Open Thread: Moroni Bologna

moroni_visitationThis will never get anywhere, but I like the idea:

Legal experts gobsmacked after British judge orders Mormon leader to prove faith’s origins

A disgruntled former Mormon has convinced an English court to file two summonses to appear against Thomas S. Monson, the current president of the Mormon Church.

Tom Phillips based his complaint on the Fraud Act of 2006, a British law that outlaws making a profit off of false representations. According to Phillips, this is precisely what the Mormon Church does — it uses statements it knows to be factually untrue in order to secure tithes from members of the Church.

The facts in question, court records show, are tenets of the Mormon faith, including that Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon from ancient gold plates, that Native Americans are descendants of a family of Israelites, and that death didn’t exist on this planet until 6,000 years ago.

“These are not statements of mere ‘beliefs’ or opinions or theories,” Phillips wrote. “They are made as actual facts and their truthfulness can be objectively tested with evidence.”

Sometimes, companies that make absurd claims to shake down people for money are prosecuted for fraud. If their CEOs had any sense, they’d claim a talking hat gave them the product formula. Then they’d not only be off the hook for fraud, they wouldn’t have to pay taxes either.

139 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    I like the idea:

    Until they start coming after the Pastafarians.

  2. 2
    Trollhattan says:

    Holy Shit(pbuh) that’s awesome. Is it too late to add $ciento1ogy to the decision?

  3. 3
    Violet says:

    What about the Church of England?

  4. 4
    VincentN says:

    Yeah, this isn’t going anywhere. There isn’t anything unique about Mormonism or Scientology’s ‘factual’ claims that wouldn’t also apply to Christianity or any other religion and nobody will want to open that door.

  5. 5
    White Trash Liberal says:

    Freemasons strike back against splinter organization!!

    Seriously, though, I like this. The tithing tenet is of such a strict nature in the church that it crosses that line into shakedown. I have popcorn ready.

  6. 6

    Ohai, Thursday Goggies would like to have a word with you about the Ceiling Dog.

  7. 7
    MattF says:

    @Violet: Ah. I’m typing this on the small screen, so no link, but you can check the Wikipedia entry ‘Thirty-Nine Articles’ for the actual answer.

  8. 8
    NonyNony says:

    @VincentN:

    Yeah, this isn’t going anywhere. There isn’t anything unique about Mormonism or Scientology’s ‘factual’ claims that wouldn’t also apply to Christianity or any other religion and nobody will want to open that door.

    In the US it wouldn’t, in the UK …

    See there actually is a big difference between the claims of the Mormon Church and the claims of a mainstream Protestant denomination such as the Church of England. Both churches make claims, but CoE claims about actual history are not nearly as easily debunkable as the claims made by the LDS church about history.

    The Book of Mormon, for example, very meticulously details an empire in North America that cannot have existed and that historians don’t even quibble about existing. The Bible, on the other hand, has things such as the Exodus of Moses that, given the evidence, also cannot have happened. The CoE shrugs and says “eh, it’s a metaphor for God’s love for his chosen people, what are you gonna do?” They don’t have to commit to some crazy idea that can be easily disproven – they hang their hats only on ideas that can’t be falsified (such as the existence of souls).

  9. 9
    Mandalay says:

    Slightly O/T, but by pure coincidence British law is coming down on hard on some of the privileged and powerful today…

    A former headteacher at the prep school attended by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for abusing boys at the school.

    An aristocrat from one of Britain’s grandest families has been jailed for two years after admitting beating his wife over a 22-year period.

    A Scotland Yard diplomatic protection officer has been jailed after he admitted lying about witnessing the Plebgate row that caused the resignation of a cabinet minister.

    I guess with all the other shit going on they decided to fuck with the Mormons as well, just for giggles.

  10. 10
  11. 11

    Speaking of the Brits, here is my review of the latest Downton Abbey episode.

    Warning: It has spoilers.

  12. 12
    shortstop says:

    “These are not statements of mere ‘beliefs’ or opinions or theories,” Phillips wrote. “They are made as actual facts and their truthfulness can be objectively tested with evidence.”

    I’m really not getting how this is different than a Roman Catholic saying, “The immaculate conception happened,” or a Baptist stating, “Jesus’s resurrection is the truth.”

    Does the Mormon church really call the things Phillips lists objective facts, rather than “truth” or “reality” or one of the other words people use to describe their religious beliefs? I know there’s no shaking a really devout Mormon from the insistence that Joseph Smith was more than a garden-variety con man creatively seeking sex from underage girls, but I always put it down to heavy faith, not an LDS teaching that these things can be empirically proven.

  13. 13
    Mnemosyne says:

    The funny part is, I just saw “Book of Mormon” last night, and they go over a lot of the “details” spelled out by the religion.

    Probably my favorite part of the play is when the supervising elders are horrified that their recent converts changed the story to fit the local understanding, so (for one example) Joseph Smith is shown dying of dysentery rather than being shot by disgruntled townsfolk. (That’s leaving aside the “creative” additions that Elder Cunningham made, of course.)

  14. 14
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Cassidy: WTF, Wendy Davis? Screw “purity” — baseline sanity is a good starting point.

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    @Betty Cracker: Concealed weapons bother me more. If I walk into a store and see a gun, I’m walking out. Until consumers are allowed to speak with their pocketbooks, gun laws will stay the same. The second amendment made no mention of concealed weapons.

  16. 16
    Mandalay says:

    @NonyNony:

    Both churches make claims, but CoE claims about actual history are not nearly as easily debunkable as the claims made by the LDS church about history.

    Exactly. If you are going to tell a lie, make it a big one, but also make it one that can’t be disproved. You don’t need Perry Mason to successfully defend transubstantiation in court – any old hack lawyer could do it.

  17. 17
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Cassidy: Saw this today, but I can’t say I am surprised. It is Texas after all, and I think Wendy Davis wants to run a competitive campaign, instead of a hopeless gesture. Sucks, but I guess I understand why she’s doing this. She must also think she’ll get enough local contributions to make up for no longer being a netroots darling.

