A Born-Again Mormon

Shawn McCraney, author of “I was a Born-Again Mormon” and sometimes controversial host of “Heart of the Matter” sat down with Mormon Stories.  Shawn talks about his conversion out of Mormonism, his methods and tactics and what he thinks Mormons need more than anything else.

I’m always interested and engaged when I watch Shawn.  He’s a very charismatic person. I’m not always sold on his delivery.  It was great to get to know a little bit more about his Christian values and his journey to Jesus.  I guarantee that if you watch this interview you’ll have a better understanding of him and what he is after.

You can watch the interview here or listen to it at Mormon Stories.


74 thoughts on “A Born-Again Mormon

  1. Yeah, his delivery turns me off big time. I watched one video of him awhile back and he was so smug I wanted to vomit.

  2. He explains his inclusivism more later in the interview. I think I probably believe the same thing he does, but he’s overstating it. I fully expect to see people in Heaven who have never even heard the name of Jesus, but that path is very very very narrow.

    I was surprised to hear him so strongly denounce inerrancy. I would call myself and inerrantist because I believe the original manuscripts are inerrant (as he does). I’ll confess my view of inerrancy is nuanced and infallibility may be an easier way to explain my stance.

  3. That video interview was a wild ride. Lots of great moments, a few low moments, but at the end I was celebrating Christ with him.

    Christ is preached. I REJOICE!

  4. Just finished watching the interview. Pretty much a re-cap of his book: Born Again Mormon. Shawn is a singular person, very to the point, bold and a little intense. But in the end, as Aaron shared, I was rejoicing with him.

  5. I know that God speaks to all his children wherever they are in life, which has to be an infinite feet, because we’re all at some place different in life. Even growing up in the same household or church we’re all at someplace different.

    I’m LDS and would like to share my experience with what Shawn says in about minute 50, that where the LDS Church gets it all wrong is that they put the cart before the horse. I guess the way I understood it was that the Church is letter of the law vs spirit of the law, or works above faith.

    I can’t speak for every Latter-Day Saint, like I said, we’re all at different places, but I feel like there is danger when we put our faith in man, whether that be a friend or a prophet. Faith, is rightly placed in Christ/God as Shawn states. When it is not, we can easily be influenced by Satan, no matter WHAT church we belong to or not, LDS or Buddhist.

    The journey to come to Christ has been a hard and beautiful one for me. I’m glad to hear when people find him and begin to change their lives because of his magnificent light.

    A past LDS president put it, “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums.” – Ezra Taft Benson

    Put another way, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” – Boyd K. Packer

    I’ve learned that “understanding true doctrine” is equivalent to understanding & knowing Christ, for he is the truth!

    Thanks for sharing your conversion to Christ Shawn.

  6. Shawn tends to screen out callers on his show that he’s not equipped to deal with. Charisma is really all he has going for him. The rest is just rehashing old arguments presented by others before him.

    We’ve got a Mormon blogger who covers McCraney’s antics quite extensively, and deals with him on a regular basis:


    Just check through his archives.

  7. Yes, I looked over some of Bob’s posts on Shawn the other day when Tim first posted this, Seth. Certainly food for thought on McCraney’s tactics there. I’m a little bit confused on his claims that McCraney was ex’ed for adultery. Did I miss something, or is that a very different story from what McCraney says to Dehlin in the videos above?

    I just wish Bob didn’t have that “look who’s visiting my site from where” display in his sidebar. I hate those things.

    I haven’t watched the second and third videos yet, so I’m reserving judgment as far as this discussion goes, but McCraney does rub me wrong sometimes just from what I’ve seen of him. I remember when he interviewed former BYU professor Lynn Wilder, he said something about how just “going to the library” was enough to make someone leave Mormonism. It made me cringe.

  8. Seth,
    Thanks for the link to Bob the anti-anti’s site. But it’s a spoof n’est-ce pas? As an effective defense of LDS orthodoxy, it’s pathetic. It’s a mirror image of Bob McCue’s crap.

    His attacking Shawn on adultery in the heart business was particularly sad, when the point Jesus was making was the futility in attempting salivation by perfect obedience. In any case, Shawn is not an anti-Mormon, a critic yes, but not anti. As BA-Mormon myself, I agree with much of what he says.

  9. As an effective defense of LDS orthodoxy, it’s pathetic.

    His insistence that Joseph Smith probably didn’t have sex with his plural wives did make me chuckle. You know that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Buffy comes across a couple being mugged by humans in an alley and thinks it’s a vampire attack, then, upon realizing it’s just a good ol’-fashioned mugging, remarks that it’s “kind of sweet”?

    That’s how I feel when I come across Mormon apologists who still think Joseph Smith probably didn’t have sex with his plural wives.

  10. Steve, having followed this blog sporadically for a while, I agree it’s not really a defense of the LDS so much as a website devoted to undermining opponents of the LDS Church.

    That said, the only reason McCraney’s adultery was an issue over there is because Shawn is often not only unrepentant about it, but seems to glory in the status his foul misbehavior has given him as a “saved sinner.”

    He almost reaches the point where he’s glorifying in his own misdeeds because they give him additional “street cred” as an anti-Mormon minister. Like “it’s so great that I betrayed my wife, because now it gives me a good angle for my anti-Mormon grace hook.”

