Timothy Dalrymple the Director of Content of the Evangelical portal at Patheos recently published a series of articles concerning the publication of hidden camera videos inside a number of LDS temples. One of these videos in particular has recently gone viral (over 1 million views as of this writing).
The first article is an interview with “NewNameNoah”, the individual responsible for creating the videos and uploading them to YouTube. “Noah” is remarkably straight forward about his motivations and I think you’ll probably have an accurate idea of who he is and why he published the video.
In the second piece Dalrymple considers why Evangelicals should defend Mormons against mockery.
Evangelicals are not wrong to be concerned about the growth of Mormonism. The truth matters, and I like many of my evangelical brethren am convinced that Mormonism does not fully teach the truth of Jesus Christ and his gospel. But we are wrong to let that concern, that suspicion, that fear, drive us to treat Mormons worse than any other religious group in America. It’s not a matter of compromising our commitments to truth, but of fulfilling our commitments to love. Just as it would not be loving to let the saving truth of Jesus Christ be distorted, for in that truth is the liberating message of God’s forgiveness and provision for all people, so it’s not loving to misrepresent what Mormons believe and condemn them in vicious and exaggerated tones.
More to the point, it’s unloving to communicate the truth in such an unloving manner that our hearers conclude that whatever is delivered by people who behave in this way cannot possibly be true. God’s Word comes to us “full of grace and truth.” It is never morally or Christianly acceptable to secure the truth by abandoning grace. The end does not justify the means.
The third article concludes Dalrymple’s thoughts on protecting Mormons from ridicule.
Do the rituals recorded in those videos seem weird to me? Yes, of course. Just like the Eucharist must seem bizarre to people who don’t understand its world of symbolism. Is there anything wrong with having ceremonies that are only for the faithful, ceremonies that are meant to be kept secret? Of course not. Should Christians celebrate that someone lied repeatedly to gain admission, breached the rules to secretly record the proceedings, released those films with an obvious political agenda in the midst of an election contest, and invited the world to join in the mockery? Would that be a Christian thing to do?
The answer is obvious. Mormons view us as hypocritical when we tell them they’re not Christian, but then behave in a non-Christian way toward them. And, well…they have a point. To the extent that Christians take advantage of these videos to engage in more Mormon-bashing, they should be ashamed.
Though I’m sure it will distress some of my Mormon friends, I’m not sure my own response to the videos is as clear as Dalrymple’s. To be sure. Some of the videos are intended to mock Mormonism and some of the comments in the most popular video are skewed against Mormonism. I most definitely condemn those actions and comments. I’m not at all interested in that kind of activity. I also have no interest in using these videos as a means of bashing Mormonism. The timing of the release of the videos is certainly an effort to capitalize on the Mormon moment and the Romney campaign. Whether that be for political motivations or an effort to capitalize on the media buzz is of lesser interest to me.
It’s my understanding that the text of the endowment ceremony has been publicly available for close to 100 years. Secretly recorded audio of the ceremony has been available for over 30 years. It’s also my understanding that the only portion of the ceremony that Mormons actually covenant to not reveal are the signs and tokens. Mormons are culturally wary of discussing the temple at all but the vast majority of the ceremonies are not, strictly speaking, off limits for comment.
Someone showed me the tokens at some point in college, well before I had any real interest in Mormonism. Later while on a long car drive, a woman who had left the LDS church described for me what happened in the temple. Shortly after visiting a temple open house years ago my wife and I researched any remaining questions we may have had via Google. Already having knowledge of the tokens and knowing the rest of the ceremony was not off limits I didn’t think I’d be committing any harm by watching the full endowment ceremony (which included no commentary). I didn’t really learn anything new in viewing the videos. That being said, video is certainly a powerful medium and it put all of the elements together in a way I didn’t expect. The story of creation as told in the temple has certainly grown my understanding of Mormon theology. (For instance, I better understand how the Adam/God theory practically plays out in Mormon cosmology and I better understand how Mormons view the Fall as a necessary and positive step for mankind.)
Where I think I most radically depart from Dalrymple is that I’m not as clear headed that viewing the video is participation in mocking Mormonism on something akin to the level of someone defecating in my church baptistry. The ceremony is strange and unfamiliar but viewing it, absent commentary, is an observation that can lead to understanding. If I fail to speak out against the videos am I really doing the same thing as idly watching a Jew be physically abused by Skinheads? Is the existence of a video camera in the temple a desecration in and of itself? I most certainly understand the angst the creation of the video causes and would by no means enter the temple myself or assist in the creation or publication of the video.
I’m not certain that my religious values align with Mormonism in a way that I value secrecy in the same way as Mormons. Particularly considering that Mormonism claims these ceremonies to be an important, salvific part of Christianity. As a devout Christian I feel I have a stake in that claim and want to judge it for myself. I also think that Christianity does not reserve secrets about itself from outsiders. There is clearly an understanding that some things remain a secret to outsiders, but they are nonetheless clearly and openly taught. So to posit that Christian secrets must remain secrets seems to be something of an oxymoron to me. I simply reject that understanding of Christianity.
I think a question that has yet to be answered about these videos is “how will they change Mormonism?” I think it’s a given that these videos will have an impact. Might sealing ceremonies be opened to non-Mormon family members as a result? I think the window for that possibility is now open. I think you can count on a number of pre-initiatory Mormons to seek these videos out before their first temple endowment experience. Having a knowledge of what a member is covenanting to beforehand may have a positive or a negative impact on the willingness of those who have yet to experience the temple first hand. Will the knowledge that open house visitors might seek out these videos change how and why open houses are conducted?
Regardless of your view of the videos I think we can agree that this is a moment where Mormonism changed, be it in policy, practice or perception.
Tim, I will be surprised if the Church even comments on these videos, let alone makes any changes to policy because of them. Consider, for example, what changes were made following the Prop 8 shenanigans in California. I don’t know of any, and I have a Church calling where I would be privy to a major policy / doctrinal change as a result.
As for me, I just feel sorry for the individual who made the video. I read his comments to Mr. Dalrymple’s questions and got impression that he lives a life of bitterness and anger. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems like it would be hard for him to have any peace in his life with what he feels he must do.
You are correct that much of what goes on in the Temple is couched in symbolism. That has been the case any time there have been Temples / Tabernacles on the earth. Just as Christ’s parables can be understood on different physical and spiritual levels, so it is with the symbols used in the Temple ceremonies.
Let me give you some counter evidence. The Church Handbook of Instructions were made available on Wikileaks. When the new issue was published it too was leaked on the internet. A week later the church published it online itself.
Also, a year or two following Prop 8 there were a number of similar initiatives in other states. The church didn’t participate in any of them to my knowledge. Certainly not in the way in did in 2008.
Thanks Tim! I really appreciate your perspective on this issue. I too hope that this is a tipping point in some way for the culture of Mormonism. I personally have felt turned off, if not slightly deceived by the presentation of Mormonism that is veiled in a lot of ways (i.e. what door-to-door missionaries and weekly gatherings at a local ward present versus what can be read about in Mormon scriptures and their own historical documents). I’m not sure if I could go so far as to call it a shell game or a bait-and-switch, but something about it feels misleading or possibly even “gnostic” in the tone and tenor of the public persona of mormonism, or at least in the attempt to demonstrate it’s appeal when recruiting/witnessing.
I think using deceit to obtain the videos and then uploading them is a crappy thing to do, but I don’t see it changing anything. Full details (and I’ve heard of surreptitious video being available before, although I haven’t seen it, and wouldn’t) of the temple ceremony have been available to the curious for decades.
Tim, my point was that Church policy was not changed based on what happened in California. Perhaps if you are interpreting the lack of formal participation in the other initiatives as a change in policy, then we’ll have to agree to disagree on what a change in policy is.
On your other point, during the training we received on the new Handbooks (both 1 & 2), we were told that Handbook 2 would be available online. So, when it was published, it was not a surprise to us.
I know there are skeptics and cynics who frequent this site who will scoff at any reasonable explanation I give. That doesn’t change what I see in the Mormon culture. Those looking from the outside could very well see something entirely different.
My understanding of your blog is to get an understanding of what we see as Mormons and compare that to what Evangelicals and others understand about us. If others want to attack us here or try to convince us that we are wrong, that is fine, but that is not what I understood this site was about.
Thanks for addressing this topic. I think Dairymple at the Evangelical Channel at Patheos presents the right approach in a sympathetic consideration of Mormonism that moves beyond the expose methods of evangelicals in the past. I am encouraged by what I see out of your response and Dairymple as a promising way forward for evangelicals beyond expose and apologetic denunciation. If only the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association would use the current controversy over Romney and their “cult list” to consider new approaches as well.
David did you feel attacked by my post or by my comment?
For those who have missed the update, I added the following to the original post:
(For instance, I better understand how the Adam/God theory practically plays out in Mormon cosmology and I better understand how Mormons view the Fall as a necessary and positive step for mankind).
Shouldn’t the first question be “is it honest?” Parsing how it will cause this, or force that, or mock or not mock to me are all secondary considerations. If someone makes a promise (a covenant) to a friend, a spouse, or their God how is that now even considered as a positive to break that promise? How is it ever a right thing to do? If I place myself under an honestly made promise, no amount of inducement would persuade me to break that covenant. Since the filming was done dishonestly, what twist of rationalization makes that okay? Even an atheist journalist knows he can’t reveal something told to him “off the record”, just to site a simple example of ethics. Are not Christians claiming a higher standard than a journalist? Since a people who believe in the sacredness of that ceremony ask it not to be filmed, what kind of mind decides that they can ignore their request? Did the leaker not promise to obey that request? Yet they ignore their promise. Not only ignore it like the film magically fell off the back of a turnip truck, but actually use subterfuge, deceit and lies to cause it to happen. I am not okay with this. There is no version of the Christ I worship who would be okay with this. I seem to remember something about “thou shalt not bear false witness.” Are we actually saying that the ethics don’t count if one disagrees with whom you’re choosing to deceive? Come on my “christian” friends. Get a grip. Ethics presume honesty as a fundamental bulwark. Is it ethical to be dishonest? Is it right to lie? Does the ends justify the means? This is ethics 101 and I’m embarrassed this even rises to equivocating about whether it was noble or brave. It is shameful. The issue of the content is not the issue to me. Pearls before swine will never make the swine question their lack of appreciation of the pearl. But I think people who claim to follow Christ should act like they know what burden of simple honesty and respect that should require of them.
9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
16 ¶These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
By my count this act of dishonesty hits at least 5 of the 7.
Of course it was dishonest. “Noah” is not a Christian and doesn’t claim to be acting as one. Are we surprised that a ticked off ex-Mormon, nonChristian would do something dishonest?
Are we surprised that a ticked off ex-Mormon, nonChristian would do something dishonest?
Honestly, given human nature, I’m not surprised that anyone, Mormon, Christian, or otherwise, would do something dishonest.
I think the fundamental moral question here is: if you don’t believe in another’s sacred ritual, do you have the responsibility to respect it?
I think the answer is yes. Sure, it doesn’t mean anything to you. Sure, you believe that the “secret” nature of the ritual is at odds with Christian teaching. Sure, it could build bridges of understanding if discussing the rituals were less taboo and if information were more widely disseminated.
But it’s not up to you to make that call..
As much as anything, this is a relational boundary issue. If there is private information that I wish to keep to myself, and that I share with another in confidence, it is wrong for that person to share it without my permission. It is perhaps a less serious offense, but I believe it is also wrong to hear confidential information third-hand without saying, “I’m sorry — do you have permission to share this with me? Then I would rather not hear it.”
It’s not really relevant if Mormons “should” or “shouldn’t” be more transparent. (I, for one, would find it a welcome change if we let non-Mormons into sealings and if we didn’t take the temple so darn literally). But that’s for Mormonism to work out within itself.
Katie L., I hear what you are saying, but isn’t this now an opportunity, however it was created, to do just what you are talking about?
I’m wanting to understand if you (personally or thinking about Mormons in general) think that Tim as a relational conversationalist should or shouldn’t bring up this issue and talk about it? On this Blog or anywhere?
I feel as though one doesn’t need permission to talk about it. But I understand that you might have a point about going and trying to watch the YouTube videos in question, when “permission” hasn’t been granted in the first place.
If someone is scamming me, and I almost fall for it, but learn about it in time to back away, and if part of the scam was swearing me to secrecy, am I bound by my promise of secrecy or should I go to the cops and sing like a canary? The promise of secrecy made by Mormons does not fit the definition of a legal contract and “meeting of the minds” that we would expect from a fair bargain by equals exercising their free will. You have to make the promise with no idea of what sort of thing will be revealed. This is very different than, for example, a non-disclosure agreement such as is common in the business world.
And, is it an insult or slander in any way to present the Temple ceremony without the editing of Mormon authorities? The question is, is it a true representation? If it’s true, too bad for the Mormons: truth is an absolute defense against a slander charge. I’ve objected far more to representations like “The Godmakers” due to the snarky tone, but what if we leave the snarkiness out and just present the facts and let people come to their own conclusions?
So, why the secrecy in the first place? If it’s a real source of valuable information concerning the plan of salvation, doesn’t it belong in the human owner’s manual, to be given to all, and let them make of it what they will?
Finally, it’s not like temple exposes are anything new.
Tim, no I didn’t feel attacked by your post.
Jimmy Prehn–I see your point that perhaps a person considering converting to Mormonism may not understand what he/she is getting into. Your tone, however, gives me the impression that you think there is something we are trying to hide from others just to get recruits. These days, that is about as far from the truth as anyone can get. The full-time missionaries, in particular, are counseled very strongly against that sort of thing. I admit that things don’t always work out that new members (and those going to the temple for the first time) are helped along properly in the process of learning. We do try our very best though.
scarlettpipistrelle – Your premise that people going to the Temple are being scammed is pretty harsh. At the beginning of every endowment session, everyone in the room is given an opportunity to leave before they make any covenants or promises to God.
The analogy may be harsh, but the legalities are true. There is no “meeting of the minds” and therefore no valid contract of non-disclosure. Intimidation doesn’t count as free will to leave. A lot hangs on a Mormon going through with the Endowment, and you Mormons know that perfectly well. Once a Mormon has gone through the Initiatories, the expectation is on him or her to stick it out and there are real-life consequences for not doing so. Never mind whether the wording I used is kind. Is it true?
scarlettpipistrelle – I think it would be best if we could keep the discussion here on a respectable level. Wouldn’t it be easier for you to understand our viewpoint that way? That is why it seems counterproductive that you are being unkind.
That said, I don’t understand what you mean by “meeting of the minds”.
And I’m not sure why you think an offer to leave at the beginning of the Endowment is intimidation. Is that what you’re saying? Perhaps you mean that a person might feel embarrassed to get up and leave at that point. That’s certainly possible. Still, I can say that most people in the room would respect the person for doing what they feel is right and have no hard feelings at all. And, there would be no recrimination later. In my 40+ years of experience in attending the Temple, 99.9% of the people there are the most kind, loving and service-oriented people you’ll find anywhere.
Finally, when you say there are “real-life consequences” for not continuing with all the Temple ceremonies, what exactly are you referring to there?
Nothing in Christianity is kept secret from anyone.
Our Lord is an honest and open Lord and He expects that we ought not hide anything that has to do with Himself.