    Being a westerner, it is my impression that open carry is seen as the ‘rational compromise’ with the 2nd amendment whackjobs. The level of ‘Ah needs mah guns to be safe from tyranny’ paranoia is strong. Stupid and crazy, but strong.

  18. 18
    Mike in NC says:

    Shaking down people for money is the whole point of organized religions. Well, maybe next to scaring the same people to toe the church’s line else they burn in Hell for all eternity.

  19. 19
    Cassidy says:

    @Betty Cracker: It’s a tactical decision. The current Lt. Gov and teabagger opponent of her’s has supported it as well. She will probably lose. She will definitely lose if she runs on gun control in Texas.

    @JPL: Yup. In my little southeast corner of the US, everywhere you go there is at least one vehicle in the parking lot covered in insurrectionist stickers. They don’t always advertise themselves with how they dress. I’d prefer to know who has the guns instead of guessing who’s the asshole.

  20. 20
    KG says:

    @Betty Cracker: it’s Texas, she has to play to the audience to some extent. trying to find polling on the issue in Texas, but my guess is that it’s not an unpopular opinion and as a general rule, if you want to win an election you should probably have a few positions that are popular with the electorate.

  21. 21

    @JPL: I kind of agree. It had the added benefit of painting a big L for Loser on them

  22. 22
    jl says:

    @Violet:
    @MattF:

    ‘ What about the Church of England? ‘

    I remember that I went through the 39 articles once, for some obscure purpose, probably historical curiosity.

    But isn’t the CoF founded on the principle that Henry the VIII needed a divorce so he could swap in a new wife? The historical evidence for Henry going through wives like water is quite solid, so I think the CoE is good, at least on the grounds that is totally fabricated bunk.

    And I think marital law is as good a foundation for a religion as any. In England, you could get a divorce if you didn’t like your current situation (if you were king).

  23. 23
    Cassidy says:

    Also the male German figure skater in the team competition is using Coldplay. Kinda cool.

  24. 24
    KG says:

    @jl: if marital law is a good foundation, then the Mormons are good… if you don’t like your wife, get another one!

  25. 25
    Betty Cracker says:

    @JPL: That’s a good point.

  26. 26
    rikyrah says:

    Houston-area mentor pays delinquent lunch accounts for more than 60 kids
    Updated On: Feb 05 2014 10:33:15 AM CST

    HOUSTON -In his 10 years as a mentor and tutor, a local man has always done his best to meet the needs of the students in his life.

    That’s exactly what Kenny Thompson did Monday when he learned that some children at Houston’s Valley Oaks Elementary School who had negative balances on their lunch accounts were receiving different lunches than the other kids: cold cheese sandwiches instead of a full tray of food.

    He was spurred to take action after hearing last week that dozens of Utah students, whose accounts were delinquent, had their lunches taken and thrown away.Quick Clicks

    Houston-area mentor pays delinquent lunch accounts of…

    “I’m like, ‘Wow. I know that’s probably a situation at my school, and the school my son goes to, and the other schools I mentor at.’ So I came in and inquired about it,” Thompson said.

    http://www.click2houston.com/n.....index.html

  27. 27
    LanceThruster says:

    Praise Xenu!

  28. 28
    Dream On says:

    @Mandalay:

    A former headteacher at the prep school attended by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for abusing boys at the school.

    Ah, that explains a lot. No wonder Clegg enables Cameron’s cruel Tory coalition. Takes him back to his school-days.

  29. 29
    LanceThruster says:

    @rikyrah:

    You rock, Kenny!

  30. 30
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Cervantes and, well, everyone: My bad. I was tired and undercaffeinated and lazy and I’ve made this mistake before. Of course I meant ex-Michigan governor GRANHOLM not NY pol GILLIBRAND. I apologize if I misled anyone.

  31. 31
    rikyrah says:

    School Apologizes for Plans to service Chicken, Watermelon At Lunch honoring Black History Month
    AP – FEBRUARY 6, 2014, 1:44 PM EST

    CONCORD, Calif. (AP) — Officials at a Northern California private school are apologizing after a controversial lunch menu option to celebrate Black History Month.

    Students at Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord wanted to come up with ways to observe the occasion during a lunchtime celebration Friday. But when the school announced a menu of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon, other students and parents became offended.

    KNTV-TV reports that school officials held an assembly on campus Wednesday to discuss the issue and also sent a letter apologizing to parents. Principal Nancy Libby wrote that the items were taken off of the menu and that the school doesn’t perpetrate racial stereotypes.

    Libby also wrote the school will hold a diversity assembly for students and faculty.

    Calls to the school were not immediately returned Thursday.

    http://blog.sfgate.com/stew/20.....atermelon/

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @KG: Ah, but, for Mormons that marital law is derived from the first principles of the revelation of Moroni (or whatever the angel’s name is).

    For CoE it was the first principle.

    I say, CoE wins on points for being more honest about its first principles (at least to begin with). They backfilled with 39 articles and related bamboozlement later.

    But, dammit, you can’t say Henry VIII going through wives like changes of socks is not a solid historical fact.

    I rest my case.

  33. 33
    LanceThruster says:

    @Baud:

    But the prophecies are proof of His Noodly Goodness.

  34. 34
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Does open carry for Mormons mean that they wear the magic underwear on the outside?

  35. 35
    StringOnAStick says:

    @JPL: I have to agree with JPL; I’d rather deal with open carry than concealed (if those are my only choices, which sucks by the way). Actually, I’d rather deal with neither, but that ship keeps sailing farther away it seems. If I see people wearing guns, then I know I am in a place where: (1) I need to leave, and (2) I will never, ever spend a dime again. I will also note that so many of the “idiot shoots self” stories recently have been of the concealed-in-pocket type. At least if they are wearing a holster, the gun is more safely stored instead of being in their waistband, ready to be fired by protruding belly fat or a mistake while grabbing for their wallet.

