Friday, July 4, 2008

How do you feel about the Mormons use of the term ‘anti-Mormon’? —Desiree

I think all the responders who gave the dictionary definition of "anti" have missed the point. Actually two points.

First, note that the label is "anti-Mormon" and not "anti-Mormonism." Mormons are people; Mormonism is a collection of ideas and beliefs. I don't hate people for being Mormon, in fact the vast majority of people I care about on the planet are Mormon. But I have no particular fondness for their beliefs, hence it would be fair to say I am anti-Mormonism.

The second point is that the label itself is pejorative and triggers a specific response in the Mormon mindset. Namely, it works as an ad hominem attack that allows the believer to automatically discount whatever the "anti-Mormon" has said. Language and labels are powerful things, and the LDS church is very adept at using them to protect itself from critical examination by members.

That's another topic all by itself, but as a simple example, I think most Mormons would agree with this statement:

"I believe that the gospel encompasses all truth and that we should seek to learn all that we can while here on earth."

Several LDS scripture verses talk about gaining wisdom, intelligence, knowledge of the world around us, and so on. But I think most Mormons would also agree with this statement:

"I believe that we should strive daily to build our testimonies against the temptations of the adversary, and avoid anti-Mormon literature as you would the plague."

See, in every other area of study we're encouraged to gather evidence, weigh alternatives, and draw conclusions. But the church itself gets a free pass. "No need to look too closely here," it seems to be saying, "just trust us. Have faith." And that, my friends, is exactly why you should check it out. Not just by asking "the source," but also looking at disciplines that cross paths with Mormon beliefs, like linguistics or archeology. And yes, by asking those who are "anti-Mormonism" too, and trying your darndest to actually hear what they're saying.

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