    It’s a rather bizarre position.

    Last I checked, you were supposed to feel bad about doing stuff like this – atonement or no atonement.

  11. I have no idea if he committed adultery or not. BUT I think he’s not delighting in his “saved sinner” status, rather he’s not playing ball with Mormons who want to discredit him because of his sin. He’s choosing to not play by LDS “worthiness” rules.

    His message is that we’re all sinners and none of us are worthy of God’s love. He’s taking a page straight from Paul. Instead of winning points for righteousness, he’s turning the rules of the game around and saying “I’m the worst of sinners, my life is about how God could love someone as terrible as me.”

    His sins against his wife and family are between him and his family (and God). I seriously doubt he rejoices in his sins to them. That would just be cruel.

  12. For the record, I can’t find anything solid on Shawn McCraney having committed adultery prior to excommunication. The best I could find was this post at Blair Hodges’ site:

    Born Again Mormon Review Part 3

    See his e-mail correspondence with Shawn at the end.

    If Blair can’t find anything solid on it, it’s dubious that anyone else has.

  13. To be clear, I’m merely reporting the stance taken by the website I linked to.

    “Bob” over there has made these assertions about McCraney. Steve felt that this was merely an exercise in character-smearing. And perhaps it is.

    However, I was simply reporting Bob’s stated reason for bringing the topic up – because he claims that McCraney personally brings up the topic as a sort of feather in his cap – true proof of his saved sinner status. That’s what Bob says, and I suppose his posts can speak for themselves on this point. Whether you find them credible or not is your business.

    Personally, I wasn’t even going to bring up the adultery thing because I didn’t find it terribly relevant. I was merely responding to Steve.

    But I will say this much – stories of redemption are common in ministerial work – both in Mormon and Evangelical camps. People are certainly allowed to use their own redemptive stories as proof of the glory of Christ and his work in our lives.

    But there is a real trap here. People can start to become PROUD of their own redemptive stories to such a degree that they actually start taking a sort of twisted pleasure in the sins they used to have.

    Whether this is relevant to McCraney’s story at all is not something I should be taking a position on I guess.

  14. Thanks for linking to Blair’s article Jack.

    I think from the exchange with McCraney there, it seems clear how – if the adultery thing is all bunk – McCraney may have still left that impression through a bit of rhetorical flourish among people pre-disposed to believe that about him.

    Blair’s stance is probably the responsible one here.

  15. Here is my take on Shawn McCraney,

    After watching the videos I have a lot more understanding and even some respect for the guy and his religious position.

    Here are my conclusions.

    1. He had a true, life altering, “born again” experience with God.

    2. He did not find that experience through the LDS Church, in fact, his participation in the church seems to have hindered him having it.

    Where he goes wrong is essentially the same vein where LDS, and most other religious zealots, go wrong. They draw all kinds of conclusions from their own experience that don’t really hold up, and are often based on new found “knowledge” of how everybody else should deal with Dod, when often they only have a little bit more knowledge of how God interacts themselves.

    Conclusions like:

    +The Church authorities must be vipers and hypocrites.

    +Joseph Smith must be some sort of fraud and charlatan,

    +That he has got God figured out based on this personal experience

    +Mormonism at its core is going to detract from people getting closer to God or having born again experiences.

    His show, like most “shows” is as much for him as those that he tries to reach and he doesn’t seem to get that, and the idea of the saving “born again” experience probably gives him way to much confidence and pride that he is doing less harm than good. I don’t know if he is myself. I certainly don’t think he can harm the Church, but he may shake some in it who are just going through the motions to a state where they are actually having real spiritual experiences, like he did. I also like his spoken acceptance of the idea that you can be “born again” and have this sort of transformational experience while remaining a member of the church. (I think this

    That said, I think he is right that being abrasive and inflammatory can be a good tactic to waking people up, but I do like the Socratic model better than the “pompous ass” model for that purpose. Of course if you aren’t that smart or you are self-delusional (like most of us are) you go with what you got.

  16. I think that its clear that McCraney in his video says that the was excommunicated for “sin” rather than his doctrinal issues.

    Whether he glories in that, it’s unclear, but he seems to think it was a sort of cop out to excommunicate him for sin rather than his rejection of the church.

    If he was ex’ed for sin it would generally mean adultery in his situation. There are few other sins that warrant excommunication that make sense in his situation. I can’t see drug or alcohol use as grounds.

  17. That said, I don’t think that whether he committed adultery has any bearing on his religion, I think Mormons would accept his repentance as much as Evangelicals do. Excommunication is generally seen as a repentance ritual for Mormons.

  18. People can start to become PROUD of their own redemptive stories to such a degree that they actually start taking a sort of twisted pleasure in the sins they used to have.

    Whether this is relevant to McCraney’s story at all is not something I should be taking a position on I guess.

    Who needs to take a position when you have the power of suggestion?

  19. Steve Said,

    In any case, Shawn is not an anti-Mormon, a critic yes, but not anti.

    I disagree, there is no question that he would like to see the dissolution of the LDS church, and actively works toward that end. His entire TV show is about pointing out why the Church is a fraud and why you should reject the core of its teachings.
    That is anti-mormon, if you think “anti-mormon” means something else I think you are redefining “anti-Mormon” to mean something other than what it has always meant.

