LOLMORMONS January 28, 2008 10:26 PM   Subscribe

Come on y'all this is embarassing. I don't think anyone would appreciate getting their religion bashed this way and Mormon's LOVE that man. Believe me, I know some. Totally uncalled for.
posted by empath to Etiquette/Policy at 10:26 PM (210 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

But if we can't expulse our small minded snarkery in this venue then we'll be forced to confront the base and ignorant mentality that drives us to mock those whom we don't understand!

Not only that but we'd miss out on an opportunity to look edgy, cool and deep as the ocean! I would like to get laid at the next meetup you know.
posted by polyhedron at 10:34 PM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Mormons would also appreciate it if I didn't smoke, drink, say what I would like to say on public streets in Salt Lake City, or discuss their temple ceremonies. Should we bow to their delicate sensibilities in all cases or just when it comes to public leaders dying?
posted by cmonkey at 10:36 PM on January 28, 2008 [8 favorites]


I rarely post to the gray, and was about to post one the original thread.

I'm not mormon, nor am I enamored of it, but the tone in the thread is a pretty sad representation of meta.
posted by efalk at 10:36 PM on January 28, 2008


Now I'm sure there are good reasons for it, but looking at the comments in this thread and the one for Heath Ledger is like night and day.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:37 PM on January 28, 2008


I'm guessing it's because a lot of us liked Heath Ledger.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:39 PM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


There may be reasons, apias (sorry for the abbreviation, but these long, long, long jokey handles are tough to use conversationally), but they're not likely to be good reasons, in my humble.
posted by cgc373 at 10:39 PM on January 28, 2008


eponysterical?
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:39 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Picking on minorities is fun!
posted by empath at 10:40 PM on January 28, 2008


[Oh, and I know my own unwieldy handle isn't friendly for spoken-language humankind, either. But it does work in a text-only environment, doesn't it?]
posted by cgc373 at 10:40 PM on January 28, 2008


Well, if Mormon's didn't want to be made fun of, they shouldn't have come up with such a goofy religion.

I mean I don't think there is anything with believing in a goofy religion, but come on, why shouldn't we be able to criticize specific failings of various religions?

Now I'm sure there are good reasons for it, but looking at the comments in this thread and the one for Heath Ledger is like night and day.

Well, this guy died at 97. It's not like he was cut down in the prime of his life, like Ledger.
posted by delmoi at 10:41 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are going to be 80 jillion websites on the internet where smartasses are going to point out obvious holes in the religion. I expect a little bit better from metafilter, and I'd especially like to think of metafilter as a place where a mormon would feel comfortable saying what he felt about the man.

It's highly unlikely that if a mormon found THAT thread that they'd feel free to comment.
posted by empath at 10:44 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure it's got nothing to do with Mormonism specifically. MeFi is just lousy with discussing anything that approaches religion (this, somewhat counterintuitively, also includes atheism.)

This is why Heath Ledger is only spoke of well in an obit thread, but if Tom Cruise were to die, the discussion would all be for the lulz.
posted by piratebowling at 10:44 PM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm allowed to bitch. I lost some of the best years of my life to that repressive cult.

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
posted by loquacious at 10:44 PM on January 28, 2008 [18 favorites]


empath's right.
posted by Abiezer at 10:47 PM on January 28, 2008


Pro-war, anti-gay rights expansionist leader of a reactionary oppressive cult with a murderous past is dead. And we're supposed to be saddened by this?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:50 PM on January 28, 2008


you all have my permission to laugh at scientologists, though. They're not people.
posted by empath at 10:50 PM on January 28, 2008


I deleted the post (which was kind of weird in the first place), but I agree, the comments are depressingly bad. It's like everyone's heckling someone's funeral.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:50 PM on January 28, 2008


I'm an atheist and extremely fond of blasphemous and anti-religious jokes, but this way beyond any bounds of civility. I'm glad the (paraphrase) "prophet I'd like to fuck" comment is gone.

Now if someone lays out a reasoned argument as to why he or she dislikes Gordon Hinckley, that's fine and dandy, but "how many wifes" and "lolderwear" snark is inane.

All that said, I find it adorable that mormons refer to their church's president as "The Mope."
posted by Kattullus at 10:51 PM on January 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


I am a little torn on this one. I agree the thread reads like a bunch of cocks - but then again Mormonism is a bunch of arse.

This makes me think in these kind of balanced circumstances, respect and decency should prevail.

I agree with empath.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 10:51 PM on January 28, 2008


If we can't make fun the prophets of the flying spaghetti monster, who can we make fun of? Are we not allowed to make fun of anyone anymore?
posted by bigmusic at 10:51 PM on January 28, 2008


Picking on minorities is fun!

Yeah, next thing you know we'll be founding religions that stipulate god marked the skin of certain races due to the sins of Cain or something like that. But don't worry, we'll totally change it around by 1975...
posted by delmoi at 10:52 PM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's like everyone's heckling someone's funeral.

Watch your back, Westboro Baptist Church!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:53 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a mormon, I wouldn't worry too much, Metafilter has never handled our brand of religiosity well, I could have told you how the thread would end up without even clicking on it. We're all entitled to our opinions, and I think most members of the church recognize that a huge portion of the population think we're dumb/weird/evil in some way. I think that goes with the territory.

Am I sad that he died? Yes, very much so. Would I ever expect MeFi to show any kind of support to me in regards to that? Nope.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:54 PM on January 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


You're supposed to have a little bit of respect for the feelings of people who follow said reactionary oppressive cult. There is a difference between the LDS church and rank-and-file Mormons, just as their is a difference between the Catholic Church and Catholics as a whole.

It's just common human decency. And if you were in the room with a few mormons when you heard the news, you all wouldn't be acting like such assholes.

It's depressing to see otherwise decent liberal people get to be so intolerant when religion is involved. Nobody is perfect -- everybody has crazy beliefs, everybody has morals that you don't agree with.

Some of you get upset when movie stars or rock stars or authors die. Mormons get upset when prophets die. And most mormons would have the decency not to shit in an obit thread for your favorite dead rock star.
posted by empath at 10:56 PM on January 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


Welp, while this thread is still open: Fuckim. Fuck his lies. Goodriddance.
posted by dgaicun at 10:56 PM on January 28, 2008


Good closure Matt - thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:56 PM on January 28, 2008


We're all entitled to our opinions, and I think most members of the church recognize that a huge portion of the population think we're dumb/weird/evil in some way. I think that goes with the territory.

Well, I don't feel that way. I just get annoyed at the idea you can't criticize religions on their own terms. I don't think that people should take criticism of their religion as criticism of themselves, although for obvious reasons a lot of people are going to conflate the two.
posted by delmoi at 11:02 PM on January 28, 2008


You're supposed to have a little bit of respect for the feelings of people who follow said reactionary oppressive cult... It's just common human decency.

This is nonsense. Why do we have to respect lies and belief in lies only when these lies are given the arbitrary label "religion"?

Do I have to respect creationism and leaders of the creationist movement? Creationism isn't any less false than Mormon "prophecy".

It's depressing to see otherwise decent liberal people get to be so intolerant when religion is involved.

It's depressing to see people redefine liberalism into incoherence. We don't "tolerate" klansmen. We don't "tolerate" intolerance.

What liberals defend (or should defend) is truth against false authority and lies.
posted by dgaicun at 11:03 PM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


(sorry, I've got both Catholics and Mormons in my family, and I'm an atheist, so it's hard for me to get in the middle of pretty much any religion-related thread on mefi without getting offended somehow)
posted by empath at 11:06 PM on January 28, 2008


By the way, try looking at loquacious 's comment above. Religion isn't a victimless crime. Human beings don't like to be lied to and mind-fucked for some false "greater good" - a form of abuse the powerful inflict on the powerless using unscrupulous methods - so your "tolerance" is actually tolerance for their oppression.
posted by dgaicun at 11:09 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's totally fine to criticize mormonism or any religion. I just think an obit thread isn't the place for it. Wait for the next Mitt Romney thread, and have at it.
posted by empath at 11:10 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


And for the record - I know a lot of Mormons, a couple of my closest friends are Mormon. Pretty much all the Mormons I know are funny and reflective and thoughtful, not mindless or humorless. And they are kind. They're the ones who keep visiting the terminally ill friend when everyone else suddenly finds they're awful busy these days and can't make it. Sterling human beings.

I'm no fan of religion especially, I know there are plenty of problems with the LDS church's views, and I'm not saying that we should all just abandon critical thinking because people are nice, but really -- the totally thoughtless "I poop on your god" stuff in an obit? "How many wives did he leave behind?" (because, get it, Mormons, and um, polygamy? I think that's the Mormons, right? har har?) If there are genuine criticisms, or a real discussion of the good and bad point of his actual legacy, but recycled one-liners based on out-of-date stereotypes? It's just mean and stupid and we can do better.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:10 PM on January 28, 2008 [19 favorites]


It's not about whether or not a certain religion or religion in general is open to criticism or not, it's about the time and place for those types of discussions. A leader dies and the first comment is about fucking the corpse? Do I have to explain why that seems to lack any common decency or tact? That this isn't about shutting down a discussion of ideas but simply trying to remove a bunch of ugly attempts at humor?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:11 PM on January 28, 2008 [8 favorites]


it's hard for me to get in the middle of pretty much any religion-related thread on mefi without getting offended somehow

So why didn't you just stay out of the thread then? Instead of whining about it and then complaining by taking it to meta?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:13 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think in the proper setting religious criticism is great. The problem is that this stuff often defines how a person feels about themselves and the way they perceive the world. It's kind of mean to want to tell everyone just how dumb (what they perceive as) the foundation of their existence really is.

I've explained my connection to the LDS church on MeFi before. I suspect my background is a prime reason why this kind of degenerate discussion raises my hackles and yet at the same time I would probably jump right in to a good Evangelical bashing. Those guys tend to make the news for gay/extramarital sex, gambling, and drug abuse -- not dying at age 97 -- but news is news I guess. We should just try to be a little more tolerant.

dgaicun:
You should be nice to other people because life is a motherfucking bitch. Just because you or other people feel victimized by religion does not give you carte blanche to be an insufferable ass.

(a mindfucked, but not angry, ex-mormon)
posted by polyhedron at 11:13 PM on January 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


a post script: Tolerant does not mean ignorant. It means knowing when to show compassion to your fellow humans and when it's appropriate to be critical.
posted by polyhedron at 11:17 PM on January 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


I refrained from posting on this yesterday because, frankly, it was NewsFilter. When I saw the post today, there were but a few comments, and they were rather an embarrassment to the purported 'intelligent and civil' nature of MeFi. And frankly, even knowing the site's longstanding irreligiosity, I was surprised to see how awful it was. I set about writing a post to maybe discuss something more interesting than 'PROPHET I'D LIKE TO FUCK',
posted by eritain at 11:17 PM on January 28, 2008


So why didn't you just stay out of the thread then? Instead of whining about it and then complaining by taking it to meta?

Because in this particular instance I thought it was way over the line. I got a little annoyed at some of the criticism leveled at the Catholic church in another thread earlier today and I just argued about it in thread, because while I disagreed with it, it was entirely appropriate to talk about, and it was real criticism and not just bashing and making stereotyped jokes.
posted by empath at 11:17 PM on January 28, 2008


... and found the thread closed. On inspection, piled high with rude crap and then closed. So anyway, here are some meaningful ramifications of Hinckley's death:

72 virgins or whatever

That would be his wife, Marjorie. Since her death in 2004 he has often expressed a most crushing longing to see her again.

President Hinckley was once asked—memory fails whether it was the 60 Minutes interview or Larry King Live—how one gets to be the President of such an organization. I lightly paraphrase his reply:

1. Become an Apostle.
2. Outlive a bunch of other old men.
3. Prophet!

Now, technically speaking, Hinckley was the 15th President of the Church; the President, his counselors, and the Twelve Apostles (as well as the Church Patriarch, when we had one) are all considered 'Prophets, Seers, and Revelators', and as such there have been quite a few of them.

Now, we (yes, I'm a Mormon) don't do the whole papal-conclave-black-smoke-white-smoke thing, but there are still interesting questions of church government here. Here's how it goes down:

1. With the release (by death) of the President, the First Presidency was dissolved, and the Council of the Twelve Apostles became the governing council of the Church. President Hinckley's two counselors, Thomas S. Monson and Henry B. Eyring, are both Apostles who previously held positions on that council, so they will revert to those positions. This means the Twelve will meet with fourteen members. It is an interesting question, not resolved to my knowledge, whether the two most junior, David A. Bednar and Quentin L. Cook, are or are not technically members of the Twelve during this interregnum.

