The "Anti-Mormon" Tactic

Over the weekend the Salt Lake Tribune posted an opinion piece titled “Romney candidacy will stir up anti-Mormon feeling”. The author, Tom Williams, begins,

Am I the only practicing Mormon who’s not excited about Mitt Romney’s run for president? It’s not like his first order of business will be a $10,000 tax credit for all Latter-Day [sic] Saints. (But imagine what that would do for the missionary effort.) In my mind there’s very little to be gained from Romney’s candidacy, and a great deal to be lost.

Mr. Williams thinks the “Christian/evangelical bloc of the Republican Party” will make sure Mitt Romney does not gain the Republican nomination. How will they accomplish this? Mr. Williams writes,

I’ll tell you what they’ll do. There will be discussions of LDS temple ceremonies, temple garments, polygamy, priesthood restrictions on blacks, blood atonement, Adam-God theory, etc., etc. They’ll bring up every anti-Mormon bullet point you’ve ever seen, and probably a few you haven’t. There will be quotes taken out of context, distortions of doctrine and kernels of truth buried in landfills of inaccuracy.This will put leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in an absolute no-win situation: If they try to respond to the doctrinal distortions aimed at Romney they will be perceived as defending him and thus supporting his candidacy; if they do nothing, the anti-Mormon assertions will be seen as true. Your 19-year-old missionary serving in Mississippi will spend the rest of his mission trying to explain the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Adam-God theory, things he probably knows nothing about.

I find it interesting that Mr. Williams seems to think any discussion of Mormon doctrine, practice, and history in the public arena would be “anti-Mormon.” Like it or not, “LDS temple ceremonies, temple garments, polygamy, priesthood restrictions on blacks, blood atonement, Adam-God,” etc. are not merely “anti-Mormon bullet points”; they are actual elements of Mormonism. Why should discussion of these issues be immediately dismissed as “anti-Mormon”?

Of course, many of these doctrines have a potential to be misunderstood by non-Mormons due to the reticence on the part of the Church to fully explain what it considers sacred. Even worse, many of these issues are not very flattering to the LDS Church and could take some of the shine off the Church’s image. Mr. Williams has done some pre-emptive damage control by asserting that quotes will be taken out of context and doctrines will be distorted. This is the sort of thing authors Richard and Joan Ostling observed in their 1999 book Mormon America:

All too often [Latter-day] Saints use the label “anti-Mormon” as a tactic to forestall serious discussion. (376)

Mr. Williams believes the public discussion of Mormonism will put the LDS Church in an “absolute no-win situation.” It won’t be able to respond to doctrinal distortions without putting its tax-exempt status in jeopardy, but a non-response will be seen as an admission that the “distortions” are true. I don’t think there’s any merit to this claim.

Few of the issues that could come up if and when Mormonism finds itself in the spotlight will be new. Mr. Williams’ list of possible topics of concern have already been discussed publicly for decades. It’s just that relatively few people have encountered the discussions in the past; and the LDS Church has been fairly successful at marginalizing critical material.

But with Mr. Romney running for President there will be many more people interested and curious about Mormonism than ever before (or at least since Donny Osmond captured the heart of every 14-year-old girl in America). Influential people may begin asking questions — people who expect full-disclosure answers, who won’t settle for less; people whose opinions have the power to impact others — and I think this is why Mr. Williams is concerned. He writes,

The church will spend thousands of dollars and several years refuting the doctrinal distortions that will be used to undermine Romney’s candidacy.Is this what we really want?

It seems to me this quandary could have been avoided if the LDS Church would have dealt with the doctrinal concerns evangelicals have continued to bring to the table lo these many years. But it has not. It has instead responded with denials and mischaracterizations of its critics, choosing to turn a blind eye to honest questions and concerns rather than deal with them forthrightly.

I think Mr. Williams’ rhetorical question — “Is this what we really want?” — is right on the money. Candid public discussion of the doctrines and history of Mormonism is not what the LDS Church wants, as has been demonstrated over 177 years of the Church’s history.

Jesus taught,

“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12: 2-3).

Perhaps the Romney campaign is God’s way of fulfilling this in regards to the LDS Church.

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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14 Responses to The "Anti-Mormon" Tactic

  1. Galatian says:

    I think the thing which disturbs me most about this article is not the PR angle, the forestalling/denying or blatant characterization against critics … it’s that Tom Williams mentions the Adam-God theory, Blood-Atonement, MMM, and various other things directly in the article and yet the article is still written in defense of the Mormon church!
    If a man who is obviously intelligent enough to write an article of defense and recognize these issues is this brainwashed and defensive … it makes me wonder how we will get through to any Mormon??
    It seems more and more to me these days that the struggle is no longer as much about getting the true facts put out there and noticed, but getting mormons to CARE about the facts and not justify/rationalize them. Incredible!

