1. Don’t read the Book of Mormon. Indeed, this can only inform the anti-Mormon about its true content. Doctrines will be discovered, insights will be obtained, and most importantly, the spirit might be felt while reading it. If one does feel something divine within its pages, put the book down immediately, fight the feelings inside, and do something else. Make a loud noise, clap your hands, kick the dog; anything to avoid seeing something divine before you. Instead of reading the Book of Mormon and subjecting yourself to its childish 19th-century dogmatic interpolations, pick up a book or pamphlet about the Book of Mormon, especially if written by a non-Mormon, because of course only the non-Mormon can be totally objective about its message and content. By extension, don’t read the D&C or PofGP either. This will only add to the confusion and madness. Stay informed about the book, just don’t read it. Or just read your Bible. After all, the Bible is God’s word, and is a perfectly believable book with no strange stories, characters, or incredible situations, unlike that weird Book of Mormon (see #6 for more).
2. Avoid original sources. Why plough through thousands of pages of Joseph Smith’s journals, the Journal of Discourses, or other autobiographical sources when you can just pick up a perfectly decent abridgment of all this material by such noteworthies as Ed Decker or Jerald & Sandra Tanner? These folks are reliable and objective in their research, and after all, they were Mormons at one time! So that means that they undoubtedly know their stuff and have no malicious agenda whatsoever—they’re totally objective! Original sources cannot possibly reflect the reality behind the situations they describe, especially sources produced by the Mormons. Original sources will only slow you down and misdirect your research.
3. McConkie’s thoughts = everyone’s thoughts. First off, if you really want to know the ins and outs of Mormon doctrine, just buy the book by that very name! A book by any other name just isn’t the same. Surely a volume with such a name as “Mormon Doctrine” contains exactly what the title purports – an exhaustive and authoritative treatment of the doctrine of the Mormon church. And don’t be tricked into thinking that the ideas expressed in Mormon Doctrine are outdated, biased, or non-representative. Every Mormon reveres this guy (he was, after all, one of their apostles!), and they all adhere to this book like the Book of Mormon itself. This book should be your most valuable tool in learning about the Mormons. It’s handy, too. It’s arranged just like a dictionary. Just pick the doctrine you want to know about, turn to it, and voi-la, you’re an expert on Mormonism.
4. Don’t stay current. Avoid reading Journal of Mormon History, Dialogue Journal, or others. These works are mostly written by Mormon outcasts and gays who are well on their way to becoming Protestants or atheists anyway. They certainly have an ax to grind, so reading this material might actually lead you to think that Mormons think differently among themselves, which is surely not the case. They all conform to the “prophet,” dontchya know? Staying current might actually alert you to upcoming trends in defense of Mormonism, which should only be handled by experts (like your pastor or local “professional” counter-cultist). Staying current will also take time away from reading Mormon Doctrine or one of the Tanner’s books/pamphlets.
5. Consult outside sources. Never, ever ask a Mormon about Mormonism. They’ll only tell you what you want to hear, make themselves sound much less cultish than they really are, or try to pass themselves off as people who worship the same God that you do. This could lead to a friendly invitation to a church basketball game, barbecue, or a “family night” at the Mormon’s house. Avoid these activities, for there the Mormon will try to seduce you into their fold with nice words and a bowl of green jello. Always go to “professionals” for the answers.
6. Ignore hypocrisy. It’s best not to bring up beliefs or problems of faith that you share with the Mormons. Don’t mention difficulties in translating ancient texts. Don’t mention that the KJV, the long-time English language standard Bible, talks of anachronisms like steel bows, domesticated animals before they were domesticated, etc. Avoid discussing difficult aspects in any system of belief – the nature of God, revelation, life after death, etc. Don’t talk to the Mormon about the patristic writings, and how some of the early church fathers discussed such issues as a corporeal deity, eternal nature of souls, human deification, or a pre-mortal life. Don’t talk about how some of the writers of the New Testament used and abused Old Testament passages for their own exegetical agendas. Don’t talk about how the Christian Church has been manipulated by its leaders through the ages, especially such topics like the Crusades or the Inquisition, because for all it’s ugliness, the Christian Church is the imperfect perfection. Showing respect or “faith envy” for the Mormons leads to nowhere.
So there you have it. Becoming an “expert” anti-Mormon is much easier than one might think. Following these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an “expert” anti-Mormon.
14 Replies to “Six Easy Steps to Becoming an “Expert” Anti-Mormon”
Forgot to mention in the post —
*** SARCASM/SATIRE WARNING ***
I think we’re on different frequencies, David J. I can’t tell whether you are satirizing “anti-Mormons” or those who throw that term around so loosely (to whom I have given the label “anti-anti-Mormons”). And just to give proper credit for implanting the “anti” meme in the Mormon psyche, try doing a search on the term “anti” in the Book of Mormon (or click here).
