Mormon Story of Icelandic Persecution Collides with Fact

In 1960, Nobel Prize winner Halldor Laxness published a book of fiction that centered on an Icelandic man who converted to Mormonism in the mid-19th century. In the summer of 2009, I visited Laxness’ home (now a museum) outside of Reykjavik, Iceland. While there, I bought an English edition of that book, Paradise Reclaimed, and read it after returning home. Therefore, I was very interested when Mormon Times ran an article about Laxness and Paradise Reclaimed.

The article at Mormon Times is titled, “The real story of Mormonism in Iceland collides with fiction.” It outlines Laxness’ visits to Utah and other times his life intersected with Latter-day Saints, as well as the history of Icelandic Mormons. When I initially read the article at the end of June (2010), I was troubled by the article’s assertion that Icelanders who had converted to Mormonism in the mid-1800s were “expelled from Iceland.” That didn’t ring true to me, so I contacted an Icelandic historian in Reykjavik and asked if converts to Mormonism had ever been “expelled from Iceland because of their conversion to the [LDS] church.” She replied,

“No one has ever been expelled from Iceland because of his or hers faith, except for a Catholic bishop or two, who were not to the taste of the Danish king in the 16th century. No written records or evidence relate to Mormons being ‘expelled’ from Iceland at any time. They may have left for the States because they did not like the environment or their neighbours, but so did a lot of people in the 19th century. Religious freedom was granted in Iceland in 1874, but the wast [vast] majority of people were Lutheran and still are. No mentioning of any cruelty to those few Catholics or Mormons who lived here in the 19th century, but in a small society it may always be difficult to be different.” (Private email date July 4, 2010)

I have read so many exaggerated, embellished, and downright fictional accounts of persecution against Mormons and Mormonism that I’ve grown quite weary of it. Perhaps it seems like a small thing, that it doesn’t really matter whether Mormon converts were “expelled from Iceland” or they chose to leave in order to “gather to Zion.” But my friends, if it doesn’t matter, why do LDS sources continually bring it up in their lectures, sermons and books?

It matters to Mormons. I tend to think Mormons love to think they are hated. If early converts are believed to have suffered for their commitment to the LDS Church, modern testimonies are strengthened and “investigators” are convinced. Where is the faith-building element to be found in a common 19th century immigration to America, if the story does not include forced expulsion from home and country? Where is it found in a typical wagon train of American pioneers traveling to the western reaches of the United States, if the story is not wrapped in extreme proportions of suffering and death? Where is it found in the frequent 19th century use of frontier justice, if the story is not shrouded in shameful tales of rape and murder?

I was surprised to find that, sometime after its initial posting, the Mormon Times article was edited. The original assertion that converts were “expelled from Iceland because of their conversion to the church” had been removed. I applaud the Mormon Times editor who made that call; if only corrections like this (or better yet, fact-checking before publication) would become the norm rather than being the exception. Deseret News ran an announcement on June 14th (2010) that, as of this writing, is still online. It perpetuates the same inaccuracy Mormon Times corrected. It says,

“Spanish Fork was the first Icelandic settlement in the United States, after Icelanders who joined the Mormon church were expelled from that country, said [Icelandic] association [of Utah] spokesman Glenn Grossman.”

To me, if a religion cannot stand on truth, it is worthless. To remain viable, Mormonism (apparently) needs a false history that can be used to manipulate the emotions of its followers. To enhance the value of belonging to the LDS Church, Mormons (apparently) need to believe they have been–and are–hated and maligned more than any other people. Is this sort of foundation–faith and history buoyed by exaggeration, embellishment, and fiction presented as truth–an exemplary characteristic of God’s one true church?

Friends, the house of Mormonism is built on sand, as is the faith of those who embrace it. When the floods come, it will all surely be swept away. The wise man, one who values truth, builds his house on the Rock (Matthew 7:24-27). God’s story does not need fictional enhancement to prop it up; His truth will set you free (John 8:32).

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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43 Responses to Mormon Story of Icelandic Persecution Collides with Fact

  1. JimSpace says:

    "Mormonism is built on sand"
    I'm a very "textual" person. When I read the Bible, I like to have Hebrew and Greek interlinears and lexicons within arm's reach. With the Book of Mormon, no such thing is possible. It gives me a "standing on sand" impression not having a source-language to consult.

