ID vs. LDS: Beehive State Stings Creationists Right In Their Origins—and you don't need a disclaimer on that!

|

John Gilmore notes that Utah's House of Representatives has defeated the "Origins of Life" bill by a substantial margin. The legislation, which would have required teachers to issue a disclaimer before teaching the theory of natural selection, went down in a 46-to-28 vote, having run afoul of Republicans in the state body, science/religion separatists, and Mormons who believe intelligent design theory goes against the teachings of the LDS church. "Even red-as-blood states can't seem to get anywhere with this stuff," Gilmore notes. "I think it clarifies the issue as the tempest in a teacup it really is."

But who made the teacup, John, and who the tempest?

NEXT: Better Blast It to Make Sure It's Dead

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The idiocy of this is the assumption that “Red State” and “religious” are the same as “fundamentalist.” The LDS church does not take a fundamentalist view of the bible, and Mormons have no problems doing good science. My PhD advisor was a bishop and a close relative (bro-in-law) of the then-president of the church; he was fond of saying that he saw no conflict in keeping his religion in one pocket and his science in the other.

  2. It was religious legislators, specifically the Republican whip, who killed this bill. Possibly, it is because of their comfortable majority in Utah that they were able to say that “God has no argument with science”.

    In states where religious zealots can plausably claim to be persecuted, it may not play out this way. Of course, the Mormons may also recognize that they will ultimately be on the losing end of any trend involving state entanglement with religion.

  3. Anyone who watches South Park ought to know that the Mormons aren’t exactly crying out for a deeper inspection of their strange beliefs.

  4. The LDS is just trying to make friends with the science folks. The genetic studies that showed that American Indians weren’t closely related to Jews was the worst scientific slap any religious dogma has suffered since those wacky mathematicians schooled the bible-beaters about pi not being equal to three.

    The Mormons don’t want to get hit again and somewhere got the idea that appeasement was a good policy.

  5. And in the spirit of Rhywun’s post…
    Joseph Smith dum,
    dum de dum dum dum

  6. that they will ultimately be on the losing end of any trend involving state entanglement with religion.

    Rimfax nails it. The Mormon hierarchy realize that more government influence = less LDS influence.
    Look at the per-pupil spending in Utah sometime. It’s quite low compared to many places. The thing is, the LDS church makes up the difference in many little ways. That’s the way they like it.

    This little feature of Utah life drives my relatives in Utah crazy.

  7. In states where religious zealots can plausably claim to be persecuted…

    Which states would those be, exactly?

    And lawsuits to remove taxpayer funded dislays of nativity scenes do not, by the way, even approach “persecution” as any rational human being would understand it.

    But I am interested in any genuine example of plausable persecution of a religious zealot in any state.

  8. Anyone who watches South Park ought to know that the Mormons aren’t exactly crying out for a deeper inspection of their strange beliefs.

    However, their extensive missionary program would tend to contradict that.

    I would have said, rather, that they want any inspection of their strange beliefs to be on their terms.

  9. Look at the per-pupil spending in Utah sometime. It’s quite low compared to many places. The thing is, the LDS church makes up the difference in many little ways. That’s the way they like it.

    This little feature of Utah life drives my relatives in Utah crazy.

    I’m not sure what state your relatives live in, but it sure doesn’t sound like Utah.

    Aside from Brigham Young University and LDS Business College, the LDS Church doesn’t sponsor any school that I know of in Utah. No preschools, no elementary schools, no junior or senior high schools. The low per-pupil spending is a result of large families, not an effort by the Church to stifle competition.

  10. –he was fond of saying that he saw no conflict in keeping his religion in one pocket and his science in the other.

    And in between he was wearing his weird-ass Mormon underwear.

  11. People with divergent religious beliefs are often wary of state discrimination and sometimes make for good civil rights champions.

    Phelps seems to think that Jesus only died for Christian fundamentalists. …Given some of the other options, I’d rather more people believed in magic underwear.

  12. Several months ago, a local paper here in Utah commented on the fact that the science vs creationism controversy that was big in the Bible Belt was virtually ignored here in Utah. Shortly thereafter, this bill was proposed and the whole issue came to the fore.

    I’m glad to see that the measure was killed. It was bad legislation and repesented another attempt of the government to meddle where they didn’t belong.

