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IEET > Rights > FreeThought > PostGender > Vision > Bioculture > Affiliate Scholar > Hank Pellissier

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A Mormon? For President? Who are these people?


Hank Pellissier
Hank Pellissier
Ethical Technology

Posted: Oct 14, 2011

Two Mormons—Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney—are campaigning as Republicans for President of the United States, with Romney currently favored to nab the nomination. In recent days their faith has been derided by some as a “cult.” Although Mormonism is an ‘indigenous’ American creed, and has over 14 million followers internationally, the average American knows little about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

To uncover the socio-political notions of the Utah-based religion, I interviewed Lincoln Cannon, president of the Mormon Transhumanist Association.

Hank Pellissier: These two Mormons that want to be President… why are they both Republican?  

Lincoln Cannon: Actually, in the 19th century, most Mormons were Democrats, and today, although most Mormons in the United States are Republicans, we’re not monolithic. Members of the LDS Church tend to be Republicans, while members of some smaller denominations such as the Community of Christ and Reform Mormons tend to be more diverse or Democratic leaning. Even the LDS Church harbors some diversity. For example, one of the highest ranking Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is a member of the LDS Church. About 77% of Mormon Transhumanists are members of the LDS Church, but only 7% identify as conservative in cultural politics; and I’m both a member of the LDS Church and a left-leaning independent. 

HP: Mormonism is suspected by many Americans as being very racist. Can you explain these Mormon passages? “Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fulness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain.” 

LC: That quotation is not from the Book of Mormon. It’s from a book by a former president of the LDS Church. However, there are a few passages of the Book of Mormon that I do consider racist, in that they attribute dark skin to a curse from God, which is something most Mormons reject today… The LDS Church does unfortunately have some institutional racism in its past that was resolved in 1978 when the church extended priesthood to blacks. Since that time, the church has added blacks, as well as increasing numbers of other non-caucasians into leadership roles… I confident we’ll continue to improve in this area.

hrHP: Which one—Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman—has the most support from Mormons, and why? 

LC: Mitt Romney is more popular than Jon Huntsman. Most members of the LDS Church perceive Romney as being more serious about his Mormonism, exhibited by regular participation in church services and programs. Another reason is that Romney, like the majority of Mormons, currently positions himself further right on the political spectrum than Huntsman. This latter difference, however, may reflect their current political strategies more than enduring personal convictions, as Romney appears to have been moderate as the governor of Massachusetts. I suspect Romney, if elected, will prove to be a moderate president.

HP: Jon Huntsman has spoken out against “Obamacare.” Is there something about Mormonism—in principle—that is opposed to universal health care?

LC: To the contrary, our scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, are replete with exhortations to care for the poor and the sick. Almost any Mormon you ask would be in favor of universal health care in the broadest sense; however, we disagree among ourselves regarding whether any government can or should be the provider of that health care. A significant reason some Mormons may not perceive the need for government-run universal health care is that the LDS Church runs worldwide financial and education welfare programs that effectively supplement whatever government programs are already in place.

HP: Both candidates portray themselves as highly-qualified on economic issues. Utah (under Huntsman) had the “best” state economy, and Mormons are wealthy. Does Mormonism espouse economic practicality? A balanced budget? Sensible investments?

LC: Mormonism is a practical religion. Faith, for us, is an action word. In LDS Church meetings, we advocate hard work, emergency preparedness, and financial responsibility. The church runs successful welfare and education programs for members, as well as private universities with highly ranked financial and business programs. In my local congregation, we’ve been holding regular seminars on financial management and investment, so that members with more experience in these areas can help others with less experience.

HP: Do Mormons perceive themselves as different from other Christians?

LC: Like other Christians, we consider ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. We revere the Bible, but unlike some Christians, we do not require literal interpretation or confine ourselves from revering additional books as scripture. Also unlike some other Christians, we teach that our trust in Jesus Christ should lead us to share in the identity of Christ, worship through emulation, and become increasingly like God (theosis), which some other Christians consider heretical. Consequently, some Mormons, seeking improved relations with non-Mormon Christians, have downplayed our doctrine of theosis. I consider that a grave mistake, and a focus of my work with the Mormon Transhumanist Association has been to establish a stronger voice for advocacy of theosis.

HP: Why are Mormons homophobic? What’s in the Book of Mormon that condemns gays? Can they change their mind on this?

LC: Not all Mormons are homophobic. The Community of Christ (the second largest Mormon denomination) recently extended full membership privileges to homosexuals. On the other hand, the LDS Church certainly has been highly active in combatting the legalization of gay marriage. Why? There is nothing in the Book of Mormon that condemns homosexuality, although the book does condemn sexual promiscuity generally. I think the main reason is that we have highly developed and deeply revered unique doctrines related to marriage that most consider to be utterly irreconcilable with gay marriage. Could that change? Most Mormons will tell you that they cannot imagine that changing. Personally, I suspect it would change only subsequent to homosexual reproductive technologies becoming effective and commonplace, and non-promiscuous committed homosexual relations becoming commonplace. 

HP: I’ve read reports that Mormon women have one the highest rates of anti-depressant usage in the USA. Why is this? And why can’t women be “Presidents” of the Mormon Church?

LC: I suspect there’s some truth to the observation that Mormon women have higher than usual rates of depression. There may be both environmental causes, such as a correlation between rates of depression and high altitudes, and social causes: Mormons do tend to have high expectations of themselves and others. Do the social causes of depression among Mormon women include the LDS Church’s constraints on women’s authority? I know that’s a concern for some women, but my informal observation is that they are the minority. For example, the fact that women cannot hold the same positions of authority as men in the LDS Church appears to concern me far more than any of the women in my own family. We do have many women leaders in the LDS Church; however, they are all directly or indirectly supervised by men. The LDS Church requires persons in the highest leadership positions to be ordained to the priesthood, and only men are permitted to be ordained. I expect this matter will continue to evolve with time.

HP: Jon Huntsman speaks Mandarin and was ambassador to China. Mormonism is international. Does Mormonism make a genuine attempt to understand other cultures? If so, why proselytize? Sending missionaries somewhere suggests that the indigenous culture is wrong and needs Mormonism.

LC: Mormons work hard to understand and appreciate cultures worldwide. The Book of Mormon, available in 82 languages, teaches that God speaks to and through all peoples. The LDS Church also encourages members to respect and promote their local cultures. For example, members in Israel observe the Sabbath on Saturday, and male missionaries in some tropical island locations wear skirts. Most Mormons are not moral relativists, so we may express concerns when we see a cultural aspect that we deem immoral. When training missionaries, the LDS Church encourages them to learn to love the peoples and cultures they’ll seek to serve. Sometimes we fail, but my own experience is that it can work remarkably well: my father was a missionary in France, I became a missionary in France, I since married a French woman, and we speak French in our home with our three children. 

HP: There’s a high rate of tech and engineering expertise among Mormons. Is there something in the creed’s tenets that encourages tech, science, and computer knowledge?