2. As it happens, Thomas S. Monson is also the senior Apostle and has been set apart (consecrated) as President of the Twelve, so he is already the head of the Church. In a few days the Twelve will meet and use their collective authority to set him apart as President of the Church. There is a concept of 'keys' in Latter-day Saint church governance—keys are, loosely defined, presiding authority, or the authority to direct the work of the Priesthood. The Twelve each hold all the keys of the Church, and collectively have authority to use them, but only a President of the Church has that authority individually. So it is unwieldy and unwise to let the apostolic interregnum last too long.

(As I read the Doctrine and Covenants, there is yet another fallback: The First Quorum of the Seventy is collectively equal in authority to the other two presiding councils of the Church. This means that if all the Twelve died or apostatized at once, the Seventy would be authorized to exercise the keys, run the Church, and reconstitute the bodies superior to them. (This may raise eyebrows among those familiar with the order of priesthood offices; can a Seventy ordain an Apostle? Isn't that rather like a Priest ordaining a Bishop? The answer is, yes it is, but yes he can, if he is directed to do so by one holding keys. The offices organize the use of the Priesthood, but the power inheres in the Priesthood and not in the office.) This has never been done in the (Utah) Church, but it was precisely the basis of authority claimed by the Restoration Latter Day Saints when they broke away from the Reorganized Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ).)

It is always the most senior Apostle who is set apart as President of the Church. This keeps politics and personal feelings out of the decision. The accepted understanding is that 'the Lord will never permit [...] any [...] President of this Church to lead you astray. [...] If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place' (President Wilford Woodruff, 6 October 1890, 61st Semiannual General Conference), which I take to be a genteel way of saying if the President gets out of line, God's gonna kill him off before the damage is permanent.

The next most senior Apostle, Boyd K. Packer, will be set apart as President of the Twelve.

3. At this point, President Monson will name two men to serve as his First and Second Counselors and fill out the First Presidency.

Historically, these have often been drawn from the Twelve; otherwise, they have usually been ordained to the Apostleship anyway. Alvin Dyer and J. Reuben Clark, Jr., were exceptions to the first of these trends; Charles Nibley was an exception to the second. All of these were in the 20th century; there were even more exceptional goings-on in the 19th (such as Joseph Angell Young, who was never in the First Presidency nor the Twelve, but was an Apostle anyway, and Hyrum Smith who was an Assistant President rather than a counselor, and who arguably would have perpetuated the First Presidency without an interregnum had he not been shot along with Joseph).

Now the question, 'Whom wil President Monson name as his counselors?' is an interesting one. New Presidents have often chosen counselors with previous experience in the First Presidency, but such experience is rather thin on the ground at the moment.

Gordon B. Hinckley entered the First Presidency in 1982, as an unusual third counselor (owing to the poor health of President Spencer W. Kimball and both his First and Second Counselors). At the time, he was eighth in the order of succession. By 1985, when President Kimball died and Ezra Taft Benson became President of the Church, President Hinckley had risen to third in line. He and Thomas S. Monson (fourth in line) were named as counselors to President Benson. (President Kimball's other surviving counselor, Marion G. Romney, was in very poor health; he was formally President of the Twelve until his death in 1988, but Howard W. Hunter served as Acting President to relieve him of that workload.) President Hunter succeeded President Benson in 1994 and also chose Hinckley and Monson as counselors (now first and second in line), and upon his death in 1995, President Hinckley named President Monson his First Counselor.

At this point, the pool of available experienced counselors was exhausted. President Hinckley selected James E. Faust, fifth in order of succession, as his Second Counselor. At this time Henry B. Eyring became the newest Apostle. There followed the longest period in Church history with no changes to the First Presidency or the Twelve—a bit over nine years, until the deaths of Neal A. Maxwell and David B. Haight ten days apart in 2004. At that point Henry B. Eyring rose to twelfth in line.

Last year, James E. Faust passed away, and Henry B. Eyring was tapped from eleventh in line to serve as Second Counselor. He occupied that position for six months before the death of President Hinckley, at which time he reverted to his position in the Twelve as discussed. Apart from Monson, he is the only living mortal with experience in the First Presidency. President Monson's situation will therefore be even more radical than President Hinckley's was. He might call on Eyring again, whose youth and energy might enable him, like Hinckley and Monson, to outlive a great many old men while gaining extensive experience in the Presidency. But he might just as easily call on L. Tom Perry or Russell M. Nelson, who sit rather closer to the top of the line and who seem also to be in vigorous health. It will be interesting to see.

At any rate, that's the major reorganization, but several steps of cleanup remain.

4. If the President of the Twelve is tapped as a counselor in the First Presidency, the most senior Apostle remaining in the Council of the Twelve will be set apart as Acting President. This has not always been done, but it's been consistent for the past several decades.

5. The First Presidency and Twelve will confer to name a new candidate for the open position in the Twelve, and ask him and his wife for their consent.

6. At the next General Conference, in April, the new President of the Church will be presented to the officers and body of the Church for their sustaining vote in a rare procedure called a Solemn Assembly. The First Presidency and Twelve (including the new Apostle) will then be sustained by the usual semiannual vote. With that, the presiding councils of the Church will be restored to their proper order, for so long as the Almighty sees fit to leave their membership alone.
posted by eritain at 11:19 PM on January 28, 2008 [21 favorites]


Turns out there are a few scary hateful people on Metafilter.
posted by Avenger50 at 11:19 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


eritain, I don't think a bunch of detail on the guy's death is much help -- it's more of a derail. The issue at hand is that everyone got in a bit over the top on the mormon bashing in the thread about the guy's death.

Unless you want to restart the whole thing here and now, I don't think your huge comment helps.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:22 PM on January 28, 2008


In more personal terms, because he ran things so much during the illness-plagued presidencies of Kimball and Benson, Hinckley was the preeminent President of many people's experience—my own included. 1995 was the first time in 14 years I began to hear from a Church president regularly, and for millions of people the situation was the same. We were all in love with his gentleness, his humor, his drive, his curiosity and intellect, his humanity, and his devotion. The grave-dancing in the thread was disgraceful (he's not even in the grave yet, peace be upon him!). I'm not certain it would have been fair to delete it if I were the mod, but mathowie loses no grace by me for calling it the way he did. Thanks.
posted by eritain at 11:26 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


A leader dies and the first comment is about fucking the corpse? Do I have to explain why that seems to lack any common decency or tact?

Yes! If GWB died tomorrow we'd get the same comments. A special level of criticism is reserved for leaders and the powerful. These are powerful people being criticized by the powerless, and the battle over legacy matters. Allowing (or demanding) respect is not a neutral action, it is allowing the legacy to be hijacked with a 'respect' that many do not feel is deserved at all. The successful enforcement of such respect is a political victory.
posted by dgaicun at 11:39 PM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ronald Reagan ObitFilter:
I'm pretty sure we'll also see the "Ronald Reagan Memorial GOP Convention" this year, too.

I, for one, won't mourn the bastard's passing. Hell, I think I'll take a trip to his grave just to piss on it.
posted by cmonkey at 2:11 PM on June 5 [+] [!]
Jerry Falwell ObitFilter (with favorites):
Oh my dear God in Heaven, thank you for blessing us with this man, Your servent. In his short time on earth he acomplished much good an... wait... did you say Jerry Falwell?

Fuck Jerry Falwell.
posted by wfrgms at 10:46 AM on May 15 [23 favorites +] [!]
Can we just ban all further ObitFilter on MetaFilter? Apparently people aren't allowed to express their own opinions anymore, so what is the point in allowing the threads at all.
posted by dgaicun at 11:41 PM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


These are powerful people being criticized by the powerless, and the battle over legacy matters.

In a thread about them and their policies, sure, it's fair game. In their obit thread, it wavers between dancing on a grave and taking turns going family style on the corpse.

Bottom line, it was a lame post for mefi and I deleted it. The comments seemed to cross a line of what I consider basic human decency, and that's not me trying to assert a "political victory" or trying to "enforce respect".

The golden rule of mefi is "don't be an ass" and some people were acting like asses.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:45 PM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was in the "fuck Falwell" camp. I don't think the dead get an automatic pass.

I think if someone had said "Good riddance, he was an awful man and led the church to do awful things. His record on women's rights was terrible [link] and he oversaw the church's harmful new initiative in developing countries [link]. He worked against the democratic elements of the church to consolidate his own power [link]." that would be very different and okay to have in an obit thread. (I just totally made up those criticisms. I have no idea what Hinckley's legacy is. Just a fake example.)

But the tone of the comments in that thread was not so much "let's examine his dark legacy" as "screw him, and more to the point, screw the people who believe in that goofy religion". The latter sentiment is just pointlessly mean in an obit thread.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:49 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can we just ban all further ObitFilter on MetaFilter? Apparently people aren't allowed to express their own opinions anymore, so what is the point in allowing the threads at all.

As usual, we don't work in absolutes here and there are no blanket bans (no "banning obitfiler" and no banning of "expressing opinions"). Obit threads are ok when they're major news involving major players in the world or if the post about them makes an effort to describe an extraordinary person and good they've done in the world. This post seemed to be neither.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:49 PM on January 28, 2008


The irony of people who defend religious dogma in the name of tolerance would be positively delicious, if it wasn't so frikken tragic.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:02 AM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


If the golden rule of Mefi was "don't be an ass" then there'd be only 12 people making comments, frankly. Front page is replete with examples at all times. Mefi is known for borderline OCD snark, drama, and intense self-regard. Don't kid yourself. Human beings are not perfect, anonymous people on the internet less so, and people in cliquey coffee klatch groups even less than that, it is the human condition. The minute you start pretending that people here (or anywhere) are above that, you enter delusional territory which requires ostracism and offensive tactics against those who question this orthodoxy; not good things.

The present issue seems to be all about political correctness and not offending a certain demographic, although the points made upthread about tolerance do have great merit.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 12:14 AM on January 29, 2008


The irony of people who defend religious dogma in the name of tolerance would be positively delicious, if it wasn't so frikken tragic.

I know, it's like those ACLU folks defending Nazi free speech. Why not just focus on defending cool people, you know?
posted by freebird at 12:26 AM on January 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


"taking turns going family style on the corpse"

I have got to start using that phrase every chance I get. Thanks, Matt.

And please, have a little respect. Without the Mormons, we'd never have had Donny Osmond's awesome dance moves on the "White and Nerdy" video.
posted by wendell at 12:50 AM on January 29, 2008


Hear that? Shhh. Listen. That's the sound of egg shells being walked on.

Religions (except, oddly, Scientology) get an automatic bye from criticism on MetaFilter. But every other type philosophical system? Fuck it. Get out your knives!
posted by tkchrist at 12:54 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


tk, are you visiting the same website I am?

I, for one, agree that the level of nastiness in an obituary thread for a Mormon church leader was well above and beyond. But then, why did we even have an obit thread about a Mormon church leader?
posted by wendell at 1:11 AM on January 29, 2008


MetaFilter: Turns out there are a few scary hateful people.
posted by Duncan at 1:11 AM on January 29, 2008


Mormons are a minority, in my neck of the woods anyway, and fair enough, I doubt whether this warranted a post on Metafilter. But was this guy more, or less, important than Heath Ledger? Hunter S. Thompson? Phil Katz? Maybe it deserved a post because it's probably an unusual topic for Metafilter to cover. Maybe it just needed a bit more substance.

But at the end of the day, the nasty comments are just pathetic. I'm pretty sure this guy was no Hitler, no L. Ron Hubbard, or even a Ronald Regan. Go hang out on 4chan if you're just in it for the lulz.

Caveat: Call me when Thatcher dies, because I'll be there for that one.
posted by Jimbob at 1:12 AM on January 29, 2008


MetaFilter: We don't walk on eggshells, we roll around on them.
posted by wendell at 1:12 AM on January 29, 2008


6. At the next General Conference, in April, the new President of the Church will be presented to the officers and body of the Church for their sustaining vote in a rare procedure called a Solemn Assembly. The First Presidency and Twelve (including the new Apostle) will then be sustained by the usual semiannual vote. With that, the presiding councils of the Church will be restored to their proper order, for so long as the Almighty sees fit to leave their membership alone.

7. Meanwhile, Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb, believing it is the only wand that can defeat Harry. Dumbledore captured it after defeating the Dark wizard Grindelwald in a duel. Voldemort also realizes that his Horcruxes are being destroyed; his mind link with Harry unintentionally reveals that another Horcrux is hidden at Hogwarts.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:26 AM on January 29, 2008 [16 favorites]


Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately? I don't know -- it just seems that the pendulum is swinging out a much wider swath in recent weeks or months, in both directions, and it's kind of a self-propagating thing. Could be me, could definitely be me, but I wonder if other people have noticed it too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:31 AM on January 29, 2008 [9 favorites]


Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately?