    He fits very squarely into an anti-mormon type, a former believer who is trying to lead others out of the faith by tearing down the doctrines and the leaders.

    Whether that is a bad thing is just a matter of perspective.

  20. It looks like I’m the first one who brought up the adultery question, so I wouldn’t feel too guilty about it, Seth.

    I was just curious if this was something McCraney had openly admitted to or if it was part of the Mopologist smear machine. While I find his answers on the issue vague and evasive, it doesn’t look like he’s actually admitted to it, and I don’t blame him. The church keeps people’s excommunication files private for a reason, so I don’t see why some Latter-day Saints even bother bringing it up.

    I’m not saying that the other complaints about him as listed on Bob’s site aren’t valid; some of them seem much more reasonable. It’s interesting to hear McCraney’s story, but I feel prone to treat him with caution myself.

  21. A few thoughts—
    I just read the Blair article. Seems fair on the adultery issue. I really agree with McCraney and others on the issue of using sin as an explanation for people leaving the church. I think part of the critique of the church that McCraney and others are bringin up is that sinners are not effectively dealt with in the Church, so much so that they seek connection with God elsewhere and when the receive spiritual connect despite their sin it leads them away from the church.

    I don’t think this is a fault of the Gospel as taught by the LDS church but it does reflect certain problems with the way it is practiced.

    I think on another level McCraney’s story is one of liberation and that is really how he describes his religion, Jesus has liberated him from the constraints of human society. This has made him feel alone as well as free.

    This, is of course, is a familiar story for those who leave other church’s, including Evangelical Christianity.

    Here is an example:

    Here “Evan D.” explains his coversion:

    On November 28, 2004 I wrote in my prayer journal for the last time “I became an agnostic tonight.” While I was somewhat unsure about denying my love for Christ and basically my entire identity for 18 years, I have never looked back.

    He further explains how he was liberated from Evangelical Christianity:

    “Christianity is a disease of the psyche; for 18 years I tormented myself with the belief that I was an evil person, unworthy of the eternal gift of life that God offered me. “

    When he left Christianity he describes his liberation in terms similar to McCraney:

    “Agnosticism has liberated me from the abuse that I have put myself through for so many years as a Christian. Although I no longer have an eternal purpose, I at least know that I can live a happy life without the never-ending shame cycles. “

    Now what I find fascinating is the similarities as well as the differences to these described experiences. We have a similar pattern.

    — 1. True belief and spiritual experiences

    —2. A perceived belief structure that lead to unhappiness or failure to find happiness.

    —3. A change in belief that liberates the previous believer from the “oppression” of the previous belief system.

    In both of these cases the answers from the believers are predictable:

    “He just missed the message, he could have been freed from the oppressive beliefs if he would just have understood the message”


    “He was a sinner that didn’t want to confront his sin so was looking for a way out to justify it”

    I think both miss something critical about the phenomena, they both focus on the failures of the previous believer rather than the elements in the system of belief and practice that lead people to feel oppressed and in need of liberation.

    Of course since this phenomena happens within Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity it doesn’t seem we can draw any conclusions whatsoever regarding which religious tradition is best in doctrine or practice, it is clear that each spawns the disaffected who seek liberation. Likewise, it is very clear that each tradition provides liberation to many of its believers. I know of many who have felt “liberated” from Evangelical Christianity and agnostism by becoming LDS.

    The fact that this narrative is so familiar and the fact that the initial and subsequent belief systems in this narrative are often interchangeable does make me think a lot.

    Of course there are always explanations of the narrative within each tradition that favors

    I suppose the conclusion I reach is that human reaction to belief systems takes all kinds of forms and we have to be very careful in how we interpret our own “conversions” as well as the conversions of others. Especially when we are drawing universal conclusions about what God really wants for the world. I also think that all believers in whatever system have to admit that the way the “truth” is taught, may lead people astray, either because it is confusing, or simply because the way we practice does not allow for people to really understand it.

  22. Jared,
    That anti label gets throw around so much at every critic in and out of the church it’s lost all meaning. It should be reserved for haters who seek to harm Mormons, the same way we use the term anti-Semite in modern English. No one would call a secular Jew an anti-Semite for criticizing the period clothing of Hassidic Jews as silly. But if I criticize silliness in my church, I’m anti?

    I’ve heard Shawn elsewhere say he desires for the LDS leaders to the reform the church and believes it can happen. So do I. He also supports BA Mormons like me who decide to stay but take the church on our terms now. Once one has a witness of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, there’s a lot of silly baggage in the modern LDS church that one doesn’t need anymore. Some like Shawn or Gloria leave. Some stay. It’s a real stretch to call Shawn anti.

  23. There you go off on the clothing thing again Steve.

    You miss a key point though. The Jew is an insider who has already demonstrated a degree of affiliation for the group. His remarks are not going to be seen as threatening because people within the group have some assurance of how far he’ll go with that train of thought.

    However, if a Neo-Nazi were to make fun of Hasidic dress, the message is 100% different. Even if they use the exact same language.