    Shit. I hate even having to think about this stuff, but there it is. I will also admit that when I was a young field geologist of the female persuasion that I started carrying a gun after a few too many close calls. Obviously I was doing it illegally since it wasn’t allowed then, and I know that it was as much a risk to me as it was to any potential assailant. Maybe I felt a little safer, but I didn’t do that kind of work much longer after that and had no more scary close calls either (not because I had a gun, but because I had fewer periods of working entirely on my own away from the safety of my vehicle).

  36. 36
  37. 37
    aimai says:

    @shortstop: Well–because a one time event in pre-history or during a period when there is no historical record can’t be falsified. But an assertion that things happening in recorded history like a guy from the middle east travelling to a North America full of cities and wagons, can be falsified. There may be overlap in some things which are indeterminable in both religions but the Mormon religion, stemming from observable events in the recent past, would be in trouble. As would scientology.

  38. 38
    burnspbesq says:

    Fucking lawyers. Take ’em all out and shoot ’em.

  39. 39
    Cacti says:

    I look forward to the summons for the Archbishop of Canterbury to come forth and prove that a fellow named Jesus died and was resurrected in the first century of the common era.

  40. 40
    drkrick says:

    @rikyrah: It’s nice the school backed off and sent out a letter and all. But have they explained how anybody could possibly have thought this was a good idea in the first place?

  41. 41
    aimai says:

    @StringOnAStick:

    I know I’m not supposed to think this way but I’m not necessarily opposed to open carry. I think like everything else there will be a steep learning curve for individuals, families, towns and regions where it becomes not just legal but customary. A great many people who have no business owning guns, or carrying them outside of the house, will do so because they are just that kind of incredibly stupid person and they don’t know their own capacity/skill level. And a bunch more people will be killed by friends or family or accidental shootings. But society seems willing to tolerate those “accidental” or negligent shootings so, so be it. There will be a very steep learning curve and then either most of the morons will have shot off their own feet or killed a few too many people accidentally, people will become a little less crazed to demonstrate their gun true beliefs, or the cities and former gun nuts themselves will start to agitate for some serious screening of gun owners to prevent “those jerks from ruining it for the rest of us.”

  42. 42
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @rikyrah: What is up with the food thing. Why does it become a pejorative? And why do foods these people are perfectly happy eating any other day of the week become rhetorical weapons?

    I mean, do white people not eat rice?
    Do Anglo-Americans not eat cabbage?
    Do Anglo-Americans not eat cooked tomato products?
    Do ethnic Germans not eat noodles? (cf “spaghetti-fresser”)
    Do gringos not eat beans, not to mention “bean dip”, bean soup, bean side dishes, etc?

    Sigh.

  43. 43
    Ted and Hellen says:

    I wonder how long before obama orders her eliminated.

  44. 44
    Ted and Hellen says:

    I wonder how long before obama orders her eliminated.

  45. 45
    jl says:

    @aimai: Just need to find the possible remains of just one battle tapir in North America, and they’re good forever.

    I think that’s right. I have a notion that in Book of Mormon, the lost tribes went to war on big battle tapirs. Might be from Book of Mormon itself (though I skimmed so much of it, it might be result of my fevered imagination) or something I read about it.

  46. 46
    catclub says:

    @JPL: I think the main result of open carry laws is that in actual
    city offices, the “NO FIREARMS” signs are much more prominent. Just saw them in Post Office and City Hall – in Mississippi.

  47. 47
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ted and Hellen: Right. I mean, these senators aren’t going to dronekill themselves.

  48. 48
    catclub says:

    Is it too late to add $ciento1ogy to the decision? -Yes, way too late. I figure they would have MUCH better lawyers.

  49. 49
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Cacti: Didn’t the great CS Lewis, CoE apologist, the veritable Thomas Aquinas if not Thomas More of Anglicanism, basically argue that Christianity was a put-on, but it was our put-on, and therefore useful, necessary, and, crucially, beautiful, as in the perfect expression of English superiority to mudbloods, brown ppl, and Irish, amongst other fallen creatures?

    Fundagelical youth groups put as much stock in Lewis as dumb Catholic apologists put in Pascal’s Wager (“We’re betting–get it?–that you failed probability and statistics in high school like we did.”). I finally started reading one of their favorite Lewis screeds and only made it 1 1/2 chapters in… I just had to laugh… he is putting you on SO hard and you’re too dim to see it! It’s complete doublespeak with one meaning intended for aristocratic elite such as himself and the other for the commoner… hahahahah. What a fucktoad of arrogance.

  50. 50
    different-church-lady says:

    @catclub: Actually I’m hoping we can eventually extend this trend all the way to Walmart.

  51. 51
    shortstop says:

    @aimai: Yes, as I read this thread, I’m learning that Mormons claim a lot more than I was aware of. Must brush up on this!

  52. 52
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @catclub: I think it’s fucking funny that the sheriff’s deputy is there at the entrance of the county courthouse to take your weapons (whether GUNZGHAZI!!!!111 or nail clippers) away before you can enter a room with a judge while the same power structure is arguing, safely in their gun-free zone–enforced gun-free zone–that it’s a restraint on freeeeedumb to restrain these deranged motherfuckers like they do in other countries.

  53. 53
  54. 54
    StringOnAStick says:

    @aimai: I read Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” and thought it was an amazingly good read. One point he made that struck me was that Mormonism is unique in that it is the only major world religion for which we have excellent recent historical references during the period of its creation. Toss the Mormon creation myth in with the general fetish for mysticism and séances at the time, and the “seer stones in a hat told me this whole gospel” story makes historical sense, though looks crazy as hell from our current vantage point.

    How intelligent people square that circle has always been interesting to me. My paleontology instructor was a Mormon bishop, and when a student pressed him on reconciling his PhD with religious doctrine on the age of the earth he had a nice explanation about “metaphor”, something that creationists can’t seem to deal with in their B&W world apparently. Anyone who has spent time in heavily Mormon areas will tell you though that it really all comes down to being accepted into society and the human need for that. Being a non-Mormon kid in a dominantly Mormon area is a recipe for exclusion from fun kid activities; it is both designed that way and a really effective recruiting tool according to the people I knew who grew up in that situation. Get ’em while they’re young, etc.