  2. Idaho Rich says:

    You hit the nail directly on the head. The LDS Church definitely likes to ‘spin’ every drop of publicity in the most positive way possible. I bet that when Romney suggested that one could learn about the temple via the internet, the Church’s PR department went ballistic.

    The idea that the Morg may get some negative press out of this is most likely very disturbing to the leadership.

  3. Keith Walker says:

    Hmm. I don’t seem to remember Christians getting hot and bothered over Presidential candidates who claim to be Christians. Does that mean that Mormons are afraid of criticism and Christians are not?

  4. Neal says:

    I couldn’t agree more!!! An open, honest dialogue about the Church, it’s teachings and practices will open up to all who are listening the things that are important, the things that are trivial, the things taht are vibrant, the things that are long dormant. I am not so naive as to believe that we will “settle things once and for all”. I have had many conversations with closed-minded critics of the church who find EVERY point of discussion unacceptable. On the other hand, I have had very fruitful conversations where two of us have disagreed on points of doctrine or history, have listened with intent and sincerity to the other and have ended the conversation with neither persuading the other, but neither condemning the other, either. I think that for all those who have intent to really know have an opportunity to learn. All those who wish to find fault and to demean and belttle will have their way as well. It has always been so. Mr. Williams is correct that there will be those who will speak ill of the church, it’s history and it’s doctrine. Some of those will have maliciaous intent. Others will be sincere critics. Those of us who find fulfillment by living the Gospel of Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be grateful for every opportunity to engage in honest, productive dialogue with those who truly want to know what we believe. Those who would use this opportunity to demean and belittle and destroy the faith of other Christians will show themselves quickly for their intent and can be disgarged. I appreciate those on this site whose criticisms and critiques are thoughtful and respectful. I hope it brings to the fore the beliefs, hopes and aspirations that we have in common while we discuss those points that may separate us.

  5. LLTexas says:

    Neal I keep wondering why so many mormon people refuse to face obvious facts about the church and yet you monitor these sites and present the same old tired excuses.

  6. Neal says:

    Man LLTexas — It is tought to win with you! A blog is a public forum that invites public comments. I have read critiques before that claim members of hte LDS church are afraid to read what is written and afraid to comment. So I find things that are interesting, add a viewpoint that is not combative but tries to add to the dialogue, and now I am criticized for “monitoring” blog sites and “making excuses”. This is especially ironic since my reply was AGREEING with the post! Maybe I will just let you guys talk to each other if there is no desire to entertain another point of view. Thanks for the clarification.

  7. LazyToad says:

    I’ve found all kinds of interesting people and articles since I set up a daily search for Mitt Romney related news. I never knew there were so many (or at least a really vocal few) that are concerned that I’m wasting away my life. I admire that fact that you’ve dedicated such resources to saving my lost soul. Please don’t be discouraged if I leave now and go see if Kentucky can pull it out against LSU.

  8. Ginger says:

    I’m with Neal (please don’t stop commenting–I LOVE your point of view!). This is pretty much the only “anti-Mormon” blog that I “monitor”. I like this one because there certainly IS thoughtful discussion and well-written articles. Also, I like the blog name–that’s what led me here to begin with. Very creative and funny to a coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking Mormon. I never claimed to be perfect…. Unfortunately, there are a few hateful comments, but I have never been one to get my feelings hurt if everyone in the world isn’t nice to me.

    keith walker said: “Hmm. I don’t seem to remember Christians getting hot and bothered over Presidential candidates who claim to be Christians. Does that mean that Mormons are afraid of criticism and Christians are not?”

    No one addressed this question. It could also be very confusing in its wording. Members of the LDS church are Christians. We believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Savior of mankind. He is my personal Lord and Redeemer. The correct way to differentiate between denominations is to refer to each by name (Baptist, Methodist, LDS, Catholic) or to group all Protestants together since in general, Protestants tend to group themselves together as “Christians”. In that case one would use the terms Protestant, LDS and Catholic as different parts of Christianity.

    Now, to answer the question: Mormons are certainly USED to criticism in America! The big deal now is the same big deal when JFK ran for President. JFK was the only non-Protestant President this country has EVER had. It was a HUGELY big deal that an Irish Catholic man was running for the highest office in the nation! Now another non-Protestant man is running for the same office.