LC: Mormonism has always emphasized education and technology, reflecting founder Joseph Smith’s teaching that “the glory of God is intelligence.” The Book of Mormon contains an intriguing story about a man named Lehi, who in ancient times sought guidance from God while journeying in the desert with his family to find a new home. One morning, upon opening the door of his tent, he discovered on the ground a fine brass ball of “curious workmanship.” Lehi saw that it contained two spindles, and soon learned that one of the spindles would move to guide him through the more fertile parts of the desert. Messages also appeared on the ball, providing additional assistance. When Lehi and his family arrived at the sea, his son, Nephi, climbed a nearby mountain to seek further guidance from God. He was inspired to make tools and build an unusual ship. When completed, the ship served to carry them across the sea to their new home. For me, this story epitomizes the importance of education and technology in the Mormon worldview. Mormons do expect inspiration from God, but we do not expect God to do what we can do for ourselves. We can learn and we can build, and so we do. Like Lehi, we expect education and technology to be part of our journey to a new and better home.

HP: The American public has formed ideas about Mormonism based the book Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, and the TV show Big Love. How do Mormons feel about these cultural depictions of their religion?

LC: Most Mormons don’t identify with these productions because they focus on Mormon fundamentalism, which is practiced by a small percentage of Mormons—perhaps vanishingly small, given that the LDS Church has been excommunicating persons practicing polygamy for about a century. The media productions do make for exciting stories, but they’re probably as likely to confuse as help you in an effort to understand a Mormon neighbor.

HP: The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, has been scrutinized by historians. Many accuse him of fraud, of being a con-man. He was arrested for charlatanism by swindling people with “magic stones.” How do Mormons accept this information? 

LC: Joseph Smith was human, and I don’t agree with everything he said or did. However, he was acquitted of those swindling charges. Where I think Joseph is most vulnerable to moral criticism is in his marital relations. He should have been more honest with his first wife before engaging in polygamy. His moral failings clearly concerned him too. He mentions his own need to repent in writings that are today part of Mormon scripture. Without intending to justify any moral failings, I’ll add that I consider Joseph Smith a prophet, if ever there was one. Throughout human history, some persons have managed to articulate an esthetic that moves and shapes us, emboldens and ennobles us, invokes in us the strenuous mood toward benevolence and creativity beyond human capacity, toward the divine. Joseph Smith is one of those persons, for Mormons and even for non-Mormons, as expressed by Harold Bloom, a Jew and professor of humanities at Yale, who observes: “A literary critic necessarily is more at home with Emerson than with Joseph Smith, though I would name them both (with Walt Whitman) as our authentic American prophets.”

HP: A Rasmussen poll named Mormons as the third least-electable belief system in the USA behind Muslims and atheists. Do you think this is false?

LC: Many persons are suspicious of Mormons, mostly because they don’t know much about us. I think if you polled only persons who personally know Mormons, you’d get more positive results, as you would with persons who personally know Muslims and atheists. The LDS Church is doing a number of things to help others better understand and trust us: member profiles published at mormon.org give others insight into our personalities and interests beyond religion; media information published at newsroom.lds.org addresses common misunderstandings and clarifies official positions. At an individual level, most Mormons welcome the opportunity to talk about our religion… questions won’t offend most of us, so ask!



Dear readers…

I interviewed Lincoln Cannon for this article because polls and pundits are suggesting that the next U.S. President might well be a Mormon, and I’m curious to know what that could imply. Personally, I’m a “militant atheist”—but I was raised Catholic, I have a master’s degree in Religious Studies, and I’ve sat quietly through dozens of Quaker meetings.  

My initial instinct about Mormonism was that its invention was exceptionally ridiculous, due to the “golden plates” Joseph Smith said he received from an angel, and the incredulous tales in the Book of Mormon. In retrospect, I unfairly labeled the creed as ‘weirder’ than other magical belief systems because its mythology is recent—less than 200 years old—with its setting on American soil. But in truth, Mormon miracles are no more implausible than the fantasies of other creeds that vast populations now accept as reality, i.e., the parting the Red Sea, walking on water, immaculate conception, resurrection from the dead, paradise with virgin attendants, etc.

Recently, I’ve deeply resented Mormon intrusion into California politics—they sabotaged gay marriage in my home state by donating huge funds and volunteer hours in support of Proposition 8. I’ve also long harbored distrust of the LDS Church due to its past tradition of racism, and its present patriarchal sexism that limits women’s status, with sad repercussions: “About 17 percent of Utah women with commercial health insurance took antidepressants in 2009, according to Utah Department of Health data.”

On the positive side, I’ve been to Salt Lake City where I appreciated their help in my genealogical research, and I enjoyed the free LDS video presentations on how to solve family problems. I’ve also noticed that Mormons score highly in laudable social categories such as per capita income and average IQ.

Are Mormons a group that voters should be frightened of? Ironically, the main demographic that foments fear of Mormons is the Christian Evangelicals, who are far loonier and more reactionary than Mormons. I’m not voting for a Mormon for President, but I’d easily pick one of them over one of the Bible-thumping members of the Jesus-flock, like Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann. Mormon candidates are ‘moderate’ in comparison and decidedly more rational than the brood that smears them as a “cult.”

If Romney gets elected, I don’t anticipate him giving a shout-out to non-believers like Obama did at his inauguration in 2009. His ascension would be a step back for secularists, but it wouldn’t be an apocalyptic reversal. Kennedy’s election in 1960 was preceded by paranoia about Catholics that has been utterly forgotten, and Romney, if voted in, would signify the same acceptance of Mormonism. For atheists? We’ll have to wait for a shining light in 2016.


Hank Pellissier was IEET’s Managing Director on January-October in 2012, and an IEET Affiliate Scholar. He’s the author of two e-books, Invent Utopia Now and Why is the IQ of Ashkenazi Jews so High? He is currently at BrighterBrains.org
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I think the antidepressants issue is red herring.  It does not indicate that LDS women are any more depressed than other women, it only indicates their resolution of that depression.  LDS women (generally) do not smoke, drink alcohol or take illegal drugs in an effort to cope with the stresses of life.  The only realistic approach, then, is a legally prescribed medication.  I think a study of all women vs. LDS women who drink alcohol, take illegal drugs or prescribed medication to cope with stress/depression would show a much more realistic and complete picture.





Well Hank, we all have a right to our opinion, regardless if it is wrong.  I find it interesting that you are a self-proclaimed militant athiest, yet have focused so much of your life to religious study.  If I found something to be lunacy, I certainly wouldn’t dedicate my entire life studying it. 

Your belief system surrounds its faith around the notion that we just exist.  No creator, no Big-bang, we are just here.  The problem with that is science has showed us the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate.  This is not an opinion, this is a fact.  So if we are expanding then there must have been a starting point.  If thiere is a starting point, something created this starting point.  This is where science and religion differ. 

However, the militant athiests such as yourself doesn’t believe in a starting point or do you?  That’s the problem.  If you speak with a true follower of Christ, they believe in only one God.  If you speak with athiests, some will say they are spiritual.  Some will say they believe in the big bang. Some need proof, some do not. Some are athiests to feel better about their perversions.

I think of an athiest as a wanderer, never finding a home.  They don’t know what to believe because to be an athiest they need proof.  Well, you are so sure there is no God, but the only way you will see him is on judgement day.

As the bible teaches us, we will all be judged based on our knowledge of the Word and putting it into practice.  Those that know the Word will be judged at a higher standard.  Someone like you, a scholar of the Bible, will be judged.