  2. jackg says:

    I once met a woman who had converted to Mormonism. She was a guest speaker at an LDS singles meeting. Her bio stated that she had been ostracized by her family for joining the Mormon Church. I was able to talk to her after her presentation and asked her about being ostracized. It turned out that she wasn't ostracized at all, but that her sister did not agree with her conversion. That's a far cry from being ostracized, but it sure looked good in a bio, and it gave this woman some sort of "star" status among the other Mormons who had gathered. Sharon is correct in stating that a false history is essential to the propaganda of Mormonism, both collectively and sometimes individually.

    Blessings…

  3. Jay K says:

    I remember hearing someone cite a sociologist saying "a persecuted religion is a successful one."

    I think it was on Runtu's Rincon

  4. mamawrench says:

    I would be careful about pointing to anecdotal experience, for the same reasons that I would caution a Mormon against using personal experience as a "gauge" for whether or not they have the Holy Spirit in their lives: Because individual experiences vary widely and are often unreliable as a measure of objective fact. I'm certain that there ARE Mormons who are ostracized for their faith; I mean, I'm a Messianic Jew, I get harassed for my faith from time to time. While it does ENHANCE my faith, my faith is not based on it; rather, my faith is based on the validity of the Inspired Torah and the Completed Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    While, as slaves of Christ it is our duty to respond to Mormonism's false doctrines with Biblical Truth, it is also our responsibility to defend the persecuted, whomever he may be.

  5. GeoffW77 says:

    Sharon,

    Your little hatchet piece against Icelandic Mormons is so filled with errors, omissions, and blatant untruths that it is difficult to know where to start. If you would take the time to do some basic fact checking (i.e. read some of the personal journals of Mormon converts who left Iceland in the 19th century in large part to escape from the persecution from the Lutheran Church) your article would not be so riddled with misinformation.

    You solely rely upon the opinion of one person who is obviously unaware of the specifics of Mormon / Lutheran interpersonal relationships in 19th century Iceland and who, moreover, even admits that: "in a small society it may always be difficult to be different.” . Read some of the personal journals of those Mormons who left Iceland during that time period. Although there was no official expulsion order against Mormon converts, religious intolerance and bigotry against the Mormons was rife during that time in Iceland as it was in many parts of Europe. A little effort on your part in conducting some basic research on this topic would be a good place to start.

    Your basic premise that persecution of Mormons is fiction is as outlandish as it is ridiculous. The historical facts are clear and irrefutable: persecutions against Mormons and the LDS Church during the 19th century were often violent, vicious, and cruel. Many Mormons were murdered and HUNDREDS died fleeing their persecutors during the Missouri War. Even HUNDREDS more Mormons perished from exposure fleeing their persecutors after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyram Smith. This is not fiction, this is historical fact! This historical fact is attested by the hundred of graves that mark the Mormon Trail. It is shameful that you so blithely dismiss this cruelty as fiction.

    In general, your historical revisionism is as dishonest as it is misleading. Contrary to your conclusions, it is "your house" of dismissive reviling of the suffering of others that is built on a foundation of sand.

  6. mamawrench says:

    Geoff,__Do you have any specific sources? I've been looking on the internet for 45 minutes or so, and all I can find are anecdotal stories on Mormon sources — in other words, the exact issue that Sharon is talking about: Individual accounts without any actual verifiable proof.__It's kinda like if we only believed the Holocaust occured because we have Anne Frank's diary. Obviously, the evidence in favor of the Holocaust's having taken place — police records, video, images, corroborating evidences, accounts of the persecutors as well as the victims, facilities, etc — are much more important and reliable than the diaries of a preteen girl.__I'm not saying personal accounts count for nothing. I'm just saying that individual accounts are less convincing than objective evidences, for the simple reason that individuals are largely deceptive, especially when they have an agenda upon which their eternal destination rests.

  7. Ralph says:

    All I can say is that there is a differnce between what is official and what is not. The 'expelled' members from Iceland may not have been expelled officially by the government or authorities, but culturally/communitywise they may have been ostracised and felt the pressure to the point that they felt they were being pressured to leave. That too is expulsion but its by conception rather than actual. In psychiatry they treat the 'conceived' problems besides the actual as the same thing. For example someone I know claims abuse from their parents while they were growing up but all the examples they tell me about are not abuse but their perception of what has happened. Because that is how they see it, the psychologist treating them treats it as actual abuse.

    Another example, in Finland which is predominately Lutheran, if one does not belong to the Lutheran Church then they have no real social life/contacts anymore, even in family circles. I know of many people ostracised by their families because they left the Lutheran Church for another, not just the LDS church, but JW, SDA, Pentacostal, Anglican. They have a tolerance of the Roman Catholic. One person I taught had their son (in early 20s) threaten not to talk to her again if she joined the LDS church. Another had permission from her husband to investigate into other religions, but once he found out that she wanted to join the LDS church after looking at a few other religions, he said he would divorce her if she did. He divorced her 2 years later for other reasons, leaving her free to join the LDS church, which she did.

