Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Just Wanted to Crawl Under My Chair . . .

At the Detroit airport tonight, waiting for a late flight, I just wanted to crawl under my chair as I and about 100 other people near me watched the lengthy CNN special report on Warren Jeffs, the polygamist wanted for several serious crimes. The story did little to explain the difference between Jeffs and the LDS Church. His group was described as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his Texas compound/temple was shown and then followed with images of the Salt Lake Temple. Ugh. But they did fail to show photos of Gordon B. Hinckley surrounded by girls at Young Women's events - let's be greatful for that.

Don Krakauer, author of the nasty rantings in Under the Banner of Heaven, was the expert brought in to discuss polygamy. He did have the decency to note that the LDS Church has long abandoned polygamy, but the editing by CNN would probably have confused a lot of people. As all these people watched this story in fascination, I really felt very little desire to do any missionary work tonight. I guess I could have stood up and said, "Hey, everybody, I'm a Mormon, and I promise I've only got one wife. Just one, really! So, any of you want a free Book of Mormon?"

Well, my poor attitude in the face of perceived public opposition gives me something to ponder. There will be more of this, on other issues. We will be painted in negative light for our stance on the family and on morality, for example, and done with such effectiveness that others will want to cringe and crawl under their seats rather than be identified as a member of a "hate group" or anti-woman cult or whatever the spin will be.

Plus I really don't like polygamy and can't really explain why it would have ever been implemented in any dispensation - too far outside my cultural values and personal paradigms to make sense. There are plenty of things I don't understand, especially when it deals with remote events that can be interpreted in several ways, which is why I really need to rely on the core things I can understand and experience now: the divinity of the Book of Mormon, the reality of prayer, the power of the Priesthood, the goodness of God, the incredible power of the Atonement of Christ, the small but clear miracles that occur when we seek to serve God and follow His commandments, and so forth. Maybe some day other things will make more sense to me, but for now, a lot of faith is still required.

I just hope I can have more strength in dealing with whatever negative publicity and public opposition lies ahead for the Church. It won't be easy. Matthew 24 indicates that even the very elect will be deceived, and I seem to recall that a footnote there indicates that some will also want to just crawl under their chair.

65 comments:

Dave said...

Jeff, I can feel your pain. Maybe we need a Third Manifesto.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff, other than the subtle confusion by using inappropriate graphics, was there any actual misinformation in the news report?

I get the impression that you're not crediting the news-watching audience with enough intelligence. Don't most people understand that all religions have splinter groups?

Besides, preaching to crowds waiting to board their flight is frowned upon these days. Airports kicked out the Hare Krishnas years ago didn't they? Or did the HK's just give up after deciding airport proselyting didn't have a good enough ROI?

Last time I traveled, I checked all my baggage except for a laptop case (sans laptop) carry-on into which I had put one each of all 136 translations of the Joseph Smith Testimony (plus a few English). I sat next to a nice Iranian guy on my flight home. He spoke English and Persian/Farsi. [grin]

William Morris said...

Bookslinger:

I don't know that most people understand about splinter groups. Most people don't even know the basics on mainstream Mormonism.

Plus there's splinter groups and then there are splinter groups. Some people may get the impression that the LDS Church winks at these splinter groups just as, say, some mainstream political organizations wink at more radical ones or how some Catholic Church leaders treat Opus Dei, etc.

I don't know that there's an easy way around it. Television journalism is inherently (and deliberately) superficial.

Serenity Valley said...

Jeff,

I used to assume that people in general must be sophisticated enough to sort through the direct misinformation and indirect editing detritus one always finds in national news coverage of our church and related groups. Then I moved out of Utah, was introduced to people who had never actually met a Mormon before, and learned that my assumption was in fact a delusion.

It's amazing how frequently people--friends and coworkers, even--ask RT about his "other wives". It's even more amazing how such inquiries, coming from Northern Californians, are very often attempts at showing cultural understanding and tolerance rather than voyueristic rudeness :). Polygamy comes up frequently, and it's always embarrasing.

I deal with the personal ramifications of our church's long-abandoned polygamy in much the same way you do. Beyond that, I've decided that the best way to combat media stereotypes about Mormons is to give people who have crazy ideas about us the real story. That is, a long, unasked-for history of Mormonism, its schisms, Jacksonian America, the reasons our ancestors may have felt so embattled that they holed up in the mountains, and an analysis of post-manifesto LDS doctrine. Usually, right when I get to the words "Missouri genocide", I'm met with a dazed look and the questions, "I don't understand this at all, do I? You're not all the same, are you?"

PJ said...

People do not understand about splinter groups nor do they care to understand. Did anyone see American Mormon? It is a documentary where people were asked questions about Utah, the LDS church, etc. While it is meant to be funny, I found it sad to see how most people still see us as polygamists. Stories showing the temple while talking about the FDLS are irresponsible. People are very visual. What they see they often remember better then what they hear.
PJ

Lief said...

Although the Church takes great pains to distinguish itself from the splinter polygamist groups, it is not clear to me why a disinterested observer should be expected to accept the distinctions the Church makes. Although the Church can decide who is and who is not a member, the Church can't change the facts of historical unity with the modern day polygamists, the common source of authority for the practice, or the shared geography that continues to bind the Church to the splinter groups. The Salt Lake temple was literally built by polygamists - why shouldn't the media show it in a story about polygamy in Utah today?
Therefore, I think it is helpful to move beyond our paranoia about being associated with the splinter polygamist groups in the media or popular culture and accept that there are rational reasons for media to make the connection.

Walker said...

If we accept these "rational reasons," however, we are cutting the ground from underneath our feat. The question still exists: what do you say when reporters/friends ask what you think of it? Do we say, "I understand why you would connect us with one the FBI's most wanted. After all, we have so much in common." The Jeffs case is about a lot more than polygamy.