  24. Seth,
    People like Shawn and I are insiders as far as criticizing the modern LDS church. Notice I don’t criticize Amish or Hassidim, but even if I did I wouldn’t seek to harm them as I just don’t have hate in me. A neo-Nazi has already self indentified as anti-Semite, so I don’t get the point.

  25. A stretch? What do you have to do to warrant the title “anti”, I don’t think anti-mormon and anti-semite are the same in how they use the term “Anti”. Anti-Semite is not the same as Anti-Judaic and specifically refers to a ethnic origin and the term itself has a specific meaning developed over time and history. This is the same with Anti-Mormon, those who leave the church because they believe the church is false and wrong and actively seek to discredit it.

    I mean The dude has a television show where he antagonistically rails against church leaders and doctrines, and scriptures as false, silly and corrupt. What else does he have to do to be “Anti?”

  26. A secular Jew who has a TV show making fun of Hassidim criticizing the leaders and traditions as false and deluded, would be considered Anti-Hassidic, but probably not anti-semitic, even if he was once a Hasidim

  27. Neo-Nazi is an analogy that obviously only goes so far.

    But imagine a Jew were to cross over to an antagonistic outside group and then start bagging on the clothing thing.

    It’s still a different message.

  28. Jared, good thoughts. I appreciate the Agnostic conversion story for the illustrative purposes in which you present it. You could have made a post out of that (perhaps you still should). People need to be aware of what makes a good and bad apologetic. What you’re pointing out is similar to the “spiritual experience” argument. Both the liberation narrative and the spiritual experience narrative fail to take into account similar narratives in other traditions.

  29. I’m not really interested in diving into the “who is an anti-mormon” debate. That’s right there with “what defines a Christian”. I will say though that I think Steve raises a good point, that the level of definition for “anti-semite” is much higher than that of an “anti-Mormon”. Anti-semites typically want to harm or discriminate against Jews. “Ant-Mormons” are typically out against an organization or belief system not a culture or ethnicity. If speaking out against the deficiencies of a belief system make someone an anti-Semite, most Evangelical pastors hit that mark at least once a year when they preach on Matthew 5.

  30. Tim, I’ll only believe that when telling a mean-spirited joke about Mormons at a nightclub gets you the same outrage that a similar joke about Jews would get you.

  31. I’ll only believe that when telling a mean-spirited joke about Mormons at a nightclub gets you the same outrage that a similar joke about Jews would get you.

    The female protagonist of Single’s Ward is posting from Seth’s account!

  32. “…………he antagonistically rails against church leaders and doctrines, and scriptures as false, silly and corrupt. What else does he have to do to be “Anti?”

    Yeah, I often say it seems almost essential to be or have been LDS to know where to fire the torpedoes. Hence why outside critics are so poor at it. Shawn knows where the weak spots are. But that doesn’t make him anti. He doesn’t seek to harm LDS people. He supports BA LDS who stay LDS with the understanding they’re surrounded by non-essential baggage. He calls on GAs to reform the church. Calling Shawn anti is like saying Martin Luther (talk about an anti-Semite’s anti-Semite) was anti-Catholic.

  33. Steve, come now. . .

    Firing torpedoes at the Queen Elizabeth II for a living for a living makes you Anti-QE II , but not necessarily anti-passenger.

    The guy might not care if the passengers abandon ship or go down into the water as long as the ship sinks.

  34. Jared C brings up a very interesting conundrum for the missionary-minded. What is it that “converts” people? Is it the manifest “truth” of something external which they perceive and ultimately embrace, or is it an internal mystery, something that prompts them to alter the mental architecture of their lives for themselves? Is conversion an “outside-in” change or an “inside-out” one? My experience points toward the latter option as offering a better understanding of what actually happens, even though most missionaries seem to operate in paradigms that prefer the former (using arguments like “we have the truth”). It seems to me that people of all religious persuasions routinely find themselves trapped in an uncomfortable place created by their world-view: many respond to this by altering that world-view. Sometimes that alteration takes the form of an atheist becoming Christian; sometimes the roles are reversed. My own missionary experiences have taught me that I cannot feel comfortable participating in this process unless the person I am evangelizing is genuinely happy with the change being contemplated. To put it in other words, I never advise anyone to convert to any religion (or lack thereof) “because it is true.” Instead I ask them how they feel about it: “will this change make your life better or worse?” If the answer is “better,” and the person is enthusiastic about the change, then I am all for it, even if it puts them entirely at odds with what is supposed to be my official position. Even as an LDS missionary I had this bent, and I think it was the one thing that redeemed my two years in the mission field. I felt good helping people make changes in their lives that left them feeling better, even if that meant that they only became better Catholics (atheists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Muslims, etc: and we did talk with the whole gamut).

  35. Not to belabor this point, but the term “anti-Mormon” has such a hateful connotation and in my mind is associated with telling untruths or taking things out of context. I don’t get the feeling that Shawn is hateful, nor that he takes things out of context (and I have read his book) so for that reason I’d hesitate to slap him with the “anti” label.

