Mitt Romney Was a Wannabe President, Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum

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Slate's Jacob Weisberg, writing about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, says a few things about his religion that have gone unspoken elsewhere.

There are millions of religious Americans who would never vote for an atheist for president, because they believe that faith is necessary to lead the country. Others, myself included, would not, under most imaginable circumstances, vote for a fanatic or fundamentalist—a Hassidic Jew who regards Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah, a Christian literalist who thinks that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old, or a Scientologist who thinks it is haunted by the souls of space aliens sent by the evil lord Xenu. Such views are disqualifying because they're dogmatic, irrational, and absurd. By holding them, someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is. By the same token, I wouldn't vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism.

Is that religious bigotry? Well, by definition, I suppose including a candidate's religion in your calculus of whether or not to give him a vote is bigotry. Millons of Americans do it. I'm sure that back in 2000, a sizable number of Jews turned their noses up at Dick Cheney and George Bush for the chance to elect Vice President Joe Lieberman. And is distrusting Romney because of his Mormonism the same as voting against JFK because he took the Eucharist? Not really. Substantial numbers of voters opposed JFK (and for the same reason Al Smith) for fear he would integrate the Vatican into government decisions. No one thinks Romney will do something similar. They just think Mormonism is irrational and creepy. That's their right. Jonah Goldberg's hope that Americans love to vote for "inclusion" and Romney's Mormonism will produce favorable storylines is fruitless; the media enjoys reporting on insurgent black, female and Hispanic candidates, not on members of conservative religious faiths.

Also, kudos to Weisberg to knocking down the meme that Romney is the first serious Mormon candidate for president. Not only did the (less than serious) Orrin Hatch run in 2000, the very credible Mo Udall ran in 1976, and might have beaten Jimmy Carter for the nomination had Birch Bayh or Frank Church dropped out and endorsed him. There's no real evidence that Romney is a more promising candidate than Udall was. Udall just looked tall and goofy, while Romney looks like a Ken doll sculpted out of ham.

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  1. Out of curiosity, who has Weisberg voted for these past 20-30 years? I cannot think of a single candidate who did not openly profess his faith.

    Except Nader.

  2. In your list of Mormon candidates of Presidential sweeps past, you forgot to mention George Romney.

  3. I am the only person who remembers that Mitt’s father George was seriously considered candidate until he used the word brainwashing about his change of mind about Veit-Nam war. The great quote about George’s brainwashing remark was Gene McCarthy’s that it was probably a light rinse.

  4. “Is that religious bigotry?”

    So what if it is? Is there anything wrong with being “bigoted” against a belief system per se? I am bigoted against communism, fascism, socialism, racism, etc. These belief systems purported to be grounded in an “understanding” of history and economics (the Marxist offshoots) and cultural and national identity (fascism, racism) and yet no one (sane) disputes they are fair targets for “bigotry”. Yet if someone peddles some bullshit supposedly dispensed by Magical Invisible Beings, they are supposed to get a complete pass? Why?

    This whole “respect for religion” bullshit is just that–bullshit. It is a “get out of rationality and accountability free card” that these clowns have demanded from time immemorial. Back in the day they just burned you at the stake if you didn’t grant it to them. Now you just get the “religious bigot” label. Fine–I’m a religious bigot then. Fuck you and the deity you rode in on, too.

  5. What makes Mormonism more “irrational and creepy” than Christianity other than the fact that its “founding whoppers” happened little more than a century ago, rather than two millennia in the past?

    To me, religiosity neither qualifies nor disqualifies someone from public office.

  6. “Romney looks like a Ken doll sculpted out of ham”

    Not quite “the little man on the wedding cake” — but
    not bad.

  7. Others, myself included, would not, under most imaginable circumstances, vote for a fanatic or fundamentalist-a Hassidic Jew who regards Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah, a Christian literalist who thinks that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old, or a Scientologist who thinks it is haunted by the souls of space aliens sent by the evil lord Xenu. Such views are disqualifying because they’re dogmatic, irrational, and absurd.

    Ooh, I like this game. I like it a lot.

    How about a regular old Orthodox Jew who believes that God killed Lot’s wife because she looked the wrong way? Or who believes that God’s chosen prophet Elisha commanded a pack of bears to kill some children because they made fun of his baldness? Should Bible-believing Jews be put out? Goodbye Joe Lieberman! Chuck Schumer can kiss my ass! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

    How about the absurd beliefs of Christianity? Christ had to be murdered for other people’s sins? Sins I haven’t even committed yet? He’s both the father and the son? And a ghost? Yo, that n*gga walked on top the water?

    I’m seeing the Presidency as a position reserved for (crypto-? pseudo-?)atheists.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’mma go wipe off my keyboard.

  8. Sigh….It would be nice if Presidential candidates could be non-believers, or at least honestly admit it. Holding some form of religious belief has to be the dumbest, unofficial prerequisite there is. As a result I don’t have too much sympathy for Mormon candidates.

    I agree with Henry, it is not bigoted to judge someone based on his or her beliefs. It may be stupid or ignorant, but not bigoted.

    Oh and “?.Ken doll sculpted out of ham.” ?Nice!

  9. There are many kinds of belief. You don’t have to belive the story of Eve and the Snake is true, in the same way the listing in TV Guilde are true, to believe it reveals divine truth.

    Someone who says they believe the stories in Genesis, for example, are true is not necessary saying he’s a young-earth Creationist. I’d have to say that it is religious prejudice to conclude that being a member in good standing of the LDS and believing in the…let’s say “eye-catching” stories from the Book of Mormon makes someone a religious fanatic who cannot distinguish between truth and fiction, or is a fanatic.

  10. “What makes Mormonism more “irrational and creepy” than Christianity other than the fact that its “founding whoppers” happened little more than a century ago, rather than two millennia in the past?”

    Well-aged bullshit is a religion. Recent vintage bullshit (e.g. Scientology) is a cult. Mormonism is on the cusp.

  11. Its really very simple. Some people vote for a president because of how tall they are, if they have nice hair, or by their religion. These people are all ass-holes.

    You should vote for someone that will be the best president. This envolves their stance on education, education reform, the economy, business climate, competition with asai, immigration. You should vote for someone that will be the best president, no matter what religion they are. Unless we want the USA to turn into Norther-Ireland, or Iran. If you want America to be more like Iran, admit in public that that is why you are voting against someone. Because of their religion. That is great, and it will be great for America. Thanks a-lot slate. No one who is a Mormon deserves any respect. They are all idiots. Great. How about the former head of Harvard business school, the current head of Jet-Blue, Steve Young, Gladis Night, they are all idiots? Great. That is fuc*ing great.

  12. “I agree with Henry, it is not bigoted to judge someone based on his or her beliefs. It may be stupid or ignorant, but not bigoted.”

    Depending on the beliefs in question, sure. I am not going to dismiss all religous believers out of hand. I lose Washington, Ghandi & MLK that way. But our recent spate of highly visible “religious” candidates bear no resemblence to any of those gentlemen. I dare say neither does Mitt Romney.

  13. Disagreeing with someone’s religios beliefs isn’t religious bigotry, henry.

    Discriminating against someone for their membership in a group – a racial group, a national group, or a religious group – is bigotry. Being a faithful Mormon means the man has a spiritual life, that he was raised in the Mormon Church, and that he hasn’t converted. I find the “magical eyeglasses” thing silly, too, but I’m not going to judge the man harshly for adhering to the religious practices he was raised in, and remaining a member of a community that he feels attached to.

  14. mike,

    Would you vote for a Scientologist; yes or no?

    My answer is flatly “no”. I don’t want some fucker to have his hand on the button if he believes ancient space aliens account for our current world.

    If this appalls you, TFB.

  15. “Discriminating against someone for their membership in a group – a racial group, a national group, or a religious group – is bigotry.”

    A belief system is chosen. It is not immutable. Bigotry as properly understood is direct towards immutable characteristics–race, sex, national origin. It is not “bigoted” to distrust Mormoms, any more than it is “bigotry” to distrust Communists. You have swallowed a line of non-accountability horseshit hook, line and sinker.

  16. Discriminating against someone for their membership in a group – a racial group, a national group, or a religious group – is bigotry.

    So if I discriminate against someone whose religion teaches that I, as a woman, need to spend my life under house arrest and can only step outdoors if I’m wearing a burka and escorted by a male relative, that makes me a bigot?

    Twenty years or so ago, Mormonism officially taught that black skin was the “mark of Cain,” and thus black people were not allowed to be priests until after the Messiah returned, or something like that. If this made a black guy decide not to vote for a Mormon, is the black guy being a bigot?