Rational reasons or no, the public mind is not rational (why else would there be attacks on muslims in the aftermath of 9/11). The public mind does not look through a sterile academic lens. Hence, mistakes like associating the temple with Jeffs can cause tremendous damgage for someone who knows little of our faith. They are inexcusable for honest journalists who wish to portray the world as it actually is.

But even non-Jeffsian polygamists cause us problems. We have to maintain our image (a genuine one at that) of separation from this ideology (I come from polygamist stock so I'm at liberty to claim this). The fact is: we do not engage in it or endorse it in any way. To give an inch to modern polygamy, which is almost always associated with immorality, would mean our death in the public relations arena and take away our credibility as moral forces for good. The perceived barrier between Mormons and splinters is already weak indeed. We ought not allow it to be weakened further

Schuyler said...

It's a conspiracy to indirectly slam Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate. One doesn't have to dig up dirt on him. Just associate these criminals with Mormons and then just remind everyone Mitt's an active Mormon...

Randall said...

The Church could go a long way to creating separation from the fundies by disavowing D&C 132.

BYU alter ego said...

Small correction: it's Jon Krakauer, not Don. Just FYI.

I agree with Randall, that in theory it would help if the Church would distance itself from D&C 132, though they could never do that. Herein lies the major problem, the Church isn't distant from D&C 132. And Polygamy is a doctrine still held by the church, it's simply not practiced anymore. The unspoken caveat is that it is going to come back, either in this world or the next.(That's the theory anyway).

Polygamy is an eternal principle. And anyone who has spent a fair amount of time with a member will pick up on the fact the subject is still very much thought about and agonized over by mainstream LDS.

The Church's PR people always point out the 1890 manifesto, but even that is a perfect example of how inextricably linked the Church is to Polygamy. The practice of polygamy didn't stop in 1890. The authorization of new polygamous marriages didn't stop in 1890 either.

Regarding the principle of polygamy it would be disingenuous for a member to say, "We don't believe in that." Members of the Church very much do believe it, though many find the principle distasteful. I will give you points for that Jeff... :)

Therefore there is little reason to be surprised that polygamy is closely associated by the public with mainstream LDS still.

So I'm sorry, but I have little sympathy. The Church made it's bed long ago, and unless it completely detaches itself from the concept of polygamy, it needs to sleep in it.

I rather enjoyed Krakauer's own metaphor: (paraphrashing) Nobody likes the idea that they have a crazy uncle(FLDS)locked up in the attic, who seems to keep escaping, but you can't get rid of family.

Walker said...

BYUPR, welcome back :)

While there's substance to what you're saying about eternality of the plural marriage principle, I, nor anyone I know, believes that plural marriage is essential for exaltation. Previous brethren have said things to that effect, but those are better understood in the siege atmosphere of the late 19th century/Mormon Reformation than as eternal statements of doctrinal truth. Certainly, they will keep their wives in the afterlife (so I believe), but that's not to say that I will be compelled to take them--I was never commanded to do so.

Hence, I believe I can say, with doctrinal support, that plural marriage is only nominally accepted as doctrine by the church today in the same way that we believe Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son 4000 years ago.

Note that focus on Abraham throughout section 132 and that the bulk of section 132 is on eternal marriage and only a handful of verses are on plural marriage.
In strict doctrinal terms (the historical application is obviously quite different), plural marriage is subordinate to the doctrine of sealing.

Bottom line is that organizations need not let their past hold the present/future hostage.

annegb said...

I wouldn't have crawled under my chair, I would have bellyached to the whole airport.

I don't have a problem with Krakauer. I think he tried to do the best he could.

I don't think the rest of the world cares one way or another, for the moment, it's entertainment.

Copedi said...

An interesting parallel is the Branch Davidians and the Seventh-day Adventists. When news coverage about the Davidians started, it was frequently pointed out (correctly) that they were an offshoot of the Adventists, and some people got the groups mixed up. Over time, most people (I think) no longer associated them with Adventists, and I suspect that will happen in this case. (Off-topic, I might add, the Seventh-day Adventists are great peeople, despite some unusual ideas, although no more unusual than ours. They even do a better job of following the Word of Wisdom than we do.)

Anonymous said...

I came to this site today to mention something I was pleased to read. I was hoping that the topic of the day wouldn't be too much of a stretch to mention this, and it's actually a pretty good match. The something I read was a comment by a novelist who was criticized for getting some facts about Mormons wrong. Here's part of what she said:

"Mormons may have some eccentric beliefs ... but probably not more than any other religion. We're just more familiar with other religions' eccentricities because those religions are older. ... But somehow, it's open season on Mormons -- and the press dearly loves to gossip about them. And Mormons are as uncomfortable with people believing that they still practice polygamy as Catholics are with the allegation that ALL priests have abused children. It's just not true. If anyone were to make the kind of derogatory remarks about any other ethnic or religious group that they make about Mormons, righteous people would object. When we mock the Mormons, people stand silent."

The author of this comment is not LDS. You can read her comment here (do a search on the page for "6:39 AM PDT, May 13" without the quotes).

Walker said...

oops, BYUAE, I got you confused w/another moniker (rewinding) Welcome back, BYUAE :)

Anonymous said...

Oops. I got the link wrong. Here it is: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446578754/.

Andy said...

Relax. I read the following scripture this morning. 1 Ne. 4:1 '...let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?'