  13. People with divergent religious beliefs are often wary of state discrimination and sometimes make for good civil rights champions.

    I once wrote something along these lines when Orrin Hatch made some noise about opposing a school prayer amendment-i.e., that Mormons have more historical experience of religious persecution than just about anybody in America, so they’re wary of efforts to institutionalize religion. As I recall, he ended up swallowing his opposition soon after, and supporting the amendment-just to make me look ridiculous!

  14. The LDS church has long-held (since the early 20th century) that Christian teachings and evolution aren’t necessarily in conflict. This isn’t a new-found belief designed to “win friends and influence people”. Historically, they have been more open to scientific ideas than many other Christian churches.

    This recent bill in the Utah legislature attracted attention but, as we have seen, it didn’t have any real support. Most LDS church members would agree that public schools should focus on secular education and leave religious education to their family.

  15. Your statement about Orrin Hatch doesn’t surprise me. His tenure on Capitol Hill has turned him into a weasel. Unfortunately, election campaign laws favor the incumbent and nobody has been able to raise enough cash to give him a serious challenge.

  16. The LDS church has good reason to not want any debate about keeping religion and curriculum separate. EVERY highschool and junior highschool built in utah comes equipped with a church building onsite; built, funded, and owned by the church, and all the schools work class schedules to make sure students have room for a ‘seminary’ period each day. The church also makes sure the districts have help purchasing prime real estate for new schools, since they will ultimately be keeping a peice of the deal for the seminary buildings.

  17. The LDS church has good reason to not want any debate about keeping religion and curriculum separate. EVERY highschool and junior highschool built in utah comes equipped with a church building onsite; built, funded, and owned by the church, and all the schools work class schedules to make sure students have room for a ‘seminary’ period each day. The church also makes sure the districts have help purchasing prime real estate for new schools, since they will ultimately be keeping a peice of the deal for the seminary buildings. Also, Someone mentioned the DNA studies that showed Native-American’s had no ancestral ties to Jews, well as far as i’ve heard, the first of those studies was done in the genetics department at BYU, and they ex-comunicated the geneticist for his findings.

  18. His tenure on Capitol Hill has turned him into a weasel.

    Yeah…but he sure is a colorful weasel. A LOT more fun to watch than most of the other far less interesting senators.

    The guy records albums, for cryin’ out loud. And he actually made a show of Christian forgiveness for Clinton’s Monica mess.

  19. And in between he was wearing his weird-ass Mormon underwear.

    As a particularly fetching former student of mine showed me, the Jesus Jammies can be kinda fun and kinky.

  20. Someone mentioned the DNA studies that showed Native-American’s had no ancestral ties to Jews, well as far as i’ve heard, the first of those studies was done in the genetics department at BYU, and they ex-comunicated the geneticist for his findings.

    I need to see some documentation for this claim. The way I’ve heard it, in the field of archeology-where they search the new world for the tailbones of the Lamanites or Moroni’s codpiece or whatever it is they look for to prove their outlandish beliefs about the Nephites and the Mulekites-Mormon archeologists are highly regarded for their probity and refusal to fudge facts, no matter how tempting it is to do so or how little evidence they have ever found. Maybe it’s different in genetic research, but I’ve never heard of Mormons being anti-science in the way you’re describing.

  21. Tim – They certainly aren’t anti-science publicly, and they never publicly refuted the findings of the study. The guy’s name is Tom Murphy and this happened in 2002.They ex-communicated the author in private – those proceedings are always very private – and they denied that it had anything to do with his work for the university. He was supposedly kicked out for having an affair, but has allways claimed that this was an excuse. There was another case where a guy named Southerton wrote a book using DNA evidence to contradict the Book of Mormon, and they excommunicated him too.
    Keep in mind, the church is very secretive and always has been, the biggest secret is one that they keep from their own members – that the church was founded by Masons and based upon traditional Masonic ritual.

  22. The respect for science is NOT a newfound principle for the LDS church. I attended BYU in the early 80s, and evolution was fully and thoroughly taught in science and biology courses. When students complained, on religious grounds, they were clearly told that the school would teach the science as it existed, and basically let individuals work out reconciling that with their religious beliefs.