Last point.  What if you are right and there is no God and I spent my entire life modeled after Jesus Christ?  Now, what if i’m right and there is a God?  A choose the first option.  Hopefully one day you will as well.





Thanks for the interview, Hank.

Since my answers needed to be edited for length, I’ve posted the originals on my blog.

Thanks, too, for the candor of your closing editorial. I have many friends who are atheists, and although I’m a theist, your concerns resonate with me. Religion and theism, even those with which I identify, have too often been abused. Religion is a social technology, probably the most powerful of them, and like all powerful technologies, it can be used both for good and evil.

As you point out, religions do tend to make extraordinary claims and engage in divisive politics. Trained in philosophy, with an emphasis in philosophies of science and religion, I know the value of critical analysis and seeking disconfirming evidence, as well as the value of divergent thinking and epistemic humility. Mormonism exercises in me, sometimes to the limits of my abilities, each of these activities. I value both the practical consequences of working toward its vision, and the practical consequences of working out the tensions and conflicts its history and politics raise in me and with others. I sometimes disagree with the majority of my fellow Mormons (such is the case with our political activities related to Proposition 8), but I still love and identify with them. I am, perhaps irredeemably, Mormon.

On the other hand, Transhumanists, with whom I also identify, also make extraordinary claims and engage in divisive politics. Of course, Transhumanists will argue, rightly in many cases, that our claims and politics are better justified by contemporary science and technological trends than are those of most religions. However, too many Transhumanists are failing to acknowledge that our claims and justifications are compatible with many religious views. Too many fail to recognize that our long term expectations have probabilistic implications regarding our past. It’s either naive or arrogant for us to aspire to the status of Matrix Architect, so to speak, without also acknowledging the probabilistic implications of such status. We almost certainly would not be the only or first. Where there are Matrix Architects, the extraordinary loses some of its extra.





With regard to racism, Lincoln stated in response to another question that, “We revere the Bible, but unlike some Christians, we do not require literal interpretation or confine ourselves from revering additional books as scripture.” Another of those sacred texts is the Journal of Discourses. Below are quotes related to race, from the Book of Mormon and the Journal of Discourses. It should be noted that when the issue of racism was “fixed” in 1978, these scriptures remained. The only significant event that happend in 1978 was that black men were allowed to become priest. It should also be noted that a priest is not an official. ALL adult males are to be priests in the Mormon church.


“...wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a SKIN OF BLACKNESS to come upon them.”  (Book of Mormon, page 61, 2 Nephi 5, verse 21)

“And the skins of the Lamanites were DARK, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which WAS A CURSE upon them because of their transgression…” (Book of Mormon, page 201, Alma 3, verse 6)

“...for this people shall be scattered, and shall become a DARK, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us,...” (Book of Mormon, page 468, Mormon 5, verse 15)


Brigham Young stated, “And after the flood we are told that the CURSE that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through HAM’S WIFE, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? because it was necessary that the DEVIL SHOULD HAVE A REPRESENTATION upon the earth as well as God;...” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22, page 304)

Brigham Young stated, “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the AFRICAN RACE? If the WHITE man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the PENALTY, under the LAW OF GOD, IS DEATH ON THE SPOT. THIS WILL ALWAYS BE SO.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, page 110)

Brigham Young stated, “Cain slew his brother….and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the FLAT NOSE AND BLACK SKIN…”
(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, pages 290-291)





@ Bill—thanks for your well-intentioned concern.  I have only been a “militant atheist” for a short time, about 3 years.  Before that I was going to silent Quaker meetings, watching and waiting with everyone else for a deity to show up and speak through us, but s/he never arrived.  Previous to 3 years ago, I was perhaps a “wanderer” such as you describe.  So, now I’ve listened to your POV, and I have a recommendation for you—I suggest reading the book “NAILED” by the friend David Fitzgerald - it’s an excellent scholarly book that sufficiently proves, IMHO, that Jesus Christ never even existed.

@ Lincoln - you are a remarkably patient and congenial person. I appreciate, like I told you in my Facebook letter to you, the Mormon desire to be “god-like” and I probably agree, like Ben G. did at hplusmagazine, that Mormonism is the “most Transhumanist” of all the religions. I don’t particularly want to debate differences with you - I’d rather celebrate what we both agree on. And yes, you’re surely right, many Transhumanists are arrogant, naive, etc. On that topic, have you read the new Paul Allen opinion on how The Singularity is much much farther away than most of H+ hopes for?  Very interesting and it will surely trouble everyone who drinks the Ray Kurzweil Kool-Aid. Thanks for posting the link to the full interview, and I apologize for the heavy editing, but, the final copy was still far far longer than the usual 1,500 words per article. I hope to meet you in person some day.

 





@ Brian - It seems evident to me that LDS women have a higher rate of depression than the national average.  Here’s a link: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700066056/Antidepressants-flow-freely-in-Utah-as-1-in-5-women-partakes.html
my POV is that LDS should give women immediately all the same rights as men, that would be the proper course of action, if one views it solely as a secular “human rights” issue.





@ Thomas D. - There are many American religions that can be charged with racism, IMO, the only one Not-Guilty of this charge is Quakers, who largely master-minded the Underground Railroad.

If Mormons have given African-Americans fully equal rights in their church that is commendable.  However, the extreme racism in the passages you sent me indicates that the “deity” or “prophet” who uttered the words was neither wise or compassionate in this regard…

This creates in me great doubt about the ethics of the author’s core personality and makes me wonder why? why? would any intelligent and moral person base or follow a creed that derived from that author’s thinking?





@ Lincoln—I feel that Mormons are attacked because they have such a thing as a Book of Mormon.  They have a founder. 

The Bible is the only book, God is the only founder.  In flesh he was Jesus and we were saved.  No founders, No popes, no Brigham Youngs, no Saints…..I will discuss what is written in the KJV, NIV, NLT, But I wont talk about a founder, only a creator. 

@ Hank I put the book Nailed with the other conspiracy theorists.  The ones that wrote 9/11 never happened, that the Holocaust was a Myth.  It is severely flawed.  The truth is, with the Apostle Paul:  he said in Romans 1:3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life (a) was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power (b) by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from (c) faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

With that said, you are lost, angry, and spiritually bankrupt.  But the amazing thing about our God, if you seek, he will find you.  If you knock, he will answer.  It takes people to hit rock bottom to reach out to our Lord.  Even after years of denial, he still loves you.  Who else could you say that about?  I will be prayng for you regardless if you think I’m a lunatic or misinformed.

You like history, you like facts.  Well, history tells us the Jews have gone through horrible persecution only to be protected in the end, it’s no coincidence.  It tells us in the Bible, believers, will be showered with blessings.  It’s no coincidence that the US, UK, and latin America Countries are blessed; while the people that live in the middle east, china, korea, africa go through such hard times.  Where being a Christian means you are persecuted. This is no secret.  Those governments may be rich, but the people are poor. 





@ Hank and Lincoln
Thanks for this article. It is valuable.

“I’m not voting for a Mormon for President, but I’d easily pick one of them over one of the Bible-thumping members of the Jesus-flock, like Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann. Mormon candidates are ‘moderate’ in comparison and decidedly more rational than the brood that smears them as a “cult.”...His ascension would be a step back for secularists, but it wouldn’t be an apocalyptic reversal.”

