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Mormon temple ceremonies
October 22, 2012 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I think other versions of this post linking to a video of Mormon temple ceremonies ought to stand if they're offered.

The text embedded in the video is a bit silly - gasp, some elements of this are from Freemasonry! Shocking! - but for anyone who has been to a variety of religious ceremonies in different faiths this is kind of interesting. Maybe a similar post with some editorial caveats?

I suppose that some people are going to be dicks about it and act as though what's going on in these ceremonies is radically unusual or barbaric and unlike most of the other religions on Earth, which it isn't. But since the next U.S. President may be a Mormon and many of the members of the country's national legislature already are, I think it's worthwhile for readers to gain some direct insight into the religion rather than just what non-Mormons say goes on in the Mormon faith. I for one would be quite interested in hearing the commentary of Mormon and ex-Mormon MeFites on what's depicted.

On the other hand, if this isn't really never-before-seen footage and anyone has links to similar video without the embedded text commentary, maybe someone could do a post on that?

And a'course I'd request that commenters not turn such a thread into the usual Mormonism-bashing session if one appears.
posted by XMLicious to MetaFilter-Related at 9:37 AM (240 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I think it would be fine, say, on November 10. But not before that.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:40 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought about posting it myself, but I couldn't figure out how to frame it, given how sleazily the footage was edited together.

Maybe a Mormon could provide better context for what's in the video.

It's too bad there isn't raw footage available without all the spooky music and with more informative text.
posted by empath at 9:40 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


And, btw, if your motivation here is political, just annoy your friends with it on Facebook, instead of posting about it here. Metafilter isn't really a good place for that.
posted by empath at 9:45 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't have a problem in principle with a post about Mormon ceremonies or whatever, but it's kind of hard for me to imagine a way to make a post built around that particular video / youtube channel that gets away from its sort of gross sketchy presentational style. If it's a question of a post about that particular video or no post, I'm leaning really heavily toward "no post" and that needs to just be okay.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:47 AM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Framing is important - not just in the text of the FPP but in the content of the post as well. If you want to see a post that presents honest insight into the religion, unfortunately that post won't contain this video.
posted by m@f at 9:47 AM on October 22, 2012


I for one would be quite interested in hearing the commentary of Mormon and ex-Mormon MeFites on what's depicted.

I think this hypothetical thread would inevitably become another Let's Al Interrogate The World Famous About Why Mormons Are Like That thread, which I'd sooner avoid.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:49 AM on October 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


I think the raw footage would make for an interesting FPP.
posted by griphus at 9:51 AM on October 22, 2012


I would prefer to see the footage grilled, with a bit of sea salt.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:53 AM on October 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


And a'course I'd request that commenters not turn such a thread into the usual Mormonism-bashing session if one appears.

Good luck with that....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The video was fascinating but it did suffer from creepy music and kinda dumb text.

I do wonder about connections to freemasonry there seem to be explicit references to Hiram Abiff, "the widow's son" from freemasonry. It would certainly not be the first religion to borrow rituals and themes.

Kolob seems to me just as rational as any other religious belief, perhaps moreso. It is too bad the video tries to make it seem like some of crazy ancient astronauts thing.

I wish we could talk about religion without being all dat shit cray. That dude could have made a more interesting video but he just had to grind his axe. We actually could just reinstate the post and acknowledge the guy who made the video had an agenda.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:54 AM on October 22, 2012


its sort of gross sketchy presentational style

Are you referring to the annotations, or something else? Do you think any of the information in the annotations is untrue?

The text embedded in the video is a bit silly - gasp, some elements of this are from Freemasonry! Shocking! - but for anyone who has been to a variety of religious ceremonies in different faiths this is kind of interesting.

I agree! But I made the original post, so that's probably not too surprising.
posted by davidstandaford at 9:55 AM on October 22, 2012


I would prefer to see the footage grilled, with a bit of sea salt.

Philistine. A true gourmand would know that the proper preparation for something like this is boiled with stock, herbs and spices for five hours.
posted by griphus at 9:55 AM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


David - can you elaborate on what you were going for with the post, then?

Was it just a sort of "demystifying" thing, a "people may be afraid of Mormons because they've heard they have weird arcane rituals, but as you can see, they're actually quite normal" sort of thing? If so, I wonder why you didn't back things up with more texts from other Mormon sources.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2012


I think this hypothetical thread would inevitably become another Let's Al Interrogate The World Famous About Why Mormons Are Like That thread, which I'd sooner avoid.

If it's aggravating for him, sure, I'd say avoid it; but even in those threads he usually gives some pretty insightful opinions about Mormonism and some good links. I think that MeFi is better off for those threads and thanks to TWF and other Mormon MeFites for bearing with us.
posted by XMLicious at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Are you referring to the annotations, or something else?

Basically the feel of the whole schmear. Hidden camera, apparent GOTTA GET THE TRUTH OUT THERE motivation in the text and presentation of the youtube vids, less than dispassionate editing style, etc. In aggregate it comes off kind of gross. Like I said in email a bit earlier, there's that distinction between documentarianism and tabloid sensibilities, and this feels like the latter by a long shot. That's not great posting material under pretty much any circumstances.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:01 AM on October 22, 2012


Was it just a sort of "demystifying" thing, a "people may be afraid of Mormons because they've heard they have weird arcane rituals, but as you can see, they're actually quite normal" sort of thing? If so, I wonder why you didn't back things up with more texts from other Mormon sources.

I think the reading that people take away from that video would heavily depend on the person. If one were a low-information Bible Belt voter, it would be fairly shocking, I think. If you're someone who doesn't care very much about religion, it all looks a bit silly. If you're the kind of person who sees everything politically, it's a below-the-belt attack on Romney days before the election, etc.

I think that even as a political attack, a more straightforward presentation would have been more effective-- you don't need to twist or distort the doctrines and rituals of Mormonism to make it incompatible with the beliefs of the Bible Belt voters who would presumably be persuaded by it. And trying to make it look sinister in the face of most people's lived experience of Mormons being generally great people is just going to make a lot of people discount it entirely.

Whoever made the video really botched an opportunity, no matter what they were going for, IMO.
posted by empath at 10:11 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the reading that people take away from that video would heavily depend on the person.

I understand, empath; but that's why I asked David why he posted it, because I wanted to find out what takeaway he specifically had. It was strong enough to motivate a post to the blue, whatever it was, so I was curious what it specifically was for him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on October 22, 2012


I watched the video from Reddit and found it interesting. And with Romney using religion against others I'd be glad to see it used against him. But the angle it takes is skeevy, and I really do not like "othering". Strikes me as something interesting that's not a good fit here.

What I would absolutely love is a post that followed up the connections between Mormonism and Freemansonry. Mormonism is perhaps the most distinctively American religion, and we're no slouches when it comes to Freemasonry either.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:20 AM on October 22, 2012


David - can you elaborate on what you were going for with the post, then?

It was a chance to see video footage of something, which as far as I know, had never been available before online. I did some googling around to see what sort of links might give it more context or explain what was going on. There is voluminous documentation about the rituals of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints available online. The wikipedia article on Endowment (Mormonism) alone is nine pages long. To get into Kolob, proxy baptisms, sealing, links to the freemasons, and everything else, would have turned this into an essay. There is really an overwhelming amount of stuff being referenced in that video if I wanted to try to provide links and contexts to everything in a single metafilter post. There hasn't been a shortage of posts about Mormonism on Metafilter, and there are metafilter members who have talked about their religion in the past. I wasn't thinking this needed to be a Mormonism 101 post, but instead showing something that hadn't been seen by many people before, and so I took a minimalist approach with the ABC news links. If people were curious to find out more I was going to leave that up to them.

My experience is that with a post that has a central link, such as this one, all the extraneous links included for context get ignored anyway. (Also, I get the impression from Cortex that no amount of framing or additional links would allow a post with that video to stay up. Cortex, correct me if I am wrong, please.)

To me, this was about seeing something that up until now had been a (theoretically) carefully guarded secret. And I'm an inquisitive curious person, so I like to see new things.

I happen to think that all organized religion is equally dumb and crazy, so I don't think there is anything special about the Mormons. I've spent time around the ultra-Orthodox in Israel, and I have no doubt a similar video could be made about them and their rituals. But most religious don't operate with this level of secrecy, so there isn't going to be this kind of opportunity to put out a hidden camera video and show people something that hadn't been well known or seen before.

I think that even as a political attack, a more straightforward presentation would have been more effective

Yeah, I don't love the framing, but I think the footage is compelling enough to stand on it's own, irrespective of how the youtube poster wanted to present it. Apparently Cortex disagrees. I've been to any number of houses of worship before and enjoy learning about religions. (The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is fantastic!). And on my previous visit to Salt Lake City, I would have thought the chance to tour the Temple and watch this ceremony would have been fascinating. But while a non-Mormon wouldn't be allowed to observe, I guess this video is the next best thing.
posted by davidstandaford at 10:23 AM on October 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I would have been interested in the topic if the video had been presented with anything approaching an anthropological perspective. As it was, it was inflammatory and conspiratorial. I would not accept that kind of exoticization of any world culture, Mormon or other.
posted by Think_Long at 10:31 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


davidstandaford: “Are you referring to the annotations, or something else? Do you think any of the information in the annotations is untrue?”

Here's my feeling:

Whenever people are videotaped or photographed without their knowledge or consent, ethical questions about whether it's the right thing to do arise. Even in public, where it simply isn't feasible to outlaw photography or video recording, there are significant ethical issues that need to be considered. To give an example, we've talked some here about how until recently Reddit had a subsite called "creepshots" where users would post surreptitious photos they'd taken in public of women or girls they thought were attractive. I believe that, in order for civil society to function correctly, it has to be legal to make recordings and videos in public – particularly of law enforcement officers or government employees; however, in the face of "creepshots" and other potential invasions of one's personal life, I think there are still difficult ethical issues one must navigate here.

But this video recording isn't a recording that was made in public. It was made in a private religious ceremony. I believe recording someone surreptitiously, without their knowledge, in private is much more serious, and higher ethical bars must be set. If you're going to record someone surreptitiously, without their consent, in private, I think it needs to be clear and demonstrable that you're recording some plain wrongdoing that must be recorded to be averted. If you're recording a farming practice wherein animals are tortured, for example; or if you're recording some workplace wrongdoing.

In this case, nobody appears to have done anything wrong. At worst, some people in funny clothes uttered some nonsense words.

One might claim that people in funny clothes should not be allowed to utter nonsense words in private. If one is going to make that claim, then I imagine it would be rational and fitting to proceed to talk about other things people should not be allowed to do in private. People shouldn't be allowed to do dirty things with pillows in private; they shouldn't be allowed to eat excessive amounts of chocolate cake in private; people shouldn't be allowed to put sparklers in their ass and march around the room singing "Strike Up The Band!" in private.

Personally, I don't feel like making those claims makes much sense. I think it's just fine if people want to put sparklers in their ass and march around the room singing "Strike Up The Band!" in private. They're not hurting anybody, and it's none of my business. And if somebody filmed them, without their knowledge or consent, whilst they were marching around the room singing "Strike Up The Band!" with sparklers up their ass, then I might think that filming were sort of a violation of something pretty important – a right to do whatever we damned well choose in private as long as it doesn't hurt anybody else.

“Yeah, I don't love the framing, but I think the footage is compelling enough to stand on it's own, irrespective of how the youtube poster wanted to present it.”

Of course it's "compelling." Does that make it right?
posted by koeselitz at 10:31 AM on October 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


(Also, I get the impression from Cortex that no amount of framing or additional links would allow a post with that video to stay up. Cortex, correct me if I am wrong, please.)

It's one of those situations where I do not have a crystal ball and so cannot see ahead of time the sorts of posts people might hypothetically make, so I can't really say that firmly. I have trouble in this case imaging a post that was (a) a really solid post that (b) presented interesting context on Mormon rituals and practices that (c) nonetheless wouldn't stand on its own without the skeezy video, so I don't see any really obvious path toward a post that included it, no.

Maybe at some point there will be different sourcing for the raw video. Maybe someone has a really great idea for how to post about it that I'm not considering. Maybe neither of those things; maybe it's just not something that's going to work as a post for Metafilter really. That something can be sort of interesting or curious doesn't ever really eclipse the need for a post to be well-constructed for this site, which can be a little bit of a bummer sometimes, but so it goes. Sometimes it's just round peg, square hole, and that's the situation no matter how darned interesting you think that particular round peg is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:38 AM on October 22, 2012


Written descriptions of Mormon 'secret rituals', like any other religion's rituals, are very easy to find on the internet. Here is a very thorough description of their Temple Rituals - I found it by Googling "description of Mormon rituals". I agree with koeselitz in questioning the ethicality or necessity of recording such rituals, presumably without the consent of the participants, and posting it as an 'expose.' An expose of what? Crazy Religious Beliefs?
posted by muddgirl at 10:41 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it is clear the whole "Romney has sworn vengeance against the US government" moves it firmly into propaganda territory. I don't think it is wrong to examine propaganda as a cultural artifact. The same goes for the video being "wrong". The video exists, pretending it doesn't exist does not right that wrong. We look at wrong stuff all the time, discussing a wrong does not imply it is right.

At any rate, I hope someone can put together a post like that amazing NGE post.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:41 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The video exists, pretending it doesn't exist does not right that wrong.

Not everything that exists, exists well on Metafilter.
posted by muddgirl at 10:43 AM on October 22, 2012


I think other versions of this post linking to a video of Mormon temple ceremonies ought to stand if they're offered.

I disagree, if we're voting. And my objection has little to do with what may (read: will) happen in the comments of the thread. I flagged that FPP before anyone commented.

But since the next U.S. President may be a Mormon and many of the members of the country's national legislature already are, I think it's worthwhile for readers to gain some direct insight into the religion rather than just what non-Mormons say goes on in the Mormon faith.

I think that is not a good reason to make an FPP. I think that if you are making posts because you believe they are important, you are misusing MetaFilter. But that's just my opinion and having offered it, I'll add that I also think it would be entirely possible to accomplish the goal you just described without linking to that video.

Hypothetically, if you were to disagree with that—if you think that video is essential to the relatively nonjudgmental goal you just described—then respectfully, I'd have to question your motives.
posted by cribcage at 10:43 AM on October 22, 2012


(Also, I get the impression from Cortex that no amount of framing or additional links would allow a post with that video to stay up.

Needless to say, this thing is having no problem getting noticed elsewhere, and thus will no doubt go as viral as it needs to (ie: become a recognized item as things ramp up toward the election).

Personally, the FPP I look forward to (and which would feature this as a side-link) will have something to do with wondering "How low do you go?" when it comes to fighting an election. I was raised Catholic so don't really find any of this that weird. But I also can't help but feel that for certain of the Mormon faith, its sudden appearance ALL OVER THE WEB is akin to a kick in the balls, a low blow indeed.

It was a chance to see video footage of something, which as far as I know, had never been available before online.

so then it can wait until after the election. Because we can speak of honest curiosity all we like. This is suddenly public NOW because it won't win Mitt Romney any votes.
posted by philip-random at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not everything that exists, exists well on Metafilter.

Sure ok, that is up to the mods. I don't think we can ban things because there is some dispute over the legality or morality of how they came to exist on the Internet. We don't ban government leaks do we?
posted by Ad hominem at 10:48 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


We also didn't ban the 47% footage
posted by Ad hominem at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


One might claim that people in funny clothes should not be allowed to utter nonsense words in private. If one is going to make that claim, then I imagine it would be rational and fitting to proceed to talk about other things people should not be allowed to do in private. People shouldn't be allowed to do dirty things with pillows in private; they shouldn't be allowed to eat excessive amounts of chocolate cake in private; people shouldn't be allowed to put sparklers in their ass and march around the room singing "Strike Up The Band!" in private.

Personally, I don't feel like making those claims makes much sense. I think it's just fine if people want to put sparklers in their ass and march around the room singing "Strike Up The Band!" in private. They're not hurting anybody, and it's none of my business. And if somebody filmed them, without their knowledge or consent, whilst they were marching around the room singing "Strike Up The Band!" with sparklers up their ass, then I might think that filming were sort of a violation of something pretty important – a right to do whatever we damned well choose in private as long as it doesn't hurt anybody else.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt religious organization. People who stick sparklers up their asses and sing Strike Up The Band are not. IMHO the former is not and should not be wholly private; society has an interest in knowing what goes on in organizations which are financially subsidized by the people, even if the organization itself would rather keep these things secret. Besides, the private rituals of some religious adherents are in fact illegal; the idea that everyone has the right to do what they want in private is lovely, but inaccurate.

I would tend to agree that religions should have the right to enjoy whatever rituals they please (including the ones which are currently illegal, given that they don't harm human beings), but I would not agree that religions should have the right to keep them secret. They can certainly ask that they be kept secret, but the people are under no obligation to oblige.
posted by vorfeed at 10:51 AM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


*raises hand*

I'm a non-orthodox mormon. I was raised in the church, went on the 2-year mission, got married in a mormon temple, and have been very active almost my entire life, but recently had a change of perspective and no longer accept a majority of the church's truth claims.

That being said I'm still a member and still participate, mostly for family reasons. I still have a temple recommend and have been to the temple within the past year. When I was a full faith member I used to attend the temple nearly every week; I'm intimately familiar with all of the goings-on and what's depicted in this video.

I wouldn't have a problem with an FPP of this nature (probably without the skeevy video*) and would be happy to participate and help out, coming from a slightly different perspective than TWF but also different from disaffected or ex mormons. I'm sort of a "middle way" mormon (in a faith that doesn't exactly appreciate agnostics) and perhaps because of that I'm uniquely suited to these kinds of discussions.