And when has anyone ever seen anybody leave? I’ve heard rare stories – folklore really – of someone who allegedly left because the temple patron announced that there was someone present who was unworthy and gave them the chance to leave. No verified account, just folklore. I’ll bet the number who feel like backing out is miniscule, if there even are any. The temple is supposed to be a wonderful experience. Why would they back out?
Meeting of the minds is a legal term. It means that there is an understanding between parties of a contract. Not only that there is no fraud, but that there is a reciprocal understanding of the agreement. For people to come back on a dissenting Mormon and claim, “You promised to keep quiet about this.” implies that the dissenting Mormon fully understood what he was getting into and made the promise freely. That’s not possible under the terms of the situation. They don’t know what lies ahead in most cases, or if they do it’s because every single version of the temple ceremony has been leaked outside the church all along.
If essential information really is communicated during the ceremony, does the church even have a right to keep it secret from mankind? And if not, what’s the point, since with all the exposes down the decades, we all know what goes on anyway? It seems to me that any indignation at the expose is overblown. It’s a good idea not to do things you don’t want to read about in the paper anyhow, as a general rule.
“I think the fundamental moral question here is: if you don’t believe in another’s sacred ritual, do you have the responsibility to respect it? I think the answer is yes.”
The God of the Holy Bible doesn’t require us to respect that which presents itself as genuine Christianity but is, in the end, a demonstrated counterfeit. No matter where a person stands on religion itself, the Mormon ceremony remains the secretive and polar opposite of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian religion is completely open for examination so that the interested party can accept it or reject it.
Respecting a person is one thing and I’m all for it. Respecting counterfeit rituals is something else. The second president of the LDS church, Brigham Young himself, invited all to examine the LDS church’s claims: “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints, see if it will stand the test.” Journal of Discourses vol 16 pg 46.
The endowment has been exposed for comparison. Ask a knowledgeable Christian if it passes the biblical test. What we all want most is truth. The endowment simply isn’t.
I think it would be a mistake to think that the primary purpose in keeping the ceremonies secret is to prevent outsiders from learning them.
The issue of honesty is not just directed at this most recent ticked-off-ex-Mormon-non-Christian. Being dishonest applies to the many similar releases, as Tim described earlier. It’s the sub-culture of some who oppose Mormonism to right the ark for God. Some, like in this case may just be a disgruntled ex-member. But others have been Christian “warriors”, as they style themselves. But when ethical lines are crossed their alleged christianity seems to be the first casualty of their war. How about we be honest first, as a maxim for decent people to live by. So when Russ gives his opinion (yes, it is just an opinion); “The God of the Holy Bible doesn’t require us to respect that which presents itself as genuine Christianity but is, in the end, a demonstrated counterfeit. No matter where a person stands on religion itself, the Mormon ceremony remains the secretive and polar opposite of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” 1) But God does require that you respect the beliefs of others. 2) God does require that you be honest. 3) It is not the polar opposite of the gospel since parts of it come almost verbatim from the O.T. and the entire ceremony is infused with Christian principles. Or at least give others, who see the symbolism and purpose as highly Christ-centered to do so without the arrogant judgment of others who don’t agree. Aren’t we all entitled to our own opinions?
We are all entitled to our own opinions, but Christians also have the right to criticize beliefs and acts done in the name of Christianity, which are anything but.
St. Paul said to the Galatians that he hoped that those who were doing circumcisions ( in order to make people Jews first before they could become Christians) would “slip with the knife”.
St. Paul said that “far be it from him to preach anything but Christ crucified.”
This is why we criticize (we never judge another person’s salvation, however), and why we have the right to criticize, in defense of the pure gospel.
By the way, we (at our church) criticize our denomination, all the time, when they stray from the gospel and get on the Christ +, kick.
Garth the 1994 film Priest (not the 2011 one) is all about the issue of deception and concealment in Christianity.
Shouldn’t the first question be “is it honest?”
No it shouldn’t, people do bad things. No one on any side of the dispute argues that. Whether it was right or wrong to lie to get the video is mostly irrelevant. The LDS church can likely make a fairly strong copyright claim and sue Noah. But beyond that the very claims the LDS church make regarding these rituals that they are supernatural revelations whose acting out has tremendous supernatural effect makes any claim that these are purely of private and not public interest suspect.
Really what you are claiming is that the LDS church is entitled to some sort of institutional “right to privacy” that is the right to have secrets. I think the Wikileaks case is rather instructive here. There is a fairly broad consensus that the State Department is entitled to secrecy. A person in military intelligence protested policy by lying and using his access to pass information to a foreigner. This foreigner published the information both on his own site and along with 3 newspapers.
Do I as an American have the right to read those cables and draw conclusions from them, even though I believe the State Department does have a right to privacy? I think I do. While I may object to the information being made public, once public there is no moral issue with me accessing it.
Now in the case of the temple ceremony I’m unsure whether it was moral in the first place for them to be private. I’m unsure whether there is any obligation to help the LDS church in keeping them secret. I’m quite sure that once public, no one should feel guilty about accessing the information. The metaphysical beliefs of the current Senate majority leader and the current head of the Republican party, are unquestionably a matter of public interest.
FWIW Noah himself was pretty clear cut about his own morality. That Prop 8 funding put the LDS church beyond the moral pale. He saw his infiltration as being on par with a police officer taping a criminal conspiracy. I don’t happen to agree with Noah but his point is mostly the same. The LDS church acts in the public sphere in a broad and effectual way. As such it is rightfully subject to public scrutiny. Far less important groups have detailed exposes written about them.
Criticize away! A Mormon who’s not use to that is not paying attention. But keep it honest and ethical is all most Mormons ask. I like your observation Steve about not letting criticism spill over into ultimate judgment. But, as one reads between the lines of the rationale used by some to justify these types of affronts, there is exactly that kind of ultimate judgment as the rationale for not needing to respect the Mormons position. I think that is looking beyond the mark, For example, I have the right to think Islam is not a saving religion. I might feel it’s even appropriate to criticize aspects of their excess which harms and is in my opinion antithetical to God’s purpose. But I would never ridicule those things which they (even in error) hold sacred. I would rely on point-counterpoint types of persuasion. Not mocking the Koran, denigrating Mohammed, or desecrating Mecca. The temple deserves that same kind of deference in my opinion, especially the expectation of honesty by those who agree to the ground rules upon entering.
I do not ridule Muslims, nor would I.
But they do not claim to be Christian.
When St. Paul said that “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avail anything”, he was saying that what ‘we do’, or ‘don’t do’, has no effect whatsoever on how God views us, for righteousness.
That the cross accomplished everything for sinners, without our having to add anything to it, is Christian.
Everything else is subject to criticism based on that, which is the pure gospel.
@ CD That is a slippery slope argument, though I agree that the moral condemnation is different for the perpetrator than for those who access the product he perpetrated. That is a valid point. But I would challenge when you say; “The metaphysical beliefs of the current Senate majority leader and the current head of the Republican party, are unquestionably a matter of public interest.” I don’t dispute it will generate public “interest”, but that does not give the public a right to their temple vows. I might have an “interest” to know all kinds of privately held things, but I don’t see a connection in what you’re asserting. No “right” is involved. There is no temple doctrine that is not already a known Mormon doctrine–unless you wanted to claim the actual concept of giving the signs and tokens through the veil of death would have some public policy impact. (Nonsense). So, it’s just titillation as the motivation, not a “public interest” right. (Though since new rights are always being discovered by judges in the constitution, maybe I just missed the memo saying a sacred religious ceremony is now a public entertainment “right”.)
Second, when you state: “The LDS church acts in the public sphere in a broad and effectual way. As such it is rightfully subject to public scrutiny.” Surely you can’t believe that applies without qualification. Is there no right to privacy at all then? Is a sacred ordinance required to be open for public exposure because others not involved “have a right” beyond the rights of those involved? Should every boardroom decision be transparent? Is confidentiality never to be respected? Then should we make all the sexual infidelities or personal struggles that lead to an excommunication public record too? Does your church do that? In my opinion, the rights of the participating parties involved is the only criteria that should be considered. If an individual sneaks into a temple, lies, records, and then chooses to broadcast what all the real participants have agreed to keep private due to what they perceive as its sacred nature, how is that not manifestly inappropriate? I don’t think “public interest” has anything to do with this. That is a rationalization to justify a violation of trust and respect. I’m not losing sleep over this, because this is nothing new. But it bothers me more when I see my blog friends here finding sideways justifications for something they ought to simply be saying…”That is rude and we should roundly condemn it without equivocation. It is disrespectful to treat the private and sacred positions of ANYONE lightly or with a wiki-leaks “greater good” pseudo justification.” It’s just wrong on its face and that should be the first, middle and last point on the topic, in my opinion.
I don’t think that any of us who question the ethics of making the video are talking much about whether there’s a legally binding contract or anything of the sort. The legality of the situation isn’t the issue — it’s one of basic respect and human decency and of following the Golden Rule, and those are things that don’t have much to do with legal compulsion.
If you want to find out what covenants you’ll be making before you go to the temple, all you have to do is ask. It’s that simple. And any participant is totally free to leave at any time; in fact, participants are explicitly told they can leave if they wish.
Before I went through the temple ceremony the first time, I knew exactly what covenants I’d be making, and I had no difficulty in finding out (and I didn’t have to go outside church channels to do so). I’d say that even in the legal sense there was a full, uncoerced meeting of the minds (not that that matters).
And…another key point I forgot to add…if you think the public has a public interest right to know what goes on in a Mormon temple, they already have that information. We do vicarious work which includes all the things we’ve never kept secret. Only the actual covenant ceremony is held to a higher level of sacred privacy, as it should be. The info of what we do, our theology of why, and the outline of the ordinances are as common as Sunday School and Temple Prep classes in every congregation. It is not kept secret or private. However the ceremony itself is considered sacred. So I don’t think “disclosure” to assure the public that we’re not having orgies or sacrificing chickens is a mystery to the public. Our open houses for temples, our magazines, our lessons all describe the purpose and function of a temple. It doesn’t require we reveal the actual ordinance for the public to know what Mormons do in temples.
You make an excellent point Katie.
Let me express my perspective in terms of another religion, Scientology. It claims to be a “church” (which means a body of Christian believers). It also claims to be entirely compatible with any other religious ideology. But in their most sacred and revered rituals they say some extraordinarily blasphemous things about Jesus. I think what they say in public and what they say in private are in conflict. As a Christian, I have an interest in what they are saying. It’s not just a private conversation between Scientologist, it’s a conversation about me. Because they seek to attract Christians to their way of life I think it’s pertinent to examine all of their teachings to see if they are, as they claim, compatible with Christianity.
In the same way, Mormonism claims to be Christian. But no one is aware that one place it most radically departs from Christianity in ritual and in theology is in the endowment ceremony. As a Christian, and a defender of orthodox Christian teaching, I have an interest in what the LDS church teaches in its temples. Mormons might be comfortable with these ideas and practices being compatible with Christianity, non-Mormons may feel otherwise.
If Mormonism wants embrace the idea of being an entirely different religion, have at it. I’ll mind my own business.
Tell me more, I’m interested. What might the other purpose of secrecy provide?
This is a very interesting parallel.
This conversation with Scarlett is kind of a different topic, but I do think it would be appropriate for students in a Temple Prep class to be told the basic outline of the covenants they’ll be making. It’s not really “fair” to tell someone they can leave only before they hear what the terms and conditions of the covenant are.
Scarlettpipistrelle, I’d ask that you recognize that this is a sensitive topic for Mormons. Please don’t spoil the soil.
I think at this point the LDS church is stuck in regards to the video. The Tom Cruise Scientology video shows that in this day in age you can’t unring a bell. Doing so merely makes it louder. At best they can take their pound of flesh out of Noah, but that too will have some affect on the volume of the bell.
As a practical matter, undoubtedly. It would be an interesting legal issue whether the Church could require YouTube (or any other site under U.S. jurisdiction) to remove access to the video. My understanding (and I could be wrong) is that copyright law doesn’t really apply, because to enforce a copyright the thing being copyrighted has to be made public by filing two copies with the federal government. Whether there’d be other grounds of suppressing distribution of the video via servers in the U.S., I’m not sure, even though it’s likely that laws were broken in making it (assuming it’s authentic). Under the First Amendment, there’s a high standard for suppressing speech (and rightly so). Again, though, I’m talking theoretically; although it’s possible the Church may ask Google to remove the video (which was uploaded in apparent violation of Google’s terms and conditions), I’d be surprised to see the Church go to court to require Google to do so.
What surprises me, though, is that so far the mainstream media haven’t said anything about the video; only a few fairly obscure online publications and sites have mentioned it as well as some blogs dealing with Mormonism. (I read Dalrymple’s column a couple days before Tim’s post, but I don’t remember how I came across it.) I’d expect the Salt Lake Tribune to have a story soon, but we’ll see.
You probably saw a link to Dalrymple’s blog from my facebook feed.
I’m acquainted with Noah’s brother. He broke no laws in entering the temple(s). He has a valid temple recommend that was given to him by a bishop who had full knowledge of what he would be doing.
” 1) But God does require that you respect the beliefs of others. 2) God does require that you be honest. 3) It is not the polar opposite of the gospel since parts of it come almost verbatim from the O.T. and the entire ceremony is infused with Christian principles. Or at least give others, who see the symbolism and purpose as highly Christ-centered to do so without the arrogant judgment of others who don’t agree. Aren’t we all entitled to our own opinions?”
1) Respect the person, not necessarily their beliefs. Mormons don’t respect the Christian belief in the Trinity, and that’s okay. They don’t have to. In fact, they disagree. That’s okay too. Mormons are entitled to their own unique beliefs apart from Christian beliefs.
2) Situational ethics, a tough one. I’ll give you that. Do you like the undercover cameras that bust the criminals? I do.
3) If you’re Mormon and if you mean by “the gospel” the gospel according to Mormonism, there exists no similarity in purpose or meaning between the O.T. temple and Mormon temple rites. The O.T. temple rites share nothing with the endowment. Symbolism matters.
To make such comparisons isn’t necessarily arrogant. We are invited by several LDS authorities to question/compare LDS theology. One comes to mind, as mentioned earlier “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, see if it will stand the test.” B. Young. If I disagree then I hope I won’t be unfairly labeled intolerant or bigoted. That would be assuming too much.
Seriously? Are you saying that a bishop knew that “Noah” would be surreptitiously making a video?
As to laws being broken, it is illegal in some jurisdictions (including Utah) to use a hidden camera or recorder in a place where there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Not just aware. Complicit.
Tim, I’m not linked to your FB page, so I haven’t seen the Dalrymple blog of the brother. But…I truly doubt it when you say; “He has a valid temple recommend that was given to him by a bishop who had full knowledge of what he would be doing.” Something smells very wrong there. Can’t say impossible, but someday a pig will fly and surprise me too. I don’t believe it on just the word of a family apparently comfortable with dishonesty.
Not so. US copyright law protects all original works upon creation. No filing is required.
Kullervo — I’m aware of that. But isn’t it required to register the copyright to enforce it? In other words, my understanding is that what I’m writing right now is copyrighted, but I can’t bring an action until after a file a copy with the copyright office.
Related to some of ‘Noah’s’ original responses to Mr. Dalrymple’s questions on why he (‘Noah’) posted the temple ceremony video is this excellent post by John Mark Reynolds at the Article 6 blog:
For those not familiar with the blog, it is a place where an Evangelical, a Mormon and an Orthodox Christian discuss the intersection of religion and politics.