Caution Will Robinson. While I generally agree with the sentiment, it all depends how much any candidate sells out to the radical right on the path to being elected. It is extremely notable that Huntsman, the more moderate of the two and who has come out in favor of evolution and is polling in the low single digits.
For women, the election of any conservative Christian, regardless of stripe, is likely to spell the end of a freedom of choice. “Life” legislation and judicial appointments and limiting/reducing funding for birth control/family planning are all part of the agenda.
Pregnancy which has traditionally been defined as beginning at attachment to the uterus is in the process of being rewritten as “personhood” and beginning at conception. And lest you think this is purely an abortion issue, the personhood designation if it is successful will impact a range of reproductive technologies and potential “rights” for AI.

IMHO the way to avoid an “apocalyptic reversal” for emerging technologies is the election of a candidate who is committed to upholding separation of Church (any church) and State.





@ Bill—you want to put the book NAILED in with the conspiracy theorists, but you haven’t read it, so there’s no logic to your action.

my response is, fine, I’ve already put your Old and New Testament on a shelf with other “Fairy Tale” books, where it belongs

You believe “facts” are irrefutable just because they’re in ancient books?
Your thinking is totally irrational.





Hank—  While I enjoyed reading the interview and your post script letter,  I found your following statement amusing and very self-serving,

“Recently, I’ve deeply resented Mormon intrusion into California politics—they sabotaged gay marriage in my home state by donating huge funds and volunteer hours in support of Proposition 8.”

Is sure sounds like you’re saying that when a group of citizens with a counter viewpoint, yet legitimate, to your own mobilizes, voices their opinion, and organizes a campaign and a get out the vote effort that you label it as a treacherous intrusion and a deliberate subversion.

On the other hand, when a group engages in the same activities for a viewpoint you yourself support, this is labeled good old fashioned american political activism at the grass roots level.

Sounds to me like a whole bunch of sour grapes and frustration for a cause you feel to be morally superior!





Oh Lordy, to have Bible-thumpers at IEET, when they might be at church right now rather than on the Web. Who are they going to convert here? does Forrest Gump blog at IEET? in which verse does the Bible say to cast your lines in waters containing no fish?
Aren’t you wasting your time- not ours?
Here’s where one blogger goes wrong:

“...I find it interesting that you are a self-proclaimed militant athiest, yet have focused so much of your life to religious study. If I found something to be lunacy, I certainly wouldn’t dedicate my entire life studying it.”

First off, without knowing Hank, he almost certainly hasn’t focused “so much” of his life on religion; he’s not slow, so religion is doubtless a smaller part of his life than other ‘components’.
The real mystery of mysteries IMO is why would Rightists who despise statism so much devote SO MUCH of their lives to running for public office—such is a Mystery as great as Babylon. But we are entitled to our opinions even if they are wrong!





Thomas D., the best definition of scripture in Mormonism is to be found in the Mormon (LDS) book, Doctrine and Covenants, 68:4: “whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

This being the case, not all Mormon “scripture” is equal in Mormonism, as only a few books are canonized scripture. The Book of Mormon is canonized scripture, as is the Bible. However, the Journal of Discourses is not. I find a lot that is good in the Journal of Discourses, and as you’ve illustrated, some bad as well. In keeping with the verse quoted above, where a person has not spoken by the Holy Ghost, I do not consider it scripture.

I hope that wherever I am in error I can change, and I hope and expect the same from my religion.





... have a bad feeling about next year’s election, and if one more person tells me this is a ‘transitional phase’, or that progress is ‘nonlinear’, I’ll heave up a dish of tofu. Naturally, it depends whose ox is gored yet I live in the Midewest and the conversations are so asinine—particularly concerning religion—there is no point in talking save for about technical subjects. This is another disheartening paragraph:

“On the other hand, when a group engages in the same activities for a viewpoint you yourself support [in this case gay marriage], this is labeled good old fashioned american political activism at the grass roots level.”

Jim, say Massachusetts liberals got together to ban heterosexual marriage because of the unwanted offspring it produces, then your ox is gored. However there’s no purpose in debating anymore, politics has become hypostasized. It will be so pleasing when ‘bots become really smart, there will be someone to have decent conversations with—a bot.

 





@ dor—thanks for your comments.  I 100% agree. But… I have read that Mormons are quite a bit more flexible on abortions rights than other Christians, including Catholics - here’s a link:
http://thinkinginamarrowbone.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/catholics-vs-mormons-on-abortion-the-pregnant-9-year-old/

@ Jim P—call me any names you like.  I will remain angry at Utah Mormons who used their time & money to persuade voters to squish what I - and the majority of people in the USA now - consider to be basic, decent human rights.  I don’t consider the Mormon viewpoint on gay marriage to be “legitimate” and yes, I certainly do regard my own POV as “morally superior.”





Thomas D.—Brigham Young’s Journal of Discourses is NOT a sacred text!  And his personal opinions on race were typical in the world of that time period.  As a Prophet of God, shouldn’t he have repudiated such views? Being called as a prophet has never meant perfection, as many Biblical prophets illustrate.  He would have reversed his views IF the Lord had told him to.  Personally I think that society wasn’t ready for that back then.  In fact, Society wasn’t exactly ready for it before 1978.





Thomas, the Journal of Discourses is not generally recognized by Mormons as scripture, although I wish it were because it contains much of value. As you point out, it also contains much that is not valuable, as does human history generally. It would be nice if I could say that there is no racism in my religion’s past, but I can’t. I can, however, remind you that the picture is far bigger than the past racism, and focusing on it is to present a straw man of Mormonism. The Mormonism that inspires me, and almost all the Mormons I know, reflects this statement from the Book of Mormon: “[God] inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”

Hank, I agree that there’s value in celebrating our agreements, including the value of theosis. I also enjoy exploring our disagreements because the process generally helps us. On that note, you mention in response to some comments that perhaps Jesus was not a historical person. You might find it interesting that, even if I were to be persuaded that Jesus was not a historical person, I would continue to identify as a Christian. Although the question of historicity is interesting, the value of Jesus’ teachings and example are more important to me. Also, you asked why someone would knowingly identify with an ideology advocated by racist persons. The answer is that the racism is not and never was essential to the principles of Mormonism. Satan incarnate could advocate Mormonism, and it would make it no more nor less true. In Mormonism, we hold to the notion of progressive revelation, that God continues to reveal knowledge as we prove ourselves ready for it.  In such a context, I can look back at the genocides of the Bible or the racism of early Mormons and simply reject those practices and ideas, attributing them to the moral failings of their times, thanking God we have improved, and humbly expecting future generations to consider me something of a barbarian for my own shortcomings. Finally, in response to your question about the Paul Allen piece, I did read it, and found his reasoning weak, even though I don’t necessarily identify as a Singularitarian. Here are the thoughts I wrote in response: http://lincoln.metacannon.net/2011/10/singularity-doesnt-require-paul-allens.html

Bill, I don’t share your sectarian perspectives. I am as able to find inspiration in the writings of Hindus and Muslims as I am in the writings of Christians. The Mormonism that inspires me is an ecumenical one: http://lincoln.metacannon.net/2011/07/ecumenical-mormonism.html

Dor, the election of a Mormon president is unlikely to threaten women’s ability to get an abortion legally. Mormons, like most persons, certainly are not fans of abortion, but the official position of the LDS Church is that abortion should be legal.