    I am not saying it always happens, but I am saying that there is the peer pressure, which is different from governmental/authority decrees that can still be classed as expulsion.

    A funny little side story – here in Newcastle, the missionaries were marched to the train station back in 1955 by the local Catholic minister and placed on the train to Sydney. Newcastle had the worst flooding ever (including the 2007 floods) that year.

  8. GeoffW77 says:

    Mamawrench,

    In response to your question there are plenty of specific sources regarding the persecutions of Mormons in the 19th century. As I stated, the persecution of Mormons in the 19th century was often violent, vicious, and cruel. Contrary to the blithe denials of Mormon critics, these persecutions are a well documented historical fact. If you wish to research this topic you could start your internet search with the "Missouri Mormon Wars" or the " Missouri Extermination Order". Hundreds of Mormons lost their live fleeing their persecutors.

    What I find particularly galling is the insistence by Mormon critics that such historical events never took place. Such denials are simply dishonest.

  9. mamawrench says:

    That doesn't really answer the question. All you're saying is "Evidence exists" without actually providing any, or even any sources, much less an unbiased, objective source, which is all I'm really interested in. You're not going to prove that Sharon's argument about persecution in Iceland is false by arguing about persecution in Missouri.

  10. Eric says:

    Goeff, you wrote: "Many Mormons were murdered and HUNDREDS died fleeing their persecutors during the Missouri War. Even HUNDREDS more Mormons perished from exposure fleeing their persecutors after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyram Smith."

    My questions are:

    What documentation do you have for "hundred" and the Missouri War? a specific reference would be nice.

    And "hundreds" dying after Smith's death….Wait a minute, are you suggesting that the Mormons deciding to leave several years later after Smith's death, then those who died on the trails are attributed to the "persecution" after that fact? Why didn't the Mormons leave at a more sane time to cross the Plains? Like, in the summer of '44 rather than two years later when they decided to leave (and the bad weather timing it was)? This doesn't seem quite fair.

  11. falcon says:

    Ah yes Mormon persecution. It's very much needed because for one thing Mormons use it as a proof of the truth of their Smith fable. I'll see if I can find the source, but Mormonism is rife with heroic stories and folk legends about the faith. There's a guy at BYU who collects these folk fables. Whether Mormons have gotten persecuted or not has nothing to do with whether or not Mormonism is true. BTW, accounts I have read indicate that Mormons gave as good as they got when it came to kicking the snot out of their neighbors. I suppose we could all swap stories and the person with the most (stories) and the most egregious example could declare victory. None-the-less, Mormons groove on the persecution accounts and pull out that card when they get their backs against the wall regarding the facts relative to their false religion.

  12. falcon says:

    Well for some entertainment go to:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_folklore
    http://www.holyfetch.com/

    I think it's kind of funny that our Mormon posters jumped on this thread with so much enthusiasm to prove that Mormons have been maligned, mistreated and persecuted. It sounds like Linda Ronstad singing, "I've been cheated, been mistreated when will I be loved". Persecution is very important to the Mormon narrative.

  13. GeoffW77 says:

    Mamawrench,

    Sharon's basic premise in her trite article is that the persecution of Mormons IN GENERAL is fiction. There is an absolute abundance of historical evidence which soundly disproves this piece of historical revisionism. This persecution occurred in Europe (including Iceland) as well as America.

    I think that you are fully capable of carrying out your own research. I have given you some broad subject headings as the start of your research and I have also suggested that a good place to start would be to read the personal journals of individuals who were eyewitnesses to the actual historical events.

  14. Bill McKeever says:

    According to LDS historians Walker, Turley, and Leonard, "While the Saints never made a full accounting of their casualties, their various reports listed rape, gunshot wounds, beatings, exposure, and dozens of resulting deaths" (Massacre at Mountain Meadows, pp.12-13). It is interesting that they admit to Mormons never making "a full accounting of their casualties." This opens the door to sensationalism and exaggeration. Although no one should justify religious persecution, there is a big difference between "dozens" and HUNDREDS." If HUNDREDS really perished, it seems these historians missed a good opportunity to set the record straight. If Geoff has documented evidence that HUNDREDS were killed during the persecution period, he should provide it. Otherwise he does nothing more than prove Sharon's point.