Tim, the primary reason for the secrecy (and I’m perfectly fine with calling it “secret”) is to maintain the status of these ordinances as special and sacred in my own mind and sphere.
I’ve often said that the whole “it’s sacred, not secret” thing that Mormons say misses the mark.
The secrecy around the ordinances are precisely WHY they are sacred. The secrecy adds to the sacred character of the ordinances. It carves out a special existence for these things in our lives, and distinguishes them from the tacky tell-all culture we find ourselves surrounded by.
I know that, whatever other people are telling Dr. Phil about their sex lives, whatever contempt reality stars are exposing themselves to, whatever disrespect the rest of the culture holds for people and things, and however casual people have made the concept of God everywhere else – at least HERE – in my heart – there is space that is off limits. Something that I will never tell, and something about me that you will never know. Something that no one will ever know.
That’s why you can sell religious clothing on eBay and post to YouTube as long and as loud as you want.
The secret remains sealed here in my heart – and try as much as the world might – they cannot have it.
That is the point.
I don’t give a toss whether someone decided to put this on YouTube. We’re not doing anything to be ashamed of in there.
You’re charging his extended family with more than is warranted. How do you know what his brother or the rest of his family think about it? They might think as little of it as you do. You’re point would be better stated that you don’t believe Noah, when he says that he got a recommend from a bishop.
It’s your prerogative to disbelieve that portion of the story, but if you don’t believe that there are unbelieving and disaffected bishops actively serving in the church, I think you’re being naive.
Tim – you asked about Seth’s comment:
“I think it would be a mistake to think that the primary purpose in keeping the ceremonies secret is to prevent outsiders from learning them.”
Tell me more, I’m interested. What might the other purpose of secrecy provide?
Not sure if my remarks will reflect Seth’s thoughts or not, but I’ve been trying to come up with an understandable way to put together a post on that topic. So, here goes:
There are events in most of our lives (particularly those of us who have had special spiritual experiences) that we are reluctant to share with others. The reluctance could come because it is hard to put those experiences into words, or because we would rather not have someone make light of the experience (whether intentionally or not). Perhaps Matthew 7:6 describes this situation:
6 ¶Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
To me the Temple ceremonies are very spiritual experiences and hold a special place in my heart because of what I have felt while I have attended. Yet, especially to the uninitiated, those experiences mean nothing because they were not there and they did not feel what I did. Any video, audio or other transcription could not even begin to represent my experience. As a matter of fact, those types of things would only demean the experience in my eyes.
So, to sum up, my understanding is that we are asked to keep the Temple ceremonies sacred (or, as others would say, ‘secret’) because the ordinances can really only be understood with the appropriate preparation and spiritual guidance.
OK, I see that Seth responded to Tim while I was writing my comment. It appears we both had the same thing in mind.
“The devil can come all dressed up as an angel of light.”
That is why Christians ought not put their trust and confidence in their ‘feelings’. They might be real and authentic. They might be false feelings, or even last nights pizza. But they cannot be, and should never be trusted in.
That is why we trust the external Word (which comes to us from OUTSIDE of ourselves), in the preached Word of law (to convict of sin – NOT to make better),and the gospel, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper which are pure gospel.
All of that Word, given for sinners is sacred. And none of it needs to be kept secret from others. “The Word will accomplish that for which it sets out to do.”
There is a distinction between privacy and unwarranted secrecy. You, for example, have every right in the world to keep the intimacies of your life to yourself and not submit to outside scrutiny and analysis. But you have no right to withhold the “facts of life” in general from your children, because that is essential information that they will need to have at some point. By the same token, the Mormon church claims that essential information about being human is transmitted in the Temple ceremony. Do they have the right to keep it secret? May we not know and analyze and decide for ourselves what we think about it? Of course we can.
Maybe they are more open about what goes on in the temple to pre-initiates nowadays, but I knew many people who went in and came out shocked and/or surprised at one or more items. Of course, many of the more objectionable parts of the old ceremony have been removed by the modern church. And that’s a whole different can of worms to discuss.
For those who haven’t heard, the modern Temple ceremony is devoid of oath to avenge the death of Joseph Smith, to submit to throat or bowel slitting if one reveals the secrets, the womens’ vow of submission, and the skin-touching of the washing and annointing. All of which were there at one point.
What exactly is revealed in the Temple? Your new name, various signs, tokens, passwords, prayers, sacred clothing, etc. You need to have them to get back to Heavenly Father’s presence. Really? Is Heaven like a speakeasy? With special knocks and handshakes? We totally have a right to discuss this.
The Mormons haven’t been any more able to keep these things secret than the Masons who they got some of it from. For a Mormon to insist that discussing the Temple ceremony violates decency or that non-Mormons owe a debt of respect to the secrecy is a slippery slope that leads to the excesses we see in Islam, how they get all bent out of shape if they think someone is mocking them or their religious artifacts. In summary: it’s out there, get over it. As it was before and always will be every time it gets changed.
Scarlett, Jesus often withheld information (even important information) from those not able to cope with it.
Steve – I am firmly convinced that Mormon – as a people – are no more reliant on emotionalism than you, or any other Protestant.
And who are Mormons to say that the rest of us cannot cope with the information that Mormons claim is needed for salvation? Doesn’t that show a bad attitude towards non-Mormons? Isn’t that looking down on us? Shouldn’t we feel insulted? There’s nothing in my church that can’t be told and shown to you. What else would Mormons withhold from us if they had the chance? The vote? Besides, we seem to handle the Temple exposes that come every few decades without going any more crazy than we already are.
I would just respond that it isn’t “the Mormons” telling you what you cannot cope with.
It’s God telling you.
Take it up with him.
“He also commanded that we must not cast pearls before swine or give that which is holy to dogs (see 3 Ne. 14:6; D&C 41:6), meaning sacred things should not be discussed with those who are not prepared to appreciate their value.” – D. Todd Christofferson, Liahona, June 2006 (Link)
To prove that we’re not dogs and swine, we need to join the LDS Church and get a temple recommend.
How do you know it’s God? Other churches say God has no such secrets. The Mormons believe that God is guiding them. So does everyone else. And look at the variety of results! I suppose it was God telling black men that they couldn’t have the priesthood back before 1978? That they weren’t worthy or they couldn’t handle it? What was that era in the church all about, anyway? Where did the doctrine of black people and the priesthood come from and why did it end?
Scarlett, you’re not invited to needle Mormons on every issue you might have with the LDS church all at once. You may misunderstand the tone and purpose of this comment area.
Scarlett, be sure to mention the Mormon lynch mobs and KKK rallies while you’re at it….
That would have been the Protestants, wasn’t it….
Well Aaron – that’s obviously wrong.
To prove you’re not dogs or swine, you have to affirm the Five points of the TULIP.
Everyone knows that.
I’m not sure why not. We do consider candidate’s beliefs on religious and moral matters to be subject to public scrutiny as part of the selection process. For example quite a few Mormon senators were quite upset about Sotomayor’s involvement in the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and how that membership might bias her in her duties. I’d love to go back to a situation where we were in broad agreement on objectives and hearings were about “best man for the job” but there seems to be a broad consensus among the public to conduct idealogical hearings of candidates.
As for vows, Mormons were strong supporters of the McCarthy trials, where even people who might have taken objectionable vows were examined about those vows under penalty of perjury. Which is quite a bit stronger then what’s going on here.
I don’t know about that. Moreover in particular I’m kinda caught in a bind here in that I’d like to quote from the temple rituals to prove doctrines that I think are not necessarily known doctrines.
But ignoring my opinion on the matter, the Noah who released this information expressed his particular concern about the “Law of Consecration” and the oath’s Romney took. So at least the principle in this case does not believe this is fully explored.
Second, when you state: “The LDS church acts in the public sphere in a broad and effectual way. As such it is rightfully subject to public scrutiny.” Surely you can’t believe that applies without qualification. Is there no right to privacy at all then?
No, I don’t think institutions that take public actions have rights to privacy. You pick a good example below so I’ll work that example.
Should every boardroom decision be transparent?
I agree with your analogy. That being said I think the obligation for tax free entities is greater than for taxable entities since tax free entities have an obligation to act in the public interest which is much strong. But hitting your specific, yes I think the actions of a the board of directors of a public corporation should be transparent.
A good analogy here is Apple, I’m perfectly OK with the journalists who uncover information that Apple would rather keep private and report on them. I’m certainly OK when this happens with energy companies. I’d even push this down a level and say most of the executive’s actions should be transparent. I think corporate america and the public at large would be well servered by far less privacy. I’m a strong support of securities law that require public filings and consistently support laws like Sarbanes–Oxley which act to strengthen the public’s right to know.
Is confidentiality never to be respected? Then should we make all the sexual infidelities or personal struggles that lead to an excommunication public record too?
Yes. Excommunication is a pubic act. I don’t approve of secret excommunications. I think the LDS’s procedures of excommunication are dreadful. They deny the accused due process, and they deny the church the legitimacy that would come from a excommunication properly handled. But my problems with the LDS’s church disciple process deserves its own thread.
Does your church do that?
Yes, every church I’ve ever belonged to considered excommunication to be a public act. And more off the beaten path, I’ve belonged to a church that practiced public confession. I think it was one of the most spiritually moving and genuinely helpful experiences of my life. It’s hard to overstate how much spiritual renewal public confession leads to.
I don’t think “public interest” has anything to do with this. That is a rationalization to justify a violation of trust and respect. I’m not losing sleep over this, because this is nothing new. But it bothers me more when I see my blog friends here finding sideways justifications for something they ought to simply be saying…”That is rude and we should roundly condemn it without equivocation.
Lets take Bradley Manning, the analogy. He’s likely going to spend many years if not the rest of his life in jail even if he survives the isolation he’s currently being subjected to. His actions were a huge violation of trust. But the whether one saw Manning as bravely martyring himself to oppose DADT or thought he was one of America’s great criminals is mostly irrelevant to the whole controversy regarding the cables. This is why I disagree with it being the last word. The issues about the cables, had nothing to do with gay rights in the military and a great deal to do with things like the US’s relationship the government of Yemen. Manning’s motivation was irrelevant.
What is that “burning in the bosom” stuff about?
And, by the way, I do agree with you that many Christians are into ‘feelings’ of being saved…or whatever. And that does not make it right. Our inward ‘whatevers’ are the reason that we got into this mess of rejecting God and His Word, to begin with.
It’s the same stuff the two disciples on the Road to Emeus talked about after they spoke with Christ Steve.
And I didn’t just say “many Christians” Steve.
I was saying pretty much ALL Christians – starting with you – are “into feelings.”
CD-Host, if you’re going to constantly quote other comments, please learn to use blockquote tags. It’s not that hard and it makes your comments much easier to read.
If you think all Christians are into religious feelings as a method of discerning the truth you would be wrong. I hope that doesn’t hurt your feelings, but if it does, don’t worry, it won’t bother me…
“I was saying pretty much ALL Christians – starting with you – are “into feelings.”
You could not be more wrong about that. We are into the external Word and sacraments. We (old school) Lutherans don’t have to feel saved, to know that we are saved.
To show that we Christians can and do criticize other Christians:
(from another blog)
“The feast day that seems to give people the creeps (and not in a good way), the scariest night of the year – Reformation Day! Yes, once again, we dread the approach of that season when Lutherans dress up as Martin Luther (either pre- or post-Augustinian monk version) and go from door to door, marrying ex-nuns, throwing inkpots at the Devil (or anyone they perceive to be the same), insulting the Pope and playing “beer or table!” (the game where they demand beer which they guzzle down while exclaiming “Sin boldly!” or else, should the householders refuse to give over their beer, they read copious extracts from his “Table Talk” in the original German of the 1566 volume. Nothing gets you to pony up the booze faster than the threat of having to listen to pages of German theology in German). …”
My reply to those words:
This Lutheran LOVES Reformation Day!
We don’t dress up as Martin Luther (or anything actually, now that we are mature adults).
But we love to remember the great thing that Luther did in standing up to THE power of the day and having the guts to say ‘we have wandered away from the gospel’.
And to parrot Paul and announce to the world that we are not saved, all or part, by what we do, or don’t do.
To religionists, that IS scary. Because they love the religion game and climbing that ladder and showing that they really are worthy, somewhat anyway. To have to give all that up and rely on Jesus and his cross alone, is very scary.
That Luther actually told people that giving cash would not gain them anything in God’s eyes, or get their relatives out of Purgatory any sooner (if there was a Purgatory, which there is not – why then the cross?). He actually had the guts to tell the Pope that if he did indeed have the power to grant years off of Purgatory for people, then why in heaven’s name would he not do so for everyone, out of pure Christian charity?
What is really scary is that a “good Christian Pope”, had a death sentence placed on Luther’s head for daring to challenge the Roman Church and daring to give people the assurance of their salvation, totally apart from anything that they do, say, feel, or think. He had the guts to hand over Christ and His gospel, absolutely freely.
That Christians would object to anyone doing that, because it might reduce their income, is truly terrifying.
Steve, the discussion on feelings is fascinating to me. You said:
“You could not be more wrong [about all Christians being ‘into feelings’]. We are into the external Word and sacraments. We (old school) Lutherans don’t have to feel saved, to know that we are saved.”
Could you elaborate on what you said about feelings? I’m not trying to flippant here–I’m just not clear on when you don’t have to feel something and when you do. In other words, when do feelings (emotions) become part of your life?
Tim, you wrote, “Noah” is not a Christian and doesn’t claim to be acting as one. Are we surprised that a ticked off ex-Mormon, nonChristian would do something dishonest?”
I’m not sure where you got the information that I have identified myself as a non-Christian. I have not identified my religious beliefs in any detail online. To call me a “non-Christian” would therefore be assuming a lot.
I HAVE said that I don’t identify myself as either an atheist or agnostic.
We don’t have to feel that we are saved, to know that we are saved. God gave us feelings. And they can be quite useful. But in matters of faith in God, it is far better to trust in Him, than in our feelings…even our feelings about Him. Are feelings are subject to all kinds of influences. Some good…some not so much. And they cannot be trusted in, in every instance.
So we trust in His external Word that comes to us apart from our works,apart from what we can see or cannot see, and apart from anything that we might do, or not do.
Christ announces it…”I love and forgive you”…and we trust that Word of promise…against everything in our lives that may work against that trust.
Noah — Numerous online sources have identified you as Mike Norton of the Salt Lake City area. Is that information accurate?
Since Noah is reading these comments I should clarify that I’m acquainted with several people who know him. I’m not exactly sure who provided the info about the source of the temple recommend.
I must admit to a bit of sympathy for the LDS as their temple rituals become more publicly accessible and open to scrutiny. Any religious doctrine or rite taken out of context can invite caricature and ridicule. It is pretty easy to see that this doesn’t promote understanding and creates a bunker mentality. The LDS have made the choice not to be open about the theology behind these rites and covenants making understanding more difficult. to It’s hard to keep a secret in the information age.
I do think that CD-Host makes a valid point as well, it is quite reasonable to examine the beliefs (world view if you will) of a candidate for the presidency of the United States. Especially if there are secret covenants involved. I am not sure how effective the Matthew 7:6 proof text is as an explanation for secrecy, David, the whole pig dog thing might be offensive to some.
gundek – I agree that using Matthew 7:6 as an explanation of why some sacred things should be kept to oneself may be offensive to some. However, that is the way I thought Christ meant it to be understood. If you have another interpretation for it, I would be interested to read it.