Nephi is right - God is directing this church, and we have no need to worry. Since I moved away to go to medical school away from Utah, I also realized that there are many people who have misconceptions about our church. These sorts of news stories might make someone wonder why their Mormon neighbor or co-worker doesn't seem kooky or fanatical at all. It might spark conversation, or investigation, and clear up many misconceptions. I remember reading that Karl G. Maeser, founder of BYU ultimately sought out the missionaries after reading an anti-mormon pamphlet. I just believe that sincere people will not be fooled by this, and than insincere people can fight all they want but it will be somewhat irrelevant. Besides, who knows anything about the notable anti-mormons in the past? Even as recently as the 70's? They all pretty much enjoy their stage and then go away.

Andy said...

'For this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.' (Jacob 2:29-30)

Where does anyone get the idea that God will require us at some future point to take on multiple wives? Or that the church will reinstate the commandment, Especially when Jacob comes down so hard on people for practicing it? I personally have no problem with early church leaders following the commandments of God, but I have never read anywhere where it will be a requirement into the celestial kingdom. Has anyone read any scripture saying otherwise?

Walker said...

You're right, Andy. NO scriptures whatsoever. You can find plenty of statements by late nineteenth century authorities; however, I believe they were speaking in the context of their time. Many under their stewardship, it was true, would be required to live this principle for exaltation. But Nephi wasn't commanded it, Peter wasn't commanded it. Paul certainly wasn't commanded either. Neither are we. There isn't even any evidence to suggest that Joseph Smith believed plural marriage to be the eternal order of things.

Simply put, eternality is far more central to plurality according to the scriptures and present-day revelation.

Joseph said...

Therefore, aprepare• thy heart to receive and bobey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting acovenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye bdamned•; for no one can creject• this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse aanother, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

62 And if he have ten• virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

Walker said...

Therefore...

If you're simply citing these scriptures so bloggers can have quick access to a key text, then thanks for helping.

But if you're using that to prove the centrality of plural marriage to the doctrine, it won't fly. Quite the contrary, the Lord uses the conditional "if." Nowhere in the revelation is the everlasting covenant equated with plural marriage per se. It's instead the Lord's amendation for a specific situation, much in line with Jacob's admonition cited earlier.

Notice, I said that no other scriptures imply that plural marriage is essential for the celestial kingdom. Indeed, the language of that section allows for both marriages, plural and singular.

Brigham said...

"Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire....Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.... Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practiced it. 'And is that religion popular in heaven?' it is the only popular religion there,..."
- The Prophet Brigham Young, The Deseret News, August 6, 1862

Anonymous said...

So is monogamnous Salt Lake City the mistress of the Mountain West?

Walker said...

Context of the time please, Brigham!

The sermon given further states:

We believe in following the admonitions and instructions of the ancient Prophets and Apostles, and of all good men in THIS OUR day.

The commandment was for then. Brigham's tone indicates again that the commandment of polygamy is subservient to being children of Abraham, for this is the religion of Abraham: "Unless we do the works of Abraham, we are not Abraham's seed and heirs according to promise." The key is the gospel of Abraham, not polygamy. Brigham and the Saints had been commanded, and they observed. The other info about the ROman empire, I believe, was most certainly a personal interpolation.

Again, there is no universally accepted source that indicates the universality of plural marriage in heaven. It's simply not taught after the Manifesto in 1890. Only shreds of it are found in the BOM or even the Doctrine and Covenants. To claim that plural marriage is a central doctrine of the gospel is distort the facts.

Brigham & Joseph said...

Brigham Young:

"The only men who become Gods, even Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy."
- Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. 269

Joseph F. Smith:

" Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or non-essential to the salvation or exaltation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe, that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my solemn protest against this idea, for I know it is false...The marriage of one woman to a man for time and eternity by the sealing power, according to the law of God, is a fulfillment of the celestial law of marriage in part... But this is only the beginning of the law, not the whole of it. Therefore, whoever has imagined that he could obtain the fulness of the blessings pertaining to this celestial law, by complying with only a portion of its conditions, has deceived himself. He cannot do it.
- Journal of Discourses, Vol. 20, p. 28

ltbugaf said...

Walker, I don't understand why only those who come from polygamist stock should have a right to claim that we need to distance ourselves from those who espouse practices in contradiction to the instructions given through God's prophet. Those whose ancestry doesn't include polygamists have just as much right to say this as anyone else.

ltbugaf said...

The buffoonery of so-called "Brigham & Joseph" notwithstanding, it's rather obvious to a sincere seeker of truth that President Young was referring to those who refused to follow the Lord's direction at the time he made his remarks. If the Prophet tells us to do X, here and now, and we refuse to do it, then we can't really expect to receive exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. In President Young's day, the instruction was to participate in plural marriage. Those who refused to follow the instruction when it was given were placing themselves in a position of enmity with God and his Church.

John said...

"...the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people."
- Prophet John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227

Walker said...

ltbugaf:

Certainly. I agree with you. Frankly, I was just trying to add credibility to my case--some folks like to say, "What do you say of your friends of polygamist stock?" No worries.

And to the "ghosts" of these prophets:

The answer has been given to these quotes. The context has been laid out. I haven't time to check every quote for its accuracy and interpretation (though hopefully my previous analysis should indicate something about its use in context) To explain more would be a waste of our time and an insult to your intelligence.

Andy said...

Thanks for the above quotes from early leaders. I read them and similar quotes from the same time period. I understand in principle what they are saying. I also agree that if we are to base our religion on the bible that we are going to have to come to grips with polygamy somehow as would Jews, Christians, and Muslims. I don't think that it is immoral in any way. To say that would be to say that Aberaham and Jacob were living in immorality, as was Joseph Smith. The fact is that God requires a strict moral code for us to follow, and has commanded us to live the law of chastity in all dispensations. Early church leaders, and ancient prophets lived the law that they were commanded and we, along with the nephites live the law that we are commanded.

