The most questionable part of Romney is not his ethics, or whether he created or destroyed jobs.  It's his religion. A President's religion, if's he's a true believer, influences the way he sees the world and makes decisions.  Did Dubya think God told him to invade Iraq?  To what extent does Romney believe all that nutty Mormon stuff? 

Nutty stuff

I was recently fortunate enough to receive a copy of the Book of Mormon, courtesy of the Marriott Residence Inns.  Perhaps someone way up on the company is a Mormon.

I “read at it,” as one of my grad school professors used to say — because that was all I could stand without being bored to stupefaction.

Didn’t happen (of course)

First of all, and most obviously, the book is a total fabrication.  There’s no historical evidence that any of these people and tribes existed.  How the writers came up with it is anybody’s guess.  Probably some very Bible-conscious folks got together, maybe smoked some dope or opium, and just started riffing on this alternate-Bible thing. 

There were many adds and edits along the way, as attested by the copious footnotes…but who cares?  It’s religion! You don’t need proof or evidence.  Just make it up as you go along — that’s the fun of it!  Anything goes!! When did Jews start flinging chickens over their heads to gain forgiveness at the High Holidays? 

Second, it turns out that none of the bizarre tales about Jesus appearing in North America to the lost tribes, who also show up in the New World, IS EVER MENTIONED in the book.  All the stuff about how it all came to be written on special metal plates – and there are four kinds of them —  along with the identification of the Lamanites as Native Americans and a lot of other background events, occurs in an Introduction, which consists in part of the testimony of Smith.

There is a reference to a voyage across a body of water, but the idea that it was the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the tale about Jesus’ interactions with actual native Americans, is an after-the-fact fabrication, which, by tradition, takes its place in the Mormon belief system, which, just like every other religious belief system, grows by tradition and authority, with no reference to external, independent evidence.

Parallel universe

Here and there we find material obviously lifted from or influenced by the Bible, e.g., Ch. 2, I Nephi, introduction/summary: “Lehi takes his family into the wilderness by the Red Sea—They leave their property—Lehi offers a sacrifice to the Lord and teaches his sons to keep the commandments.”

Or: “O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people…” (Mormon 8:33).  In Exodus, God repeatedly calls the Israelites “stiffnecked.”  Couldn’t the Mormonm writer(s) at least bother to consult a thesaurus?  They even lift the -ite suffix which identifies tribes in the Bible (Hamite, Amalekite), even though there are plenty of alternatives in English, e.g., -ian (Canadian), -i (Israeli, Iraqi), -ese (Chinese), and many others. 

It’s all a lot of religious argle-bargle, repeatedly exhorting people to love God and Jesus, with plenty of threats and promises, just as in the Bible — and narrating a parallel Mormon universe, an alternate history about as sophisticated as the Bible but far less interesting.  Nothing as imaginative as the talking snake, the pillar of salt trick, or the rape of Dinah (Genesis, Ch. 34), with its ghastly revenge.

Barren of wisdom

Different names, places, and events - otherwise it’s a bunch of Bronze Age idiots migrating here and there and fighting each other for stupid religious reasons, just like in the Bible. I couldn’t find one sentence worth quoting, so barren of wisdom is this bucket of drivel.  The following is typical:

[Summary of ] Chapter 47, Book of Alma: “Amalickiah uses treachery, murder, and intrigue to become king of the Lamanites—The Nephite dissenters are more wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites.”

Hollywood Shakespearian English

And get this: although the book was obviously written in the 19th century by contemporary Americans, the language resembles that of the King James Bible (which was archaic for its time).  WTF is up with all the Yea’s and It came to pass…. and I say unto you???  Couldn’t Moroni (or, as I call him, Bony Moroni) have had the plates written in modern English?  Or is it not official unless it sounds ancient, unless it’s written in an earlier version of English? 