After volunteering at soup kitchens for years, I’ve seen just why it is people who hit rock bottom come to Jesus: they have no alternative—especially the children.
Frankly, after reading this it strongly appears Lincoln Cannon would make a better president than either Romney or Huntsman.
But the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Best would be a ticket with Palin and Bachmann on it; however women are the Second Sex, as the title of the book goes.
Best of ALL would be a new Constitutional Convention to draw up a new Constitution to replace our creaky old 18th century one, but Americans are so proud of their admittedly glorious past they wouldn’t hear of it; they want the backdrop of the rural frontier plus the frontier of the Space Age. So no one can say Americans are not ambitious.
Mormonism? I like the polygamy of the splinter Mormons—and remember, originally Mormon polygamy wasn’t illegal. Give me that Old Time religion!





@Hank and Lincoln

Thanks, it is good to know the exceptions that the LDS church will recognize, but the LDS stand on abortion doesn’t address the politics.
There are two issues:
how much does any candidate have to sell out to the radical right to get elected? Whether or not the Mormon Church permits abortion is less the point than the deals made with the bedfellows.
does the LDS church advocate that pregnancy begins with conception?





@ Lincoln—thank you for your wonderful and level-headed participation and clarifications in this lively chat-room, and I will certainly read what you have posted about the Paul Allen piece.  I commend you on your courage and willingness to dispute his POV!





@buraianto, @dillet - You state that the Journal of Discourses is not sacred text. I’ve been told otherwise by Mormons, but who am I to argue. There remains the issue of scriptures in the Book of Mormon. How do you as Mormon’s come to terms with those scriptures? I would assume you can’t just brush them away.

I’ve seen a handful of YouTube videos where Mormon’s address this same question as it relates to race. The response I see is that you cannot change religious beliefs about race just because society doesn’t like it. I would honestly EXPECT that to be true. But that leaves me with the issue of whether I want someone with deeply held racist beliefs leading my country?





Dor, I agree that the agreements between particular candidates and the empowered factions of their parties are important factors beyond the scope of this article. The LDS Church does not have an official position on whether pregnancy begins with conception. Mostly, the church expresses the importance of valuing life, and encourages engaging such questions thoughtfully and prayerfully.

Thomas, I attribute the racist passages of the Book of Mormon to the uninspired racism of the persons that wrote those passages. As alluded to before, Mormons don’t require literalism or inerrancy in our approach to scripture. Here’s another quote from Brigham Young, when speaking about something more inspiring than his perspective on other races: “Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to re-write the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be re-written, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings. If the people are stiff-necked, the Lord can tell them but little.” Persons from non-Mormon religions sometimes think it’s inauthentic for religion to change with time and circumstance. However, authentic Mormonism embraces change, including the expectation of our own improving understanding of and relationship with God. There are, in our estimation, “many great and important things yet to be revealed”, to quote our basic Articles of Faith.





Thomas D. the Journal of Discourses is not a canonized book of scripture. However, I do consider it a sacred text. I find it as a whole inspired and inspiring. I do not consider it to be perfect, nor always correct, nor always inspired or inspiring, but like Lincoln indicated, I don’t expect this of any scripture.





“Frankly, after reading this it strongly appears Lincoln Cannon would make a better president than either Romney or Huntsman. “

Completely agree with this!
A write-in campaign anyone?





A write-in campaign anyone?


Motion to nominate Mr. Lincoln Cannon has been seconded by dor! all in favor say Aye.
The hermeneutics here are interesting however are pretty much a bridge to nowhere. So will stick to politics even while knowing our politics are increasingly outmoded.
Only thing I might (albeit perhaps not) disagree with the Mormons on is: though they promote hard work, with few exceptions the object of a candidate running for POTUS, and many other offices, is to get a cushier career—basically to not as work hard as before. Being president or governor, etc., is a tough job yet it sure beats digging ditches all day. Maybe ‘we’ (this might be projecting) are overly cynical concerning politicians, however very many politicos do think “to the victor go the spoils”; which is unfortunately only natural. One wants to reward family, friends, associates, for their loyalty—so politicians get on the gravy train as a matter of course, thinking:

“everyone does it, why ought I refuse my own people the good life?”

From good we go bad; from right we end up wrong, that’s what “sin” comes from. Not knowing where good leaves off and bad begins. Not knowing right from wrong. Being simplistic about it,
sin = good abused. For a random example, drinking a glass of wine is good; drinking an entire bottle can be considered a sin.





Sure. The example was as generic as it was random.
BTW, I visited Mormons long ago, they wouldn’t even allow caffeinated drinks.





“No creator, no Big-bang, we are just here. The problem with that is science has showed us the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. This is not an opinion, this is a fact. So if we are expanding then there must have been a starting point. If there is a starting point, something created this starting point. This is where science and religion differ.”

Yes, someTHING, not someONE created this starting point. Anthropomorphism is practically deifying ourselves by inverse-reification on a cosmic scale; while deism reduces God to caretaker, Supreme Sinecurist of the cosmos; now there’s a sobering thought: deism might mean that at the beginning of time God was elected President of the cosmos to slack off; perhaps he fixed the election too!





Ironic isn’t it?Iam almost a militant atheist myself, but I’ve devoted my college life to studying religions and spirituality.

Though I am secular atheist, but like other folks here, I am a possibilian at heart. I am open to the idea of non-omnipotent alien archilects, of the world being a simulation, of spiritual and meditation experiences beyond the ordinary states of consciousness. I am philosophically Buddhist and Daoist, though I explicitly reject their associated superstitions. I am a transhumanist, but I am on a constant watch of superstitious and nightmare possibilities of transhumanism(e.g. I do not mock Francis Fukuyama’s book just because he warns transhumanism as a dangerous idea, indeed any idea that implicates so much, should be declared dangerous) . Last but not least, I am also integralist, for those of you who know what it is, might think of it as New Age.
Ultimately, like you Hank, I am an avatar of contradictions. And I enjoy every bit of it.

The self is a society of minds. The brain is compartimentalized. Morman transhumanism no longer surprises me now that I understand their notion of theosis. Aren’t we all a little contradictory? I guess some more so than others.

sheekus





There’s absolutely no contradiction in being a “militant atheist” and simultaneously examining religion - understanding the tenets and power of Religion, and all philosophies, is essential if one wants to comprehend world history and current politics. Religion is an important factor in the psychology of the present age. As a militant atheist, I am hoping for a time when Religion is an archaic, vanished, laughable influence on our lives, but right now, it has immense influence, and so, I have applied myself to studying it.





“e.g. I do not mock Francis Fukuyama’s book just because he warns transhumanism as a dangerous idea, indeed any idea that implicates so much, should be declared dangerous”

But Fukuyama was a fool for declaring the End of History- he called the game before the 2nd quarter was over. What we need intellectually is transhumanist glasnost: instead of being apologists for religion, thus being on the defensive, we who are not religious—or particularly so—can say religion is a necessary escape in the carnivorously darwinist world outside of academia.
Religion, art & entertainment, drugs—it’s much the same ‘objectively’.
God? perhaps God appointed himself CEO of the cosmos; he got all the Universe Inc. stock options he wanted for nothing and one Hell of a golden parachute.





