Glenn Beck, are You Really a Mormon?

This video of Glenn-Beck-wannabe, Todd Friel, is a classic example of the traditional Evangelical approach to Mormonism. If the Mormon in question does not match up to the Evangelical’s notion of what Mormonism is, then it must be that the Mormon either doesn’t understand Mormonism or that the Mormon is really not a Mormon.

It never occurs to the Evangelical that Mormonism may not be what he thinks it is. It never occurs to the Evangelical that the way Mormonism has been described to him may not be completely accurate or in a full context. It never occurs to the Evangelical that the Mormon might be in a better position to describe his faith (particularly his own personal beliefs) than the Evangelical. Ed Decker’s influence is quite apparent in this clip.

For Evangelicals interested in what they may be missing about Mormonism, I recommend this article: https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/what-evangelicals-now-need-to-know-about-mormonism/

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102 thoughts on “Glenn Beck, are You Really a Mormon?

  1. Well, here’s the thing. In the Church’s own narrative, it presents itself as an entity in which true, correct, consistent doctrines are taught and believed. The Church describes itself that way. Mormons describe themselves that way often.

    So it’s not surprising for an Evangelical to take that self-narrative at face value: if there is One True Mormonism, then other Mormonisms are either incorrect-Mormonism or not-Mormonism.

    The problem is that it’s unrealistic: like any religion composed of actual human believers, there are as many “Mormonisms” as there are Mormons.

  2. Evangelicals are often tripped up by applying their own value of inerrancy onto Mormonism. Friel doesn’t understand that Mormonism might have changed.

  3. I agree that Friel is wrong when he tells Beck he can’t believe what he believes and be a Mormon. Just because Beck has a different “brand” of Mormonism than some doesn’t make him a heretic in our tradition (just to some people!). 🙂

    Still, the issues he raises are likewise legitimate, accepted Mormon perspectives — and certainly Mormons who subscribe to the narrative Friel establishes would probably say that Beck is “wrong” in his interpretation of the gospel.

  4. Friel doesn’t understand that Mormonism might have changed.

    Yeah, it’s interesting that nearly all his quotes are from the 1800s (and most are noncanonical besides).

    One thing I find interesting about Beck (aside from his wacky politics) is that when I’ve heard him talk theology, I haven’t heard him say anything that runs counter to LDS belief, but he often talks in evangelical-like language. There’s nothing that’s heretical about saying that works are a demonstration of our faith, and it is what we teach and believe — it’s just worded in a way that an evangelical might put it. We’d be more likely to stick to the language of James and say you can shew your faith by your works, but that means the same thing.

    Tim also said:

    Evangelicals are often tripped up by applying their own value of inerrancy onto Mormonism.

    I think where Friel gets tripped up in understanding Mormonism is that he takes the common evangelical position (not the only evangelical view, but the one that Friel apparently believes) that salvation is an event rather than a process — you’re either saved or you’re not saved, and it’s that simple. If you try to understand Mormonism in that framework you’re not going to understand it.

    What I found most interesting about this video is Beck’s statement that got Friel the most excited, a statement that Beck said all Christians believe:

    To receive his salvation, you accept his forgiveness of sins and live your life according to his will.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but how can Friel agree with that? He said just a few minutes earlier that we’re saved by “grace alone, faith alone, Jesus alone.” Now he’s saying that to be saved we have to live our lives according to Jesus’ will? If someone who Friel believed was a “true” Mormon said that, wouldn’t he call that salvation by works? Or am I misunderstanding him?

  5. I think where Friel gets tripped up in understanding Mormonism is that he takes the common evangelical position (not the only evangelical view, but the one that Friel apparently believes) that salvation is an event rather than a process — you’re either saved or you’re not saved, and it’s that simple. If you try to understand Mormonism in that framework you’re not going to understand it.

    This kind of thinking is why evangelicals fundamentally misunderstand most of the world’s religions.

  6. The funny and ironic thing is that Friel claims to be “orthodox” Christian when some of the critical propositions he expounds would be rejected by most Christians on earth.

    Mormons are no more ordinance/works based than Catholics or Orthodox. Those who believe that “faith” alone is enough to “lay hold” upon the grace of God are a minority among Christians.

    “orthodox” in this case just means Protestant, not Christian.

    Its also funny the way he makes his argument. He leaves the possibility open that Beck might not actually be a Mormon. Part of the motivation for this, presumably, is that a lot of Friel’s viewers probably like Beck’s politics.

  7. Jared C,

    I’m picking on you today.

    Mormons are no more ordinance/works based than Catholics or Orthodox.

    Actually, they are. But, you have to understand the function of sacraments in Catholic/Orthodox theology to see why the comparison doesn’t work. For Catholics/Orthodox the sacraments are largely a means of communicating and participating in the grace of Christ.

    Mormons are a bit schizophrenic on this. Mormons take a low view of eucharist (Mormon Sacrament) which is fundamentally rejected by Catholics and Orthodox. However, Mormons take a very high view of the rest of Mormon ordinances. But, those ordinances do not function in the same was as does Mormon sacrament.

    In summary Mormons agree with a high view, but disagree on which ordinances/sacraments to apply this high view to. Except, when they are talking about “the sacrament” when they apply the protestant low view. Got it? I.e. the comparison conceals more than it reveals.

  8. I don’t think so. I think from an outside perspective, Catholics are very similar to Mormons. Which sacraments/ordinances each group focuses on are immaterial, they both believe they are required. Their view on baptism is nearly identical, except for the timing and availability of the ordinance:

    Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other [ordinances/sacraments]. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: . . .This [ordinance/sacrament] is also called “the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one “can enter the kingdom of God.”

    Is this Catechism or McKonkie?

    There are always ways to parse out the differences in how the “formal” theology explains the nature and purpose of the ordinances. But it seems pretty dang similar for all practical purposes.