    Still, I didn’t really like his book, I’m not really in love with his theology or approach, and he strikes me as a little too charismatic for his own good. He has some good points here and there, but overall he’s not one I turn to for much insight. I did enjoy the Mormon Stories interview, though — it was engaging and entertaining (listened while I went for a long 9-mile run yesterday, and it certainly helped me pass the time). 🙂

  36. Jared, your comment about conversion (and de-conversion) narratives is really, really interesting. I’m not totally sure what to do with it, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

    I’m with Tim that you should write it up as a separate post so we can talk about it more. 🙂

  37. My point about the “Anti-Mormon” label is that if you don’t call guys like McCraney “Anti-Mormons” you are just avoiding the term for PC-type reasons.

    Luther nominally was about reforming the Catholic Church but in practice, and for all practical purposes was the most Anti-Catholic religious leader of all time, and probably did more to undermine the Catholic Church than any other person.

    Those who like what Luther was saying are going to say he was fair and balanced and reasonable with his problems with the RC church but ultimately he undermined its most important institutions.

    I call McCraney an Anti-Mormon not because of his reasonableness or fairness or lack thereof- that is completely irrelevant- its simply because he is against the LDS Church and its scriptures and doctrine. Its because the goal of his ministry is against the church and its goals.

    He preaches against their doctrine, their culture, their leaders their theology, their sacred temple rituals, their hymns, etc. If you listen to his show he misrepresents church teachings in much the same way as counter-cultists.

    That is how he makes his living, the goal of his life’s work. Just like Ed Decker, he is absolutely a partisan. He may not be a bigot, but that is not really necessary in order to be “against” something in thought and action.

    What is the justification against applying the Anti-Mormon label?

    Its like saying Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are not Anti-Democratic party.

  38. I do think that conversion is such a critical and important part of religion, have lots of thoughts about it so I guess I probably should do a post on it. . . I will put it on the list.

  39. If your going to compare anti-mormonis to anti-semitism you’re saying that anti-mormons are bigots. Some may be, but Shawn is not.

    I don’t care if someone wants to say I’m an anti-mormon, unless what they mean is that I want to hurt or discriminate. Where the comparison really falls apart for

  40. And a foreign dialect consisting of words and expressions like, “MTC,” “FHE,” “oh my heck,” “fetch,” “flip,” etc.

    Also, Mormonism claims ~13,500,000 adherents and Utah consists of 84,889 square miles. For comparison, Judaism claims ~13,000,000 adherents and the State of Israel consists of 8,522 square miles.

    As I see it, the only thing stopping us from considering Mormonism its own ethnicity is that it hasn’t been around long enough.

  41. What’s DNA got to do with it?

    I swear, this late-twentieth century obsession with DNA as some sort of super-elixir that magically defines everything has to stop.

    Enough I say!

  42. “Ethnicity” is such a loose term that it can refer to a group with only a few shared genetic, cultural, or religious traits. It can be expanded so broadly to as to brand just about any kind of ideological or religious criticism as hateful, bigoted, and prejudicial.

    On a humorous related note, I was at a park in Orem, Utah once swinging my 1-year-old on the baby swing. I usually have a short, clean haircut, and I had slacks and a button-up shirt on. A guy came over to swing his kid as well next to me and we got to talking about family. Then he asked, “So where did you serve your mission?”

    By some standards of ethnicity, I, even Aaron Shafovaloff, am a Mormon. 🙂

  43. Aaron,
    That’s a riot! Things sure are pretty static in Utah County. It reminds me of being at BYU circa 1980 as an RM completely fallen off the Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom wagons. If I was talking to someone in that clique and one of us saw a guy as you describe yourself coming, the conversation would be abruptly suspended with a “Shush, Joe Mormon”. Appearances are deceiving.

  44. Calling Mormonism an ethnicity is just a confused mistake. Mormonism is not an ethnicity any more than “American” is an ethnicity or “Catholic” or even “Military Brat”, to speak of it as an ethnicity misuses the term and really confuses the issue. There are cultural elements to Mormonism but that is a far cry from correctly it an ethnicity. Ethnicity is generally akin to “race” since it has elements of heritage. Further these terms themselves are generally considered flawed descriptions of social affiliation since they unscientifically assign traits to certain physical attributes or inherited characteristics.

    Anti-Mormonism is not comparable to antisemitism. The semiotic origins of the two terms are far different. Jewishness is considered an ethnicity primarily because of centuries of prejudice and isolation, its not really comparable at all to Mormonism. Jewishness in ethnic terms can even be seen as defined by the anti-semitic position,(See J.P Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew for a brilliant explication of this concept.

    “Anti-Mormon” is more akin to the term “Anti-American” it’s an ideological position against an institution, not a bigotry against a particular group of individuals affiliating with that institution.

    Anti-Mormons are not (necessarily) bigots, many of the prominent ones have been former Mormons they are against the religion not the people.

    Religious bigots against Mormons are generally not anti-Mormon at all, they are indifferent to whether Mormons stay Mormon or indifferent about the Church, they just don’t want them around or to have power because they prejudge Mormons to be offensive or faulty, and mostly because they are so darn religious, not because of their brand of religion.

    I don’t think McCraney is a bigot at all, but whether or not he is against Mormonism i.e. Anti-Mormon is pretty clear.

    I think there is a significant difference between those like Dehlin, who clearly can be questioning and critical of the institutions and McCraney. I think this is the difference that makes one an Anti-Mormon and the other not.