Thank you very much Hank for this interview and commentary. Thanks also to Lincoln for clear and interesting answers. We need more of this kind of interaction.

Though I’m firmly atheist I believe that sensible transhumanist policy in the years ahead will need to seek a wide basis of support also including some religious groups.

I want to ask about one thing (it is a question to anyone reading).

Lincoln wrote: “A significant reason some Mormons may not perceive the need for government-run universal health care is that the LDS Church runs worldwide financial and education welfare programs that effectively supplement whatever government programs are already in place.”

There are many competing explanation for why the US is almost the only highly industrialized country with representative democracy that hasn’t move to universal public heath care. Lincolns answers hints at a possible explanation I haven’t thought about before. The fact that many hospitals and run by religious organizations or other non-profit entities could explain why it is harder to get popular momentum behind the move to public health care. The institutions at hand resists such moves. Does anyone know of social scientific research investigating that?`





Post-post, our tendency toward anthropomorphizing God has been shaping humanity, psychologically and socially, for millennia. It’s now also evidencing itself clearly in our technological applications. Empowered long enough, this abstract tendency realizes itself in concrete experience. In the perception of the ancients, we probably would already appear rather godlike. Yet the potential circle is not complete until we attain the imagined creative capacities of the gods, and anthropomorphizing becomes theomorphizing.





“Post-post, our tendency toward anthropomorphizing God has been shaping humanity, psychologically and socially, for millennia.”

Doesn’t mean there is anything positive about anthropomorphosism—such may be promoting undesirable illusions in certain impressionable minds.





Sure. It all comes back to the tensions and conflicts between and among desires, wills, rules and laws - bodies, minds, relations and worlds. Some of us want to participate in a benevolent and creative posthumanity. Can you reconcile with that? Can we reconcile with you?





I would like to add about the use of anti-depressants in Utah.

Mormons generally don’t turn to alcohol, drugs etc to relieve the pains of life AND they are also avid problem solvers.  People meet very often with the bishop to seek advice and solve their problems.  He can recommend to see a psychologist.

I wouldn’t directly correlate the amount of perceptions of anti-depressants to the actual rate of depression within a State.

Also, current Mormon practices are quite un-racist compared to many contemporary churches.  In the South, most congregations are segregated (by choice) in “historical Christianity.” 
Mormon congregations are not segregated based off of race.  Each person is assigned to a congregation based upon where they live.  It is discouraged to attend any other congregation.





~ “Yes, someTHING, not someONE created this starting point. Anthropomorphism is practically deifying ourselves by inverse-reification on a cosmic scale”

~ “Post-post, our tendency toward anthropomorphizing God has been shaping humanity, psychologically and socially, for millennia. It’s now also evidencing itself clearly in our technological applications. Empowered long enough, this abstract tendency realizes itself in concrete experience.”

~ “Doesn’t mean there is anything positive about anthropomorphosism—such may be promoting undesirable illusions in certain impressionable minds.”

Woo hoo! Yes indeedy!

And yes, this does not mean that the personification of the Spiritual or Holy experience is not as real as real can be for us, (is not important to us)?

Once again this conversation is not new, and will be forever argued, precisely because enlightenment is a personal journey for each of us. All roads and paths may be different yet we all arrive at the same place ultimately - death, (at least for the foreseeable future?) It matters not that you may die, but of your state of mind on exit? Love or Hate, Fear or Hope? Final serenity and grace?

The journey and the reason is to explore one’s “raison d’etre” through exploration of the fundamental question “who am I?”
Yet Lincoln is correct, we may still aspire to God and Love, is this purely accidental? Is it non-constructive to do this? When folks and atheists and even science tells us there is no intelligent design - are we really sure of this, are we really sure that intelligence, (and wisdom), are not an emerging phenomenon in the Cosmos? Especially when we contemplate ourselves, our origins, our technologies and the possibilities of where we may be headed?

The term “God” may be substituted with the term “Consciousness”, if you are open minded enough to contemplate this notion - as indeed the ancient Indo-Vedic culture and philosophy teaches us. “In the beginning was the word and the word was… Consciousness”. Consciousness is impartial, is merely the witness of change and impermanence. And this does not negate the reality of matter/energy or its manifestations, (maya).

Is Consciousness really an emergent phenomenon? Phenomenological consciousness/Self awareness “consciousness of Consciousness” may be, yes. And yet, this argument/mystery may never ultimately be resolved. So resolve to accept it as reality. What more do you need to know? When does Consciousness become self-reflexive in a Foetus? At what age does an infant achieve “true” self-reflexive phenomenological consciousness? Yes these questions are important to investigate, yet what is more important is to understand that the “potential” already existed from the first!

Reflect now upon existentialism, contemplate the inner space of being, and resolve to accept both as reality. Reconcile both as a part of the “whole” (experience).

Even concerning the goals of uploading my mind to a computer, or to build a Self-reflexive consciousness machine/robot, I need not know the “why” or “how” of this Consciousness phenomenon it-Self? The impartiality of Consciousness resolves to Deism and Pantheism/Cosmism and the Tao also. Mysticism, metaphysics and science are progressive, and are the tools we use to progress to resolve the answer to the “fundamental question”. And I reiterate, the answer to this question, (ontological), may not be achieved wholly from what is external, but by contemplation of what is internal - from the Subjectivity of the mind to the Quantum, there still lies the mystery of this prime mover?

No God? Fine. Yet to what we aspire towards, (including the future of humanity), still makes a difference, is of great importance. Ethics and morality and theology must be examined, and not merely cast aside as redundant.

We may accept the mysticism associated with ancient wisdom and take it as we each find it, or choose to discard what is superfluous. Ancient stories and parables may be outmoded, but core philosophy, ethics and wisdom is not to be discarded without scrutiny and examination, (is progressive as Lincoln points out). The truth is.. that 3,000 years ago seers were discussing and arguing exactly the same questions, seeking the same answers, and with intelligence and wisdom and intellects as good as any of us to this day!

There are six schools of Hindu ontological philosophy, yet these three are the ones commonly accepted today. The journey from D to A is a personal one, it is one of choice, of intimate contemplation, and yet ultimately it is merely a paradigm shift in subjective phenomenological consciousness.

Quote - “Advaita , defined by the Sanskrit phrase “Tat Tvam Asi” (That Thou Art) argues that all life and the “Brahman” or God, are one and the same, and the pursuit of knowledge is the way to merge with the Brahman.
Vishishtadvaita states that all life forms are part of, and make up the supreme whole, as drops of water make the ocean. The path to liberation is knowledge and devotion.
Dvaita is dualistic, and much like Christianity, Judaism and Islam, believe in the superiority of God over his followers, and that the path to Moksha is self-surrender, devotion and worship.

Some believe that these are but references to stages of realization, with the soul progressing from Dvaita, the basic stage, to Advaita through the acquisition of knowledge and the practice of meditation.”

http://www.ometc.net/philosophies/page/2/





@ Lincoln “sectarian perspectives”  Absolutely! There is only one God, one path.  Before you read multiple articles from other religions, you might want to read the Word forward and backwards.