    The irony I am pointing out is that Evangelicals, or at least Friel here, condemns the thought that baptism is the critical focus of becoming a Christian. Mormons are not orthodox because they believe that baptism is required to lay hold on salvation. Catholics believe this too. In fact, Protestants are not orthodox to most Christians because they don’t accept this.

  9. I don’t think so. I think from an outside perspective, Catholics are very similar to Mormons.

    I would agree with this, but the outside perspective is necessarily at a shallow level. Sure at a shallow level Catholics and Mormons both have things that are ordinances and both think they are pretty important. However, after that all similarities end. And that was my point.

    Which sacraments/ordinances each group focuses on are immaterial, they both believe they are required.

    No, it is material. And it’s not just which ordinances they focus on, but also how those ordinances function, why they are done, and what makes an ordinance acceptable. On all counts, including which ordinances are performed, they are completely different.

    Their view on baptism is nearly identical, except for the timing and availability of the ordinance

    No it’s not. They are not similar because every single word in that catechism will mean something different in a Catholic context than it will in a Mormon context. And not just simple semantic meanings, core theological issues are different. It’s not an accident that Catholics will accept almost any baptism as valid and will not require re-baptism upon entry into the Catholic church; the one of the few exceptions to that rule is that Mormons ARE required to be re-baptized on becoming Catholics. And the requirement has nothing to do with the outer features of Mormon baptism, they have no beef with that. It’s the theology behind it (i.e. the meaning of the words that you want to write off as superficial) that makes them force a re-baptism for former Mormons.

    But it seems pretty dang similar for all practical purposes.

    Even in practice it is different, hence the need for Mormons re-baptism. See previous paragraph.

  10. The irony I am pointing out is that Evangelicals, or at least Friel here, condemns the thought that baptism is the critical focus of becoming a Christian. Mormons are not orthodox because they believe that baptism is required to lay hold on salvation. Catholics believe this too. In fact, Protestants are not orthodox to most Christians because they don’t accept this.

    Yes this is ironic. The vast majority of all Christians (Catholics, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran) will hold that baptism is the entry way into the Christian life. The beef with Mormons is of course that Mormons hold that only a Mormon baptism is the gateway to Christian life. No other church that I know of is so restrictive as to what constitutes valid baptism.

  11. David,
    This statement:

    No other church that I know of is so restrictive as to what constitutes valid baptism.

    Is only true in todays day and age. Go back 150 years and it was far more common to view one’s own church as the only gateway to Christian life.

    Even today my orthodox roommate recognizes the catholics as heretics…

  12. Is only true in todays day and age. Go back 150 years and it was far more common to view one’s own church as the only gateway to Christian life.

    Who cares. If we are going to play the 150-year-ago-game then you better gear up for some polygamy and blood atonement. Until then you, as usual, have no point.

    Even today my orthodox roommate recognizes the catholics as heretics…

    But they still view them as Christian and accept their baptism as valid. Catholics who are received in an Orthodox church are not baptized again, they undergo a process called Chrismation. Ask them to define heretic and why Catholics are one. If they don’t say filioque in under 60 seconds I will be shocked. Then ask them if lack of filioque is essential for salvation. It won’t be.

  13. uh. . i don’t see the conceptual problem with exclusivity.

    There is no question that both Protestants and Catholics are ultimately more exclusive than the LDS. LDS don’t accept other baptisms because of revelation.

    Even though they may accept a non-catholic baptism, is only effectual if you ultimately join the Catholic church.

    Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus:

    “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)

    “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.(Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)

    Protestants may not require baptism, but you have to go through the “acceptance as my personal savior” ritual prior to death.

  14. There is no question that both Protestants and Catholics are ultimately more exclusive than the LDS. LDS don’t accept other baptisms because of revelation.

    Sorry, I can’t stop laughing that you can actually say that.

    Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215….the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302., etc.)

    Here’s a thought, why not see what Catholics are saying today? Why the need to go back over 700 years? Oh, and Unam Sanctam was ignored by virtually everyone at the time…and still is. It was made in a political context, in an attempt to assert papal political power, and it was seen as just that. As for the fourth Lateran, please define what is the “universal Church of the faithful” is in light of Vatican II’s use of the term “separated brethren.”

    Protestants may not require baptism, but you have to go through the “acceptance as my personal savior” ritual prior to death.

    Bzzzzt! Some Protestants do not require baptism. Others do. What is the ritual of accepting Jesus as one’s personal savior? Is that the altar call? If so, that’s a pretty American specific institution. If not that, then what is said ritual? In any case a great many Protestants don’t make use of the term, or concept, of making Jesus one’s personal savior. And, since you seem so fond of going back hundreds of years, you will not find any use of the concept of Jesus as a personal savior anywhere in the corpus of Luther or Calvin.

  15. David

    “ritual” I think was used to describe the event or conditions wherein a Protestant experiences a spiritual rebirth. Are there no guidelines? Does it happen out of nothing? Is there no act? You want to divide and separate so badly.
    Baptism is the entry gate to a discipleship with Christ..and Jared C’s point was to acknowledge that ALL faiths have their manner, method, ‘work’ that they do in excepting Christ. The point was not if many Protestants make use of the term, but that there are outward performances made..pick the term that suits you and be done with it..why insist on being confrontational when the point is insignificant?

    And sorry..but whats our low view and high view? You’re speaking very vaguely. I just have this habit of not trusting what others think I believe…call me paranoid.

  16. David,

    You’re jumping all over the place..in your attack on Mormonism, where are you coming from? Catholic? Protestant? Atheist?

  17. David,

    There is no question that both Protestants and Catholics are ultimately more exclusive than the LDS. LDS don’t accept other baptisms because of revelation.

    My point is that if it said in the Bible, that Lutherns have the only effectual baptism, we can’t really fault them for being all exclusive about it.

    And, the Catholics and Protestants expect far more people in Hell than most Mormons do. Mormons may be harder on themselves but they are far easier on the non-believers.

    You argue against this?

    “Some Protestants do not require baptism. Others do”

    sure, but all believe a confession of faith is required, the “personal savior” ritual or some other.