As I mentioned earlier, there is much symbolism in the Temple ceremonies that may seem very strange to the uninitiated. Those people will and have made disparaging remarks (either intentionally or unintentionally) about those ceremonies. As for me, I hold my experiences in the Temple very near to my heart for many reasons. And for Steve’s benefit, those reasons go way beyond the ‘feelings’ I’ve had during my time there.
So, perhaps if you think about that for a minute, you can get a small glimpse of how hurtful those disparaging remarks are to me and many other Mormons. Having said that, I know that there are certain cynics on this forum who will never try to understand what I’m saying. For those people, I invite you to read and ponder Tim’s 10 rules for this forum. They are excellent guides for religious discussion and discussion of any nature for that matter.
Still, no matter what happens, I will more on and hold no ill feelings toward anyone for the video or the negativity that comes from it (including ‘Noah’). I only feel a deep sorrow for him because of the anger and bitterness I perceive he has in his life.
Sorry for the typo–the first sentence in the last paragraph should have read ‘I will *move* on…’
I guess the question I would ask is, “is there anything in the context of the Sermon on the Mount to lead us to believe the Lord is referring to temple rituals?”
Or is it more probable that after the command about judgment of our brother instructions about discernment might be given? I am not aware of any passage where Matthew compares a pearl to a temple ritual, although he does compare pearls to kingdom of heaven. Maybe the Lord is expecting a certain level of discernment from his disciples in declaring the Kingdom of Heaven.
Sandwiched between a command not to judge and the direction to ask the Father, I’m not sure a case can be made that pearls in this passage are referring to an endowment ceremony?
Like I said, I have a certain amount of sympathy for your situation, something that you place value in has been opened to ridicule simply because a member of your church is running for president.
And while I respect Tim’s 10 rules and I try not to be needlessly offensive I am not sure how that is a justification to use the Sermon on the Mount as a proof text to dismiss a swath of American society as pig dogs?
gundek – Here is how I understand the situation:
1- There are several places in the Temple where we are asked to ‘keep sacred and never reveal’ some of the things we experience there.
2- We believe that God has revealed all the Temple ordinances as part of the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel in this the ‘dispensation of the fullness of times.’
3- Therefore, God is explicitly stating that at least some parts of Temple experience are sacred and holy. Yet, to the uninitiated, that would not seem to be the case.
4- Christ used the phrase ‘Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine’ in the Sermon on the Mount to give us some good counsel on how to treat holy things. In my mind, he was not comparing everyone who did not understand the sacred nature of what was being kept from them to swine or dogs, he was doing what he often did: using the day-to-day experience of the people of the time to make his point. There are numerous examples of that technique throughout the New Testament.
5- Our intent is to use Christ’s admonition for what we see as sacred and holy today. That is, help keep it sacred and holy ‘lest [others] trample it under their feet’ (or demean it, or use it in any negative way).
The traditions of men are not sacred and holy. What is sacred and holy are what God brings, and that is faith in Himself.
Everything else is just religion.There’s lot of that going on in the world and God just holds His nose to it.
Steve – I agree with you that the traditions of men are not sacred and holy.
However, it appears that you are saying that what happens in the Temple should be considered as ‘the traditions of men.’ I don’t agree with that. That is not what Mormons believe. We believe the Temple ceremonies are sacred and holy.
In my opinion, one of the main points of Tim’s original post is to discuss whether we should respect what others consider sacred and holy even when we may not feel the same way.
I believe we should.
That is why I have been trying to explain the Mormon position on the Temple ceremonies. We consider them sacred and holy. We ask that others respect that position, especially those who promised ‘before God, angels and witnesses’ to do so.
Eric, I can neither confirm nor deny any speculation re: my real life identity. Who I am is unimportant. I am simply a messenger of information. Mormons claim that the temple rituals are required for salvation and exaltation. I believe a claim of such magnitude should be examined closely. My videos are for educational purposes and anyone considering joining Mormonism should watch the videos before joining and investigate the ritual’s origin (i.e., Joseph Smith.)
David wrote, “As for me, I just feel sorry for the individual who made the video. I read his comments to Mr. Dalrymple’s questions and got impression that he lives a life of bitterness and anger. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems like it would be hard for him to have any peace in his life with what he feels he must do.”
Yup, you’re wrong. I live a life of contentment and happiness these days. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a bitter guy. I’d be happy to chat with anyone here over lunch sometime.
Noah, you’re life contentment couldn’t be of less interest to me.
Some of the most reprehensible and morally ugly people in life history, and some of the most petty and worthless individuals in history led lives of peace and contentment.
I always find it rather laughable how ex-Mormons often love to tout how happy and content they are now – as if that proved anything.
five4 and Steve,
Your assurances that you are led by reason are pretty useless in this discussion. My experience is that conservative Protestants who use the “reject feelings” apologetic are usually ridiculously unaware of just how much their own arguments rely on feelings.
I’m calling BS on both of you.
Seth, I find it rather laughable how Mormons love to believe that every ex-Mormon left the Mormon church because someone offended them or because they “couldn’t live the gospel.”
Not me. I just left because it wasn’t true. Not trying to “prove” anything now. But I AM making sure that future converts to Mormonism know what they are getting into. I’ve already received dozens of emails thanking me for the temple videos.
I suppose there was a response to me intended there, but I confess – I’m quite mystified as to where it might be.
All I was saying was that I don’t really care whether you’ve found equilibrium, or fulfillment, or self-actualization or nirvana or whatever. It does absolutely nothing to bolster your position here.
And I’m glad to hear that you’ve discovered a lot of other douchebags on the Internet who agree with you.
Congratulations. The same can be said of just about anyone else on the Internet – including me.
People agree with you. So I suppose that must make you right.
Capital Noah. Just capital.
Ha ha. When in doubt, resort to name calling. You seem so angry and bitter. lol
I’m just providing potential converts to Mormonism with the information that NO active Mormons will give them. If that makes me a “douchebag” then so be it.
Douchebag was a bit much I suppose. And unecessary.
But the point remains – having people agree with you does nothing to make you any more credible.
The FACTS and videos I present speak for themselves. I’m not asking anyone to “agree with me.” I couldn’t care less. I’m just providing information. Agree…don’t agree…doesn’t matter to me. It’s just facts. I’m not sure how anyone can disagree with facts.
Some may disapprove of the way the information was gathered but I won’t lose sleep over that.
I wasn’t talking about the little video you made Noah.
I was talking about the invalid arguments you’ve been using HERE – on this website.
Which “arguments” would those be? Do be specific. And be a pal and try to refrain from name calling. It just makes your case look weaker.
“I’m happy, so what I’m doing must be right.”
“People agree with me – so my position must be valid.”
Oh, and let’s add another one:
“You sound angry – so I must be right!”
Adorable. Now post ACTUAL quotes from me and not things you make up and just put between quotation marks.
I didn’t say any of the three quotes you listed above. Typical Mormon. You can’t defend the FACTS so you just make stuff up and attack the messenger.
Where does this spirit of contention you have come from?
Noah – Since you are willing to dialogue here, I was wondering if you would answer a couple of questions:
1- Assuming you were the one who made the video, were those who signed your recommend (at the Ward & Stake level) complicit in it?
2- Again assuming you made the video, how did you respond when asked if you agreed to not reveal the tokens and signs?
Katie L said:
Okay, on the one hand, I think we have a serious social problem going on. In the internet age we have become a bunch of voyeuristic goblins who don’t respect anyone’s privacy or boundaries–we have it in our heads that all the laundry should be aired, no matter what it is or why or whether or not it matters. We have begun to praise expose for expose’s sake, and to imagine that anything that is not public is immoral. That’s a sickness–in our zeal for exposing immoral and illegal cover-ups, we have swung too far in the other direction and turned blame and accountability into idols. We have a problem. We do not allow each other–as individuals or groups–to hold anything secret, sacred or private.
That said, there are secrets that do need to be exposed. It is of course a balancing act–the harm or benefit to the puclic has to be weighed against the individual’s interest in their own privacy.
In the case of temple rituals, I think there are two very good reasons to put them out in the open, or at least reasons why Mormons are in no position to cry foul about it.
(1) Mitt Romney, an endowed Mormon, is running for predisent. This man is trying to get the public fo elect him arguably the most powerful man in the world. And he has made sacred, eternal and binding oaths in the temple that could potentially compromise his loyalty to the nation. It may be that the temple oaths wouldn’t prevent him from faithfully fulfilling the office of the president, but in a representative democracy, the voters need to be able to decide that. If the content being kept sacred were of a different nature, or if so much were not at stake, I would say that publicizing the endowment was crass. But when the potential president of the nation has sworn oaths of loyalty to another organization? We need to know that in order to evaluate his fitness to lead. Keeping those oaths a secret is fraudulent.
(2) The Mormon chuch puts itself out as a Christian church but it aggressively proselytizes converts, including converts from Christian denominations. Mormons work extremely hard to get people to become Mormon, but they withhold material parts of their religion until the convert is already bought in pretty far. If Mormons can aggressively proseltyize, they can;t cry foul when other people work equally ahrd to counter Mormon proselytization efforts. If my family, friends, or peers are investigating Mormonism, I think it is right and fair to make it clear to them jsut what they are buying into. If Mormonism was not engaged in aggressive missionary work, I think it would be much different–they could rightfully ask and expect that their sacred ceremmonies were respected. But that’s not the case. Actively and aggressively selling a religion (or anything else) to people without being willing to fill them in on all of the details is also fraudulent.
And that’s why, even though as a general rule our society goes too far in airing all the laundry, Mormons are not in a position to cry foul.
I am glad that we can agree that Jesus is using culturally relevant language to express a point. I agree there are many cases of this in the Bible.
I do think that a solid case can be made that imagery of the dog and pig in the bible and culturally, for a first century Jew, is such that Jesus is leaving no doubt that the people he is referring to are the enemies of God and His people. This imagery is so stark it resists attempts to moderate our Lord’s intent. The best interpreters of the passage have understood this and restrained their own application of the passage rather than the Christ’s.
My point isn’t that you shouldn’t have secret rituals, by all means have at it. My point is that it is pretty clear that the pigs and dogs of Matthew 7:6 are the enemies of God. The problem is that Matthew 7:6 does not speak about how to treat holy things in a generic sense, but specifically to exclude them from dogs and pigs. If you plan to use this as a proof text for excluding people from your temple you should be prepared with some explanation why you are excluding all of the people and not just the pigs and dogs.
I guess the next question I would have is what exactly should my respect for your secret rituals look like. You can correct me if I am wrong but in the past your rituals were not exactly kind to ministers. How do I respect that?
Katie – You wrote:
“Mitt Romney, an endowed Mormon, is running for predisent. This man is trying to get the public to elect him arguably the most powerful man in the world. And he has made sacred, eternal and binding oaths in the temple that could potentially compromise his loyalty to the nation.”
As a Mormon, do you feel that the binding oaths you speak of require that we do everything for the Church exclusive of doing any good anywhere else? Putting this in the political context as you have, must a President Romney (or any of us who have gone to the Temple) dedicate all he has (or we have) to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the complete disregard to helping any other person, persons or organization? Or put still another way, do you feel that the binding oaths make President Romney directly answerable to President Monson for any and all decisions he makes during his term in office?
I ask all these questions because none of them are answered by putting out the video. All the video does is fuel the arguments for those who think there is a Mormon conspiracy to take over the country when a member of the Church is elected as President.
Do I think there is a conspiracy? No I do not. And, there never will be. That is why I posted the link to the Article 6 Blog previously. That post was written by an Orthodox Christian, not a Mormon. He is a much better writer than I am.
David, I wrote that comment you quoted, not Katie. And I am not Mormon.
The point is not whether I think that temple oaths disqualify Romney from the presidency. The question is whether voters are able to decide for themselves whether temple oaths disqualify Romney from the presidency.
There doesn’t have to be a conspiracy for the oaths to compromise Romney’s fitness for the presidency. That’s one seriously false dichotomy you are throwing around.
gundek – Actually, I thought the previous version was pretty kind to ministers–from what I recall, the one depicted there actually saw the error of his ways and asked to be taught the truth.
Again–symbolism is everywhere in the endowment ceremony. The minister was there to remind us that people (including ministers from other churches) will try to pull us away from the truth. It was a warning to us. The warning is still there–just not depicted as a person.
In principle, the oaths of the temple require the sort of absolute allegiance you are talking about. In practice, the church does not regularly interfere with the way members conduct their public/business affairs and has not since the early part of the 20th century.
However, as a member, and within my family, these commitments were taken very literally and seriously. Devout Mormons and Christians should, in principle, be willing to give up everything for the Kingdom of God. Mormons believe that the Church represents an instantiation of the authority of that kingdom. So the temple covenants are relevant to the candidacy. Mocking or unnecessarily exposing them is, of course, very bad form. However, they are no more relevant than any other candidate’s religion. I think all Christians should clearly believe in a form of the law of consecration, the only reason the run-of-the-mill christian is not questioned is that they generally don’t take their discipleship as seriously as devout Mormons tend to.
There is no conspiracy to take over America, IMHO Americans have less to fear from the Mormons than they do other religious interests. Mormons are far more pragmatic about spreading their political influence, which is generally/historically seen as a way to increase the potential for converts and open the way to allow practice of the religion, rather than put in place the Mormon agenda in law.
Noah, those are all obviously points you made. And it was equally obvious that I was not intending to quote you verbatim in the first place.
And all the arguments are also equally invalid.
Being a pig dog I guess I’ll have to take your word for it David, since it is a secret and all.
Kullervo – Sorry, my fault for misrepresenting you and Katie.
My point all along has been that people who do not have background in the Temple ceremonies do not have a way to understand them properly by just watching the video.
So putting out the video really doesn’t offer anything reasonable in a political context–it just offers something for the conspiracy theorists and for those trying to find anything negative against a Mormon candidate.
Maybe you should give them the background instead of insulting them.
Actually, I think you have this precisely backwards. One of the ironies of being an endowed Mormon is that you tend to understand it less than do informed outsiders. By that I mean that an outsider with a few hours on his/her hands can easily delve into the development, history, and meaning of any and all aspects of the endowment. For whatever reason, Mormons generally feel uncomfortable or forbidden from doing this, and ironically remain more in the dark about their own rituals than an informed outsider. Of course any Mormon could choose to become just as informed as anyone else, but for the reasons I stated, they usually will not.
But when you say that outsiders can’t understand it, I think what you are really meaning that for outsiders the endowment won’t “glow” and outsiders won’t have felt the social and interpersonal aspects of the endowment. This is true, but largely irrelevant to understanding the endowment in itself. To the extent that Mormons understand the endowment, it’s usually an expression of what it means to them personally, not any agreed upon meaning that Mormons as a whole hold about the endowment.
@David: You are making a lot of assumptions. Did it not occur to you that no recommend was needed at all? Maybe I had inside help in the temples. Maybe I made the recommend myself. Maybe I borrowed a recommend from a non-believing Mormon.
As for the actual ceremony, I haven’t “bowed my head and said ‘Yes'” to that nonsense since I was a believing Mormon many many years ago.
David, why do you get to decide whether the video is relevant to voters or not?
If the problem is that there is more information that needs to be given in order to put the endowment ceremony into context, then why not respond by producing that information?
The videos speak for themselves. Mormons claim they hide them from the general public (and even a majority of Mormons) because they are “too sacred” to share with the general public.