  17. I have heard that the CIA’s beginnings are tied to Mormonism. I thought it was because they don’t drink coffee or drink alcohol. Actually, I understand it is because of the Mormon missions all over the world. They had access to areas because of thier missionary service.

    Frankly, I think Mormonism is weird and kind of creepy with the Jello and such, but South Park has thier religion being the only one that was “right” and therefore are the only people in heaven in one episode.

  18. cliff, my understanding is that it has less to with access than the foreign language training necessary to lie to people in their native tongue. both the linguistic skill and the hypocrisy/dishonesty required by superstitious brainwashing made them natural candidates for cia. btw, i live in utah: “weird & kind of creepy” doesn’t even come close to how fucked up these idiots are.

  19. It surely cannot be a bad thing to judge a man based on the philosophy he chooses to profess.

  20. Joe,

    “There are many kinds of belief. You don’t have to belive the story of Eve and the Snake is true, in the same way the listing in TV Guilde are true, to believe it reveals divine truth”

    Well said. Unfortunately many people who criticize religion, as well as many people who abide by it, suffer from lack of imagination at best and lack of any complex conceptual faculties at worst. This reminds me of a quote from C. S. Lewis:

    “The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.”

  21. I agree with what a couple of posters have already said:

    What’s the difference between Mormonism’s miracle stories and those commonly held by the majority (or at least a sizable minority) Americans about the Virgin Birth and Resurrection? Lip service may be what most of those beliefs amount to in public discourse among politicians nowadays, but there are certainly many politicians who would gladly ascribe to such beliefs. What should we do about them?

    There ought not be a difference between faith claims that originated 2,000 years ago and those that originated 200 years ago.

    We generally don’t have a religious litmus test in this country; though people can vote or not vote for someone for whatever reason they choose. But if we’re going to look at a candidate’s religious beliefs, then we ought to consider the fact that a huge chunk of the American people hold beliefs that there is very little evidence for.

    I suppose we can lean toward the view that many politicians belong to certain faiths because of cultural convenience. Probably John Kerry, Bill Clinton, maybe even Bush 41 would fit into this category. But Jimmy Carter wouldn’t. He seemed like the real deal. I wonder if Weisberg thinks that Carter was mentally incapable of being president. How about Lieberman? I mean the guy is an Orthodox Jew, and as such, he likely believes that God commands that he lops the foreskin from his newborn son’s penis. Is this day of hygiene, what can justify that practice other than faith or some sort of tribal affiliation that trumps the child’s obvious pain and future sexual sensitivity?

    My point is only that if we go around withholding votes from people like Romney ONLY because they are Mormon, then we ought to consider most American politicians to be unqualified as well.

  22. Since I don’t vote “for” any candidate in a positive sense, but hold my nose & vote for the least worst, the religion is irrelevant – except where it forms the basis of the candidates policies in a way I don’t like.

    The Mormons I’ve known have never tried to push their faith on me. [the door-to-door canvasers were not people I ‘knew’] I admire the Mormon welfare system, with its goal of getting people back on their feet rather than allowing someone to remain dependent.

    I’d have no trouble voting for a Mormon if he/she were the least-worst option. I might giggle a bit, but they probably think I’m damned anyways.

  23. My point is only that if we go around withholding votes from people like Romney ONLY because they are Mormon, then we ought to consider most American politicians to be unqualified as well.

    What about a black guy who won’t vote for Romney because he dislikes the Mormon doctrine that black skin is proof that one is a direct descendant of Cain, the world’s first murderer? Are black people obliged to say “I respect your belief that I am intrinsically inferior, and I certainly won’t let that keep me from giving you my vote?”

  24. My point is only that if we go around withholding votes from people like Romney ONLY because they are Mormon, then we ought to consider most American politicians to be unqualified as well.

    That’s true. We ought to consider most American politicians unqualified.

  25. My 5 Theses (just a starter):

    I am not going to ever vote for anyone who professes any of the following beliefs:

    1. Scientology
    2. Young earthism
    3. The end of the world is near (at least if posited due to theological beliefs)
    4. They are going to be “raptured” up to heaven soon (or, probably, ever)
    5. American foreign policy in the Mideast needs to reflect some fucking interpretation of “the Bible”

    If I were so inclined I’d bet I could come up with 90 more, but I do have other things to do occasionally. Again, if this makes me (what I believe to be an ill-defined) “religous bigot”, fine. I’ll work to change that terminology, or maybe co-opt it, like gays did with “queer”, but I am quite content with the substance of my position.

  26. “Yet if someone peddles some bullshit supposedly dispensed by Magical Invisible Beings, they are supposed to get a complete pass? Why?”
    “Twenty years or so ago, Mormonism officially taught that black skin was the “mark of Cain.”

    I’m with Henry and Jennifer on this one. Why is it that there is always a special category for adults who buy into fairy tales and campfire stories?

    If my need to be relentless in pointing how how silly and/or disturbing all of this bullshit is makes me a bigot, then so be it. I guess bigotry as a category is more vast than I thought.

    For all of these candidates who so willingly wear their faiths or cults on their sleeves, there needs to be some responsible journalism done to expose them. Romney should be asked about the Mark of Cain. Bush should have had to explain on some of the more fucked up verses in Leviticus since he leans toward biblical literalism. Someone at some point should have asked him what God’s voice sounds like. The fact that these sorts of questions aren’t asked is probably the main reason religion continues to play such an inordinately prominent role in American politics. It’s getting to be an embarrassment at this point. When we rank next to Turkey on issues such as belief in evolution, it’s time for atheists and their fellow travelers to speak up. Tough shit if a lot of people were lied to growing up and are now oh so sensitive. Weren’t we all lied to for most of our childhoods?

  27. I notice the stalwart defenders of religion have ignored my questions. C’mon, guys! Pray that God will give you the courage to do so.

  28. Omit “on” in the previous post. Pious politicians make me see red. Sorry.

  29. Whoa, badly worded post. Make that: pray that god will give you the courage to answer my questions. Specifically: is it acceptable for a black guy to not vote for a Mormon based on anti-black-guy Mormon doctrine, and is it acceptable for a woman to not vote for a Muslim fundie based on anti-woman Muslim fundie doctrine?

  30. Here is how Weisberg differentiates Mormonism, for what it is worth:

    By the same token, I wouldn’t vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism. The LDS church holds that Joseph Smith, directed by the angel Moroni, unearthed a book of golden plates buried in a hillside in Western New York in 1827. The plates were inscribed in “reformed” Egyptian hieroglyphics-a nonexistent version of the ancient language that had yet to be decoded. If you don’t know the story, it’s worth spending some time with Fawn Brodie’s wonderful biography No Man Knows My History. Smith was able to dictate his “translation” of the Book of Mormon first by looking through diamond-encrusted decoder glasses and then by burying his face in a hat with a brown rock at the bottom of it. He was an obvious con man. Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don’t want him running the country.

    One may object that all religious beliefs are irrational-what’s the difference between Smith’s “seer stone” and the virgin birth or the parting of the Red Sea? But Mormonism is different because it is based on such a transparent and recent fraud. It’s Scientology plus 125 years. Perhaps Christianity and Judaism are merely more venerable and poetic versions of the same. But a few eons makes a big difference. The world’s greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor. The Church of Latter-day Saints is expanding rapidly and liberalizing in various ways, but it remains fundamentally an orthodox creed with no visible reform wing.

  31. Jennifer – Yes it’s okay for you to not vote for someone because of their religious beliefs. It’s okay, but it does make you a “bigot”.

    But don’t worry about it… being called a “bigot” these days just means you disagree with the caller. It’s like being called a “racist”. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s an indefensible charge made by someone who wants to make you look bad and wants you to spend your energies defending the indefensible.

    Cracker’s Boy
    A Bigot, and proud of it.

  32. I never meant to say that religion can’t be used to determine who we should or shouldn’t vote for; I only meant that we should use religion SELECTIVELY. And if Mormonism disqualifies someone, then fine, Catholicism, Lutheranism, Islam, Orthodox Judaism, etc should also disqualify someone. All kinds of religions teach things that are no more believable than what Mormonism teaches.

    And I don’t buy that because one miracle-based faith system has thousands of years of history and legions of adherents it’s more respectable. That makes no difference.

    I have no problem with a black person deciding to vote against a Mormon because of Mormonism’s quasi-doctrine (most LDSs believe it, some don’t, it’s not officially taught anymore) that black-skin is proof that they descended from Cain, who was cursed with a dark skin. I also think that white people ought to be able to choose to vote against the Congressman from Minnesota because he was a member of the Nation of Islam, which teaches (though this teaching is downplayed nowadays) that white people are descended from an experiment conducted by an evil black scientist thousand of years ago, in which this scientist decided to create a “bleached” race that would plague the superior black man. The only problem is that Romney would probably catch a lot more public flack, while it would be considered a bit taboo for Weisberg to have written a similar article about the Nation of Islam. That would have been, like, racist or something.