  55. 55
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Contrawise, it just makes me plain ragey that the public (but not–crucially–legislators) must go through metal detectors and a gauntlet of staties to enter the erstwhile “people’s house” to see their legislators while said legislators are ensuring said public will always be at risk of gun violence outside those walls.

  56. 56
    StringOnAStick says:

    @aimai: So, so well said. I agree. I don’t like that we have to go through such a period, but I don’t see how we can get to “well-regulated” without what you describe.

  57. 57
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @StringOnAStick: Spiritualism was a major religious movement in the US at one time; now just about extinct, although it has heirs, like the Wicca movement and the New Age movement. Though it’s spiritual (groan) heirs as in, I don’t feel like Spiritualism was passed intergenerationally much, something I do see with Wicca.

  58. 58
    Trollhattan says:

    @Cassidy:

    What the fracking frack? Out of curiosity, did Ann Richards buy into the whole Texas rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ Wild West mythology?

  59. 59
    bemused says:

    @drkrick:

    Exactly my thought. It’s a well sealed bubble some people live in to have absolutely no clue that was a really bad idea.

  60. 60
    gelfling545 says:

    @drkrick: I imagine it was through ignorance. They almost undoubtedly thought they were doing something nice. For many (most?) people, and I include myself, the level of sensitivity to what will be appropriate or insulting to groups not like ourselves is fairly low, often through inexperience and lack of contact, so we end up falling back on something we may have heard somewhere, sometime which might or might not have been in the same context and end up making some pretty awful blunders ending with hurt feelings all around.

  61. 61

    @burnspbesq:

    Fucking lawyers. Take ‘em all out and shoot ‘em.

    Thanks for volunteering to lead the line.

  62. 62

    @aimai: Plus I think it just looks dorky. Then we can mock them.

  63. 63
    Cassidy says:

    @drkrick: It says kids came up with the menu. They’re at a private school in Northern Cali which implies, to me, a certain level of wealth. I’m guessing there is a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” missing from the explanation.

  64. 64
    Paul in KY says:

    @jl: They have tapirs in SA. They are big enough to ride (IMO).

  65. 65
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @drkrick:

    It’s nice the school backed off and sent out a letter and all. But have they explained how anybody could possibly have thought this was a good idea in the first place?

    Every time there’s one of these school or workplace idiocies, first thing that happens (after the apology, or “apology”) is diversity training. And sure enough, the school is going to have a “diversity assembly.”

    Because obviously, it was the student body who chose fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon, right?

  66. 66
    Chris says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    No, I don’t remember him arguing that. How did he phrase it (what was his version of Pascal’s Wager)? Just curious.

  67. 67
    Poopyman says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Yeah! And who doesn’t love this?

  68. 68

    @Ted and Hellen:

    I wonder how long before obama orders her eliminated.

    I’m guessing it will be some time after you post an intelligent comment here, so she’ll certainly die of old age first.

  69. 69
    shortstop says:

    @Poopyman: I suspect Bachelor #1 still hasn’t gotten laid. I’m not so sure about #3, either.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    I’m not sure which of Lewis’s books you read, but he actually changed his views quite a bit after his wife died. He basically admitted that, up until that point, he had had a very comfortable life where he’d never had to face any kind of personal tragedy and decided that some of his previous views were a bit flippant (to say the least). A Grief Observed is the book he wrote about it.

  71. 71

    […] Personally I think Mormon theology to be flaky.  Just me, but on the other hand Mormonism does not bother me, nor do feel is entitled to less constitutional protects, via Betty Cracker, Balloon Juice: […]

  72. 72
    Pogonip says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Occult America, by Mitch (I think) Horowitz, has a capsule history of spiritualism, as well as lots of other oddball Americana.

    For an opposing viewpoint, see, if you can find it, The Psychic Mafia, by Lamar Keene, who made lots of money rooking elderly Spiritualists until he developed a conscience.

  73. 73
    Poopyman says:

    @shortstop: OK, I have to confess. It was too painful to watch all the way through, so I skipped to the end to see who won. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Jennifer, and I suspect Bachelor #2 struck out back then as well.

  74. 74
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Oops. Just saw Cassidy’s #63. I guess it actually was the student body. Sorry, teachers and administrators!

  75. 75
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Ever notice how capitalism is always its own justification?

    In non-capitalistic societies, everyone in the village was provided for and everyone in the village worked. (And getting banished was like a death penalty, so talk about social control.) I’m not romanticizing, I’m just pointing out that absent capitalist structures, somehow the basic needs of clothing, shelter, and sustenance was met, unless flood, fire, drought, pestilence intervened. (And it wasn’t capitalism that provided the remedies for those. It was science.)

    Yet the pro-capitalist will always get into this infinite regress about how we need income/wealth inequality because it makes workers work, and we need workers to work to provide for society, and so we need to NOT provide for society so workers will work, etcetera.

    If someone is sitting in a house or sitting on a street corner not doing anything all day it is not because capitalism’s austerity measures haven’t been deployed purely or surgically enough. Yet this is non-obvious because people don’t question the world they were born into. It just is.

    BUT IT’S NOT. Humans are social creatures and perfectly capable of developing social systems that allow us to provide for our needs without depending on high-stakes laissez-faire capitalism. In fact, it’s a system that even in recent times is demonstrably economically inefficient. Not to mention it focuses piles of human labor on wasteful, environmentally destructive activities that have nothing to do with meeting our basic needs. No, capitalism must be pursued QUA CAPITALISM. And when questioned, the capitalist always falls back on the livetowork, worktolive circular argument or taking credit for scientific and technological advances that were the result of social forces that have little to do with capitalism per se.