Polygamy only has a bad tast in our mouths because of traditions passed on to us by our ancestors and culture, but it was obviously accepted by righteous men in past ages. The bottom line is that God required chastity and fidelity as an eternal law. I have no problem with that.

That brings me to my biggest gripe about the media coverage about polygamy. We have to listen to the same media that feeds us shows that promote immorality and infidelity as social norms portray the practice of polygamy as fanatical and wierd. I am quickly discovering that chastity and fidelity to one woman is about as wierd and different as it gets in our society. Who has the moral high ground to condemn our ancestors?

Bookslinger said...

What's worse, someone who espouses the concept of polygamy, but who doesn't practice polygamy, or someone who espouses the practice of monogamy but who doesn't practice monogomy?

"A polygamist who doesn't polyg or a monogamist who doesn't monog?"

Isn't it a given that most faithful LDS realize or believe that there will be more women worthy of exaltation than men?

Just look at the membership of the church, the number of converts, the number of active members, the number of active temple-recommend holders. All those stats are obviously skewed towards more women.

Plus given society's general ratio of "good women" to "good men", I could easily envision/imagine at least a 2:1 ratio of women-to-men among those who will be worthy of exaltation at judgement day.

Just to cover the bases of what some naysayers are going to say next, I do not think that the 90 or 95% of men who had only one wife during the days of Utah polygamy are/were/will be denied exaltation because of having only one wife during that period.

I believe that in the resurrection and in the millennium, and in the final judgement, a grand restoration and recovery will occur. Or an "evening up."

Joseph Smith taught that there is much to be learned and done AFTER this life that will be necessary to exaltation, and that it cannot all be learned in this life.

So it looks to me that we will learn much about polygamy, celestial or otherwise, in the spirit world and in the millennium.

Austropithecanthropus said...

Don Krakauer, author of the nasty rantings in Under the Banner of Heaven, was the expert brought in to discuss polygamy (5/12. "Just wanted to crawl ...").
Mr. Krakauer writes very well. He did his research. He presents a fair picture. What doesn't help are the kind of apologetics found on your web sites and in your blog. We need to honestly face our history. There is nothing to hide or to apologize for. We should invite writings like Krakauer's. When I pointed out, to one of my brethren in the Maryland Columbia Ward, that Joseph Smith twice performed the liturgy of eternal marriage with the Partridge sisters, so that Emma wouldn't find out that they were already married, he stopped speaking to me! I find such behavior much more offensive than any anti-Mormon rant or, to make my point again, i.e., F.A.R.M.'s missives. WP

Daniel said...

Bookslinger said:

"given society's general ratio of "good women" to "good men", I could easily envision/imagine at least a 2:1 ratio of women-to-men among those who will be worthy of exaltation at judgement day."

I guess prospects for your 72 virgins are looking pretty good.

Bookslinger said...

Daniel, I envision myself living in a refrigerator box under a bridge in the Telestial Kingdom.

Walker said...

Austropithecanthropus,

You do not give the full historical truth behind the Partridge sisters' story. Like Chesterton once noted, any doctrine (or historical truth in this case) if isolated, would go wild. Within months after the marriage--the second one in Emma's presence--Emma demanded that Joseph end the marriages "or blood should flow." Did Joseph continue the covertness? No, he "asked Emma if [the Partridge sisters" made her the promises she required, if she would cease to trouble us." She promised, after which Joseph shook hands with the sisters, with them fully understanding that ll was over. Joseph: "My hands are tied." Joseph's actions were more of a man who was trying to follow his religious convictions while pleasing his wife rather than that of an adulterous curr.

All of this comes from Emily Partridge Young's diary, which if anything, is far too HARSH on Emma given that is written in the anti-Emma period in Utah.

I think the real question many of us would have when discussing such things rests more on your beliefs than on the history.

In some ways, I am in the same boat as you. I'm a huge fan of Bushman's biography, often maligned by some members as being too revealing. Truth is the best antidote for error (or in Elder Maxwell's classic rhetoric, verity cures vertigo).

What I wonder, though, is what are your motives in sharing these things. Do you immediately follow up with an assertion of your testimony of the Prophet Joseph? Or are some folks left wondering about where you true sentiments lie. I would never stop talking to a brother, but I would question whether I should let him teach my children about church history.

Anonymous said...

Look out - Christian party crasher here - I am a Christian in Dallas, Texas, and I wish to assure you that most Christians do NOT think of Mormons as polygamists.

I think it is an unfortunate, if sometimes poorly used as humorous, stereotype, much the same as Baptists are thought to hate dancing, all Christians must be abortion clinic bombers, all Muslims are terrorists, and all Jews love money. We all know that none of these stereotypes are really true.

The fact is, those who fall into the intellectually lazy trap of believing all such false assumptions would probably not listen even if you did try to inform them of the truth. You can try, but don't feel too badly if it doesn't work - we can't cast pearls to the swine, as Jesus said!

Stacey Pokorney
Dallas, Texas

In other words,

Bookslinger said...

Austro and Walker,
I think you're both missing each others' point.

There are reasons the church doesn't actively teach the historical details of Joseph Smith's polygamy. There are things that would challenge, perhaps break, a fragile testimony. There are things that are too easily taken out of context and distorted. There are snippets of history and doctrines that can't be properly understood or processed until the whole is processed. There are unflattering historical vignettes about many members who were unprepared or unwilling to accept those doctrines as they were presented in Nauvoo.

So to present those snippets to fellow members, or remind them of those, may not be apostasy, but it is laying stumbling blocks for those unwilling to delve into comprehensive historical and doctrinal study.

I once got into a discussion about polygamy with some members who were repeating some of the oft-told false information. I started to counter with some tidbits that I gleaned from the apologetic web sites, like FARMS, FAIR, and Jeff Lindsay's web site.

