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Hertzberg on Mormonism

Now, it’s no secret I’m not a fan of any religion (born and raised atheist, and somewhat dogmatic about it.) Given Mitt Romney’s candidacy, Mormonism has come under greater scrutiny. Now, Mormonism doesn’t strike me as any more or less wacko as any other religion, except for one thing… it’s recency. Older religions have the mists of time to help relegate their stories into myths, and, often parables. Mormonism is a modern faith whose foundations are just too easy to call into question. Here’s what Hendrik Hertzberg wrote about the faith in the latest New Yorker:

And the dogmas of Mitt Romney’s sect are breathtaking. They include these: that in 1827 a young man named Joseph Smith dug up a set of golden plates covered with indecipherable writing; that, with the help of a pair of magic spectacles, he “translated” the plates from an otherwise unknown language (Reformed Egyptian) into an Olde English that reads like an unfunny parody of the King James Bible; that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri; that American Indians descend from Hebrew immigrants; that Jesus reappeared in pre-Columbian America and converted so many people that the result was a series of archeologically unconfirmable wars in which millions died; that while polygamy had divine approval for most of the nineteenth century, God changed his mind in 1890, just in time for Utah to be allowed into the Union; and that God waited until 1978 to reveal that it was O.K. for blacks to be fully paid-up members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The South Park cartoon with the Mormon family that moved to town said many similar things, though funnier.

  1. Ultimately it’s the modernity of this religion that makes it such a target. As you say it’s tenets are too easily disputed and rebuked by history. Scientology bears the same burden and it brings into great relief the weaknesses of all major religions and steadfastly confirms ones faith. Faith in these ideas is done at some peril (many Mormons have been killed in the past 180 years for simply choosing to believe.)

    What’s most important is to remember that people in this country have the right to believe and worship (or not worship) in a manner they choose. While they may not be free from criticism they should be free from contempt.

  2. peter, i applaud the size of your huevos blogging about politics and religion. your atheist huevos are bigger than my atheist huevos (i have only been an athiest for 5 years) . in fact, they’re so huge, san francisco is in permanent shadow.


    ps – all religion is ridiculous, IMHO. freedom of speech allows for (two way) freedom of ridicule. it is a good system.

  3. Isn’t interesting to read one man’s philosophy about how he conveniently understands the beliefs of another, personally I think this is a ridiculous attempt to describe something the man obviously knows little about. Consider this source for a better understanding on mormonism.

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