    I’m willing to be persuaded that a degree of capitalism can develop an economy to the point where “non-productive” and also tradition challenging stuff like basic science research can occur and eventually pay off in a better world. But I also know that untrammeled capitalism is a cascade of fails and the only reason it’s not worse is that humans even in groups just have this utter revulsion for its excess and will engage in capitalistically “irrational” behavior like creating regulations, imprisoning banksters, taxing rich people to pay for science research, digging into their own pockets to pay for poor peoples’ medical care, all kinds of shit like that.

    Why does capitalism NEED 12 hours of labor daily from ANYONE?

    WHY?

  76. 76
    Bill Arnold says:

    @JPL:

    Concealed weapons bother me more

    Open carry is however more intimidating. I won’t vouch for the entire wikipedia article but it does have a reference for the Black Panthers open carry incident. (White people intimidated into banning open carry). I guess with open carry you at least know to avoid being near the carrier, especially if you don’t know how mentally stable they are.

  77. 77
    tybee says:

    @VincentN:

    There isn’t anything unique about Mormonism or Scientology’s ‘factual’ claims that wouldn’t also apply to Christianity or any other religion and nobody will want to open that door.

    the mormons claim to have golden plates and should be obligated to display them.

  78. 78
    Pogonip says:

    I went through Palmyra, NY, once and walked up (very small) Hill Cumorah to look at the Mormon monument, after which I was curious enough to go to the library and check out a big old bio of Joseph Smith. The impression I got was that he started Mormonism to get rich but that he ended up believing it himself.

  79. 79
    shortstop says:

    I keep hearing “I’ve got a gal named Moroni Baloney/She’s as skinny as a stick of macaroni” in my brain. Thanks, Betty!

  80. 80
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Although I am being too fair to capitalism because technically non-capitalist (but fairly money/exchange driven) countries like Egypt’s Old Kingdom innovated shit like giant works projects to stimulate the economy. I don’t think they engaged in fractional reserve banking in Egypt at that time. There was a 1:1 correlation between power, title, and control of wealth.

    Rome totally did not have what you would call a capitalist system. In fact, it was a conquest/tribute based economy that was ultimately unsustainable. However, they developed the economy of their empire with the building of trade roads. This is why their influence was so keenly felt across Europe. They also engaged in hardcore redistribution… you might call it socialism but of course that’s anachronistic… whereby unwealthy, often jobless city people were given housing, fresh water, and bread by the state. Not to mention entertainment (which included cooked meat rations) & so on. All in return for voting for your patron on election day and worshiping the current Emperor as a God when required. Pretty sweet deal.

  81. 81
    shortstop says:

    @tybee: Sorry! Those were conveniently returned to Moroni by Mr. Joseph Smith before anybody but a few close pals could see them. That much I do know.

  82. 82
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Pogonip: My mother was so winded by the time she got to the top of that hill she reckoned she might hallucinate a few angelic visitors herself.

  83. 83
  84. 84
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @shortstop: That’s why they have that attestation by all those witnesses (suspiciously, many of them with the same surname) inside the front cover of the BoM.

    What they don’t tell you is that some of those witnesses later recanted.

  85. 85
    Ash Can says:

    @shortstop:

    I’m really not getting how this is different than a Roman Catholic saying, “The immaculate conception happened,” or a Baptist stating, “Jesus’s resurrection is the truth.”

    If I’m reading the case at hand correctly, the difference boils down to one word: money. The complaint is apparently based on the fact that the Mormon church requires its members to pay a specified amount to the church to maintain membership. I’m pretty sure the Baptists don’t do this, and I know that the Catholics don’t. And neither do most other religions. Members are strongly encouraged to donate, of course, but lack of donations don’t prevent members from attending services, receiving sacraments, etc. That, in this case, is the difference.

  86. 86
    Heliopause says:

    a British law that outlaws making a profit off of false representations. According to Phillips, this is precisely what the Mormon Church does — it uses statements it knows to be factually untrue in order to secure tithes from members of the Church…“These are not statements of mere ‘beliefs’ or opinions or theories,” Phillips wrote. “They are made as actual facts and their truthfulness can be objectively tested with evidence.”

    This is puzzling logic. It would apply not only to every other religion but all political movements and candidates as well. Where would it end? Not to mention, the complainant doesn’t seem to grasp the meanings of the words “knows,” “‘beliefs’,” “opinions,” and “theories.”

    Wouldn’t bother me at all to see the Mormon Church and all its attendant nonsense disappear, but the fact is this dipshit got exactly what he paid for: a club where he could go hang out.

  87. 87

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    Maybe the choice was made by the student body, but it’s the job of the school faculty and administration to monitor their students’ activities and not let them make that kind of stupid mistake. It might not have been their idea, but they still deserve criticism for not catching this and turned it into a teaching moment until after the school came under public criticism for it.

  88. 88
    Cacti says:

    @Ash Can:

    The complaint is apparently based on the fact that the Mormon church requires its members to pay a specified amount to the church to maintain membership.

    Not true.

  89. 89
    bemused says:

    @Pogonip:

    Power and money have a funny way of doing that.

  90. 90
    LanceThruster says:

    “Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand.”

    ― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

  91. 91
    Trollhattan says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    FWIW Concord is a tony East Bay suburb and I’m pretty comfortable with inferring this is a case of cluelessness, not a pack of parochial school mean girls. (FWIW there’s a fair to good chance some portion of the student body is East and South Asian.) Perhaps this will set some of those young minds thinking about the world that exists beyond their next midterms.

  92. 92
    Trollhattan says:

    @tybee:

    Can’t you just hear Church Lady intoning: How conveeeeenient!“?

  93. 93
    WaterGirl says:

    I guess I don’t see the fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon thing being a big problem in this context. So, what, if I have company over for mexican food and make tacos and enchiladas and guacamole and corn chips, that’s a bad thing? I’m suddenly making some statement about people who are hispanic?

    I completely understand why it’s a problem if they want to show Barack Obama eating fried chicken and watermelon. But serving chicken, cornbread and watermelon in a school is bad?