    I think there is not much of a difference between Tim’s feelings about Mormonism and McCraney’s or even Aaron’s. Tim is clearly supportive of both of their ministries.

    However, I would hesitate calling Tim an anti-Mormon. Tim’s position is more nuanced and his actions and goals are not squarely to undermine the LDS faith. He is clearly “against” the institution of the Church and Joseph Smith as a prophet in that he believes they commits the heinous sin of corrupting the gospel:
    c.f. :
    :”There is NOTHING more wicked than taking the Gospel message and confusing and corrupting it with false doctrine.
    But part of his goal seems to be to correctly understand Mormons or even to apologize to them, (https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/we-need-to-apologize/ ) even if they don’t end up abandoning their faith.
    While some, like aquinas ( http://summatheologica.wordpress.com/ ) have been highly critical of his approach to this goal, I believe he is sincere in having it, partly because he has been very open to posting un-edited LDS viewpoints on his blog and doesn’t feel the need to criticize, attack or belittle them or constantly engage in argument to make sure people know where they are “wrong” and what is the”correct” way of seeing God.

    McCraney doesn’t seem to have this same sentiment at all in his program and ministry.

  45. Jared, a couple quibbles:
    You seem to have bought into the official LDS line to the effect “we’re the only true Mormons”, as your descriptions of anti-Mormons seem to include other groups who use the BofM and believe the LDS are apostate. If someone values the BofM, it strains credulity to say they’re anti-Mormon, even if they publically protest that the LDS church is corrupt.

    The term anti-American does imply hate, at least since the late 1970’s. So does the term anti-Mormon. Hence why I wish it wasn’t thrown around at every critic the way it is. We have “Chapel Mormons” who would throw that term at most “Internet Mormons”.

  46. I am not particularly familiar with McCraney, beyond what I have read about him here, and I have not had time to watch the videos posted, but from all that I have read about him, I struggle to find a way in which he is not against Mormonism.

    He may not hate Mormons, but it seems clear, from what you all have said about him, that he is strongly opposed to the teachings, practices, and methods of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and, as much as Steve EM seems to want it to be otherwise, when folks speak of anti-Mormons, they aren’t talking about the Strangites, the Community of Christ, or even the FLDS.

    So other than the fact that McCraney says he supports those who are LDS but have abandoned the majority of LDS tenets, in what ways is McCraney not anti-Mormon? I just don’t see the evidence. I will point out that there are those who take a more nuanced approach to their opposition to Mormonism, and, because of that, don’t “deserve” (for lack of a better word at 7:45 am) the label of anti-Mormon. I wouldn’t call Jack or Tim anti-Mormon, even though they are both clearly opposed to basic tenets of the LDS faith. Their approaches are far too nuanced for such a bland label.

    Concerning the Mormon ethnic group distinction, Mormonism is more rightly considered an American sub-culture, at least according to those folks who study things like this in Illinois. I’ve had several friends and associates do research on the Mormon sub-culture.

  47. Tim ~ I think we’re more likely to find Nephite DNA markers than Mormon DNA markers.

    Well, DNA can show that people have a greater variety of female descendants than male descendants, which is virtually a marker for polygamy. Does that count?

    Aaron ~ A guy came over to swing his kid as well next to me and we got to talking about family. Then he asked, “So where did you serve your mission?”

    Were you wearing a white undershirt as well? He must not have been as good at garment-spotting as I am.

    @ the “anti-Mormon” issue ~ I find the term “anti-Mormon” less and less useful because it seems to be something that Latter-day Saints slap on people and organizations when they want their members to not listen to or read that material. I’ve also seen it applied to anything and anyone who doesn’t toe the church’s own faith-promoting take on its history and doctrine, no matter how thoughtful and respectful they are about their disagreements. It’s thought-stopping rhetoric. That’s not necessarily how Jared is using it here, but that’s how it generally gets used and why I’ve taken to dropping it from my vocabulary.

    There certainly are people and organizations who would qualify as anti-Mormon, but the abuse of the term has greatly diminished its usefulness in discussion.

    The use of the term “cult” among evangelical Christians has an almost identical function and has likewise become nearly useless for the purpose of discussion due to abuse.

  48. Tim is clearly supportive of both of their ministries.

    Awkward alert.

    With all respect to Shawn and Aaron, I think that may be an overstatement. Aaron and I have hashed it out in private over our differences in opinion on tone and style. I’ve never spoken with Shawn but I’m sure we’d have a similar conversation. That said, all of us have a heart for Jesus and a heart for Mormons which trumps any internal dispute we might have.

    I AM supportive of both Shawn and Aaron as brothers in Christ. But I have not ever financially supported either of their ministries. Nor have I directed anyone to either as an example of how “Mormon Ministries” should be done. I like Aaron and consider him a friend and I think we both consider the other a good resource. I have highlighted some clips from Shawn’s show because they make for great illustrations.

    Just to make sure Jack gets thrown into this mix as well, I think she offers an obscure angle on how I feel about Shawn and Aaron’s ministires. I am supportive of her marriage to a Mormon. If I had known her before she got married I would not have supported her engagement to a Mormon. But now that she’s married, I’ll do what I can to support and strengthen her marriage. [that either explained my position really well, or made it worse]

  49. Steve,

    I would not include any believers in the prophecy of Joseph Smith to be Anti-Mormons, or non-believers who don’t take an active role in tearing down Joseph Smith believing churches.