I would add, on #3, try to get ahold of a first edition MD. In those later editions the church has tried to cover up what they really believe.
Let me add another one from personal experience:
7. If you do happen to think up what you consider a cracker-jack theological issue, you’ll be far happier with the answer if you ask some 19-year old missionary, not an LDS exegete.
you are satirizing “anti-Mormons” or those who throw that term around so loosely
The former, mostly. I’ve had some run-ins and thought I’d satirize it a little bit.
Mogget, love your suggestion. I’d add stake presidents and bishops that I’ve had to #7 as well.
Be careful with this. If I understand you correctly (I’m slightly with Dave on this not knowing exactly who you are making fun of with this), then this post resembles Jeff Lindsay’s classic EXMO virus warning. That earned him severe criticism from the exmo/antimo croud and accusations of ignorance and meanness etc. So just be careful.
Fun post, David!
Let me add a bit of serious advice for aspiring Anti-Mormons — be very careful how you handle “Mormonism and the occult” material. After all, if you tell Mormons that they believe in, say, treasure-digging, seer stones, and astrology, the poor, deluded folks will simply and quite honestly reply, “No, we don’t.” So bear in mind that the beliefs you’re talking about only apply to a handful of founding leaders, not to Mormons in general.
Even in that more specific domain, be careful with your sources! There are three major sources for Mormonism-and-magic material, so if you’re getting your information from someone else (Ed Decker, say, or Loftes Trick), well, just don’t believe it until you’ve double-checked. The first major source is D. Michael Quinn’s Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. If you use this book, please remember that the author actually believes that Joseph Smith was a genuine seer with a legitimate seer stone and actual access to supernatural power and information. Keeping this point of view in mind will help you more accurately interpret the author’s argument; if you assume the book to be a debunking, the level of detail provided might seem confusing.
The second major source is John L. Brooke’s The Refiner’s Fire : The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. This is probably the best of the three, in terms of scholarly reputation and the amount of information it contains. However, there’s a major caution to be had here; Brooke disregards all aspects of Mormon belief that don’t have ties with occult traditions. Christian themes are predominant within modern Mormon discourse, as a viewing of any recent church general conference will prove to you. And such themes were also predominant among most rank-and-file believers in the early days of the church — as their diaries prove. So what Brooke tells us is the story of one influence on early Mormonism; if you want to use him to argue that the European occult traditions were a probable source for some Mormon interpretations, you’re on solid ground. This argument might even rattle some Mormons, although not the well-read ones — many of whom will simply agree with you…
The third major source is newer: Clyde Forsberg’s Equal Rites. Avoid this one like the plague. First of all, its intellectual approach is pretentious, self-referential post-modernism — and who wants to spoil an afternoon reading that? Second, the book relies almost entirely on a strange, allegorical reading of the Book of Mormon that nobody — pro-Mormon, anti-Mormon, or neutral — has apparently ever even conceived of previously. Third, you (the aspiring anti-Mormon) are probably an evangelical Protestant, and Forsberg caricatures your religion as an excess of feminine zeal. I assume that you would rather find your source material in a book that doesn’t stereotype you as well as us.
If you follow these rules, you will achieve many positive results. You will dramatically reduce my degree of irritation with anti-Mormons, and we all know that’s a major goal! You will also save yourself from looking like an idiot, on this topic at least. Last but not least, by reducing the degree of specious, overblown debate on this topic, you might conceivably help more Mormons to consider the historical evidence seriously and learn something new about their own early history. Since helping Mormons find out “truth” about their own religion is presumably the reason you’re an anti-Mormon, I think you ought to take this last point seriously!
Okay, sorry about the rant… Had to get that off my chest, it seems…
RT, I haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t give an unequivical endorsement, but so far I would consider it the best source to date (available from UMI):
A pathway to prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as rodsman, village seer, and Judeo-Christian prophet. Ashurst-McGee, Mark, MA. UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY, 2000. Advisor: Toelken, Barre
Hugh Nibley created a list similar to this. See “How To Write An Anti-Mormon Book (A Handbook for Beginners)” in Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass (CWHN 11).
Fowles, thanks for the good advice, man. Your opinion matters to me.
I’m not even remotely doing what Jeff did. Again, this is just for fun, and it’s supposed to be somewhat ambiguous. I’m not an anti-anti, apologetic, or hard-core FARMS dude (other than casual membership). I just got a hold of a syllabus for a counter-cults course and found much on there out-dated and resolved, yet still being spun. I fully recognize (as the one of the Snarkers clearly pointed out), that in the end, this sort of thing is a dead end. So I’m not really harping on exmos (who I love and always go out of my way to acknowledge), or antis who read our blog (who seem to be quite few).
