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 Loren Miller on July 10, 2012 at 7:04pm

Frankly, any candidate who has the unmitigated cojones to say:

Planned Parenthood?  We'll get rid of that.

doesn't deserve to be elected dog-catcher, let alone President of the United States!

Comment by James Yount on July 10, 2012 at 6:50pm

A huge majority of Americans have nutty beliefs so why shouldn't their representative?  I'm more concerned about social, fiscal, and global policies.  Every religion has bat crazy shit in it, but if the emphasis of the religion is on hard work and family values then I don't care about the rest. 

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 10, 2012 at 6:08pm

PS to Pat: Great Twain quotes.  They COUNT on it being boring, so the flock will take the cleric's word for what's in it.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 10, 2012 at 6:06pm

@ Pat  Right on!  His religion is definitely in the background.  As for "cult," all religions and almost all corporate and military organizations exhibit cultish behavior.  A "cult" is any group of nuts you don't like (and that does things in private, no outsiders - this is exactly what arouses outsiders' suspicions).  I didn't know they baptized dead people -- and probably had them meet up in Heaven.  Not surprised. The pliable religious mind is capable of ANYTHING.

@ Sandi  - I too am worried about the Church's influence on government, but if he made some declaration of independence as JFK did, it would help.  Hillary in 2016, inevitably.  And Slick Willie has the run of the White House when she's away.

@ Steph - I consider it a service to my fellow atheists.  At least one of us has to know how stupid and irrelevant their holy books, translated but not spun, really are.  Harris plods through the Koran and finds dozens of passages urging intolerance of and violence against unbelievers.  Somebody has to do it.

@ Sandi -  See above comment.  Somebody has to read it and see what crap they sanctify.  I picked up the Torah expecting to find wisdom equivalent to Buddhism or Taoism.  Not even in the ballpark. Primitive shepherd stuff.  And they revere it!!

@ Tammy - What is the significance of the underwear?  I should look it up.  Some of the things Orthodox Jews believe are just as dumb.  Heard of the red heifer?

Comment by Pat on July 10, 2012 at 2:38pm

Last year, during the primaries, a Baptist minister named Robert Jeffress referred to Mor(m)onism as a cult - at a conservative political convention. Jeffress was called out on it, and he ultimately shut up. Sandi, I agree that a lot of conservatives aren't that thrilled with him, but he's all they've got. I think part of the reason the media is laying off is because they don't want to look like religious bigots. I suspect Xtian conservatives are laying off for two reasons: 1) they have to live with him as their candidate notwithstanding their arm length nose holding at his religion, and 2) anybody but the black guy.

Comment by Sandi on July 10, 2012 at 1:12pm

Bravo to you for even picking it up let alone 'reading at it' but I am sorry for the time you lost that shall never be regained!.

As for Romney, I don't think I have really heard him say too much about his moronism, pardon, mormonism or has he? It seems the media hasn't really focused that much on this, at least how strict his or devoted his lifestyle is. I have read that he has donated millions to the church but that's tax evasion at it's finest but not much else. Not that I have actually searched for this kind of information about him, just what is splashed about the main media.

America was not quite ready for a black President, but there is Obama and the next steps would be a woman or a gay President. Religious agenda doesn't seem to matter just as long as you have one. I am pretty sure a lot of conservatives cringe a little at Romney's mormonism but block it out because he is a god toting republican and basically he is all they have at the moment. It is scary to think that if Romney did become President, what influence the mormon church will have and I don't think a lot of conservative christians get that.

Comment by Tammy S on July 10, 2012 at 12:42pm

WOW Pat I really hadn't heard that! /headdesk That's some serious vanity in that particular cult! I can't tell you how much the idea that they would act in such a vile and sanctimonious manner irritates me, but it does make me feel better about the southern Baptists, at least they only move the dead when they get in the way of their strip malls and suburbs! Yet another reason I'm being cremated and mixed in a planter with a pine tree, mix me with water ya bastards, I'll grow a tree and fall on your house!

Seriously, I need to get this book you guys keep referencing Under the Banner of Heaven, I'm going to do that next paycheck and pass it around to the family members long before November!

Comment by Pat on July 10, 2012 at 11:57am

@Tammy - It's bad enough they baptized his atheist father, but try this one on for size. If you're going to baptize the dead, why not go to where the pickins' are the most plentiful. Yes, boys and girls, Mormons baptize the victims of the Holocaust. It gets better.They also baptized Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler. I guess the two have now kissed, made up, and are dancing around some May Pole in a Mormon heaven on the planet Kolob. This cult has more crust than a pie factory!

Comment by Tammy S on July 10, 2012 at 11:42am

I refuse to wear underwear, magic or holy for any man =^.^= and he can keep his stupidity over my coffee to himself as well, /mumbles something about him being a damn automobile elevator having, dog abusing, magic panty wearing, double speakin', mouth breathing freak!

In all seriousness however, I have read that they had his atheist father baptized into to the Mormon religion posthumously. Soooo... This man can't even respect his own father's last wishes and the American people think he can respect their rights and freedoms? Not to say that we actually 'have' any freedoms or rights left, but you know what I'm saying...

Comment by Pat on July 10, 2012 at 11:26am

Mark Twain referred to the Book of Mormon as "chloroform in print." And, having tried to read at it myself, I can vouch for Twain's observation. As I got to the 250th "And it came to pass...," the next thing I knew I was waking up at 2:00 a.m.,  still sitting on the couch, with the Kindle in my lap. Ambien has nothing on that book. 

For a good read about Mormonism, that will keep you glued to the book and wide awake, I would recommend Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer. It's quite the eye opener; especially regarding their belief in "personal revelations" from god. Just ask the Lafferty brothers.



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