  18. Mormons are only more inclusive in that they think every one will eventually join their church and avoid hell. Lutherans are happy to share the space with people who wish to remain non-lutherans.

  19. David,

    Both the the Orthodox and the Catholics have done conceptual work to allow for a more just result while giving lip service to the original doctrine. I think they have pretty reasonable positions given scripture and their traditions. I think the same of LDS.

    I guess I just don’t understand your point or how what you are saying detracts from my point.

    My point was and Catholics and Orthodox are as “works”, ordinance, and church focused as the LDS, and they constitute a majority of Christianity. Therefore, Evangelical criticisms of LDS in these areas can’t really be cast in terms of “orthodoxy” as Friel does here.

    If you are trying to show that you have done more research on the intricacies of these faiths, and that I am simplifying things quite a bit, I can give you that. But I still don’t see how my point does not stand.

  20. “ritual” I think was used to describe the event or conditions wherein a Protestant experiences a spiritual rebirth. Are there no guidelines? Does it happen out of nothing? Is there no act? You want to divide and separate so badly.

    Ritual implies an external act. Jared’s exact wording was “‘acceptance as my personal savior’ ritual.” This can’t be baptism because some Protestants accept infant baptism, and babies don’t accept Jesus as their personal Lord and savior. The only external act I can think of which is associated with receiving Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior is the altar call. Beyond the first word of the quoted paragraph I don’t understand what you wrote.

    Baptism is the entry gate to a discipleship with Christ..and Jared C’s point was to acknowledge that ALL faiths have their manner, method, ‘work’ that they do in excepting Christ. The point was not if many Protestants make use of the term, but that there are outward performances made..pick the term that suits you and be done with it

    Except for those protestant churches which hold that there is no ordinance or work that is involved in accepting Christ. So I can’t pick a term which refers to a non-existent thing.

    ..why insist on being confrontational when the point is insignificant?

    Because it isn’t insignificant?

    And sorry..but whats our low view and high view? You’re speaking very vaguely.

    Low and high are used to describe things like church liturgy. Low church protestants like music they can clap to and like their pastors dressed in Hawaiian shirts. High church protestants like their liturgy ornate and want their priest/minister to wear a costume.

    Low church people generally take a low view of the sacraments, high church people generally take a high view of the sacraments. That’s why I was associated low/high with sacramental views, sorry if this was confusing.

    People who take a high view of sacraments see something real taking place during the sacrament. Catholics see Eucharist as a reenactment of the Crucifixion, and the bread and wine are transubstantiated. Something real happens. Orthodox and Anglicans will explain it differently but will hold that something real happens during a sacrament. The low view is that a sacrament is either 1) wholly symbolic (in the case of baptism) or 2) a memorial (in the case of the Eucharist).

    So take a look at the LDS sacarament prayer on the bread, “that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son.” Yep, it’s a memorial, ergo, LDS take a low view of the Eucharist/LDS “The Sacrament.”

    Now take a look at LDS Priesthood ordination. In ordination real power is transmitted to the conferee. Also, in a temple sealing a real bond is seen as having been formed by the sealer. I.e. the LDS take a high view of these other ordinances, something real has taken place. That’s the point I was getting at.

  21. My point was and Catholics and Orthodox are as “works”, ordinance, and church focused as the LDS, and they constitute a majority of Christianity. Therefore, Evangelical criticisms of LDS in these areas can’t really be cast in terms of “orthodoxy” as Friel does here.

    I agree that Friel couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in daylight with that criticism.

    However, your idea that Catholics and Orthodox are as works, ordinance, and church focused as Mormons are misses the point entirely. Both Mormons AND Evangelicals tend to completely misunderstand the point of sacraments in those faith traditions. Evangelicals dismiss them as “works” while Mormons see similarities that are not there. That’s my point, it’s invalid to compare the two, they are not similar.

  22. And, the Catholics and Protestants expect far more people in Hell than most Mormons do. Mormons may be harder on themselves but they are far easier on the non-believers.

    Depends on which Mormon definition of hell you are looking at. That’s why I think your definition of salvation as being saved from death and hell shows that Mormons and Evangelicals can’t possibly be talking about the same thing when they use the word “salvation.”

  23. ALL faiths have their manner, method, ‘work’ that they do in excepting Christ.

    My faith goes out of its way to not except Christ.

    We find that accepting Him is a much better path to salvation and exaltation.

  24. Eric points out that Beck uses “evangelical-like language” and I agree. A good chunk of American evangelicalism is tied to a political gospel and Beck has harnessed this tradition to a good effect for his own popularity if not his agenda. Civic religion is as American as apple pie and Beck is causing much confusion for the religious right. Look at World Magazines recent “editorial” troubles.

    Unfortunately rather than cause a reexamination of civic theology behind the take back America dogma we will be greeted with more of the same while the religious right tries to understand how Glenn Beck can be so “right” about politics, vocal about religious culture, and Mormon.

  25. Its because when he says “honor” “america” and “progress” he means something entirely different than the Evangelical religious right.

    I mean something entirely different than either of them when I use those terms. 😉

  26. Jared,

    Yes, I think the theological language used by the LDS and American evangelicals is different but in this case Glenn Beck is tapping into the same themes heard in much of the civil religion crowed that has equated American democracy with the Kingdom of God and capitalism as the divinely ordained economic system.

    I’ll leave it to the Mormons to decide if Becks mixing of political and religion is compatible with their system. I know that many American evangelicals agree that we need more God in secular politics but from my perspective it generally runs contrary to the confession of my church to regard America as the shinning city on a hill.

  27. Q for you Gundeck.

    Have you ever considered that Beck might use “evangelical-like language” because he might have listened to some Evangelicals before he became Mormon. My understanding is that he met with all sorts of religious groups before he decided on becoming LDS. So I don’t think it’d be fair to say that he’s ONLY harnessing this for his own popularity, unless you’re better at peering into another’s soul and judging them than I am? Besides, do Evangelicals really own the copyright on these terms? Most evangelicals are willing to say, “We’re not organized” when we point out your infighting, inconsistency, and irresponsible judgement of others, but somehow when people like and use words that you think you own it is harnessing?