It has nothing to do with the fact that anyone with even an elementary level education of Freemasonry can see how closely it resembles the fraternal order of the 18th century. Mormons claim that Freemasonry actually contains many truths that have been passed down from generation to generation from the original builders of Solomon’s temple which, frankly, is complete nonsense.
Show me an example of a teaching of Christ that was “so sacred” that it couldn’t be spoken of openly. Just one. Let me guess, the sacred temple ordinances were SO sacred that Christ didn’t speak of them either, right?
Please. Sell that nonsense elsewhere. I was born and raised in Mormonism and understand the temple ceremonies for exactly what they are; busy work that is, at its foundation, a source for the largest part of revenue for the Mormon faith; tithing.
There is nothing in the Bible that supports the need for temple work today and certainly nothing that supports the need for the living to perform ordinances for the dead.
I’m not sure that’s true. There are a couple complications with that issue.
1) Mormons are very right wing on social issues, one of the most right wing religious minorities in America.
2) The LDS church has a history of getting involved in political causes at crucial turning points: McCarthy hearings, civil rights movement, ERA, gay rights movement.
2′) LDS church has sought to improve its relationship with Protestant right by supporting their agenda on social and economic issues.
3) The state Mormons have the most political influence in, Utah, has some of the most right wing laws in the country on issues of: alcohol, pornography, miscegenation (new one passed at late as 1953), restrictions on public dancing, gambling, drug laws….
4) Mormon politicians have frequently taken the lead on “culture war” type issues.
5) The LDS church doesn’t have an organized liberal wing that can effectively dialogue with liberals and ease issues of fear and concern on the left. Liberal Mormons are alienated from the LDS church. There are moderates like Harry Reid who have standing in both communities but they are few and far between.
6) LDS church outreach to liberals (about 19-21% of the country and influential towards moderates) are short lived and not sustained. For example the LDS church had a few meetings with the homosexual community after Prop 8 to turn down the heat. But once the heat went down from blazing inferno, LDS leadership was satisfied and the meetings stopped. The LDS hasn’t looked to have NCC membership and even the RLDS/CoC only joined in 2010.
7) The primary dialogue going on between Mormons and mainstream liberals are on the “Mormon mommy blogs”. Those women not infrequently express very right wing political opinions which are theonomist in tone.
Show me an example of a teaching of Christ that was “so sacred” that it couldn’t be spoken of openly. Just one. Let me guess, the sacred temple ordinances were SO sacred that Christ didn’t speak of them either, right?
This is an unconvincing argument.
There is evidence that this position changed in Christianity. There were secret gospels, part of which appear in scripture.
Also, secret teachings are certainly more apt to be lost than the public ones, which is consistent with the Mormon understanding of the falling away.
I agree that there is a threat that Mormons will become as this-worldly/politically focused as other Christian groups. Mormons have been pretty political, but mainly as a form of self defense, self promotion, not so much as means to dominate minority interests. I think you reasonably argue that this could change, and has changed.
The primary dialogue going on between Mormons and mainstream liberals are on the “Mormon mommy blogs”.
I don’t think this is the “primary dialogue”. Liberal Mormons have been around for a while, but generally are a more quiet influence or they keep their liberalism separate from their Mormonism. Mormons are not going to accept all the tenants of american liberalism, but plenty are on the moderate/liberal side of the spectrum on other issues.
Aside: I think the culture/war issues are far too linked to other positions in this country. There is no principled reason why Gay-Rights and Right-to-Life have to remain stuck with one party, I think this contorts good policy and democracy on other issues. Another strange by-product of the two party system.
Exactly they are quiet. They aren’t engaging with the Liberal communities as Liberal Mormons and engaging with the church as Liberals. Think about something like the Emerging Church with respect to Evangelicals or Liberal Catholics for what a counter example would look like.
I’m not sure I see how you are getting that. Take Jews for example where I think they did focus on self defense. Jewish involvement in politics on Jewish issues (prior to this generation): getting Christmas out of the schools, equal rights in college admissions, support for Israel (before evangelicals became Zionists), Jewish accommodation in the armed services, etc… are self defensive. There is nothing defensive about being pro McCarthy or the anti-ERA.
I agree we have 3 axis:
economic policy: libertarian, pro big business, pro labor, pro sustainability
social policy: conservative, moderate, liberal
foreign policy: realists, internationalist / cooperationists, internationalist / eschatological, isolationist
4x3x4 = 48 positions. We have to create some rather artificial coalitions of these possibilities.
Actually, FAIR has several practicing Freemasons in its ranks.
And they would be happy to explain to you how the LDS temple ceremony really does not actually resemble freemasonry at all.
Seth, if that were the case, they would be lying through their teeth.
My brother is a Mason and he is also a former Mormon. He has verified to me that the Masonic temple ceremony is identical to the Mormon temple ceremony in MANY ways. To say the two ceremonies don’t “resemble freemasonry at all” is a bald faced lie and anyone who says so is lying through their teeth.
Google it. It’s not difficult to find details from both of them.
Next you’ll tell me that Mormon General Authorities don’t get paid. (The truth is, they ALL receive very handsome salaries. The Apostles and Prophet are paid a small fortune. Of course, they don’t open their books to their members like virtually every NORMAL church on earth. I wonder why?)
Oh, now whose name-calling now Noah.
Did I upset you? You sound angry.
LOL I’m not angry in the slightest bit. Name calling? What are you talking about? Saying someone who claims there are no similarities between Freemasonry and Mormon temple rituals is lying is hardly the same as saying someone is a “douchebag.”
It’s not even an opinion, it’s a FACT. You could show my hidden camera videos filmed inside Mormon temples alongside a video filmed inside a Masonic temple and 100% of the people that watched both would see the countless GLARINGLY OBVIOUS similarities.
I’m still smiling at the fact you thought I was angry. It takes a LOT to get me worked up and being 100% positive that I’m right about something I’m debating with a member of a minuscule religious cult is not one of the things that gets me worked up.
Joanna Brooks’ appropriate response: Seen Andrew Sullivan’s Expose-Style Footage of the LDS Temple? Now Read This. Although I don’t totally agree with what Ms. Brooks has to say about racism and scrutiny of President Obama’s religion, I generally like the approach she takes to explaining the temple.
Thanks for the link. I believe Brooks has yet to participate in the endowment ceremony. According to her article, Matt Bowman disagrees with Seth on the influence of masonry.
Bowman disagrees with me on quite a few things Tim.
As for things Jesus kept secret, there’s a pretty obvious one you are all overlooking:
He kept secret the higher law from the Children of Israel for near a thousand years. Remember Moses breaking the higher law beneath his feet in anger at the golden calf, and then descending the mountain with the lesser law? And the children of Israel just kept in the dark for all that time?
Or Jesus deliberately speaking in parables so that the masses would NOT be able to understand what he was saying – but only those initiated?
Secrecy has a long and honorable place in human worship.
Though many Evangelicals raised on too many reality shows and tabloid magazines may find it hard to understand this.
There’s a FAIR wiki article on the link between freemasonry and the LDS temple rituals here:
Personally, I don’t care if Joseph did or did not make us of freemasonry. All that would say to me is that the masons were on to something good and Joseph rightfully made use of it to further God’s work.
Bravo on Joseph for being so innovative and useful to God’s work, if this be the case.
My experience is that the arguments forwarded by the CARM crowd against freemasonry are usually just as bad as the ones they forward against Mormonism in general. So being accused of having a link isn’t something that bothers me in the first place.
Jesus had his reasons for revealing things about himself and his mission in the right ways and at the right times.
After the cross and resurrection there are no good reasons for not revealing everything that revolves around Christ Jesus and His gospel for the forgiveness of sinners. “It is finished” means that it’s all done (our little projects – all nailed to the cross with Him), and that it’s all out in the open, for anyone who has ears to hear…and by God’s grace, believe.
Exactly Steve. And we would simply say that Jesus STILL has his reasons for revealing what he does, when he does.
Noah, that’s a rebuttal to Mormon theological objections to publicization of the endowment ceremony. But if you reject Mormon truth claims (which you and I both do), then theological objections are irrelevant. Neither you nor I grant Mormonism any of its theological premises, so there is no reason to engage on that level.
Which leaves you to address (1) the legal objections that could be raised (have you violated copyright? have you committed a privacy tort? have you somehow committed criminal or civil fraud? have you talked to a lawyer at all?) and (2) the ethical and moral objections that people like Katie L and David have raised (are the invasion of privacy, the transgression of expectations of decency and respect, and the profaning of what people hold as sacred sufficiently justified?).
Spend time addressing those, not whether Mormon temple work is theologically justified.
As to your #1, my understanding is that Noah has been in consultation with lawyers, and that he claims to have held some stuff back because of legal concerns. Presumably, this means that what he has released is legally defensible on the advice of counsel.
As to your #2, I think a lot of those concerns are mitigated by the fact that this seems to have been an inside job of sorts. The LDS church authorizes people to be gatekeepers to the temple, namely bishops, stake presidents, and temple workers. If one or more of those gatekeepers allowed him entrance, knowing fully what he was going to do, then the authorized gatekeepers gave him permission to do this. If those in authority give you permission to do something, most of those concerns go away. Entrance into the temple is not personally authorized by Thomas Monson, nor by majority vote of the membership, so in my mind the main question is, “Were those in authority, knowing what he was going to do, in agreement with giving him access and permission?” If yes, then the ethical concerns become much smaller or disappear entirely.
I think this is something that people perhaps would prefer to ignore. There are quite a few “wolves among the sheep,” especially in Utah where participation in the LDS church is almost forced upon people because of negative familial, economic, and social consequences. These people are probably more than willing to poke the church in the eye, so to speak. If one of those people was a temple worker, a bishop, or a stake president, they would have the authority and the motivation to allow Noah access.
I have indeed had inside help. Just as not all who stray are lost, not all who attend actually believe. I personally know of at least a dozen “active” Mormons who go just to please their spouse. THEY haven’t believed for years. At least three of these people work for the LDS Church as paid employees.
I see absolutely no distinction between lying during the ceremony yourself, and causing a proxy to do it.
Either way – you’re a liar.
If he was open and honest about what he was doing with those in authority to grant access, at what point was he lying? He was not lying with the covenants, since going through the endowment on behalf of others you are not committing yourself to those covenants, but standing proxy for others. If this was an inside job, then your concerns about lying should be with whichever bishop, stake president, and/or temple workers lied to allow him in.
Just like undercover cops must lie to protect themselves and their mission.
Is my appearance inside Mormon temples “deceptive”? Sure. But will a little deception on my end to gain entry to make these videos help thousands of potential converts to Mormonism know the truth that they will NEVER get from any active Mormons? Absolutely.
I have NO DOUBT that my videos will prevent a lot of people from joining Mormonism. I’ve already received dozens of emails testifying to that fact.
When Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer said, “Sometimes the truth isn’t very useful” he was no doubt thinking of the many deceptions within Mormonism. Mormonism is verifiably false and it takes very little effort to prove that fact beyond any reasonable doubt. My video project makes it even easier.
This means almost nothing regarding whether or not he could be liable for something based on what he released and what he did.
What bothers me most about this sort of thing is that it is self-serving and jerkish. Noah is the kid who didn’t like the secret club so he is going to try to spoil the other kid’s games. Even if the secret club is “not real” the act of attempting to spoil it strikes me as unworthy of respect, on the playground– and in this context.
I wasn’t answering a question about liability, merely about whether or not he sought legal counsel. Seeking legal counsel doesn’t mean that you get good counsel or that the judge will agree with the legal counsel you have been given, but it’s the best you can do when trying to navigate tricky legal questions.
my point is that there should be no presumption of legality because some lawyer said you might get away with it if you mitigate disclosure.
Mission impossible! – seriously Noah did you imagine yourself Tom Cruise when you geared up for the Big Mission?
The entire world thanks you for saving it from Mormonism.
Jared C. wrote, “What bothers me most about this sort of thing is that it is self-serving and jerkish. Noah is the kid who didn’t like the secret club so he is going to try to spoil the other kid’s games.”
Are you insane? I’m not getting rich off of this project. How is what I’ve done “self-serving” in ANY way whatsoever? You think I LIKE getting countless emails of a threatening nature from religious fanatics around the globe?
I’m glad you liken the asinine Mormon temple rituals to a children’s “secret club.” They both serve the same purpose in the grand scheme of things; nothing.
I think you like it. I don’t think you want to get hurt, but I’m guessing you like the attention. There are other ways for a person to be served other than financial gain. Notoriety is certainly appealing to many.
Please Noah– you know you like it. Notoriety IS your payoff. You are proud of yourself and you really got those silly Mormon bastards like nobody has before. I am sure it is wickedly fun game.
I am an attorney, I see people play games like this all of the time, very rarely is money the primary motive for these sorts of games. You and your bishop–I am sure–are extremely self-satisfied with your efforts.
They both serve the same purpose in the grand scheme of things; nothing.
This is where you are really full if it Noah, the endowment means an awful lot to a lot of people. People transform their lives for the good and devote everything to a higher cause that is ostensibly good.. Regardless how silly you may think it is, for the most part, this is real spirituality and discipleship, its just in a form you don’t care for.
I couldn’t be happier with the results so far. If I was looking to be notorious I’d use my real name though. This project isn’t about ME at all. I hope to NEVER have my name attached to this project in the minds of the masses. This project is about providing information about Mormonism that the Mormon church refuses to provide. Period.
That is a small part of the reason why I’m not releasing the footage I have of the Romney’s in the temple. I don’t want this project to be ABOUT Mitt Romney. There IS a reason why I classify my videos in the “Educational” category and not the “Comedy” or “Entertainment” category.
yeah, I wouldn’t want my name attached to this either, it would really spoil the fun if your real friends and neighbors saw what you were willing to do to make your point. They might not understand how IMPORTANT your work is. . . to tell people of these “secret” ceremonies that have been public knowledge for decades.
The other reason is that you would very likely be sued for intrusion into privacy. . . facing a Utah jury.
Actually, ALL of my real life friends and family know of my involvement in this project. I’m not keeping ANYTHING from them.
As for these ceremonies being”public knowledge for decades” that’s just not true. Sure, the transcripts have been available for a long time but they are not easy to find for some people and are hardly common knowledge among most non-Mormons.
As for the likelihood of me being “sued for intrusion into privacy” that simply won’t happen. Utah laws are very much on MY side on this one. Plus, the Mormon church knows exactly who I am and where I live. (I’m also not exactly hiding from THEM either.)
Like I said– Good for you. I am glad you have found way to make the world a better place and serve your highest values, and that you are willing to bear all of the horrible notoriety that this principled stand has brought you.
Generations will praise your fake moniker as the man who saved them from Mormonism and kept them from doing something perhaps more meaningful with their lives because they find out that they might have to wear a funny costume. Millions will be even happier to know with more surety that they are not weird like those crazy mormons, and feel all the more comfortable in their ankle-deep spirituality.
Noah in one breath wants us to believe he’s a suffering martyr, and in the next breath wants us all to believe that he couldn’t be happier and more pleased with what he’s done.
I think Tim’s on the right track. Noah is just attention-seeking, and relishing his 15 minutes of fame (and it is likely to be only 15 minutes). The LDS Church probably won’t sue him – probably doesn’t even care that he did this. Of course, Noah would probably be thrilled if they DID sue him.