So if the voices cry loud enough, I’ll be happy removing it.
RT — we love you! Great stuff. Stapley — we love you too! Mike Parker — uh… right on!
I think that many exmos feel that they have escaped from a ‘cult’ and need to do their part to get the rest of you out. (I’m a Jew BTW). I don’t necessarily agree with those folks but I believe that is where they are coming from. Please remember that the exmos believe just as strongly as you TBMs do in their own right-ness.
Unfortunately, it seems very unlikely that the debate betwen the 2 groups over Mormonism will end. People will believe what people believe, and no amount of argument can change the heart of one who has felt ‘the burning in the bosom’. Nor one who has felt as if they have just escpaed something sinister.
I wish I had more time to discuss Mormonism – you folks sure have some interesting stuff to talk about! It is one of my favorite topics.
Just stumbled onto your blog via the FAIR March 2006 journal. Even as an “anti-Mormon” (BTW, I reject that label as being constitutive of the genetic fallacy, though I’m sure I’m stuck with it due to some of my organizational affiliations), I appreciate your post here. Let me toss one in: Make sure to watch _The Godmakers_ movie. Twice. It seems to be a pretty unbiased overview of LDS theology.
An “anti” who actually does read the original sources (via the LDS library 2006 and the New Mormon Studies CD-ROM),
I am sure you would call me an “anti”, because I believe what the Bible says. I mean everything.
Studying the LDS religion has brought me closer to God. I wanted to study it objectively. I wanted to know the truth. I am in love with a Mormon, and I love Mormons. They are among the coolest people I have ever known.
For this reason, I did not want to read bad things about Mormons. I did not want to find contradictions. I wanted to marry the only man I’ve ever loved, who was Mormon.
What made me question your religion was an article on fairlds.org. Notice that is a pro Mormon site. It talked about Joseph Smith marrying married women, and why that was acceptable. No Mormon ever admitted to me that he did that. My boyfriend acted like he didn’t know about it, but supported it later.
I then noticed incredible contradictions in the D&C. It sounded like God could not make up his mind about polygamy when he gave Joe his revelations. The B of M didn’t promote polygamy. Then the D&C said it was okay with the wife’s permission, as long as the new wife didn’t belong to another. THEN it said if the wife did not permit it, she shall be “destroyed”. THEN Joe goes and marries women who DO belong to other men – even after what the D&C said.
Mormons say that their god is still learning, I guess. That’s the only way this could be accepted.
Also, has anyone ever read Joseph Smith’s *uncensored* diaries? “An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries & Journals of Joseph Smith” You should.
If you choose “milk before meeat”, then you need to be able to show new converts some meat regarding your history. I go to fairlds, and some of their explanations insult my intelligence. Why? Because they don’t always answer the questions. They either say “That is a lie” – when other LDS apologist say the same thing is true, or say, “That is true, but what does it matter..” or say, “You are being anti-Mormon to ask such things!”
Answer the questions! I’ve been to the originals. My boyfriend does the same thing to me. It pisses me off.
My boyfriend is working with “investigators” of the church, and I want to give him this advice (but am afraid he may get mad). I will give it to you.
With the internet, people are going to know more and more about your church and its history. Mormons cannot keep calling it “anti Mormon”. The only way you can combat this information – whether true or false – is to KNOW WHAT IT IS! You are discouraged from reading “anti Mormon propaganda”, but if you want to keep your converts, you need to know what you are battling against. You know many potential converts will be reading it.
I’m not saying this to be mean. I’m saying this to help you. I was open to Mormonism. Now I feel lied to. I couldn’t believe they could lie to my face like that when I had read the original documentation. At first I thought they just didn’t know about the documentation. However, it happened too much. You don’t have to believe me, but it could explain why so many exmos are so angry at the church. I mean they are bitter – but I don’t have to tell you that. It could also explain why so many new converts leave.
Anyway, I have come to realize how much the Bible means to me and everyone, because I studied it while studying Mormonism. I don’t find such contradictions in it, and I read it alone, and understand it.
Since you have prophets, I don’t understand why you have to rely on the Bible, B of M, D&C, and the Pearl of Great Price anyway. Nothing seems really in stone.
Anyway, read that book on Joe’s diaries if you get a chance. It is not considered anti – Mormon. It’s considered original documentation. I gave it to my boyfriend, and he didn’t consider it anti.
I am sorry that Mormonism turned out to be less than you thought it was. All I can tell you is that other people have read that book and still believe in Mormonism. Good luck with your journey.