  15. GeoffW77 says:

    Eric,

    In response to your questions:

    1. B.H. Roberts' six volume "A Comprehensive History of the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" contains an extensive account of the persecutions of Mormons during the Missouri War and the Illinois War.

    2. Most of the Mormons who perished during these persecutions (Missouri and Illinois) perished from exposure and accompanying illnesses incident to being subjected to inclement weather.

    In Missouri in 1838 approximately 10,000 Mormons were forced at gun point to leave their homes in western Missouri (many of these homes were ransacked and burned by the Missouri mob) and walk some 300 miles through the frontier wilderness to Nauvoo during the wintertime. These poor, innocent people were given little or no time to prepare themselves for this arduous trek. It is not surprising therefore that the mortality rate was 3 or 4 percent (i.e. meaning 300 to 400 deaths) consisting mainly of the old and very young.

    Similarly, the Mormons in Illinois were facing mounting violence and persecution from the mobs and consequently fled to the west. The historical evidence is irrefutable. The Mormons were fleeing violent persecution and many perished fleeing their persecutors.

    If your want physical evidence would the various grave sites along the Mormon Trail satisfy you are do you insist that these graves are a hoax as well?

  16. GeoffW77 says:

    Falcon,

    It is obvious that you absolutely despise Mormons. You openly mock the violence and suffering inflicted upon innocent people.

    That is so "Christian" of you

  17. mobaby says:

    I don’t see any documentation of persecution in Iceland. That information is what is missing here. Please provide a link and specifics on this. Sharon uses this to make a broader point on exaggerated persecution complex. If you want to say she is incorrect documentation of expulsion from Iceland is what is necessary. People leaving because they’re not part of the mainstream and want to go where lots of people believe and think like they do is not expulsion.

  18. falcon says:

    Geoff, Geoff, Geoff…….
    Your response is soooo Mormon and you play the persecution card as well as any Mormon I've encountered! Let's take a little trip out to Mountain Meadows where we can see a Monument built to some poor suffering people. Do I need to fill you in on the details? How do you think those folks felt as the poor suffering innocent Mormons bashed their heads in and shot them killing the majority?
    I think you need to get a firm grip on the history of your faith before you start accusing other people of insensitivity to the plight of the Mormon people. In one of Sharon's most recent articles she talks about a Mormon who had an opportunity to get straight look at the history of Mormonism including how Mormons treated their neighbors. It caused a crisis of faith for him until he was told to ignore it and just keep believing. That's Mormonism in a nutshell. Ignore the obvious. Ignorance is bliss in Mormonism.

  19. Verne Brown says:

    History speaks of other things too Geoff. For starters, never forget the Missourians of Gallatin, Millport, Splawn’s Ridge and Grindstone Fork driven from their homes at gunpoint by the danites and the towns burned. After that burning out the non mormons in the rural areas of Daviess County. Speaking of the ‘extermination’ order, it was Rigdon’s 4 July sermon that talked of a “war of extermination,” long before the order was given by boggs. Mormon danites also attacked the Missouri milita before the order as well. The mormons were in open rebellion against the state – so much for AoF #12. Historical evidence also shows that the mormons were more often than not the instigators of troubles in Illinois and elsewhere.

    The victim card is pretty worn out. The Iceland example being another of a long lines of altered history for the mormon faithful – a history shown to be false.

  20. This is what B.H. Roberts (author of the Comprehensive History of the Church) said in a conference message in October, 1901: "First, let me tell you the net results of the persecution of the Latter-day Saints in Missouri, so far as they can be told in a summary: There were killed outright of men, women and children, so far as careful estimates can be made, more than fifty souls. There were as many more wounded and beaten. How many perished by slow death, suffering untold agonies, by reason of exposure and cruelties, no one knows, nor can it be computed."

    Roberts says "careful estimates" total around 50. I assume 17-18 of those estimated 50 were from Haun's Mill. According to Joseph Smith, "None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel. At Hauns' Mill the brethren went contrary to my counsel; if they had not, their lives would have been spared" (History of the Church 5:137). I agree with Eric that it is a bit unfair to assume all of those graves along the trail to SLC were victims of persecution. How many of those grave sites belong to emigrants who never lived in Missouri or Illinois? I think the key phrase regarding these deaths is "no one knows." If no one knows it is irresponsible to say HUNDREDS perished.

