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'The Economist' Says That Skepticism And Ridicule Towards Mormonism Is "Weird"


Fly Fisherman

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I'd like to step back from the question of whether a Mormon can be president to take up a more fundamental query: why don't people like Mormons? No other faith, save perhaps Islam, catches so much flak in the United States. Even among Americans who aren't hostile to Mormonism, the default position seems to be scepticism or ridicule rather than anodyne appreciation for the varieties of religious experience. That's weird. Every other major religion can count on being defended by members of other faiths.
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I am glad they took the time for the article, thought it is a shame that the author lumped polygamist with mormons. Though I guess we cant have our cake and eat it too.

Though Romneys quote in the article is a bit disappointing.

"And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life's blessings."

It appears Romney does not know his religion.

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Thanks for posting this, Fly Fisherman.

The article itself was certainly worth reading; even more fascinating, to me, are the comments that follow the article.

I personally have long felt that I wouldn't object to a presidential candidate because of his religious Faith (including Mormonism), though I would for one's politics (the most obvious, in my realm of concern, being anti-gay positions). On those grounds, I would unlikely be supportive of Mitt Romney, for example, but would heartily support John Huntsman.

One of the article's comments, in particular, gave me pause to consider an aspect I'd never thought of, before:

jomiku wrote: Jun 15th 2011 4:31 GMT .I don't know if the mainstream press will get into a discussion of religion at all. I suspect they'll avoid it. But the religious press and websites may and they may focus on:

1. A religion that believes in continuing prophecy. Both appealing and off-putting to Christians.

2. A religion that doesn't let non-members into its Temples. That could be a problem: what kind of religion consecrates a space for believers only. The Temples are generally used for ceremonies not worship, so then why are they closed to everyone? I admit to having trouble with this one.

3. A religion that claims to save your ancestors. This can cross the line with many Christians: who wants to be told that your cousin converted to Mormonism and now they're claiming to have "saved" all the souls of all your ancestors. This is a big problem for any religious person. No one wants someone else saying much of anything about your own family, let alone something as important as this.

4. A religion that requires you to wear "garments." It's a problem. Orthodox Jews wear garments too. Not the association most Christians see as desirable. Some people will shudder at the idea of the President and First Lady wearing special underwear in the White House.

It makes sense to me that the average U.S. citizen would have misgivings about a Mormon President and Commander in Chief going into the temple--a place that the LDS church only allows devout Latter-day Saints to enter. I can understand that non-members would feel disconcerted about that level of seeming secrecy shrouding a place where only Latter-day Saints would have access to their president. Eventhough the LDS view is "sacred," not "secret," non-members really struggle with understanding the difference between the two. Parrallels to Kennedy's Catholicism notwithstanding, he never faced what could be perceived to be religion-based 'secret society'-like behavior.

As someone who has personal experience inside a temple, I don't feel threatened by that andd it wouldn't bother me personally, as I've understood and experienced what goes on inside for myself. I'm simply saying that until this comment, I'd never considered how many never-LDS citizens might feel, in that regard.

Would the U.S. public accept a president who regularly attends the temple, leaving behind even any non-member security guards? Would Huntsman or Romeny continue to engage in temple worship (endowments or family marriage ceremonies) during their presidential terms?

I wonder if that will be a issue that would be addressed, on the campaign trail.

Daniel2

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what does he list that you think the lds faith lacks

Specifically, i love the reverence that exists in Catholic churches and the tradition and symbolism of their mass. I also love the Muslim's devotion to prayer. I think he has a point as well with the way that Evangelicals approach God and their relationship with Him and the open spirituality and focus on joyful worship that exists in other protestant churches as well.

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I know that in many Baptists churches, they are very involved in praying for others. I know when I was having health problems, it was comforting to have my mother have her friends in her Sunday School class pray for me.

There are alot of activities for the different age groups -- they have alot of activities specially for senior citizens, for example. When you get to be a High Priest in the ward, they are not very socially active.

Of course these activities are organized by paid professionals, where the ward is run by untrained volunteers. I remember attending a Baptist meeting, and happened to be near the ground level entrance where I saw employees coming in and punching their time cards.

Can you imagine a time card machine in the stake building!

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Romneys quote in the article is a bit disappointing.

"And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life's blessings."

It appears Romney does not know his religion.

Apparently I don't, either, because I agree with Romney.

In fact, I've said quite similar things.

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Romney says his faith - he could mean his personal Mitt Romney "its complicated" style faith or he could mean the LDS faith as whole - lacks in certain things which proceeds to list out those things. (yes, I know he did not say "its complicated" I am just emphasising the point to his personal interpretation of the LDS faith)

Personally I do not see a

lack of profound ceremony for Sacrement;

lack of approachability to God in prayer;

lack of tenderness of spirit,

lack of confident independence (really the LDS lack confident independence, when the LDS moved and esentially created their own "country" of sorts before it became a state)

ancient traditions unchanged (this one is particularly interesting is he suggesting the LDS faith has changed over its breif history)

lack of commitment to prayer,

Dr. Peterson, I do not quite see how you article is applicable to what Romney says the LDS faith or his own faith lacks. But do you believe the LDS faith lacks those things listed?

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Most other small religions in America don't have the signature salespeople out bothering the neighborhood. Not to mention the Christians don't think you're Christian so they don't like you and think you're poseurs. {I'm an atheist and thus generally not trusted by anyone, but those are two important reasons.)