Actually, when I realized that Romney would likely be the Republican nominee I started preparing a "MetaFilter Mormon Megapost", a multi-page link fest with lots of commentary and background and multiple sources inside, outside and beside the church. It was a lot of work and I gave up because I just didn't have the time to do it justice and wasn't sure it would end up being that helpful during election season.

*[As an aside I did watch the video. I agree that the footage is real and the text is mostly accurate, though the writing takes a few liberties, most likely to better highlight the strangeness/sekritness of it all]
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:51 AM on October 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


This is an organization that actively works to block or rescind the rights of people based on what they do in private.

Goose, meet gander.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:53 AM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's funny how the internet works. This came out weeks ago, and didn't create a stir outside of the sort of rabidly atheistic corners of the net I hang out in. And then someone does a shorter, more fucked-around-with version of Mormon Ritual Bonkersness and suddenly it's everywhere.

As I said about the longer video linked above - there really wasn't much in there that was significantly madder than the sort of crazy that used to sometimes go on in my dear, sweet, tea-drinking old C of E upbringing. Religion be nuts. Pictures at eleven.
posted by Decani at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Personally, the FPP I look forward to (and which would feature this as a side-link) will have something to do with wondering "How low do you go?" when it comes to fighting an election.

I hope such an FPP would also include this video.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:09 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


We also didn't ban the 47% footage

Because, as koeslitz noted above, it had content that (in my opinion) had significance that outweighed the ethical concerns. What content in this video outweighs the privacy concerns? What could be gleaned from this video that can't be gleaned from the already-existing written descriptions of the ritual?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt religious organization.

This is an organization that actively works to block or rescind the rights of people based on what they do in private.

Great. Leak a private video where prominent leaders in the church discuss their possibly-illegal political outreach. But I don't see what this video has to do with that.
posted by muddgirl at 11:11 AM on October 22, 2012


(For the 47% video, in my opinion it's hard to argue that an event open to caterers is a completely private event. Presumably none of the participants objected to the presence of the support staff.)
posted by muddgirl at 11:12 AM on October 22, 2012


anyone who is interested in temple rituals have never sat through them. they are booooooooring. and weirdly stuck in the 70s.

i feel bad for practicing mormons, because i would imagine it would be difficult to discuss this video. during my temple going years i was taught to answer questions about our rituals, but to understand that what happened in the temple was sacred (not secret) and to be aware of not putting pearls before swine.

generally i think temple works will always be out of context because you do a lot of religion before you get to the temple. if you see the endowment ceremony but you've never sat through the movies on joseph smith or the founding of the church or if you've never read the book of mormon, or had 100s of hours of sunday school, you're missing a lot. if things like "the preexistence" or "jesus in the americas" or "eternal families" aren't ingrained ideas, a lot of temple work will seem pretty weird.

i don't know if it's my upbringing influencing my reaction, but this video feels really icky to me. it reminds me of going to the temple for baptisms for the dead and hearing some of the other teenagers brag about lying during their temple recommend interview. like, expose the corruption, leak the memos about gay marriage, discuss the tax situations of the richest mormons and the church. all of that is free game and good. "exposing" sacred rituals that have nothing to do with their political activities is just gross to me.
posted by nadawi at 11:19 AM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hypothetically, if you were to disagree with that—if you think that video is essential to the relatively nonjudgmental goal you just described—then respectfully, I'd have to question your motives.

No, since I've seen the video and it affirms written descriptions of temple ceremonies, an FPP just based on a written description of the ceremonies with comments from more knowledgeable people would satisfy my personal interest.

It's just that a large part of the reason why this video piqued my interest is that when you see those sorts of written descriptions you wonder whether they're partly manufactured by an author wishing to cast aspersions upon Mormonism, or if genuinely from a Mormon source are leaving things out due to the secrecy policy. Now that I've seen the video myself it doesn't matter to me personally whether the same confirmation were present in an FPP but that feels a bit selfish. Either way, though; Doleful Creature's Mormon Megapost sounds interesting, I've appreciated his or her comments in threads too.

If I did video editing regularly I'd try making a version of the video with the text blacked out and post it somewhere but I've only ever used some crude tools that would need to be used frame-by-frame. If anyone can recommend some free Linux software this would be easy to do with, even something on the command line that's sort of an Imagemagick-for-video, let me know.

...on preview, looks like Decani has the link to the raw video maybe? That's by the same Youtube user as the thing in the FPP and seems to contain some of the same bits.
posted by XMLicious at 11:21 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is an organization that actively works to block or rescind the rights of people based on what they do in private.

That doesn't matter too much, does it? What matters is that we be respectful of their choice to actively work to take away people's rights, and that means not questioning what they do to maintain a firewall between themselves and the public — a policy of secrecy that keeps their religious ceremonies, among a number of other activities, away from prying eyes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


you're gonna force a hole into your cheek
posted by shakespeherian at 11:27 AM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Because, as koeslitz noted above, it had content that (in my opinion) had significance that outweighed the ethical concerns. What content in this video outweighs the privacy concerns? What could be gleaned from this video that can't be gleaned from the already-existing written descriptions of the ritual?

Sure, that is your opinion. Other people have different oppinions. There are probably quite a few people who would argue that wikileaks shouldn't be linked. All that stuff was illegally obtained and some would argue that the state department leaks violate plenty of people's privacy.

My opinion is that this is of historical significance, especially Decani's link without the creepy music, annotations, and featuring the entire movie.

This is obviously a judgement call for the mods. We've already seen the video, we can't unring that bell. Deleting the link from one page on the internet will not right any wrongs, or give anyone their anonymity back.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:29 AM on October 22, 2012


I happen to think that all organized religion is equally dumb and crazy....

IMHO, this would be a good reason not to be the one to make that post.
posted by HuronBob at 11:29 AM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


The phrase "can't unring a bell" has merit but it is often misused to describe situations like this one where, in fact, what's being discussed is whether we should keep ringing a bell or stop.

And I agree that if you think something is "dumb and crazy," then you should not post about it on MetaFilter. I don't presume to speak for the mods who are already in this thread, but it would be my understanding that this sort of thing is against the spirit, if not the actual letter of MetaFilter policy.
posted by cribcage at 11:43 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


IMHO, this would be a good reason not to be the one to make that post.

My next post is planned to be about the Women of the Wall and the arrest of Anat Hoffman. I also think religious Judaism is dumb and crazy. Do you think that would be a problem? Should I avoid making that post?

I don't presume to speak for the mods who are already in this thread, but it would be my understanding that this sort of thing is against the spirit, if not the actual letter of MetaFilter policy.

Really? I would love to hear the mod's thoughts on that idea. I love learning about religion, and I think many aspects of it are quite interesting. Just because I think belief in a higher being is dumb and crazy, it would never occur to me that I should not make a post about a religion or religious practice.
posted by davidstandaford at 11:48 AM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just saw a friend post this on FB. Gross.

The frontpage of Metafilter really needs to be a place without cheapshot political attack ads, especially when they're not much better than "OMG Obama is secret Muslim you guyzzz" from the opposite side. We can do better than this.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:49 AM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


And I agree that if you think something is "dumb and crazy," then you should not post about it on MetaFilter.

That would eliminate a significant portion of the content posted to the Blue. And most of the Green. ;)
posted by zarq at 11:49 AM on October 22, 2012


I'm joking, of course. I do agree with you.
posted by zarq at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2012


Kolob seems to me just as rational as any other religious belief, perhaps moreso.

Despite having known a few (Jack)morons and despite being vaguely acquainted with all the talk of how Battlestar Galactica was LDS-influenced, I've only just recently twigged to this Kolob thing. This hymn to Kolb is no banshee howl to Yith, but it still tickles my fancy.

However, while, in the sense of being subject to (theoretical) disproof, a belief in a divinity that lives on a physical planet in the physical universe might be said to be as or more rational than a belief in a divinity as a metaphysical being or state, from a perspective that wishes to articulate or confront the numinous in human existence in the ways that are often called "religious," such a belief seems less rational precisely because it is subject to (theoretical) disproof.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:50 AM on October 22, 2012


The phrase "can't unring a bell" has merit but it is often misused to describe situations like this one where, in fact, what's being discussed is whether we should keep ringing a bell or stop.

Ok, I retract the phrase. My point is that we can't stop the distribution of the video. What we can do is stifle a respectful (or maybe disrespectful, but I hope not) discussion of the rituals depicted.

Honestly, I don't even think the post should be resurrected in its current form, but I would love to see a post featuring Decani's link.

Ultimately it doesn't matter, there are probably discussions about the video all over the web. Those other sites would be missing all the metafilter commenters who may bring another dimension or deeper understanding.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't tell you how many minutes I wasted watching that video looking for the "gross and sketchy" parts.

It looked like hidden camera footage of something rarely seen. Why was that bad again?

(And asking that the post be delayed until after Election Day? Now THAT is gross.)
posted by DU at 11:56 AM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


GOTTA GET THE TRUTH OUT THERE motivation in the text

I understand that this is probably the only source for this footage, but I agree with this sentiment. It's really hurf durf Mormons. I know there are other links but there wasn't really any framing to put this all into a well-balanced context.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:56 AM on October 22, 2012


Just because I think belief in a higher being is dumb and crazy, it would never occur to me that I should not make a post about a religion or religious practice.

My take from modland is more that it's pretty much always a bad idea to post something if you're primary motivation for posting it is that you think it is dumb and crazy. People can post about subjects that they have complicated feelings about, sure, and that happens and works just fine. It can be a balancing act, but it's doable.

But there's in the mean time a long history on this site of people occasionally making pretty terrible "man this sucks, amirite" sort of axegrind posts, and that's specifically not a good way to go and is a good way to get a post deleted.

Which is not saying that that's what you were doing here; it sounds like your take is precisely not that, that it's more a "hey, religious ritual is interesting stuff" thing that motivated you here and that's fine as far as that goes even if the post wasn't really workable. But when you're saying "hey, I think religion is dumb and crazy" in a conversation happening on the tail of you having a post about Secret Religious Rituals deleted, you have to understand how people are likely not to view that charitably.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:07 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Should I avoid making that post? Cortex did a good job of answering that question....
posted by HuronBob at 12:13 PM on October 22, 2012


I'm waiting for the secret rituals from modland to be revealed in a surreptitious video.
posted by found missing at 12:21 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


DU - the gross and sketchy parts are the weird text boxes. the "baptismal fonts down in the basement" and "the holy ghost, jesus, and god are three separate gods" and "want to replace the government with their own." you can make everyone sound crazy if you use geraldo rivera style gotcha phrasings. for instance "the cannibalistic rituals of the catholics" to describe communion etc.

i mean, the fonts are probably the most photographed parts of the temple - they're in the basements because they're fucking heavy and i don't think they could be easily supported on higher floors. but, his phrasing makes it sound like it's something hidden away. and the "three separate gods" thing is a woo-woo way of phrasing nontrinitarianism, something that isn't specific to the mormons. as to the replacing government part - well, sure, but i argue that if you dabble into any christian's belief of armageddon, they'll say that the united states won't survive it and that god or satan will rule the lands (depending on if you believe that the righteous will be risen up, or that the earth will be turned into a heaven of sorts).

i could do this for the whole video, but my overall point has been made up thread - this video's purpose seems to be "othering" and that's gross.
posted by nadawi at 12:28 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


My next post is planned to be about the Women of the Wall and the arrest of Anat Hoffman.

That's a post I'd like to see.
posted by homunculus at 12:31 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt religious organization.

Great. Leak a private video where prominent leaders in the church discuss their possibly-illegal political outreach. But I don't see what this video has to do with that.


I was not referring to "possibly-illegal political outreach". I was talking about the idea that public institutions are not private, and thus do not have the same expectation of privacy that individual people do. "I want to do this thing at home on my own dime, and you can't know about it" is reasonable; "I want to do this thing and you and everyone else are expected to subsidize that, but you can't know about it" is less so.
posted by vorfeed at 12:40 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree with Nadawi's characterization of the text-box comments. The most egregious to me were the ones that veered from narrating what was happening onscreen into discussing an apparently defunct practice and then specifically addressing Romney and his family.

That flatly takes it from being, "Let's share this never-before-seen video for its anthropological value," into being a blatant and explicit political smear. I can empathize with some of the comments in this thread expressing a purely intellectual curiosity about little-known things that occur in the world around us, but I think it's dishonest to discuss this video as if it were that. It isn't.
posted by cribcage at 12:42 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


always a bad idea to post something if you're primary motivation for posting

EDIT WINDOW FAIL!!!!
posted by lalex at 12:44 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was talking about the idea that public institutions are not private

Something something Valerie Plame.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:48 PM on October 22, 2012


the mormons allow visitors into the temple before they are dedicated (looks like the boise temple is open for tours right now). they have released lots and lots of information about their rituals. their churches (not to be confused with the temples) are open to anyone who wants to come by. they are in no way saying you can't know about it. people saying that the mormon church's tax exempt status means that they have to throw open the doors to their holiest of holies while practicing their religion is a step too far, i think.
posted by nadawi at 12:50 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


they're in the basements because they're fucking heavy and i don't think they could be easily supported on higher floors

Well, that, and also there's doctrinal support for proxy baptisms to be performed underground, a symbolic gesture as the baptisms are performed for the deceased. Also the baptism area is not technically "in" the temple, since the requirements to do temple baptisms are less restrictive...

...which is the point of the objection behind the linked video. The text boxes reframe the raw footage into something more deliberate, and as others pointed out, that particular intent seems to be pretty sketchy/gross. I feel no strong compulsion to defend the church but I do think accuracy and context matter.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:53 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would hate to see what the guy who edited the video would make of Catholics. Beyond our canabilsm we love hiding stuff in basements and Decorate our churches with demons.

The only reason the implications of the text are not entirely laughable is because this stuff has not had the exposure catacombs full of skulls and gargoyles have had. Even people who believe all religion is crazy treat less widely known religion as extra crazy.

Aside from the fact that it is interesting, that is why I have always thought Discussing art and rituals of less widespread religion Is important.

I'm not going to say anything about the organization and hierarchy but honestly the Catholic church has committed more affronts to civil liberties than any other. Ryan and Biden are both practicing Catholics and we give them a pass.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:56 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Also, absent of a salient FPP y'all are welcome to memail me with any personal questions you might have about this or any other aspect of the LDS faith. I can only share my perspective, of course, but I've reached a point in my life where I have no axe to grind with regard to the church and am happy to discuss all topics in the service of the curious.]
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:07 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


the baptism area is not technically "in" the temple

i've never heard this before. any written support of this idea? i'm not disagreeing with you - i just find it an interesting splitting of hairs. does that mean the foyer is also not considered "in" the temple?
posted by nadawi at 1:07 PM on October 22, 2012


and the "three separate gods" thing is a woo-woo way of phrasing nontrinitarianism, something that isn't specific to the mormons.

This is sort of straying into more of a main site discussion, but isn't another significant difference between Mormonism and the other religions listed in that article that God the Father is not the ultimate creator of the universe in the Platonic "first mover" sense?

This is the quote I usually come across which deals with that, attributed to Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth president of the LDS church:
Our Father in heaven, according to the Prophet, had a Father, and since there has been a condition of this kind through all eternity, each Father had a Father, until we come to a stop where we cannot go further, because of our limited capacity to understand.
I don't find that scary or woo-woo any more than I do the multiplicity of gods in Hinduism for example, since I'm an atheist, and I find the way it's portrayed and the text and other flourishes in the edited video distasteful, but it's a fundamental aspect of any religion material to a discussion of it.
posted by XMLicious at 1:11 PM on October 22, 2012


does that mean the foyer is also not considered "in" the temple?

I couldn't find anything written after a basic search. Perhaps it's more implicit than explicit but certainly I've noticed that in most temples there are additional portals and gatekeepers between the foyer and the temple proper. Non-members often hang out in the foyer when waiting for their mormon relatives to finish getting married. Even down in the baptism areas there's usually a second doorway to the rest of the temple (and the cafeteria) and you have to either have the "full" recommend or an escort to gain access.

Baptisms for the dead used to be performed out-of-doors, and I don't think there's any canonical reason they couldn't be again, though it's quite clear that the endowment ceremony always has to be in a "holy of holies", as it were.

This is based on my understanding and things I learned from my mission president who was a professor of church history and doctrine at BYU. Could be wrong.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:22 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


yeah, that is a significant difference and one that i think is worth discussion. i think the person who made/edited this video did themselves a disservice by focusing on things (like nontrinitarianism) that aren't that weird and putting them right next to things that really are very different (the idea that we can become gods and god isn't the first and last).

for me, the entire approach to this video is like when people focus on the mormons' "funny underwear" - like, it's an undershirt and longer, looser boxer briefs - who cares? there is so much to discuss about the church, both positive and negative, that constantly focusing on their underwear seems like a schoolyard bullying/othering tactic. it doesn't seem like anyone who brings it up is looking to gain understanding.
posted by nadawi at 1:24 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I too regret missing the opportunity to discuss Mormonism. The video stated that there is belief that humans existed before Jehovah and the Archangel Michael made the earth. Where were the humans before there was earth? On the Planet Kolob? Where is that planet?

Many years ago TIME magazine did an article about the Mormon church. They said they found no theology or doctrine and concluded that Mormonism was more like a business than a religion. This was possibly written in the era of Mitt's dad George's many campaigns for the presidency. There was objection to George's candidacy because he was foreign born - in Mexico where the polygamous family sought escape from US laws.
posted by Cranberry at 1:24 PM on October 22, 2012


people saying that the mormon church's tax exempt status means that they have to throw open the doors to their holiest of holies while practicing their religion is a step too far, i think.