    And I also have no problem with declaring open season on adults who believe in “fairy tale.” It’s just that when we declare this war; let’s do with integrity, meaning that we will apply this standard across the board, and not just too religious groups considered sort of weird and uncool.

    When I read an article like this, it’s just that I only see fringe religions being critiqued. Mainstream religions shouldn’t get a free pass because we’ve all got, like, cousins and aunts and grandmas in them. Let’s be consistent, or let’s just drop the practice of declaring unjustified beliefs to be problematic.

  33. What makes Mormonism more “irrational and creepy” than Christianity other than the fact that its “founding whoppers” happened little more than a century ago, rather than two millennia in the past?

    To me, religiosity neither qualifies nor disqualifies someone from public office.

    Took the thoughts out of my head. Weisberg has to explain how one invisible man in the sky is any more rational than any other,

    Now if a guy had hopes to be president and admitted to being a religious skeptic, now that would make him crazy.

  34. I’ll also add that there are some pretty important distinctions between Mormonism and other more traditional religions, and I’m not talking about vintage. Many of the basic stories in the bible benefit from some degree of historical plausibility, even if the religious and supernatural elements of these stories are far-fetched or totally bogus. At the very least, Romans did occupy Israel, people were crucified, and the religious and political structure of the Israel of the new testament is basically accurate. The Israel of the old testament is a little bit more far fetched, but various ancient temples and artifacts substantiate much of the underlying history. The basic political structure of the Israel of the old testament? Almost completely substantiated. The exodus? It’s plausible, and there were certainly Jews in Egypt, even if the details of the exodus itself is fabricated. The flood? We have limited evidence of a large flood, even if Noah’s Arc is total crap. Genesis? Er? yeah, not Genesis.

    Contrast this with the Mormon stories, in which white skinned inhabitants of the Americas and “Laminites” wandered around the continent with Jesus, while inhabiting ancient, grandiose lost cities. The amount of historical evidence for all of this? Nada. Not one part of the book of Mormon is even vaguely based in historical reality. And this was all supposed to have happened more recently than anything in the bible, so it’s not like we’re searching for evidence of an ancient flood here. We’re searching for the Mayans’ relatively recent white cousins. It takes a whole new level of stupid/crazy to believe in this.

    As an atheist, traditional Christianity, Islam and Judaism get roughly 8.5s on my b.s.-o-meter, while Mormonism and scientology get perfect 10s. As far as I’m concerned, actually believing in a perfect 10 requires clinical insanity.

  35. Nothing seems to be working out for Romney, but I want him to stay in the race so it will be more difficult for McCain to flank Giuliani on the Right. As a reward for freezing McCain out of an early surge from the party Right Romney should get the second spot on the ticket. A lot of things that are problematic at the top of the ticket become unimportant in the second slot.

    Jennifer…I don’t know what a voter might feel – but if he otherwise LIKES the Mormon candidate, why should he hold the old news against him? (If he doesn’t like Romney for other reasons…well, then he has other reasons not to vote for him.) A fair number of black people have JOINED the Mormon denomination over the years.

  36. Oops. I meant to say that we SHOULDN’T use religion selectively.

    As for Weisberg’s defense that religions that have been around for thousands of years have had time to splinter and turn their doctrine into metaphor, that’s silly.

    Even liberal mainline denominations like Methodism, Presbyterianism, and Episcopalism are being torn apart about arguments over gay marriage and gay clergy. I mean hell, gay marriage is still like a really controversial topic in this country. That wouldn’t be the case if these ancient religions were as sophisticated as Weisberg thinks. The fundamentalist mega-churches are growing like crazy; Islam is expanding at an alarming rate, even the most of the sophisticated Reform Jews feel a religious responsibility to lop their son’s foreskin off. I really do feel that Weisberg will have to declare a lot more people unqualified than he wishes to if he’s consistent.

  37. henry,

    You wrote, “A belief system in chosen.” True, but being a religious adherent is more than choosing your belief system. It is a community you are born into or otherwise come to accept as your home. Ever see any figures on American Catholics’ opionion on birth control?

    “Bigotry as properly understood is direct towards immutable characteristics–race, sex, national origin.” If I am prejudices towards Mexicans, does the claim that they can become American citizens mean I’m not a bigot? Of course not.

  38. “Weisberg has to explain how one invisible man in the sky is any more rational than any other.”

    No, he doesn’t, because they aren’t–that is a red herring for these purposes (which is NOT the parsing of the rationality of theism).

    It does not follow that because beliefs may be “equally” irrational that they are equal in their effect at impairing an apprehension of the world and its realities. Consequently, they are not equally “dangerous”. I have no problem distinguishing this in practice–I can tell Washington & MLK from the Ayatollah Khomeini & Jerry Falwell. Can’t you?

  39. Jennifer,

    “So if I discriminate against someone whose religion teaches that I, as a woman, need to spend my life under house arrest and can only step outdoors if I’m wearing a burka and escorted by a male relative, that makes me a bigot?”

    It is not bigoted to discriminate against someone who believs women need to live in house arrest, or covered in a burka. It is bigotted to assume that someone who attends religious services in a mosque necessarily believes that, and to discriminate against him, as an individual, based on your assumptions about his personal beliefs.

    Should I refuse to vote for Jews because of the demands in Leviticus that homosexuals be stoned to death?

  40. Oh yeah, and which religion believes in the Holy Foreskin?

    That’s right. The Catholics.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2155745/

  41. Jay. J.
    “And if Mormonism disqualifies someone, then fine, Catholicism, Lutheranism, Islam, Orthodox Judaism, etc should also disqualify someone. All kinds of religions teach things that are no more believable than what Mormonism teaches.”

    Here is why being a Lutheran, etc. is better. Lutherans, Catholics, etc. openly will tell you that they don’t believe that the Sun stood still during the Battle of Jericho or that the world was actually created in 7 days. In other words, it is a-ok to openly describe these sorts of things as metaphors and legends, while still being a member. Mormans are not allowed to say that the Book of Morman is not true. Fundamentalists Christians believe the 7 day thing and the whole nine yards, but Weisberg did say that he wouldn’t vote for one of those people. Nor would I.

  42. Should I refuse to vote for Jews because of the demands in Leviticus that homosexuals be stoned to death?

    If the Jew insists that every word in the Torah is the literal truth, hell yes. I’d also refuse to vote for an Orthodox Jew who’d refuse to shake my hand, for fear of being contaminated by my woman-cooties.

  43. >>You wrote, “A belief system in chosen.” True, but being a religious adherent is more than choosing your belief system. It is a community you are born into or otherwise come to accept as your home. Ever see any figures on American Catholics’ opionion on birth control?”Bigotry as properly understood is direct towards immutable characteristics–race, sex, national origin.” If I am prejudices towards Mexicans, does the claim that they can become American citizens mean I’m not a bigot? Of course not.

  44. “Should I refuse to vote for Jews because of the demands in Leviticus that homosexuals be stoned to death?”

    If they profess this belief, hell fucking yes. I know of no Jews who do, however.

  45. I hate everyone.
    Makes my life much easier.

  46. That’s true. We ought to consider most American politicians unqualified.

    Beat me to it.

  47. The idea that belief in the Virgin Birth is qualitatively different from believing in white-skinned Indian ancestors is just silly. How does one go about weighing these against each other?

    And the idea that Orthodox Christianity is more plausible because the surroundings were historically verifiable is also silly. Orthodox Christianity does not turn on accepting these historical circumstances. Orthodox Christianity turns on accepting that Jesus was born of a virgin and was resurrected from the dead after 3 days. It also teaches that Jesus died in order to allow me to be forgiven of my sins. Never mind the fact that God is omnipotent, he (yes I said “He”) wouldn’t or couldn’t forgive us until his son was brutally murdered.

    To commemorate this vicarious sacrifice, people wear crosses around their necks. Cool huh? I guess if Jesus had been hung, we would wear ropes.

    If I were trying to be polemical, I would say that positing a qualitative difference between belief in the Virgin Birth and belief in Gold Plates would make a person insane. But I’m not trying to be polemical, so I won’t.

    I’m about to go Christmas shopping, (ironic huh), so I’ll leave you freaks to discuss this Superman vs. Mighty Mouse topic.

  48. Mitt says, “Look, maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life. and a great family, and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people. And even though people in this country might think that’s stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your President, Jacob, but you’re so high and mighty you couldn’t look past my religion and just vote for me. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls.”