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Romney says his faith - he could mean his personal Mitt Romney "its complicated" style faith or he could mean the LDS faith as whole - lacks in certain things which proceeds to list out those things. (yes, I know he did not say "its complicated" I am just emphasising the point to his personal interpretation of the LDS faith)

Personally I do not see a

lack of profound ceremony for Sacrement;

lack of approachability to God in prayer;

lack of tenderness of spirit,

lack of confident independence (really the LDS lack confident independence, when the LDS moved and esentially created their own "country" of sorts before it became a state)

ancient traditions unchanged (this one is particularly interesting is he suggesting the LDS faith has changed over its breif history)

lack of commitment to prayer,

No one said you did.

But others do, and so Romney's comments can't be dismissed as easily as 'he doesn't understand his religion'.

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Lets not overthink it. Romney is a politician. He was just pandering to people of other faiths.

This is a very shallow way of seeing other people, though seeing depth in people does tend to make it more difficult to disparage or dislike them so i understand why so many people,myself included sometimes, refuse to do it.

As i see it though, if i can say it (and have said it in the past) and be sincere, then there is precendent for the belief completely outside of 'pandering for political reasons'. Thus, it would be very immature of me (in my opinion and based on the kind of person i strive to be) to ignore that precendent just because of the job description of the person espousing the belief.

I'm certainly not one-dimensional and don't want to be treated like i am, so it would be hypocritical of me to be comfortable treating other people that way.

So, in answer to your 'let's not over think it' i say 'let's not under think it either'. I don't dismiss everything you say with 'he's just an atheist', so i'm not going to dismiss other people in a similar way either.

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Lets not overthink it. Romney is a politician. He was just pandering to people of other faiths.

Talk about overthinking it. How about being needlessly cynical? Maybe he was being genuine.

Maybe he's trying to be nice. One of my coworkers is a convert to Hinduism (his wife is from India). In order to show him that I appreciate him, do I (a) ask him if he's eaten any cows lately, or (b) express to him something complimentary about his religion that I actually appreciate?

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Talk about overthinking it. How about being needlessly cynical? Maybe he was being genuine.

Maybe he's trying to be nice. One of my coworkers is a convert to Hinduism (his wife is from India). In order to show him that I appreciate him, do I (a) ask him if he's eaten any cows lately, or (b) express to him something complimentary about his religion that I actually appreciate?

which is quite different than saying "My faith [as a whole or personally] lacks in the following areas.

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But others do, and so Romney's comments can't be dismissed as easily as 'he doesn't understand his religion'.

I never said no one said I did. But I still think Romney may not be very familiar with the LDS faith to claim it lacks in all those areas. For at least one of the claims one must deny the pioneer heritage of the LDS faith.

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I never said no one said I did. But I still think Romney may not be very familiar with the LDS faith to claim it lacks in all those areas. For at least one of the claims one must deny the pioneer heritage of the LDS faith.

I disagree.

However, you do realize that you are saying that I am not very familiar with the LDS faith for claiming the same things that Romney has claimed.

Is that what you think? That, because we disagree on this, you understand the LDS faith better than me?

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This is a very shallow way of seeing other people, though seeing depth in people does tend to make it more difficult to disparage or dislike them so i understand why so many people,myself included sometimes, refuse to do it.

You are right. I should stop being so cynical and accept politicians at face value while they are campaigning. If can't trust our politicians to be sincere when flattering others, who can we trust.

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Lets not overthink it. Romney is a politician. He was just pandering to people of other faiths.

And you know this . . . how, exactly?

I agree with him. Yet I have no political or otherwise self-serving motive for doing so. Thus, unless I'm lying, I seem to illustrate the fact that such a view can be sincerely held by a believing Latter-day Saint.

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You are right. I should stop being so cynical and accept politicians at face value while they are campaigning. If can't trust our politicians to be sincere when flattering others, who can we trust.

If you want theists to take atheists seriously while you campaign for your beliefs on theist message boards, you really don't have much of a choice but to be less cynical yourself.

The degree to which we trust the sincerity of someone else has little reflection on whether or not THEY are trustworthy. It simply reflects our own ability, or lack of ability, to deal with the results if it turns out our trust was misplaced.

If a person has nothing to lose by giving someone the benefit of the doubt, yet still isn't capable of doing so, then, to me, that means that they have become a prisoner to their own cynical nature and should strive to break free of that mind set.

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Specifically, i love the reverence that exists in Catholic churches and the tradition and symbolism of their mass. I also love the Muslim's devotion to prayer. I think he has a point as well with the way that Evangelicals approach God and their relationship with Him and the open spirituality and focus on joyful worship that exists in other protestant churches as well.

I agree with both you and Frankenstein. As a convert from Catholicism, I do miss things like using incense and lighting candles in worship. I love the symbolism of incense, found in the Bible in reference to the temple, as well as the symbolism of lighting candles/lamps. I wish that our chapels would have those images that line the hallways instead of being so...bare. On the other hand, I loved the one time (so far) that I've been in the temple, with all the gold and white colors, the baptismal font, the beautiful images of Christ's baptism and other scriptural events, everyone dressed in white, etc. I also find heavy emphasis on prayer, as well as on blessings from God and receiving revelations and the Spirit through sacred acts (such as partaking of the Sacrament) and the temple as a place where God's presence can be felt strongly. I love the emphasis on actually experiencing God through the Spirit.

So I don't think that Romney is denying that these things are in our own faith. They are there, just in a different way. Yes we have a commitment to prayer. Romney was perhaps talking about the Muslim commitment to praying 5 times a day at a minimum. Yes we have profound ceremony, however Romney was perhaps talking about the "pageantry" of the Mass with chanting, incense, candles, sitting/standing/kneeling, etc. (noting that not all Masses have incense or chanting) in comparison to the more simple Sacrament Meeting. Nothing is wrong with acknowledging these things, IMO. In fact, as much as I miss those things of Catholicism, I find much more to love in the Church of Jesus Christ, most importantly (for me) feeling the Spirit strongly in the temple, with the beautiful surroundings therein.

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