Yeah, there does seem to be an distinct uptick in the number of posters apparently so convinced of the righteous purity of their assholism that they seem to view acting like a jerk as a moral imperative, rather than a character failing. But that's just my impression - and maybe the long, hard winter's simply made me cranky.
posted by flashboy at 1:46 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


To the Mormons in the crowd:

Sorry for your spiritual/personal loss, and sorry you weren't shown more consideration in that thread. Perhaps this thread shows that not everyone here eyes you with contempt for what you believe.

However, your Church, like just about every religious organization of note in the world, has some pretty sinister skeletons in its closet. It's not worth enumerating them and starting yet-another-Mormon-racism (or whatever) flamewar... what's important is that regardless of your own admiration and respect for LDS, there are many people who vehemently oppose its stances and activism. The jokes in that thread are the catharsis of people celebrating the end of an Evil (in their opinion) person.

This is not to excuse their behavior, but to explain it. Hinckley's death is to them as those of Falwell, Pinochet, Hussein, or Hitler (amg Godwin!) are to others. It would have taken superior force of will and purity of soul to resist doing a little jig if I'd been alive to hear of Hitler's death, and all others are simply a difference of opinion and/or degree.

To the people who snarked in that thread (or would have if they'd gotten there in time):

Get some class. I don't care if you're right and he was an evil person. I don't care if Mormonism has or doesn't have crazy beliefs. Just because you can make jokes doesn't mean you have to, and you really made us non-Mormons look like a pack of raving douchebags.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:57 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately?

No, definitely. Everyone seems a little bit more antsy after the Holidays.
posted by Phire at 2:40 AM on January 29, 2008


I'm looking at the deleted thread, and I seriously don't see all this alleged legendary viciousness. I see one polygamy joke. Wow, so "vicious". And one (totally justified) critical comment from an ex-Mormon. Throw in a number of throw-away AstoZombie-type absurdist (but not angry) jokes and that is the extent of the "viciousness".

You have got to be kidding me. This isn't even in the same league as the Falwell and Reagan threads.

If anything the thread should have been deleted because the man was an irrelevant mediocrity not worthy of our interest and attention (which is why people just kind of boredly snarked). It would be like putting up an obit of the local mailman in Erie, Penn.

But to delete it because dead religious hate-mongers and hucksters deserve nothing less than some sort of obsequious "respectful" send-off is absolute craziness. It betrays an internalized acceptance of the propoganda religionists drill into us that they deserve some sort of double standard of respectfulness for their lies and deeds that we would not extend to others doing the same things under any other mantle but 'religion'.
posted by dgaicun at 2:47 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't met a ton of Mormons in my life (never been to Utah, etc.), but I'd guess I've met around 20 or so. Of those 20, 9 were pretty average folks. 1 was a total asshole. The other 9 were pretty damn rad.

Overall, my experience is that Mormons believe in weird stuff, but they're much, much, much more civil and mature than MeFites. There are some great MeFites, of course, which is why I'm here, but if I were given the choice of being stranded on a deserted island with the average Mormon or the average Mefite, I'd take the Mormon in a fucking second.

Henry C. Mabuse writes "Mefi is known for borderline OCD snark, drama, and intense self-regard."

My coworker described MeFi as "that website you're always reading where people go to fight".
posted by Bugbread at 3:04 AM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


dgaicun writes "I'm looking at the deleted thread, and I seriously don't see all this alleged legendary viciousness.

irrelevant mediocrity not worthy of our interest and attention...dead religious hate-mongers...hucksters...obsequious 'respectful'...absolute craziness....propoganda religionists"


Yeah, no, not vicious at all. Very neutral.
posted by Bugbread at 3:08 AM on January 29, 2008


I seriously don't see all this alleged legendary viciousness.

A lot of pointless obscenities and hate-filled invective was deleted before Matt said "Fuck it. This is going nowhere good." and deleted the entire thread.
posted by dersins at 3:16 AM on January 29, 2008


Yeah, no, not vicious at all. Very neutral.

That was my comment from this thread, so I don't see what point you are making. I'm defending so-called "viciousness", remember, it's just that there is no evidence of it in the deleted thread.

What an Orwellian mess, now we can't even criticize power, because it isn't "nice": "Oh no, he said "huckster", gettim ma!" Meanwhile the powerful continue to lie and steal, because criticizing them wouldn't be "polite".
posted by dgaicun at 4:10 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm looking at the deleted thread, and I seriously don't see all this alleged legendary viciousness. I see one polygamy joke. Wow, so "vicious". And one (totally justified) critical comment from an ex-Mormon. Throw in a number of throw-away AstoZombie-type absurdist (but not angry) jokes and that is the extent of the "viciousness".

You have got to be kidding me. This isn't even in the same league as the Falwell and Reagan threads.


Assuming that you're responding to me, I would ask you reread what I actually said. I haven't even read what's left of the thread in question. I was, as I made clear, talking about the whole site, in general, over recent weeks and months.

As I said. I also made it overabundantly clear that it might well be my own perceptions. So, no: I am not kidding you. This time at least.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:12 AM on January 29, 2008


Anything that leads to the deletion of an obituary thread is ok in my book.
posted by signal at 4:23 AM on January 29, 2008



Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately?


:::pulls out shiv:::

You don't belong here viking. Best move along.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:27 AM on January 29, 2008


Say - that's a nice looking shiv you got there. The last one I got I picked up over at the Shiv Shack on Rt 9, ant the little piece of shit could barely break skin let alone seriously mess someone up. Where'd you get such a nice lookin shiv, huh? You can tell ol' item.
posted by item at 4:38 AM on January 29, 2008


It's depressing to see people redefine liberalism into incoherence... We don't "tolerate" intolerance.

Fucking CLASSIC incoherence!
posted by Horken Bazooka at 5:09 AM on January 29, 2008


1.) Join the Mormon Faith
2.) Cultivate your charisma
3.) Rise through the ranks
4.) ????
5.) Prophet!!!!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:13 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mom! Dgaicun's being oppressed again!
posted by disclaimer at 5:13 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately?


Especially since the GiveWell affair.
posted by RussHy at 5:52 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am married to an exMormon. He met Hinkley when he was a boy.

I have about as much love for Mormonism as I do for Scientology (that is to say, none whatsoever) but I am glad Matt deleted that thread. I might have felt Hinkley was wrong (and I most certainly do feel that way) but he didn't deserve those nasty comments.
posted by konolia at 6:20 AM on January 29, 2008


I'm not sure why folks consider that such a lame post. The comments were certainly not edifying, but the story was pretty large in a lot of major media outlets, and could have led to learning something about Mormonism, one of the fastest-growing religions in the world and one that is increasingly influential in state and national politics. My knee-jerk reaction to the news was initially "who cares?" but this NPR coverage turned out to be very interesting. It describes the way in which he opened up public access to information about the Church and about how he worked to re-brand it as "The Church of Jesus Christ..." in light of the evangelical revival. This all seems interesting enough. Why not delete just the bad comments?
posted by Miko at 6:22 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken: Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately?

These things wax and wane here. I remember some particularly crazy fights, the NewsFilter war, I/P (remember the sirens?) and "drama queen." Recent weeks haven't been particularly exceptional.
posted by Kattullus at 6:23 AM on January 29, 2008


Mom! Dgaicun's organized religion is being oppressed again!
posted by dgaicun at 6:36 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


When will these religions and their billions of dollars, deep legal resources, and international political power stop being oppressed by sporadic sarcastic comments on the Internet!
posted by dgaicun at 6:41 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm relatively OK with mathowie deleting the thread (other than the fact that I probably now join a long list of scrubs, spammers, and astro-turfers who got their first post deleted), but the post itself wasn't that bad, was it? No, I didn't track down more Mormon-related sites (I was trying to be as impartial as possible with the links), but if it's a list of achievements you're looking for, scroll halfway down the Deseret article (fairly boring stuff, I thought).
posted by Brocktoon at 6:42 AM on January 29, 2008


When will these religions and their billions of dollars, deep legal resources, and international political power stop being oppressed by sporadic sarcastic comments on the Internet!

Not to speak for the mods here, but these things are deleted because they are ugly of themselves, not because this religion or that religion is getting raked over the coals.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:46 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]



Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately? Stavros...

Seems that way to me. My enjoyment of the site is diminishing. I tell myself that it's just because any human in the world with five bucks and a computer can be a member and comment here, even hermits like me - or maybe especially hermits like me - who may be a little more...misanthropic than the usual nice guy. Of course, we don't know who's 12 years old either. It's discouraging. I think that if I held the banhammer, I'd be swinging it with relish and glee in hopes of cleaning up the place, but that's not Mathowie's way, and I have great respect for his moderation. What are we to do? There's always "Don't feed the Trolls" to fall back on.
posted by Hobgoblin at 7:06 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


No one is saying that you all need to be appropriately mournful, bemoaning the loss of this 97 year old prophet's life. Just like other obit threads, though, if you don't have something nice to say, feel free to criticize civilly. If you can't do either of those things, stay out of the thread.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:21 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


the story was pretty large in a lot of major media outlets, and could have led to learning something about Mormonism

I learned something about Mormonism through this story, in a LJ community of all places- I didn't understand what it means for a church to have a president/prophet (I'm Protestant, the whole idea was foreign to me), and a Mormon explained it to me. So, yea, Metafilter, you handled this story with less grace then a LJ community.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:21 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have been here since -well, longer than my user name, anyway-and this place has ALWAYS had a mean streak a mile wide. If anything, it used to me MORE vicious. I think what happens is the pendulum on that does swing back and forth. For awhile it's a little nicer around here...just long enough for folks to relax a bit, and then WHAM!

Metafilter is NOT a tame place.
posted by konolia at 7:22 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately?

I think it goes both ways. There has been some gratuitously nasty shit recently, but there's also been a lot of folks who're trying to make conscious efforts to eschew that kind of garbage. I guess it's sort of a chicken/egg, Batman/villains sort of thing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:29 AM on January 29, 2008


There is a fine line between snark and scorn.
posted by milarepa at 7:33 AM on January 29, 2008


Mefi is known for borderline OCD snark, drama, and intense self-regard. Don't kid yourself.

Mmmmm irony. What is wrong with using the word "obsessive" instead of co-opting a real and painful disorder?
posted by agregoli at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because, agregoli, co-opting a disorder partly absolves one of responsibility for their actions. You dunderheaded fool.




Sorry, that was my self-diagnosed Asperger's talking.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I reincorporate my comments in the Heath Ledger thread as though fully set forth herein. And I used the obit post in question as evidence in support of exactly what I said in the Heath Ledger thread.

Simply, the policy has to be that people are either allowed to crap on the dead or they aren't. There cannot be a principled policy of "people are allowed to crap on this dead person but not that dead person because we like that one better."
posted by dios at 7:45 AM on January 29, 2008


I vote for everyone being allowed to crap on whatever dead person they'd like to.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:01 AM on January 29, 2008


I need absolutes or else I start boxing my ears and reciting phone book listings I memorized.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:13 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I vote for everyone showing some restraint and thoughtfulness in how and why they go about doing the crapping-on they're generally allowed to do toward whatever person they'd like, so that maybe even those heated and critical discussions of said dead people and the context of their lives can be something to not be collectively embarrassed about.

Opening up an obit-thread with a corpse-fucking comment, for example: not something that I'm going to tell people about when I say nice things about Metafilter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:17 AM on January 29, 2008


Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately?

Yeah, I kind of get that feeling too, though like Kattullus says, it waxes and wanes. The shit-flinging is bad enough, but the asshats who are proud of the shit-flinging and think it's one of the great features of the site and if it's cut back on it shows the violence inherent in the system... well, I wish they'd find another way to get their kicks.
posted by languagehat at 8:32 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


...Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately? I don't know -- it just seems that the pendulum is swinging out a much wider swath in recent weeks or months, in both directions, and it's kind of a self-propagating thing. Could be me, could definitely be me, but I wonder if other people have noticed it too.

...Yeah, there does seem to be an distinct uptick in the number of posters apparently so convinced of the righteous purity of their assholism that they seem to view acting like a jerk as a moral imperative, rather than a character failing. But that's just my impression - and maybe the long, hard winter's simply made me cranky.


In my experience, it happens in American election years. This is only a sample size of one, basically, since I wasn't participating in the internet like this in 2000.... but in 2004, the overall vibe at many community discussion sites was of such kneejerk vitriol and lack of basic decency that I felt compelled to check out of all of it for a while.