I did not say they have to "throw open the doors to their holiest of holies". I suggested that they can't suppress video of their holiest of holies if someone happens to release it. Religions are free to bar/accept whoever they want to from their holiest of holies, and to have whatever video policy they want to have regarding their rituals, but I don't think it's reasonable to suggest that they are free to enforce these policies on non-members outside Church property.
posted by vorfeed at 1:25 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doleful Creature - oh yeah, i totally agree with that - especially the implicit more than explicit part. while i was considering it and typing up my question i was even thinking "well, there are other gatekeepers before you get back into the area of endowments and sealings and such and you are ushered downstairs seemingly separate from that." i didn't know (or didn't remember)about the baptisms for the dead being performed outdoors - thanks for mentioning that. :)

vorfeed - i must have missed it - where is it suggested that the church is trying to suppress this video or enforce their policies on non-members?
posted by nadawi at 1:28 PM on October 22, 2012


Cranberry - it's been a long time since i sat in sunday school - but it's my understanding that the LDS believe that all the souls existed prior, but being born to earth was a requirement because you needed a physical body. as to the "where" it's always been vague. wikipedia is a surprisingly good source for mormon info. the pre-existence are the keywords you'll want to search to learn more.
posted by nadawi at 1:32 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was someone claiming that the Mormon church was going to somehow suppress a video that went viral on the internet? I thought the point being made was that making the video was unethical, and helping to further distribute it is distasteful.

Further, I don't see why individuals who organize themselves as a religious non-profit organization lose their rights to conduct themselves in private. I used to be on the board of a 501(c)(3) arts organization, do you get free access to all our papers, plans, and personnel documents? If someone had stolen our documents, would we have no right to use the normal legal processes to retrieve them?
posted by Area Man at 1:33 PM on October 22, 2012


If you guys want to hear something that the church did try to supress, something potentially even more secret (even to 99% of members) this 4+ hour unedited interview (!) with Tom Phillips regarding the "second endowment" is pretty interesting (.mp3 file link is on the bottom of the page). It's much less skeevy and has a lot more to do with secret rituals of the power elite in the church rather than the regular folks.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:36 PM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


for me, the entire approach to this video is like when people focus on the mormons' "funny underwear"

Yeah, that is so dumb. Those people have evidently never heard of a scapular, which I've known several lay Catholics to wear under their clothes all the time, or tallits in Judaism, or basically any other sort of religious clothing.
posted by XMLicious at 1:40 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is nothing funny about secret underwear, people. Move along.
posted by found missing at 1:45 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


gah, too many comments in a row - sorry. i mean to put this at the end of the last one.

They said they found no theology or doctrine and concluded that Mormonism was more like a business than a religion

that's ridiculous (not of you, of TIME). the mormons are filled to the brim with theology and doctrine. there's the book of mormon, doctrine and covenants, and the pearl of great price (as well as the bible). they have a fully formed belief of what happens before and after you die, repentance, and rituals for birth, baptism, and marriage. their heaven structure is maybe the most complicated i've ever heard of. beyond the official doctrine, you also have the presidency of the church and the apostles who over the years have given a lot of talks and written a lot of essays and books.

i found the pbs special to be pretty good for people who want a general "who are the mormons anyway" sort of of thing.
posted by nadawi at 1:50 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


vorfeed: “Religions are free to bar/accept whoever they want to from their holiest of holies, and to have whatever video policy they want to have regarding their rituals, but I don't think it's reasonable to suggest that they are free to enforce these policies on non-members outside Church property.”

This would be a pertinent point if anyone here were claiming that the Mormons were "free to enforce" anything on anybody.

All anybody here seems to be doing is appealing to common human decency and respect for privacy, even if that privacy isn't guaranteed by law.

Tax-exempt status has absolutely nothing to do with privacy.
posted by koeselitz at 1:54 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


To illustrate a point. Pretty much everything in this Chick Tract about mormonism is technically accurate (as in you can look up all the cited information and verify it) but the way it's all framed is so scare-mongering that if you showed it to most practicing faithful mormons they would simply laugh it off as complete fabrication. Even so, this quote from the tract

It's a mixture of Bablyonian and Jewish religions, Masonry and Catholic tradition.

Is actually a fairly good summation of the theological sources from which many mormon tenets are derived.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:59 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did not say they have to "throw open the doors to their holiest of holies". I suggested that they can't suppress video of their holiest of holies if someone happens to release it.

That is fine as an opinion, but there is nothing in nonprofit law that has much bearing on what you are talking about. The fact that the LDS is a 501(c)(3) doesn't seem to have any actual legal bearing on what you are saying.
posted by Falconetti at 2:05 PM on October 22, 2012


It's a mixture of Bablyonian and Jewish religions, Masonry and Catholic tradition.

this sounds like my dreams.
Maybe I was Mormon in a previous life.
posted by philip-random at 2:12 PM on October 22, 2012


All anybody here seems to be doing is appealing to common human decency and respect for privacy, even if that privacy isn't guaranteed by law.

You compared this video to a violation of rights, not just human decency and/or general respect for privacy. I apologize if I misread that, but as I pointed out several times above, I agree that it's fine for the Church to "appeal to common human decency and respect for privacy". I just think it's important to point out that this cannot (and, IMHO, should not) keep people from spreading or viewing videos like this one. I think society's interest far outweighs the Church's interest in cases like these.

As for the 501(c)(3) thing: I'll freely admit that nonprofit law does not match my opinion on this matter. If it did, however, I suspect that the abuse of nonprofit status on the part of religious (and other) organizations would be a lot harder to pull off.
posted by vorfeed at 2:15 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


vorfeed: “You compared this video to a violation of rights, not just human decency and/or general respect for privacy.”

That's true. But I also compared it to filming or photographing someone in public, and said that there are plenty of situations in which it's technically legal but nonetheless absolutely not ethical to photograph or record someone in public.
posted by koeselitz at 2:20 PM on October 22, 2012


vorfeed: “As for the 501(c)(3) thing: I'll freely admit that nonprofit law does not match my opinion on this matter. If it did, however, I suspect that the abuse of nonprofit status on the part of religious (and other) organizations would be a lot harder to pull off.”

On that, at least, I agree wholeheartedly. If I had my way, there would be no exemption from taxation for religious organizations, and issues of privacy and speech wouldn't be complicated and compounded in this way.
posted by koeselitz at 2:22 PM on October 22, 2012


I really, really wish the same footage was available with a less stupidly-framed video, because as it is, I don't think it belongs, either. And especially the election tie-in... no.

But. A bunch of people got together in a group and did a thing. Yes, information is already available on the internet about this thing, but it's not officially distributed by the church; the church doesn't want people to actually know about this thing until people are really established in the religion, because knowing about those things right off the bat might well cause someone not to convert, or cause a young person to leave the church, because these private things sound kind of silly in the light of day.

Am I talking about Mormonism or Scientology, here?

It feels like there's kind of a double standard. I have nothing against religious people, or Mormons in particular, but to talk about this as though it's some deep invasion in principle? It's easy for a person to dismiss text descriptions of something as being made up by enemies of the group. I don't necessarily think this particular Youtube link should be reposted, but I think the idea of "we shouldn't talk about this because it's PRIVATE" is very... off. It's a religious ritual that they basically expect everyone to undergo. If it can't stand up to the light of day, that's not really the internet's problem, is it? I don't want to see Metafilter turn into a place where we can't see links about X because X doesn't want us to see links about X.
posted by gracedissolved at 2:23 PM on October 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


That's true. But I also compared it to filming or photographing someone in public, and said that there are plenty of situations in which it's technically legal but nonetheless absolutely not ethical to photograph or record someone in public

How about if the faces were blurred like google street view does.

I actually feel that it might be ethical to take a picture of someone in public "for personal use" but it might be unethical to distribute it. I own the copyright to my own hairstyle and clothing combinations so don't infringe my steez yo.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:29 PM on October 22, 2012


I don't think Scientology versus Mormonism is a helpful comparison. I don't really want to derail the thread with getting into why (and I don't especially want to knock Scientology any more than I want to bait people into pointing out Mormon Church misbehaviors), but I don't think it's a good comparison and I hope that people will think about whether they honestly feel it's constructive before using it.
posted by cribcage at 2:30 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the idea of "we shouldn't talk about this because it's PRIVATE" is very... off.

I tentatively agree with this, and I'm not sure why it's an opinion that's been voiced as often as it has in this thread. My objection to the posting of the video is that it's othering, fearmongering, purposefully inaccurate, and seems to be obviously pointed at discouraging support for a political candidate because of his religion, which is shitty.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:33 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think Scientology versus Mormonism is a particularly apt comparison and one I have been prone to using offline. Although on second thought, I don't think L. Ron stole his rituals from a fraternal organization, so he has that going for him, which is nice.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:52 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


The only observations I want to make at this time are 1) that a little color correction would go a long way to making that video look a lot less creepy, and 2) that it's fascinating how excited people can get about something super incredibly boring like religious liturgy just because they think it's a secret or that they'd be doing something transgressive if they found out about it or revealed it.

Like Doleful Creature, I'm more than happy to answer anyone's questions about any of this stuff via MeFiMail. I'm probably at roughly the same level of orthodoxy as he is, but in slightly different ways.

And, just for the record: Kolob is a funny, interesting little thing that isn't really part of any important doctrinal part of Mormonism and that almost never comes up in church. Just this morning, I was having a discussion with a close friend who, like me, is a High Priest in the Mormon church and has held significant leadership roles, and we were talking about how neither of us believes in the Book of Abraham, and how you really don't have to believe any particular thing about the Book of Abraham or most other aspects of Mormonism to be in good standing in the church. So there's that.
posted by The World Famous at 2:58 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


it's not particularly apt. people who think it is don't know much about either organization or are too blindied by their own biases. the only way they make a good comparison is if you go down the road of "all religions are cults" which isn't particularly illuminating.
posted by nadawi at 2:59 PM on October 22, 2012


Based on how little my own experience and knowledge of Mormonism matches most public explanations or allegations about it, I suspect that nothing I've ever heard or read about Scientology is actually true at all.
posted by The World Famous at 3:01 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


up until about 2 minutes ago, this was my favorite kolob related thing. upon searching for that though, i discovered my new very favorite kolob related thing.

my experience matches The World Famous - kolob is basically known as part of a hymn that is trotted out every once and a while and many members who have given it some thought don't believe it strictly as presented.
posted by nadawi at 3:05 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I recently read an interesting book about occultism as it relates to fraternal orgainizations - Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition (despite the title, and the titles of a lot of this guy's books, he does a lot of very clear-eyed historical and analytical studies of occult stuff. His UFO book was particularly good as well.) One of the the things that struck me in particular was the discussion about secrecy - that rituals weren't kept secret because there was any practical or esoteric need to keep them hidden, but that the simple fact of having a secret changed the way members thought about the rituals and the organization. I don't have the book on hand, or I would quote it - it was a particularly interesting way of looking at things that made total sense to me and, I think, is very likely to apply here, given the Freemason connection.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:14 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


super incredibly boring like religious liturgy

Heh, I was just thinking, "Maybe I should go to the temple, I haven't had a good nap in awhile."

There are lots of things to object to and vigorously debate regarding the LDS faith, but the temple endowment ceremony itself, as a liturgical rite, is pretty inconsequential.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:17 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


the church doesn't want people to actually know about this thing until people are really established in the religion, because knowing about those things right off the bat might well cause someone not to convert, or cause a young person to leave the church, because these private things sound kind of silly in the light of day.

I'd imagine that the reason they don't go out of their way to advertise this stuff is that it requires a foundation of other theological principles and a framework of a unique uses of words to understand what's going on. You know, like every field of study. Why attribute malice when the basic human nature of how subjects are taught will do?
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:19 PM on October 22, 2012


oh man, the second or third time i did baptisms for the dead, the pre-dunking sitting around part was the best 15 minute nap i've maybe ever had in my life.
posted by nadawi at 3:20 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think L. Ron stole his rituals from a fraternal organization

Well, he certainly had unauthorized access to high level O.T.O. degrees through Jack Parsons. I don't know how much of that actually ended up in Scientology, but I'm guessing it had some influence.
posted by malocchio at 3:23 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


As you guys know since I was bugging you a while back about it I am fascinated with Kolob, I probably seem like Jewish friends of mine that always ask me strange questions like if I was baptized roman catholic or Irish catholic and how much of The Divinci Code catholics believe in.

Does anyone here think a video exposing the secrets of the catholic confessional would be ethical? It is a religious ritual that is explicitely private. How about if a catholic filmed their own confession and put it on YouTube?
posted by Ad hominem at 3:24 PM on October 22, 2012


Well, unless he had the priest's permission I think that would be pretty messed up*, especially if he also added text on top of the video reinterpreting everything that was said/done during the confession to make it seem even more strange.

*Unless the footage was of the priest breaking some kind of law under cover of the confession box, but then it should be in a courtroom not necessarily on youtube, and the conversation would be be quite different.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:27 PM on October 22, 2012


You can't actually see the priest during confession. It operates on the same principle as laying on a couch during therapy, that it is easier to say something If you aren't looking someone in the eye.

Of course confessions have been acted out in hundreds of films and I don't think non-Catholics would get kicked out or anything, it might just be confusing.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:39 PM on October 22, 2012


Actually, Ad hominem, some churches are doing away with the confessional booths and parishioners are having to do confession face-to-face with the priest.
posted by cooker girl at 3:43 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you still have to go through the whole "bless me father for I have sinned" thing?

My point was that is that confession is legally protected. But I have to believe the person confessing can divulge their own confession if they desire. Seems similar to the video here, a person is divulging their own actions for the most part. How much control should a church have over a person divulging secrets they are a party to.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:52 PM on October 22, 2012


I don't know. I'm not Catholic (but I play one on TV!) but that's what I've been told by Catholic friends.

And yeah, I get what you're saying; I just wanted to point out the demise of confessional booths, at least in some churches.
posted by cooker girl at 3:54 PM on October 22, 2012


My point was that is that confession is legally protected. But I have to believe the person confessing can divulge their own confession if they desire.

I'm not sure you mean "legally" but rather in-the-church protected. By which I mean, if a priest has heard someone's confession and the police try to subpoena him as a witness, and the priest says "no, because confessional and all that," the police don't just say "oh, whoopsie you're right" and let it go. The Seal of the Confessional is not legally protected in the US courts as far as I'm aware.

(Mind you, my education on that point comes from reruns of Law and Order SVU, so I could be wrong....)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:55 PM on October 22, 2012


Does anyone here think a video exposing the secrets of the catholic confessional would be ethical? It is a religious ritual that is explicitely private. How about if a catholic filmed their own confession and put it on YouTube?

I'm not sure that's a particularly good analogy. But I admit that my understanding of that particular rite is certainly incomplete, such that my assessment of its similarity to the Mormon temple rites and liturgy is certainly at least as flawed as such an assessment by a Catholic who does not fully understand the Mormon temple rites.

That said, it seems to me that there's a fundamental difference between the Mormon temple's liturgical, instructional purpose and content on the one hand and the Catholic confession rites' content and purpose on the other hand. The secrecy of the Catholic confession exists largely for the purpose or protecting the confidentiality of the matters confessed by the penitent individual to the priest acting in loco cristi. There is no such personal content in the Mormon temple rites, which are kept undisclosed not because they contain any personal information of the individual participants, but because of the perceived sacredness of the liturgy itself.

The Mormon equivalent to the Catholic confession rite would be a confidential meeting with one's Bishop or Stake President, including, but not limited to, informal meetings where the Bishop is asked for advice, Tithing Settlement meetings, and church disciplinary proceedings. Strictly speaking, Mormons are not supposed to have "confession," but it often works out that way anyway. My own take on that is that people have a certain cultural expectation of confession in a religious setting, placed there in large part by popular culture and media that show Catholics confessing. I can't tell you how many times I had to stop people who started confessing to me and explain to them that we're not Catholic and that's not something we do.

So, would it be ethical for someone to create and release a hidden camera video of a Catholic confession rite? That would depend, I think, on a number of factors. The first is whether the person surreptitiously making the video is the individual making the confession or some third party. The confidentiality (or privilege) in the communication belongs to the confessor, such that I think it would be a more grave ethical breach for a non-confessor to surreptitiously record the confession of another person and release it than it would be for the confessor to do so. But even if the confessor did so, I think it would be unethical to represent to the person receiving the confession - by implication or otherwise - that the communication is confidential when, in fact, it is being recorded for release to the public.

Going back to the actual Mormon analogue, of which the closest would probably be Mormon church disciplinary councils (sometimes called "church courts"), it raises the same question: Who is the person who holds the privilege, to waive or keep it, and who is the disclosing party? I don't think there's anything generally unethical about a Mormon who is the subject of a disciplinary counsel disclosing the subject matter and content of the council proceeding. I think it would be unethical of them to surreptitiously record it, though. I think it would be unethical for anyone other than that one person to disclose anything about the meeting, since it is that one individual who holds the privilege.

So, is it unethical for a person to surreptitiously record the Mormon temple liturgy and release it on YouTube? In my opinion, it is unethical precisely because of the false material representations that that person must make in order to gain access to create such a recording. I think it's unethical of them to gain entry to the Temple under false pretenses, represent that they will keep sacred and not disclose the content of the liturgy, and then breach those representations.

Is it an especially grave ethical violation? Probably not. But knowingly making a false representation of material fact with the intent of inducing detrimental reliance on the part of another is unethical, by definition.

Seems similar to the video here, a person is divulging their own actions for the most part. How much control should a church have over a person divulging secrets they are a party to.

I admit that I have only skimmed the video, mostly because I find the Temple liturgy extremely boring and if I'm going to sit through it, I'd like it to be in the actual temple, actually performing the rites. But from what I see in the video, the actions of the person making the recording are the one thing that is not shown in the video. But, as I discussed already, I don't think the Temple liturgy is the same kind of rite as confession or a disciplinary council meeting, where privilege is attached and held by anyone in particular. It's not a question of violation of a privileged communication so much as of an unethical, fraudulent process of gaining information surreptitiously and by means of a series of intentional misrepresentations and then breaching those representations. I don't see how that can be seen as ethical.
posted by The World Famous at 3:58 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


We've had posts with videos obtained "surreptitiously" for years and there's nothing inherently wrong with them. I've only watched the first 3 minutes and I'm having a very hard time agreeing with cortex's quick deletion.

