Tag Archives: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Falsehood in the Name of Faith

Blog_Falsehood        My wife found the small pamphlet at a rest area on Interstate 15 near Brigham City, Utah. A stack of the publications was left in a restroom for visitors to take. Its title was a distortion of beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The sentences following this distortion contain half-truths, other distortions and outright falsehoods.

I have often wondered how people who call themselves Christian justify lying and deception about other people’s beliefs. How is this serving the Lord Jesus Christ?

This particular tract was distributed by a small ministry organization in the Midwest. How it got to Utah I do not know. Perhaps whoever placed it took some satisfaction in striking a blow against “Mormonism” in the heart of “Mormon” country—the area where members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints were driven by religious persecution in the 1840s.

It doesn’t bother me that people disagree with the teachings of my church. We have religious freedom in this country by virtue of the Constitution. More, we have God-given freedom to exercise our faith in Him—or not—as we desire. One of the first laws of heaven, I believe, is that in this mortal life we will have freedom to choose whether to obey Him or not. It is a principle so sacred in eternity that He will not violate it by forcing us to obedience. The only proviso is that we will accept the consequences of our own choices and actions.

This being true, why do so many people seem inclined to try to destroy other people’s faith? Why are they not more concerned with strengthening their own?

As a young missionary for my church decades ago, I bought a pamphlet about “Mormonism” from an evangelical bookstore in the small Guatemalan city where I lived. The author assured readers that he was thoroughly familiar with the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—though he got the name of one of the Church’s books of scripture wrong. I chalked that error up to faulty translation. As I read the pamphlet, I began to wonder: Did the scripture books I treasured really say the things he claimed? I began to check his references. I quickly found that he was pulling sentences and phrases out of context, distorting them with his own, biased interpretation—and even making up some of them! No such scriptural passages existed. I would learn later that this pamphlet was a Spanish translation of a work written in the early 1900s, and long ago discredited for its inaccuracies.

Reasonable, good people can disagree on religious doctrines yet still be friends and work together. I treasure my relationships with some friends and family who do not share my beliefs. They are fine people and I love them. We simply understand that we each worship differently.

I have attended events sponsored by my church where protestors stand across the street or mingle with crowds on the street, trying to disrupt the event. They may call Church members insulting names, try to bait members into physical altercations, or shout that Mormons are all going to hell. Others stand nearby handing out false materials like the pamphlet my wife found. I wonder if those people go home at night and say in their prayers, “Lord, I served Thee today by shouting angry taunts at Mormons, arguing with them, calling their women vulgar names, and telling lies about their beliefs.”

They call this love? They delude themselves into believing they are “helping” their brothers and sisters?

I wonder how much good they might accomplish if they devoted the same time instead to serving the poor and needy in their communities. Wouldn’t it seem wiser to spend that time building up something you believe in rather than trying to tear down something you believe is bound to fall anyway?

These are times when Christianity itself is under attack, even by some who claim to be Christian but who jettison principles of faith when the world shakes its head in disapproval. Wouldn’t this be a good time for Christians to stand together in defense of our faith?

In the wider world today, belief in God is under attack, by those who want to ignore Him or blame Him for all the evils on this earth, rather than looking to the true source of evil. Wouldn’t this be a good time for all believers in a benevolent God to stand up in His defense, offering our witness of Him?

 

 

 

This Is Christianity?

A few weeks ago, I stood looking bigotry in the eye and wondering how someone comes to think and behave that way. What makes it possible for someone who has feelings and some kind of sense of self-worth to treat others as though they are scum who should be eliminated from the earth?

The place was the Nauvoo Pageant, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in Nauvoo, Illinois, a town from which the Latter-day Saints were once driven by mobs. The scene was the entrance to the pageant. Protesters and hecklers stood on the public street, just off of Church property, taunting, insulting, and confronting people arriving to see the historical pageant.

Protesters 3Ag17_01717B

I’m grateful I can rely on Jesus Christ to judge my Christianity, and not on someone who is willing to consign me to hell without knowing my heart.

One man used a megaphone to shout taunts such as: “All Mormons are going to HELL!” as well as slurs like “Mormon ___________!” or “Mormon _____________!” (insert a name here for a man or woman who is gay). It was evident from his demeanor that he was using those slurs in the belief they would offend people.

Not far away were a couple of other people handing out literature designed to look like it was connected with the pageant. In truth, it was a collection of criticisms, half-truths, and distortions of LDS doctrine. I have read their literature before and investigated the claims. All of those claims have either been disproved long ago, or cannot be either proved or disproved because they are misrepresentations. The people handing out this material want it understood that they are separate from the people with the megaphone; they will tell you they are simply there in the service of Jesus. I would like to ask how they feel they are serving Jesus by handing out material that they know, or should know, is misleading.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. There is certainly room for good people to disagree on questions such as how grace is applied in our lives, what awaits us after this life, and how we should receive and respond to inspiration from the Holy Ghost. I respect anyone’s right to have a different view. It is a basic tenet of our faith that all men and women have the God-given right to exercise their own agency in religious beliefs and practices. Among the 13 Articles of Faith that define basic LDS beliefs is this one, number 11: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men [and women] the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” This idea is embodied in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. And yet some seem to feel that this freedom should be applied only to certain selected religions.

I am always grateful to be among believers in God, and I have no difficulty working amicably with anyone, whether or not they believe as I do. I respect their right to worship, or not, as they see fit. I believe we are in truth all brothers and sisters as sons and daughters of God, and we owe each other respect on that basis. And if that is not enough, we ought to try to live in peace together as residents of this planet.

But I have difficulty understanding those antagonistic protesters. Do they go home at night telling themselves, “I served Jesus today by screaming insults at people and trying to destroy their faith”?

The only way I can explain their behavior in my own mind is to realize that those people are haters, and members of my church happen to be their focus. If there were no Mormons, they would focus their hate on Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, foreign immigrants, Democrats or Republicans, or some other handy group. They simply need someone to hate—someone on whom they can focus their anger—because deep inside they are not right with God, and not even right with themselves.

Their actions cannot be, either rationally or spiritually, the actions of people who follow a loving God. This cannot be Christianity—not as taught by Him who said, “Love one another” (John 15:17).

I feel sorry for those protesters, and I’m sure this statement would anger them. As we watched them out in the street one evening, the sheer theatricality of the man with the megaphone made me laugh. He saw me, and focused his wrath on me: “You laugh now, but you’ll burn in HELL!”

What a sad, pitiful way to spend one’s limited time in this life—trying to destroy someone else’s faith instead of trying to demonstrate what it means to be a follower of God.