But unfortunately, even the guys at FAIR are done talking about this issue and have lost interest. Noah can’t even get FAIR to care about this – I doubt he’ll have much luck with the LDS Church.
Since my target audience isn’t FAIR or the active members of the Mormon church, I won’t lose much sleep over THEIR lack of attention.
However, I’m told by a couple of non-Mormon High School kids that a lot of their Mormon friends are watching the movies and are somewhat shocked to see what goes on inside the temples.
But mostly my project is aimed at the POTENTIAL converts to Mormonism. No 15 minutes of fame desired or needed. Years from now nobody will even recognize the name “NewNameNoah” but the videos will remain online. Mission accomplished.
I’m not sure the TV viewing habits of evangelicals has much to do with our disagreements, but I am having difficulty understanding what either of your examples has to do with secret rituals.
As I understand it higher law /carnal law and the belief that there were two versions of tablets brought down from MT Sinai by Moses are distinctly Mormon doctrines. I don’t know how effective you expect an argument to be when you’re basing it on unique Mormon doctrine.
Jesus explains the withholding of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God (Matt 13:10-17) as an act of prophetic fulfillment and divine judgment. This is kind of goes with David’s proof text to keep what is holy from the dogs and pigs. I am not sure you want to claim that you are keeping your temple rituals secret as an act of divine judgment. While most people are willing to lest Jesus pass divine judgment they get a little leery when other people start doing it.
Gundeck, it’s hardly a controversial position to state that Paul’s epistles were not available to the ancient Jews.
Which basically amounts to the same thing I’ve been saying. God deliberately kept everyone in the dark about what Protestants would call some pretty key and crucial doctrines. And he did it for over a thousand years.
Your not God Seth.
No, but if he plays his cards right he CAN be a God of his own planet someday. lol
Don’t get me wrong, If Mormons want secret rituals they should go with it. Freemasons, Skull and Bones, Shriners, Sororities, Fraternities, the Gridiron, the Bohemians, Shellbacks, Blue Noses, and US Navy Chiefs all have secret rituals. They just don’t proof text from the bible.
I never thought the Mormon doctrine that some things were secret–or simply unknown in ancient times– was ever a valid criticism coming from common Christians. Woven into Christianity is the implicit failure of God to clearly let the Jews know that Jesus was the Christ. While you may argue that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, this is far from clear to the Jews, even those closest to Jesus. It was nearly completely hidden that the messiah would also be the same as God himself. Hence, the most important fact of Christianity, i.e. the divinity of Jesus was essentially hidden until Pentecost.
There is no good answer to Jews who object to this significant change in interpretation of scripture, except to say that God kept the truth from the world for some reason. This is precisely the Mormon defense.
That apologetic simply ignores Jesus Christ’s explanation of prophetic fulfillment and divine judgment. Divine judgement and messianic prophetic fulfillment is not the same as a secret ritual.
If Mormons want to claim that their prophet gave them a new or restored secret ritual, go with it. What they cannot do is proof text secret rituals from the NT by saying Jesus kept secrets, and expect anyone to take the argument seriously.
Read Matthew 13, secret rituals are nowhere in sight. What is there is a clear explanation, “With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah…”
Read Matthew 7, keeping holy things secret from anyone except dog and pigs is completely missing.
It just doesn’t fit the context of the passages, you cannot use a concordance and throw out any passage that says secret.
“Exactly Steve. And we would simply say that Jesus STILL has his reasons for revealing what he does, when he does.”
All that is needful for faith and life has been revealed.
And we certainly don’t need to keep any of it from anyone. It’s the faith freely given. No strings attached. Unless one just happens to love the ‘religion game’. God absolutely hates that stuff. he is after faith, pure, plain, and simple.
One might argue that since God (Elohim?) is all powerful, yet he allowed me to go into the temples to make videos, that the endowment ceremony on YouTube is all part of the Lord’s plan.
So anyone that criticizes me for making the videos is REALLY questioning the Lord’s plan.
The fact that the endowment ceremony doesn’t even vaguely resemble ancient Jewish temple ceremonies is irrelevant.
So now you are a martyr called of God, betraying all of your fake friends so you can impress your real friends by launching a viral video on youtube?
Hmmm, I don’t know if I believe all that, but you are unquestionably a class act. . . with unimpeachable logic.
But if you had any guts at all you would make a video revealing the truth about Islam. Mormons– at least nowadays–are a bunch of innocuous nice guys, any lying fool with a camera could do what you did, I would like to see some real daring and sacrifice in trying to show how silly you think a religion is.
What fake friends are you talking about? You don’t seriously think I re-joined Mormonism and attended for a year just to go through the temple, do you?
As far as making a video on Islam, I’m not familiar enough with the faith to make any videos on the subject. Nor do I have any desire to BECOME familiar with it.
I don’t think the temple ceremony is particularly relevant to the presidency issue, but I see your point about Mormons not being as upfront about temple doctrines and covenants as we should be. It’s extremely problematic that people get baptized without a glimpse of the larger picture, of which the temple is an important part, and especially that people enter the temple with no idea of what they’re about to covenant — I didn’t really. And I took temple prep.
We should be absolutely explicit: you make a covenant of sacrifice, a covenant of chastity, a covenant of hearkening, etc. Here is what the covenants are, and here is what they mean. The signs and tokens are the only things that we covenant not to reveal, so we really have a lot of room to be more open and transparent. The temple can still be a space set apart from the world, and the ritual of secrecy around the signs and tokens can retain its symbolic role, without making the whole thing into one giant taboo.
Noah, you’re a disrespectful asswipe. That’s about the kindest thing I can think to say to you.
Aw, thanks Katie. I was actually nodding my head in agreement with your post right up until you called me a disrespectful asswipe.
When I married the woman who would become the mother of my children in the Logan temple, the first thing she said to me in the Celestial Room right after she received her endowments was, “I don’t ever want to do that again.”
Do I have a lack of respect for your quaint little speck of a religion that has a history of being racist, mysoginist, homophobic and just plain stupid? Yup.
However, my little video project wasn’t really made for the LDS crowd. It was made to provide information to prospective converts to your cult that simply can’t get the information I provide from official representatives of Mormonism.
However, I did receive a very nice email from an active Mormon the other day saying how much he enjoyed watching a “live” session filmed in the SLC temple.
I’m going to be recording the endowment movie with the blonde Adam and Eve tomorrow in a temple somewhere in Utah. I’ll put your name on the prayer roll, Katie, in the hope you’ll refrain from name calling in the future.
May Elohim from Kolob heed my request on your behalf.
One kind of wonders why Noah has no wish to become acquainted with Islam.
His sense of outrage for false religions seems a bit selective.
Noah, you’re selling Mormonism far too short.
I’m not aiming for a stupid little planet.
All God has.
That is what he has promised those who become one with him through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The whole package – everything. We become ONE with God even as Jesus Christ (our example) has become one with God.
Seth, I expose Mormonism because is what I know. I was born and raised in it and simply don’t have the time to familiarize myself on every world religion.
Also, to be frank, I don’t consider Islam to be a cult.
And Gundeck, it’s pointless to protest that I’m not God, when characters like Steve and Noah here are freely putting words and intentions in God’s mouth as if they had the inside scoop on what he’s thinking.
Nothing quite like the arrogant self-assured superiority of a guy who has cut all ties from any organization he thinks might have a history of bigotry and poor behavior, and now thinks he’s exempt from the historical burden of owning that behavior.
Oh, and do tell Noah – what is your criteria for what a “cult” is?
I haven’t had my quota of Internet stupidity for the evening, so I hope you’ll oblige.
Sorry Seth, I have no desire to define “cult” for you. It’s like pornography. I may not offer a definition that you’ll agree with, but I know it when I see it.
Mormonism is every inch a cult. Someday, if you ever realize I’m correct, you’ll agree.
I can see this conversation is quickly degenerating. I’d hate to close it out because I think there is plenty that can still be explored but if it continues like this I’ll close the comments.
It always seems to be the Mormons that resort to name calling in these sort of conversations. “Disrespectful asswipe” was my personal favorite.
How about a discussion about the obviously complete lack of the “power of discernment” there seems to be in the temples? I’m not exactly avoiding eye contact with people in there.
Right, which basically means you have no clue what a cult is Noah. Or you’re aware that if you tried to explain what you think it is – you’d sound like an idiot.
Actually, Noah probably does have an opinion of what a “cult” is. I’ll bet his definition goes something like this:
“They wear funny looking hats…”
Something breathtakingly intelligent and nuanced like that, no doubt.
Yes, attack the messenger instead of addressing the topic at hand. Gooood Mormon. Just as I would expect.
“attack the messenger instead of addressing the topic at hand. Gooood Mormon…”
I doubt Noah even sees the hypocrisy in that statement.
Probably not. Most of his type aren’t well known for their powers of self-observation.
There is a considerable difference between believing you know the will of God and excusing your secretiveness by asserting that because God has kept something secret you can too. Like your New Testament proof texts this really isn’t a substantive argument for secret rites, signs, and tokens.
I’m not the one keeping it secret Gundeck.
Obviously God isn’t keeping it secret, it’s on YouTube.
Seth, do you REALLY believe that God wanted to keep the endowment ceremony a secret? If so, what a weak little God your church must believe in.
You DO know the entire endowment ceremony is on YouTube, filmed inside at least two different temples, yes?
I think the idea that God is the most open and straightforward being is completely belied by reality. No reasonable person can see God this way. Any believer in the Bible must admit that He is mysterious and secretive– there is so much He doesn’t say that he could. What we have in scripture is either cryptic or merely suggestive of the way things are. I have always seen the endowment is like a vision from God that is offered to everyone. For me I was happy for it to remain secret because publicizing things often de-personalizes them. If I was to explain the visions I have had from God most would immediately react like those watching a youtube video– gawking not seeing, reacting not feeling, looking to comment not deeply reflecting. There may be things that I don’t like about Mormonism but the sense of the sacred is not one of them.
My most sacred and amazing experiences are secret to me. If you could feel them you would be as overwhelmed as I have been, maybe more so if you have never felt anything like that. If some numbskull like Noah could put them on youtube I am sure he would get a ton of hits, because they are absolutely strange and compelling, but they would be a pornographer or a whore, getting attention from moments of unguarded surrender. There probably is a way to tell the world, but it ain’t some hamfisted expose meant to get attention. Perhaps the only way would be in parable or literature or song or ritual, some medium that would give respect to the miracle that exists in reality. Of course the song or work would only be as good as the artist making it, just as the endowment may be flawed or skewed based on those that put it together, but I really appreciate the deep idea behind the ritual. Here is a way we can teach people what its like to have a vision from God. It may seem silly to those who don’t experience it. It may grow tiring one you get it and move on to other experiences. It may not resonate with everyone, but you can find the Spirit in it.
I am the first to admit that the Church and the endowment is not for everyone, it never was meant to be. Its for the few that want to surrender to God in the way that is required by the covenants. That is the problem with being born into any church, you get by without ever fitting in or seeing the vision. But just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean its not there. The Spirit of God is real, its in the Mormon Church, its elsewhere, its there when you surrender to it. Its there in the endowment. The endowment gives people an opportunity to surrender that few have otherwise. Sure, you can surrender in any number of ways, and you may not need an endowment to open your mind to who you are and where you sit with God. But that means nothing. Honkytonk music is still sublime even if you only like Jazz.
So the endowment ritual is a secret, offered to everyone, that was never meant for everyone?
Gundeck, you’re just being nitpicky now. You know full well what I’m talking about.
Look at this parallel – Christ made certain teachings known to his disciples, but not to the masses. It doesn’t mean that those things were meant to be “classified” and “for your eyes only” and all that nonsense. It just meant that the teachings were only directed to a select group and not to others. Likewise, Jesus told several of those he healed to “tell no one” but they went and told anyway.
The point is – the LDS Church is doing absolutely nothing wrong here by having a ceremony only certain people are invited to, and in asking them to promise not to reveal it.
Nothing wrong whatsoever. This stuff about “playing God” is getting rather tiresome, and I suspect you’re being obtuse on purpose simply because you’re getting annoyed with the dialogue.
And Gundeck, saying that God keeps things sacred, holy, special, and secret absolutely IS an argument in favor of us doing the same.
So the endowment ritual is a secret, offered to everyone, that was never meant for everyone?
The endowment is not for everyone.
As I mentioned before, Jesus Christ explains the reason for directing his teaching to his disciples and it has nothing to do with your temple secrets. In Matthew 13 Jesus makes clear that this withholding is an act of messianic fulfillment and divine judgment, a fulfillment of the calling of Isaiah (Isa 6). So unless you are claiming that keeping your rites, signs, and tokens secret as an act of messianic fulfillment and divine judgment there simply isn’t a parallel.
I never implied that an argument couldn’t be made that God keeps things secret, so Mormons should too. As I understand it, your prophet has all the authority he needs to keep any aspect of your religion secret he wants. What I’ve said is that a substantive argument cannot be made from the New Testament examples you, Jared, and David have provided.
If you want to claim the God has commanded your prophets to keep your rites, signs, and tokens secret, go with it. I don’t have any interest in your temple, haven’t watched the YouTube videos, and never will. They simply don’t interest me. What does interest me is the New Testament and so far you haven’t made a convincing use of the text.
What did you mean when you said, ” I have always seen the endowment is like a vision from God that is offered to everyone.”
Jared C, I’ve appreciated your comments.
Gundek, please give me some poetic license on that one 😉
In practice, the endowment has always been a more selective part of Mormon believers, I don’t think people really look down on those who are undendowed as members, but there is a separate class of participation in the church. Perhaps Mormons view going to the temple as evangelicals see baptism.
In principle, (from an LDS perspective) the endowment was never really meant for everyone, it was meant for those who want to be in the celestial kingdom, to receive all the gifts God is willing to give them. God is only willing (or able) to give us what we want and reach for. That is part of what free agency is about and how it works. In the kingdom of God, you get only what you “are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.” Thus the endowment is only offered to those who want it, not to those who don’t. Part of the reason is that being endowed entails more responsibility, and it used to entail a penalty. You are more likely to face discipline for wrong doing if you are endowed. So even though everybody can qualify to see the vision, you are not qualified until you choose to go. There is absolutely no coercion involved.
Wouldn’t the church say the endowment is meant for everyone just as baptism is meant for everyone?
Gundeck, I think I get what’s being misunderstood here.
You think I’m using these parallels to prove Mormon practices.
I’m using them to ALLOW Mormon practices by comparison.
Does that clarify this for you?
No misunderstanding, I don’t think your parallels allow for secret rituals because they are not addressing secret rituals. They are addressing use of charitable discernment in the spreading of the Kerygma (Matt 7:6) (keeping what is holy from only the pigs and dog) and the messianic fulfillment of Jesus Christ and the divine judgment both laid out in Isaiah especially in Isaiah 6 (they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand) (Matt 13).
At best these passages are irrelevant to your temple.
Take all the poetic license you want, it’s your temple.
Baptism is the sacrament of initiation into the covenant community and is intended for all believers. With the exception of Catechumen there isn’t a distinction between a baptized and unbaptized Christian.
I am going to agree with you that the proof texts referenced do not support secret rituals. But I do think there is strong evidence that early believers believed in secret teachings and secret Gospels and those views show up in the text. Whether this support rituals like the endowment, I don’t see a compelling case, but it shows that secrecy of important or sacred doctrines can be reasonably considered as a part of authentic Christian practice, at least in the beginning.