  28. I am not trying to examine Beck’s soul, I don’t claim that qualification. Seeing that he is an entertainer it isn’t that much of a stretch to see his popularity as a motivating factor.

    I’m not claiming that Beck isn’t sincere in his language. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t use the language he is using. There is a long tradition in the US for mixing religion and politics. Theological and political liberals do it. Politically conservative evangelicals and Catholics do it. Why not Mormons?

    My point is that for the same reasons I wouldn’t support the Manhattan declaration I don’t find Beck’s mixing of the secular and the sacred to be all that appealing.

  29. Seems to me that Beck isn’t really using evangelical language as much he is using Mormon language. his approach is rooted in Cleon Skousen’s political ideas. I would argue that some Evangelicals, Tea-Party people, and other sheeple that love Beck are being moved toward these ideas more than Beck is harnessing Evangelical language.

    They are starting to talk like Skousenesque Mormons as much as Beck is talking like an Evangelical.

  30. Jared

    You may be correct about Skousen and Beck’s politics, I don’t know enough about him to agree or disagree. Where I would disagree is that the take back America language and conflating the Kingdom of God with American nationalism I think predates Skousen.

  31. I have said this before: I don’t actually think the Christianity of Jesus is a good fit for civic religion. I think that the values of our society are sometimes if not often at odds with the values Jesus taught, and trying to force Jesus into a civic shoebox winds up severely distorting his message.

  32. I agree, its all mixed together, its arguable that Mormons did not equate the Kingdom of God with American nationalism until quite a while after polygamy ended. Skousen was a part of the other radical right wing elements of the 50’s and simply infused those political believes with Mormon ideas.

    I suppose the point I should have made is that it is a bit strange to consider Beck any different than Evangelical right wing wackos. They use the same language, act the same, and essentially believe the same things.

    The fact that their brand of Christianity is big part of their brand of politics, is an indictment of their brand of Christianity, no matter what kind of hell or heaven they believe in, or which church they attend.

  33. I have said this before: I don’t actually think the Christianity of Jesus is a good fit for civic religion. I think that the values of our society are sometimes if not often at odds with the values Jesus taught, and trying to force Jesus into a civic shoebox winds up severely distorting his message.

  34. Stupid WordPress! The link for that youtube video was supposed to start at 41 seconds. I even tested it!

  35. The fact that their brand of Christianity is big part of their brand of politics, is an indictment of their brand of Christianity, no matter what kind of hell or heaven they believe in, or which church they attend.

    I don’t know about that: your values are your values, at church or in the ballot box, right? It would be weirdly schizophrenic to hold one set of values for Sundays and another set for elections in November.

  36. “It would be weirdly schizophrenic to hold one set of values for Sundays and another set for elections in November.”

    The problem being for people who see their own theology inerrant and by extension there political choices as divine revelation. Any of my political opponents change from people who may have a reasonable disagreement into the enemies of God.

  37. My point was that your values are a reflection of your religion. if your values are screwed up, or your way of thinking both your religion and your politics are going to be screwed up.

  38. Here is a pretty good comment from Parchment and Pen- and evangelical theology blog, about Beck, Mormonisms and Christianity

    The point, again, is not to argue that Beck is or is not a Christian in the sense of someone genuinely redeemed from sin through authentic faith in Jesus Christ. He may be, we may and should hope that he is or will be, and those of us who have opportunity to engage him or other Mormons like him should caringly present the biblical gospel without compromise. The point, rather, is that in the real world people’s beliefs and affiliations are not always consistent or cut-and-dried. Most people’s thinking reflects a mix of religious, philosophical, and cultural beliefs, values, and assumptions. Making blanket statements about whether the members of a particular group are or are not Christians mistakenly assumes a uniformity of belief within the group that in most cases is simply not there. Avoiding such statements will enhance our credibility with those whom we are seeking to reach with biblical truth. It will help to foster mutual respect and constructive dialogue with those who need to know what true Christianity really means.

    I like what he says.

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/09/are-mormons-christians-19-glenn-beck-and-that-question-again/trackback/

  39. Beck’s mixing of politics and religion on the right is at the most basic level no different than his nemesis Jim Wallis on the left.

    Beck and his fellows want to take America back for God so that we can practice the divinely ordained theocratic democracy in the equally holy capitalist free market.

    Wallis wants to take back God from America so that we can repent of democracy and the free market.

    I don’t agree politically with either of them but I also don’t need to judge underlying morals, motives or value systems. What I will say is that we live in a pluralistic society and that their language by its nature excludes segments of society. The Bible speaks a great deal about morals. What it doesn’t speak about very much is how to legislate those values. The Church has love and grace, the state has enforcement and the sword. As soon as I move my religious values into the political sphere I leave aside love and grace and replace it with enforcement and the sword, no matter how paternalistic.

    Left, right or center it is divisive and I would say presumptive to insist that God supports your politics. It’s like replacing the divine right of kings with the divine right of demagogues.

  40. Gundeck,

    I heartily agree with your statement about the Bible not saying “how to legislate the values”.

    However, I think this whole Prop 8 thing, with the attendant Evangelicals hiding and not defending other groups who stand for God’s idea of marriage, make Evangelicals look weak and wishy washy.

  41. However, I think this whole Prop 8 thing, with the attendant Evangelicals hiding and not defending other groups who stand for God’s idea of marriage, make Evangelicals look weak and wishy washy.

    Hey pc, how much do you actually know about EV’s and their history?

    In the late 20th century EV’s were on the forefront of many campaigns for conservative social values, especially on the abortion issue. Does the phrase “Moral Majority” ring a bell? How about “Christian Coalition?” And, where was the leadership for the Mormon church on these conservative social issues? Answer: MIA.