Totally anecdotal, unscientific, and jingoistic hypothesis here: but maybe it has something to do with "the kinds of people who frequent these sites are going to be full up on defending their moral/ethical/political beliefs due to the impending high-stakes elections -- leading to raw, reactionary behavior."
posted by pineapple at 8:36 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


mathowie, I agree that it wasn't going very well and should have been severely pruned. However, wasn't Hinckley the equivalent of the Roman Catholic Pope? Wasn't there an obit thread when the last one died? How is it weird or lame that an obit post about a religious leader was posted?
posted by deborah at 9:48 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Needs more Quonsar.
posted by chlorus at 9:51 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


wasn't Hinckley the equivalent of the Roman Catholic Pope?

I cringe at that comparison, since it's not exactly right.

Popes are elected. Yes, the constituency is small and the pope always a cardinal or archbishop, but at least on paper ANY Catholic could be named pope.

Mormon presidents are set aside. It's always the eldest of the "Twelve Apostles."

So, Catholicism is ruled by a de facto oligarchy, while Mormonism is ruled by a de jure oligarchy.

Not to take away from your point that there should have been an ObitFilter on him with the usual criticisms (but that necrophilia line shows why we can't have nice things). However, I think "Mormon pope" makes as much sense as calling Sergey Brin "the Google Lama."
posted by dw at 10:06 AM on January 29, 2008


Religions (except, oddly, Scientology) get an automatic bye from criticism on MetaFilter.

You owe me a new monitor.
posted by dw at 10:07 AM on January 29, 2008


There should be community disapproval of the one sentence snarky comment. Getting in your snarky comment fast as possible on metafilter is the new "first post" at slashdot. It's lame. It's not funny. Stop doing it.
posted by garlic at 10:20 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread reminds me of this comment.. metafilter: snark-palsied, crabbed, whinging mockery of a personality
posted by empath at 10:40 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


i'm sorry.
posted by yonation at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2008


"If the golden rule of Mefi was "don't be an ass" then there'd be only 12 people making comments, frankly."

And you wouldn't be one of them.
posted by klangklangston at 11:33 AM on January 29, 2008


All the local channels here are going to be "ALL DEAD GORDON B. HINCKLEY ALL THE TIME" for at least another week, so I for one was happy to see the thread axed for any reason.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:38 AM on January 29, 2008


crash, it looks like you picked the wrong week to quit drinking.
posted by dios at 11:42 AM on January 29, 2008


:|
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:17 PM on January 29, 2008


dgaicun: Yes! If GWB died tomorrow we'd get the same comments. A special level of criticism is reserved for leaders and the powerful. These are powerful people being criticized by the powerless, and the battle over legacy matters. Allowing (or demanding) respect is not a neutral action, it is allowing the legacy to be hijacked with a 'respect' that many do not feel is deserved at all. The successful enforcement of such respect is a political victory.

You're right. It's a political victory of those who believe that human beings are intrinsically worthy of respect over those who believe that human beings deserve respect based on what side they're on.

I'm all for complete confrontationalism. Hell, I'm happy to say that I think you're full of shit, and that you're being a fucking baby about this if you can't stand to have a goddamned thread about a leader of a religion that you think is bollocks deleted. But it's totally pointless to harangue a dead person, and it's utterly silly and cowardly to harangue the living about a dead person they look up to. To clarify for you: saying "you're full of shit" to Mormons may be a little disrespectful, but it's part of the natural course of public debate. Saying "I'm glad he's dead, he's a bastard, and he was full of shit" about a dead person is fucking cowardly because you're being indirect and you're not actually confronting the lies that you claim the living that you oppose believe in. It would be like saying: "Christians are whores and thieves who fuck the dead." Yeah, fine, be confrontational, but tell the goddamned truth, and confront what you're actually arguing against. Otherwise, you're just hiding behind insults and shock value. "Christians worship a false truth and oppress people," maybe, if that's your bent, but don't dodge the issue with your fucking shadenfreude; respect people enough to actually confront them instead of just trying to shock them. That's why the people that picket funerals are wrong; not because they're confrontational, but because they're dishonest, and because they clearly don't care about truth so much as about scaring people.
posted by koeselitz at 1:44 PM on January 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


The only reason I made a joke in that thread is because the guy was a non-entity and boring as all hell. I read the 'Prophet' link and wondered why the obituary had even been posted. The deaths of Gemina (a giraffe with a crooked neck) or Ken Hendricks (a roofing billionaire who fell through his garage roof) are far more interesting. But do they get posted, no.
posted by tellurian at 2:56 PM on January 29, 2008


Oh no! Gemina died? That's sad. I got to see her this summer. She seemed nice. I mean, she's a giraffe, so it wasn't like she invited me in for tea or anything, but still.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 4:15 PM on January 29, 2008


Is it only me, or is this place (by which I mean the whole site, not just Metatalk) getting more vicious lately?

What, you mean all the people celebrating some 18 year old kid who killed himself and 4 friends? No way, it's ok because he was rich. As long as people are identifiably different, 5 Minutes of Hate is just fine.
posted by yerfatma at 6:01 PM on January 29, 2008


Another vote for "yes, it's getting more vicious lately, but it's not a linear progression from day one. We have peaks and troughs. We're in one of the troughs now".

Though, if any of you are bothered by the tone, I strongly recommend skipping the grey for a while and sticking to the blue. There's snark and incivility there, too, but far less, due to the number of posts about innocuous subjects. If you read the blue and grey, you get the impression that MetaFilter is 90% anger and bile. If you cut out the grey, you'll find that it's a much more manageable 10% anger and bile. Skip all articles about religion and politics, and that number drops down to a right pleasant 5% or lower.
posted by Bugbread at 6:42 PM on January 29, 2008


The high muckity-muck of the Greek Orthodox church died the same day. There was no obit post, hence no snark. Then again, a prominent member of that faith is not runing for prez, and so I doubt this would have made mefi but for Romney, though the Mormons are generlly more controversial.

I propose, when one finds oneself really, really tempted to piss, shit, or "go familly style with the corpse" in an obit thread, one merely type "I will not miss him/her" and go read something more fun. Or play a video game with explosions and get your scorn and anger out that way.

Phantasmagorical bashing in non-obit threads? Fine.
posted by vrakatar at 6:55 PM on January 29, 2008


I, for one, agree that the level of nastiness in an obituary thread for a Mormon church leader was well above and beyond. But then, why did we even have an obit thread about a Mormon church leader? --Wendell

There are over eleven million mormons worldwide.
posted by mecran01 at 8:34 PM on January 29, 2008


...And how many Eastern, or Greek, Orthodox christians? So why no obit post on archbishop Christodoulos? eh?
posted by vrakatar at 9:04 PM on January 29, 2008


To answer my own question, roughly 15 million greek orthodox worldwide. hmmmmm....
posted by vrakatar at 9:16 PM on January 29, 2008


So why no obit post on archbishop Christodoulos?

I blame the Patriarchy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:22 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


There are over eleven million mormons worldwide.

World Population -- 6,641,114,625 (6.6 billion)

Major Religious Groups
Christianity -- 1.9 billion

Islam -- 1.1 billion

Hinduism -- 781 million

Buddhism -- 324 million

Sikhism -- 25 million

Judaism -- 14 million

Bahá'í Faith -- 6.1 million

Confucianism -- 5.3 million

Jainism -- 4.9 million

Shinto -- 2.8 million
LDS/Mormon (self-reported) number of adherents -- 11,721,548 (2002); 12,275,822 (2004).
posted by ericb at 10:58 PM on January 29, 2008


I'd say for such a young faith -- compared with the others listed -- seventh place ain't bad. (Although the LDS would probably like to be included under "Christians," despite most Christians' resistance to that idea. And also although the LDS church is being outpaced, in terms of growth, by Christian evangelist groups these days.)
posted by donpedro at 11:08 PM on January 29, 2008


Actually, considering that most MeFites are in America (not all, mind you, including me), the breakdown probably is more functional if you do it by US populations, not worldwide populations.

In that case:
Greek Orthodox: 1,955,000
Mormon: 5,691,000
posted by Bugbread at 1:00 AM on January 30, 2008


donpedro: I assume that they are included under the Christians. They are Christian.
posted by Miko at 6:21 AM on January 30, 2008


So why no obit post on archbishop Christodoulos?

No one made one; but no one stopped anyone from making one. It's up to indviduals to post things they think would be of interest to others. I didn't hear any major media coverage of Archbishop Christodoulos and don't know anything about him, and not much about his church. Perhaps he is as interesting and influential a leader as Hinckley was; I don't know. But if you know something about his life or death that is interesting and supported by good links, then please, by all means. I wouldn't mind learning more about Greek Orthodoxy either.

The AP report on Hinckley's death:
The church began in 1830 with just six members, and by the end of Hinckley's tenure it had crossed the threshold of 13 million.

About 5.7 million — less than half the church's worldwide membership — are in the United States, and a third of them live in Utah. While the church is among the fastest growing in the U.S., membership is rising more rapidly overseas, primarily in Africa and Latin America.

"Without a doubt that was part of his vision from the first," said Bruce Olsen, managing director of public relations for the church. "His ability to articulate that vision and see the big pictures helped that move along."

...In 2006, the church said 94,000 new members were children born into the faith and 272,845 were converted worldwide. Hinckley urged the faithful to increase the number of baptisms in North America.

...In 2006, the church scattered more than 53,000 missionaries around the world.
posted by Miko at 6:32 AM on January 30, 2008


They're about as Christians as Muslims are.
posted by empath at 7:05 AM on January 30, 2008


Mormons believe that salvation is attained through lliving by the teachings of Jesus Christ, which the most basic, widely accepted definition of Christianity.

Mormonism vs. Traditional Christianity (note that 'traditional,' as used here, is a loaded word. Evangelicals attack Mormonism as not 'real' Christianity; but evangelical Christian faiths are not 'traditional,' either. Christian faiths are numerous and diverse and have rarely resembled one another or even themselves for two centuries running. It's hard to make an argument from purity unless you're Catholic. And even then...)

A defense of Mormonism as Christianity.
posted by Miko at 7:17 AM on January 30, 2008


Those Wikipedia numbers are bullshit anyway. Christianity always comes out on top, often due to the way the western world defines religion. If you count how many Chinese have aspects of buddhism in their daily life, the number for buddhism is much, much higher, for example.
posted by milarepa at 7:58 AM on January 30, 2008


I think you're full of shit, and that you're being a fucking baby about this if you can't stand to have a goddamned thread about a leader of a religion that you think is bollocks deleted.

I dislike having to repeat myself. What I disputed was the basis of the deletion, not the deletion. (See also)

Saying "I'm glad he's dead, he's a bastard, and he was full of shit" about a dead person is fucking cowardly because you're being indirect and you're not actually confronting the lies that you claim the living that you oppose believe in.

Since when is this the sole appropriate way to make a comment on MetaFilter? You're full of shit if you think the purpose of a comment in an obit thread needs to be an essay or argument on someone's life or some grand topic (arguments the same posters have very likely made in many previous comments), and can't just be a terse expression (a nod, a growl, a grin, a joke, a salute, a snark, etc) about how one feels about the death and what it represents to them.

In fact anyone with even a rudimentary familiarity of ObitFilter threads would know this has always been the primary type of expression by MeFite commentators in these sorts of threads. A short throw-away 'burn in hell, fucko' is no more or less inappropriate than one of those trite little 'you were awesome' period dots that fill up all the other obit threads. One is no more deep than a thumbs up, one is no more deep than a thumbs down. If one is permitted then by what fair standard shouldn't the other? (See also)
posted by dgaicun at 9:38 AM on January 30, 2008


... it wavers between dancing on a grave and taking turns going family style on the corpse.

And here we have the joke "going family style on the corpse". Surprise, MetaFilter is a very crude website filled with crude people. One of our crowning moments was when a moderator posted an animated gif of a real life dick fucking a chicken.

If I'm to understand such a joke got deleted, I don't think a necro joke about a dead hate-monger is necessarily killing the high standards we set for ourselves.

We're talking about the natural death of a 100 year old man here, ferkrysakes, not exactly a tragedy. Didn't we just have a Darwin award thread last week making extreme light of the horrible deaths of scores of "expendable" hillbilly folk?

It's ridiculous. The only reason we're expected to show such extreme (and unequal) respect for this dead idiot, is because so many of us have absorbed the fallacious double standards of religion: We must respect religious people, we must respect their false beliefs and values. If a dead homophobe dies, we must treat it as goddamed tragedy if a bunch of religious people worshiped him.

We have to show respect: ITS THEIR RELIGION.

Fuck their religion. I will not respect it. Fuck their leader. I will not respect him.