No, they aren’t irrelevant to the temple.
What exactly do you think is being taught in the temple Gundeck?
Aside from a few ritual aspects, the religious content is all publicly taught in LDS scripture, sermonizing, and so forth. All this establishes is that “discretion” as you put it, and even withholding is completely fine and dandy when we are talking about religious content.
Let’s evaluate your sources and see exactly what these secrets were and who was keeping them.
It’s odd to have a secret temple and ask me what you teach in it. I honestly don’t care. I have found the quickest way to kill a conversation with a Mormon is to bring up polygamy, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, or your temple, so I normally stay clear of them.
Jesus taught us to only exclude the proven enemies of God. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine…” The Kerygma is open to all except dogs and swine.
Calvin comments on Matt 7:6 “As the ministers of the Gospel, and those who are called to the office of teaching, cannot distinguish between the children of God and swine, it is their duty to present the doctrine of salvation indiscriminately to all.”
That’s an interesting read on that passage that Calvin has.
I think it’s unfounded. But interesting anyway.
It’s not all that radical of exegesis and pretty traditional from Tertullian on.
Would you agree that a reasonable person could think that it is relevant?
How come you can say that word and I can’t?
As I said in my comment, the moral and ethical concerns I actually had in mind were not about lying to get into the temple, but about the invasion of privacy, the transgression of expectations of decency and respect, and the profaning of what people hold as sacred.
Even if Noah believes that Mormon theological objections are groundless and that he was on solid legal ground, these issues still have to be addressed. As Katie L pointed out, Noah still has to answer the charge of being a “disrespectful asswipe.”
I have refrained from jumping in since my early rebukes in this thread. But have read along, with what I think we can all agree is the most heated exchange ever with Noah’s contributions. (I did not think Katie, even knew the word “asswipe.”) You all know I love my LDS faith and I expressed earlier in this thread my disappointment regarding the absence of ethics shown by Noah–regardless of how he deceives himself that disrespect and deception are ever viable life choices. Especially for a Christian, or whatever it is he claims to be as a “non-atheist, non-agnostic.” Such arrogance, which he has continued to show in his comments in this thread I think speak for themselves.
I also regret to say that I just buried my 29 year old son who died suddenly and unexpectedly 2 weeks ago. He was the light of my life. I am perhaps therefore, more tender at this moment than you can all imagine. Yet, in the times I’ve contributed here, I have always felt the respect and yes, even friendship from even those who oppose my religion. We have often disagreed without being disagreeable. You, whom I’ve never met, have shown respect, reverence, and dignity, even when we have vehemently disagreed over theology. Frankly, that all seems so insignificant to me now as I stand in awe to think that my precious son, whom I loved more than my own life, now is in the arms of my (and your) Heavenly Father. My son was a temple Mormon. He honored the symbolism and bonding experience he felt in the temple. He was married in the Nauvoo temple, which has a special connection to my ancestors. My son does not deserve to have what he and millions of other honest, good, and decent people hold sacred trivialized by a person who celebrates his dishonesty. Noah–you are deluded. You overstep your bounds. You have mistaken zeal and vanity for the most basic human respect for the rights of others to be allowed to hold things sacred. You sir, have no right to desecrate the beliefs of others, even if you think they are mistaken. Your expressions reveal that you have an arrogance and disrespect for your betters. Elevate your eyes above your own pettiness and if you are going to deal with grown-ups, then act like one. You are just the newest version of the Westboro Baptists, who delude themselves to think they are wise. Shame on you. I will not respond further in this thread, but I hope you mature and learn humility, decency, and respect for others. Rationalization of an act of disrespect is a shameful thing and I feel pity for you.
Garth, all my sincerest condolences for your loss
Garth — Very well said, and my condolences as well.
1) You have my condolences on the death of your son.
2) Please realize that any argument of the type “My son believed X, my son died, therefore you should respect X” cheapens the death of your son and makes you look petty.
That was uncalled for.
I agree in principle with David’s second point, but it’s terrible timing to make it.
David–respecting something held as sacred by OTHERS, regardless of whether it is sacred to YOU was my point. I made that point on the very day my son died, earlier in this thread, not knowing my own son had died a hour before I typed it, so you err in thinking I’m asking for respect for out temples out of deference to my son. I made the same point way above when I said that I may disagree with Islam and yet I would NEVER do something that is disrespectful to what THEY find sacred. My point has nothing to do with my son, but only that there’s a reason why good and decent people should be allowed to choose their own path of worship. Seek to understand my point before you extrapolate your own point please. Noah (or you) can despise the temple–but you don’t need to cross ethical lines. An atheist can despise Christ, but don’t put a crucifix in a jar of urine. The Westboro baptists can think their God is punishing America for homosexuality, but don’t protest at military funerals of bereaved parents burying their soldier sons. You can misunderstand my point, but I will leave the pettiness of our two contrasting views to others to decide. You disappoint me.
David, while I agree that a tragedy doesn’t really prove anything necessarily.
I have to say… did you really want to pick this particular hill to die on?
Make yourself comfortable because this may be lengthy. I will likely quote you directly several times and then address the specific topics in the quotes to ensure I cover everything that needs to be covered.
First, my condolences for your loss. No parent should have to bury a child. That must’ve been a very painful loss for you and your loved ones. 😦
Garth, you wrote, “I expressed earlier in this thread my disappointment regarding the absence of ethics shown by Noah–regardless of how he deceives himself that disrespect and deception are ever viable life choices.”
Garth, there is a reason why the phrase, “Lying for the Lord” is found in Mormonwiki.org. The more gentle version might be, “milk before the meat” but what that REALLY translates into is, “For the love of God, don’t tell ’em about the temple ceremonies or any number of other deep doctrines until they are fully immersed into the church.”
Virtually every single Mormon church leader since 1830 has looked people in the eye and lied through their teeth. Whether it was Joseph Smith lying about polygamy (and virtually EVERYTHING else), Lorenzo Snow lying about the end of polygamy or Gordon B. Hinckley lying to the media about the nature of God. Here is the specific Q&A I am referring to:
Q: … about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?
A: I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.
What?!?! The President of the Church and an alleged “prophet of God” didn’t know that the church teaches eternal progression and the doctrine that God was once a man like you and I?!?!? That’s CRAZY and a perfect example of Mormon leaders using deception in an effort to make Mormon doctrines not seem so blasphemous. You could ask virtually ANY faithful and active Mormon on earth over the age of 16 if the church teaches that God was once a man like you and I and they will answer in the affirmative (IF they are being truthful. Not always a safe assumption when talking with Mormons.)
Next, you refer to my “arrogance.” Considering this is coming from a member of a religion that comprises a tiny fraction of the worlds population (less than one half of one half of one percent of the world is Mormon) but yet he believes his itty bitty church is “the ONLY true church of God on earth” yet it is widely recognizes as a cult by virtually every expert on the subject, you’ll forgive me if I appreciate the irony in ANY members of the LDS church calling ME arrogant.
You later stated, “Rationalization of an act of disrespect is a shameful thing and I feel pity for you.” and in another comment you said that you would, “…never disrespect something that others hold sacred.”
Really? So when you attended the temple before 1990 am I safe to assume you wrote a strongly worded letter to church leaders about your opposition to seeing a Protestant minister being portrayed as a hireling of Satan AS PART OF THE TEMPLE ENDOWMENT CEREMONY?
Am I safe to assume that you are opposed to references in the Book of Mormon that refer to ALL OTHER CHURCHES COLLECTIVELY AS “THE CHURCH OF THE DEVIL” AND THE ABOMINABLE WHORE OF THE EARTH”?
Am I safe to assume you are disgusted with Joseph Smith’s claim that Jesus Christ himself personally told Joseph that all non-Mormon ministers are “corrupt”?
I have several gay friends who are legally married. They hold their marriages to be “sacred” yet the Mormon church asked its members to spend MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to fight Proposition 8.
Is it okay if your church disrespects things that are held “sacred” by others as long as YOU don’t agree with them?
Lastly, you wrote, “…there’s a reason why good and decent people should be allowed to choose their own path of worship.”
I agree. I’m not preventing ANYONE from choosing their own path to worship. However, I AM doing what the Mormon church refuses to do; provide information as to what the “path of Mormonism” entails.
Potential converts deserve to know what kind of oaths they will be asked to obey BEFORE they are sitting in a room, surrounded by other members actually doing it.
If your church wasn’t so dishonest in these matters my videos would never have been made. I’ve already received dozens of emails from potential converts (or their family members) thanking me for my videos and assuring me that they (or their loved ones) have chosen to not join Mormonism after watching what goes on in the temples.
I tell them it could be worse. When I went through the temple at the age of 19 I had to pantomime my own gruesome murder in several different ways and watch my own mother across the room do the same.
I got out of that “religion” and I’m proud to say I got my mother out as well. (She was most disgusted with Joseph Smith marrying pre-pubescent girls and other men’s wives.)
If my videos seem to suggest a lack of respect for Mormonism it’s because I have no respect for Mormonism. I simply don’t care if some Mormons (who shouldn’t be watching my videos in the first place) are offended to see the temple ceremonies online. The way Mormonism cheapens the atonement of Christ, belittles and mocks ALL other religions on earth and blatantly LIES to prospective converts to get them to join is deserving of my disrespect.
Rest assured, Garth, you ain’t seen nuttin yet. I’ve yet to post videos of the Washing & Anointings and a sealing ceremony. I’ve only posted a handful of videos online but there will be DOZENS of videos to come.
When the Mormon church stops lying to prospective converts, I will stop with the videos. Elohim, the polygamist man-god from Kolob is powerless to stop me.
Perhaps “God will not be mocked” but Elohim from Kolob is not God. He is a weak, man-made figment of Joseph Smith’s imagination and I get great pleasure from each and every email I receive thanking me for exposing the creepy temple rituals.
Tell me, Garth, would you respect the “sacred” doctrines of the Moonies or the Branch Davidians or the Heaven’s Gate cults as well? What if they had convinced your own loved ones to join them? Would you STILL “respect the things they hold sacred”?
Likewise, the Mormon church is NOT “the only true church of God on earth” and I will continue to expose it for the wolf in sheeps clothing that it is.
No unhallowed hand will stop my work from progressing. If Mormonism were true, the old men that work in the temples would have stopped me by now simply using the power of discernment Elohim has certainly bestowed upon them. Also, the non-believing Bishop that provides me with temple recommends would be stopped. Next time you go to the temple, Garth, I might even be manning the recommend desk like I did in the Salt Lake Temple just last month.
I’d like to end by baring my testimony. I am 100% positive that Joseph Smith was a fraud. I can prove beyond ANY reasonable doubt that the Mormon church is false. Not only would I bet my life on it, I would (and have) bet my eternal soul and the souls of my children on it.
Amen and Hallelujah,
PS: Let’s do lunch sometime in the temple cafeteria. I’ll be the guy wearing the t-shirt that reads, “I pantomimed my own murder in a Mormon temple and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”
I thought long and hard before I hit the “post comment” button, because my guess was that this would be the general sentiment. Regarding Tim’s point, yes it probably is terrible timing. My defense is that there is no other time to say this as waiting for weeks or months from now to respond makes anything said later irrelevent as the conversation has moved on.
Just remember, it was not I who brought it up, it was Garth. If you are going to put something out for public discussion, then it’s a little late to say that it cannot be discussed. Had he simply posted something about the sadness he felt that his son had died, then I would have offered my condolences and moved on. The problem is that Garth wanted to insert the pathos of a family tragedy to make his point more strongly. He didn’t have to do that, and I believe it is unhealthy for public discussions to do this. Otherwise, whoever has the saddest story and can tie it into a discussion gets automatic deference because their saddness overrules any other consideration.
Again, I’ll just reiterate that I hope Garth is consoled in his mourning and may the grace of Christ rest upon him and his family.
It seems to me you did when you wrote:
If you have an alternate interpretation for the previous quote, other than attempting to invoke pathos for your tragedy as a reason to insist upon deference to your beliefs and/or win an argument about them, I’m all ears.
That’s not the way I interpreted what Garth wrote. I interpreted his comments about his son as an explanation of why he hasn’t participated in the conversation recently. I in no way saw him trying to use a family calamity to bolster his argument.
If Garth was simply explaining why he hasn’t posted anything lately there was no need to add the following:
“My son does not deserve to have what he and millions of other honest, good, and decent people hold sacred trivialized by a person who celebrates his dishonesty.”
I’d like to add that millions of honest, good and decent people (myself included) didn’t deserve to be blindsided in the temple and told they need to pantomime their own murders. Although the death penalties were removed from the endowment ceremony in 1990 and the creepy, nearly naked touching in the initiatory was changed in 2005, the fact remains that the temple ceremonies remain mostly a complete mystery to potential converts and unendowed members.
The Internet is the worst thing to ever happen to Mormonism. The convert baptism rates took a major plunge in the early 90’s with the advent of the world wide web and they continue to plummet as more and more people have access to the truth about Mormonism.
I will continue to make my temple videos and will soon be releasing another one. Nothing will stop my work from continuing. Nothing.
Dude, by all means go ahead and make your stupid videos. But give it a rest on this thread at least. Its a bit embarrassing. You are not saving the world here, repeating the same old anti-Mormon crap isn’t going to make you more important.
Lol. I hardly think I’m “saving the world.” I’m just saving untold thousands from joining a religious cult by providing free information.
It’s strange that you equate raw temple footage to “the same old anti-Mormon crap.”
Although I suppose the truth IS “anti-Mormon,” isn’t it?
Nobody in their right mind would join Mirmonism after seeing my videos on YouTube.
You can almost guarantee that convert growth will decrease even more next year. What a sad little religion Mormonism is.
I’m not even going to respond to that glorious little therapy session Noah just had on this thread. I don’t think I could add anything to it.
I think it’s perfect just the way it is. It clearly reveals the sort of person Noah is to the objective reader. And how seriously to take his position. I’m fine with Tim letting every last word stand as is.
So am I. There is never shame in telling the truth. Mormons hide the truth of the temple from even their own unendowed members. Why? Because its creepy, cultish and 100% unbiblical.
I don’t think it’s creepy at all.
And again – I would point out that Noah utterly failed to provide a definition for what counts as a “cult” or “cultish” when I asked. I suppose he still doesn’t have a clue what the word means.
This is my current favorite. Noah you should step up your anti-mormon game. Right now you look like you are just spitting out stuff in order to make yourself relevant.
Don’t worry, I’m sure you are keeping Thomas S. Monson up at night worrying about where you’ll strike next.
Or you just need to study the Bible and learn what the purpose of the ONE original temple was and exactly why the veil was torn in two upon Christ’s death.
I always find it amusing when Mormons think that the silly, Masonic inspired endowment ceremony is the same ceremony that was performed in Solomans temple.
Mormon temples are 100% unbiblical. Learn why.
What’s funny is that you are the guy defending the Bible. I think all Christians think that Mormons should be more like you Noah– so dedicated to Biblical principles. If you could only help them see the path to becoming as dedicated to the bible as you.
I’m not defending the Bible at all. I’m simply saying that the temple rituals (or even the use of temples at all post-crucifixion) are not Biblical at all. In Solomans temple they didn’t do baptisms of ANY sort, let alone for the dead and the Mormon endowment ceremony doesn’t resemble the ancient temple rituals at all. Not even remotely close.