    However since the late 90’s until today many evangelicals have been reevaluating how and why they engage in political social issues. Many are concluding that wedding Christianity to a particular set of political values held by a segment of American society to have been a big mistake. Hence many are scaling back their political participation.

    It seems to me that you are complaining that the LDS church arrived 10-15 years late to the party and are whining that everyone is leaving and turning out the lights.

  42. It seems to me that you are complaining that the LDS church arrived 10-15 years late to the party and are whining that everyone is leaving and turning out the lights.

    Zing!

  43. double Zing.

    But to be fair to PC, the Prop 8 campaign was largely led by Skyline Wesleyan Church. It’s an Evangelical Megachurch outside of San Diego. As much as I agree with David’s assessment, PC was making up his complaint out of vapor. Though Evangelical churches were never as aggressive with their members about Prop 8 as the LDS church, there were a number that were deeply involved.

  44. It seems pretty silly to equate the law of marriage in the US with “God’s idea of marriage” from an LDS/Protestant point of view.

    NOBODY in the U.S. advocates a law of marriage that would reflect the biblical law or conception of marriage.

    Conservative Christians (LDS Christians included) generally want all of the rights and protections from the majority that constitutional law provides. They simply ignore the fact that most of the advances in liberty have been obtained by fighting against their reactionary tendencies.

    When LDS praticed polygamy they would be using the same legal arguments that the supporters of gay marriage use.

    Case in point: You don’t hear anyone complain that the state can no longer ban contraception.

    This is why 90% of the lay strict constructionists are always talk out of both sides of their mouths.

  45. This is why 90% of the lay strict constructionists are always talk out of both sides of their mouths.

    This is why: everyone wants freedom and liberty to live the way they think people should live but not to live any other way.

  46. And, people give lip service to their religious standards in public, but when the rubber hits the road in their personal lives, tolerance and liberty are cherished.

    A ban on divorce and contraception is all well and good until it applies to most people. The biblical principles that support these bans have been cast off, even by die hard bible believers. (Just like the biblical tolerance of slavery)

    A ban on same sex marriage only survives because homosexuality is an naturally entrenched minority.

  47. This is why: everyone wants freedom and liberty to live the way they think people should live but not to live any other way.

    Totally agree.

  48. When LDS praticed polygamy they would be using the same legal arguments that the supporters of gay marriage use.

    BS.
    LDS never sought for government recognition of polygamy. It was a huge, get-the-freak-out-of-our-personal-lives-and-religion. FWIW, I don’t want the government getting involved in stopping gay people from exercising gay sex. I don’t want the government preventing them from visiting each other in the hospital. But I also don’t want them “inventing rights” out of thin air, and changing definitions to fit the gay agenda.

    And Tim, FWIW, to be fair to you, I wasn’t talking about the entire evangelical movement as a whole, just the cowards who write online about how they support God’s word (against Mormons), making clear they publish that Mormons aren’t Christians, and then stand by while the government places its endorsement on homosexual unions, and the forced propaganda of children to accept homosexuality as normal and a protected class. More persoanlly, it applies to the die-hard against Mormons baptist in my research group who joins in the Mormon bashing both for not being Christian, and for standing up for the biblical definition of marriage.

    It may look foolish to you to stand with a prophet of God, Tim. But, so persecuted they all the prophets before you…

  49. But I also don’t want them “inventing rights” out of thin air, and changing definitions to fit the gay agenda.

    The government does nothing but invent rights out of thin air. That is where rights come from.

  50. PC, it wasn’t clear. Were you attempting to personally implicate me in your charge? I’m not asking to wear a shoe that wasn’t made for me, but just want to know if that was your intention.

    As for the Baptist in your research group, David’s explanation could totally apply to him and he wouldn’t in the slightest be inconsistent with his own viewpoints. He might have the same criticisms of Skyline Wesleyan as the LDS church on the matter of Prop 8.

  51. LDS absolutely sought government recognition of polygamous marriages.

    This is wrong. LDS established the state of Deseret and sought admission to the Union. As a State, Deseret would conceivably have had the right to establish its own marriage laws, including allowing polygamy.

    One of the more significant reasons Utah was denied statehood was a fear that it would legalize polygamy. The Feds required a constitutional provision banning polygamy,

    AS THEY ARE DOING NOW!!!

    http://weeklyworldnews.com/headlines/22693/utah-to-legalize-polygamy/

    😉

    I know of no other state constitution that explicitly requires the Federal Government to amend (Article 3 of the Utah constitution)

    Plus, a lot of those women who divorced their husbands certainly sought the government to recognize their marriages.

    I think its silly for LDS to see their rights to alternative lifestyles as somehow different than gay rights.

    If there is a right to marry (one of those rights created out of thin air by judges) it should be applied fairly.

  52. oops, i was responding to PC’s statement:

    LDS never sought for government recognition of polygamy. It was a huge, get-the-freak-out-of-our-personal-lives-and-religion.

  53. The government does nothing but invent rights out of thin air. That is where rights come from.

    That’s not what the declaration of independence says.

    Unfortunately the Constitution says something entirely different.

  54. “could have conceivably” sounds pretty unscientific and uncertain about historical facts. If you bring some document forth illustrates how the LDS church (or even some grass-roots, mainstream Mormon group) lobbied the federal government for rights associated with marriage, then you might have some evidence. Currently, you’ve brought no evidence. In my world, (the scientific) concievablies are not admissable as evidence.

    While the United States congress certainly demanded a proviso to the Utah constitution, this is not evidence that the LDS group ever sought legal recognition for their alternate lifestyle. In fact, it is only evidence that the US Senate feared that Utah would. This subtlety in definition may escape you, but I’m talking about the difference between historical fact (The LDS didn’t seek legal status for their polygamous marriages) versus your political fiction.

    Furthermore, I think I need some evidence of

    Plus, a lot of those women who divorced their husbands certainly sought the government to recognize their marriages.

    Do you have an article describing a group of women who rallied support from the government to recognize their polygamous divorces?