The video demonstrates specific and very unusual religious beliefs of a candidate running for President whose surrogates regularly look the other way at untrue religion-bashing aimed at his opponent.

The idea that this video is unworthy of MeFi's front page is completely absurd.
posted by mediareport at 4:10 PM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm trying out a new adjective here: Mormonic!
posted by Mister_A at 4:13 PM on October 22, 2012


The bottom line for me is that I don't want someone going "Beyond the Veil" of my group therapy sessions because a presidential candidate is engaging in group therapy. Even if all we're doing is bitching about our kids for an hour.

I'm an atheist and I have little to no respect for the "mystery of the confession booth" or what-have-you - I regularly read about the "Mysteries of Scientology" or the mysteries of Mormonism or JW or gnostic Christianity and so on and so forth. I DO have basic human respect for what we decide, either individually or as a culture, are private spaces. "Basic human respect" doesn't mean I think they're inviolable, but if there's no real reason to besides "Hey, Public Figure did this once!" then I find it to be both uncompelling and mean-spirited.

The video demonstrates specific and very unusual religious beliefs of a candidate running for President whose surrogates regularly look the other way at untrue religion-bashing aimed at his opponent.

Is the argument that it's OK to bash the LDS if a Mormon guy's friends religiously bash a Christian? Isn't this called, "Taking the low road?"
posted by muddgirl at 4:14 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The video demonstrates specific and very unusual religious beliefs of a candidate running for President

And you don't think that's horseshit 'gotcha' material?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:15 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The video demonstrates specific and very unusual religious beliefs

I'm super curious: Which beliefs demonstrated in the Temple liturgy itself are unusual? And what makes you think Mitt Romney (whose bid for President I do not support) believes and interprets those things in exactly the same way you do?

The idea that this video is unworthy of MeFi's front page is completely absurd.

I didn't notice it until a while after it was deleted and the MeTa was posted, and I'm not one of the people who apparently called for its deletion. But as a Mormon who believes in the sacredness of the Temple liturgy and ceremonies, I like that the mods were able to recognize that, for those who do consider those things sacred, it is offensive to post a video editorializing about and crapping on those sacred things. I don't get too upset about the fact that such videos exist or that it's trivially easy to find them online (and this is far from the first, FWIW), and I keep it sacred for myself, not as a confidentiality measure, but as a way of keeping those things in a personal space of my own that is reserved for respect and sacredness. I don't expect the internet in general to keep that stuff secret or to refrain from crapping on or misrepresenting my beliefs. But I appreciate that MetaFilter strives to be a respectful community, and that the mods recognized very quickly that this post ran contrary to that aspect of the community.
posted by The World Famous at 4:16 PM on October 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


But knowingly making a false representation of material fact with the intent of inducing detrimental reliance on the part of another is unethical, by definition.

This would make unethical any instance of whistleblowing, undercover police work, or failure to keep a promise, even one which depends upon an unequal power disparity. This suggests to me that this is a uselessly reductive definition.
posted by vorfeed at 4:17 PM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


"no, because confessional and all that," the police don't just say "oh, whoopsie you're right" and let it go. The Seal of the Confessional is not legally protected in the US courts as far as I'm aware

Well we do have Confessional Privilege. According to wikipedia:

In United States law, confessional privilege is a rule of evidence that forbids the inquiry into the content or even existence of certain communications between clergy and communicants.

It grows out of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the common law, and statutory enactments which may vary between jurisdictions.



The Mormon equivalent to the Catholic confession rite would be a confidential meeting with one's Bishop or Stake President.

I'm not so sure. I admit I am not the best catholic, but confession is intimately tied to the sacrement of Eucharist. You are not supposed to recieve communion unless you have made a good confession since your last mortal sin. In my mind this makes it more than a disciplinary hearing but mandatory to be a practicing catholic.


It's not a question of violation of a privileged communication so much as of an unethical, fraudulent process of gaining information surreptitiously and by means of a series of intentional misrepresentations and then breaching those representations. I don't see how that can be seen as ethical.


I certainly agree misrepresentations are unethical. I'm sorry, I was talking about this Unedited version without the text

Specifically passing through the veil.

I am actually talking myself out of thinking this is ethical, confessions get legal protection but these rituals apparently don't. I am just exploring all the angles.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:19 PM on October 22, 2012


Again: Surreptitiously acquired video has a long-standing history as post-worthy at MeFi. That it now in this case involves religious ceremonies does not give it special absolution from that long tradition.

That it also happens to be quite newsworthy at the moment - you folks did hear about Billy Graham removing the "Mormonism is a cult" stuff from his website just last week, right? - is merely icing.

I assume the mods are currently having a debate about this, which would be good, because cortex's reasons stated above are terrible: "the feel of the whole schmear," "comes off as kind of gross," etc. It's a mistake and should be corrected.
posted by mediareport at 4:19 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This would make unethical any instance of whistleblowing, undercover police work, or failure to keep a promise, even one which depends upon an unequal power disparity. This suggests to me that this is a uselessly reductive definition.

It is the legal definition of fraud. That there are recognized legal exceptions is an interesting side note. And, if there's some reason to believe that lying to record the temple liturgy is within one of those legal or ethical exceptions, I think that's worth discussing. But, notwithstanding the undisputed validity of two of your three examples - whistleblowing, undercover police work - I don't see how they apply here, since they both rely on the illegality of the disclosed behavior or communication overriding the other ethical issues.

And yes, failure to keep a promise is unethical, particularly when it's a promise entered into fraudulently.

I'm not so sure. I admit I am not the best catholic, but confession is intimately tied to the sacrement of Eucharist. You are not supposed to recieve communion unless you have made a good confession since your last mortal sin. In my mind this makes it more than a disciplinary hearing but mandatory to be a practicing catholic.

I agree wholeheartedly. There is no equivalent Mormon rite to Catholic confession. Disciplinary Councils are as close as it gets, and they're still not the same.

I certainly agree misrepresentations are unethical. I'm sorry, I was talking about this Unedited version without the text

I was referring to the misrepresentations that the video camera operator had to make in order to enter the temple, as well as their false assertion in the temple itself that they would never reveal the temple rites.
posted by The World Famous at 4:24 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The video demonstrates specific and very unusual religious beliefs of a candidate running for President whose surrogates regularly look the other way at untrue religion-bashing aimed at his opponent.

Which is really mostly stuff we already know about Mormonism as it plays out on the US political stage. I, too, felt it was a weird skeevy video and timed for maximum election-eyeball appeal which is why it's zipping around the internet.

I assume the mods are currently having a debate about this

We're really not. I totally respect where you are coming from, mediareport, but we just don't agree with you on this one. And the added frisson of the whole "I think belief in a higher being is dumb and crazy" angle is not helping this post seem unproblematic.

It felt, and feels, like a people must know post that might be great for a more newsfiltery type of website which MeFi is not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:25 PM on October 22, 2012


It's a fascinating glimpse into a subject most MeFites don't know about. I'm really sorry to hear there's not even debate about its deletion.
posted by mediareport at 4:28 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


The World Famous: “But knowingly making a false representation of material fact with the intent of inducing detrimental reliance on the part of another is unethical, by definition.”

vorfeed: “This would make unethical any instance of whistleblowing, undercover police work, or failure to keep a promise, even one which depends upon an unequal power disparity. This suggests to me that this is a uselessly reductive definition.”

Er – is it really controversial to claim that lying is unethical, regardless of the possibility that whatever it is you're doing the lying for might be ethical itself? Lying in order to uncover extraordinary wrongdoing might be the best thing to do, given a certain set of circumstances. That doesn't make the act of lying ethical. And besides, now we're back down to where we started. You compare this to whistleblowing or undercover police work – but the comparison seems odd to me. Above, you said that "society has an interest" in knowing know happens at these rituals. But I can't think of what that interest might be.

Again, I watched this video. There is nothing ominous and frightening about it. At worst, it is a bunch of people in silly clothes reciting nonsense. What is the public interest there? I said this at the beginning – I would feel differently if a set of private circumstances were invaded to uncover evidence of abuse of animals, or corporate malfeasance, or political corruption. All of these are ethical wrongs that the public has an interest in preventing.

The only thing this video uncovers evidence of is people in silly clothes reciting nonsense. That may be a waste of the time of a few strangers, but it's hardly on the level of wrongdoing that needs to be exposed to the public. There's no way the gains here outweigh the ethical wrong of the invasion of privacy (and, as TWF said, the lying) that it took to get this video.
posted by koeselitz at 4:29 PM on October 22, 2012


The video demonstrates specific and very unusual religious beliefs

All religions and denominations have unusual beliefs. If they didn't there wouldn't need to be so many of them. One of the most eye opening experiences I had in college was when, during an anthropology class, somebody did a report on some aspect of Christianity that I had taken for granted growing up. Not only did it show that it wasn't an intuitively obvious truth, but two or three other students tried to get into a theological debate as to if what he said was accurate or not. People that would define themselves as part of the same religion, couldn't even agree on a basic theological element.

Religions are like cuisines, there's one or two things in everyone that every one else just shudders and says "man am I glad I don't have to swallow that."
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:31 PM on October 22, 2012


I was referring to the misrepresentations that the video camera operator had to make in order to enter the temple, as well as their false assertion in the temple itself that they would never reveal the temple rites.

Ok, gotcha.

The whole point of confessional privilege is to allow people to feel safe practicing their religion, that they can confess mortal sins without risk of going to jail. Protection against religious persecution is one of the fundamental tenets of the united states. I am trying to square the fact that one ritual gets legal protection, for the sole purpose to allow people to perform that ritual in safety, but no other religious rituals I can think of get the same consideration. Nobody can record my confession, but other rituals are fair game.

Thanks for being so patient guys.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:31 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


We've had posts with videos obtained "surreptitiously" for years and there's nothing inherently wrong with them.

Nor did I say there was anything inherently wrong with them. I think it depends entirely on the case. I am not sure if you are conflating other people's discussion in here about their personal take with what has actually been said by a mod or if you are just deciding that this is something I secretly think or what.

The video demonstrates specific and very unusual religious beliefs of a candidate running for President whose

Basically every sentence that starts like this needs to just not be an argument for why something is a good Metafilter post. This is not an electioneering site, the fact that something reflects somehow on a candidate that a vocal plurality dislike (and hey, I'm one of 'em!) is not the criteria by which a post's worthiness is determined, period.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:34 PM on October 22, 2012


And to be super clear, this is not a case where I think surreptitiousness is the core issue in any case, nor does the deletion reason say "no posting Mormon secrets" or anything of the kind.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:37 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


mediareport: “The video demonstrates specific and very unusual religious beliefs of a candidate running for President whose surrogates regularly look the other way at untrue religion-bashing aimed at his opponent.”

There's something about this remark that bugs me – sorry, but it seems like a very weird thing to say. It's unfair for his surrogates to engage in religion-bashing of Barack Obama, so it's okay to engage in religion-bashing of Mitt Romney? I was under the impression that religion-bashing alarmism intending solely to smear someone unfairly wasn't really supposed to be a Metafilter thing, even if 'the other guy did it first.'

And frankly, does it really make any sense that 'the other guy did it first' would ever be a legitimate ethical justification?
posted by koeselitz at 4:41 PM on October 22, 2012


cortex, it's an interesting thing newly posted to the web that most MeFites haven't seen before. End of story. I didn't frame my objection in the best way (I've never been on board with the "this is important so I MUST POST stuff and am sorry I put it like that) but you clearly over-reacted - there's nothing "gross" there, cortex - and I hope someone else finds a way to include the video in a post soon. It's an interesting undercover video of something most of us have never seen before; I had no idea that they used kids as stand-ins for their shitty baptism-in-abstentia stuff.

Anyway, I'm clearly over-reacting myself; I don't know why this is bugging me so much but it is.
posted by mediareport at 4:48 PM on October 22, 2012


mediareport, you might be interested in the last few posts about the Temple on bycommonconsent, some of which have dealt with disclosure of Temple rites on the internet, today's post on the need for better preparation of Mormons for their first Temple visit, and similar issues. I don't always agree with what they're saying over there, but if you're hoping to see something about the Mormon temple rites that most MeFites haven't seen before, I think inside-baseball beanplating about it by Mormon intellectuals might be interesting to you.

I had no idea that they used kids as stand-ins for their shitty baptism-in-abstentia stuff.

That strikes me as a strange comment, given that that topic - including that teenagers participate in the rite and that it's an offer of baptism, not baptism-in-abstentia, etc. - has been discussed into the ground on MetaFilter already.
posted by The World Famous at 4:59 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


But, notwithstanding the undisputed validity of two of your three examples - whistleblowing, undercover police work - I don't see how they apply here, since they both rely on the illegality of the disclosed behavior or communication overriding the other ethical issues.

There's a reason why I mentioned that third example.

Likewise, whistleblowing doesn't always involve illegality -- sometimes it just involves things someone thinks society ought to see (Scientology's OT Levels, wikileaks releasing the names of members of the BNP, weak passwords on web accounts and voting machines, the doxxing of people involved with creepshots, etc). And while I agree it's not helpful to conflate the two religions, the OT Levels were never a matter of any malfeasance; they are a matter of religious doctrine the same way LDS passwords/keys are. The vast majority of the information released on Scientology has nothing to do with wrongdoing, as opposed to simple secrets. I find it difficult to sign on to any ethical framework which would have these documents remain secret simply because Scientology (or the LDS, or any other organization) wants them to be.

In short: you seem to be suggesting that there's no way someone could have thought there was an overriding ethical reason to record and leak this video, but I don't think that's a safe assumption. We don't know why this person felt that he should make this video, nor what his personal ethics entail.

As for society's interest in this: as I said above, organizations which want to be public and take public monies should expect a certain degree of public interest. As far as I'm concerned, it's generally a good thing for religious practices (and corporate practices, and government practices) to be transparent. People should be able to find out what they are entering into, whether any wrongdoing exists or not. The internet has done a tremendous amount of good in making it difficult or impossible to keep these kinds of secrets.
posted by vorfeed at 6:43 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


if you want to know what the mormons teach, they publish their manuals online.
posted by nadawi at 7:17 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad the post was deleted. I've been blocking and unfriending people all day for their crappy "heehee, Mormons are evil/stupid!!!!!1!LOOOOLZ" crap. No one needed to come to MetaFilter to find it, and quite frankly, the discussion was 99.9995% guaranteed to be revolting.

The part that bugs me the most is that someone deliberately lied, multiple times, to expose something that we invite the whole darned world to learn about. Secret video of a temple ceremony is as informative and enlightening (and like actually being there) as a secret video of people bathing in a mikveh. The doctrine is in no way hidden - it's a ceremony, not a meeting of some dark and terrible cabal. You know how MetaFilter's all like "there is no cabal"? That's the deal with Mormonism, too, no matter what jerks on the internet like to say.

To gain a far deeper understanding of what you're seeing, I recommend this page, "What Happens In Mormon Temples." FAIR has a topical guide on temples, and so does LDS.org.

I recommend the producer of that video bite me.
posted by SMPA at 7:20 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


"there is no cabal"

"He told me very few people receive this blessing and it must be kept secret."
posted by davidstandaford at 7:37 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


SMPA, I'm sorry you're having to deal with that shit, but I've got to point out something. You said "we invite the whole darned world to learn about". I followed your link to "What Happens In Mormon Temples" and the very first sentence is "I can’t tell you exactly what we do in the Temple, because I have made a covenant not to discuss certain things."
posted by benito.strauss at 8:39 PM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whoops.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:17 PM on October 22, 2012


I have no problem with people knowing exactly what happens in the Mormon Temples. I do have a problem with them pretending its notably weirder than what happens in most other Christian churches' rituals, right down to the funny clothes, the altar, the liturgy itself, and the interminable boredom.
posted by The World Famous at 9:23 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mormon rituals! Mormon rituals!
Bubble! Bubble! Toil and trouble!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:44 PM on October 22, 2012


The deletion was good. The pop-up text bubbles were tawdry and not documentary. A good documentary on the Mormon religion and their rites would have been post worthy. This was not that video.
posted by arcticseal at 9:51 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Washington DC, becoming a "Mormon Sronghold." It used to be strange to me how America was seemingly ripe for the taking from targeting interests, but then you come here and see the poser lay downs.
posted by Brian B. at 10:12 PM on October 22, 2012


I have no problem with people knowing exactly what happens in the Mormon Temples. I do have a problem with them pretending its notably weirder than what happens in most other Christian churches' rituals, right down to the funny clothes, the altar, the liturgy itself, and the interminable boredom.

This, a thousand times. Unless this place is just chock full of anthropology majors working on their dissertations it just doesn't strike me as something so interesting to merit the posting of a fighty and mean-spirited rifftrax of ill-gotten raw footage. You may have mormon friends in your real life who would feel pretty shitty about the fact that this is even in debate. MetaFilter is a place of respect. If you have genuine curiosity about this there are reliable primary sources from which to learn without it turning into a pile on.

You said "we invite the whole darned world to learn about". I followed your link to "What Happens In Mormon Temples" and the very first sentence is "I can’t tell you exactly what we do in the Temple, because I have made a covenant not to discuss certain things."

To be fair, SMPA was likely referring to the idea that the church invites everybody to join and eventually attend the temple themselves. It's one of the main missions of the church. And yes, a lot of members are pretty careful about what they discuss in that vein. It's their faith, their tribe, and their life, why on earth would they want to casually betray that for some curious internet strangers?