  49. Jennifer,

    “If the Jew insists that every word in the Torah is the literal truth, hell yes. I’d also refuse to vote for an Orthodox Jew who’d refuse to shake my hand, for fear of being contaminated by my woman-cooties.”

    Me, too. As I would refuse to vote for a Muslim who insists that women need to remain covered and not engage in public life. What I would not do is assume that the someone believed these things because he attended services at a mosque or temple every weekend, and self-identified as a Jew or Muslim.

    henry, using the phrase “as properly understood” to define your conclusion as irrefutable is still faulty logic. Are evangelical fundies not bigoted against homosexuals, because they proclaim homosexuality to be chosen? Are the Ulster Volunteers not bigoted against Catholics because Catholics can convert to Protenstantism?

    “If they profess this belief, hell fucking yes. I know of no Jews who do, however.” What if a Jewish candidate doesn’t profess this belief, and I can conjure up a group of Jews who do believe in capital punishment for “sodomites?” Would you then refuse to vote for that candidate?

  50. As an atheist, traditional Christianity, Islam and Judaism get roughly 8.5s on my b.s.-o-meter, while Mormonism and scientology get perfect 10s. As far as I’m concerned, actually believing in a perfect 10 requires clinical insanity.

    I agree with Chris S here, depending on the calibration of the BSometer. But let me add one point. Clearly there is something about most people that inclines them towards some kind of religion. Me, not. But I’m not blind to reality. People have the will to believe in the supernatural, apparently innately. And this will find its outlet in memeplexes one way or another.

    Given that people are going to believe something, and apparently the level of BS where it actually overrides the average person’s will to believe is at about the 9.0 level of the BSometer, then it makes sense to subcategorize religions: those below 9.0 get a pass, those above don’t. This is not a complete pass – not an A. It’s a C. But a C is different than an F.

    Believing something that everyone around you believes, in other words, is a different thing than believing something that nobody else believes. And believing something patently absurd and demonstrably false according to historic documentation and archaelogical investigation, like Joe Smith’s story, is different than believing something that is merely absurb (but not patently), and impossible to falsify due to it being almost prehistoric.

  51. I see the religion of a candidate to be a possible indicator of policies, but more often than not, irrelevant. A devoutly catholic libertarian who believes that his religion is the key to living a good life and going to heaven, but knows that he can’t force it on anybody is better than an atheist democrat that believes science is the only policy determination, but tries to implement his science to socially mold society. Besides, we all know presidents routinely ignore religious doctrine when it suits their purposes.

    To put it simply, bad policymakers are bad policymakers no matter what they believe privately.

  52. henry,

    If religion is chosen and mutable, and prejudice against people for features that are chosen and mutable is not bigotry, then not a single Muslim fundie terrorist in the Middle East is bigoted towards Jews.

    Survey says: Bzzt. Someone with such faulty logic as yours shouldn’t be looking down on anybody.

  53. One more thing:

    More traditional, mainstream religions may have members who will tell you that many of their beliefs are metephor. But the religions themseles profess no such thing. Episcopalianism is starting to come around, but some big-A churches in that denomination are leaving because of it.

    Once again, even Methodism, Lutheranism, Episcopalianism, etc, are having fights over gay clergy. This country does not even support gay marriage? Why do you think that is? Is it because Mormons are an anomoly on the religious landscape, with thei 15 of the American population?

  54. Don’t know what happened on that last post, here it is in full…

    One more thing:

    More traditional, mainstream religions may have members who will tell you that many of their beliefs are metaphor. But the religions themselves profess no such thing. Episcopalianism is starting to come around, but some big-A churches in that denomination are leaving because of it. A couple of minor denominations say that literal belief is not necessary, but most of the big-ones still profess traditional beliefs.

    Once again, even Methodism, Lutheranism, Episcopalianism, etc, are having fights over gay clergy. This country does not even support gay marriage! Why do you think that is? Is it because Mormons are an anomaly on the religious landscape, with their 1% of the American population?

    If Weisberg wishes to set a more testable standard that we could broadly apply, then fine. We could say that anyone who believes in miracle stories is unqualified to be elected to office. And that would be fine with me. But there would be HUGE swaths of the American population that would be made ineligible. Our cherished Mainline Denominations would shrink considerably if we ushered all the literalists out.

    Without consistency, Weisberg’s article seems to be to be picking of the unpopular kid. When he starts picking on ANYONE who believes such things, then I’ll say “there goes an honest man.”

    OUT?

  55. That said, in this day and age, converts to recent religions are nutcases, take for example every single fucking scientologist. Theres no way a person that knows this religion and how it started can believe any of this shit. Scientology is a cult, despite what the tax code might say.

  56. Also, I would not vote for any heavy handed social conservatives to begin with, be they catholic, mormon, muslim, jewish, etc.

  57. “Should I refuse to vote for Jews because of the demands in Leviticus that homosexuals be stoned to death?”

    Joe, how about this. Adherents to the faith in question should answer some of these types questions in a public forum, instead of allowing such nonsense to fly under the radar. Trotting one’s faith out front and center should mean dealing with all of the baggage that comes with it. The bible and other central religious texts and all of the twisted ideas contained therein are relevent to this discussion. Alas, journalism and public discourse are in such a sorry state here that such lines of inquiry are never pursued. That’s all. Just a public airing, not a “war” on anyone or anything. I think a lot of people would better be able to gauge how fundamentalist these folks are when the Rommeys, Bushes, Frists, and Liebermans of the U.S. government are asked to explain themselves. Santorum hanged himself in this manner. And we all know the stench of which I speak.

  58. “I’ll leave you freaks to discuss this Superman vs. Mighty Mouse topic.”

    Jay J. If I woke up tomorrow to find that religion was relegated to the realm of Saturday morning cartoons, then even I–confessed anti-theist that I am–would thank some lord somewhere. It hasn’t been demoted to that realm. In fact, religious belief is actively used to underpin sadistic policies overseas in all of our names everyday. See “abstinence only” education for just one example. Sorry man, no one gets a dispensation here. Not even as a Christmas present. Those last few million AIDS babies born in Africa were sponsored, in large part, by the Religious Sexual Hangups Foundation of America. I’d rather continue dabbling in bigotry and cartoons than join that dark side.

  59. To me, it all boils down to the issues that would cause me to vote/not vote for the person.

    Things like:
    1) Abortion
    2) Supreme Court Nominees
    3) Gay Marriage
    4) War On Drugs / Alcohol
    5) Education (Evolution,vouchers,tax-credits)
    6) Immigration
    7) Trade
    8) Euthanasia
    etc.

    Now if the person belongs to a religious organization, then one can also make the assumptions of how the person would tilt on many if not all of these issues. So if I don’t like the Mormon’s position on the issues that are important to me, then I sure won’t be voting for a Mormon. If that makes me a bigot, then so be it.

  60. “If religion is chosen and mutable, and prejudice against people for features that are chosen and mutable is not bigotry, then not a single Muslim fundie terrorist in the Middle East is bigoted towards Jews.”

    What the fuck are you talking about, if you know?

    Rarely do you see non sequiturs offered up so blatanly.

    By the way, no “Muslim fundie terrorist” gives two shits about the religious beliefs of Jews–neither did the Nazis. Jews were being treated as a race, not a group of believers. Atheistic Jews rode in the same cattle car as the most devout believers in Judaism.

    That you apparently don’t know this tells me all I need to know.

  61. “By the way, no “Muslim fundie terrorist” gives two shits about the religious beliefs of Jews”

    Let me clarify–they do not give two shits any more than they do about the beliefs of anyone else outside of their belief system. In fact, Jews and Christians at least get some points in Islam (depending on which fucked branch you are talking about) since they worship they same fucked-up God. That is why, afte 9/11, you heard assholes like George Bush refer to Christians, Jews and Muslims as all “children of Abraham” or other idiotic formulations of supposed unity.

  62. Jennifer

    If I lived in Israel I might have all kinds of occasions to vote for Orthodox candidates: some are Likudniks, some are in the Peace Movement…hell, some went to that Holocaust conference in Tehran!

    My greatest concern might be what kind of service I expected from the guy. Who cares who he shakes hands with?

  63. “no “Muslim fundie terrorist” gives two shits about the religious beliefs of Jews”

    LOL!
    Wow! Just how do you propose to verify that?

    All you need to know indeed!

  64. I’m on my way out the door, for the rest of the day this time. But before I go, I need to say something to deal with the weird perception that I am defending religion.