    I don’t see the point of this argument. If you enter into a non-legally binding contract with someone, you can’t expect the federal government to honor your contract’s end. Divorce had not much meaning back then, there wasn’t “alimony” and “forced child support.” What was the point of “seeking the government to recognize their marriages?”

  55. Tim,
    I don’t believe you’ve made your views on prop 8 public, and I’m unaware of them. So no, at the beginning I was not trying to persosanlly indict you. I was making fun of your apparently contradictory use of “To be fair to PC…”

    As for my lab-mate, to me it seems inconsistent to rant and rave about pro-death penalty, anti-abortion in all cases, including rape and incenst, complain about liberal groups who let women preach and teach in church, and then lift some stones to throw at those who believe that the people of the united states should be the ones who write the law instead of judges, and condemn those who stick up for biblical values in the public square. While it is possible that this labmate is secretly just a liberal, it appears that he’s just a hypocrite because he demands biblical accountability for these other issues, just not for gay marriage. I don’t know, maybe sleeping in the same room with a gay roommate who had men sleep over with him corrupted him…

  56. PC,

    You may think that it is wishy washy or cowardice to not take a stand on gay Prop 8 as a church or to actively campaign for it but in fact it was a decision made by the General Assembly of my denomination that our confession of faith did not permit that type of political activity. I belong to a conservative Presbyterian denomination and we believe the Bible’s teaching on Christian marriage is pretty clear but we also believe that the church is called to preach the word and administrator the sacraments not legislate morality for those outside the church. This wouldn’t stop an individual Christian from participation in the political sphere.

    Our confession is clear that you cannot have the proper understanding and function of the law separate from the Gospel. Is the state of California called to pronounce the Gospel? How could we ask California to enforce a Christian concept of marriage without also asking that they enforce Christian laws against idolatry or blasphemy? Is gay marriage more important than idolatry? If we are to live in a pluralistic society I think that the best we can hope for is no governmental interference in the proscribed activities of the church.

  57. “could have conceivably”

    We are talking about the law here, and that is as certain as it gets.

    I don’t know of any legal decision where the Federal Government has interfered with a state’s sovereign ability to determine its own marriage law except by requiring Article 3 of the Utah constitution as a condition of statehood. The only reason for this provision was to sovereignty.

    If Utah had become a state without this provision, by current law it could have legalized polygamy. In this case “could have conceivably” only means that it is possible that Congress would have attempted to outlaw polygamy nationally regardless and that some judge would have upheld the ban. It never came to that because Congress had authority because Deseret never became a state and the Feds have authority over territories.

    The petition for statehood for Deseret, as prepared and filed by Brigham Young through John Bernhisal. was a de-facto request that Deseret would enter the union as a sovereign state and thus be allowed to determine what marriage meant to the people of that state, just like some states today have determined that same sex marriage is included within the definition of marriage, and why it would require a constitutional amendment to take that right away from states.

    “Divorce had not much meaning back then,”

    now you are talking about stuff without any evidence. Divorce was far more significant then than it is now as was marriage.

    There were no rally’s to support women’s rights for a lot of reasons, but some did assert rights during divorce.
    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/brighamyoungswives.htm

  58. I don’t see the point of this argument. If you enter into a non-legally binding contract with someone, you can’t expect the federal government to honor your contract’s end. Divorce had not much meaning back then, there wasn’t “alimony” and “forced child support.” What was the point of “seeking the government to recognize their marriages?”

    To protect the women involved? When one of Brigham’s wives wanted out of the marriage arrangement, Brigham used the non-legality of the marriage as a bargaining chip in setting up alimony for the divorcing spouse. And yes, there was alimony. The divorcing wife was in a substantially inferior bargaining position because she could not call upon the power of government to force BY to pay a fair alimony. Now, to his credit, BY did give the women some alimony, he could have legally just told them to take a hike and given them nothing.

  59. “Brigham used the non-legality of the marriage as a bargaining chip in setting up alimony for the divorcing spouse”

    Well, i think the one of the main reasons he denied the legality was he didn’t want to admit to being married and face prosecution for bigamy.

  60. Lets demean BY when we have the chance and merely toss a biscuit his way when his true character is shown. What was the alimony? Scant, just, generous? She wanted a divorce..is her perspective wholey unbiased?

  61. Tim,

    To my recollection, there was a significant alliance of Christian denominations that refused to work with the ‘Mormons’ in the Prop 8 campaign. Though the rift didn’t cause the demise of the campaign, the lack of unity was so obvious that apologies were extended toward the LDS church, after the campaign was won.
    Prop 8 would not have passed without LDS support…as it would not have passed without everyone elses support.

  62. PC,

    I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet but I will make you this prediction. When the history of Prop 8 is written in 20 or so years it is going to go down as a failed attempt to legislate morality and one of the primary causes for the revocation of religious non-profit tax exempt status.

    I hope I am wrong but the religious/political rhetoric was just to heavy handed and over the top.

  63. I will predict that that proposition will start the chain of events that leads to the invalidation of gay marriage bans nationwide.

    You can’t really sustain the ban given other principles of fairness in our country without resorting to religion or bias as a justification.

  64. I see Prop 8 as the first step toward a nationwide change of language when it comes to marriage. I see government stepping out of the “marriage” business altogether, and only validating civil unions.

    Marriage, as a term, will become only applicable to non-government organisations that want to use the term. Everyone will have to enter into a civil union before getting married.

    Those who are already married when this happens will be grandfathered into the body of those who have entered into civil unions.

    Also, in response to gundek’s claim that Prop 8 will go down as a failed attempt at legislating morality, I would just like to know what laws do not, in one way or another, legislate morality.

  65. Jared C.: When I was in the library last night, I came across the following editorial from National Review (a magazine I would never subscribe to, but the way). It’s probably the strongest piece of writing I’ve read making a nonreligious argument for a ban on same-sex marriage. I’m not necessarily endorsing it, but I did find it quite interesting to read a well-reasoned argument from that point of view:

    The Case for Marriage

  66. “what laws do not, in one way or another, legislate morality.”