Religious people can be such fucking idiots.  If they’ll believe in Joseph Smith’s steaming pile of BS, they’ll certainly believe that Moroni spoke a Hollywood version of 16th century English.

That’s about all you need to know about the Book of Mormon.  I wish I could have found more to say about it.  It’s the Bible as a B-movie.  People actually swallow this stuff? 

And one of them is now is a candidate for President?  If he actually believes it, he can believe anything, even what he's saying at the moment, even if it conflicts with what he said last year.  If he pretends to believe it (as Obama apparently does with Christianity), then he's a typical pandering politician who, again, cannot be relied on to tell the truth or give us an accurate version of reality.

I am left with a sense of wonder at the pliability of the human mind…and at the many bizarre reasons for religious belief.

And I do not want a President who believes in a psychotic religious fantasy.

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Comment by Alan Perlman on July 19, 2012 at 10:08am

Roland...sounds like Alabama already has more its its share of nuts.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 18, 2012 at 6:10pm


I went to the link, and I am now more pessimistic than ever about the future of the human race.  There's also a billion Muslims who think THEIR story is the right one.  Hubbard asked why write fiction for pennies when you can found a religion and make millions?

Comment by Idaho Spud on July 18, 2012 at 1:33pm
Comment by Alan Perlman on July 17, 2012 at 2:28pm

@ Lillie - To people like me (and you), the fact that believing in incompatible fantasies, as long as they involve God and Jesus, allow people to be considered "Christians" (do they not for a moment consider the craziness of the others' beliefs?) just more evidence of the pliability of the religious mind. But if Romney soft-pedals his religon, there should be no problem. 

Comment by Lillie on July 14, 2012 at 8:31pm

There are Christians voting for Romney who think Mormons are Christians.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 13, 2012 at 12:35pm

I agre with Lillie: if they're secular, they keep it to themselves.  It's sad that you can be openly gay and still hold high office, but atheism has to remain in the closet.

I know about Mormon excesses and atrocities, but it seems they've grown up a little.  That doesn't mean they're not bent on a Mormon world (as with every religion), but they'll try it by birthrate and proselytizing, not violence.  I'm not worried about creeping Mormon theocracy - there'd be too much pushback and political cost from the Christians who are already busy at work on that very same goal.

Another alternative: the candidate can govern as if it doesn't matter.  Obama sat through Wright's idiocy ("God Damn America!") to get his Christian credentials, but we haven't heard from Wright in a long time.

Comment by Idaho Spud on July 12, 2012 at 5:29pm

In my 50 years as an active Mormon, I don't remember them saying they were for separation of Church and State.  They are big on the constitution, but only when it serves Mormonism, so I'm worried that Romney could take us further towards a Theocracy.  

I agree with those that recomended reading "Under the Banner of Heaven".  Scary stuff.  Joseph Smith had a huge ego and wanted to be a dictator.  He said "I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was 'the Alcoran (Quran) or the Sword.'  So shall it eventually be with us -- Joseph Smith or the Sword."

Brigham Young was even worse.  He said Negroes should be slaves and anyone that married a Negro should be put to death.  He also ordered the killing of the 300+ innocent men, women, and children of a wagon train of "Gentiles" at Mountain Meadows.

The Government finally got the Mormons to act more decently, but world Mormonism is still their goal, and It wouldn't be a world worth having.

The magic underwear is to be a reminder of the vows we took in the Temple.  Vows that includes giving 100% of your time and resources to the building-up of Mormonism.

Comment by Lillie on July 11, 2012 at 8:38pm

I still question who really believes what they say they believe.  What politician would ever admit they were non-theists but I'll bet more are than not.

Comment by James Yount on July 11, 2012 at 7:55pm

Then why not talk about the ridiculous pastor that Obama sat under for so many years.  What's more dangerous about that was the insane politically charged comments that came from that pulpit.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 11, 2012 at 7:50pm

@ James - I revised the post and put two sentences in the last paragraph - explains why it does matter.



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