  23. “Keep in mind, the church is very secretive and always has been, the biggest secret is one that they keep from their own members – that the church was founded by Masons and based upon traditional Masonic ritual.”

    This is pretty much general knowledge these days, are LDSers still not told of it in any way?

  24. EVERY highschool and junior highschool built in utah comes equipped with a church building onsite; built, funded, and owned by the church, and all the schools work class schedules to make sure students have room for a ‘seminary’ period each day.

    Can anyone else verify this? It sounds a bit troubling to me.

  25. …the church was founded by Masons and based upon traditional Masonic ritual.

    Thanks for that tidbit, hogan. Just looked it up on wikipedia. Interesting.

  26. Keep in mind, the church is very secretive and always has been, the biggest secret is one that they keep from their own members – that the church was founded by Masons and based upon traditional Masonic ritual.

    I remember being taught this about Mormons when I was ten or eleven. I grew up in a Protestant fundamentalist faith. …actually, I come from a long line of ministers.

    I was taught similar things about Catholics in general and Jesuits specifically. …It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that the source material for many of these secret revelations came directly from the Catholic Encyclopedia and other very public sources. I can’t help but notice that revelations about secret Mormon history and secret Mormon theology seem to come from similarly public sources.

    Please note that I’m not saying that whatever it is you’re saying about Mormonism is inaccurate–I’m just pointing out that maybe it isn’t so secret. In my experience, people within religious communities tend to be even more aware of doctrinal controversies than outsiders.

  27. I don’t know about Utah, but my daughter’s high school in Mesa, AZ, has one right across the street – complete with signalled crosswalk.

  28. “Can anyone else verify this? It sounds a bit troubling to me.”

    Before some libertarian hating troll pipes up, I’d like to point out that while I find reports of government mandated church facilities in public schools “troubling”, I find:

    “As a particularly fetching former student of mine showed me, the Jesus Jammies can be kinda fun and kinky.”

    …”troubling” as well!

  29. More LDS secrets!

    While Mormons are often publicly perceived as “a little bit country,” privately they are also “a little bit rock and roll.”

  30. SY=
    “The idiocy of this is the assumption that “Red State” and “religious” are the same as “fundamentalist.” …” etc.

    Hey! *I’m* usually the one pointing out certain religious traditions of rigorous intellectual pursuit, the unfair characterizations that sometimes appear here of ‘the faithful’ being generally ‘unreasonable’, assumptions like the above…yadda yadda. I’m on your side! 🙂 sorta? My thinking (which maybe didnt translate) was that there’s too much of an assumption that the God folk all somehow yearn for theocracy, and things like this perhaps reveal more of the nuance. And that mormons are funny.

    Anyway, I didnt expect to be quoted directly on H&R. (blush) Now that my brief moment of glory is now over, and i might as well go shoot myself now while i’m still beautiful.

    pax
    JG

  31. KIP notes: Keep in mind, the church is very secretive and always has been, the biggest secret is one that they keep from their own members – that the church was founded by Masons and based upon traditional Masonic ritual.

    AND OTHER posters wonder “how secret it really is these days”.

    SIC: I am a recovered Mormon (clean 13 years). Raised in the Church and also ordained in the Temple, married in Temple (since divorced civilly).

    The LDS temple rites are not that secret in the year 2006 but it is considered sacrilege for temple worthy members to openly discuss the rites with either non-worthy members or non-members.

    So though it’s easy info to find and verify, a potential recruit for membership will not be told any details of LDS temple rites. Indeed those who go through the temple rites are literally sworn to secrecy and the alleged penalty for violating this oath is spiritual execution by God the Father in Heaven.

  32. My ex wife and (now adult) kids live in Utah and attended public school there.

    My understanding is that all high schools do make space to hold seminary classes for any LDS student who wishes to attend. Classes are held prior to actual school operating hours so it’s not in conflict with any of the publicly funded curriculum.

    I can’t cite exactly, but am pretty sure they make it work constitutionally by labeling it in a manner similar to other schools allowing “Bible clubs” etal to meet on school property during non-school hours.

  33. In an effort to clear up misinformation, here are the details on Seminary, or what is officially called “released time”.

    It isn’t a privledge for LDS students only; rather every denomination is allowed to participate. Some do, some do not. But it’s not because of any favoritism; my high school had a Catholic seminary building right next to the LDS seminary building, while the Lutherans would carpool off to a nearby church.