These are legitimate feelings, and the thread should not have been deleted for containing them.
posted by dgaicun at 9:59 AM on January 30, 2008


As ND¢ noted in the Ledger MeTa thread, these instances are a function of crappy single-link BreakingDeathNewsObitFilter posts in general -- although obviously the religious angle makes it worse here. If people would take a few fucking minutes (or days) to assemble a thorough set of links with multiple, varying assessments of the corpse's life and legacy, then at least the mean-spirited quips would be drowned out by actual comments. But no, it's all about rushing to be FIRSTGHOUL! or express one's snowflaky shock right now, and so of course almost nobody has anything substantial to say in response.

I do wish the mods would routinely delete every single-link Obitfilter, especially if it's within 24 hours of the death. Not only would that improve the quality of the FPPs, but it would mean that people who are stricken with grief over X's passing would have some time to process that and might be a bit less fragile when they encounter the inevitable snark.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:15 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


And yeah, I know the Hinckley post has a few links, but it's still basically a one-liner announcement and nothing more.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:18 AM on January 30, 2008


Again, Miko -- if Mormons are Christians than Muslims are. There's no way you can add new books to the bible and additional prophecies and still be considered Christian. No other Christian sect does that.
posted by empath at 10:25 AM on January 30, 2008


I guess to put it another way, the Mormons are as Christian as Christians are Jewish.
posted by empath at 10:27 AM on January 30, 2008


Certainly they do, empath. There is no one Christian Bible -different denominations have differently selected and edited collections of Bibllical writings. See here.Jews don't believe in salvation through Jesus Christ, and neither do Muslims. Christians, including Mormons, do. The analogy just doesn't work.

They're all Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Islam, and Christianity - but there are tremendous differences in denomination and belief within those faiths. The fact that some Jews accuse other Jews of not being Jews doesn't make them not Jews.
posted by Miko at 10:31 AM on January 30, 2008


Much better analogy, empath, but don't Catholics have more books in the Bible than Protestants?
posted by Happydaz at 10:31 AM on January 30, 2008


The problem with those analogies is that Muslims do not define themselves as Christians but as something different, and Christians don't define themselves as Jews.

Mormons do define themselves as Christians; it's outsiders from older denominations (many of which were also considered unChristian or heretical by the Christian establishment in their own infancies) who label LDS as non-Christian.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:32 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is no one Christian Bible -different denominations have differently selected and edited collections of Bibllical writings.

That's not exactly true. The Catholics have the Apocrypha, the Protestants don't, but the Apocrypha covers the period between the end of the OT and the start of the NT. They were all written in the 400+ years between the last of the prophets and Mark.

The Book of Mormon, though, is wholly new (except for the apparent plagiarism). If you hold that Revelation was probably written at the close of the 1st century AD, that means the Book of Mormon was written nearly 1800 years after Revelation -- and 300+ years after Luther was looking for a hammer and a nail in Wittenberg.

Comparing the Book of Mormon to the Apocrypha -- or for that matter, the Gnostic scriptures -- is a bit like getting a DVD set of 1950s TV and wondering why there are no cinescopes of Arrested Development included.
posted by dw at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2008


Can I just say that no one has done more to taint the image of the LDS community than Glenn Beck?

I love Mormons. The history and mythology of the religion is a tad moroni, but the actual "and this is how to live your life" part is just about the best I've ever seen.

But that Glenn Beck. Ick. It might not be quite so bad if he wasn't the only openly Mormon person on television (at least since Dancing With the Stars went off the air).
posted by Sys Rq at 11:17 AM on January 30, 2008


Just to be clear: I wasn't trying to say the LDS is or is not Christian. They say they are, others say they aren't. Me, I just don't have a dog in that fight.
posted by donpedro at 11:43 AM on January 30, 2008


I agree, dw, but the thing is that the Catholic Church still, to this day, refuses to accept Protestant revisions to the Bible and Protestant theory in general. The Church leadership still expects that all Protestantism will one day see the light and return to the one true Church. Regardless of how much time has passed, it doesn't seem fair to apply any standard that determines one True Bible - such a standard always draws its justification from within the belief system, not from historical argument. The simple passage of time doesn't tell us anything about whether a revelation is the 'real' word of God or not - it can't. Only belief can determine how one feels about that.

Don't Know Much About the Bible is a great, simple, layperson's description of how this set of texts has been mangled, reassembled, edited, and reinterpreted many times throughout the last 2000 years. It destroyed my sense that 'The Bible' had any solid definition as a set of texts.

Translations vary widely, as well, and more recent translations cast quite different glosses on texts than earlier ones. Are those more or less Christian? The Bible Gateway is an interesting thing to play around with - you can compare 50 versions of the Bible, some in English, many in other languages. If you change your default Bible version in the preferences, you will get a book list specific to that Bible. It will also give you a summary describing how each Bible was developed - what texts were used, who the editors were, what their goals and philsophies were.
posted by Miko at 11:49 AM on January 30, 2008


The Straight Dope has a great summary, too:
THE PROTESTANT BIBLE

At the time of the Reformation, one of the main struggles between reformers and conservatives centered on the question of authority. To the reformers, the authority that had for centuries been held by the Church more properly rested with the Bible.

Early Christians regarded several Jewish religious books as the Word of God even though they had been denied a place in the Jewish canon--Maccabees, for example. The early Christian church accepted these books as Scripture...Since they were Old Testament books (pre-dating Jesus), part of the Christian canon but not part of the Jewish canon, the Edicts of Trent in 1546 called them the Second or Deutero canon.

When Martin Luther reviewed Scripture during his break from Catholicism, he judged the contents of the Bible in the light of his convictions. He found a number of books difficult to reconcile with what he understood of the Gospel--specifically, II Maccabees, Esther, James, Hebrews, and Revelation. As the Cambridge History of the Bible puts it, "The test was whether a book proclaimed Christ. 'That which does not preach Christ is not apostolic, though it be the work of Peter or Paul; and conversely, that which does teach Christ is apostolic even though it be written by Judas, Annas, Pilate, or Herod.'" Thus the differences between the Protestant and Catholic/Orthodox bibles.

Some English Protestants--specifically, the Presbyterians and Puritans--took matters a step further and rejected the Apocrypha. Article VI of the Anglican "Articles of Religion" says of the Apocrypha that "the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners, but yet doth not apply them to establish any doctrine." The Westminster Confession, on the other hand, says the Apocrypha shall be "of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be otherwise approved, or made use of, than any other human writings."

Consequently, Protestant bibles in English are most often printed without the Apocrypha. As a result, most Protestants in the U.S. are unfamiliar with the Apocrypha and consider it part of the Catholic Bible.

It should be noted that there are other canons as well. The Mormon Church, for instance, has additional books in its canon and believes that the canon is NOT closed, but remains open.
posted by Miko at 11:57 AM on January 30, 2008


Mormon: 5,691,000

Of course, this includes people who were baptized at age 8 but may no longer practice or believe. You never get taken off the rolls.
posted by herbaliser at 12:01 PM on January 30, 2008


This thread will solve all our differences.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:03 PM on January 30, 2008


Of course, this includes people who were baptized at age 8 but may no longer practice or believe. You never get taken off the rolls.

Does it include the people they baptize after death?
posted by tkchrist at 12:15 PM on January 30, 2008


I would guestimate that 40 percent of the US LDS population is actively engaged in the church, so the number drops way down to 2.25 million in the US, which undercuts my earlier argument. But that is neither here nor there, as the Westboro Baptist Church plans to express their legitimate feelings at the funeral. So now you don't have to!
posted by mecran01 at 12:16 PM on January 30, 2008


Mormons do define themselves as Christians
That's a relatively recent change.
posted by empath at 12:20 PM on January 30, 2008


Also, "Jews For Jesus" aren't Jewish, it doesn't matter what they say.
posted by empath at 12:21 PM on January 30, 2008


he Westboro Baptist Church plans to express their legitimate feelings at the funeral

I didn't know those freaks actually published their schedule ahead of time. Such whores.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:36 PM on January 30, 2008


empath -- by those objections, jehovah witness's are Christian. However, I don't believe most denominations believe they are. The main objections to both Mormons and Jehovah Witness's being christian revolve around the belief in the trinity as 1 God in 3 persons.
posted by garlic at 12:44 PM on January 30, 2008


Most Christians believe JWs are Christian. Though they do have a different bible translation. And there are plenty of non-trinitarian Christian sects.
posted by empath at 12:53 PM on January 30, 2008


I cringe at that comparison, since it's not exactly right.

I see your point, dw, but I only meant that he was the leader of a major religion. I have no comment/judgment on how he (or the Pope or any leader) got there.



Appropos of nothing, but your user name always makes me pause - dw is (was?) my maiden name initials.
posted by deborah at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2008


Mormons do define themselves as Christians
That's a relatively recent change.


Look, here is Joseph Smith claiming to have seen Christ and God in 1830: First Vision.

And yes, I know there are at least nine different versions of his account, and that this is the homogenized one.

If by "Christian" you mean, "hangs out with the baptists and protestants and has the same conception of the trinity that they do" then you've got a point. Because mormonism has alienated everyone, permanently, with claims to exclusivity and to being the restoration that follows an apostasy from the truth. On the other hand, Mormons have been pretty consistent about claiming to be followers of Christ. Whether they (or anyone) consistently lives up to that claim is a different question.
posted by mecran01 at 1:47 PM on January 30, 2008


Of course, this includes people who were baptized at age 8 but may no longer practice or believe. You never get taken off the rolls.

Unless you ask to, like my brother did. If you don't ask, no, we'll keep your name around, on the chance that you'll decide to come back. And no, that doesn't include the dead; we get baptized for 'em, but we generally never find out whether they accepted the rite or not, so we account them separately.

But I just get so tired of this 'Are Mormons Christian' folderol. It's very simple. If you can wrap your head around the phrase 'Non-Nicene Christian', that's the Mormon profession. If your definition of 'Christian' makes that phrase an oxymoron, then 'they believe in Jesus, but not really the same way' probably is the best you'll do. And I don't mind that, so long as you don't use it as a pretext for painting me as a UFO-cult Satanist.

I have met plenty of people whose definition of 'Christian' did not allow 'Non-Nicene Christians'. Among them are friends of mine. I have met some people, strangers on the street mostly, who did not even allow for 'Non-Orthodox Christians'. ('Those Catholics claim infallibility for their leader. No other Christian sect does that.') I have even met a priest who had to explain to my landlady that he could not bless my apartment like she'd asked him to, solely because I was living in it. Somehow nearly all of these people managed to speak about it kindly, and to evoke kindness in me; and to expand and clarify my knowledge, and I theirs. I dunno, I kind of hope MeFi will be able to handle that someday.
posted by eritain at 3:57 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not a Christian, so to me being "Christian" doesn't carry a positive or negative connotation. Saying the Mormons aren't Christian in no way is a negative thing from my point of view. I guess it depends on your definition of Christian, though. But I think using the scripture as the dividing line makes it pretty easy. Jewish - The torah, etc -- Christian-- Old Testament + New Testament, Muslim - Koran, Mormons - the book of Mormon.

If you want to draw a dividing line between Catholics and Protestants based on the Apocrypha, I'd say that's fairly justifiable, but it's not as radical a difference as between the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

And even beyond the differences in scripture, the differences in history, metaphysics and philosophy and ethics are pretty profound. Mormons have a radically different conception of God, creation and eschatology from almost any other Christian faith.
posted by empath at 4:55 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


empath -- I don't think most protestant Christians would call JW's or Mormon's Christian -- but that's based on doctrinal differences between (Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox) and Mormons and JW's. It's the sort of thing that wouldn't be a big deal looking from outside these sets, but can be internally. I don't have any ill will towards eritain, and I understand his point saying Non-Nicene Christian, but I wouldn't expect anyone not in the above sets to know what 'non-nicene' even meant.
posted by garlic at 5:25 PM on January 30, 2008


So do you think the Mormon is a category like Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant? I can't categorize Mormons as any of the above, though I would categorize JW's as Protestant.
posted by empath at 6:10 PM on January 30, 2008


I would also characterize the Mormons as Protestant. The basic theology in question is not as severely different from mainstream Protestant thought as, say, Unitarian or Quaker theology is.
posted by Miko at 7:07 PM on January 30, 2008


PBS special on Mormons website containing information about basic beliefs.
There are Christians -- particularly among the modern evangelical and fundamentalist communities -- who argue that Mormons are not Christians. They base this contention on the fact that the Mormon conception of God -- summarized by LDS President Lorenzo Snow, who said, "As man is God once was, and as God is man may become" -- differs from traditional Christian ideas. They also point to the Mormons' avoidance of the cross as a religious symbol (Mormons believe it is a symbol of Christ's death, and they prefer to focus on his life, his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his resurrection); their belief in the fallibility of the Bible (because of its human translation); their acceptance of continuing revelation (which gives Mormonism an open canon); and their rejection of the Nicene Creed, a list of common Christian beliefs originally authored in 325 AD and subscribed to by most denominations.
So I still say: Christians. Weird Christians? Absolutely - you can have that one free. But so weird they are no longer Christians? Not with their basic belief in salvation through Christ and their solid founding within Christian tradition. Believe it or not, there are weirder Christian groups out there, even less recognizably related. And there are groups so generally accepted as Christian that their theology's lack of support for traditional Christian ideas is surprising to many. It does depend what your definition of Christian is, but definitions based on what books were 'really' revealed by God don't work for me, nor should they work for anyone standing outside Christian faiths. Groups of evangelicals lobbing accusations that other groups are not Christian doesn't hold much water for me; there are evangelicals who will happily tell you that Catholics aren't Christian. I don't regard them as a scholarly authority on grouping world religions by type, anyway. A simple definition is, to me, most useful for contrasting the major world faith streams.