But hey, not all of us are so cagey. I'm well aware that the kimono is wide open and am happy (as I've already said numerous times) to discuss any and every aspect of it with folks. I haven't yet had any memail requests on this front so I'm starting to wonder how many people actually care in the first place. Yet another reason why the deletion was justified.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:56 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to point that out as an example of why there may be some curiosity from non-Mormons about what goes on in Mormon temples. "I can't tell you ...." is almost guaranteed to make people want to know.

For comparison, I went through about 8 years of Hebrew school, got bar-mitzva'ed, and I can't remember being told a single time that something was only to be discussed with other Jews and must be kept secret from outsiders. The closest was a vague sense that you may have to pack up and move quickly some time, because Nazis. Do you think Mormon's historical shitty treatment by gentiles is part of the cause of the secrecy?

(And BTW I agree with the deletion. The film was just trying to sensationalize and freak people out.)
posted by benito.strauss at 11:16 PM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


A fair point benito, and I don't think the secrecy is based on past persecution. I suspect it has more to do with fraternal solidarity, much like masonry.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:23 PM on October 22, 2012


I think the secrecy is primarily in place to reinforce the bond that Mormons feel as a community, and to give a sense that the liturgy is something more important to one's identity and eternal progression than a run of the mill religious ceremony. In a way, it doesn't actually matter much what the substance of the ceremony is, as it can serve those functions and build a strong sense of separation from the rest of the world regardless of the provenance or substance of the rite. Where that is concerned, I have always found it fascinating that there are no open claims that the temple liturgy is revealed truth, and it seems to have been made clear by Joseph Smith at the time that he had lifted much of it from the Masons and other non-divine sources. The LDS temple liturgy has changed enormously throughout the history of the church, but its nature as something that is not even discussed by members among themselves outside the temple makes it almost impossible to study the history of the rites and liturgy in any meaningful way. It also means that there is no instruction in the church as to the meaning of the symbols, the extent to which the teachings are metaphorical, or how the members of the church should interpret it all and incorporate it into their religious beliefs.

For a church that has a pretty pronounced dogmatic steak in its culture and a strong anti-dogma streak in its official doctrines, I think it is very useful to have its most sacred rites and liturgy be something that the members expressly do not discuss outside the temple and the they cannot, therefore, turn into a dogmatic set of rules to lord over each other.

My interpretation of the temple ceremonies is my own and is unimpeachable because everyone who could possibly tell me my version of Mormonism is wrong has also sworn not to talk about it, even with me. When I have my temple recommend interview, the Bishop is not allowed to tell me what he thinks the covenants mean or to ask me what I think. He can only ask the yes or no question of whether, by my own personal reckoning, I keep them. He cannot even remind me what they are. I love that and I hope it always stays that way.
posted by The World Famous at 11:36 PM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I watched a video online a few months ago--was it here?--where an exmormon and former temple worker described his experiences. It was much less creepy than this. He was down to earth, funny, and grounded about his former beliefs. Though dismissive now--whole exmormon thing and all.

As an agnostic, I'm interested in the specifics of religious ritual of all sort. Magical thinking is pretty amazing to me because even when I'm prone to it, I don't believe it. It's cool to see what people believe, but part of that for me, of course, is amazement that people believe at all. Not in an insulting way. I genuinely find it fascinating. Which I realize makes me a bad person to make FPPs about these subjects.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:39 PM on October 22, 2012


"I did not say they have to "throw open the doors to their holiest of holies". I suggested that they can't suppress video of their holiest of holies if someone happens to release it. Religions are free to bar/accept whoever they want to from their holiest of holies, and to have whatever video policy they want to have regarding their rituals, but I don't think it's reasonable to suggest that they are free to enforce these policies on non-members outside Church property."

Of course they can't, which is why it is currently circulating all over the internet, but we certainly can - because that shit is really not OK and we don't need to be a part of it.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:10 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the Big Love through the veil episode explained things pretty well. And that was on 3 years ago.
posted by Isadorady at 12:16 AM on October 23, 2012


I'm super curious: Which beliefs demonstrated in the Temple liturgy itself are unusual? And what makes you think Mitt Romney (whose bid for President I do not support) believes and interprets those things in exactly the same way you do?

Proxy baptisms for the dead, particularly where those being proxy-baptized are not immediate relatives of a church member. (I'm not talking about parents wanting a baptism for their stillborn baby, but things like Anne Frank being proxy-baptized as a Mormon at least nine times and members proxy-baptizing incredibly distant dead relatives, including historical figures who were long dead before Joseph Smith ever came around.) I'll fully grant that I don't have a firm grasp of the Mormon theological basis for the practice (and please, feel free to educate me if you have such knowledge, because I do want to see this a different way), but I haven't read anything that makes me not find such practices "unusual." I'll further grant that there appear to be policies to avoid such abuses of the system, but it's also clear that

As for Mr. Romney, I do not know his beliefs on this topic. I do know that he has held relatively high leadership positions in the Church, tithes a significant amount of his personal wealth to the Church, and outwardly gives the appearance of being very much in line with the teachings of the Church leadership. I don't really care a lot what Mitt Romney believes.
posted by zachlipton at 12:43 AM on October 23, 2012


I see a couple of casual references to the possible anthropological value of this video.

If an anthropologist had been involved with this video in any way, there would be an uproar about it. It's spying for political purposes, explicitly presented as harmful to Romney. There's no informed consent. It's intentionally supposed to be damaging to the wider interests of its subjects. It takes advantage of innocent, earnest, and harmless human social activity. It's an invasion of personal privacy for some of the people involved. It's insensitive to the religious significance of pretty much everything in it. It appears to be totally in violation of local cultural practices. And there's just no hint of a superordinate ethical point to it given that the facts about Romney himself are well-known.

Anthropologists who have access to imagery of religious significance generally do not publish it without permission or at least grave consideration of how offensive publishing it would be, if the subjects were to encounter it later in published form. You'd be amazed what seemingly innocuous stuff gets excluded on those grounds. From a professional point of view, this video is way beyond the pale.

And you know, that's fine for Reddit or whatever. Things like this are going to get out, and people are going to gawk and LOL at it--that's life.

But anyone adopting a higher standard understands the anthropological value of, like, respect toward others ... creating forums for unbiased/non-oppressive dialogue ... affording reasonable privacy ... and thinking well of people more or less harmlessly trying to make their lives meaningful and virtuous on their own terms.

I don't have any personal feelings about Mormons one way or another, but deleting this FPP was the only thing of anthropological value you could do with it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:42 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not Catholic (but I play one on TV!)

Tom Bosley? I thought you were dead!
posted by biffa at 1:46 AM on October 23, 2012


It's a fascinating glimpse into a subject most MeFites don't know about.

I had no idea that they used kids as stand-ins for their shitty baptism-in-abstentia stuff.

You may find this thread, this thread, this thread, this thread, and this MeTa a good starting point for more Mormon-related MeFi discussions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:34 AM on October 23, 2012


From the opening credits and dum-de-dum music, it hints at some kind of Roswell/Area 51 thing. Then it just shows several minutes of, well, some solemn ceremonies where nothing dramatic happens, no-one says anything outrageous or illegal, people stand around, and there's a fair bit of handshaking at the end.

I lived for five years not that long ago on a Scottish island, and went to the island church for funerals (frequently; aging population) and other community events. And the things that were sometimes said then were a lot more unexpected, noteworthy and stick-in-the-mind than this slightly dull, badly edited and definitely overlong video.

I don't believe in their (Mormons) particular God, but now I've seen the video I'm actually more, not less, understanding and accepting of their particular faith. They seem okay. Which was possibly not the intended result of the excitable cameraman.
posted by Wordshore at 5:30 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's an interesting topic which people are reasonably curious about, and also that there are far, far better, fairer, and more responsible links about Mormon beliefs and controversies within the Mormon community and so on. This wasn't a good FPP about Mormonism, but one is possible.

How people would likely behave in the thread at this historical moment is another question entirely.
posted by Miko at 6:31 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Proxy baptism is NOT an actual baptism. It's extending an offer of baptism that the deceased can either accept or reject in the afterlife. It does not convert anyone.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:33 AM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Proxy baptisms for the dead, particularly where those being proxy-baptized are not immediate relatives of a church member.

Hm. I asked "Which beliefs demonstrated in the Temple liturgy itself are unusual?" Proxy baptisms for the dead for those who are not immediate relatives of any church member are not only not part of the Temple liturgy itself but are specifically and explicitly contrary to and prohibited by LDS doctrine and beliefs. I admit that I did not stick with the video closely enough to know whether they show someone actually being baptized or performing other temple ordinances on behalf of a deceased person who is not an immediate relative of the person who submitted the name. But I quite frankly do not think there would be any way for you to know whether that was the case anyway, unless the deceased person was a famous public figure. That sort of thing happens so rarely that I would be very, very surprised if this hidden camera operator just happened to participating in an ordinance where one such name happened to come through and nobody stopped it from happening. But if there's some part of the video (ideally the one posted above without the pop-up commentary) where you think that's evident, I would sincerely like to know at what point in the video that happens.

Proxy ordinances on behalf of deceased relatives are a well-known and freely-discussed and disclosed aspect of Mormon Temple worship. The video in the post doesn't reveal anything about them that's not already discussed openly.

I have a hard time understanding how anyone with a passing knowledge of the rites routinely performed in Catholicism, Judaism, Evangelical Christianity, Islam, and other major world religions can watch this video and come away with anything other than that Mormon Temple worship basically looks like a boring, monochromatic version of the stuff in those religions where people go to a fancy building and stand up and sit down repeatedly while listening to and repeating religious phrases while a priest stands in front of an altar telling them what to do.

Have the people making comments about the funny clothes not ever seen what the people in other religions wear during their rites? The temple clothes are so similar to the vestments worn by certain officiants in Catholicism and Judaism in particular (not to mention Freemasons) that I can't wrap my head around how anyone can be something other than surprised just how mundane and boring the Mormon rites are in their similarity to other major religions. Mormonism's "secret" rites and practices should be only surprising in how derivative and unoriginal they are. When I first attended the Temple endowment session, it blew my mind that this church that had been telling me my whole life that we don't believe in the sorts of rituals and memorized prayers that Catholicism and other religions do had, as its most holy ritual, something that was so close to the carefully-orchestrated rites of those other religions. I mean robes? Funny hats? Hand gestures and passwords? That's pretty standard religious fare that is notable in Mormonism only because of its absence from all worship outside the closed doors of the Temple. If anything, this should make us look more like other religions, not weirder.

But I guess people really are drawn to the notion of the Universal Conspiracy, so much so that they desperately want Mormonism to be the same kind of bogeyman as the Rosicrucians, Illuminati, Knights Templar, Knights of the Rosy Cross, or any number of other stuff you would find in a book by Umberto Eco. In the late 19th Century, I could blame the general ignorance and suspicious nature of the general population, combined with the cultural events of the times, for leading people to believe such hogwash. But I'm not sure what keeps people seriously believing in the Universal Conspiracy as pertaining to Mormonism in the 21st Century. Maybe it's that Jon Krakauer book, combined with people having been prepped to believe all manner of religious conspiracy theories after having read Dan Brown's novels.
posted by The World Famous at 9:16 AM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


(By the way, I don't mean to present Eco as belonging in the same paragraph as Krakauer or Brown. Eco is one of my favorite authors precisely because of his fascination with people's obsession with and irrational belief in the Universal Conspiracy.)
posted by The World Famous at 9:18 AM on October 23, 2012


Elsie: so it sounds like proxy baptism is sort of like post-mortem spiritual junk mail. Okay, that's fair.

However, I note that some people really don't like junk mail, and I also note that sometimes junk mailers get their targets really, really wrong (I have received junk mail via post inviting me to install a hot tub in my 4th-floor apartment, and junk mail inviting me to subscribe to MAXIM). Curious as to the success rate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on October 23, 2012


Curious as to the success rate.

We Mormons are also curious as to the success rate of proxy ordinances. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Or not see, as the case may be. Regardless, we do not consider those for whom proxy baptisms have been performed to have actually been baptized or to have been converted or to now be Mormons or members of the Mormon church.
posted by The World Famous at 9:21 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's been a bit of static about the baptizing thing, not so much because people think that it makes people post-mortem Mormon but that even implying that people might want to change their mind is somewhat presumptuous. There are stated policies about how to do it respectfully that are followed with varying degrees of adherence. I mostly know about this because of the controversy concerning proxy baptisms for Jewish Holocaust victims. Wikipedia is not really where I'd go for a totally neutral look at this, but you can follow the citation links if this sort of thing is interesting to you. As much as I really enjoy all of Mormonism's contributions to the genealogical record, the awkward overlap with the proxy baptism practice causes me some discomfort.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:33 AM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's been a bit of static about the baptizing thing, not so much because people think that it makes people post-mortem Mormon but that even implying that people might want to change their mind is somewhat presumptuous.

The Holocaust victim baptisms was exactly what I was thinking of, and why I was just comforted with the notion that it is considered an optional thing. That sort of downshifted it for me from "they really are baptized what the hell" to "they extended the offer to someone who was WILDLY unlikely to take it, kind of like the direct mail guys who thought I was a guy".

Still annoying and presumptous, but to a lesser degree than I was thinking was the case.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:36 AM on October 23, 2012


I knew about the baptisms for a long time, but while I was visiting the Temple grounds last week I learned about another practice I had never heard of before - proxy marriages. Mormons can also perform the ordinance of sealing (marriage for all eternity) on people who died single. That was a surprise to me.

I understand that proxy baptisms are supposed to be confined to family relations. However, I wonder how far those relationships are conceived to extend. I attended a genealogy workshop while there and learned that Mormon genealogists assemble family structures so large that they can show Mitt Romney is Obama's 20th cousin. That's fun and all, but also seems to indicate that the definition of "relatives" could be so large as to become, well, relatively meaningless.
posted by Miko at 9:49 AM on October 23, 2012


Secrecy is how the Scientologists keep their newbies from cluing in that they've been suckered. By the time they learn about the Xenu bullshit, they are far too gone to get out. Indeed, their cult members get so fucked-up that they believe it's okay to kill ex-culties.

Shine the brightest motherfucking sunlight on all religions. They can not be trusted. Secrets are bad news.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 AM on October 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


There may be a link about how Romney's Mormon faith has shaped him, or about how the Salt Lake City paper endorsed Obama, and how locals reacted, or about misconceptions and trutha about Mormonism that this could be added to. I found it interesting, and was able to ignore the weird tone.
posted by theora55 at 10:06 AM on October 23, 2012


I understand that proxy baptisms are supposed to be confined to family relations. However, I wonder how far those relationships are conceived to extend.

Per church policy, church members are not allowed to submit names for temple ordinances unless they have the express permission of a direct descendant.
posted by The World Famous at 10:09 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's fun and all, but also seems to indicate that the definition of "relatives" could be so large as to become, well, relatively meaningless.

compared to the rest of the universe our whole biosphere is one big close-knit family. I'm formerly LDS but i still love the genealogy stuff. I have pics of great, great great, and great great great grandfathers on my phone, gives me a sense of perspective.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:12 AM on October 23, 2012


IIRC that also supposedly is the case with proxy baptisms and yet it seems to be somewhat of a flexible policy in practice.
posted by elizardbits at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, it is unethical precisely because of the false material representations that that person must make in order to gain access to create such a recording.

Goodbye, investigative journalism.

Goodbye, undercover cops.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 AM on October 23, 2012


Have the people making comments about the funny clothes not ever seen what the people in other religions wear during their rites?

Aren't pretty nearly all the fiercest religious hatreds pure expressions of the narcissism of small differences? I mean, it's not just that Jews, Muslims and Christians all worship the same God and all ultimately derive from the same tradition of religious belief and practice: heck, Protestants have been happy to kill other Protestants because of arcane differences over minor differences in liturgical practice.

As to the question of the thread: that particular video is hopelessly compromised by its nutso "Romney wants to install a Mormon theocracy!!!!" not-so-subtext. The hidden-camera thing might just get a pass if you could believe in it as a piece of dispassionate anthropological investigation, but given the framing the whole thing is just icky.
posted by yoink at 10:16 AM on October 23, 2012


five fresh fish, I think we already discussed those general exceptions to the fraud rule above. But do you think that this video constitutes one of those thing? Is this investigative journalism, undercover police work, or something else that is a generally accepted exception to fraud?

I'm also interested to know what secrets you think are being revealed here that are in some way similar to what you're alleging about Scientology.

I do think that the way Mormonism does name submissions for proxy ordinances should be done differently. I have some fairly complex ideas of how I would do it if I were in charge, and I sympathize with jessamyn's and others' opinions about it. And I think church members should be more thoroughly prepared for temple work than they usually are. But there's just way more grar here and elsewhere than I think is justified.
posted by The World Famous at 10:31 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, is it unethical for a person to surreptitiously record the Mormon temple liturgy and release it on YouTube? In my opinion, it is unethical precisely because of the false material representations that that person must make in order to gain access to create such a recording. I think it's unethical of them to gain entry to the Temple under false pretenses, represent that they will keep sacred and not disclose the content of the liturgy, and then breach those representations.

As I explained in this thread, what's really unethical about the secrecy is setting up a system that, among other things, keeps grandparents from seeing their granddaughter getting married, because they're not Mormons.

It's not only unethical, it's evil. It's evil to keep someone from participating in a family member's major life event because they aren't part of the team. It's evil to do this to a WWII veteran, someone who put his life on the line to defend a country that provides room for all religions, including Mormonism. It's evil to do this to people near the end of their lives, who simply want to join in a celebration of life, one that Mormons and non-Mormons alike should be allowed to celebrate (despite ongoing attempts by Mormons to legislate and limit). Rotten to the core.

We only get so much time on earth, and to knowingly participate in and perpetuate this rotten practice as if others who call it out are wrong... It is evil, in the most fundamental and clearcut way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


As I explained in this thread, what's really unethical about the secrecy is setting up a system that, among other things, keeps grandparents from seeing their granddaughter getting married, because they're not Mormons.