  21. falcon says:

    There is a classification of Mormons who are known for being "naive". This being "naive" comes in part from either being misinformed, uninformed or because the Mormon has what is known as "magical thinking". Too many Mormons really are in the dark when it comes to the history of the religion or, sadly enough, about Mormonisms doctrines. When the individual Mormon begins to uncover the truth he/she is faced with a real serious problem. That problem comes in the form of how to reconcile the facts with their testimony. Unfortunately too many Mormons continue to cling to their testimony despite the fact that the evidence runs counter to what they believe. This is considered faith in Mormonism. It's the old "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" line from the Wizard of Oz.
    Rationalization and the development of fantastic explanations is a common psychological device used by Mormons to maintain a testimony that doesn't match reality. When someone believes they've received a direct message from "God" and it's combined with strong emotions, forget about real facts and evidence.
    Thus we have our Mormon posters making fantastic claims regarding Mormon persecution that don't match reality. The American frontier was indeed a rough place and violence was often the method of choice used to resolve disputes or to vanquish enemies. The Missouri/Kansas war right before the Civil War is an example of this. But embellishment of the facts doesn't get anyone closer to the truth if they are indeed interested in it.
    There's a book that I have here called "A Decent and Orderly Lynching". The title comes from an editorial that appeared in a Salt Lake City newspaper after a black man was dragged through the streets of Salt Lake, brutilized and than hung on suspicion of rape. The editor opined that these lynchings needed to be "decent and orderly". Thus was the mind set of the time.

  22. falcon says:

    I think a great question to ask would be "How many people died on the Oregon trail?" We could look at what statistics are available for all the people that were involved in the western migration and then see what the percent is that died. It would also be interesting to find out what they died of. My understanding is that more people died of self-inflected gun shot wounds than were killed by Indians. Other causes would be death from child birth, disease, snake bites, starvation and old age.
    The Mormons were pretty ingenious in their trek out to Utah. It's my understanding that they even planted crops so those that followed could harvest them. The Mormons also made out pretty well going back over the trail and picking up furniture and other items others left.
    This victims mentality of Mormons is not really a very attractive feature of the religion. When the Mormon narrative is examined, it turns out that things aren't exactly the way Mormons like to portray them. But within the confines of the religion it's helpful just like all of those "faith building" stories within Mormonism.
    For a real treat google "Paul Dunn". He's a modern Mormon who told stories in the tradition of Mormon folklore. He was a favorite Mormon motivation speaker (among young people especially).

  23. jackg says:

    GW77,

    As usual with Mormons, you miss the point. No amount of persecution will make the church of JS true.

    Praying for you…

  24. jackg says:

    GW77,

    What's dishonest is running around and telling people that the Mormon Church is true, and we have the persecution stories to prove it. That's galling.

    Praying for you…

  25. jackg says:

    Ralph,

    I wish you could see the trap in which you have been ensnared: it's the "official" tag that ensnares you. You discount the false teachings of your leaders because it's "not official" or "no longer official" doctrine. You even carry that fallacious mindset into this discussion. It saddens me that you deny the witness of the Holy Spirit, Ralph.

    Praying for you…

  26. liv4jc says:

    Kinda like being a non-Mormon who was living in Utah or Idaho in the middle part of the 20th century, huh Geoff? Where do you think the term Jack Mormon came from? "Unless you're part of the Church, pack your stuff friend, you can't work here."

  27. Martin_from_Brisbane says:

    I spent this afternoon at a barbecue with a friend of mine and a group of others from my church. He is a builder, and he is preparing to go to Osh on a short term basis to rebuild some of the 1200 homes that were destroyed in the recent inter-ethnic violence (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10296635). According to him, some 500 people were killed, but many more were burnt out of their homes or persecuted in other ways. The word 'persecution' is wholly appropriate in this context, but this isn't persecution for a person's individual faith, rather it arises from inter-ethnic violence, in this case between the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks.

  28. @mamawrench says:

    I'd just like to say, very quickly and with full modesty and respect, that our goal, as Biblical Christians, should be evagelism, not "evangelicalism;" ministry, not mockery. Let's not forget that our Mormon friends are in need of the light of Truth, and he is blessed who is kind to the needy. (Proverbs 14:21) Most of us, I hope, come here not because we feel ourselves important, but because God has loved us and inspires us to love others. (1John 4:19) It is a gentle answer that turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1) and "breaks bones" (Proverbs 25:15). Before posting, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it noble? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it admirable? Is it excellent? Is it praiseworthy? (Philippians 4:18) If not, prayerfully consider why you want to say it. (Luke 6:45)

  29. @mamawrench says:

    God is love (1John 4:16), and it is in Him we live and move and having our being (Acts 17:28). When we step out of Love, we are stepping out of Him, so do all things with love, for His glory. Not saying I'm innocent — it's my catching my own faults that makes me say anything about it at all. But I want to look out for my brothers and sisters here, that they are checking their hearts against Biblical truth as I would want them to remind me to check mine.