All else is just quibbling about whose dogma is the doggiest.
posted by Miko at 7:31 PM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


all entities hailed by religion (xenu, jehova, moroni, what have you) have precisely the same amount of evidence as to their existince. none. in that sense, all religions are equally "weird."
posted by klanawa at 8:32 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


eritain: so long as you don't use it as a pretext for painting me as a UFO-cult Satanist

Oh man! But I was half-done. It had you rising from a fiery lake on top of a glowing flying saucer and you made the sign of the goat and laserbeams shot out of your eyes and demons clung to your scaly carapace and the greys were dancing and playing guitar and going yeeeeeaaahh and the air was all aflame and it was awesome.

I guess now it just goes in the incinerator.
posted by Kattullus at 9:12 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Miko, you are a complete champ. I salute you.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:47 PM on January 30, 2008


So do you think the Mormon is a category like Catholic/Orthodox/Protestant? I can't categorize Mormons as any of the above, though I would categorize JW's as Protestant.

Yes, both Mormons and JWs (as well as Seventh Day Adventists, Branch Davidians, etc) are categorized as Restorationist Christians.

For the purposes of secular, sociological categorization, yes, Mormons are considered a type of Christian. They fit comfortably in the standard religious taxonomy with a number of other still existing 19th century new American religions that purported to be restorations of the true Christian faith.
posted by dgaicun at 11:41 PM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I would also characterize the Mormons as Protestant. The basic theology in question is not as severely different from mainstream Protestant thought as, say, Unitarian or Quaker theology is.

But it is. Quakers, generally, stick with one book to base their inspiration on (the Bible) and would see the Mormon view of things as peculiar. Classical Unitarians would have a hard time with the "you can become a god of your own planet!" part of Mormon theology (though Universalists not as much).

So I still say: Christians.

I respectfully disagree. Calling Mormons Christians is like calling French-speaking Belgians French citizens. While the Mormons start from Christian tradition, their historical narrative and soterology varies from the Nicean/Apostle's Creed norm. They hold to a set of revelations that are found only within their sect. They may speak the same language, but they have a completely different history.

I do like using the Nicean/Apostle's creed definition because it encompasses most of the Christian orthodoxy. That definition includes Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Adventists, Calvinists, Christian Scientists, pretty much everyone but the Unitarians, although they would probably be willing to sign on to most of the Creed.

I would consider Mormons part of Christendom. This is different from Christianity in my mind in that Christendom encompasses the entire culture that has grown up around the main stream of Christian theology. In other words, French speakers, but being a French speaker doesn't make you French.
posted by dw at 11:41 PM on January 30, 2008


I see your perspective, dw, but still think it is a perception constructed from inside that Nicean worldview, which defines other types of Christianity out of the category of Christian based only on their acceptance of the statement. I don't see that as a fair means of determining what religions are or are not Christian, because it is specific to only some Christian denominations.

I'm speaking from dgaicun's point of view: in classifying world religions, Mormonism belongs with other Christian faiths.

Quakers, generally, stick with one book to base their inspiration on (the Bible) and would see the Mormon view of things as peculiar.

I have to disagree with this very strongly (I am a Quaker). Quakers do not reject Scripture and certainly draw upon it, but Quaker theology as it applies to the denomation as a whole is not based on the use of Scripture or on its recognition as Divine. You might find it interesting to read this description of Quaker beliefs in the present day.
some Friends place most emphasis on the teachings of Christian Scripture, while others give greater emphasis to the importance of the Inward Teacher ("that of God in everyone"), allowing for a wide range of religious perspectives...

For many Friends (especially the unprogrammed, "liberal" branch) it is not important that we all have similar beliefs. These Friends would say that is not one's beliefs that make one a Quaker. Rather, it is participation in Friends community, the deep search for Divine Guidance, and the attempt to live faithfully in harmony with that Guidance that make a person a Quaker
This is also of interest. The foundations of the faith were very much in keeping with other reform movements, and Mormonism can be seen as a reform movement:

Quaker beginnings in George Fox
Friends began their radical redefinition of Christian Truth in England in the 17th century. George Fox was the great driving force of the early years.

At the age of 19, George left home on a spiritual quest. He sought out and challenged religious leaders everywhere to answer his questions. His searching and wandering lasted four years, but no one seemed to understand him and no one accepted the reality of his inner conflict. Gradually his conviction grew that God had given him the answer within himself...

...George Fox never intended to found a new religious sect. He believed that his discovery was universal, that he had rediscovered original Christianity. Embracing this insight went far beyond the institutional limits of the Christian Church. And

Friends and the Bible

Friends consider that true religion cannot be learned from books or set prayers, words or rituals, which George Fox called 'empty forms'. When Quakerism began in England, the Bible had only just come into common circulation in English translation and was widely read and quoted. Most Protestant groups attributed a great finality and infallibility to it. The common desire for an external authoritative standard was very strong. In religious controversies, each group tried to find support somewhere in the wording of scripture...

Friends refuse to make the Bible the final test of right conduct and true doctrine. Divine revelation is not confined to the past. The same Holy Spirit which has inspired the scriptures in the past can inspire living believers centuries later. Indeed, for the right understanding of the past, the present insight from the same Spirit is essential. Friends believe that, by the Inner Light, God provides everyone with access to spiritual truth for today.

Creeds and theology
The attitude of Friends to formal creeds and theological dogma is different from that of most Christians. Creeds do not form the basis for association in their fellowship.
So there are theological overlappings here with the points of Mormonism some are saying are unChristian: most especially that there is a continuing revelation of Divine will, that creeds used in other denominations do not apply to all Christian faiths, and that religious authority is not contained within the Bible or derive from the Bible.



posted by Miko at 6:24 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do like using the Nicean/Apostle's creed definition because it encompasses most of the Christian orthodoxy. [emphasis added]

Well, duh, but how can you equate Christianity with "orthodoxy," which by definition means adhering to one particular creed? Are you saying that monophysites and Nestorians are not Christians? The Assyrian Church, among many others, would disagree with you. And I too grew up around people who would have said Catholics aren't "really" Christians; that sort of claim leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

(I second Miko's champitude.)
posted by languagehat at 7:30 AM on January 31, 2008


Here's the thing: from the outside, as someone who espouses none of the faiths in question, anybody who says he/she/it's a christian is one, just for saying so. There's no test of 'real christianity' beyond that.
From inside one of the faiths in question, who the fuck knows? They probably don't consider the person sitting in the pew next to them a 'real' christian because they bow/kneel/donate in a slightly different way.
posted by signal at 12:00 PM on January 31, 2008


The Mormons disfellowshipped my husband when he became a born-again Christian.

If you ask him he will say that Mormons are not Christians...he does however opine that there may very well be a very small subset of Mormons who are born again.

As one who is married to my former Mormon husband-and who has also taken two-count them, two-college courses in systematic theology, I have to say that Mormons are NOT Christian. They could be considered a "christian cult" just as Jehovah Witnesses, etc. What they mean when they say "Jesus" or "heavenly Father" or "holy spirit" is NOT at all the same what a Christian means when they use those terms. If one was not familiar with the two belief systems one could be pardoned for believing Mormons were Christian because of the similar terminology; but the actual beliefs of the two faiths are way way way apart.
posted by konolia at 12:33 PM on January 31, 2008


Konolia, I have objected elsewhere to your use of the term "Christian" when you really are talking about a subset of all Christian faiths, the subset to which you belong. Your point of view is that of some denomination or congregation within evangelical Christianity. There is not a "Christian faith," so you can't say "the two faiths" of Christianity and Mormonism are "way, way apart". That's apples and oranges, or more appropriately, it's like saying "Cars and Ford Falcons are way, way apart."

Evangelical Christians are Christian, and Mormons are Christian, and Jehovah's witnesses are Christian. They are all Christian faiths growing from a Christian tradition and all agree that Jesus Christ was divine and can, in some way, provide eternal life to the human soul. They differ on the nature of that eternal life and on how it is to be secured, but they share that basic belief and they share historical roots.

There are many evangelical megachurches which definitely share characteristics of "cults," but it's not fair to dismiss them as such. Your personal opinion of Mormonism is based in a denominational perspective, so again, from outside the perspective of a specific faith, it's not a useful determinant of what is and isn't Christian.
posted by Miko at 1:19 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jesus is as Jesus does.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:35 PM on January 31, 2008


(peace be upon him)
posted by Burhanistan at 1:35 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's a slippery dude.
posted by Miko at 1:37 PM on January 31, 2008


Hey, I learned something about how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints get defined as Christian or not in this thread. That was instructive. Seriously.
posted by mecran01 at 2:11 PM on January 31, 2008


Other fun LDS trivia: "Mormon" was a slur, and (and this is even more trivial, but kind of interesting to me at least) calling one of Joseph Smith's followers a Mormon led to the Smith-follower stabbing a man in Toledo in the 1850s, which was reported in the Michigan Argus. The Argus from that time is pretty full of crazy Mormon killings and brawls from Michigan and Ohio.
posted by klangklangston at 2:24 PM on January 31, 2008


Let's just agree that by some definitions of the word 'Christian', Mormons are Christian, and by other definitions, they are not. I think by any definition of the word that I'd fell comfortable with, they don't fit, but I recognize that others would disagree.
posted by empath at 4:59 PM on January 31, 2008


I just want to look at it in comparison to some other major world religions; I probably don't know enough about them to put forward an answer, but what if we look at Buddhism. By my understanding, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism are based on some pretty fundamental doctrinal differences, including relying on Bodhisattva for aid in reaching enlightenment, the necessity of helping others reach enlightenment out of compassion etc. Zen Buddhism is quite different again, emphasizing the attainment of enlightenment through inward-looking meditational practice, rather than the understanding religious texts and teaching - a practice that has often been interpreted in the west as "chant to get rich / get lucky / reach enlightenment".

Within Buddhism I understand there is much debate, and sometimes animosity regarding the different Buddhist sects. But they're all Buddhism to us.

I get the feeling the same thing may apply to Mormons; within Christianity there are clearly some serious doctrinal differences, and debate about whether they may be considered Christians at all. But, from the outside, on the scale of world religions, they sure look like Christians.
posted by Jimbob at 6:05 PM on January 31, 2008


Miko, Mormons are NOT Born-again Christians.

Those are the only ones I personally count as Christians, but I do not argue the point. Now if you are talking Cultural Christianity, then some folks could certainly lump Mormons and JW's in with the herd. But I personally would not, even then. I am sure the majority of both denominational and nondenominational Christians would agree with me, assuming they had even a cursory understanding of Mormon doctrine. And of course not everyone does-all they know is that Mormons are nice people who can cook a mean lasagna.

It all hinges on definitions. If your definition of Christianity is one who believes Jesus is both the Son of God and God in his own right (as part of the Trinity) and one believes that our salvation is obtained by faith in Him and substitutionary death for our sins, and ONLY that, then by that definition Mormons are not Christians. Because their definition of Jesus is not that of "Very God of very God." Jesus existed in a preIncarnate state as part of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) and as such has always been God. When He was born of a virgin he then also, in addition, became a man. Mormons do not believe that, and they also add "works" to the qualifications for salvation. (Whereas in Christianity, works are simply EVIDENCE of faith and salvation. In Christianity, all our own works are as filthy rags-we can only rely on the finished work of Christ to be acceptable to God.)

Besides all that, the Mormon idea of an afterlife, and how things are run in Heaven, is totally and completely different from that of orthodox Christianity. At this rate I am gonna have to pony up five bucks and let my former Mormon husband in here to take you to school on this stuff.
Oh, and speaking of lasagna-my hubby associates that so strongly with mormonism that for years he couldn't bear for me to make it. I had to rename it something else (won't type it here as it would offend fans of Joseph Smith) before he would partake of it.
posted by konolia at 6:16 PM on January 31, 2008


I am sure the majority of both denominational and nondenominational Christians would agree with me, assuming they had even a cursory understanding of Mormon doctrine.