I agree. Strongly. I don't think civil marriages should be conducted as part of the Temple sealing ceremony at all. I think the marriage itself should always be a separate event, open to anyone who the couple wants to invite. That is actually the way it works in Mormonism everywhere except the United States. We just have to get it through the thick cultural veil of Utah Mormons that the temple ordinance is not marriage, but only a sealing ordinance.

We only get so much time on earth, and to knowingly participate in and perpetuate this rotten practice as if others who call it out are wrong... It is evil, in the most fundamental and clearcut way.

How about actively working to influence the church to modify its United States practices to match those outside the United States. Is that evil?

As far as what the church's policies and doctrine are with regard to whose names should be submitted for temple work, here's a statement from the church on that topic that should answer a lot of people's questions as far as what the church actually condones and supports.
posted by The World Famous at 10:38 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are a lot of religionists trying to establish a theocratic USA. You can't fart in Washington without getting up the nose of an extremist who wants to establish religious rule.

Is it true that it is permissible to lie to advance the cause of the church?

Is it true that Romney (& his dad) are seen to be fulfilling a prophecy?

If either of those is true, one should be more than a little concerned for the safety and future of the USA, because sure as shooting, the megalomaniacs and religionists are working to take the country to dangerous places.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:39 AM on October 23, 2012


The temple clothes are so similar to the vestments worn by certain officiants in Catholicism and Judaism in particular

When I saw the squared-off hats I thought "Oh yeah, our rabbi wore something like that".

The thing that I'm curious about is the hand gestures and passwords. I got a very good memail from Doleful Creature with details about them (thanks, DC). How does that compare to other religions? My only experience is my Jewish upbringing, and we did have to learn a lot of prayers in a weird language. Hearing someone else recite the Sh'ma is practically the same thing as making a secret handshake. But it seems there are also Mormon words and rituals that are specifically not to be used in the greater world outside the temple. The closest I know to that is my new-agey friend who is eagerly wanting to get her mantra from a Buddhist teacher she visits. Can the Catholics/Protestants/Muslims out there provide any similar stuff from their upbringing?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:40 AM on October 23, 2012


Is it true that it is permissible to lie to advance the cause of the church?

Not at all.

Is it true that Romney (& his dad) are seen to be fulfilling a prophecy?

Your use of the passive voice is a bit problematic in that question. Seen by whom? By the church? Not at all.

If either of those is true, one should be more than a little concerned for the safety and future of the USA, because sure as shooting, the megalomaniacs and religionists are working to take the country to dangerous places.

Good thing neither of them is true, then.
posted by The World Famous at 10:43 AM on October 23, 2012


Aren't pretty nearly all the fiercest religious hatreds pure expressions of the narcissism of small differences?

I wouldn't personally define them as small, no.

For example: antisemitism is embedded in and promoted by early Christian texts, which condemned Jews and Judaism and (among other things,) declared us despised agents of the Devil. These repeated references and images would eventually form a foundation for negative Christian characterizations / depictions of Jews through art and Christian teachings throughout the Middle Ages. They helped give rise to many incarnations of modern antisemitism.

It took between 1500 and 1900 years for that to change, and for the Catholic Church to say we didn't murder their messiah, and shouldn't be held responsible for his crucifixion.

James Carrol's book Constantine's Sword details the history of Christianity (with an emphasis on the Catholic Church) as it relates to Judaism, and draws direct parallels between the rise of Christianity-sourced antisemitism and the ideology of Nazi Germany. It's a fascinating read, and I recommend it highly.
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Please do not turn this into another referendum on Mormonism. Everyone knows how to get ahold of The World Famous or other Mormon Mefites if you need to talk about things that are not really on topic in this thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:45 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


My only experience is my Jewish upbringing, and we did have to learn a lot of prayers in a weird language. Hearing someone else recite the Sh'ma is practically the same thing as making a secret handshake.

No one is trying to keep the translation of the Shema secret, though. I mean, yes, it's a shibboleth. But not a secret one.
posted by zarq at 10:51 AM on October 23, 2012


I think every argument in this thread for violating these folks' right to privacy and violating their own interests in keeping their symbols and practices to themselves either for practical or metaphysical reasons runs aground on one simple point:

It's not about you.

That wouldn't be true if these people were getting in your shit somehow or posing a danger to others. But the idea you have a right to know what they're up to just because you're curious and would learn from it or even that you have a right to participate in a family member's ceremony is just laughable.

You wouldn't *stand* for it if reasons like that were applied to your own decisions about what's meaningful, private, symbolically significant, etc. in your own life. Or at least I can't imagine a reasonable person being that universally accommodating to the prurience of others.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:03 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows how to get ahold of The World Famous or other Mormon Mefites if you need to talk about things that are not really on topic in this thread.

I believe the following statement to be on-topic: Metafilter should not promote, protect, preserve and perpetuate a poisonous culture of secrecy, by deleting threads which shine a light on secret practices with specific evil consequences, one of which I describe above.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


....What the blue hell are the "specific evil consequences" of a run-of-the-mill worship service?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:12 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think every argument in this thread for violating these folks' right to privacy and violating their own interests in keeping their symbols and practices to themselves either for practical or metaphysical reasons runs aground on one simple point:

It's not about you.

That wouldn't be true if these people were getting in your shit somehow or posing a danger to others.


You are aware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent a crapload of money to overturn gay marriage in California?
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:14 AM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I believe Blazecock Pileon is referring to the Mormon church's practice that applies only to its members within the United States wherein civil marriages are officiated concurrent with the temple sealing ceremony, resulting in people who are not admitted to the Temple not being able to attend the actual ceremony of their relatives' and loved-ones' marriages.

The post in question did not shine a light on Mormon Temple marriage ceremonies in any way, Blazecock Pileon. The video showed only portions of temple proxy baptisms and the endowment ceremony.

Alas, I don't think exposing the content of temple sealing ceremonies would have any effect at all in convincing the church to bring its United States practices in line with its practices in other countries in that regard. There are many of us working to change that policy from within, and we'd appreciate it if you toned down your breathless accusations that we're evil.
posted by The World Famous at 11:16 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Per church policy, church members are not allowed to submit names for temple ordinances unless they have the express permission of a direct descendant.

I guess my point is that I am a direct descendant myself of hundreds and hundreds of people, so could I just give my own permission and baptize my own ancestors - of whom there are many?

The thing about the Salt Lake City paper. I've seen it posted everywhere with an 'OMG how devastating for Romney! Even in SLC!' response. But I think it's just kind of a sad reflection of the state of American newspapering - people shouldn't leap to the assumption that this is the only paper, making this endorsement seem to mean more than it does. As most American cities (even small ones) once had, Salt Lake City has more than one major paper. It has the Tribune, which in its long history has been vocally anti-Mormon but for most of the recent past just independent, and calls itself the "independent voice" for Utah. But it also has the Deseret News, which is wholly owned by the LDS church, and it also has the Utah Daily Herald, big in Provo. I think you could legitimately call it a "stunner" if the Herald endorsed Obama, and you could mildly interested if the Deseret News did, but the Tribune's basic reason for existing is to be a non-LDS newspaper and a legitimate alternative to that, so it's not beholden to looking out for the interests of the church. So the endorsement shouldn't be all that surprising.

But even when I was out there a couple weeks ago, I was interested to see that there was not a lot of pro-Romneyism in your face. There are a fair number of Mormons who are Obama supporters and/or registered Democrats. On the Temple area tour I took, after hearing a description of the values of the LDS faith (service, charity, kindness etc), a woman from Germany raised her hand and asked "Does Mitt Romney really believe all that?" and the missionary guides, quite diplomatically, just shrugged. "I don't really know," said one. "I can't say," said the other, "I've never met him."

It basically came across as a bit more complicated than a Romney=Mormon=good! sort of scenario out there.
posted by Miko at 11:17 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are aware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent a crapload of money to overturn gay marriage in California?

For whatever it's worth, I think hidden camera video of closed-door meetings about that topic would be 100% fair game, not least of all because they would not be part of the temple ceremonies at issue here. Nothing about the posted video has anything whatsoever to do with the church's political involvement in opposing same-sex marriage.
posted by The World Famous at 11:17 AM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


No one is trying to keep the translation of the Shema secret, though. I mean, yes, it's a shibboleth. But not a secret one.

And that's not happening here, either. As I told benito in the memail. There are loads of places where you can find all the nitty gritty details of these secrets. They are not hidden. I personally don't divulge it, since I promised not too. Other folks already have, that's their business. If you really want to know it is not hard to find.

It's not a secret. You can say "hey I found this stuff (like the video), is it true" and I can say "sure, yes you've discovered our great secrets" while simultaneously not being interested in divulging the specifics and what they mean to me. It's still a private religious experience specifically designed for personal interpretation. We don't even discuss it amongst ourselves, not even with our church leaders.

But if you want to desperately know you can find it. Google it, have a blast. Forgive me if I'm not interested in explaining the details to you. You'll likely find that much of it has strong parallels to masonic rites and much of the wording is straight out of the books of Isaiah and Revelations.

....What the blue hell are the "specific evil consequences" of a run-of-the-mill worship service?

I think Blazecock is referring to temple "marriages" (i.e. sealings) which exclude non-members from participating. Has nothing to do with the video that was posted. I agree with TWF that it is a ridiculous and unnecessary practice that hurts non-member friends and family. It's not even required by the church doctrine, not be a long shot. It's just what people in the church do, because of cultural cruft that hasn't been addressed. I can tell you I won't allow such nonsense with my own kids if/when that time comes.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:19 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, I think hidden camera video of closed-door meetings about that topic would be 100% fair game, not least of all because they would not be part of the temple ceremonies at issue here. Nothing about the posted video has anything whatsoever to do with the church's political involvement in opposing same-sex marriage.

Yeah, I was just arguing against the notion that Mormons weren't "getting in [people's] shit somehow or posing a danger to others."
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:26 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was just arguing against the notion that Mormons weren't "getting in [people's] shit somehow or posing a danger to others."

You said that in response to me, though, and I don't recall having made that claim. I only asked what was harmful about this specific worship service depicted in the video.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2012


You are aware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent a crapload of money to overturn gay marriage


Would you be cool with them filming private LGBT support meetings to make political points of their own?

I suspect you understand how absurd it is to consider harmless private religious ceremonies your business on political grounds, but your example offers a useful hypothetical to ponder.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:32 AM on October 23, 2012


You said that in response to me, though, and I don't recall having made that claim. I only asked what was harmful about this specific worship service depicted in the video.

No I didn't. The comment I responded to and quoted is from Monsieur Caution.

Unless that's your sockpuppet? /Hamburger
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:33 AM on October 23, 2012


James Carrol's book Constantine's Sword details the history of Christianity (with an emphasis on the Catholic Church) as it relates to Judaism, and draws direct parallels between the rise of Christianity-sourced antisemitism and the ideology of Nazi Germany. It's a fascinating read, and I recommend it highly.

Ironically, it's roughly the book equivalent of these videos.
posted by Jahaza at 12:08 PM on October 23, 2012


Doleful Creature: "And that's not happening here, either.

I'm having trouble understanding this, and hope you or The World Famous might be kind enough to clarify for me?

I would not ask you to explain anything that you might find uncomfortable or to go against your beliefs or any promises you might personally have made. So if I cross any line here, please tell me.

As I told benito in the memail. There are loads of places where you can find all the nitty gritty details of these secrets. They are not hidden. I personally don't divulge it, since I promised not too. Other folks already have, that's their business. If you really want to know it is not hard to find.

Let me rephrase and expand upon what I originally meant, for clarity's sake:

No Jew is being encouraged to keep the Shema a secret. It would be pretty hard to do: the Shema is written in Hebrew on the scroll of every mezuzah that has ever been affixed to a doorway, and is one of, if not the most important and most frequently recited prayer in all of Judaism.

Because of this, the prayer could be considered an in-group marker - something we Jews can use to recognize each other. But informally. The prayer isn't hidden in any way. There's no religious or cultural injunction in Judaism that the Shema (or to the best of my knowledge, any other religious rite,) be kept a secret from outsiders.

In fact, translations of Jewish religious prayers aren't kept secret from outsiders, either. Anyone can buy annotated prayer books with extensive explanations from a bunch of places. IMO, the best are probably from Artscroll. And to build on that, Jewish religious services are traditionally open to outsiders, too.

So.... my understanding is that the religious ceremony caught on film was not open to outsiders. This can happen in Judaism, too. A family might choose to keep a bris or a funeral closed to the public for privacy reasons. But that would be their choice, not one imposed by their synagogue.

My question is this. You've said it's not a secret. You also said: "I personally don't divulge it, since I promised not too."

But these statements do not appear to agree with one another. Are Mormons like yourself promising to keep what goes on in the service a secret or not? And if so, to whom? And why?

Promising not to divulge details is different than a rite being personal and individually subjective. Isn't it?
posted by zarq at 12:08 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would you be cool with them filming private LGBT support meetings to make political points of their own?

LGBT support group is not analogous to a secret religious meeting. The meetings between church members and their bishops would be more analogous. And yes snooping on those would be bad.

I suspect you understand how absurd it is to consider harmless private religious ceremonies your business on political grounds,

Just to state, I don't really care about the deletion on mefi. However, if you view the Mormon* opposition to gay marriage as purely a political issue and not, say, as slap in the face to gay people, we'll we clearly differ there.

We (by we I mean non-Mormons and people who don't have close Mormon associates) know now that nothing anti-gay or crazy or whatever was going on there, but that's only because whoever filmed it, filmed it. I can understand why someone would film it to see what really happens, because what people say and what they do tend to differ and what leadership says and what the regular joe does also differ.

I think this is like those snooping questions on Askme. Where one person snoops and finds something incriminating and the half the answers are like "Oh my god, I can't believe you snooped. That's just never justified. You demon spawn." And the other is like "Yeah, yeah, snooping is bad, but the SO is cheater!!! Be glad you found out. DMFTA" Of course, askme rarely gets questions were the asker snooped and found nothing. But I don't think snooping is that big a deal. I mean, it's clearly a violation, less so in this situation then in an intimate relationship, but it's nothing that I can't forgive with a heartfelt apology and a promise not to do it again. Other people's mileage clearly varies.


*I just spent a half-hour looking over the various Mormon schisms on wikipedia and now I feel weird using Mormon to refer to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but since that's how it is in mainstreem speech, I'll stick with it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:11 PM on October 23, 2012


There's no religious or cultural injunction in Judaism that the Shema (or to the best of my knowledge, any other religious rite,) be kept a secret from outsiders.

Is teaching and learning Torah a "religious rite"? I suppose that's debateable, but there is a religious injunction against teaching Torah to non-Jews. It leads to discussions like this one. Like most religious injunctions (in all faiths) some people take it seriously and others don't.
posted by Jahaza at 12:21 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Promising not to divulge details is different than a rite being personal and individually subjective. Isn't it?

Yeah, I think it can fairly be called "secret" when the only way to participate in and see it is to promise not to disclose certain parts of the rite's content. As I understand it, though, I've only promised not to disclose certain very specific things about the ceremony. Maybe Doleful Creature can correct me if I'm mistaken, but I can't think off the top of my head of any promise I've made not to discuss or disclose the ceremonies generally, or not to discuss anything other than those very narrowly-defined aspects of it.

So, to be as accurate as possible, I'd say that the ceremony itself is not open to the public and recording devices are not allowed, but that the content of the ceremony is not generally a secret except for a very limited set of very specific things in its content. If the audio is good enough to listen to all of it and is complete and not missing any portions, I would assume that one could glean from the surreptitious video exactly which parts are secrets (i.e. not to be disclosed by those having participated in the ordinance) and which parts are not subject to any such promise.

For example, I don't believe I'm under any duty not to disclose that there is a film shown during the endowment ceremony that represents the creation and that the film's soundtrack is a pretty blatant rip-off of several well-known classical pieces that always makes me wish I was listening to the real thing instead of the rip-off, that when the video has the pop-up accusing Mormons of not believing God is omnicient based on God asking Jehovah and Michael whether they have done as he commanded, the pop-up is missing the point that God is asking them to report in order to hold them accountable and not because he is not omnicient, or that the repeated references to Kolob in the video's pop-ups are ridiculous and have nothing to do with the Temple ceremony, which actually never mentions that insignificant bit of Mormon esoterica at all. I'm also free to note that the video's pop-up making a big deal about women sitting on one side of the aisle while men sit on the other side seems to ignore (for effect) similar traditions in other mainstream Judeo-Christian religions, and to disclose that, in the final part of the endowment ceremony where the participants enter the Celestial Room, there is no separation of men and women. Oh, and I can freely discuss the fact that, in the Temple endowment ceremony, women officiate in Priesthood ordinances and hold Priesthood offices, which is interesting in its striking difference and apparent contradiction to Mormon practices outside the Temple. The video didn't seem to catch that part, so now I'm even disclosing stuff that's not in the video.

There's lots of other stuff about the temple that I think I'm fully at liberty to disclose and discuss. I don't really think MetaFilter is the sort of reverent forum where I'd be comfortable having such a discussion. But I cannot think of anywhere on the internet that would be.
posted by The World Famous at 12:29 PM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


there is a religious injunction against teaching Torah to non-Jews.

Wow, I didn't know that. And one of the commenters makes the interesting point:
Anybody else not understand how we have this precious word of God and we’re not allowed to share it with others. .... Or how by keeping it private we would feed into all the terrible things anti-Semites say about Torah.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:41 PM on October 23, 2012


But these statements do not appear to agree with one another. Are Mormons like yourself promising to keep what goes on in the service a secret or not? And if so, to whom? And why?

Maybe Doleful Creature can correct me if I'm mistaken, but I can't think off the top of my head of any promise I've made not to discuss or disclose the ceremonies generally, or not to discuss anything other than those very narrowly-defined aspects of it.