I quickly caught myself after one sentence after I saw the look in one guy's face. I realized it would be better to leave him with the incomplete "quick answers" that seem to get passed on as harmless cultural legends, than to either 1) disillusion him about the church's false cultural legends, and challenge or damage his testimony by providing snippets that could not be fully processed unless he studied them in context, or 2) cause him to think I was an apostate challenging the divine mission of Joseph Smith.

The brothr who gave Austro the cold shoulder may not be thinking that Austro was apostate, but rather that Austro was unnecessarily laying out stumbling blocks for the weak.

As the historial details of the Nauvoo peoriod become more well known to both members and the general public, via the web and books, they become things that the antis use to beat us over the head with.

Austro's motives in informing other members so they may be prepared for a ready answer would not be nefarious.

There are a lot of things that the church leaves up to private study. There are lots of books out there, written and published pre-correlation, and published by general authorities after correlation started but published by Deseret as opposed to being published directly by the church.

The information is out there for those who want to pursue it.

Personally, I knew early on that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. I read it in the Doctrine and covenants. So those who say the church teaches that he didn't have multiple wives are lieing.

Anonymous said...

Polygamy, by it's very nature is completely unfair to women. I believe in a God who loves women as much as he loves men and would not "GIVE" (like a piece of property)a woman to anyone. I cannot imagine the pain Leah (or any so called lesser wife) went through knowing her own husband didn't love her and never would. Who could live like that for eternity? Not me.

Walker said...

You might ask the 19th century sisters what they thought. That's how we should really judge them.

Yes, there were some who were opposed (Brigham Young's infamous wife who wrote her expose, for example). But there were a great many (my ancestors being among them) who supported polygamy wholeheartedly.

Anonymous said...

Be brave, and be confident. If anyone asks you about the show and polygamy tell the truth.

Teachers, funeral directors, scientists, policeman, ministers, all have shows about them.

We live with it.

Granny said...

I personally would be reluctant to practice polygamy, but I'm glad my great-granddad Walker did, since I am descended from his fourth plural wife.

Doug Forbes said...

Steady now folks. The US government has more to be embarrassed about with regard to polygamy than any group including the FLDS. Consider the UN Genocide Statute.

GENOCIDE

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

I have highlighted the parts that apply the 19th century anti-polygamy policy of the radical Republicans. There is little doubt that this policy was intended to lower the Mormon birthrate. Congress took special care to insure that prostitution remained legal while outlawing polygamy.

Aside:
If you want to talk about abuse of women and children, prostitution is the subject.

It is also true that Harry S Truman a Missouri bigot blocked the ratification of the UN Genocide treaty during his term as president. The reasons for doing this relate directly to US policy against Mormon polygamists during the 19th century and the refusal by Truman to completely denounce those policies. We had to wait for Jimmy Carter before the US finally agreed with the rest of the world that genocide is wrong.

THE RIGHT TO A PRIVATE LIFE
The implementation of these anti-polygamous policies were brutal and invasive. Bounties were offered which resulted in the formation of an unofficial sex-police. Families were broken up without regard to the consequences. How would you feel if the state decided for whatever reason that your marriage was unacceptable and decided to prosecute you for living with your wife and kids? We use a lot of hyperbole about the war on the American family today. This was real war on real families.

THE RECORD OF MONOGAMY (not very good)
The record of monogamy is no better than polygamy. Consider these statistics.
1. Every year 1.5 million Americans seek to escape monogamy via divorce.
2. The prime suspect in most cases of murdered women is their partner in monogamous relationships.
3. In 2003 there were 437,990 violent crimes against women by their monogamous partner reported to authorities; including 101,400 aggravated assaults and 284,170 simple assaults. (The are about 60 million married and unmarried couples in the US)
4. Isolation has identified as a tool of abusive males against women. Clearly, this is a characteristic of monogamy.
Underlying these statistics is the fact that women put up with abusive partners because that is what is left over and monogamy forces some women to chose between being alone and being with an abusive male.

The following information comes from NOW

MURDER. Every day four women die in this country as a result of domestic violence, the euphemism for murders and assaults by husbands and boyfriends. That's approximately 1,400 women a year, according to the FBI. The number of women who have been murdered by their intimate partners is greater than the number of soldiers killed in the Vietnam War.
BATTERING. Although only 572,000 reports of assault by intimates are officially reported to federal officials each year, the most conservative estimates indicate two to four million women of all races and classes are battered each year. At least 170,000 of those violent incidents are serious enough to require hospitalization, emergency room care or a doctor's attention.
SEXUAL ASSAULT. Every year approximately 132,000 women report that they have been victims of rape or attempted rape, and more than half of them knew their attackers. It's estimated that two to six times that many women are raped, but do not report it. Every year 1.2 million women are forcibly raped by their current or former male partners, some more than once.
THE TARGETS. Women are 10 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate. Young women, women who are separated, divorced or single, low- income women and African-American women are disproportionately victims of assault and rape. Domestic violence rates are five times higher among families below poverty levels, and severe spouse abuse is twice as likely to be committed by unemployed men as by those working full time. Violent attacks on lesbians and gay men have become two to three times more common than they were prior to 1988.
IMPACT ON CHILDREN. Violent juvenile offenders are four times more likely to have grown up in homes where they saw violence. Children who have witnessed violence at home are also five times more likely to commit or suffer violence when they become adults.
IMPACT ON HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES. Women who are battered have more than twice the health care needs and costs than those who are never battered. Approximately 17 percent of pregnant women report having been battered, and the results include miscarriages, stillbirths and a two to four times greater likelihood of bearing a low birth weight baby. Abused women are disproportionately represented among the homeless and suicide victims. Victims of domestic violence are being denied insurance in some states because they are considered to have a "pre-existing condition."