    Here’s my opinion:

    By targeting Mormonism and Scientology, people are merely piling on. Mormonism and Scientology are already made a mockery of in our pop culture, so it doesn’t take much courage to join in. In my opinion, rationalizing the relative acceptability of run-of-the-will religious belief against an apparent unacceptability of outcast religious belief is a way to have your cake and eat it too. It enables the so-called iconoclast to pile onto groups that are already being attacked. This way, a person can go ahead and make themselves accepted in our largely religious nation, without compromising their identity as a rational thinker, since they criticize Mormons and Scientologists.

    The thing is?long-standing agreement that an unbelievable X happened does not make it a more reasonable thing to think than the new unbelievable Y that only a few people believe. Consensus does not turn a terd into a diamond.

    If mainline religions have made a metaphor of their beliefs, fine. But they really haven’t. These “liberal” religions have kept all the beliefs of Orthodox Christianity, but they just practice a type of duplicity that allows some of their parishioners to be conceptual and others to be literal. There are many more literalists in these denominations than Weisberg seems to realize.

    Even Reform Jews, who don’t even hold many literal beliefs in miracles, encourage their members to lop off their sons foreskin, in spite of the obvious pain and mounting evidence of lost sexual sensitivity later in life.

    The Virgin Birth isn’t more plausible that Joseph Smith’s claims. And the resurrection isn’t more plausible because the historical background is verifiable.

    I hope that it becomes obvious to people that I’m not defending religion.

    I merely think that the standard should be applied to more than just an already agreed upon group of virtual outcasts.

    Pinko said, “See “abstinence only” education for just one example.”

    Pinko, I couldn’t agree more. I’m not sure why someone would think I’m calling for a “dispensation.” I’m actually calling for the opposite. If no one gets a break, fine. But if some people do, we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back for attacking Mormons when we don’t have the courage to attack beliefs that are objectively just as unjustified, like loping off a part of a baby boy penis cuz it’s a covenant with God, or that Mary got pregnant without having sex.

    If we can’t apply it across the board, then I question the sincerity of out standards.

  65. I would refuse to vote for a Muslim who insists that women need to remain covered and not engage in public life. What I would not do is assume that the someone believed these things because he attended services at a mosque or temple every weekend, and self-identified as a Jew or Muslim.

    As someone already pointed out earlier, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been around long enough to fragment into a whole spectrum, from secularists all the way to fundamentalist extremists. So it would indeed be wrong to automatically assume that any member of those three faiths is automatically the extremist version.

    But Mormonism hasn’t had time to chill the fuck out yet. So it is indeed legitimate to assume that any self-professed Mormon still believes in wearing magical religious anti-sex underwear, and a guy Romney’s age is old enough to have believed that black skin equals the mark of Cain. If Romney specifically renounces this belief, that would be a different matter.

  66. I came in late to this thread, and unfortunately I’m far too busy to try and address all the misconceptions about Mormonism that have been expressed here.

    However, I will note in passing that the generally hostile sentiments towards religion and religious people expressed on this forum are shared by about, oh, maybe 5% of the US population, and it vividly illustrates Reason #1,563 why libertarians in general and the Libertarian Party in particular will never be a significant force in American politics.

    Calling religious people deluded bigots is not a good way to win their votes…or to convince them to accept your ideas.

  67. Anti-semitism generally has nothing to do with the belief system of the target. It has to do with the Jews AS A RACE. The partial exception is the “Christ-killer” libel, whereby Christians would accept a Jewish convert. But the Nazis (and “Muslim fundie terrorists”) are going to despise Jews whether or not they go to temple, keep the sabboth, etc.

    Is this really a shock to some of you–the distinction between Jews as a race versus a belief in Judaism? Christ, check out the Nuremberg laws for fuck’s sake.

  68. If they profess this belief, hell fucking yes. I know of no Jews who do, however.

    not exactly stoning gays to death, but you and Jennifer might find this interesting ….

    Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus. …

    In her first interview since the incident, Shear says that on the bus three weeks ago, she was slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women. The bus driver, in response to a media inquiry, denied that violence was used against her, but Shear’s account has been substantiated by an unrelated eyewitness on the bus who confirmed that she sustained an unprovoked “severe beating.”

    source

  69. Oh, treating women like shit–that’s part of that common hertiage, too.

  70. PS no one would have a problem about never voting for assholes like this. Or is that “bigotry” too?

  71. Who cares who he shakes hands with?

    I do, if he refuses to shake my hand because he thinks my two X chromosomes make me inherently sinful.

    I came in late to this thread, and unfortunately I’m far too busy to try and address all the misconceptions about Mormonism that have been expressed here.

    So Holly, when black people stopped being the official descendants of Cain, were you disappointed or relieved by the way God changed his mind about the inherent sinfulness of the race?

  72. Captain Holly | December 21, 2006, 1:50pm | #
    However, I will note in passing that the generally hostile sentiments towards religion and religious people expressed on this forum are shared by about, oh, maybe 5% of the US population, and it vividly illustrates Reason #1,563 why libertarians in general and the Libertarian Party in particular will never be a significant force in American politics.
    =================================

    Oh Captain (not) my Captain: According to some contributors here, there are almost no Libertarian Party members present in this forum. (I am one, however, and I vigorously defend the right of the LDS to exist and to be understood on its own terms. Fancy that!) If you wander around the threads, you will note a lot of Libertarian Party bashing; it’s sort of the thing to do at this site. So if you thought you were going to scandalize the locals by taking a shot at the LP, think again, and stand in line.

    Welcome to the monkey house. In my opinion, the reason that the LP may never be a significant force in American politics is because even people who should by temperament be its friends — such as the self-described libertarians at this forum — take such delight in eviscerating, mocking, and disavowing it, even as they throw their votes away, ping-ponging between the Republicans and the Democrats, from election to election, in some too-clever-by-half plan to indirectly “move” the nation by stealth in the direction of more liberty. That plan hasn’t seemed to work for decades, yet people keep trying it while making a point to avoid voting directly for libertarian policies and candidates. That’s a sure path to NOT getting what you want, it appears to me.

  73. “Calling religious people deluded bigots is not a good way to win their votes…or to convince them to accept your ideas.”

    Actually, Cap’n, the non-religous were being called bigots, finding some reliions automatically DQed at the polling booth. I guess you really didn’t read the thread, like you said.

    Apart from that, I don’t give a damn about anyone accepting my ideas–am not a politican, salesman or diplomat. I am going to call ’em as I see ’em and all the rest can sort itself out.

  74. Captain Holly’s comments, per the Reason Drinking Game’s rules mean that we all

    1) do two shots
    2) a bowl
    3) a serving of Fois Gras covered in a HFCS/Ny Quil reduction.

  75. pinko,

    Sounds good to me. I’m certainly not arguing that being religious, or using religious texts to back up lunatic beliefs, makes a person or his beliefs beyond reproach.

    “What the fuck are you talking about, if you know?”

    OK, henry, I’ll walk you through it slowly, as your sputtering profanity makes it clear that my retort went over your head.

    You said that prejudice towards someone for their beliefs was not bigotry. You defined bigotry only as prejudice based on unchangeable attributes, like skin color or national origin. You said that, since people’s religion was mutable (that means changing, fyi), and they could choose to change it, then prejudice based on people’s religion was not bigotry.

    I pointed out that Muslim fundie terrorists are prejudiced against Jews because of their religion. I further pointed out that, by your logic, this meant that Muslim fundie terrorists were not bigoted towards Jews.

    So, Einstein, did you follow all of that? Any response?

  76. Joe,

    How many times must you read something before you understand it? Do you think I have nothing better to do than reiterate the same point over and over, while you fail to address it, over and over?

    Jesus….

  77. I pointed out that Muslim fundie terrorists are prejudiced against Jews because of their religion.

    But that’s not always the case. Many Muslim fundies share with the Nazis a hatred of Jews as an ethnicity, not a religion.

    Joe, I’d say that discriminating against someone for either their beliefs or their actions is perfectly sensible. Would you prefer we all pretend that what a man believes has absolutely nothing to do with his character?

  78. joe,

    In and among the fits of apoplexy, Henry did say that Muslim fundies only hate the Jewish race, not the religion. I suppose that’s why he doesn’t know what you are talking about.

  79. kohlrabi,

    LOL! Some people’s standards for “all I need to know” sets a remarkably low bar.

    Jennnifer,

    “But Mormonism hasn’t had time to chill the fuck out yet.” I don’t know about that. The LDS Church denounced one of its founding pillars, polygamy. And they don’t have a militia anymore. When’s the last time you heard of a case of a Mormon killing someone for his religion, or to expand the scope of Mormon authority?

  80. “PS no one would have a problem about never voting for assholes like this. Or is that “bigotry” too?”

    No. Do I need to restate this argument in shorter words, too?

    henry,

    You assert, based on your broad experience with Muslim fundamentalists, no doubt – that their prejudice is entirely race-based, and has nothing to do with beliefs. Apparently, members of Hezbollah and Al Qaeda take special care not to harm converts to Judaism – another little factoid you picked up during your lengthy research?