Exactly what I was going to say. If we're gonna rules lawyer the thing then yes, there is only a very specific and small subset of things in the rite that we promise to not reveal, except under certain circumstances. Based on the way these proscriptions are introduced I've always understood them to be very personal and never felt like I was agreeing to a collective gag order.

So yes, I promised to keep secret certain details from the ceremony. But, I also didn't promise to prevent others from finding out about it. I didn't promise to go to any measures whatsoever to hide or obscure information about the temple. I feel no great compulsion to keep people from discovering all they want to know about it.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:41 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


when the video has the pop-up accusing Mormons of not believing God is omnicient based on God asking Jehovah and Michael whether they have done as he commanded, the pop-up is missing the point that God is asking them to report in order to hold them accountable and not because he is not omnicient,

Actually, God is asking them to report because this part is clearly based off the ceremonial opening of a Masonic lodge.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:03 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're talking origin and I'm talking theological significance in the modern church. We can both be right.
posted by The World Famous at 1:07 PM on October 23, 2012


Is teaching and learning Torah a "religious rite"? I suppose that's debateable, but there is a religious injunction against teaching Torah to non-Jews. It leads to discussions like this one. Like most religious injunctions (in all faiths) some people take it seriously and others don't.

As I understand it, the concern here is really more about the co-option of portions of Jewish identity by those who aren't interested fully adopting it. I'm thinking of things like the Kabbalah craze or Jews for Jesus here. The idea is that delving deeply into Torah study is a religious exercise, so it should be done in that context. The vast majority of Jews (even and perhaps especially some Orthodox) are happy to share and explain virtually anything about the religion from their perspective as best they can, though consider the classic rule: ask three Jews a question and you'll get four answers. Certainly, anybody is welcome at pretty much any service. Granted, a non-Jew isn't going to be invited to do the backstroke in the mikvah (not that most Jews today ever visit one or even know what one is), just as I wouldn't give myself a sponge bath from the baptismal font when visiting a church. Asking to join a daily Talmud study so you can better praise Jesus is likely going to meet with more resistance.
posted by zachlipton at 1:27 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


in the Temple endowment ceremony, women officiate in Priesthood ordinances and hold Priesthood offices

whoa! i did not know that! i dropped out before i turned 18 so i never did the endowments. that's utterly fascinating. i'd be interested in your thoughts on the significance of that, but i feel that might be a better conversation to have over some mormon punch (heh), not in an open metatalk thread.


because this part is clearly based off the ceremonial opening of a Masonic lodge.

and people celebrate christmas because the early christian church needed to bridge rituals to convince pagans to join. oh, wait, that's why christmas was created, not why it's celebrated. everyone's rituals have some history that isn't inline with the stories/myths. the mormons just get called out on it more because their history is more recent (and because they haven't waged huge wars to destroy everything that isn't inline with their story).
posted by nadawi at 1:28 PM on October 23, 2012


Jahaza: "Is teaching and learning Torah a "religious rite"?

Studying torah isn't ceremonial. Reading from the torah can be a part of a ceremony, but doesn't have to be. So it's not exactly a 'rite.'

But for argument's sake, I'm happy to say it is and discuss. :)

I suppose that's debateable, but there is a religious injunction against teaching Torah to non-Jews."

Yes there is! :)

zachlipton gave you a great answer.

But also, I suspect nearly all rabbis would probably say that the injunction doesn't apply to religious ceremonies like the Mormon one being filmed. If a non-Jew is present during a religious ceremony in which the Torah is being read from / taught from, the person doing the reading or teaching will still do so. They won't stop and say 'Get out" to the gentile. The concern isn't that non-Jews will find out something we're trying to keep secret. It's (as zachlipton said) that a non-Jew will co-opt our identity / religion for their purposes. (We all know there are lots of historical precedents there.)

My wife works with private Jewish day schools, who often have non-Jewish students. They of course make Judaism courses optional. But if a non-Jew is in a class where Torah is being taught, they don't ask them to leave, either. They learn, study and take the tests with everyone else.

Also, Torah classes exist online, on the radio and on tv, too. Obviously, there's no way to control whether or not a non-Jew might learn from them. They're still considered acceptable.

Anyway (I know I say this a lot about Jewish stuff, but it's true) the injunction is not adhered to equally across sects (if at all when it comes to the largest sect, the Reform movement) or even between rabbis within the same sect. Judaism doesn't have the same structure as the LDS, so an injunction might carry more or less weight for each individual, and for each congregation.
posted by zarq at 1:43 PM on October 23, 2012


As far as what the church's policies and doctrine are with regard to whose names should be submitted for temple work, here's a statement from the church on that topic that should answer a lot of people's questions as far as what the church actually condones and supports.

That statement pretty much meshes with my understanding of official recent LDS policy on the matter, thanks. Obviously, that policy has been ignored an awful lot (and the Jewish and holocaust survivor groups that worked with the Mormon Church on that policy have said they will no longer negotiate since the Church keeps violating its agreements). In any event, ignore the abuses of the policy, and the official policy still squicks me out a bit. It's one thing with immediate family, but researching your family tree 20 generations back so you can get anybody with a distant relationship to you baptized is something that I find personally troubling.
posted by zachlipton at 1:47 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


In any event, ignore the abuses of the policy, and the official policy still squicks me out a bit.

Yeah, I agree. If I were to restructure the process according to what I can come up with on my own, I would probably suggest something where the only names that can be submitted are direct relatives within a couple of generations, requiring that written approval be obtained and submitted from all living descendants of the person for whom the proxy ordinance is to be performed, and then just do ordinances where no name or specific individual is tied to the ordinance in order to allow members to continue doing temple work and fulfill that particular injunction of Mormon doctrine, with the idea that if proxy temple work is a genuine necessity in the eternities to satisfy a divine salvation requirement, then those on the other side of the veil of mortality can work out the details of the individuals to whom each proxy ordinance pertains.

Part of the doctrinal basis for proxy ordinances in Mormonism comes from an interpretation of the language of Malachi 4:6 about turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. In my mind, performing proxy ordinances for distant and tenuously-connected ancestors (let alone people with whom the living ordinance worker has no connection at all) has little or nothing to do with that particular doctrinal point, so I don't know that there's a theological basis within Mormonism compelling enough to justify continuing to put names with the ordinances.

That said, to do away with that aspect of temple work would necessarily have a huge effect on Mormons' call to do genealogy beyond a couple of generations. So it's a tricky issue, I think. I'm sure people who are super offended by it won't think it's as tricky as I do, though.
posted by The World Famous at 2:03 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


TWF and Doleful Creature, thank you very much for clarifying in depth. I understand now. And the description you gave was fascinating, TWF.

The World Famous: " I don't really think MetaFilter is the sort of reverent forum where I'd be comfortable having such a discussion."

*nod* Understandable. But I've had some really incredible, detailed conversations here about Judaism, so I suspect it might be possible. :)
posted by zarq at 2:08 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


And in case it wasn't clear, Zarq, that wasn't meant as a "gotcha", just as a "Let's put all the facts on the table."
posted by Jahaza at 2:43 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jahaza: "And in case it wasn't clear, Zarq, that wasn't meant as a "gotcha", just as a "Let's put all the facts on the table.""

No worries. I totally didn't take it that way. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to see you bring it up.

I also had a moment where I thought, "Oh CRAP. He's right. That wrecks my whole argument!" before I started to respond. :D

I always feel like I'm on shaky ground in discussions about the Torah. I'm not a scholar and worry I might give the impression I'm speaking with authority, or as a representative for all religious Jews. I mean, certain, basic facts are indisputable. How many times a subject is raised in Leviticus, for example. But when it comes to talmudic interpretation and adherence to scripture and tradition, I always try to hedge any statements I make with generalities because it's not my field.

So I should also say that some Orthodox and Conservative rabbis may very well hold a much stricter interpretation than my understanding regarding whether / how non-Jews should be taught Torah. But the reasoning behind it that I gave above still applies, I think.
posted by zarq at 3:08 PM on October 23, 2012


Speaking personally from a Jewish background, I have a hard time sometimes reconciling the doctrine of more hierarchical religious groups (e.g. the Catholic Church or the LDS Church) with the degree of pluralism within those groups. There's such an enormous range of practices, beliefs, and teachings within Judaism. Sometimes kind of diversity is pretty much about silliness so as to be stereosterical™: there was a minor kerfuffle here a few years ago where some authorities considered a local bagel shop to be kosher and others found that certification dodgy. The classic debate as to which way you would shake the lulav on the Starship Enterprise is another example (this one I encountered in the early Prodigy days of my internet use, causing me to realize just how crazy the internet really is). On the other hand, serious stuff is involved too: there are well-regarded (well, well-regarded by some people who aren't me anyway) orthodox rabbis who would tell the parents of a son who has come out as gay to sit shiva (as if their son had died), and other highly well-regarded rabbis who are openly gay (even a couple in the orthodox movement). Given this, the actual beliefs and practices of non-rabbis are even more diverse.

Intellectually, I know that there's still a wide range of diversity of beliefs within those religions with a strong central authority. Certainly, a huge number of Catholics use birth control and disagree with other edicts from the Vatican. As this thread has made clear, Mormons are individuals with different views too and aren't in lockstep with every LDS policy. At the same time, leaders and authorities in both faiths are generally expected to stay pretty close to the official line on many matters. It's just hard for me to reconcile all this sometimes.
posted by zachlipton at 5:06 PM on October 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't get worked up about this. Not after prop 8. We should respect their privacy? Uh huh.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:43 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


if you want to protest the church's position on gay marriage with hidden cameras, i think this is a more logical way to go about it. you aren't allowed to film sacrament meeting, but i think the testimony was important to give and important to show.

i don't really get into sink to their level type of mudslinging. just because the mormon church was absolutely wrong in both their position and their approach, there's still not a compelling reason to film their temple rituals.
posted by nadawi at 7:53 PM on October 23, 2012


It's hardly sinking to their level. The two are not comparable in the slightest.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:38 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, I think the only way to defeat political activity motivated by religious belief is in the civic sphere, which is pluralistic, and where you have some appeal to precedent and to the federal and state constitutions. Going into the detail level of their private beliefs is just kind of neither here nor there when it comes down to what public policy should be.

Render unto Ceasar, and all that. Fight the battle where it means something - in the public, civil society.
posted by Miko at 8:51 PM on October 23, 2012


I can't get worked up about this. Not after prop 8. We should respect their privacy? Uh huh.

I'm having a hard time understanding how this video has any relationship to Prop 8. Can you explain?
posted by The World Famous at 9:05 PM on October 23, 2012


I can't get worked up about this. Not after prop 8. We should respect their privacy? Uh huh.

I completely agree that church leadership involvement in prop 8 was incredibly, savagely wrong. I always opposed it. Many other Mormons did as well.

But this? It is not the same thing, it just really isn't. Whose privacy are you so keen to disrespect? Mine, or the leaders who backed prop 8? I'm an LGBT ally. I'm also a temple attendee. I fight within the LDS system to gain support and reform for gay men and women. I've also been super accomodating and willing in this thread to engage on this extremely sensitive religious topic, but honestly some comments are so combative and dismissive I start to wonder why even bother trying to bridge gaps. I'm trying to be really helpful (and so are others) and keep getting "yeah but prop 8 so phhhhbbbtt on you".

We're not a monolithic group. This ceremony, which has roots in faith traditions far older than any of the men currently in the top administrative roles of the church, has nothing to say about gay marriage. Nobody is sitting in temples chanting "I solemnly swear to suppress the gay agenda". It's just not germane to the liturgy.

This is a recording of regular members --members you know nothing about, some of whom for all you know may be completely at odds with what happened during prop 8 and may have never been ok with it and who may also be LGBT allies for all you know-- and it's a recording of these regular folks performing a sacred ritual that they believe to be private, that they believe has spiritual significance in their personal lives, and you feel that being cavalier about the ethics of this is an appropriate response to prop 8? Please explain to me how that works.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:11 PM on October 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


IMO if the Mormon Church wants to exert control over the rest of society to the degree of deciding which citizens can get marriage licenses and which ones can't—especially while effectively being subsidized by the special federal tax status of religion—that shifts the nature of the organization far enough into the public sphere that, like Brocktoon, I have difficulty sympathizing with the idea that there is an inviolable right to secrecy here. Not just Mormonism either, the same goes with Vatileaks, for example.

I don't condone the ceremonies being exposed out of pure malice or for the sake of simply making the adherents to Mormonism feel bad, but neither do I think that an organization which sees fit to intervene in the world outside of its church doors to that length can have a right to privacy in the same measure that individuals do.

Though admittedly my views on privacy tend towards the transparent society corner of the spectrum, anyways.

I understand that the Church isn't monolithic and comprises a wide variety of different people but at the same time there are several large corporate persons involved here that wield influence over a massive amount of wealth and property, are litigiously and legislatively active, and possess other capabilities like editorial influence over news and media organizations.
posted by XMLicious at 9:32 PM on October 23, 2012


XMLicious: "IMO if the Mormon Church wants to exert control over the rest of society to the degree of deciding which citizens can get marriage licenses and which ones can't—especially while effectively being subsidized by the special federal tax status of religion—that shifts the nature of the organization far enough into the public sphere that, like Brocktoon, I have difficulty sympathizing with the idea that there is an inviolable right to secrecy here."

That pretty much removes any voter's right to privacy. I mean, I wanted to exert control over the rest of society on Prop 8. I put my money behind defeating it, and I told everybody who'd listen about how terrible it was. I wore a t-shirt around denouncing it. And if I had as much money as the Mormon church, I would have done exactly what they did. You may have a problem with campaign spending laws, but that still has nothing to do with privacy.
posted by koeselitz at 9:49 PM on October 23, 2012


Render unto Ceasar, and all that.

Interesting metaphor, for a group that maintains a tax-exempt status while invading people's privacy and taking away their legal rights. But as the Bible said, you reap what you sow.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 PM on October 23, 2012


koeselitz: Yes, that's true. I do not think that even an individual voter who has personally funded setting up a political machine on that scale to influence society should have an inviolable right to privacy and certainly not anonymity. Like the faked David Koch call to Scott Walker - even if that had really been David Koch, and even if he'd been talking to another private citizen about those topics instead of an elected official, if the call had been recorded I would advocate publicizing it.

The organization(s) such an individual sets up for that purpose shouldn't operate under concealment either. And if large numbers of voters collectively fund a lobbying group or PAC I think that such a group should not have an expectation of a right to secrecy or privacy or whatever you want to call it.

(I don't think your example of one person wearing a tee-shirt expressing their personal views compared to a large organization with bases in many cities and towns expending its cash from worldwide sources, speaking from its pulpits, and exerting the other forms of influence at its disposal is really equivalent but in general, yeah - if you follow that link above, I think that the conclusions which David Brin drew back in the 1990s are valid. De facto the boundaries of privacy are going to change for the average person as surveillance technology becomes more and more ubiquitous and we need to insist on a similar level of transparency for everyone and every organization, governmental and private sector both.)
posted by XMLicious at 10:38 PM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What does any of that have to do with lying to gain entry to the temple, surreptitiously video recording he ceremonies, and posting the video on YouTube with doomsday music and creepy, inaccurate pop up captions?

What is it about the content of that specific video that you think is shining a light on something relevant in any way to the church's political activity vis a vis same sex marriage?
posted by The World Famous at 10:46 PM on October 23, 2012


I wasn't saying anything about this specific video, just about whether or not there should be some principle of inviolable privacy for large organizations like this.

The raw footage Decani linked to would have made for a better FPP and it would be better on the whole if something like this were filmed by someone without the obvious misanthropic grudge against Mormonism.

But in general, there's no way for anyone to be confident about what's involved without a light being shined in the first place if it's a matter of secrecy to be concealed from outsiders. It didn't need to be filmed now and in this way but capturing it on video was inevitable if not something that already happened, as cameras get smaller and smaller and built into everything.

And once it gets filmed I think in these circumstances, with this organization and most similar ones, it's ethical to accede to the recording being publicized and seen by everyone: I don't think that there is an overriding ethical obligation to preserve the secrecy or privacy of the Mormon Church such that not even a single one of the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of ceremonies that have taken place in most of our local communities around the country may be seen by outsiders.
posted by XMLicious at 11:17 PM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Those numbers are at best a poorly-educated guess on my part and I would welcome a correction if need be.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:22 PM on October 23, 2012


Changes in the Mormon temple ceremony.

This one comment caught my eye, regarding am outdated PR sensitive "religious" movement and internet feedback.

Subject: Re: CONFIRMED: Temple Ordinance Changed Jan 16th, 2005
Date: Jan 17 23:48
Author: anon

This just confirms, once again, that morg leadership studies this board in order to see which way the wind blows.

I guess all the people here complaining about naked touching in the temple have had some effect.

Now let's see if we can do the same thing for tithes and tithing settlement.

posted by Brian B. at 11:46 PM on October 23, 2012


Seriously, this is not a thread for discussing/debating/arguing Mormonism.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:00 AM on October 24, 2012


once it gets filmed I think in these circumstances, with this organization and most similar ones, it's ethical to accede to the recording being publicized and seen by everyone

Pretty much the entire discipline of cultural anthropology disagrees with you, which is why you typically don't see pictures of Tjurunga or films of sacred Australian male-only rituals being put into further circulation by professionals anymore.

Sure, pictures and films are out there. You can find them trivially, and no one's trying to ban them from the world at large. But any group or forum that has as a core value showing respect for others who practice their own sense of what's meaningful and virtuous in private--harmlessly--will allow these things to remain sacred to the people who care about them, else that respectfulness is toast.

And the real lesson to draw isn't that some religious people are secretive and weird, but that people may reasonably draw their sense of themselves from experiences, beliefs, and private feelings of virtue that they prefer not to share and that you have no business digging into, unless and until there's reason to suspect what they're keeping private is directly related to a specific harm or deprivation generally recognized as your right.