    If I’m missing something, please tell me, because I don’t get the big deal.

  94. 94
    Sherparick says:

    I think this is interesting. I don’t think an religion can get in trouble with fraud as long as they state that the tenets of the faith are just that, acts of faith that they are “true,” no matter how silly or preposterous. As Tertullian wrote in 3rd century C.E., about Christianity (I can throw the Latin in as good Tom L.):

    “Crucifixus est dei filius; non pudet, quia pudendum est.
    Et mortuus est dei filius; credibile prorsus est, quia ineptum est.
    Et sepultus resurrexit; certum est, quia impossibile.

    The Son of God was crucified: I am not ashamed–because it is shameful.
    The Son of God died: it is immediately credible–because it is silly.
    He was buried, and rose again: it is certain–because it is impossible.

    If you lose the faith, walk away. However, the Mormons and Kevin Ham’s of the world go beyond just stating what they believe is “faith” to stating that what they believe is “fact,” and when they do that, they may be starting to cross into the fraud territory, although again if the true facts are plainly known

  95. 95
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @VincentN: DNA of Native Americans and Ashkenazi Jews can be compared. Bones of obviously dead juvenile human beings can be carbon dated.

  96. 96
    shortstop says:

    @tybee: I know! An unfortunate coincidence, but very much a simple coincidence, just like the “prophets” receiving big anti-polygyny “revelations” from Jesus just at the time Utah sought statehood.

  97. 97
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne: I don’t think I have the patience. Get ticked enough at people in my personal life like that. I’m sure I read stuff by him prior to when his wife died. Some but never all of the Lion/Witch series. I liked The Magician’s Nephew, reread it several times. The racial politics of the series really, really put me off.

  98. 98
    NonyNony says:

    @shortstop:

    I’m really not getting how this is different than a Roman Catholic saying, “The immaculate conception happened,” or a Baptist stating, “Jesus’s resurrection is the truth.”

    “Jesus’s resurrection happened” is not falsifiable without a body that is identifiable as Jesus or a time machine. “The immaculate conception happened” is not falsifiable at all even if you had a time machine because the “immaculate conception” is that Mary was conceived without the curse of Original Sin so that she could give birth to God. Unless you have a meter that measures levels of Original Sin you can’t even falsify the question of whether or not YOU were born with or without the curse of Original Sin weighing you down. These are not statements of fact, they are statements of pure belief.

    “Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon from ancient gold plates” is a bit iffy – there’s a lot of historical evidence that he didn’t have any gold plates, but it all basically amounts to hearsay. You could resolve it with a time machine, though. “Native Americans are descendants of a family of Israelites” is in fact falsifiable through modern genetics and has, in fact, been falsified – the Native Americans are not descendants of the lost tribe of Israel. “Death didn’t exist on this planet until 6,000 years ago” is also wrong – see dinosaurs.

    Now these claims ARE a whole lot like fundamentalist creationist claims of the Earth only being 6,000 years old, in that they make truth claims about the world that are provably wrong if you believe in the scientific method, archeology, physics, astronomy, or any of the other aspects of modern knowledge gathering techniques. You know – things that are actually admissible in a courtroom as evidence. But that’s their problem – they choose to have a faith that is based on lies, and if in the UK justice system the priests/ministers are guilty of fraud, well, they takes their lumps.

    It wouldn’t fly in the US. We have a Constitutional Right To Ignorance that allows us to believe whatever we want. Also we’re allowed to defraud anyone we want so long as the fraud is perpetrated along religious beliefs. It’s one of the down sides of Freedom of Religion – less religious persecution, but more grifters.

    (You never get something for nothing – every Right enumerated in our Bill of Rights is a trade-off. This is most obvious with the Second Amendment, but it’s true of all of them. And our right to free religion also means that we have to put up with con artists who use religion to fleece rubes. In the UK, they don’t have the same Right To Fleece The Rubes Via Religion, so who knows how this will go.)

  99. 99
    Ash Can says:

    @Cacti: OK, then I did misunderstand the excerpt. Fair enough.

    @WaterGirl: In the example you give, it’s the difference between serving dishes generally recognized as indigenous to a foreign culture and serving dishes generally recognized as grotesque stereotypes imposed on a certain group by another group that, historically, has tortured, murdered, dehumanized, and oppressed the first group.

  100. 100
    Mnemosyne says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Given how teenagers are, I could see a campaign of, This is totally stupid — let’s vote for fried chicken and watermelon!

  101. 101
    Pogonip says:

    @Another Holocene Human: It’s small, but steep!

  102. 102
    shortstop says:

    @NonyNony: Thanks — between this and other people’s earlier comments, I now understand that the LDS church makes a lot of claims I wasn’t familiar with. I do plan to read more on this — very interesting stuff.

  103. 103

    @shortstop:
    I don’t see why the anti polygamy revelations are supposed to be a big knock against Mormonism. The Bible is full of instances of God sending prophets to tell people what to do, and He clearly knows enough about what’s happening on Earth to be able to send relevant advice. Maybe you think it’s crazy that He would see joining the US as a state as unimportant compared to continuing to practice polygamy, but there’s nothing inherently unreasonable about God having the contrary view and telling Brigham Young that.

  104. 104
    shortstop says:

    @Roger Moore: Wilfred Woodruff. Young was dead by that time.

  105. 105
    flukebucket says:

    death didn’t exist on this planet until 6,000 years ago.

    I thought the planet didn’t exist until 6,000 years ago. So very confusing….

  106. 106

    @shortstop:
    Sorry I got that confused, but the basic point still stands. If you believe in a God who is engaged with the world and actively giving his prophet advice, there’s nothing particularly crazy about him saying to give up polygamy to gain statehood. It may show that God has different priorities from what you thought he had or ought to have, but it’s not inherently unreasonable or implausible given the basic premises.