    Blessings…

  30. Well said, mamawrench. As Luther once prayed: “Grant us grace that your holy name may be hallowed by us throughout all the world, by the pure and sincere teaching of the Word and the steady love of our life. Graciously turn aside every false doctrine and all sinful living in which your holy name is blasphemed and profaned. Amen.”

  31. wyomingwilly says:

    That was a good point you made. Mormons are a sincere people who are striving to serve God.
    Unfortunately, their prophets and apostles have created roadblocks which causes these precious
    people to vear off of the true teachings of the Scriptures , and embrace the teachings of these men.
    2 Cor.11:3-4. Thanks for the reminder to apply 1Pt.3:15 .

  32. falcon says:

    Good golly mamawrech,
    I don't know what you're referring to here. I'm going on three years posting on MC and this is about as tame as I've seen it. It had gotten pretty testy at one point in the past and Bill had to step in and tell folks to dial it back a notch which I believe has been done for-the-most-part. I don't know if you've ever seen any of Rick the Hammer's posts but the rest of us are playing bean-bag compared to Rick's style and even at that, his approach doesn't make me wince.
    I think people have different levels of emotional sensitivity regarding apologetic style. As long as folks stay away from name calling, I don't mind it when they are direct and call it as they see it.

  33. @mamawrench says:

    It's not necessarily this post, just a gentle reminder in general 🙂 If it was made in error, thank you for saying so; I think we all could use each other for reminders of our conduct with each other and with others from time to time. Tune-ups are, after all, the best way to prevent catastrophic failures later on!

  34. falcon says:

    Now this is very instructive, in fact I think it boarders on a teachable moment. Consider this, first of all I have never read a post by a Mormon that expresses the sentiments you've expressed. Now I wonder why that is? Well I think I know why. We attract a very specific type of Mormon here. With rare exception, they tend to be hardcore believers in Mormonism, they tend to take it all personally, and they're very aggressive boardering on hostile. It's kind of interesting, my observation is that we'll get the occasional smoochie Mormon out here but it doesn't take long for them to go over the edge. The reason is that the Christian posters here, many of whom are exLDS, are knowledgeable about Mormonism and they write well.
    Now here's another fun fact. I've yet to see a Christian get carded or suspended from MC. Maybe it's happened but I can't remember it. I think the moderators are very fair and even handed but for some reason the Mormon posters aren't sensitive enough to the flow of things to put a sock in it when that's required.
    Finally, this is a spiritual battle we are in and it's important to speak frankly, boldly, with conviction and confidence. Also a little well placed sarcasm, humor and hyperbole helps to keep things interesting.

  35. @mamawrench says:

    Yes, but you and I have the Holy Spirit in our lives; they do not. You and I are not gods in embryo, awaiting an eternity of being perfected; we are living hands and feet of Christ, and are therefore held to a higher standard. Of course they are arrogant! Of course they are defensive! They believe they will be exalted above us. Our anger should be at the spirit of deception and wicked deceit, not at them. This is why Paul tells us to be mindful not only of what is true, but also what is lovely, right, and excellent. It's not enough to just not have wrong doctrine if you have not love.

    Don't get me wrong — I don't want to give the impression I'm a stick in the mud, far from it! Sarcasm is my second language. Seriously. Give me time. 😉 But is it effective in the changing of hearts and minds? What are the fruits?

  36. Martin_from_Brisbane says:

    (Odd, not all of my post got through. Here's the rest..)

    Kyrgystan is a post communist country in central Asia that is nominally Moslem, though there are a mix of ethnic and religious minorities. My friend tells me that the Islamicists are making themselves increasingly dominant. Eastern Orthodox Christians have been there since the beginning (it's rumored that St Matthew, the Gospel Writer, is buried there) and there is a young and passionate Evangelical Church. My friend supports the Orthodox Christians, but is mostly involved with the Evangelicals. He tells me they are mainly young people, urban and educated, in contrast to a large rural and aging population. Their passion for their faith is inspiring, according to my friend, but what they need is to add substance to their faith through Biblical teaching and 'meaty' theology.