This does not include students getting to see every possible indigenous Australian male-only dance or grandmothers getting to go to Mormon sealings or whatever that they've been intentionally excluded from or anyone at all getting to come to my wedding if I don't want you there.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:15 AM on October 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


By "this organization and most similar ones" I did not mean the Tjurunga. I'm kind of surprised that it's not clear and that from what I said you decided I might be referring to groups of Central Australian Aborigines; I'm referring to large, wealthy corporate persons involved in influencing politics and other aspects of society at the local, state, and national level in the United States and elsewhere around the world like the Mormon Church, the Catholic Church, David Koch's political organizations, or superPACs and other interest groups.

I don't particularly care what anthropologists think because I don't consider them the intermediary between me and the powerful forces in my society. I'm sorry, I just disagree; when these sorts of organizations throw their weight around to the point of trying to prevent other people from getting married I think it's the business of everyone in society to dig into their business. I'm not going to wait until David Koch or the Mormon Church explicitly says "you're next" to accede to them being as closely watched as the average citizen going about their daily business is.
posted by XMLicious at 9:41 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


So if a particular church takes a political stance, none of the individual adherents have any legitimate interest in the privacy of their religious rituals? I'm in favor of gay marriage, but I can't get behind that. I don't see how such a stance is warranted or will do anything to advance gay rights. The rituals in question don't seem to have any particular bearing on gay marriage or the LDS church's political involvement in proposition 8.
posted by Area Man at 9:51 AM on October 24, 2012


when these sorts of organizations throw their weight around to the point of trying to prevent other people from getting married I think it's the business of everyone in society to dig into their business.

How far would you extend that rule? Does it apply only to organizations whose political opinions or involvement are in taking positions you disagree with, or would you apply it equally to organizations that advocate for positions you like? Is there some limit to the sort of interactions within those organizations that you think should have no expectation of privacy? Is there some level or type of tax exemption or subsidy that you think is an ethical threshold for loss of privacy in anything the organization does? Would it matter if the organization actually received public funding, as opposed to merely having tax breaks? If tax breaks constitute a subsidy, does that mean that every organization in the world is subsidized if it is affected by any tax incentives, policies, deductions, or other rules?

Given that the rites that are the subject of this video are performed in a substantially identical way every time they are performed, and that they have nothing whatsoever to do with the church's opposition to same-sex marriage, would you propose that the church and its members also have no reasonable expectation of privacy in other settings within the church? Mormon temples are not open on the sabbath, and are only in a handful of locations, as opposed to Mormon meetinghouses where we have our regular Sunday worship services, classes, youth activities, and that sort of thing. So how would you apply your ethical framework to the entire breadth of Mormon church membership?

How about the two-hours on Sunday when my 22-month-old son is in the Nursery in at church while the adults are in their Sunday School, Priesthood, and Relief Society meetings? Would you think it's totally cool for someone to take a hidden camera into the Nursery to "dig into their business" and put on the internet video of my toddler playing with toys and learning about nature and whatnot? How about my older kids' Sunday School classes?

How about when members of the church meet privately with their Bishop to discuss marital problems, ask for financial assistance, or ask for help with deeply personal issues? No expectation of privacy from some jerk with a little video camera spying on those meetings and posting them on the web because the church asked its members to support Prop 8 four years ago? Are you going to be the one to get into that particular business?

Sacrament Meeting? The temple is an easy one to expose, since it's the same rite and liturgy every time. But Sacrament Meeting is an hour of speeches by lay members of the congregation that is different every time. Do you feel that there is some moral obligation to dig into the church's business there by video recording or somehow monitoring everything that is said in every Ward every Sunday? That's over 11,000 Wards in the United States alone, each of which has a unique set of talks given every week. The church sends young men and women out to invite people to come to those meetings, but the very same people who are anxious to "expose" what happens in the temple are so uninterested in what happens every Sunday in our actual church meetings and lessons that they slam the door on the missionaries' faces, throw stuff at them, and post AskMetafilter questions asking how to gracefully tell the missionaries to go away.

I assume, given your adamant insistence that there is a moral or ethical obligation to get into the church's business, that you would never, ever turn the missionaries away, and that you have always taken them up on their offer when they have practically begged you to come to our church meetings, listen to the missionary lessons, come to Mormon baptisms to see what they're like, etc. Right? No, I didn't think so. Nobody is interested in exposing what Mormons actually talk about in their three hours of church meetings every Sunday. Nobody smuggled a camera into the meetings where Prop 8 was actually discussed. When I teach my ward's Gospel Doctrine class every Sunday, there are no outsiders there trying to find out exactly what I'm teaching - even though they're invited and the meetings are open to the public. And you might have really enjoyed my lesson this last Sunday, where I contrasted Christ's Sermon on the Mount on the one hand with Ayn Rand's Objectivism on the other hand to illustrate just how diametrically opposed Christ's teachings were with what so-called "conservative" politicians are trying to teach us. But you missed that one because the jerk with the camera was too busy making a video accusing Mitt Romney of being part of a secret conspiracy to overthrow the government by being some kind of religious sleeper cell (Hey! That sounds vaguely familiar for some reason!).

Because the video that we're talking about here is, as far as I can tell, nothing but an early 21st Century attempt to accuse a disfavored, hated religious sect of trying to take over the world by having secret rites where its members swear to overthrow the government and put a theocracy in place. Even setting aside the fact that those accusations are completely false and not supported by the actual content of the temple ceremony or anything else, it's just mind-blowing that such a thing can be posted on a site with as educated and intelligent a population as MetaFilter and the discussion we get about it includes people suggesting - straight-faced - that, in your words, "I don't think that there is an overriding ethical obligation to preserve the secrecy or privacy of the Mormon Church such that not even a single one of the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of ceremonies that have taken place in most of our local communities around the country may be seen by outsiders."

Is there an internet term for when intelligent people are so careful not to Godwin the thread that they let crap like this get repeated and defended over and over again without saying anything about how obvious and outrageous it is? Why don't you just come out and suggest that what we really need is a document setting forth the protocols of these so-called Elders of Zion?

What this thread and the vast majority of conversations like it amount to is people who have bought into the Universal Conspiracy theory that there is a secret society plotting world domination and keeping secrets from the rest of us and then pinning that idiotic nonsense on a disfavored, hated religious minority. I fully agree with you that the church's opposition to same-sex marriage is ethically, morally, and theologically wrong, that its political involvement in Prop 8 and similar measures is outrageous and evil, and that Mormons and non-Mormons alike should stand together and work to change that. But what you and other people are going on and on about here is not about Prop 8. You're using it as a convenient scapegoat to justify a position that stems from outrageous, hateful nonsense.

Stop reading Krakauer and Brown and start reading stuff like Eco that makes fun of how utterly stupid and dangerously insidious that ignorant hateful conspiracy theory stuff is.
posted by The World Famous at 10:45 AM on October 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


How far would you extend that rule?

If you read what I wrote above you would see that I extend it to everyone in society. I basically think that the era of privacy at any level like what we considered to be assured the past is over and that our basic attitudes towards privacy and secrecy needs to change radically.

I assume, given your adamant insistence that there is a moral or ethical obligation to get into the church's business, that you would never, ever turn the missionaries away, and that you have always taken them up on their offer when they have practically begged you to come to our church meetings, listen to the missionary lessons, come to Mormon baptisms to see what they're like, etc. Right? No, I didn't think so.

I don't invite them inside my home but I sit on my porch and offer them a seat and talk to Mormon missionaries and missionaries of any other faiths whenever they come - in fact they're the ones who usually say "Well, we have to get going now."

And not to criticize their religion: to ask questions and try to get to really understand it, because I find religion in general fascinating and Mormonism in particular pretty awesome. I'm actually kind of proud that one of the largest and most innovative branches of Abrahamic religion to appear in a millenia arose in my country. I just don't believe in an inviolable right to secrecy for the LDS or any other church.

And you might have really enjoyed my lesson this last Sunday

Yes, I probably would have. I have attended Sunday School at several different denominations in the towns I've lived in (as an adult, because I'm interested) and the equivalent at a couple of synagogues.

You're using it as a convenient scapegoat to justify a position that stems from outrageous, hateful nonsense.

I do not need the LDS church or its actions to justify my beliefs about privacy and secrecy in society, they were formed long before I knew enough about Mormonism to distinguish it from other religions.

I'm sorry that you think the fact that I don't believe in this right to secrecy means that I hate you or your coreligionists, because it doesn't. I've said repeatedly that I don't think much of the particular video in the FPP in question, I just don't agree with a principle that would enjoin against any depiction at all of events like this that have been declared secret.

Stop reading Krakauer and Brown

I do not know who Krakauer and Brown are. As I said above, my views on secrecy and privacy in society mostly come from an author named David Brin. I'd say that the largest chunks of information about Mormonism I know come from you and from the PBS special that nadawi links to above, which I watched years and years ago.
posted by XMLicious at 11:21 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for your posts in this thread, The World Famous. I don't agree with the direction this thread took, but nonetheless, I did find your comments informative and interesting. You have a perspective and experiences that I can't directly relate to, and I appreciate when people are willing to share those things. I learn. I'm glad you took the time to write here.
posted by cribcage at 11:24 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to put this into an email to The World Famous, but I think it's worth saying publicly.

I keep thinking about this thread and trying to figure out how to weigh in on the stuff that's bothering me about it without sounding defensive or clueless. There's so much here that just doesn't apply to the original video, or FPP. The political stuff. The allusions being made to the White Horse Prophecy, and other whacky conspiracy theories that the LDS Church disavowed years ago. None of that has anything to do with the original video or FPP, but people here are using the fact that we're talking about something to do with Mormons as an opportunity to grind their respective axes.

And of course, there have been various comments conflating the positions a Church may take on specific issues, versus the beliefs its members may hold.

All entirely predictable, of course.

I have felt for an extended period of time now that the Metafilter community has a serious problem mentally separating individual religious folks from the religions they are members of. From understanding that nearly all theists who are members of an organized religion do not follow or necessarily believe in all aspects of their respective religions. That someone can (for example) be Catholic and despise child abuse by Catholic priests, or be an active member of the LDS church and be pro-gay marriage. That someone may be Jewish yet despise fundamentalist whackjobs like Yehuda Levin. Or can be a theist and yet pro-science and pro-tolerance.

There is a difference between being a member of a church and agreeing with every one of that church's policies. Membership is not automatic assent to everything a Church happens to do.

And yes, some of us do push for change from within while others push from outside. The Jewish Conservative movement just recently accepted gay marriage. How do you all think that came about? We Jews spoke with our rabbis and they listened to us, their congregations. We petitioned. We refused to back down. And they were reminded by us that tolerance and kindness and community acceptance is part and parcel of being Jewish -- in fact all are inherently Jewish. It took years. Far longer than it should have, but now we have Conservative rabbis performing gay marriages and dammit, I know that's a huge accomplishment. IMO, it shouldn't have ever been an issue in the first place. But it was and we all worked to make sure that it isn't any longer.

I don't understand folks who think that all change must be imposed, rather than happen internally. Do they really think the Catholic or LDS Church will bow to external and not internal pressures? Seems pretty unlikely.

There is a difference between individual theists and religious structure. I wish more people would recognize it. I think many threads would flow more smoothly. And yes, I know this is an internet problem and not just a Metafilter problem. But frankly, I think more highly of this community than the internet in general, and it always surprises me when people raise inappropriate generalist arguments to condemn all theists of a particular religion rather than with the understanding that yes, some of us can gain something from a religion, (or an organization, community, or family, or country, ) without agreeing with everything they do.

We see similar arguments pop up in post after post, even some with only tangential religious overtones -- such as the demands that people renounce their Eagle Scout badges because the Scouts don't allow gay members. Etc. I wish people would think more thoroughly about this stuff before the personal accusations start flying, and if some recognition were made that random individuals aren't necessarily responsible for what pisses us off about some organized religions.
posted by zarq at 11:38 AM on October 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


XMLicious, sorry to point to you directly in that comment. I do agree with you when you say "I just don't agree with a principle that would enjoin against any depiction at all of events like this that have been declared secret."

I would also just say that it is not lost on me that there is a good helping of poetic justice going on given how eager Mormonism's founders seem to have been to associate their new religion with the ancient ones and with contemporary secret societies in terms of practice and doctrine. If we Mormons want to dress up and have a watered-down secret society type thing as a central community-building exercise, we cannot very well be surprised when people accuse us of being part of the Universal Conspiracy.
posted by The World Famous at 11:50 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


we cannot very well be surprised when people accuse us of being part of the Universal Conspiracy.
yup.
posted by clavdivs at 2:05 PM on October 24, 2012


we cannot very well be surprised when people accuse us of being part of the Universal Conspiracy.

This is precisely what I referred to upthread. You're pointing out some guy from the 1800's that both the current LDS church and the Reorganized LDS Church have disavowed, whose beliefs aren't even part of current doctrine or anything else except to some tiny fringe group, and you're trying to pass him off as representative of the whole religion.
Although his long-term doctrinal influence on the Latter Day Saint movement was minimal, several early members of Strang's organization helped to establish the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which became (and remains) the second-largest Mormon sect. While most of Strang's followers eventually disavowed him, a small but devout remnant continues to carry on his teachings and organization today.
clav, I love you man, but did you even bother to read your own link?
posted by zarq at 2:30 PM on October 24, 2012


clavdivs, that's a long article. Can you be a bit more explicit about the point you're trying to make. I sincerely don't know what it is.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:32 PM on October 24, 2012


pointing to anything from the reorganized sects that shot off of the LDS church muddies the waters and isn't really germane to this conversation. there are 14 million members of the LDS church - the biggest reform movement is RLDS/community of christ with 250k - the other ones are 10k here or 5k there. for every major branch of christianity you'll find weirdo offshoots. it's not fair to judge the catholics based upon the wacky things mel gibson's father believes or to blame protestants for the branch davidians.
posted by nadawi at 2:50 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pointing to Strang to make a point about the modern LDS church is quite bizarre, particularly when clavdivs hasn't said what the point actually is. It's like pointing to Sidney Rigdon to make a point about the modern Baptist church.
posted by The World Famous at 3:44 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good deletion. I'd happily watch a video of any religious ritual, so I did watch this one. It'd make a crappy post for MeFi because it's a crappy video. Our Mormon members here shouldn't have to spend a thread discussing such ignorant stupidity, any more than our Catholic members should have to explain why they're not cannibals or our atheist members should have to explain that they're not communists.
posted by harriet vane at 1:20 AM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


clavdivs, that's a long article. Can you be a bit more explicit about the point you're trying to make. I sincerely don't know what it is.

try reading it?

come on zarq, it is halloween. You all need to lighten the FUCK up.

sidney ridgon... oh that sparkles.

my point...that there is no real point to the premise of this weird ass thread.

like this gem

I think it's worthwhile for readers to gain some direct insight into the religion rather than just what non-Mormons say goes on in the Mormon faith. I for one would be quite interested in hearing the commentary of Mormon and ex-Mormon MeFites on what's depicted.

WTF, is this really a burning topic for meta? I guess so.

and look between the lines. Out of the off shoot wackos from the LDS, this one was the worst...anyone notice were he was assassinated?

not sorry to have ruffled feathers, don't give a flying fuck about the topic...anymore. If you folks need a explination to my link, you have already lost the point and humour which I find that more distressing then this LDS boo-ha.
posted by clavdivs at 9:30 AM on October 27, 2012


I have felt for an extended period of time now that the Metafilter community has a serious problem mentally separating individual religious folks from the religions they are members of.

Maybe if they'd just separate themselves from the hate lobby they belong to, it'd be easier for us to do it mentally.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:53 AM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Maybe if they'd just separate themselves from the hate lobby they belong to, it'd be easier for us to do it mentally."

As a resident of the United States I'm sure you wouldn't know anything about associating with and giving money to an organization that does complicated horrible things, that you don't disassociate yourself from for complicated reasons.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:34 AM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe if they'd just separate themselves from the hate lobby they belong to, it'd be easier for us to do it mentally.

What, exactly, do you have in mind? What do you mean by "separate themselves from the hate lobby they belong to?" I'm happy to consider any reasonable and well-informed suggestion.
posted by The World Famous at 11:49 AM on October 27, 2012


As a resident of the United States I'm sure you wouldn't know anything about associating with and giving money to an organization that does complicated horrible things, that you don't disassociate yourself from for complicated reasons.

It may surprise you to learn that the vast majority of people, myself included, are not residents of the United States.

What do you mean by "separate themselves from the hate lobby they belong to?" I'm happy to consider any reasonable and well-informed suggestion.

If you don't agree with the organization's views, stop giving them your money. Is that reasonable enough?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:54 PM on October 27, 2012


All of its views, or just some critical percentage? And whose views, specifically? Only those expressly advanced on behalf of the legal entity, or views held by certain members as cultural, folk beliefs? Current beliefs or historic views? Does it matter to you whether the views I disagree with are doctrinal or cultural? What if its a view held by certain church leaders in the distant past that was disagreed with at the same time by other church leaders?

Is it up to me which views should lead me to decide not to pay tithing, or do you propose that someone other than me should dictate tha to me? And what if I have a deep personal conviction in the law of tithing in spite of my disagreement with certain views of the organization?
posted by The World Famous at 1:47 PM on October 27, 2012


Seriously folks, just email The World Famous if you want to talk about his personal views on tithing, this "One person stands in for the things you dislike about an entire religion" thing is not so great.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:48 PM on October 27, 2012


this "One person stands in for the things you dislike about an entire religion" thing is not so great

Who's doing that?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:17 PM on October 27, 2012


try reading it?

To his Coy MeFite - by Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, clav, were no crime.
....
posted by benito.strauss at 3:28 PM on October 27, 2012


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