    But ok, let’s go along with your little dodge.

    Osama bin Laden has declared war on western Christian infidels. As he keeps pointing out, we can convert to Islam, and all of his hostility towards us would vanish. By your logic, this means he is not a bigot in his opinions about westerners and Christians. Is that your final answer?

  81. Oh Captain (not) my Captain: According to some contributors here, there are almost no Libertarian Party members present in this forum. (I am one, however, and I vigorously defend the right of the LDS to exist and to be understood on its own terms. Fancy that!) If you wander around the threads, you will note a lot of Libertarian Party bashing; it’s sort of the thing to do at this site. So if you thought you were going to scandalize the locals by taking a shot at the LP, think again, and stand in line.

    I admit I don’t follow 90% of the threads on H&R anymore, but I have been around here long enough to notice that most libertarians (and that’s why I included libertarians in general as well as the party in my comment) seem to be incapable of making a connection between their snarky attitudes towards people of faith and the dismal performance of their favored candidates and issues at the polls.

    Or, put another way, libertarians are usually their own worst enemies.

  82. Actually, Cap’n, the non-religous were being called bigots, finding some reliions automatically DQed at the polling booth. I guess you really didn’t read the thread, like you said.

    Yes, I did, and as is the usual habit, most H&R commenters seem to be in agreement that religious people in general and Mormons in particular are at the very least backward and not terribly bright if they actually believe all that God stuff. Indeed, it appears that many (yourself included) would not vote for a seriously religious person for that very reason.

    Now, you may consider such sentiments to be a dispassionate statement of fact, but to 99% of religious persons in America who read them (and who, incidentally, make up the vast majority of voters) it’s rank bigotry.

  83. Addendum to above comment (and as always, preview is your friend):

    However, it also appears that most commenters consider persons who would believe the Bible (with its prohibition on homosexuality) not only deluded but bigoted as well. This shows up all the time in the debate over gay marriage; with some proponents, the very fact that someone believes the Bible is de facto evidence of bigotry. As I have said earlier, it’s fine if hold such an opinion, but you’re not going to get very far at the polls.

  84. Wait–

    There people here who actually think the “Muslim fundie terrorists” really care if Jew A believes in teachings of Judaism and Jew B is an atheist?

    Oh boy.

    Like I said long ago, in some Islamic circles, Jew A will get some credit for “God” belief (as will a Christian), but for “Muslim fundie terrorists”, unbelievers are unbelievers. Hell, in their book, many Muslims are insufficent believers.

    And Jews are ALWAYS Jews to these crazies–or is it bigotry to refer to these religious folks as “crazies”?

    There is no bottom to people desperate to cling to fairy tales.

  85. So Holly, when black people stopped being the official descendants of Cain, were you disappointed or relieved by the way God changed his mind about the inherent sinfulness of the race?

    Jennifer, the issue is far more complex than the “Mormons R Teh Racist!” spin that you and others put on it.

    You might be surprised to know, for example, that a fair amount of early Mormon converts were free slaves. Some, such as Elijah Abel, were ordained to the priesthood and came to Utah in 1847. It is interesting to note that Bro. Abel was able to keep his priesthood throughout his life despite the general prohibition.

    I’m not going to try to explain any doctrinal reasons for it, since it’s doubtful you’d understand them. But most secular historians view the prohibition as a practical response to persecution from the Mormon’s pro-slavery neighbors in Missouri. Considering that the Great Emancipator hisself felt constrained to publicly state in Illinois that he believed blacks were inferior to whites, it’s not surprising that an integrated church which ordained free slaves to its priesthood would not be well-accepted anywhere in antebellum America.

    Incidentally, I clearly remember the day — June 8th, 1978 — when the prohibition was lifted. The overwhelming attitude of myself and 99% of the other members of the LDS Church was one of joy and relief. Nor was it ever considered to be written in stone; Mormons consider the primary mission of the Church to take the gospel to “all the world”, and that was not possible unless the doctrine was changed.

    Most Mormons viewed it as a “sign of the times” that heralded an era of church expansion, and considering the massive growth of the church in Africa since then, that was not inaccurate. Only a few disgruntled members left, and I know of no significant spin-off congregations created by the decision (as opposed to the many small breakaway groups created by the decision to outlaw polygamy).

    In closing, I don’t think this issue will hurt Romney at all. I have noticed that anti-Mormon groups often overplay their hand, thinking that emphasizing some odd part of Mormonism will cause the average person to have a “Eureka!” moment and turn against Mormons. In most cases, people will look at the candidate himself, and in Romney they will see someone who is likeable, articulate, and free from many of the skeletons that infest most politicians’ closets. That will be far more significant than arguments about long-abandoned church doctrines.

  86. On the other hand, Tom Cruise alone is sufficient reason never to vote for a Scientologist. No need to look further.

  87. So if I discriminate against someone whose religion teaches that I, as a woman, need to spend my life under house arrest and can only step outdoors if I’m wearing a burka and escorted by a male relative, that makes me a bigot?

    It depends. Does he intend to enact those views into law? If so, then no. If not, then yeah, it makes you a bigot.

  88. If not, then yeah, it makes you a bigot.

    Ah. So as long as he doesn’t want my inferiority enshrined in law, I’m not supposed to care?

  89. I’d never vote for a Jew. Their belief in guilt, sin and equality under god destroyed the European aristocratic tradition and all that was good in civilization. Screw them.

    A Mormon, though? Hmm…

  90. Jacob Weisberg of Slate says the following: “But if he gets anywhere in the primaries, Romney’s religion will become an issue with moderate and secular voters-and rightly so. Objecting to someone because of his religious beliefs is not the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage, race, or gender.”

    http://www.slate.com/id/2155902/

    Jacob says that, “Objecting to someone because of his religious beliefs is not the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage, race, or gender.”

    How did Jacob get his Job at slate? Did someone ask him what religion he was, or did someone ask what experience he had? Perhaps someone asked to see his Resume.

    Jacob Weisberg said, “Such views are disqualifying because they’re dogmatic, irrational, and absurd. By holding them, someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is.”

    So you can pre-judge someone based on their religious beliefs? You don’t need a Resume? You don’t need to look at their IQ, ACT scores, or accomplishments to judge them? All you need to know is what religion they belong to in order to classify them as “dogmatic, irrational, and absurd”. Jacob actually said, “by holding them (these beliefs), someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is.”

    Is that how Jacob Weisberg got a job at slate? They asked him for a Resume, and he said, “don’t worry, I’m an atheist”. And the head-honcho at Slate, said, “Good, I don’t have enough time to look at people’s qualifications. I hate R?sum?’s with all those stupid things like, ‘graduated from Harvard Business and Law School Cum Laude. Valedictorian. These don’t really mean anything. All I need to do is hear a profession of faith (testimony), or lack thereof, depending on what is fashionable in this day and time. By proclaiming your religious beliefs or lack there of you have told me everything I need to know about you. Welcome to Slate.”

    No, I assume that Jacob had to show some qualifications maybe even a Resume. It would have been against federal law for his Boss to ask him what religion he was, wouldn’t it?

    Jacob says, “By the same token, I wouldn’t vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism.” Is that so Jacob? If you owned a business would you hire a Mormon? They have obviously proven to you that they are stupid. Do you want stupid people working for you? Do you feel comfortable admitting to the world that you are a bigot? What an ass.

    Jacob says that Mitt Romney is an “Elder” in the church. If Jacob would have spent 30 seconds talking to someone from the church, he would have realized that Romney is not an Elder.

    I think it is great that Jacob wants America to be more like Northern Ireland and Iran were people are judged based on which religion they belong to.

    I’m glad that Jacob can take a short cut to intellectualism. He doesn’t have to debate Mitt Romney, he doesn’t have to read the Old Testament, New Testament, or Book of Mormon. He doesn’t have to do better in school, on the ACT’s, SAT’s or in life than Mitt Romney in order to be smarter than he is. All he has to do is reject Mormonism, and therefore he is smarter than Mitt Romney, and deserves more than Romney does, to be president. Forget that Romney balanced the budget without raising taxes; forget that he came up with a new way corralling people away from the emergency rooms and into insurance plans. None of that Matters. Jacob Weisberg is more qualified to be president, in his view, because he is not a Mormons.

    Then Jacob says about the stupidest thing I have ever heard. It is his only argument that he brings to the table besides that Mormons are too stupid to be president. The rest of his article is him parading around in his naked bigotry. But here is the only argument that he bring to the table and it makes me wonder how he got a job working anywhere, let alone at slate magazine.