    “Released Time” is just that: Students are released for one class hour during school to attend religious classes off school property. There’s a form that their parents must sign to certify that they’re not actually at the mall, but other than that the school isn’t involved in any way whatsoever.

    The LDS Church started the program, and it far and away is the biggest user of it in Utah (not surprising, with some 2/3 of Utah residents being Mormon) but it’s open to all religions and doesn’t require one penny of tax money. Because of that the program has survived several court challenges.

  34. Keep in mind, the church is very secretive and always has been, the biggest secret is one that they keep from their own members – that the church was founded by Masons and based upon traditional Masonic ritual.

    If that’s a big secret, it’s certainly a poorly-kept one. I’ve known about that one for most of my adult life, and I’m not the only one.

    In fact, a local TV station recently ran a puff piece on the local Masonic Temple; part of the “teaser” for the story was the fact that Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young were all Masons. It created barely a stir.

  35. Thanks for the more in-depth explanation of how the seminary program is operated in Utah. My own three kids all graduated high school there but none were attending LDS seminary though they are all baptized.

  36. Being advised of the secret Mormonism/Masonry connection feels like the warning I got, once, from an older coworker. She advised me to stay away from libertarians because, secretly, they’re trying to legalize marijuana.

  37. Threads concerning Mormons are always amusing, if only for the unconscious prejudice of some posters.

    LDS doctrine is no more idiotic than that of the other Mosaic religions and Mormons no stranger than other pious people.

  38. Regarding that DNA research, the debate and research is ongoing; it’s doubtful we’ve heard the last word on it. And other than a handful of sour LDS intellectuals, it has hasn’t shaken anyone’s faith.

    What is interesting about the DNA controversy is the way many anti-Mormon Evangelicals have latched on to the research as the “Ah-HA!” moment they’ve all been looking for.

    In a wonderful example of People Throwing Stones Inside Glass Houses, they don’t seem to realize that scientific research which “disproves” the Book of Mormon can just as easily be used to disprove the Bible.

    What’s even more funny is to read how many Evangelicals consider this to be the “final word” on Mormonism, yet DNA research on the origin of humans is inconclusive or flawed.

    This page is a great example: http://www.ericbarger.com/mormon.dna.htm

    I’d say that Mormons, in contrast to most Evangelicals, are far more open-minded when it comes to scientific challenges to religious beliefs. Because of our belief in living prophets and continuing revelation, we implicitly accept the idea that we really don’t know everything about the origin of the world and that the Bible isn’t really God’s Last Word on the subject.

  39. I am happy to concur with FABIUS that any backhanded quips I toss out with Mormons or LDS doctrine as the punch line could just as easily be levied against a long list of other religious orgs which purport to have the Final Say/the Divine Authority/the Inside Connection with regard to all things God.

    I’ve evolved into an acolyte of the gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament but with no stern belief that the NT presentations and their varying translations provide us with a literal and unassailable account of either the life of Christ or any proposed “mission” he may have had with regard to “saving mankind”.

  40. 28 people voted in favor of the bill. I’m guessing at least 90% of those who voted to pass it were LDS.

  41. 28 people voted in favor of the bill. I’m guessing at least 90% of those who voted to pass it were LDS.

    Considering that the Legislature overall is about 90% LDS, that’s not a bad guess.

  42. She advised me to stay away from libertarians because, secretly, they’re trying to legalize marijuana.

    Wait, I never agreed to that when I joined up!

    Has this been going on for a while?

    When I paid my $4.20 for a secret decoder ring the mellow guy with the Cheech and Chong posters in his office never said anything about legalizing pot.

    I want my $4.20 back!

  43. “She advised me to stay away from libertarians because, secretly, they’re trying to legalize marijuana.””

    Dude, ssssssssshhhhhhh! We dont want to blow our cover!

    Thats so funny, and so sad.

  44. he was fond of saying that he saw no conflict in keeping his religion in one pocket and his science in the other.

    This is called cognitive dissonance, holding two sets of irreconcilable beliefs. It’s a common defense mechanism when you are holding onto wacky superstitions that do not in any match your observations of the real world.

    So yeah, I see how there’s no conflict for him.