    I asked him about the persecution of Christians in Kyrgystan, which has been a feature of Church life long before the recent riots. He said that when a person decides to choose to put his or her faith Christ, they know that they could be choosing death. The reasons, I suspect, are mainly due to the sense of betrayal felt by their Moslem friends and family. Kyrgystan is a poor country (for example, imagine eating nothing but potatoes for the 7 months of winter, and having your electricity cut off for maybe 3 days at a time), and being ostracised from your family is actually a big deal because you lose the support that they would otherwise give you. My friend didn't give any details of people who had been killed, but it was common knowledge that Uzbekis could actually get sent 'home' to Uzbekistan, even though the indigenous Uzbekis have never lived there and they know nobody in what, to them, is a totally foreign country.

    I have some sympathy with the Icelandic persecution story that Sharon has considered to the extent that real persecution is often opportunistic, unofficial, officially denied, ad hoc, unplanned and difficult to prove (until there are burnt homes and bodies). Usually, its more like a mob looting a shop (eg after the Haitian earthquake) than a government saying "Go and kill all the xxx", where xxx could be any identifiable cultural or ethnic sub-group. Sometimes it's something in between (watch the film "Hotel Rwanda").

    However, I would be very circumspect in claiming persecution in the Western world, even in 19th Century Iceland. My family and I have just returned from our holidays in UK, and I found myself increasingly irritated by the invasive atheistic humanistic agenda that seeks to minimize and distance Europe from its Christian heritage. I imagine that the sense of cognitive dissonance I was feeling might be something like what Halldor Laxness might have felt – a fish out of water. Things might worsen in future, but for now I just think I ought to grow a thicker skin. The worst that the world can do to me is to ignore me and my faith, or simply crush it under modernist dogma ("if it works for you, then go with it, but just keep it out of the public square").

  37. Martin_from_Brisbane says:

    Anyway, one thing that struck me about finding myself at the wrong end of this particular cultural baseball bat is that it's a very unpleasant place. If the mild discomfort inflicted upon me ever gets amplified into vilification, I don't think I would find it an affirming experienced that strengthened my faith. I think I would become increasing cranky (I think I'm already cranky enough) and demoralized. I know the Biblical promises about God being with me in the time of trial, which are actually very encouraging, but I'm looking at them from my current perspective of relative ease and comfort. Maybe I shouldn't say more, other than I put my faith in Him to pull me through, not in my ability or experience as a Christian.

    Finally, I find it curious that stories of persecution are so faith-promoting (Mormon or not). It's rather like persecution by proxy. We hear a story about some hero of the faith who suffered, and we are fortified in our commitment to that faith. It's as if we can buy into the merit earned by that person's suffering. Ironically for Mormons, its the Roman Catholic Church that has most formalized this idea, which gave it its doctrinal basis for the whole affair with Indulgences. That's hard for me to accept, because I don't think we can "buy" or "earn" anything from God, not even through our own persecution

    Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?

    (Romans 11:35, quoting from Job 41:11). There is, however, One who's suffering we can "buy" into by faith, and His was the only suffering that was not merited by sin.

    Again, I ask where do these stories go? Sharon and Bill rightly point out that the LDS movement has amplified stories of persecution (trivial and life-threatening), but the end-goal is always the LDS movement. It seems to me that the earliest Christians were reluctant to "score points" about how persecuted they were, but when they did talk about it, they always used it to point to Christ. For example, when he was being stoned, Stephen, "…looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56). He didn't say "I must be right, just count the rocks". Its a different story than if he had looked up and declared "I know the Church is true", and that's where I see the LDS stories pointing to.

  38. falcon says:

    Well when it comes to snarky behavior, I don't think we should cut the Mormons slack and let them off the hook with the idea that "the devil made me do it" (a little Flip Wilson lingo for those who remember). I'm referencing the type of Mormon who shows up here. I don't think it's typical behavior of the rank and file Mormon. The Mormons I've had direct contact with don't act that way. A good description of the type of Mormons a person might encounter is provided by Jim Spencer in "Have You Witnessed to a Mormon Lately." I love Jim's line about the "arrogant Mormon" it goes something like "the best you can do is knock a little paint off of their testimony." Jim's not suggesting that someone witnessing to a Mormon wield their tongue like a sledge hammer. It's more a description of a certain type of Mormon who is so spiritually deceived that they can't even begin to imagine that Mormonism isn't true.
    Now as to "love", I must admit I get a little testy because within the Christian family I think it can be a misapplied sentiment. For example, discipline can be very unpleasant but the attitude behind it can be love. Also, I've seen people pull out the "love" card when they want to manipulate someone. I'd prefer that people talk plainly.