But the portions of those who aren't Born Again wouldn't agree with you that they weren't Christians. I think that might be a higher priority on the matter of agreement than whether or not you can get together on the Mormon thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:28 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Besides all that, the Mormon idea of an afterlife, and how things are run in Heaven, is totally and completely different from that of orthodox Christianity.

Haha. So, explain to me what the orthodox view of Christianity is of the afterlife...

Is it angels and clouds and St. Peter in one direction, and the sulfurous fumes of hell in the other?

Is there purgatory? Limbo?

Is it simply 'the presence of God' in Heaven, versus the 'absence of God' in Hell. That's what one minister I had taught me - no great paradise, not nasty fires and demons...just being in the presence of God or being in the absence of God. But then, of course, the minister I had before him was more into the pearly-gates-and-harps thing.

And do we go to heaven immediately when we die? I mean that's what most Christians believe, really. That's what they tell their kids when Grandma dies. Hell, that's what a lot of Christians tell their kids when their goldfish dies. Or is it a case of hanging around down here until the rapture?

Please enlighten me as to the one, true, official, orthodox Christian interpretation of the afterlife so we may compare and contrast with the Mormon one, konolia.
posted by Jimbob at 6:38 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia writes "What they mean when they say 'Jesus' or 'heavenly Father' or 'holy spirit' is NOT at all the same what a Christian means when they use those terms. "

Seems a bit of a circular argument. "They aren't Christians because what they mean by 'Jesus' is not what's meant by Christians. Their definition of 'Christian' doesn't count when we talk about what's meant by Christians, because they aren't Christian".

If you mean "They aren't Christians because what they mean by 'Jesus' is not what's meant by most Christians", that makes quite a bit more sense.

konolia writes "If your definition of Christianity is one who believes Jesus is both the Son of God and God in his own right (as part of the Trinity) and one believes that our salvation is obtained by faith in Him and substitutionary death for our sins, and ONLY that"

"ONLY" that? So only Born-Again Christians are Christian? Shakers, Quakers, Lutherans, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and the like are ALL non-Christian faiths? What word, then, should we use for this spread of religions which all focus on Jesus? Jesusian?

I have a feeling that if we did that, in 5 years we'd be having the same discussion, where anyone who isn't a born-again is categorized as "not truly Jesusian".

konolia writes "Jesus is both the Son of God and God in his own right"

There are quite a few people who would argue that this interpretation is not Christian, because it's polytheistic, and Christianity is monotheistic. There are subtle ways of massaging this interpretation, but, honestly, the true Christian would probably believe that Jesus is 1) the Saviour, and 2) the Son of God, but not 3) also a god himself.

Personally, though, I'm gonna have to go with Jimbob: If we accept that what they have in Thailand is "Buddhism", and in Japan also "Buddhism", then we're accepting a HUGE fucking margin in defining our religions. The difference between Mormonism and Born-Again Protestantism is peanuts than the Mahayana-Therevada Buddhist gulf.
posted by Bugbread at 7:44 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


See, the difference is that those people are doing it. People like me are doing this. Can't you see how important that difference is? Don't you understand the subtext of that distinction I'm keen on elaborating?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:56 PM on January 31, 2008


I might also note, for what it's worth, that my mother, a Methodist, chose some Mormon friends to be my godparents. I'm not saying my mother was the most devout Christian, nor did she have the kind of educated theological understanding that konolia presents. But she was a Christian who decided to hand my religious instruction and upbringing to a couple of Mormons in the case of my parent's death, so, as an average Christian, she obviously wasn't so down on them.
posted by Jimbob at 8:03 PM on January 31, 2008


the true Christian would probably believe that Jesus is 1) the Saviour, and 2) the Son of God, but not 3) also a god himself

Well, Jesus is supposed to also be God, not a God. Of course, understanding how Jesus is both God and the Son of God at the same time (who therefore had conversations with Himself, demanded to know why he had forsaken Himself etc.) is an exercise best left to better minds than mine. God is all One God, but also in three parts who are also all God, but not three Gods. Yeah. U-huh. And I never understood what the hell the Holy Ghost was at all.
posted by Jimbob at 8:12 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


He turned the water into wine
And he insisted that we eat swine

And that's the sum of it
Why don't you come to grips?
Just take or leave it.


The Fall - "And therein..."
posted by Burhanistan at 8:19 PM on January 31, 2008


You can google Mormon theology yourself if you want to see how convolutedly different their afterlife is than the orthodox Christian one is.

But for free: Mormons believe that women have babies in the afterlife. Forever and ever. And that good Mormon men get to be a god of their own planet.

Christians do not believe that.


Another diff between Mormons and Christians is that they rely on the book of Mormon and other books as well as the Bible for their faith and practice. Christians use only the Bible.

Bottom line is that the Mormon Jesus and the Christian Jesus are really not at all the same. And Jesus is what Christianity is all about.
posted by konolia at 8:22 PM on January 31, 2008


Yeah, I don't think getting into specific doctrinal differences really matters very much. I just think that at the point where they added new scriptures, new revelations and new prophets to what had here-to-for been a closed doctrine, they founded a brand new religion, not a new denomination of a previous religions. It may have been based on Christianity, but only in as much as Christianity was based on Judaism. As the years go by the differences between Mormonism and the rest of Christianity are going to become more and more vast, because the foundational texts and principles are different.

With any other Christian faith, in an argument between denominations, there is always the recourse of going back to the bible, maybe augustine, the Nicene creed, etc. Any conversation between a Mormon and a Christian is going to have an uncrossable chasm as soon as a Mormon quotes the Book of Mormon.
posted by empath at 8:27 PM on January 31, 2008


If I were a Christian, I'd roll with the Essenes, the Copts and the Armenian Orthodox brothers. Anything else would be a compromise. But since I'm just a plain ol' Muslim, I'll just say alayhi salaam and move on to the next thing.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:29 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Konolia: Yes, and Christians believe a lot of convoluted nonsense, too. I'm in no way denigrating Mormons by setting them apart from Christianity. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were genuine religious geniuses and they invented a brand new world faith, imo. I'm putting their creation at the level of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In a few centuries, they may have as many followers.
posted by empath at 8:33 PM on January 31, 2008


Another diff between Mormons and Christians is that they rely on the book of Mormon and other books as well as the Bible for their faith and practice. Christians use only the Bible.

Once again, I call bullshit on that.

1. Christians rely on many, many other texts than the Bible for their faith and practice. That's why Christian bookstores were invented. Of course they may believe that only the Bible is infallible, but that's not what you said.
2. Not all Christians believe the Bible is the perfect, infallible word of God anyway.
3. Christians are informed by the teachings of their church leaders, who offer their own interpretation of the bible. Indeed, through much of history, the average Christian couldn't get their hands on a Bible if they tried.
4. Different sects within Christianity put different books in the Bible.
5. Different sects within Christianity use different versions of the Bible that say quite different things. Compare the Catholic and Protestant versions of the Ten Commandments.
6. Catholics, for example, rely on the words of the Pope as essentially being the word of God; official, divine texts in addition to the Bible.

If I went up to some person out in the wilderness - some native who's never come in contact with westerners before, never heard of God or Jesus or Christianity, but who magically spoke English, and I handed them a copy of the Bible to read, then came back in a few months and asked them how they might go about practicing Christianity....they would have no fucking idea. They wouldn't have a clue about "orthodox" Christian faith and practice. They probably would not have gotten the points about baptism or communion, or how they are carried out in practice. They would certainly be confused about the trinity. They would probably think it all had something to do with sacrificing sheep at altars constantly. Hell, they might even be wondering if God is supposed to be the good guy or the bad guy in the whole story.

Christianity is definitely not contained wholly and completely within the Bible. There is a whole, complex, fractured doctrine that has been built up on top of it (and on top of pre-Christian pagan beliefs, I might add) that the average Christian has to be taught before they can understand orthodox Christian faith and practice.
posted by Jimbob at 8:34 PM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


Konolia, I respect you a lot, but I'm gonna have to set some things straight here.

I do believe Jesus is both the Son of God and God in his own right. When the Book of Mormon speaks of the 'merits, and mercy, and grace' of Christ (2 Nephi 2:8), upon which we must 'wholly' (2 Nephi 31:19) and 'alone' (Moroni 6:4) rely for salvation, I understand those 'merits' to comprise precisely Jesus' independent and complete perfectness. I do believe in a unity of mind, heart, purpose, character, and principle among God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. I believe in the Bible, which shows these three to be distinct persons but of equal godliness. I do not believe them to be exactly as they are described in received tradition—if you want to split hairs, the gap between 'homoousion' and 'consubstantial' is where I draw the line: They are of one character, one self-chosen definition, and as such are in perfect harmony, but I do not feel the need to identify them as the same thing. I believe this was a compromise devised to make Christianity more acceptable to a philosophical culture steeped in post-Platonic monism, and is not motivated by revelation. When God the Father made the Son a God is not treated in any great detail in LDS revelations, and is really no concern of ours, save to note that there was never any disharmony between them and that it was well before the Creation. Again, this is at odds with the Platonic ideal of perfection as an everlasting unity, but I do not find it contradicted in the Scriptures themselves, and I find it an inspiration: Jesus Christ not only provides the hope of justification, but demonstrates the 'perfect man' and 'the stature of the fulness' unto which measure we lesser children of God, through his grace, may come (Eph. 4:13).

I believe that without faith in Jesus Christ, there can be no salvation, neither from death in resurrection from the grave nor from hell in restoration to the presence of God—not even long enough for a Last Judgement. Were it not for the Atonement of the Holy Messiah, the first judgement that was pronounced upon man—'Thou shalt surely die'—must have remained to an endless age (2 Nephi 9:7). I do believe that this was a substitutionary punishment, by virtue of which Christ may plead for us before God the Father, 'Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased [...] Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name' (Doctrine and Covenants 45:4-5). The ends of justice and the ends of mercy, as pertaining to the consequences of our earthly decisions, are united by the flexibility imparted to the universe by Jesus' totally voluntary sacrifice; God is free to judge us according to the desires of our hearts, without straining either of these two principles.

We can assign that all, more or less, to the justification side of things. Let us proceed to the sanctification side, for it's there that all of this relates directly to the unusual LDS view of the afterlife. Thus far this discussion has addressed the Atonement of actions (Adam's fall and our own falls as sinners) and their actual sequelae. But we have a character, an essence, as well as a set of actions. Different souls have shown different susceptibility to various levels of law, from the sublime heights of justice and mercy down through the basic standards established at Sinai, the laws of causality and initiative, and on down to the laws of physics and force. Some can turn the other cheek, some will take an eye for an eye, and some believe in pre-emptive force for personal gain. God will not save a soul against its will; those who are only comfortable with honor will not be compelled into a higher eternity where the basic rule is total devotion. It would be unjust and unmerciful. But higher laws open up higher opportunities, and these must be available to those who are competent to deal in them, that the eternities may increase in beauty and harmony unto the glory of God. So there are all these gradations. Where our treasure is, there our soul will dwell.

Now we come to that tricky question about works. We believe that we must 'believe in Christ, and [...] be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do' (2 Nephi 25:23). Why then must we do anything? Simply because God holds our freedom of choice inviolate. The desires of our hearts are not fully ripe until we bring them forth into action, of our own free will. This can not only demonstrate our character, but remake it. Indeed our character can be remade far beyond our own power—'if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ [meaning, in this text, justified by his substitutionary atonement and his covenant acceptance of us], and deny not his power [by rejecting his work in your life and his invitations to serve him], then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ [...] that ye become holy' (Moroni 10:33; cf. also preceding vv.). 'All we can do' is to demonstrate and create our own willingness to be transformed and perfected.

Another element of the LDS afterlife is relevant to this: The postmortal spirit life of paradise and prison. We believe that every knee will bow, and every tongue confess Jesus; but for some souls (those who rejected most laws, those who must receive the least portion of glory) it may take some time to reach that point. If they were resurrected by some portion of glory and assigned to partake in the same forever, but before having chosen the Christ who makes that possible, it would again violate freedom, justice, and even mercy. Therefore they must remain, until the end of the Millennium if need be, until they are willing to receive Christ's ministrations in that minimal degree.

I appear to have written another book here. But things are not as cut-and-dried as you present them. For that matter, I understand that there is not exactly total agreement on the mechanism of Atonement even among those who are generally accepted as Christians: Not all substitutionary views are penal-substitution views, there's the satisfaction view, even some adherents still of the ransom view, and although I do not think the moral influence view explains everything there is no denying that even the example of the Atonement has had some force upon my moral development. If you insist on predicating someone's Christianity on their accepting precisely your soteriology, well, you're kicking an awful lot of Christians out of the fold.