@ Hank ...he was certainly the highest example of one who wished to give everything, asking nothing in return, and not caring what creed might happen to be professed by the recipient.
.....he was one of the greatest teachers humanity has ever had. ....Mahatma Gandhi (on Jesus Christ)

Also, the majority of Americans don’t favor gay marriage.  Usually the loud minority are heard over the silent majority.  When sin entered the world, immorality did as well.  We are a society today that encourages immoral behavior.  Homosexuality is like being an Alcoholic or a Gambling addict.  You have a choice to have sex with a man Hank, or play black jack, or drink a case of wine.  We live in a society of “have it your way.” 

Marriage is between a man and a women.  If you are gay, then abstain and be single.  If you are an alcoholic, don’t drink.  If you like to gamble, don’t go to AC. 

But either way, I love all people, gays, addicts, felons.  It’s never to late to repent.





Bill, the Bible teaches that humanity should become God. I read it all the time.





Lincoln Cannon said “... although most Mormons in the United States are Republicans, we’re not monolithic.”

That statement is a partial truth wrapped in a strawman argument.  No group is perfectly “monolithic” (that’s the strawman part) but Mormons are among the most consistently monolithic people in the US (Lincoln’s implication that Mormons are diverse is the “partial truth.”)

While it’s true that all Mormons are not Republican, it’s also true that Mormons are the most politically monolithic major religion in America (2010 Gallup Poll):

http://www.gallup.com/poll/125021/mormons-conservative-major-religious-group.aspx

Duwayne Anderson
https://profiles.google.com/DuwayneAnderson/about





@ jona—you said “Though I’m firmly atheist I believe that sensible transhumanist policy in the years ahead will need to seek a wide basis of support also including some religious groups.”

I totally agree with you on that, which is why I’ve interviewed Lincoln twice now, and I encourage the welcoming of religious transhumanists into the H+ community.

@ bill - Your comparison of being gay to alcoholism and gambling is erroneous. Gambling and Alcoholism are financially and physically unhealthy addictions.  There is nothing “unhealthy” about homosexuality.  The only drawback to being gay in the USA is that religious bigots (such as yourself) view it as “morally unhealthy” - but that is rather quickly ending due to improved education.

You could educate yourself on the history and naturalness of homosexuality as well, but don’t pretend that “Leviticus” or “Saint Paul” has anything intelligent to say on the matter.





@ everyone—the New York Times ran a long and detailed article on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism just yesterday - you can read it here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/us/politics/for-romney-a-role-of-faith-and-authority.html





Duwayne Anderson, I’m not sure why you think Lincoln was being disingenuous with his statement. The poll you cited indicates that 65% of Mormons identify as Republican, either as a conservative, or as a moderate/liberal. 22% identify as Democrat, as one of conservative, moderate or liberal. An additional 11% identified as independent. Lincoln acknowledged that most Mormons in the U.S. are Republicans—65% are—and said Mormons are not monolithic—33% are not. (Forgive the rounding error.) How was his statement misleading?





Thanks for the link, Hank. Interesting article.

Duwayne, I appreciate the effort at clarification. No deception was intended, and I agree with Buraianto’s analysis.





@ Hank ....you said “You could educate yourself on the history and naturalness of homosexuality as well”....

yes deviant behaviors have been around since sin entered the world.  I don’t want to cast off homosexuals, quite the contrary.  I pray for everyone. 

As far as no harm, I think it has been well documented that HIV was a disease transmitted through homosexuals into the heterosexual population likely through bisexuals, blood donors, IV drug abusers…

Again, because you are a certain way, i.e. gay, you want to believe in a system that doesn’t punish homosexuals.  But it’s not just gay people, it is also liars, adulterers, thiefs…. that will be punished if they do not repent…...That is why the only way is through God’s grace, forgiveness and to repent.

@Lincoln:  BECOME LIKE GOD NOT GOD.  We will never become God.  Jesus Christ enters within those of us that accept him and ask him to enter our heart.  The idea is to have him grow more and more inside of us.  Through him Lincoln, not through us.  We don’t become God and never will.

Both Hank and Lincoln:  Again Mormons have the Book of Mormon, they believe that men become Gods.  One Mormon apostle asserted that humans are the offspring of the union between an Eternal Father and an Eternal Mother

Joseph Smith, the founder of their religion, promulgated the idea that God had, in fact, previously been a man Himself Who had become exalted, and that all men were capable of the same progression.

Mormons believe in polytheism, that is why most christians think of them as a cult.  They are similar to Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Jehovah’s Witness say they are Christian.  They believe Christ was a man.  They do not believe he was God.  They also do not believe in Hell, which I guess is similar to atheists.  Yet they will carry around the New World Translation, and try to quote scripture that is simply false.  Anyone can create their own book and call it a Bible.

But as the Bible states there will be plenty of false teachers.  Lincoln happens to be one of these.  I can see why the athiests would support a Mormon





@ Bill - sorry to perhaps disappoint you in your imagined quest to convert or reform a gay person, but I am not personally gay. I am a straight, married man with a very “vanilla” sexuality. You will have to troll elsewhere in your annoying hunt for those you self-righteously judge as “deviants.”

I am extremely supportive of gay rights, gay marriage, etc etc and I have been for a long time. I saw an effeminate boy at my high school get bullied until he committed suicide. I worked as a counselor for a while, and witnessed another gay teen attempt to kill himself. I have seen members of my family get painfully cast out for being gay and lesbian. I watch people - like you - bully homosexuals all the time and it sickens me. Your belief system seriously hurts, and kills, people everyday in the USA.

The only “wicked” behavior going on is not in gay activity—it is in people like you who have adopted “Gods” who tell them it is okay to persecute gays. You’re seeking someone “evil” to change, but all you have to do is look in a mirror.

Goodbye, our discussion is over. I suggest, as others have already advised, that you wander elsewhere with your mean little hobby.





another gay high school student committed suicide yesterday -
here is the news link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/jamie-hubley-commits-suicide_n_1015646.html?icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl1|sec1_lnk2|104998

anti-gay religionists help create the bullying climate that these kids endure.  Christians say they “pray for gays” but that’s worse than a waste of time, because being singled out as needing the silly prayers insinuates that the gays are hell-bound. Gays need acceptance and tolerance and protection. 

Lady Gaga is seeking to meet with Obama, to work towards making gay bullying a hate crime - here’s that link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/sep/23/lady-gaga-obama-bullying

Mormons, I hope, will get onboard and speak out against Gay Bullying.





Hank, I unequivocally join you in speaking out against gay bullying. No one should engage in or condone it. I wish it would go without saying that Jesus, to whom Christians look as an example, would not have engaged in or condoned it. Here are some related thoughts from my friend, Brad Carmack, who is on the board of directors of the Mormon Transhumanist Association: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=2F830C2AEB5281F9





“Some of us want to participate in a benevolent and creative posthumanity. Can you reconcile with that? Can we reconcile with you?”