  107. 107
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Pogonip: By the Police Museum in lower Manhattan there is a small park. In this park there used to be a statue of Joseph Smith. I don’t remember what the plaque said about why it was in that park. I know I saw the statue but it was taken away at some point.

  108. 108
    scav says:

    @Roger Moore: Angel Moroni and the Deity must also have been really busy announcing to theorists and pamphleteers all over these here uuunited states that the Native Americans totally couldn’t have been smart enough to build the mounds, but clearly had to be Egyptians/Israelites/Danes//Vikings/anybody conveniently out of the way. Luckily that one guy recognized it as divinely inspired while everybody else just used used it as a way to make a buck or cheap justification for prejudice.

  109. 109
    hitchhiker says:

    I used to follow a blog that was set up to let young black men ask questions of older black men . . . the idea being that more mentoring was better than less.

    One of the questions — asked earnestly and with some shame — was whether or not the mentor allowed himself to eat watermelon in public. I’m not black, and until I read the conversation that followed, it would not in a zillion years have occurred to me that this could be a thing.

    It was one of the most discussed questions they got!

  110. 110
    Pogonip says:

    @hitchhiker: So what was the majority opinion?

  111. 111
    boatboy_srq says:

    @rikyrah:

    School Apologizes for Plans to service Chicken

    That headline is just plain wrong.

  112. 112
    chopper says:

    @rikyrah:

    oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

  113. 113
    WaterGirl says:

    @hitchhiker: After reading that I might have to reconsider what I wrote about the chicken and watermelon meal in the school.

  114. 114
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @WaterGirl: Would it be appropriate to follow up a school morning on Chicano history with a spread of nachos?

    Inauthentic bastardizations of a culture’s food just seem wrong. It’s not as if you go to a living history museum where an interpreter tells you about how certain food is made and it’s put into some sort of context. I think there actually has been some kerfuffle about “Mexican” food before.

    Fried chicken and cornbread is not exactly soul food–I’ve been served soul food, complete with a helping of guilt/you need to know this, that is, in a context–the meal is a bastardization at best and lacking any sort of context.

    Fried chicken was a rural dish (which many, many rural whites made) which would have been looked upon with envy by many tenants/agricultural workers who could not afford to each chicken, even into the 20th century.

    Corn bread, and, often, corn pone was a subsistence food in the rural Appalachian/Southeastern region that was the culprit behind pellagra. (Much like “bitter” cassava for rural West African peoples today.)

    Watermelon was a trade good. It was extremely cheap to cultivate* in the South and could be transported via truck or train to New York City and sold at a large profit.

    *-so cheap that rural people often treated each melon as if it were free… former fruit pickers tell me they used to throw fruit at things and so on… which may be why hyperwealthy Southerners assigned a stigma to watermelon eaters, just beneath contempt compared to their sugar-eating ways–sugar during the antebellum era was so valuable it was kept under lock and key and that horrid sweet tea crap was a form of conspicuous consumption

  115. 115
    Another Holocene Human says:

    in fact that could explain the contempt towards soda-drinkers, the “grape soda” comments and so on… not only do northerners associate “drank” with poverty, as in your parents can only afford orange drink instead of orange juice (or milk) but in the South I’m sure there was resentment as soda and sugar prices dropped to where even poor kids could buy ice cold sodas, defying their place in life

  116. 116
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Trollhattan: What’s the line between clueless and mean?

    Plenty of clueless people can lack empathy and be quite cruel, since their parents have told them how other people suffer because they just have “bad culture” or whatever dumb conservative story is hip these days.

    How many rich sheltered privileged kids have we seen snottily lecturing poor people about what they’re doing wrong?

    Shitty parents, well on their way to being shitty kids. Glad at least some kids/parents were repulsed and said so.

  117. 117
    Trollhattan says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    What’s the line between clueless and mean?

    The parent of a 6th grader in me says: enormously wide and fuzzy..

  118. 118
    different-church-lady says:

    @boatboy_srq: I dunno about you, but I’m adding “Keep servicing that chicken” to my bag of comebacks.

  119. 119
    WaterGirl says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    Would it be appropriate to follow up a school morning on Chicano history with a spread of nachos?

    No, of course not.

    Maybe the menu seems fine to me because fried chicken sounds like sunday dinner growing up, and watermelon sounds like hot nights in the summertime as a kid. I grew up in a Chicago suburb that was very close to the city and (sadly) didn’t have a single black person. Our “diversity” was the one jewish girl in high school.

    In spite of that, I never knew about racism as a kid because my parents never uttered a word in that direction, and neither did anyone else I knew. I learned about racism and hatred when I was about 16 and my sister’s friend took in a black baby (as a foster parent) and they burned down her garage.

    Now the mafia was another story. I went to school with the son of a big time mobster, and I knew when our favorite restaurant for sunday dinners was burned down it was because the owner had refused to make the payoffs.

  120. 120
    Retief says:

    @shortstop: The Mormon Church only calls one of those things facts, i.e. that Joseph Smith translated (by inspiration) the Book of Mormon from gold plates.

    That Death entered the world 6000 years ago is not doctrine. Although you will find discussions of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (contrasting Moromon beliefs about The Fall with those of others) that treat Adam and Eve as historical persons, important Mormon teachings view the story as allegorical. Although you can find some confusing chronlogies in Mormon materials, the Church takes no position on the age of the earth and Joseph Smith taught that it was billions of years old.

    Nor does the Church claim that Native Americans are entirely descended from Israelites. Rather the Book of Mormon is the story of one family group from Jerusalem’s arrival in the Americas and assimilation into the societies already here. This understanding has changed form the nineteenth century but is perfectly consistent with the text.

  121. 121
    hitchhiker says:

    The consensus seemed to be that if you’re black and you eat watermelon in public, you’re going to do so knowing that some people might snicker at the sight. It reminded me a little of the way I feel when I do something that reinforces stupid stereotypes about women (like try to throw overhand, or make a boneheaded move in traffic) — only about a zillion times worse.