    I do agree that “Anti-Mormon” has been used in the same way as “Anti-American”, to label those the established church sees as threats to its values and security, and I thus it can be applied simply to label certain voices as not-worthy-to-listen-to by the establishment. But the term is a common Mormon term, used by Mormons to label certain kinds of groups, ideas and approaches that are against them, and that they think are un-helpful. It is a term defined by them and carries a stigma but I don’t think it is really inaccurate. And, I think McCraney misrepresents Mormonism and is not interested in really discussing it. He says his much on his show, i.e. that he will cut off Mormons if he thinks they are getting it wrong.

    I suppose the reason why I have made a big deal of it is that the term does seem useful and warranted when people make tearing down the church their “ministry”, and McCraney certainly deserves the label. I think the arguments against labeling him that way simply muddy the water and confuse dispute with dialogue. McCraney thinks he understands Mormonism when its clear that he gets a lot wrong, or worse, that he misrepresents it, and he is not interested in talking about it because he has it all figured out.

    I think most LDS would consider Tim squarely within the Anti-mormon camp, and I really don’t have a lot of strong arguments against that. Clearly his “ministry” is not to simply understand Mormons and explain them to Evangelicals in a fair way but to “outreach” to them to find out how to reach them so they will abandon their heresy and become “true” Christians. However, LDS do this all the time with other churches but I would not consider them Anti-Protestant or Anti-Catholic. Of course many Evangelicals, and most Anti-Mormons would disagree, they consider the LDS message Anti-Protestant and I think it may be just hard to argue against the Anti-Protestant label for LDS as it is to argue against the Anti-Mormon label for Tim.

    I suppose we could come up with another term, but that is the one people use and I think it is of some use.

    I suppose the difference between my use is that I don’t really have an adamant stance against Anti-Mormons. I don’t mind the ones that seem intelligent, sincere, honest and fair, etc. and willing to listen to other voices and understand. I don’t think LDS should be threatened by Ant-Mormons at all since if the Church is true these voices will have no effect on its mission.

    I have the same opinion of Pro-Mormons or as Jack calls them -“Defenders of the faith”, some are worth talking to, and some are knuckleheads.

  50. Tim, truth be told, I wish I’d had a few people in my life who didn’t have so much confidence in my 21-year-old decision-making abilities when I got engaged. My own journal entries from the period are fairly conflicted on the issue.

    Paul and I had a long, tearful talk about this a few months before we decided to start trying for children; we sort of considered bringing children into the relationship to be the point of no return. We agreed that our marriage had probably been a mistake. We also agreed that sticking together was the right thing to do and that neither of us had any desire to quit. We believe in God’s ability to use and transform our marriage though His grace even if it wasn’t Plan A. Besides, in Christianity, isn’t Plan B always ultimately better than Plan A?

    Jared, the thought of Tim as an anti-Mormon totally boggles my mind. The same people who would regard Tim as “anti-Mormon” would also find books like In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith and Women & Authority: Re-Emerging Mormon Feminism to be anti-Mormon, even though those were written (for the most part) by believing members of the church. Which to me just shows how useless the term has become.

  51. To throw in my two cents, I agree with Jack that “anti-Mormon” is probably about as useful a term as “cult” is. But that doesn’t keep me from using the term with those, mostly of an evangelical-fundamentalist bent, who make a living from preaching or teaching against the Church. Certainly if the term can be applied to anyone, it can be applied to the Ed Deckers of the world.

    It wouldn’t even cross my mind to apply the term to people like Tim and Jack, nor to active members of a who are somewhat unorthodox in their thinking. That’s silly. Nor would I apply it to people like Bill Maher; he’s just a bigot, a funny bigot at times, but still a bigot and hasn’t studied Mormonism enough to get the anti-Mormon label.

    McCraney? I don’t think he’s quite a Decker. But I don’t see how the anti-Mormon label is an unfair one either. He’s saying basically the same thing that other anti-Mormon “apologists” are, the main difference being that he may be more interested in getting Mormons to experience the same kind of conversion that he did rather than in destroying the Church per se like some of the other seem to.

    Any, the bottom line here is that I’ll probably avoid the terms in forums like this one; like Jack said, it’s thought-stopping rhetoric, and in this forum, nuance is often appreciated. But as a shorthand way of referring to someone in casual conversation? Yeah, McCraney fits the definition close enough.

  52. I suppose we could come up with another term, but that is the one people use and I think it is of some use.

    I think Tom Cruise uses the term “suppressive person.”

  53. I do think the term Anti-Mormon, like cult, carries a certain stigma. In a neutral playing field of rational discourse it may not be that helpful. We apply these terms to people and groups that we want to dismiss.

    That said, I think the only way to eliminate the stigma and defuse the power of the terms is to say “So what?” when the term is applied and make sure the same labeling paradigm is applied consistently and accurately.

    As I said, I do not think Tim is an anti-Mormon, even though many would consider him as such, and I can see their point.

    Many Protestants see the LDS as anti-Protestant, I can’t disagree, the LDS can certainly be seen as a threat to Protestantism and its probably good that they understand that and at least own it for the sake of authenticity so as not to appear false.

