and ponder and pray about the Book of Mormon and you will know it is true. Those who try to dissuade us from the truth want to tear down what we have, but they do not have anything to replace it when it’s gone. A person who has sexual hang-ups should not read pornographic material as a means of dealing with his or her problem. Likewise, a person who is weak in the faith should not read pornographic theological material. It only destroys and takes away; it never replaces that which was lost."[3]

On a similar note, Joni Hilton, a Mormon, writes in Meridian Magazine:

"First of all, anti-Mormon literature, Internet sites, conversations, ideas, etc. are like spiritual pornography. Once they are in the mind, they are very difficult to get rid of. As you try to reach out to your husband, I would advise you to avoid any material, even if you think it might help you understand him better. You don’t want those seeds of doubt planted in your own mind, because no one is immune to them."[4]

This inordinate paranoia over reading literature opposed to Mormon truth-claims isolates the LDS faith and adds credence to the cult label often given to Mormonism.

Mormons also tend to embrace postmodern or pluralistic definitions of "tolerance" and "hatred". Targeted religious criticism toward Mormonism are understood to necessarily indicate personal animosity, venomous hatred, and comprehensive bigotry towards the LDS faith. "Tolerance" is, among other things, seen as the restraining of any challenge(s) in the form of religious criticism. Even if Mormonism is not true, it is still argued that it is not worth opposing. [5] Even if Mormonism is not true, some say it still might be worth believing[6].

Bill McKeever notes that when "it comes to the Mormon Church, respectful and critical are not normally two words they recognize in the same sentence. You either praise them or you risk being accused of ignorance and/or bigotry."[7] With a few exceptions, open, forthright, targeted religious criticism has little place in the Mormon faith, especially in the areas of history and theology.


[edit] Correctly defining "Anti-Mormon"

J. Nelson-Seawright, a Mormon, writes on how the term "anti-Mormon" is "inappropriately tainted with genocidal implications":

"The term 'anti-Mormon' has two meanings. First, it means anyone who is opposed to the LDS church. In this sense, there are plenty of anti-Mormons. But the second meaning, which is a semantic parallel to the term 'anti-Semite,' describes people who engage in acts of vitriolic hatred, or even proto-genocide, toward the church.

"As far as I can tell, there are really quite few (although not zero) anti-Mormons in the second sense. So the first definition would probably make the term more useful. Unfortunately, the emotional weight of the second meaning is so much greater than that of the first that it bleeds over. So I think it's really unacceptable to use the term 'anti-Mormon' when you're not describing someone engaged in actual acts of persecution -- because your audience will emotionally experience the statement as involving persecution...

"Bias or even an intention of convincing people not to be Mormon isn't the same as actual persecution. It's not anti-Semitic in the hate-speech sense to claim that the Law of Moses was fulfilled with the coming of Christ. And it's not anti-Mormon in the persecution sense to claim that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. These kinds of ideas, as well as the intention of convincing people not to be Mormon, fall squarely under the first category of anti-Mormon but not the second. We need a different word for these kinds of people, a word that isn't inappropriately tainted with genocidal implications."[8]

Moreover, he discusses how the term allows Mormons to ignore "honest and honorable men":

"Because of its inclusiveness, the term ‘anti-Mormon’ does a great deal of political work. It blurs the distinctions between anti-Mormons of private conviction, theological or historical conscience, or public-policy motivations; circus sideshow anti-Mormons; and anti-Mormons of physical persecution. The term allows Mormons to imagine moral continuity between the mobs of the 19th century, the ill-considered rants of Ed Decker and his fellow-travelers, the far more modest and carefully reasoned works of Dan Vogel, Brent Metcalfe, et al., and the personal religious reservations of friends, neighbors and coworkers. Branding these all as ‘anti-Mormons’ allows us to feel that we join in the persecution suffered by the early Saints, even though we don’t lose our wealth, our homes, our families, or our lives. Further, the terminological sleight of hand involved in the label ‘anti-Mormon’ allows us to ignore the differences between honest and honorable men and women who oppose us, on the one hand, and unprincipled villains, on the other."[9]

[edit] Christian response

"Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?" - Galatians 4:16

The use of the "anti" label is an irresponsible use of an intense word-picture, often designed to insulate oneself from honest and well-meant criticism. It ignores Mormonism's historic, harsh criticism of Christianity[10], and it prevents open and honest dialog, important self-reflection, and sincere relationships that Christians (who are critical of Mormonism) would be glad to have with Mormons. If Mormons want open and honest relationships with Christians, then they need to respect the fact that, while we respect and love Mormons as people created in the image of God, we do not respect what we believe to be idolatry and falsehood[11].

By Mormonism's own standards, it would be "anti-sinner", "anti-gay", and "anti-Baptist", since it opposes sin, seeks to replace homosexual tendencies with heterosexual tendencies, and teaches that the Baptists are a derivative of the Great Apostasy and need a restored priesthood authority. Because Mormons claim they love sinners, homosexuals, and Baptists, and would confess to wanting the best for them, they would likewise object to the loaded "anti" labels.

[edit] Quotes

[edit] Non-Mormon

[edit] Mormon

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  3. Devotional address given at Brigham Young University on 24 September 1985. Available online here.
  5. Kevin Barney, who is on the board of FAIR, writes:
    "I like to think that were I ever to leave, I would simply walk away. This has been the case with those of my family who are no longer involved in the Church, and I hope that I would be able to follow their example should it ever come to that.
    "But I may be deluding myself. I have a huge intellectual investment in Mormonism (much, much more than any of my family members who have disengaged), and I can see how it would be hard not to remain engaged in thinking and writing and talking about Mormonism, albeit from a different perspective. Still, I like to think that I would indeed just walk away, take up wine drinking and focus my scholarly sensibilities on something else. Even if I came no longer to believe, I think I would still see the value in the Church for others and would not want to interfere with anyone else’s beliefs." - Blog comment
  6. Grey Echols, a Mormon, writes the following in a review of By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus:
    "This is a well written book which manages to not push an 'anti-Mormon' agenda. However as an LDS I do not think others should read it. Why? Because it could destroy your faith in the Church. I am not trying to be clever. If you enjoy all of the good things the Church has brought into your life, do you care where it came from? No other Church has so short a history that it can be examined so closely by science. Otherwise we would find that they are all created on the backs of con-artist. I am willing to bet every religion was founded by a fraud. So who cares. Does religion bring us together? Does it bond a nation, a town, a family? If so then let it be. The truth is fleeting, and life is short. If believing in Santa makes children smile then believing in God makes adults smile. When children find out Santa isn't real, you kill a certain spark you can never get back. When you expose a Church as a fraud, you kill a little spark in all of us." - Amazon review
  7. Bill McKeever in "Will PBS also be labeled 'hateful'?". Blog post from April 4, 2007. Available online here.
  10. See Bill McKeever's "A Response to Latter-day Saints Who Say, 'We Never Criticize Christian Churches'", available here.
  11. See "Should Christians stay in manipulative interfaith relationships?", where Aaron Shafovaloff speaks against manipulative interfaith relationships, wherein one party threatens to cut off ties if the other asks penetrating questions, challenges another's beliefs, or makes embarrassing moral accusations.
  14. Marvin J. Ashton, “Pure Religion,” Ensign, Nov 1982, 63. Available online here.
  15. From an Amazon review.
  16. "Is 'Anti-Mormon' Codespeak for the 'N' Word?", September 29, 2008. Link. Accessed September 30, 2008.

[edit] External links

[edit] Non-Mormon

[edit] Mormon

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