    This little rant expresses some of it. Note the “joke” someone captured from a minor politician’s facebook page, about how the secret service had uncovered a plot to kidnap the president.

    The image is a cardboard box propped up with a stick, a nice green watermelon sitting inside.

  122. 122
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Retief:

    Also, assuming the play is correct (!), Smith is said to have returned the gold plates to the angel Moroni after he was done translating them, so I don’t think the church claims to have them stashed away in a vault somewhere the way various Catholic churches claim to have pieces of the One True Cross or Jesus’s foreskin.

  123. 123

    […] Today The Telegraph reported that an English judge has ordered Mormon leaders to explain why their religion is not a fraud. A former Mormon filed a complaint under Britain’s Fraud Act, alleging the church solicits money based on provably false claims. British legal scholars say the case will be dismissed, but The Week’s Damon Linker fretted about “secular liberal overreach,” and the National Review’s Charles Cooke wondered why Mormonism was “singled out.” Could CEOs claim divine guidance to avoid fraud charges and taxes? […]

  124. 124
    Craig says:

    Why don’t they try this with Catholicism or Islam. Because those groups have a great deal of power? Choosing your opponents based on their perceived ability to fight back is the hallmark of the bully. And the coward.

  125. 125
    shortstop says:

    @Retief: [Edited after I took a closer read back.]

    @WaterGirl: I’m honestly not trying to make you feel bad, but you said earlier you understood why it wasn’t acceptable to portray Obama eating fried chicken and watermelon. That indicates that you were aware of the negative stereotypical history of those references on at least some level. Why is it hard to make the leap from not directing racially loaded stereotypes at the president to not doing so at all African Americans in the context of a school celebration of Black History Month?

  126. 126
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @Cacti:

    true.

  127. 127
    Mnemosyne says:

    @WaterGirl:

    The problem is when you preface the announcement that the cafeteria is serving fried chicken and watermelon for lunch with, In honor of Black History Month …

    Actually, if the school allows such things, what might have been a possible solution would be to contact a local black-owned restaurant and have them cater lunch that day. At least it would throw some business their way.

  128. 128
    J R in WV says:

    @StringOnAStick:

    Off topic a little.

    My wife Mrs J R says her grandma said “An honest man don’t need to hide his gun. An honest man wears his gun outside his pants.”

    We saw a long-haired but well-groomed young man just the other day standing outside a row of fast-food shops, wearing some large-scale semi-automatic pistol just the other day… in AZ, where we are avoiding the eastern blizzard season.

    But it’s also legal at home in W Va… I carry in Arizona, where we live in mountains that also house large predators. A lion has stalked me in early evening darkness. Scary. Not so much in town…

    Just another hill-billy, a little less profane than John C, but otherwise…

  129. 129
    Retief says:

    @Mnemosyne: That is correct. According to Joseph Smith the angel took them back until we’re ready for more of the story. We have only the testimony of a few others who saw them and a few more who felt them to go on.

  130. 130
    Retief says:

    @shortstop: Happy to explore further if you’d like.

  131. 131
    WaterGirl says:

    @shortstop: I dunno. I just don’t feel the outrage. Maybe it’s because chicken, cornbread and watermelon are probably some of the few foods most kids would eat!

    I saw just now that Steve Benen linked to the story about the apology for the menu with the words “Oh, for crying out loud”. I think that means he’s not too worked up, either. So if I’m wrong, maybe I’m in good company, at least.

    I wasn’t worked up about the Seinfeld thing, either. Maybe there are so many things that are happening, and not happening, that are more important. You I just can’t be outraged at everything.

  132. 132
    Cacti says:

    @GHayduke (formerly lojasmo):

    False.

    You can’t lose membership over failure to pay tithes.

    ETA: You could stop going to church all together, and never pay another cent to the Mormon church, and they’d still consider you a member unless you affirmatively resigned.

  133. 133
    Insomniac says:

    @WaterGirl: No. I believe he’s referring to the school allowing that particular menu to be put up in celebration of Black History Month.

  134. 134
    Shortstop says:

    @WaterGirl: Okay, you’re officially hopeless on this topic, and you’re clearly not interested in remediating the obtuseness despite your plaintive pleas to be told what you’re missing. My unsolicited advice to you: in the wider world, resist the urge to whitely tell black people that they’d find historically prominent slurs and stereotypes harmless and inoffensive if they’d just relax. It’s not going to end well.

  135. 135
    Shortstop says:

    @Insomniac: It would take complete unfamiliarity with any of Benen’s previous work to read it any other way.

  136. 136
    Donut says:

    @VincentN:

    I know I’m way late to the thread and no one will give a shit about my comment, and rightly so, but speak for yourself.

    Some of us are of the opinion that Christianity is a fraud of enormous proportions – as is every other major religion. Heck, even the minor religions are, IMHO, awful. Bring on the opening of that door, I say.

    YMMV, of course, but the general opinion that religion does far more harm than good for humanity is completely rational.

  137. 137
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cacti: You can lose your ‘temple recommend’ over those things though, can’t you?

  138. 138
    WaterGirl says:

    @Shortstop: That response is a bit over the top, as if you couldn’t tell from my years of commenting here that I’m not a total racist asshole. Geez.

  139. 139
    Cacti says:

    @Paul in KY:

    You can lose your ‘temple recommend’ over those things though, can’t you?

    Yes.

    That’s accurate.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Today The Telegraph reported that an English judge has ordered Mormon leaders to explain why their religion is not a fraud. A former Mormon filed a complaint under Britain’s Fraud Act, alleging the church solicits money based on provably false claims. British legal scholars say the case will be dismissed, but The Week’s Damon Linker fretted about “secular liberal overreach,” and the National Review’s Charles Cooke wondered why Mormonism was “singled out.” Could CEOs claim divine guidance to avoid fraud charges and taxes? […]

  2. […] Personally I think Mormon theology to be flaky.  Just me, but on the other hand Mormonism does not bother me, nor do feel is entitled to less constitutional protects, via Betty Cracker, Balloon Juice: […]

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