    On one hand, native americans are descended from jews who were cursed with dark skin by god for being wicked, after they emigrated to the new world in 600 BC, and they recorded their history in a “Reformed Egyptian”.

    On the other hand, they are descended from asians who likely crossed over around 15,000 BC or even earlier and semitic peoples have never set foot on the new world in ancient times.

    How can those both be true? Well.. you see.. I have these two pockets..

    What’s the problem?

    nmg

  45. Capt. Holly,
    I wasn’t necessarily talking about any official public policy towards funding of schools by the LDS. I was talking about the social mores in Utah that go along with supporting the Mormon community. Things like buying the giftwrap from the school kids each year when they do their “Fund-drives”. I know people in Utah who have closets full of that stuff that they will never use. I also notice that the LDS tends towards having their own charitable organizations rather than passing along their charity to the Red Cross or, god forbid, the Red Crescent. Nothing wrong with that, of course.
    If anything, I applaud them in their tendency to look towards each other rather than the Federal government for help. It seems kinda, libertarian, ya know.

  46. mk

    I understood your comment to mean the LDS Church sponsored schools. My apologies.

  47. And let no one say that Tim Cavanaugh can’t spot a trend before it becomes a trend. Here’s a related article from today’s Salt Lake Tribune.

    http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_3557150

  48. EVERY highschool and junior highschool built in utah comes equipped with a church building onsite; built, funded, and owned by the church, and all the schools work class schedules to make sure students have room for a ‘seminary’ period each day.

    I believe the seminaries are separately owned by the church, but every effort is made to locate them immediately next to the High School. With the influence they have in UT they have no trouble with that.

  49. “This is pretty much general knowledge these days, are LDSers still not told of it in any way?”
    AND
    “In my experience, people within religious communities tend to be even more aware of doctrinal controversies than outsiders.”

    The LDS Church has an enormously extensive, organized, and uniform indoctrination machine. Children are immersed in doctrine from birth. They attend two hours of sunday school on sundays, they meet with young men/young women programs during the week, they go to seminary during public school time each weekday, they attend quarterly and annual “conferences” via satellite to be updated on the current word of god by the church presidency, they subscribe to and devotedly read monthly chruch publications, they essentially force their 19 year old men to spread the word door-to-door accross the globe, utilizing very specific church literatur, pamphlets, lesson plans, etc, and for those who take it far enough, they can even attend mormon university.(BYU is a great school, but it IS owned by the church) Don’t get me wrong, there are many attractive and even brilliant aspects of mormon culture, but circulating truth among their own is NOT one of them. Whether a person is raised mormon or converted, they are taught so many thousands of supposed facts about church history, when they conveniently leave out any mention of the mason connection, I think that’s being secretive. The Masonic origins of the church is a taboo subject in utah, they don’t deny it, but they don’t talk about it. For a member, suggesting that the whole idea of temples and rituals was taken from masonic doctrine would be considered apostasy and be grounds for ex-communication.

  50. It is worth noting that it is not just in Utah. The LDS church is the predominant religion (but by no means the majority as it is in Utah itself) in a signficant strip of the mountain west from Southern Alberta to the Mexican border.

  51. Kip, you just, more or less, described the childhood education of virtually everyone whose parents take religion really seriously. I’m not a Mormon. I wasn’t raised a Mormon. I don’t think I knew any Mormons growing up. …but I went to a denominational elementary, junior high, boarding/prep school, and a lot of my fellow graduates went to denominational colleges.

    Many of ’em ended up, like many in my family, working for the church. You just described my upbringing. …and the upbringing of anyone whose parents take religion seriously, anyone who ends up buyin’ into the program whether they be Jewish or Catholic or Baptist or Orthodox or Adventist or Amish or Baptist or Methodist or Muslim or Jehovah’s Witness or… …What’s so special about Mormons?

  52. Ken, you’re right. I sort of got caught up in a rant there. My point was that they are in the business of keeping their population ignorant of their own origins. At least to some extent.
    Also, I think they are taking over the world.

  53. Kip

    I might be mistaken, but I think Mark Twain compared the Mormon Church to the Prussian Army in its zeal in imposing discipline on its members.

  54. I also wonder how many Mormons are beginning to have doubts about their infallible prophet’s decision to shut down the LDS acadamies in favor of public schools in the 1920s.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.