Yep, 'Mormon' is a re-appropriated slur, just like 'Christian'. But we try and downplay it because certain crusader-types feel unashamed to use it as a pretext for saying we worship Mormon.

On preview, (a) yep, 'Jesusian' sounds OK, let's go for it.

(b) I wholeheartedly concur about the comparison to Buddhist schools, and don't even get me started on Vajrayana. If that and a dry-enlightenment Tripitaka-only Theravadan are the same religion ... well, by that standard maybe Muslims are Christian!

(c) My best friend from high school and I talked through the Apostles' Creed point by point, with me indicating where I unquestionably agree and where I must equivocate (and please note that within the Christian community there is equivocation on the meaning of some of those points, more so over the Nicene), and he decided I was Christian enough for him. He has since become a Roman Catholic, but he still has no trouble calling me a brother in Christ and representing me as a Christian. For which I thank him.

(d) Konolia has wholeheartedly misrepresented Mormon afterlife theology. We do believe that the most righteous will have an endless posterity as gods. I think that is congruent with the scripture in Ephesians previously discussed, and with Philippians 2:5-9, and with the reasonable answer to the question, 'If God made us his children in his image, and if he loves us, why didn't he make his children able to grow up? Can't he, or doesn't he love us enough?' This is a strange doctrine, to be sure, and many people have painted it as aspiring to self-aggrandizement (it's not; what it means to become a god is to serve one's children selflessly as our God does). Many people have also speculated rampantly on what it means. Neither the 'planetary fiefdom' interpretation nor the 'perpetual pregnancy' (oof!) interpretation has any doctrinal force.

(e) Sola scriptura is not itself a scriptural principle, and now you have definitely stated that the Catholic and the Orthodox are not Christian. You're entitled to your definitions, but let the record show what they entail.

(f) Re quasi-polytheism in Theology, well:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ In the beginning
ἦν ὁ λόγος, was the Word,
καὶ ὁ λόγος and the Word
ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, was with the God,
καὶ θεὸς and [a] God
ἦν ὁ λόγος. was the Word.

And now I think I'm done, because I'm not really expecting to win over a forceful personality like Konolia at one fell swoop. And because I've been outrageously long-winded in this thread twice now.
posted by eritain at 8:35 PM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


Please don't stop. Tragic agnostics like myself can't get enough of this sort of debate.
posted by Jimbob at 8:58 PM on January 31, 2008


Yeah, don't get discussin' polytheism in the Bible:

Psalm 82:1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
...
Psalm 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
posted by Jimbob at 9:11 PM on January 31, 2008


empath writes "I just think that at the point where they added new scriptures, new revelations and new prophets to what had here-to-for been a closed doctrine, they founded a brand new religion, not a new denomination of a previous religions."

Problem is, realistically, that's not how we treat religions. Mahayana Buddhism has libraries of new scriptures, revelations, prophets, and even gods that Therevada Buddhism does, and yet: both Mahayanists and Therevadans consider themselves Buddhists, and non Mahayanists and non Therevadans agree with them.

Languagehat is probably avoiding this thread, but if he were here, he might point out that language is defined by usage, and seldom vice versa. "Christian" means what people use it to mean. Most people agree that Mormonism is a very far-flung part of Christianity, but Christianity nonetheless. You may use Christian to refer to something different and more exact than most people, but that doesn't make your definition more accurate or more correct, it just makes it wrong. Your usage of Christian very very often overlaps with the standard definition, but Mormonism (and, I suspect, Catholicism) are parts where it doesn't.
posted by Bugbread at 1:08 AM on February 1, 2008


And this is why I like eritain's usage of 'non-nicene' Christian. It's a descriptor that can be added when clarifying what set of christian's you're talking about.

the [a] from John (was with God and was [a] God) is a pretty heavily disputed (either for or against) translation.
posted by garlic at 7:05 AM on February 1, 2008


And if we want to reframe "Christian" not in general terms of inclusive/excusive grouping terms but instead as "who you do and do not believe will be burning in hell for eternity based on their failure to agree with your religious beliefs", the field gets weirder yet.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:08 AM on February 1, 2008


Absolutely. And I strongly feel that the word "Christian" can never usefully be conflated with the far more specific "born-again Christian." IT doesn't surprise me that konolia's beliefs reject the idea of Mormon Christianity; but her beliefs mean that she accepts only one specific definition of Christianity which does not include my own (Christian) faith or that of many others mentioned inthread.

From a comparitive standpoint, it makes no sense to discuss Mormonism as anything other than a Christian religious movement which has developed a body of thought and belief of its own.

As is evangelicalism.
posted by Miko at 7:33 AM on February 1, 2008


And if we want to reframe "Christian" not in general terms of inclusive/excusive grouping terms but instead as "who you do and do not believe will be burning in hell for eternity based on their failure to agree with your religious beliefs", the field gets weirder yet.

Yup, and much as I usually like konolia, when it comes to religion she reminds me of the people my mother left small-town Iowa to get away from. As she put it, "Not only did they think everyone who wasn't a Christian was going to hell, they thought everyone who wasn't a Protestant was going to hell and everyone who wasn't a Lutheran was going to hell, and some of them thought everyone who wasn't a Norwegian Lutheran was going to hell." Uffda! Love you, mom!
posted by languagehat at 10:44 AM on February 1, 2008


To some degree, members of Christian denominations talking about the validity of other Christian denominations are biased narrators.

What makes denominations different, after all, is their basic sureness that everybody else has it all wrong.
posted by Miko at 10:47 AM on February 1, 2008


Well I think all of them are wrong, since I'm an atheist. Anything I've said in this thread has nothing to do with my opinions about the validity of their beliefs. It's just that in my opinion the scale of Mormon religious invention elevates them out of the denomination category and puts them at the same level as Christianity and Islam. I mean they've already had schisms of their own and they have their own fundamentalist branches, etc. They have their own prophets, martyrs, myths, history, etc. They're just to big to be contained by Christianity, IMO.
posted by empath at 2:50 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Not only did they think everyone who wasn't a Christian was going to hell, they thought everyone who wasn't a Protestant was going to hell and everyone who wasn't a Lutheran was going to hell, and some of them thought everyone who wasn't a Norwegian Lutheran was going to hell."

Seems like an appropriate moment to be the first person in this thread (although the nineteen-thousandth person on metafilter as a whole) to quote this Emo Philips joke:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"

Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.
posted by dersins at 3:23 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


everyone who wasn't a Norwegian Lutheran was going to hell

That's preposterous. Everyone knows the One True Faith is the Western branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism.
posted by dgaicun at 3:32 PM on February 1, 2008


Schisms alone wouldn't be enough to make a religion non-Christian. Christianity as we know it is nothing but a history of schisms which has brought us lists of religious groupings quite as long as your arm, both living and failed, each with their own gloss on the basic tale of creation and salvation. It is not as though Catholics consider Lutheranism a theologically legitimate outgrowth of Christianity; they don't. Mainstream Methodists may consider evangelicals suspect. Evangelicals may consider Episcopalians suspect. Lots of people considered Branch Davidians suspect. All of the existing denominations have refused to accept the teachings of the denominations that pre-existed them, and have further elaborated on the Christian idea. After all, Christianity is the strange historical phenomenon that has given us things like snake handling. Demon exorcism. Circumcision. Faith healing. Hell House. Speaking in tongues. Transubstantiation. Praying to statues. The Masons. Self-flagellation. Christian religions have a long, long history of condemning the practices of other Christian religions as wrongheaded and bizarre.

As far as prophets and martyrs, as Christianity has spread around the world through the milennia, it has taken on innumerable forms influenced by local culture. South American Catholicism and Italian Catholicism, for instance, both incorporate figures from earlier folk belief as incarnations of God, additional unofficial saints, or spirits of exceptional power. New snominees for sainthood/martyrdom are being considered by the Catholic Church all the time.

The more you look into the world of religious history, the more bizarre it all is.

There are plenty of reasons to take issue with Mormon theology and practice. There are plenty of things in Mormon belief whose merits may well be argued. So I'm not saying the faith should be excused from criticism based on its beliefs, limitations, consistency, oppressive practices, expression in the world, financial practices, or any other reason. It's as fair a game as any other religion is. But whether or not they are Christian is a bit of a red herring. Who's invested in saying they're not Christian, and why? All of the materials originating from the church say they're Christian. Their history as a religion founded squarely within Christianity and as a result of what they see as a new revelation about Christianity says they're Christian. And members of the faith pretty clearly say they're Christian. All of that is presented in this thread or in its links. Why would anyone deny their self-identification within this tradition? If someone stands up and says "I'm a Christian," upon what authority do I say they're not?

The only grounds I can see that doesn't depend on my own beliefs is their shared history and theological similarity with other Christian religions. Unlike Quakers and Unitarians, they have not abandoned Jesus as the central figure through whom salvation is won. As long as they believe that, they can definitely be called 'Christian.'
posted by Miko at 5:41 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The link about prophets and martyrs should be to this Folk Christianity wikipedia entry.
posted by Miko at 5:44 PM on February 1, 2008


And now I think I'm done, because I'm not really expecting to win over a forceful personality like Konolia at one fell swoop. And because I've been outrageously long-winded in this thread twice now.
posted by eritain at 11:35 PM on January 31 [2 favorites +] [!]


Eritain,

Who do you say Jesus IS?

If you say he started out as a man?

Fail.
posted by konolia at 6:19 PM on February 1, 2008


Erm, not to speak for Eritain, but you could have read his post a bit better, konolia:
When God the Father made the Son a God is not treated in any great detail in LDS revelations, and is really no concern of ours, save to note that there was never any disharmony between them and that it was well before the Creation.
Seems to me he's saying Jesus was around since before creation, and since the first man was created after creation, it sounds to me like a WIN FOR LDS!!!1!
posted by Jimbob at 6:57 PM on February 1, 2008


If you say he started out as a man?

Fail.


Again, this is specific to your denomination. No one outside your denomination needs to be in agreement with you on this to belong to the class "Christian."
posted by Miko at 7:10 PM on February 1, 2008


He started out as a zygote, peace be upon him.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:20 PM on February 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Konolia, don't make this about a test of religious dogma. That's boring and pointless. To me, the difference isn't what they believe, but what the source of the belief is, the more important non-Biblical sources become, the less likely I am to consider it Christian. Which is not to say that it's bad, again, only that it's different.

I am a bit swayed by the idea that if someone claims to be Christian that we should probably accept that, but again, Jews for Jesus and Messianic Jews may claim to be Jewish, but there are plenty of reasons to consider them Christian instead.

There was probably a time when the vast majority of early Christians considered themselves Jewish, too, as well. I'm sure it was a gradual change, and not an immediate break. I think we'll find that as time goes by the break between Mormonism and Christianity will only get larger because they lack the common foundation of scripture and Mormonism has a completely self-contained governmental, cultural, legal and organizational framework, and even a homeland of Utah and a Holy City of Salt Lake City.

I dunno, we're not going to agree here, so I'm checking out of the thread now.
posted by empath at 7:50 PM on February 1, 2008


He started out as a zygote, peace be upon him.

Glint in the Holy Spirit's eye, amen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:18 PM on February 1, 2008


"Who do you say Jesus IS?

If you say he started out as a man?

Fail."

Oh, honey, you're confusing things you believe with things you can prove, and you do not want to get into a battle of epistemology with only the Bible as your ammunition.

Feel free to declare a self-fail before Abraham eats you.
posted by klangklangston at 4:57 PM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fail

Sorry, konolia, but that really sounds just like what Salafist/Wahabbist Muslims do to anyone who doesn't follow their particular jaded idea of Monotheism. Their stock-in-trade is called takfir. Basically, in lieu of actually making proper remembrance of God and looking for ways to increase unity in the brethren, they simply look for technicalities to "get ya" and call you a polytheist. It's a trend that has kept the Shaitan well fed.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:03 PM on February 2, 2008


Epic swerve, but here's a blog post talking about some neat religion/denomination data mapping using Social Explorer and a pile of data from the Association of Religion Data Archives.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2008


Also, there's about 10,000 Mormons in my county, as it turns out. Catholics trounce them, the Protestants, and the Evangelicals put together, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:11 PM on February 4, 2008


Neat maps. I was surprised to learn that Muslims outnumber Jews by 2:1 in my county. By far, the majority is mainline Protestant: UCC/Congregational, Baptists, and Methodists mostly.

We have an equal number of Bahai and Mormon adherents. But there is an oddly strong number of Bahais here because we have a national Bahai center nearby.
posted by Miko at 12:25 PM on February 4, 2008


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