OK I'm not really trying to condemn monogamy, but let's keep the FLDS in perspective.

PS
One more thing, the guy could actually be inocent and these stories could be pure fiction.

Walker said...

Splitting hairs here...but Truman actually DID sign the UN genocide treaty on Dec. 12, 1948.

See http://www.dithpran.org/un.htm

Read Your Scriptures said...

One thing I am tired of is people labeling the LDS church as a "cult" because of polygamy. If these same people were intellectually honest, they would also have to label the Old Testament Church as a Cult.

The other reason why the Church could not be a cult is because it is not filled with people who are brainwashed. Outsiders who hear one "weird" thing may think we are nuts, but they only think that because they do not understand the Gospel. I don't even quite fully understand it, but that does not make me a fool for believing it.

My challenge to all the people who label us as a cult because of polygamy is to not put down our religion and tell people what you believe and why. It is a sign of weakness on their part to feel the need attack another church. They are afraid to take my challenge because when you get down to it the LDS church is the only one where ALL the scriptures make sense. The people who lable the church as a cult know if people really understood the LDS church, we would win the debate. That's why they choose to attack.

Bookslinger said...

Read Your Scriptures:

By definition, every church or religion is a cult. "Cult" is just used as a pejorative.

I don't think active Mormon adults are brainwashed, but most Mormon kids are until they get a testimony.

One of the purposes of 3 hours on Sunday, Seminary classes 5 days a week throughout the school year, youth nights, scouting, etc. is to "brainwash" the kids with Gospel truths and keep them in the church until they can get a testimony of their own. It's a good kind of brainwashing, but it's brainwashing none the less.

It's really good to see someone who grew up in the church and went through all that "brainwashing" finally get a testimony, because then they can synthesize all those things they learned into a spiritual perspective, internalize them, and put them to good active use in their lives.

For those who don't get a testimony, they either fall away from the church, or they turn into "cultural Mormons", going through the motions of Mormonism, and perhaps even honestly believing in it. But without the fire of a Spirit-borne tesimony fueling them, there's something missing. They can often feel that there's something missing, and sometimes others can observe that they have something missing too.

I would also issue a caution about expecting people to see the "sense" in LDS scriptures. Outsiders coming at our scriptures with a different perspective and background often don't see the sense in them. The truth in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants is often hidden like it is in the Bible.

As the Bible often doesn't make sense to non-Christians, the Book of Mormon and D&C often don't make sense to non-Mormons.

I'm glad that you believe what you were taught in Primary, Sunday School, Seminary, etc. I'm glad you understood the truthfulness and the logic in those teachings. But I also hope you realize it takes a true testimony to fully understand and accept them.

Because if someone doesn't get a Spirit-borne testimony, someone else could come along some day, who will be smarter than your teachers were, and who will be a better salesman and "convincer" than your teachers were. And he could use the same scriptures and lots of good arguments and good logic to "convince" you of an entirely different interpretation.

I know that could happen, because it has happened to many members.

Debating and logic is pretty useless in terms of discovering the truth of spiritual concepts. Logic is good and has it's place in intellectual study, even intellectual study of the scriptures. But to discern or to decide or find out which religion's spiritual teachings or principles are true, the final step must be through spiritual inquiry, not debate.

Anonymous said...

Look, folks, I'm sorry to have to break it to you, but if Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney really does run for President in 2008, this type of religious slander is only going to increase. So have your facts ready and keep your calm!

As for all the statistics, there is no walk of life on the planet that is without people who have failed at realizing the best that humans can be.

Although I am a Christian and not a Mormon, I admit to a fascination with LDS church history. Please do not assume that just because the liberal media calls LDS various names and makes horribe assumptions, that all people do, or that all Christians do!

Stacey Pokorney
Dallas, TX
staceypokorney@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Nice to know you're only a member of the more socially-acceptable, watered-down version of the church, Jeff. Let's be blunt. The guy that founded the original churched preached all the same things that Warren Jeffs does. So are you disagreeing with Joseph Smith, The Prophet? If so, how can you continue to call yourself a Mormon when the church's founder teached and preached things in which you do not believe? Seems a strangeconflict of interest, and one every "non-Fundamentalist" needs to honestly ask himself.

Ryan said...

Bookslinger:

I agree that it's vital for people to gain their own testimony of the gospel, but I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to call Primary/SundaySchool/Seminary "brainwashing."

Brainwash: to persuade or indoctrinate forcibly or through coercion.

Kids have a lot to learn as they grow up and they won't understand most of it until teens or later, but that's not a good reason to delay teaching.

The argument that teaching young children the gospel is brainwashing really just means that the accuser has a different "gospel" they would rather see taught, not that no teaching should occur at all. Kids will learn *something* by faith; the only question is what.

Now, if "teaching" is intended to force conformity by stifling or overriding the students' thoughts and opinions, we have a problem. And, yes I imagine that has happened at times at church, though I would argue the public school system is easily worse on that count.

Walker said...

Anon:

"Bluntness" in the case leads to incorrect conclusions. If you care to actually bring some real cases to the table, then feel free to do so (and just as a head's up: we've already three of the teenage cases, Emily/Elizabeth Partridge and Helen Mar Whitney under wraps--neither fit the "Warren Jeffs model" by any stretch).

Otherwise, take your unsubstantiated, rumor-ridden conclusions elsewhere.

Doug Forbes said...

Joseph Smith has more in common with Emmanual Swedenborg than with Warren Whatshisname. That is one of the many reasons that I doubt JS ever had a wife other than Emma.

Bookslinger said...