  39. mamawrench says:

    I agree; a physician who ignores the cancerous tumor growing within his patient for fear of making him "uncomfortable" isn't being very loving. But neither is a physician who gives a diagnosis, a course of treatment, and then ignores the patient as an individual. There's a balance.

    That said, "He started it" doesn't fly with my son and nephews; what chance do you think you have? 😉 We have been admonished to respond to questions with love, and also with respect. I don't know if you've ever done pastry work, but when you temper chocolate, you raise and lower the temperature over and over until, when it's just right, the sugar and fat crystals in the chocolate are all aligned. To be "tempered" is to have everything aligned and working towards a same purpose. So love, tempered with respect, are to work together to the purpose of salvation.

    Of course, there's also simply difference of personality to take into account; I can't see St. Matthew speaking with the same force as St. Paul, but who's to say whose ministry is better? I know I have heart issues with anger and forcefulness and a lack of grace. Again, I don't bring it up towards any one person, just a general reminder I felt on my heart. 🙂

  40. mobaby says:

    I heard you on Issues Etc talking about "I'm a Mormon" advertising campaign. Good job. I think these ads are a continuation of the effort to make Mormons seem just like mainstream regular folks, rather than cast members of Big Love or part of the polygamous Mormon sect that is in the news.

  41. falcon says:

    My only real experience with baked goods is consuming them in large quantities which is the reason, despite my near fanatical dedication to exercise, I weigh about a half a ton more than I am comfortable with.
    Andy Watson had an interesting experience about a week ago at a Mormon stake function. The advertisement for the happening had the tag line; "We believe the same as you. We just don't worship the cross." I thought this was kind of interesting because I'm not aware of any Christian denomination that worships the cross. The line was either there ought of ignorance or in some way to be provocative.
    Anyway, Andy heads on down to the event and when he gets there he gets a "guide". The guides job was to take Andy from station to station that were promoting different aspects of the Mormon program. Andy said that the interesting thing about these stations was the fact that there was nothing about Mormonism. It was just generic presentations and information on things like the Boy Scout program etc. So Andy politely listens to each presentation and when they would ask, "Are there any questions?", Andy being Andy, would say, "Yea I've got one." So Andy would ask a question referencing verses from the Bible. Well these poor people would go into panic mode because they had no clue what the Bible said about various topics. Two really funny things; at one point Andy says, "Do you have a Bible?" These poor folks had to look high and low around the place and finally someone found one somewhere. So Andy'd have them look the verses up and read them out loud and then say, "What your church teaches isn't consistent with what it says here." Now remember, these folks are the ones with the "We believe the same as you" flyer. It got pretty funny. At one point all of the missionaries come pouring in ready to do battle with Andy and the poor boys are left standing there speechless.
    Andy told me that there were a couple of obvious things apparent in this exercise. First of all the whole deal was nothing but a smoke-screen and cover-up of Mormonism. Secondly, these Mormons were absolutely clueless.
    Well Andy left and the missionaries didn't even want his address and phone number. i wonder why?

  42. falcon says:

    Martin,
    Not to go off track from your excellent presentation but there is a concept of earned grace, must be the old Catholic coming out in me. I'm not saying I learned this particular concept in my days at St. Joseph's but here goes. As we fast, pray, read God's Word and do acts of mercy we accumulate "grace". It's like a bank account. It's credited to us in order to be effective in doing more "works" of mercy. For example, let's say a person is involved in a deliverance ministry. They would fast and pray and in a sense build themself up spiritually before being involved in an exorcism. This would be in contrast to the frivolous Christian who runs around laying hands willie-nillie on people for an act of healing without building up their personal spiritual resources.
    When the devil tempted Jesus his (the devil's) timing couldn't have been worse. Jesus just came off of a forty day fast. In His humanity, far from being weak, Jesus was at a power peak. Jesus did the fast right before He started His public ministry. He returned from the desert full of the Holy Spirit and power. Jesus grace tank was on full.
    I may be totally off the beam here, but I think it's a concept for Christian to consider. Too often Christians, especially those in the Pentecostal/Charasmatic camp want the action without paying a price that comes withpracticing the spiritual disciplines.

  43. Martin_from_brisbane says:

    Falcon,

    Thanks for your reply, but it seems to have got out of sync with the rest of my post. I as musing on the present situation in Kyrgystan, where persecution is very real, and the cognitive dislocation a person might experience having decided to adopt a different set of ideals than the common culture that they would find themselves in.

    I'm still coming to terms with the new system here.

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