If religion and escapism are synonymous, I not only tolerate religion/spirituality but accept them. Escapism whether through religion, politics, arts & entertainment, travel, etc., is much the same IMO; it involves walking a thin line: one must not become excessively detached from reality; however one isn’t Spock the Vulcan being hyper-logical… at least not yet.
From now on I want posthumanist glasnost and perestroika as far as can be ‘arranged’—otherwise Just Forget It.





@ Lincoln - thanks for sending me the link.  I interviewed a gay Mormon 12 years ago, for another publication - here’s my headline and link to that:

We’re Queer, We’re Mormon and We Want to Get Married
http://articles.sfgate.com/1999-08-10/music/17695012_1_gay-mormons-young-mormons-mormon-church

Mormonism and gays are also a huge theme in “Angels in America” by Tony Kushner, that I will have to reread soon—

I thought the NYTimes article on Mitt Romney presented a quite positive portrayal of Mormonism, did you?





Hank, I do think the article was positive, and honestly insightful. LDS Church leaders do a lot of hard work, sometimes make some mistakes, generally help a lot of people, and tend to report that their lives are blessed by the service. I liked how the article presented all sides of it.





@Hank, Bullying would not be the term I use.  I do not believe in “pray the gay away”  I do believe that we all have a choice.  I don’t believe any child deserves to be bullied, whether they are Austistic, Homosexual, Schizophrenic, .....I believe that single men or single women can abstain.  I believe that marriage is a union between opposite sexes.  Let’s be blunt.  If it was meant for a man to have sex with another man they would have a hole for that, not a waste orifice.  A women and a women wouldn’t need strap ons. 

As a true christian, I’m on the staight and narrow path,  I will accept all people, but choose not to do anything I want because it is pleasing to me.  I will not conform to society that has become more chillaxed. 

You studied religion, therefore you must have an interest in it.  I would say anyone that gets a Master’s Degree in a subject actually has a little more than just an interest.

You said before, out of all the religions, I found Quakers to be…..
The truth is if you identify with a particular religion made by man you will be misled.  When religions like the Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbytarians conform to society and decide to have gay priests they are no longer true christians.

When Mormons decide they can become a God and that there are more than one Omnipotent God, they are no longer true Christians.  Catholics pray to Saints, which I believe is a form of idol worship. 

You can write you article, but failed to ask the right questions.  That is why Lincoln didn’t respond to my previous text and you want me to “troll” somewhere else.  They were called a cult because they feel they can become Gods.  That my friend is Lunacy.  Good job for missing the entire point (sarcasm).





Bill,  responding to fundamentalists tends to be a waste of time, but since you insist, here are many examples of how the Bible and early Christians (real Christians of the non-fundamentalist sort) taught theosis:

http://community.transfigurism.org/quotes/theosis

http://community.transfigurism.org/quotes/mormon-authorities-on-theosis





@ Lincoln—thanks for those links—really quite fascinating—
I like this one - it is so “transhumanist”  !

James Talmage, A Study of the Articles of Faith 430

We believe in a God who is Himself progressive . . . whose perfection consists in eternal advancement . . . a Being who has attained His exalted state.





~ “Bill, responding to fundamentalists tends to be a waste of time..”

~ “We believe in a God who is Himself progressive . . . whose perfection consists in eternal advancement . . . a Being who has attained His exalted state.”


“Who mourns Adonis?”


Indeed it is as impossible to communicate with those adamant and insistent upon their version of (a) God and their doctrine as the chosen religion and the only truth.


Also, bio-logically, homosexuality is not natural, (pertaining to nature). And it would be interesting to know Richard Dawkins views on this, both as a militant atheist and biologist, and protagonist of the “selfish gene” and Darwinism that supports bio-logical function and competition as route to survival and success of species?

However, this does not diminish the (subjective?) duality of (spirit) mind and body/bodily (biological) function, nor the contemplation of what we deem and understand as spiritual love between two minds (souls) as indeed the ancient Greeks and other cultures fully understood.

So we have to realise that although subjective duality of mind and body, (still not fully understood nor explained), may be the result of Darwinism evolution and physicalism, it is still “real” and important to us and that includes how we express this as human spiritual connection and love.

Ultimately the “ego” (aggregate of mind) is the “you”, the centre of intellect you perceive and project as a “soul” and promote in it’s separation from the world around you, and thus as independent from this Cosmos. This misconception of a separated soul is the “veil of ignorance”.

Abrahamic faiths and Hindu Dvaita, (as well as other religions), support the soul as everlasting, eternal and trapped in an earthly existence, support also transmigration, (heaven and/or reincarnation), and thus will forever uphold separation in the face of true unity.

We may use science and psychology to uncover what we deem as truths, (particles/waves/strings/dark energy etc), to provide answers to the complexity of nature, yet on the macro level we still need to rationalise who we are? Which is the root of the question of existence and being, (ontological as I indicated earlier).

All I read here is politics pertaining to religion ( = spirituality + politics) as the extension of even more politics - which is fine, but this has absolutely “nothing” to do with the substantiation of God.

Tribes and diverse religions must, (as is often disseminated in doctrine in the guise of “tolerance”), realise that separation must be overcome to strive for unity, (Humanism and Universalism), and that the separation of mind and body, and mind and body from the Cosmos, and mind and body and Cosmos from creation, is purely an illusion?


The greater goal is to support contemplation of a philosophy that promotes not separation (of souls and substance), but unity and “acceptance” of humans/humanity and of their subjective notions of God and of attaining Godliness. And yet to realise also that all of this argument is merely subjective political viewpoint and state of mind governed by the inability to reconcile emergent phenomenological consciousness, (consciousness of Consciousness).

Please refer to my earlier comment and how this was contemplated 3,000 years ago.

 





I highly recommend the philosopher John Corvino on topics of sexuality and morality. Here is a teaser:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SutThIFi24w





Mormons have a dirty little secret that they call “Lying for the Lord” in which you are expected to give half truths to hard questions about the church. Likewise, you are instructed to only give sanitized versions of your beliefs until people are sucked in as full fledged (paying) members. That’s when you ease them into the magic underwear, lots of wives in heaven, aversion (electroshock) therapy for homos & God lives on a planet called Kolob!

You want the TRUTH about Mormonism? Interview someone that has recovered from the cult psychology.





All true. Bo, however I’m glad Mormonisn offers an alternative to Christianity. I’m also starting to see that attacks on Islam are often hysterical in nature.
If we are stuck with religion for the duration, then let there be diversity; let a hundred flowers bloom smile





Bo, that’s simply not true to any significant degree (although there are clearly some pathological liars adhering to all ideologies). What is true is that many Mormons are not aware of some of the negatives in our history, so what you perceive as lying is probably almost always ignorance.





Mormons being interested in transhumanism is enough to make them appealing, IMO.

However, Lincoln, people lie to each other all the time, everywhere, in every block, in every home. That includes every single religious organization; as you know, people lie to protect what they perceive as their interests, their familial and dynastic interests, etc. Religious organizations don’t lie as much as political groups—but then there is no way the religious could possibly lie as much as the political and yet remain spiritually-oriented!
I like LDS and Islam more now because the claims that Mormons and Islamics are cults and or false religions are based on ‘it takes one to know one’, the ‘pot calling the kettle black’.
Mormons’ and Islamics’ detractors know exactly from where they speak.





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