Stacey,

Nice comments. I was an evangelical/fundamentalist type of Christian for a short while in my teenage years, and joined the LDS church in my early 20's.

I agree with what you've said so far.

Ryan,

You're right. I was using an overly broad definition of brainwashing. I agree that the forceful type would occur more often in public schools. Unfortunately, I've seen a little bit in the church too, among some teachers, priesthood leaders, and parents.

The point I'd really like to make is that when our sunday school and seminary teachers explain the official church interpretation of the scriptures, both the Bible and our additional scripture, it is often presented as (or at least taken as) "proof." But of course it is not proof, it mere illustrates.

Taking our scriptural illustrations as "proof" of our doctrine has sometimes led to arrogant missionaries. If those people don't eventually get a spirit-borne testimony, then eventually alternate illustrations or arguments might override the teachings from their youth.

This is sometimes seen among people who leave the church who say they have "proof" that Joseph Smith was a fraud.

Having been raised as an agnostic, and having investigated various doctrines and churches before investigating the LDS church, the concept of "illustration" versus "proof" was easy for me to grasp. The concept of being led to and fro by competing debaters, arguers, salesmen, and convincers was not new. It was relatively easy for me to grasp the idea that one needs to go to God for an answer and not rely on who you think is the smartest or slickest debater. He who has the best combination of smarts and slickness is not necessarily "right." Realizing that seems to be a pre-requisite for seeking a spirit-borne testimony.

ltbugaf said...

Anonymous at 10:07 on May 15: Why do you, and why should we, look on you as a "party crasher" because you're Christian? Has it escaped your notice that the blogger, and most of those who visit, are also Christian?

ltbugaf said...

Anonymous at 2:05pm on May 16:

By this logic, I have to assume that we should all follow the religiouis leaders who tell us to travel in caravans around the country, invade surrounding cities and kill every man, woman and child in them. After all, that's what Joshua, God's prophet in the Old Testament did.

I mean, it's just impossible that true messengers of God could have different instructions at different times, right? ;)

Bookslinger said...

LT: I think he meant "party crasher" in terms of his being not a member of the LDS church. I think his messages were sincere. Be nice.

Anonymous said...

Hello, again,
Yes, to all who asked, I only meant the term "party crasher" in the nicest of terms. I am not accusing anyone in the LDS faith of not being Christian.

Bookslinger is correct, I meant it only as a way of defining who I am in reference to all the LDS who run this site. I am not a Mormon, but rather a Protestant Christian.

As I enjoy all studies on all religious issues - the current media furor over The Da Vinci Code is rather invigorating - I do like visiting this site and seeing the LDS point of view on different issues.

Calling myself a "party crasher" only means I'm not one of your fold, and I meant it respectfully.

I would be curious to learn from Bookslinger what his/her story is, what brought him/her to the LDS Church from the Christian Church. Only if you care to share. Just wondering.

Thanks!
Best wishes and many blessings,
Stacey Pokorney
Dallas, Texas
staceypokorney@yahoo.com

Bookslinger said...

Stacey:

I don't have this all in one place to cut-and-paste. I end up telling different aspects in response to different people. So you may see slightly differing versions of this floating on the blogosphere. Generally, I tell the parts that I think are pertinent to my audience at the time.

I was raised agnostic by a non-practicing Jewish father, and a non-practicing Presbyterian mother.

While attending a boarding school in another town away from where home was, during 9th grade, I visited a church with some classmates, started an inquiry, and came to a faith in Jesus Christ. That experience could legitimately be called "accepting Christ as my Savior."

Shortly thereafter, I received a powerful testimony (knowledge) of the divinity of Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost. In evangelical terms, that testimony experience is sometimes called an "anointing" of the Holy Spirit.

I fell away a while thereafter, in about a year, but never could shake the knowledge that I had. The other boys in that group discovered the LDS church their junior and senior year (11th and 12th grade.) One of them told me about it, but I did not further investigate.

Fast forward a few more years, and I was in my early 20's, and to make a long story short, wanted to "get right with God" again. I started to repent and pray, and felt a great burden lifted off me. As I prayed about which church I should start going to, I recalled the memory of what one of the guys from our group in high school said about the Mormons, "gold book" and "Jesus' official church."

I think I prayed something like "No, really, God, what church do you want me to go to?"

But every time I prayed that, the memory of that conversation from 7 years previously replayed in my mind like a video-tape. I strugged with it, because I didn't like what I had heard in the news about Mormons (had to go on a mission, had to get married, had to have lots of kids).

It took 2 weeks before it dawned on me that maybe I should check them out. I looked up the church in the phone book, saw a listing for missionaries, thought it would be logical to talk to them, so I called the ones nearest me. (Not only was I a "self referral" I routed it, too!)

We went to a member's home to watch a movie at a "fireside", which was strange, because I was expecting a bonfire like thing, but there was no fire, and not even a fireplace.

They gave me a pamphlet about Joseph Smith, and a Book of Mormon, and told me where to read, and we set up an appointment.

The first night I read those things, I knew they were true before the night was over.

The same Spirit that "anointed" me freshman year told me "It's Him!" while I read about the visit of Jesus Christ to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, and wondered and prayed if it were true. I recognized the voice. It was the same feeling, the same Spirit, so powerful I couldn't deny it. It was pure knowledge flowing into me. I know that the Jesus of the Book of Mormon is the same Jesus of the Bible, and the same Jesus I sought as a freshman in high school.

I could say "I believe" in the Book of Mormon, but that wouldn't be the "whole truth." To tell the whole truth, I have to say I know that the Book of Mormon is true.

The same experience happened while reading the story of Joseph Smith's first vision. I know it happened. God told me. God caused me to know it. God transfered the knowledge of the fact of the first vision into me.