    He says, “Perhaps Christianity and Judaism are merely more venerable and poetic versions of the same [transparent fraud]. But a few eons makes a big difference. The world’s greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor.” So every other time their was a religious movement were people left one church and joined another, it was healthy. It was good, because it was a reformation. But when my ancestor, George Laub who was a Baptist preacher left his church to become a Mormon it was not part of this reformation? He does not think that Mormonism had anything to draw my grandparents to it? It was not a healthy splintering, moderation? Why were all the other new religions good, but Mormonism was bad? Jacob does not tell us. He wants us to Judge mitt Romney, without looking at any of the details of his life, and he wants us to agree with him that religious bigotry towards Mormons is good, without giving us any reason to agree with him. No substance. No reasons to come to his conclusion. No logic. No independent way of judging Mitt. No use of a Resume. No looking at his skills or experience. And Jacob gives us no reason to agree with him. We are just supposed to jump to his side without any substance, without any reason besides his self righteous mockery.

    I would like to see Jacob Weisberg’s Resume, and I can get Mitt Romney’s resume, and we can see who America thinks is smarter.

  91. Got back from shopping, it’s a mad house out there. Prolly cuz all those people were religious, huh?

    Anyways, I was wondering, what’s wrong with special underwear? Why in the world should we care?

    Seriously folks, we rightly cringe when we hear of female circumcision which is practiced in the third world. But ya know when a baby boy like, gasps, then starts to scream, that’s probably cuz it hurts like hell to cut off a part of your penis. And there is growing evidence that it reduces a man’s sexual sensitivity later in life. Now, I know this is a common practice, but Jews practice it because they believe God wants them to, or at least because of religious affiliation. In this day and age of modern hygienic standards, the rates of infection between circumcised and non-circumcised boys are only negligibly different. But still Orthodox, Conservative, and most Reform Jews insist and encourage male circumcision. Is this better than Mormons wearing special underwear?

    Could it be that Jews are like, a protected species or something? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a holocaust denier and what Mel Gipson said was obviously crazy, but why aren’t we applying these standards across the board? I’ll tell ya why. It’s because there are taboos and there are groups that are not “in” in the high school sense of the word.

    Mormons are not “in” and it is taboo to criticize any structural part of Judaism lest you be lumped in with inbred, backward bigots.

    It’s not a conscious thing; it’s like a learned unconscious habit.

    I know the posters around here can prolly come up with something clever to say in response to this post, but until they apply these standards across the board and stop sticking up for other religions who hold similar beliefs, I’m gonna take today’s criticism of Mormonism to be a selective form of low-risk pseudo intellectual hot air.

    Once again, I’m not defending religion, but I do think religious people can be very capable leaders. If you think otherwise, I’m gonna say that Mao and Stalin were pretty bad, so being ideologically opposed to religion doesn’t seem like a reliable standard either, at least not by itself apart from knowing more about a candidate.

    I notice that none of those critiquing Mormonism’s teaching or clothing habits wanted to critique Jewish religious views on circumcision, Nation of Islam views on black superiority, or Catholic teachings about literally consuming the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. If Mitt Romney needs to denounce Mormonism skeletons, then JFK should have had to deal with Catholicism’s, and the Minnesota Congressman should have to answer to his time in the NOI. I should add although that a couple of posters bravely mocked Scientology.

  92. I notice that none of those critiquing Mormonism’s teaching or clothing habits wanted to critique Jewish religious views on circumcision, Nation of Islam views on black superiority, or Catholic teachings about literally consuming the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

    Nor did anybody here specifically say “Hitler was evil and the Holocaust was bad.” It’s a completely different subject.

  93. Jennifer

    Would you refuse to hire a Mormon, Orthodox Jew or Moslem for an ordinary job, if his private belief and practice wouldn’t compromise his performance, simply because you found them offensive?

    There are laws against that. I think employers should be able to do as they please, but that kind of discrimination seems both foolish and stuffy.

  94. “Ah. So as long as he doesn’t want my inferiority enshrined in law, I’m not supposed to care?”

    I’m with Jennifer here. That attitude towards women is repugnant. How do you think he’s likely to act towards Jennifer? There is nothing bigoted about objecting to someone for holding repugnant beliefs, or committing repugnant acts. It’s only bigotry to assume that someone is so repugnant based on his background or group affiliation. And no, it is not reasonable to assume that every person in a certain group is guilty of the worst thing that people hostile to that group have told you about.

  95. The closer to the modern day that outrageous claims are made, the more pressure there is on those claims to be demonstrable in some way.

    We can accept (or at least give a pass to) the story of Jesus walking on water, because it supposedly happened a really long time ago, and we don’t expect to find a lot of evidence for or against it in the available sources. The sources, in fact, are pretty spotty on almost every topic, and don’t exactly represent a comprehensive look at Roman civilization — much less the doings of one itinerant religious figure in a distant province.

    The more recent the claim, the better access we have to (potentially contradictory) documentation. This is why the Catholic Church minted thousands of saints back in the day, but doesn’t do that quite as much anymore. Their process is very rigorous, and modern documentary methods make it much harder to establish the requisite miracles.

    In the case of Scientology, Hubbard made a lot of outrageous claims about events in the world which were immediately subject to falsification. His claims were absurd — not because they’re particularly crazy compared to God stopping the sun in the Old Testament, but because of when he made them. You can’t get away with Scientology-level goofiness in the modern world.

    Mormonism has similar problems; if it were to be founded in 2007, it would be subjected to the same level of ridicule that Scientology is. It contradicts readily available evidence; the Book of Mormon features Native Americans riding around on horses (which they didn’t have) and wielding iron swords (which they also didn’t have); it makes disprovable genetic claims about the population of the Americas.

    Christianity has had thousands of years to file away these rough edges, and purge the doctrine of anything that’s trivial to contradict; this makes it a fairy tale that’s easy for modern people to swallow.

    It’s not so much a judgement against Mormonism or Scientology as it is a judgement against someone who’s willing to believe that nonsense. Christianity is also nonsense, but it’s in a nice easy-to-digest form that makes belief in it somewhat more excusable.

  96. Would you refuse to hire a Mormon, Orthodox Jew or Moslem for an ordinary job, if his private belief and practice wouldn’t compromise his performance, simply because you found them offensive?

    In order to apply to the discussion at hand, you need to rephrase that to say “would I refuse to hire someone who thinks my gender or skin color makes me inherently inferior to him?”

  97. Scripsit Isildur:

    Mormonism has similar problems; if it were to be founded in 2007, it would be subjected to the same level of ridicule that Scientology is. It contradicts readily available evidence; the Book of Mormon features Native Americans riding around on horses (which they didn’t have) and wielding iron swords (which they also didn’t have); it makes disprovable genetic claims about the population of the Americas.

    For what it’s worth, Mormon apologists have responded to all these claims. Whether the responses are convincing or not is for you to decide, but (contra far too many people in this thread) it is not as if Mormons don’t know these criticisms are too stupid to have considered them. Any religion (including, inter alia, belief in the Republican party, belief in the Democratic party, belief in the Scientific Method, belief in atheism, belief in the immanent demise of the world due to global warming) will have things that it has to deal with. Mormonism is no exception.

    But then again, what this thread has convincingly demonstrated is that the most dogmatic people around are firmly convinced that they have no dogma and are free of the stupidity that everyone else shares… The fact that they have nothing better to do that vent on H&R shows that they really aren’t so great after all (and this applies to me too).

  98. Jennifer,

    My point about all these other religious examples is that there doesn’t seem to be a level playing field here. Even when given the chance to show consistency, people usually just stick to bashing Mormonism, Scientology, and the like, even though there are many many other examples to choose from. There is a pattern here, its not like people bash the Nation of Islam and the Jewish religious practice of lopping off of baby boys penises as a religious practice as much as Mormons’ funny underwear. I noticed you didn’t respond when I gave you the chance to deal with the fact the Jews believe that it is their religious duty to lop off a part of their newborn’s penises, since you seem to find Mormon underwear so problematic. I’ll stop bringing that up as soon as someone who feels Mormons are unsuited because of their beliefs deals with this Jewish religious practice. Consistency proves sincerity, without it, I it seems like your engaging in politically correct piling on. It’s politically correct to bash Mormons, Scientologists, etc; when you’re willing to defend your beliefs to the extent of crossing the lines of political correctness, than I’ll tip my hat to you. You haven’t yet.

    And for you to say it’s a completely different subject isn’t really fair, because the writer of the article mentioned other religions, and actually excused most of them. I’m simply responding to a claim made in the article which prompted this thread in the first place.

