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February 08, 2008

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I don't think he was dumb. He probably made a strategic calculation that going after moderates wasn't going to work because McCain had that sewn up, so he might as well try for the conservatives.

You can't assume every strategic decision people make that doesn't work was ipso facto stupid. As someone fond of free enterprise, you should understand that businesspeople make decisions based on incomplete knowledge and risk assessment and are sometimes wrong. ;)

I haven't been around enough Mormons to really know about the creepiness factor, but it bothers me that the religion seems to control believers' lives to an excessive extent - a so-called "totalizing religion." Religion's ideal role is to complement one's life, not dominate it. You don't normally think of people you know as being "Methodists" or "Catholics" when thinking of them in contexts other than explicitly religious ones. That is not true with respect to Mormonism. It's like the religion becomes one's whole identity. And I don't like that.

In any event, most of my direct dealings with Mormons have not been particularly good. Contrast that fact with my dealings with Muslims, almost all of which have been fine. I'd sooner have a Muslim president than a Mormon.

I'm a Latter-Day Saint and the religion doesn't control my life to an "excessive extent". I choose to believe what I believe...I wasn't brainwashed or hypnotized. My belief was based on something we call revelation from God. I wouldn't expect those who haven't had a similar experience to understand why I believe what I believe. I choose to go to church on Sundays and worship. It doesn't make me weird or creepy...if anything it makes me a better citizen and more well-adjusted to life. As far as my identity goes...I don't go around advertising I'm "Mormon" (except on message boards). I've usually been asked because I don't drink,smoke, or swear. I tell people about my beliefs if they ask...I certainly don't hide it, but it doesn't define who I am as a person...unless others somehow can't get over the fact I'm "Mormon" once they know. I certainly don't expect others around me to comply with my beliefs, but respecting them would be nice. I wonder how many "direct dealings" with "Mormons" you've had. If you really befriended a few practicing Latter-Say Saints, you'd realize they are decent, good-natured people.

If you really befriended a few practicing Latter-Say Saints, you'd realize they are decent, good-natured people

In my experience, they are very pleasant. However, they are also very insular. For the devout, friendship is not an option for non-Mormons.

My friend, Johnny Wraith, used to be able to point out Mormon people based on their Mormon demeanor as well as the tell-tale hints of their Mormon underwear.

So that is why you link to a fiction site. The authors appear to have strong distaste for wealthy men. Kind of a Hustler-esque flavor, very macho-populist. Peter would probably enjoy it.

Kind of a Hustler-esque flavor, very macho-populist. Peter would probably enjoy it.


For a minute I though you were talking about Tom's of Finland!

Religion's ideal role is to complement one's life, not dominate it

Is that so? From a pragmatist's perspective, maybe. But the thing is, if you *really believe* what most religions tell you, then it follows logically that there really isn't anything nearly as important as being a proper believer. If you actually believe in eternal salvation and damnation, it makes sense to subordinate all other aspects of your life to your belief. Of course what this really shows is that indeed, very few people have genuine faith; their religion is just some sort of social activity.

bbartlog -
Well that's the point. I am very pragmatic when it comes to things like religion, or perhaps skeptical is a better term.

Don't sell the Fair Tax short. I'm fairly certain that's why GA went Huckabee. Unfortunately the Fair Tax wasn't part of the exit polling package, so I can't back that up.

Steve: I wonder how many "direct dealings" with "Mormons" you've had. If you really befriended a few practicing Latter-Say Saints, you'd realize they are decent, good-natured people.

I lived in Arizona, so I've had dealings with plenty of Mormons. I never said that they weren't "decent, good-natured people." In fact, more so than the typical non-Mormon.

That doesn't mean that they aren't brainwashed. That's what religion is about: brainwashing people into believing the nonsense.

Several Mormons have been very nice to me and have done me favors which I am thankful for, which is why I feel sort of bad about writing the post, but the goal here is to write the truth. If you want to read politically correct, you can read the New York Times.

If you want to read politically correct, you can read the New York Times.

Not about Mormons (or Christianity for that matter) you won't.

The spin from the mainstream media is that Republican voters demonstrated "ugly bigotry" by not voting for Romney.

The NY Times is in that camp.

And I forgot to say, kudos to HS for a great post title.

I disagree.

If you look at the exit polls here:

Florida


South Carolina

Romney has equal Evangelical vote in Florida with Huck who is a Baptist minister. His vote percentage is higher among the "Attend weekly" and "Monthly" verses "Never". He does lose the "More than Weekly" though.

On the other hand McCain does win the most liberal categories- never attending Church, "Angry" at Bush admin, and Economic Conditions "Poor".

