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 Pat on July 11, 2012 at 8:09pm

James, I agree. Rev. Wright was (and probably still is) an intolerant, bigoted, moron. No argument there. The thing that, for me, differentiates the candidates (in part) is the comments about those of us on here. Mitt Romney panders to the intolerant members of Liberty University, while President Obama talks about "non-believers" as inclusive Americans. As a veteran, former elected official, and atheist, I'll take the current President's stance regarding my citizenship over that of the right wing intolerant bigots that are holding their nose over their candidate's religion, and detest me for my lack thereof.

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.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 11, 2012 at 7:48pm

The candidate's delusion (really believes it) or hypocrisy (pretends to believe it) are definitely qualities that would influence me.  Delusion or hypocrisy - fits every President I've known.  If they were agnostics or atheists, they never said.

Comment by Pat on July 11, 2012 at 6:54pm

Article 6, Section 3 of the US Constitution states,

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. 

And, I fully agree with that. However, that provision goes to the candidate, and not the voter. I'm certainly free, as a voting citizen of the US, to take into account the candidate's delusion when I go into the voting booth. No Constitutional prohibition there.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 11, 2012 at 4:59pm

At least Mormons aren't as apocalyptic as Evangelicals - are they?  And maybe Romney will soft-pedal it, as Obama is doing.

Refer to my blog post and the imporance of birthrate in creating new adherents.

Comment by Tammy S on July 11, 2012 at 3:31pm

Alan the idea of nukes in these hands definitely keeps me awake nights!

As to Romney, yeah... the bastard said that in regard to Planned Parenthood... of course he's a freaking breeder of boy children, why wouldn't he want to do away with it!

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 11, 2012 at 12:31pm

@ Loren - He said that??  That's religion invading government - again.  Wouldn't happen with an atheist Prez.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 11, 2012 at 12:28pm

@ Tammy - I think the red heifer is supposed to be prophetic of something.

It is of no comfort to me that the best-armed country is also one of the most religious.

Comment by Tammy S on July 11, 2012 at 7:18am

Alan I'm not sure what the significance of the 'underwear' truly is, it was my understanding that they were part of the 'purity' vestments worn in the temple, rather than like the sheet used during procreation by other sects. I have heard of the Red Heifer but to be honest I read about that years ago I can't remember how it plays into Judaism at the moment, is it like the White Buffalo Calf Woman? I swear I can't keep up with all the nuttiness, I feel like I'm stuck in the Golden Bough in real life lately for goodness sakes! ; )

I am worried about this particular cult's influence on the American system, I'm just as worried about them as I am the Christian Dominionist movement, if either gets a foothold here, we might as well grab our prayer mats and don our veils... Remember they outlawed the studies of science and mathematics in the theocratic Arab states where they first took root when Islam became king.. scary crap... Religion and the religiosity of our leaders should be of major concern if we're mindful of history.



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