    Yes I could have been more specific and said “a morality based on religious beliefs”.

  67. Yes I could have been more specific and said “a morality based on religious beliefs”.

    That’s a distinction without a difference.

    I believe we should have laws against murder, because it’s my religious belief that murder is morally wrong. By supporting laws against murder, am I trying to impose my religious beliefs on others? I don’t think so.

  68. Sure all laws legislate some sort of morality, and I actually believe that society should support and even strengthen marriage and make more laws giving strong incentives to marry and have strong families, and to provide families with resources to produce well educated, healthy children. But given the state of our law on marriage and children, I think it is fundamentally unfair not to grant same-sex couples an equal right, i.e. It’s not consistent with the American ideal civil rights.

    “By supporting laws against murder, am I trying to impose my religious beliefs on others? I don’t think so.”

    Laws against murder can be justified completely without reference to anybody’s religious beliefs. Not extending marital rights to same-sex couple’s without a important state interest to deny this right is.

  69. Laws against murder can be justified completely without reference to anybody’s religious beliefs. Not extending marital rights to same-sex couple’s without a important state interest to deny this right is.

    That begs the question, of course, of whether marriage is a “right” for couples. Traditionally, governments have had marriage as a legal institution as a way of stabilizing relationships that are capable of producing children and, at one time, of providing a degree of protection to women. This didn’t have anything to do with religion; societies with a wide range of religious makeups have recognized marriage.

    I’m not here particularly to get into the same-sex-marriage debate; I just think it’s possible to take rational, plausible positions on both sides of the issue without resorting to religious arguments or even arguments related to sexual morality, and that’s all I’m saying here. It seems to me that saying the only reason one can be on one side of the issue for religious reasons is little more than a way of marginalizing those on that side of the issue.

  70. Eric, you misunderstand Jared and the law. The issue under Equal Protection is not whether anyone has a fundamental right to marriage (PS: settled Constitutional law says they do, but that’s not actually relevant to what Jared is getting at), but whether and under what conditions the state can constitutionally allow one group to get married and another not to.

    We have been through this before.

  71. We’ve been through everything before. In this case, I was only responding to the argument; constitutionality is a whole other issue I’m not even going to try to address today.

    And, for what it’s worth, I haven’t decided how I personally come down on all these issues. I really haven’t. (A Prop 8-style constitutional amendment was on my state’s ballot a few years ago, and I honestly don’t remember how I voted on it.) I am just tired of the assumption in much political discourse these days that the only reason one would oppose same-sex marriage is bigotry (or maybe something short of that, such as irrational religious bias), and I just don’t buy it.

  72. I would just like to know what laws do not, in one way or another, legislate morality.

    When people say this, it pretty much demonstrates conclusively that they are not generally familiar with the body of federal, state, and local law in force.

    Sure, you can argue that criminal laws enforce morality (although you can also argue–and based on the history of criminal law it’s probably a better argument–that criminal laws exist to fulfill government responsibility to maintain order and public safety), but criminal laws are a really small sliver of existing laws.

    What’s the moral basis for the tax on generation-skipping transfers?

    What’s the moral basis for the federal rules of civil procedure?

    What’s the moral basis for the laws that establish how the bureau of land management surveys federally managed lands?

    Just google “united states code” and browse around. Most federal laws have no moral basis whatsoever, and there are an assload of federal laws. Then do the same thing for whatever state you live in. Sure, there’s a criminal code in there, but it’s one little bit out of a huge corpus of law.

  73. sure they do Kullervo. A well-ordered, well-maintained, efficient government is the product of an ethical system that values those things. You’re just not pushing the underlying assumptions far enough.

    If we were based on the values of Anarchists none of those things would be implemented.

  74. No, that’s the moral value in having law, generally. Not the moral basis for having specific laws. It’s a world of difference, especially in the context of this discussion. We’re talking about whether laws legislate morality or not, not whether legislation in general is moral.

  75. What’s the moral basis for the tax on generation-skipping transfers?

    Because at some level we have deemed it morally impermissible to impose a high tax on certain gifts or bequests to immediate relatives, and so we impose taxes in other areas.

    What’s the moral basis for the federal rules of civil procedure?

    Well, obviously, there are laws that are administrative in nature only, done to promote efficiency. But aren’t many of the rules of civil (and, more obviously, criminal) procedure implemented in order to promote fairness and justice? It seems to be to be a clearly moral issue that we want people to be treated fairly, and fairness is a moral consideration. Why allow civil suits and enforce judgments at all? Because we see a moral value in doing what we can in making sure that people meet their moral obligations if they wrong another.

    It’s more obvious with the laws that affect us more directly. We have environmental laws because we have deemed it immoral to destroy the planet that’s been given to us. We have Social Security because we believe it’s immoral not provide the means for elderly people to live. Moral issues are at the heart of the health care debate on both sides; much anti-tax sentiment is rooted in the belief that to tax someone too much is, in effect, immorally stealing from him or her. We have schools because we believe it would be negligent not to provide an education to children.

    Unless a law is strictly administrative in nature (in which case it is relevant to how a goal related to morality will be carried out), what’s the point of passing it if there’s not a moral reason behind it?

  76. Gundeck,
    While I recognize that you aren’t prophecying, I think you may be right. I think the godless liberals will couch this the record in terms of stifling religious against freedom. But if you are placing you faith in humans history, then you have bigger problems than you know. But it’s a common Evangelical problem, and the same problem for anyone who places “creedance” in the creeds of so-called “orthodox” christianity. Just as the orthodox christians worship the fallen-human-philosphies embodied in the creeds, so it sounds like you are actually caring how humanity records this in the future.

    In the immortal words from the lyrics of Wicked,
    “Where I’m from, people believe all sorts of things that aren’t true…We call it history! Is one called a traitor, or liberator? A rich man’s a thief or philanthropis? Is one a crusader or ruthless invader? It’s all in which label is able to persist.”