Looking at the chart on page 4 of Florida,
Romney wins the category "Vote by Religion and Race" commandingly.

Supporting the 'alpha' thesis:
As income goes up Romney's % of the vote goes up and McCain's goes down. Except for those over $200K who are always queer birds. The same goes for education- support for Romney usual goes up, and support for McCain goes down.

I prefer to refer to the religion of my birth as goofy, not creepy. The temple ceremony is laughably strange--I've long suspected that it's kept secret because it's so dumb, not because it's "sacred".

Mormons tend to confuse feeling right about something as receiving a message from God. They also confuse belief, faith and knowledge, assuming that believing something strong enough is the same as knowing it. (Mormons are taught from the time they are little to not say "I believe the church is true" but "I know the church is true.")

Mitt Romney has all these traits which leads him to come across as a bit of an arrogant pin head.

Incidentally, the entire thing about "reformed Egyptian" is very silly. Besides there being no such thing, even if they were it would still more verbose than Hebrew. Very telling is that at the time of Joseph Smith, the common belief was that a single Egyptian symbol was laden with meaning (this same erroneous belief persists to this day with Chinese and Japanese characters.)

The explosive growth of Mormonism and other "totalizing" religions is part of a bigger trend in American religious belief, one which I find extremely worrisome. Call it the decline of moderation in religion.

As recently as 20 years ago, many people in this country were religious in a moderate, non-life-dominating sense. They belonged to the Catholic church or to mainstream Protestant denominations such as the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran or Presbyterian churches. They attended services on a fairly regular basis, and sometimes were involved with church activities, but they didn't center their lives around their churches or let their religiosity define their identities. The churches themselves didn't claim to have all the answers and did not micromanage people's lives. Indeed, the daily life and social/political opinions of an Episcopalian were not greatly different from those of a Methodist which weren't greatly different from those of a Lutheran and so on.

Today? Things have shifted away from the middle and toward the extremes. Mainstream Protestant churches and the Catholic church are all in deep and probably irretrievable decline. Some of the people who would have attended those churches had they been a generation younger have largely drifted away from organized religion, though out-and-out atheists remain uncommon. At the other end of the spectrum, the extreme, life-controlling, totalizing religions keep growing and growing and growing. The Mormom, Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, Jehovah's Witnesses, other Bible-thumping sects know nothing except nonstop growth. These churches, unlike the dying mainstream and Catholic churches, DO claim to have all the answers and DO micromanage everyone's lives. They also do a far better job at keeping believers from drifting away; born into one of those churches, it's a near-guarantee that you'll be a follower for life. There are millions of lapsed Catholics and virtually no lapsed Mormons. Even more worrisome, they also wield tremendous political power and therefore influence the lives of non-believers. Don't believe me? Well, when was the last time you saw even the most fleeting glimpse of nudity on television?

I have no idea if this trend will ever reverse itself, but it seems very doubtful. We've never seen even the merest blip in the nonstop growth of the totalizing churches. As for the political ramifications, they're great for the most conservative wing of the Republican party, and probably ominous for everyone else.

Even more worrisome, they also wield tremendous political power and therefore influence the lives of non-believers. Don't believe me? Well, when was the last time you saw even the most fleeting glimpse of nudity on television?

Worst example ever. Have you seen Dancing with the Stars?

... and virtually no lapsed Mormons

Completely untrue. Once baptized in the Mormon church, you are considered a member until you are excommunicated or request that your records are removed. Mormons who don't attend church are called "inactive", even if they are virulently anti-Mormon. The belief is that everyone has a chance to come back--to be reconverted to the faith if you will. However, the net result is massively overinflated membership numbers.

In Utah, it's estimated that only 35% of Mormons are active in the church. Most of the rest, myself included, consider themselves culturally Mormon, even if they don't believe a word of the religion. The percentages drop the further you get from Utah, though the church is VERY coy about this (the Utah numbers were derived from correlating some released records with census records. The church was pissed about its publication.)

In Mexico, it's estimated that the activity rate is 15%. In Japan, it's estimated to be as low as 12%. The activity rate for men is less than half that of women. In some places there are so few active men, the Mormon missionaries have to act as local leaders.

There is evidence that the current birth and conversion rate is lower than the exit rate. (This is amplified by Mormons catching up with everyone else in family size.)

The point of this is that at least 65%, or 7.8 million, Mormons are lapsed. Easily half of those simply don't believe and/or engage in behavior contrary to the teachings of the church and would be kicked out of any other religion. The LDS church will never do this largely because the mystique of 12 million members is too powerful.

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