So I joined the church. Two years later I went on a mission. (Still haven't gotten married, thankfully.)

Still being an imperfect human being, I got disaffected and left the church about a year after I got back from the mission. I never stopped believing, or knowing rather, that the things God told me were true. However, I lost patience with other imperfect Mormons, and lost faith and hope that I could continue on that path.

To make another long story short, after about 15 years, the Lord whacked me upside the head with his 2x4, and kicked my butt back to church. He didn't force me, but he has that way of making you an offer you don't want to refuse.

Bookslinger said...

Here's a cut-and-paste from a comment of mine on another blog:

1. I know there is a God. I know he loves us, his children.
2. I know there is a Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who made an Atonement.
3. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God and Jesus Christ as a boy.
4. I know the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be.

Most of my other beliefs/testimonies about the Church and restored gospel are basically derivatives or logical deductions from the above 4 testimonies. As I live or act upon my beliefs of the derivative principles, further evidence is experienced which firms up, or solidifies the faith in that principle into a testimony of that principle, like soft clay baking into a brick.

But, I know the above 4 things by the power and effects of the Holy Ghost. I have felt him, and I have heard him, not as one hears the voice of a man, but as a spiritual voice. He has transfered the knowledge of those things into me. He has communicated with me in some mysterious, divine and unexplainable way, but it was also in a plainly obvious and undeniable way. And he has literally touched me Spirit to spirit; not just an "influence" as on many occasions, but on at least one occasion, it was a literal contact. And I testify that descriptions of that holy contact are in the Bible, and are more plainly described in the Book of Mormon, and are described to a "T" and completely nailed down in the book "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith."

My experiences are denied by all but a fraction of modern mainstream Christianity, even though they are described in the Bible. And imagine my awe and wonder reading, after the fact, descriptions of those experiences in the Book of Mormon. And imagine my further awe and wonder upon reading the teachings of Joseph Smith describing in the first person some things which I experienced.

Having once had that intimate divine contact with the Holy Ghost (the one in 9th grade), his voice and "influence" are now recognizable as long as I'm doing my part to keep the channel open and clear. He is always there, but I often don't listen. And I often allow the static of sin to obscure the channel.

Sam Boogliodemus said...

"There will be more of this, on other issues."

Just wait until Mitt Romney starts his run for the White House. A few things you can expect to hear about will be: Polygamy, Joseph Smiths peepstone which he used to find buried treasure before he prayed in the grove, Danites, Mountain Meadow Massacre, Negroes being of the blood of Cain, etc...

Walker said...

Honestly, though, I don't think Mitt ROmney runs much of a chance. When a good chucnk of his party's largest constituency think that Mormons are at best, deluded do-gooders and at worst, devils incarnate, it's going to take a fat chance for him to get past the straw poll.

In any case, soldiers to your posts.

ltbugaf said...

The Republican Party finds much of its strength in Southern Baptists who would rather have lunch with Satan than shake hands with a Mormon. The Democratic Party finds much of its strength in Northeastern and West Coast liberals who are so profoundly devoted to unconditional freedom of abortion and so opposed to anything that looks like religious "fundamentalism" that they won't have anything to do with Mormons except to watch them mocked in homosexual-themed plays. I therefore agree with Walker that because of the gross bigotry that still infects our country, Governor Romney probably doesn't have much of a chance. I'm willing to fight for him, though.

Bookslinger said...

Lt: by your reasoning, I'd say it was a miracle for Romney to have been elected at all in Mass, where the vast majority are Roman Catholic and/or very left-wing liberal.

People thought that John F. Kennedy's Catholicism would keep him from the oval office. Who knows? Perhaps he would have lost the election if there had not been massive voter fraud in Illinois, and not carried that state.

Walker said...

But where is Mitt's base? Kennedy could use a missile gap as his stump line, not to mention the general Cold War mentality.

Romney comes in the midst of disillusionment over what is perceived to be an unnecessary. He will have to distance himself from the neo-cons. However, that will also require that he distance himself from evangelicals, something he's done just by being Mormon. Liberals won't go because he's part of the "white boys" club who hates homosexuals (though he does support civil unions and recently put his official backing behind a gay youth group)

ROmney, I think, is one of the best choices (not necessarily my first choice, though). I just think that his views are too squiggly and his religion too unpopular to really get anywhere

But outside the Mormon f

Jeff said...

I think attention from the media, including HBO's show "Big Love", are actually helpful. Most people are intelligent enough to see the distinction, and these coverages actually may cause them to wonder about LDS history and begin a search that could result in their eventual joining the Church.

Some of the comments seemed to treat opposition to Polygamy as an important Public Relations move. I cringe at that attitude. We don't practice Polygamy now because the Prophet declared it so and because of the laws of the United States. Public Relations should have nothing to do with that. If we are willing to compromise anything for PR, that seems shameful. God's law needs to be upheld above everything else, and right now God's law says that there is to be no living polygamy in the Church.

In Heaven, matters may be entirely different. Some of the most eminent priesthood leaders of past generations, including Adam, Abraham, Christ, Solomon, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young may be seen as Polygamist in the world to come. Any PR scheme that treats an attribute of God himself as something to be ashamed of should be treated with a high deal of skepticism.

ltbugaf said...

Bookslinger, from my viewpoint, it does seem somewhat miraculous that Romney got elected in Massachusetts, but that view is softened somewhat when you consider that Massachusetts has elected a few Republicans to the governorship in recent years.

All I can say is I think state politics operate in a whole different way from national politics. In general, people are much more pragmatic and less ideological when it comes to governing a state (with many and notable exceptions, of course).

Walker said...

My lobbyist friend informed me that Mitt's biggest political base was the log-cabin Rebublicans.

Telling.