    Now, you may pat yourself on the back for being more enlightened, in allowing people to exercise their freedom’s. Good on you. From my perspective, God see’s this as a terrible travesty when those who claim to be Christian and understand God’s word start to place sanction on unholy acts. And just because the Phillistines tell you it’s great to roast your own children and eat them, doesn’t make me flinch at all. The Bible is full of stories of those who trust God above men, Gundeck, and even more stories of those who trust men above God. From my viewpoint, those who yield to liberalism in this case are trusting men more than God, and what, my educated Bible-lover does the Bible describe for those who trust men more than God?

    It’s true. The godless who write history from their fallen point of view will describe Prop 8 as just another time when religion oppressed people, it’ll be interesting to note that the same arguments will describe those who fight against Nambla in two hundred years. Because without God there is no right and wrong. There is no self-evident truth without God. When right and wrong becomes based on what the majority believe is right and wrong (solely) that will always change. Society changes. And all of Christianity goes wrong when they cut God out of their lives by denying His ability to use an authorized living oracle. And all Mormons, who fail to heed that authorized oracles words also FAIL miserably. But if you want to put your vote today in the arm of flesh, Gundeck, by all means, I won’t try any more to stop you…

  77. Morality is all about what we value as good, right or acceptable, and what we value as being bad, wrong, or unacceptable. Morality is not always determined by relgious groups. It can be determined by a body of people wishing to establish what is right/good/acceptable to their society. Thus, in a society that uses laws to establish the rules of good conduct, all laws will be based on the morality of the group (or what the group wants to establish as their moral code).

    All laws are meant to enable a society in which order and stability are established as the very basis of being good or right. Thus even the laws and rules you cited all seek to establish certain paradigms for ensuring what the majority of lawmakers at the time the law was put into effect believed was moral, and they are based on the morality of efficiency and orderliness.

  78. So sure, if you define “morality” so broadly as to encompass all of human motivation, then every law is legislating morality. You have defined the terms into effecting a victory by semantics.

  79. Now, you may pat yourself on the back for being more enlightened, in allowing people to exercise their freedom’s. Good on you. From my perspective, God see’s this as a terrible travesty when those who claim to be Christian and understand God’s word start to place sanction on unholy acts. And just because the Phillistines tell you it’s great to roast your own children and eat them, doesn’t make me flinch at all. The Bible is full of stories of those who trust God above men, Gundeck, and even more stories of those who trust men above God. From my viewpoint, those who yield to liberalism in this case are trusting men more than God, and what, my educated Bible-lover does the Bible describe for those who trust men more than God?

    PC, you believe God has forbidden us to drink tea. Should we outlaw that too?

  80. I’m also pretty sure your authorized oracles have said–more or less–that God is against being an intolerable asshole. Should we start leveling criminal penalties on you?

  81. Because can’t all the arguments in favor of allowing you to be an insufferable crapsack of a human being with no social skills also be used to justify–even celebrate–NAMBLA?

  82. The godless who write history from their fallen point of view will describe Prop 8 as just another time when religion oppressed people, it’ll be interesting to note that the same arguments will describe those who fight against Nambla in two hundred years. Because without God there is no right and wrong.

    Well, PC’s the one that made it, there in the middle of his pro-Mormon-theocracy screed.

  83. PC, you believe God has forbidden us to drink tea. Should we outlaw that too?

    Hold on there Kullervo.
    There’s no “us” while you’re self-identifying as a Pagan, Ex-Mo. Get which personality I’m writing to correct first…

  84. That sounds like the slippery-slope fallacy.

    I didn’t say it wasn’t. But it’ll still be funny…

  85. Hold on there Kullervo.
    There’s no “us” while you’re self-identifying as a Pagan, Ex-Mo. Get which personality I’m writing to correct first…

    “Us” as in “everyone.” Your church teaches that your god wants people not to drink tea. That’s just as much one of your god’s commandments as “don’t be gay.” The reason why you advocate so strongly for the importance of legislating your god’s commandments in the one case but not the other is not because you really think civilizations have to keep your god’s commandments or be destroyed, but simply because you are a nasty bigot who hates gay people.

  86. A quick Google search tells us that the word morality means “concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct” and that the English word is derived from the Latin moralitas which translates to meaning “manner, character, proper behavior” – I don’t see that my definition of morality is any broader than the actual definition.

    How do you define morality, kullervo?

  87. If you define morality to mean all choices between desirable and undesirable, which essentially means “all choices,” then “moral choices” reduces to merely “choices.” Which means it’s redundant.

  88. Let me understand this correctly because I recognize in the Bible no call on the church to exercise its will in the civil sphere I am yielding to liberalism and trusting men more than God? You seem to equate a churches decision to make a stand on gay marriage and to actively campaign in the civil politics of men with trusting in God. If a church is called to trust God by participating in politics with the ungodly where exactly does it stop? Do we regulate idolatry or blasphemy? If we are going to look to the Biblical evidence idolatry seems to anger God quite a bit. Is your church culpable in the sins of idolatry committed in America because it has not worked to pass civil laws against this evil?

    I am not patting myself on the back for letting men “exercise their freedom’s”. Instead I have simply recognized that American politics are not a cosmic struggle against the evil doing liberals where God needs His church to battle for him in the polling booths and courtrooms of men. While I agree that the noetic effect of sin alters the views of the godless I am not convinced that the ballot box is the place to correct this. Instead of trusting in the institutions of men, I choose to look to the regenerative power of the word and sacrament, having faith that empires, nations, even democratic republics may come and go but the Church of Christ will remain until He comes again.

    Do your oracles tell you to be subject to the civil magistrate? Do your oracles insist that you, “offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority”? Did your oracles decide that gay marriage was more important in the cosmic struggle than say divorce for winning Gods war against liberals? I am not trying to insult you or your oracles but unless you are willing to wage campaigns to have the civil magistrate enforce all of God’s laws your position is less than coherent.

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