Mormons claim to believe in the Bible (“…as far as it is translated correctly.”) and they actually believe that THEIR temple ceremonies are the same as the ancient temple ceremonies. They aren’t. Not by a long shot.
“I’m not defending the Bible at all.”
Right, on this we agree, dedication to the Bible or Christianity has nothing to do with your noble mission.
Jared, we can indeed agree on that. I have no “dedication” to the Bible OR Christianity. Just the truth and facts.
I know-you keep it real- that’s why so many people respect you. You have NO delusions.
LOL. And what delusions do you speak of? The fact that countless people won’t join Mormonism after seeing my videos? The fact that Mormon temple ceremonies have nothing to do with the ancient temple ceremonies? The fact that Mormonism is a cult by ANY definition of the word?
Do tell. What “delusions” do you sarcastically refer to? This should be interesting.
I would be happy to see “any definition” of “cult” you cared to provide Noah, if you bother to provide it.
The fact that you are studiously avoiding providing a definition of the word makes it abundantly clear that you either don’t have a definition, or are fully aware that any definition you provide here is going to get torn to shreds and make you look foolish.
Message received Noah. You are just name-calling here and not really presenting any serious information.
Noah, I accept your word for it– you are delusion free.
We’re all adults here. I have no need or desire to post a definition of a cult. I posted a rather lengthy “Cult checklist” last night and that should suffice.
As for “serious information” I think my temple videos speak for themselves.
Noah, its truly a delight to meet someone like you, so dedicated to the single-minded pursuit of the truth that you can’t even take the time to explain yourself rationally to a Mormon like Seth who is stuck in the web of Mormonism.
Mormons like Seth have seen the temple videos, but they still labor under the delusion that they aren’t in a cult.
Noah, if we don’t know what a cult is, how can we avoid joining one?
We need someone like you to tell us what is acceptable to dedicate our lives to. Someone free of inconsistencies and hypocrisy, a humble seeker of truth and happiness.
Jared, again, I posted a cult checklist here last night. Seth isn’t going to abandon Mormonism simply by receiving a definition of “cult” that he won’t agree with anyways. My video project isn’t aimed at getting active Mormons out of their cult. It’s aimed at preventing future conversions by providing information that Mormons refuse to provide. And, based on the number of emails I receive, it’s clearly working. Anyone care to place a bet on whether or not convert baptisms hit an all time low over the next couple years (and continue to drop regardless of the recent massive INCREASE in full-time missionaries with the reduction in age)?
Noah, you posted a lengthy comment last night.
But it had nothing to do with the definition of what a “cult” is.
I’m more than ever convinced you don’t have a valid notion of what a cult is, but are instead using it as a synonym for “creepy.”
Brilliant and compelling advocacy Noah. Just what we’ve come to expect from you in this lengthy exchange.
Cults are most often religious groups that use teaching and social structures to exhibit strong and/or controlling influence over its members’ financial, material, and social circles. The beliefs are typically driven by a single cult leader and a specific set of religious beliefs unique to that group.
What are some of the teachings that cults hold in common?
1. THEY DEIFY MAN
TEACHING THAT MAN MAY BECOME GOD, OR IS A PART OF GOD. MAN NEEDS TO BE A PART OF A CERTAIN GROUP OR CHURCH TO LEARN NEW REVELATION OR KNOWLEDGE TO PROGRESS TO GODHOOD. SOMEONE, USUALLY THE LEADER WILL SAY THEY ARE GOD OR HAS THE CHRIST SPIRIT IN A GREATER WAY. THAT THEY ARE COMMISSIONED OR APPOINTED TO BE THE LEADER BY GOD.
2.THEY HUMANIZE GOD
SOME GROUPS DENY THAT GOD IS ETERNAL. SOME BELIEVE IN MANY GODS, OR THAT ALL IS GOD (PANTHEISM). OTHER GROUPS SUCH AS JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES TEACH THAT GOD’S NATURE OR STATE OF BEING MUST BE UNDERSTOOD AND REASONABLE TO BE TRUE. IN OTHER WORDS, IF FINITE MAN CANNOT UNDERSTAND SOMETHING ABOUT GOD THEN IT IS NOT TRUE. THIS TECHNIQUE SUBTLY ELEVATES MAN’S MENTAL ABILITY TO THAT OF GOD.
3.THEY MINIMIZE OR ELIMINATE SIN
THE BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF SIN IS NOT TAUGHT, OR IS COMPLETELY ELIMINATED BY SOME GROUPS. THIS IS SEEN IN CHRISTIAN SCIENCE, MIND SCIENCE, RELIGIOUS SCIENCE, AND NEW AGE GROUPS. MEANINGS THAT ARE BIBLICAL ARE CHANGED TO THEIR OWN PERSONAL INTERPRETATIONS THAT ARE NOT RELATED TO THE CONTEXT OR ORIGINAL INTENT OF THE AUTHOR..
4.THEY MINIMIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BIBLE
MOST ORGANIZED HERESIES (CULTS) USE “ANOINTED” INFORMATION, BOOKS, MAGAZINES OR SCRIPTURES. THESE ARE BELIEVED TO BE JUST AS OR MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE BIBLE. THEY ARE INDISPENSABLE IN UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE. SOME GROUPS STRONGLY DISCOURAGE THEIR MEMBERS FROM READING THE BIBLE ALONE, AND SOME DO NOT BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD ALONE. OTHERS USE THE BIBLE WITH THEIR OWN UNIQUE INTERPRETATION UNKNOWN EVER IN THE CHURCH HISTORY OR ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH WHAT WAS CONSIDERED HERESY.
5. THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT WAY OF SALVATION
MANY ORGANIZED HERESIES TEACH A “GRACE PLUS WORKS” SALVATION. MANY TEACH THAT MAN POSSESSES AT LEAST SOME ABILITY TO EARN ETERNAL LIFE BY THEIR OWN WORKS BY GRACE PERFECTED THROUGH THEIR WORKS. SALVATION BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN THE FINISHED WORK OF JESUS CHRIST ON CALVARY IS DENIED. THE CROSS IS NOT SUFFICIENT. A SYSTEM OF GOOD WORKS, DICTATED BY THE GROUP, HELPS THE MEMBERS EARN ETERNAL LIFE . MEMBERSHIP IN THEIR ORGANIZATION OR CHURCH IS A REQUIREMENT FOR SALVATION IN MOST OF THESE CULTS.
6. THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT JESUS
VIRTUALLY ALL ORGANIZED HERESIES DENY THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST, THEY TEACH THAT JESUS IS NOT THE TRUE GOD MANIFEST IN HUMAN FORM BUT SOMETHING LESS, SUCH AS A CREATED BEING, AN ANGEL, A PROPHET, AN ASCENDED MASTER OR JUST “a god” (SECONDARY). SOME TEACH WE TOO CAN BE THE VERY SAME AS JESUS. IN THIS WAY THEY CHANGE THE CLEAR TEACHING OF THE BIBLE OF HIM BEING THE UNIQUE (ONLY BEGOTTEN) SON OF GOD.
7. THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT SPIRIT
MOST ORGANIZED HERESIES TEACH THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT GOD BUT AN IMPERSONAL FORCE OR ENERGY THAT EMANATES FROM GOD TO PERFORM CERTAIN FUNCTIONS, MUCH LIKE THE ENERGY FLOWING FROM A BATTERY TO START A CAR. SOME TEACH THAT IT PERMEATES EVERYTHING AND WE CAN BREATHE IT IN. PRACTICES OF SPIRITISM INCLUDING VISITS BY SPIRIT BEINGS ARE COMMON IN THE NEW AGE AND THEY HAVE COUNTERFEIT MIRACLES TO VALIDATE THEMSELVES.
8. THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH
THE ONE MARK OF AN ORGANIZED HERESY THAT IS THE MOST COMMON IS THEIR CLAIM TO BE THE ONLY GROUP OR CHURCH ORDAINED BY GOD. THEY ALONE SPEAK FOR GOD ON EARTH TODAY. GOD DIRECTS ONLY THEIR ORGANIZATION, OR CHURCH. THIS IS DONE EITHER THROUGH A LEADER WHO HAS ALL THE SAY OR A GROUP. IF ANYONE COMES TO YOU CLAIMING THEY REPRESENT THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH OF CHRIST OR GOD, AND DENY THAT ANYONE ELSE OUTSIDE THEMSELVES CAN BE PART, YOU CAN BE SURE THAT THEY ARE NOT FROM GOD. ALL CHRISTIAN CHURCHES WILL RECOGNIZE OTHERS THAT HOLD THE SAME CORE TEACHINGS THAT THEY DO, THAT WERE ALWAYS PART OF THE HISTORIC CHRISTIAN FAITH.
THE CORE BELIEFS UNITE ONE IN CHRIST AS THERE IS A CERTAIN CRITERIA FOR BIBLICAL DOCTRINE. THIS HAS BEEN HELD SINCE THE INCEPTION OF THE SCRIPTURES WRITTEN BY THE APOSTLES AND TAUGHT BY THE CHURCH.
Cults are most often religious groups that use teaching and social structures to exhibit strong and/or controlling influence over its members’ financial, material, and social circles. The beliefs are typically driven by a single cult leader and a specific set of religious beliefs unique to that group.
What I find amazing is that you were ever able to break free of the oppressive control the Church had over you Noah. The daring you must have exhibited in deciding to have friends outside the church. How did you stop the Church from taking over your finances? How did you ever break free of the hypnotic power of the Book of the Mormons? I suppose their mind control techniques don’t work well on somebody like you.
LOL. Thanks for the good laugh. I’m a big fan of sarcasm. Go to http://www.exmormon.org and read the countless stories of people who had a VERY difficult time leaving the Mormon church. I too had trouble and had to threaten legal action before they honored my request to remove my name from their membership rolls.
Perhaps someday you’ll recognize Mormonism for the cult it is. I sure didn’t when I was a faithful active member. Most cult members don’t realize they are in a cult until they get out.
I too had trouble and had to threaten legal action before they honored my request to remove my name from their membership rolls.
I bet it was a bear. I am sure they want you as a Member. They are probably holding your dog hostage to get you back attending sacrament meeting on a regular basis. If only Mormons would simply stop taking religion seriously.
The transponder that the Church deposited in my spinal column still itches me sometimes. I don’t have the money for a lawsuit, so I guess I am stuck receiving the spooky creepy messages beamed to me from Salt Lake City. I know for a fact that the Church has an army of lawyers ready to keep names on the roles at all costs.
Again, Noah has still not answered the charge of being a “disrespectful asswipe.”
Even if Mormonism is fale or theologically inherent, and even if Noah is on solid legal ground, he still hasn’t justified himself in moral or ethical terms.
Noah has invaded people’s privacy, transgressed social expectations of decency and respect, and profaned things that people hold sacred. I think that there certainly might be conditions under which these kinds of moral wrongs are justified, but Noah hasn’t even tried to make that case.
Whether the LDS church is a cult or not is arguably irrelevant to these questions.
Now the sarcasm is getting old. I know numerous people who have had a LOT of trouble resigning from Mormonism. Ironically, we can leave the cult but the cult won’t leave us alone.
You joke, but it IS very common for people to have MAJOR troubles leaving Mormonism. Then when we leave we are almost ALWAYS shunned by friends and family still in the cult.
Enjoy your cult. I’ll continue to enjoy exposing it.
Noah, exmormon.org isn’t a credible source for much of anything. It’s a mass group therapy session for emotionally unhinged people to yell about how the LDS Church ruined their sex life, stole their childhood, and made their adult children stop phoning on Sunday evenings. Accompanied by neurotically desperate attempts to convince everyone how really special they are for having left.
Punctuated by charmingly enlightened discussion of how the victims of the Haun’s Mill massacre “had it coming because they resemble the bigot in my dad’s High Priest group meetings.”
But let’s have a look at your list:
1. THEY DEIFY MAN
Jesus Christ – the deified man. The Pharisees, were absolutely outraged by the notion, of course.
2.THEY HUMANIZE GOD
Right, nothing more human than having God born in a dirty manger, mingling with beggars and prostitutes, getting tortured to death and then reappearing, having an undignified MEAL of all things with his followers, and then rising back into heaven with his human body in tow.
3.THEY MINIMIZE OR ELIMINATE SIN
You mean all that stuff about how you just need to confess Jesus and your sins will be washed away? The stuff they’re saying at the local grace Baptist church every Sunday?
4.THEY MINIMIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BIBLE
Yeah… I can’t imagine what Paul was thinking writing all those NEW epistles, when he should have been more than content with the scriptures he had. What a cultist Paul was!
5. THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT WAY OF SALVATION
And Jesus said that no man can reach the father except through him – whereupon the Pharisees quickly looked for rocks to stone the miserable cultist.
6. THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT JESUS
You see, unlike Evangelical Jesus, “Mormon Jesus” was relaxing at a nearby Roman spa during the Sermon on the Mount.
7. THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT SPIRIT
Interesting that none of the Jews had any notion of the Holy Spirit until Jesus came along. How’s that for “different?”
8. THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH
And then Jesus had the gall to go and tell the Pharisees and Sadduccees that their religion was corrupt and only HIS new way was the correct way to God.
Good thing they had that dangerous cultist killed before he could do some real damage.
Funny remark about the LDS Church not leaving the ex-Mormons alone.
My Elders Quorum President can’t even get us to visit our inactive Home Teaching families.
I imagine that all 80 of the people in the United States for whom the LDS Church did actually make itself a bit too much of a bother after they left the church are talking about it on exmormon.org
You can’t expect Noah to answer that charge and it is your very delusions that lead you to press him.
Privacy only matters if you are not incorrect. For example, Noah expects that the Church leave him alone, and remove his name from its roles, AND WELL THEY SHOULD. Noah is delusion free, leave him in peace. If someone came into his bedroom at night and filmed him admiring his new tattoo and posted it on youtube, sure you might get some commenters that think him weird or creepy, but you would be wrong. He put that silly thing on his body because he really believes in looking like that. In fact, it is part of his deeply felt ritual pursuit of truth, which invariably includes mocking all ritual.
You simply cannot compare such an invasion to what he is doing. Sure, the script of the temple film is public domain and the details of the endowment have been known by the enemies of the church virtually from its inception, but you can’t expect people to actually read or investigate anything. Who would get any hits on youtube with such an expectation?
You can’t bring down the Church with the facts, you have to have a youtube video to engender mockery. Mockery is the key you see, especially to those without delusion. You can’t expect Noah to actually engage in any meaningful discussion, nobody will listen to that, especially if he is not capable of having one, having been freed of the delusion of rationality.
For some reason I can’t think of any reason they would not want to keep hanging out with you now that you are not a Mormon. It must be the shunning lesson Mormons are taught every fifth Sunday. I hate when Mormons don’t leave you alone when you leave AND completely leave you alone when you leave.
If my relatives acted like a lot of the jackasses on exmormon.org who routinely brag about emotionally abusing their still-faithful siblings, spouses, and parents – I’d probably withdraw from them a bit too.
But yeah – you can’t figure out whether Noah is asking Mormons to leave him alone, or not leave him alone by reading this thread.
Hee-Larry-us. You enjoy your cult and keep paying 10% to one of the very few “Christian” churches on earth that share virtually NONE of their financial details with their own members.
Meanwhile, myself and the other 99.995% of the world will just have to stew in the misery of not belonging to the “only true church of Elohim on earth.”
Not much of productive content happening here. I’m going to close the comments.