    Labels are important to those that use them, dodging them or ignoring them seems to be impractical. I find it useful to at least deal with them for the sake of those using them.

    I think I can agree with Tim on a lot of the unresolved questions about the Church and we can discuss them and agree on a lot of things but I as far as my stance and most of my advocacy, I am pro-mormon, not neutral, even though many of my personal beliefs might be completely at odds with standard LDS doctrine, and at this point I am a crappy missionary. But I think we do differ about whether the Church is fundamentally a Good thing for the world or not. From everything I know about Tim, he seems to be a loving Christian person who wants the best for members of the LDS church, which is part of the reason he advocates his position. I don’t think he is anti-Mormon because his goal is not to tear down the LDS church but to convert its members, so I think .

    I think Tim had a post a while back questioning why when Dehlin brings up problems with Mormon history he is not labeled an Anti-Mormon but when Tim does he is. But it is clear that their advocacy is different. If you advocate against the church I think you can expect the Anti-Mormon label and to some extent own it, just like LDS should own the Anti-Protestant label to some degree.

    I think there is a difference between Tim and Dehlin and the writers of In Sacred Loneliness , even though they talk about the same stuff. I think primarily it is ultimately their motives and their advocacy.

  54. In regards to BJM, who said “It looks like I’m the first one who brought up the adultery question, so I wouldn’t feel too guilty about it, Seth.

    I was just curious if this was something McCraney had openly admitted to or if it was part of the Mopologist smear machine.”

    You’ve been spending too much time listening to Doctor Scratch, imo…

    That being said, discussions of McCraney’s “adultery” seem to arise in response to McCraney’s own claims. I could have missed it, but from what I can tell the rumors are of Shawn’s initial creation. Moreover, it seems he wishes for it to remain ambiguous, as the blog post linked to in this thread demonstrates. I’m perfectly fine with that.

    One more point: McCraney brought up my review of his book and noted an error. I have posted a clarification here:



  55. That said, I think the only way to eliminate the stigma and defuse the power of the terms is to say “So what?” when the term is applied and make sure the same labeling paradigm is applied consistently and accurately.

    On my mission I used to say “okay, so maybe the Church is a cult, but if so, then it’s still the only true and living cult on the face of the earth.”

  56. You’ve been spending too much time listening to Doctor Scratch, imo…

    Don’t insult me, Blair. I rarely even click on his idiotic threads anymore.

  57. Whew. I thought you were too smart and reasonable for that. I’m really not interested in getting dragged into the gang war between Mormon apologists and critics.

    I wouldn’t know whether or not McCraney is the originator of the rumors, although I do find his answers ambiguous and evasive. It’s LDS apologists whom I seem to keep hearing it from.

    Thanks for coming by and letting us know about his correction on your review. I’m meeting him face-to-face tomorrow night. Wish me luck . . .

  58. I’m really not interested in getting dragged into the gang war between Mormon apologists and critics.

    That being the case I would forewarn against using their silly neologisms like “mopologist smear machine,” or at least employing, as I failed to do, a nicely placed emoticon! 😉

    It’s LDS apologists whom I seem to keep hearing it from.

    I recall seeing it discussed in two places aside from McCraney’s own book and tv shows: the anti-anti-Mormon guy (whom I don’t know anything about) and my blog. Didn’t you bring it up here?

    Thanks for coming by and letting us know about his correction on your review. I’m meeting him face-to-face tomorrow night. Wish me luck . . .

    No prob. I was disappointed that it was the only thing in the review McCraney chose to bring up, especially given that he has called himself an addict, etc. Seems it was a cheap shot.

  59. That being the case I would forewarn against using their silly neologisms like “mopologist smear machine,” or at least employing, as I failed to do, a nicely placed emoticon!

    I’m thinking quotation marks would have done the job. I have seen Mormon apologists employ smear tactics (much to my disappointment), but it’s probably ill-thought-out of me to imply that all/most of them do it.

    I can’t remember where I’ve heard it elsewhere, probably in e-mail correspondence with others.

  60. So, today we pulled up to the studio where they film Heart of the Matter. Since we were 20 minutes early, the group was unsure about going in early and bothering them, so one of the women suggested we stay in the car and pray. After we had been praying for a little while, I opened my eyes and noticed that there was a Shawn McCraney standing outside our car.

    Then I noticed that his shirt was unbuttoned and he had a lot of chest hair poking out. Well, if I’m going to insist on wearing shirts like this, I suppose I have to support Shawn’s right to bare his man-cleavage. Egalitarianism and all.

    Shawn tapped on our window and told us to get our butts inside. We talked in his conference room for a while, then piled into his friend Derek’s suburban and headed to Subway for dinner. Derek owns several Subways in the area and they were treating us for free.

    I enjoyed my conversations with Shawn. Truth is, I think I have a lot in common with him, not the least being that we’re both smart-asses. It’s what we do with that common ground that differs. I’m still assessing how I feel about his approach.

    Then we attended the taping of the show. He mentioned that there was a group from TEDS visiting. You can probably see me in the studio audience at the end of the show.

    Here’s our group with Shawn.

    Here’s me taking over Shawn’s job.

  61. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

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