    Moving on to a different subtopic, once again, miracle claims made more recently are not more or less plausible than claims made 2,000 years ago. What kind of convincing evidence would anyone expect to find if Jesus had allegedly walked on water 150 years ago rather than 2,000 years ago? So Mormonism makes disprovable claims about the genetic make-up of Native Americans? Does anyone seriously believe the Virgin Birth is a more plausible claim? Cuz if they do I suppose we’ll never see eye to eye. I mean, that’s like saying, “Man, Joseph Smith said Native Americans had horses and anthropological studies indicate otherwise, so that claim is obviously BS. But that Virgin Birth and walking on water and resurrection, I’ll tell ya what; those claims are so old I don’t guess there’s anything for us to say huh? Man, if they had just said that 200 years ago then we could call BS loudly, but since it was 2,000 years ago, I guess we’ll just call BS quietly.”

    As I slap my forehead?

  99. Romney didn’t convert to Mormonism. He was raised in it, by his father, and his father’s father and his father’s father’s father, and probably even farther back than that. He identified as a Mormon before he even knew what it meant.

    As…challenging…as some of the claims of the LDS Church are, the validity of those claims are not the most important thing in determining what Romney’s religion says about his mental state.

  100. Romney didn’t convert to Mormonism. He was raised in it, by his father, and his father’s father and his father’s father’s father, and probably even farther back than that. He identified as a Mormon before he even knew what it meant.

    True, but he is now old enough to make his own decisions, and at some point people have to say “I am an adult and I take responsibility for my own life” rather than blaming everything on childhood. Besides, if it were that hard for people to believe things other than they were raised there would be no progress at all–nobody would have thought “maybe this white-supremacy business is wrong, maybe male dominance is bullshit, maybe slavery isn’t such a good idea. Despite what my parents and family taught me.”

    Jay J., if I had my druthers there wouldn’t be male circumcision either. Tradition be damned; that’s no excuse for torturing an infant.

  101. I don’t care what religion a candidate believes in as long as they believe in the Constitution.

    Think homosexuality is a sin? Fine, but don’t legislate it. Think drugs destroy the temple that is the human body? Fine, but don’t legislate it. So on and so forth. Just let us live our lives and deal with the consequences accordingly. Laws aren’t going to make all those things you don’t like disappear and turn the world into your vision of heaven. This government was not set up as a tool for you to use to make everyone follow your book. It was set up so everyone can follow their own books and not be afraid of others impeding on them, whether public or private entities.

  102. Burr,

    Couldn’t agree more. Romney was born a Mormon. I have no idea if he actually believes in it or not, but even if he doesn’t, it’s probably a lot easier on his peronal life (Mom, Dad, Aunt Minnie, ect) if he just pretends that he does. Either way, it has nothing to do with his views on government and the Constitution.

    And the Scientology analogy is off. There are very few second generaton Scientologists (I think Beck is the most high profile one). So the vast majority of Scientologists looked up what the group believes and chose to join. They weren’t just born in to it like Romney or Clinton or Lieberman.

  103. So Jennifer…what’s your answer? WOULD you refuse to hire an Orthodox Jew who observed the strictures of his faith concerning contact with women?

  104. WOULD you refuse to hire an Orthodox Jew who observed the strictures of his faith concerning contact with women?

    If you refuse to shake my hand when I offer you a job, the job offer is immediately rescinded. Does that answer your question?

  105. Jennifer

    OK, and I would guess that you would almost certainly be subject to anti-discrimination statues now in effect in every jurisdiction in this country, unless the job required social contact with women. Would you really expect NIKE or Intel to keep Moslem immigrants off the assembly-lines for reasons like that?

  106. Ah. So as long as he doesn’t want my inferiority enshrined in law, I’m not supposed to care?

  107. For some reason, my entire response to the quoted language was cut off. Let me try again:

    Well, considering that what matters in a public official is what he plans to enshrine in law, not what he thinks in private, that’s right.

    (Along those lines, I thought John McCain was completely off-base back in 2000 when he tried to plant the idea that GWB’s speech at Bob Jones University, where they (apparently) believe the pope is the antichrist, made him unworthy of votes from Catholics in the Republican primaries. I don’t care if GWB believed every bit of the Bob Jones line; even if he did, that had exactly nothing to do with whether he should be president. (There were lots of better reasons to vote against him, as it turns out.) Hell, I’d vote for Ian Paisley if I thought he’d vote the right way once in office.)

  108. Jennifer,

    I was hoping you would deal with my concerns in the manner in which they were expressed. See, I didn’t say that circumcision per se, was relevant to this topic. Rather, I said that the Jewish religious practice of circumcision was relevant to this topic. For you to say that you agree with me on circumcision is to avoid my concern. My concern is that there are protected classes. See I think that having protected classes is wrong in principle. This means that I think it was wrong when white people or men had certain privileges that women or minorities didn’t have. Yes, slavery, segregation, male domination, all those things were very bad and I’m not pretending that anything like that is happening to today’s unprotected classes like Mormons or Scientologists. But if I truly believe in the principle I espoused earlier, it means that I won’t go around applying it inconsistently or disproportionately. I disagree with the Mormon quasi-doctrine of the curse of Cain; I think it’s very silly and very unfortunate. I think the LDS church should come out and officially explain if it is still doctrine or not. I think they should tell us whether the priesthood ban against blacks was (in their mind) from God or if it was just a social convention that needed changing.

    Back to the Jewish religious practice of circumcision: in Europe, most men are not circumcised, and they don’t suffer from infections at an alarming rate or anything. And Doctors no longer recommend it. They don’t recommend against it, necessarily, but they don’t recommend it either. Now, it’s going to be much easier for gentiles to gradually get away from this practice since they don’t see it as their religious duty. You mentioned Mormon underwear, and I’m still at a loss to figure out why you would care about such a thing. I’m giving you another chance to compare your criticism of Mormon underwear to the ‘Jewish religious practice of male circumcision.’ Not just circumcision OK? But the Jewish religious practice of circumcision.

    Back to the topic of the Curse of Cain; which I’ve already explained that I find to be a silly (meaning ridiculous) and unfortunate doctrine. Mormons, like, revoked the priesthood ban over 25 years ago. The Nation of Islam, on the other hand, has never, to my knowledge, revoked the teaching that white people were created by an evil black scientist (who was jealous of the successful black scientists) over 7,000 years ago. This black scientist, in order to get revenge on his more successful colleagues, created a “bleached” race of people who lived “on all fours” in caves while the black man ruled the world. Now, I understand that the NOI doesn’t exactly say this as loudly as they once did, but they haven’t revoked it either, the way the LDS revoked the priesthood ban. But even if Mormonism hadn’t revoked their ban, the doctrine of the Curse of Cain isn’t nearly as vivid in its racist imagination as the Nation of Islam’s views on the origins of the white race.

    In my opinion, those who are consistent in their views on religion will just as readily criticize the Nation of Islam or Judaism as they will Mormonism or Scientology. Criticizing the latter 2 is like breathing, everyone does it. So bashing groups that are fair game does not demonstrate real commitment. I hope this doesn’t step on your toes, but I’m beginning to suspect that you have fallen victim to the post-modern view that traditionally subjugated groups aren’t really responsible for their thoughts and actions while anything that resembles “the man” is the origin of the world’s distress. BTW, if this is your view, Mormons were a very persecuted people for many years, but in my mind, this is no excuse for the Curse of Cain doctrine. The same way the NOI has no good reason to believe the silly things that they do. Now, I realize that there are sociological, economic, and all sorts of other causes for both Mormon and NOI doctrines, but bad ideas are bad ideas.

    I was hoping that you would criticize these other examples I’ve brought up not in the abstract, but in the particular, the way you did Mormon ideas about Cain and underwear. Lopping off part of a baby boy’s penis as a religious duty vs. underwear, believing black skin came from a curse vs. believing white people are an inferior and bleached race created by a black scientist.

    The difference is that criticizing some of these is taboo while criticizing others is a national pastime.

  109. Jennifer,

    “True, but he is now old enough to make his own decisions”

    …and the only thing his continuing involvement with the LDS Church tells us about him is that he has chosen to remain with the faith community that has always been a part of his familial, community, and spiritual life. You have no idea what Mitt Romeny thinks about the magical sunglasses et al – whether he takes the “Bapstist” or “Episcopalian” view of their truth, so to speak. Magical underwear isn’t slavery, Jennifer. It’s fish-on-Fridays. So what?

  110. OK, and I would guess that you would almost certainly be subject to anti-discrimination statues now in effect in every jurisdiction in this country,

    I don’t know if anyone’s still reading this thread, which I forgot to update, but: not shaking my hand is rude. And refusing to hire someone who would be so rude to his future boss doesn’t fall under the anti-discrimination laws.

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