    I don’t know if I’ll vote for Mitt Romney. I, for one, do not cast my vote based on religion. However, as a sociocultural anthropologist, my inner geek (okay, outer geek) is fascinated by the ways that different subgroups of American society are reacting to his canidacy! 🙂

  9. rick b says:

    Ginger, Just like I said to Neil, Your not A Christian, Your Gospel is not the same as I believe as a bible alone believing Christian.

    Not my Blog, so I cannot really get into an indepth back and forth debate, But Paul said very clearly in Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

    Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

    Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

    Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

    LDS Believe in many gods, Christians have one and one only, LDS teaches salvation through works and baptism, Christians teach Grace alone. LDS teaches we can be gods, christians teach we can NEVER become a God.

    This is only a few differences, but shows a different Gospel. It would be much more Honest if LDS openly admit this stuff from the start, sadly they dont, they simply say, I am a Christian.

    Point in case, Ginger you said We believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Savior of mankind. He is my personal Lord and Redeemer.

    Sounds good to the average believer who does not know mormonism, Yet your jesus is one of many gods and theses gods were once men who exalted to god hood, So if you have a false god, one not taught in scripture, how can he be the same one I serve?

    Then According to A of F 8 if you dont trust the Bible to be correctly translated, how can you believe the verses you read? How can they point you to Jesus if they are not correct. How can you even trust them to be telling you who Jesus is. Look over the past few replys I left to Neil. I point out more problems I find in mormonism. Rick b

  10. JoelBG says:

    Just wanted to say I appreciate Ginger’s comments and open recognition that this blog is “thoughful” and I’d add respectful. I like the focus on pertinent issues. However, I’m never quite sure what to do with the desire of some LDS people like Ginger to be lumped in as “Christian” alongside of Catholics and Evangelicals, as if Mormonism was just one more hue in the Christian spectrum. Especially since other Mormons who are knowledgeable about foundational LDS beliefs have asked me as a non-Mormon believer in Jesus to not even pray for them.
    When I asked “why” I was given this reason.

    “The LDS God has absolutely nothing to do with the God of other churches, they are totally different. What’s more, they should not even be compared – we are ofended when you compare your God with the LDS God.”

    This articulate and well-informed Mormon man sent an additional clarification a few days later:

    “My intent is not to say the LDS God is superior or better. … The God of the Latter-day Saints is totally different. This needs to be very clear,the Latter-day Saints do not believe in the same God as other churches, there is no comparison, they are not at all alike, not in form, nor in purpose, nor in doctrine, so this is not a case of arrogance, I would just like you to be more objective.”

    I for one appreciated this man’s forthrightness and thanked him for it (though I was still sad he did not want me or other Christians praying for him). As an evangelical Christian who has many Mormon friends and has sought to study Mormon belief from official church sources, I think he’s right on – the Mormon God and the Mormon Jesus are “different.” If you want to know specifics see MRM’s article here:

    So when LDS people, like Ginger, insist on the “Christian” label for the Mormon package, I have to wonder why the great desire for the package label when the contents are so markedly different. I don’t doubt her allegiance to the Mormon Jesus – but does she realize that Jesus as defined by LDS prophets is not the same being as the Jesus who is personal Lord and Saviour to millions of traditional, historic, biblical Christians down through the ages?

  11. Ginger says:

    Now that we’re completely off the original topic….

    Maybe it’s my Southern upbringing, but I would never DREAM of correcting someone when he or she says what they believe. Ask five Baptists a question on religion and you’ll get five different answers. The same with five Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, etc. No two people think alike, and no two express their thoughts the exact same way. Also, because of different upbringing and cultures, people don’t usually understand what people say the EXACT way it was meant to be understood. Human nature. rickb, I’m not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes or support some “agenda”. If I say I’m a Christian, who are you to say I’m not? My God created the earth. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. He is the Father of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world. Is that the same God you worship? It’s the same God the Muslims worship and yes, even the Jews.

    Psalms 82:6
    “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

    John 10:34
    “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”

    Read James 2:14-26, especially verses 17-18.
    “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 8th Article of Faith:
    “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

    That’s for the people who don’t know what rickb means by “A of F 8”. If someone asks me if I believe in the Bible, I say “yes”. rickb seems to think I’m lying if I don’t quote the 8th Article of Faith. By the way, the King James Version is the one we believe to be most correctly translated of all the available versions.

    joelbg, I’m weirded out that anyone would be offended that someone wants to pray for them! When anyone of ANY faith says that I’m in their prayers or that they’ll be praying for me, I say, “Thank you!” and I truly appreciate it. There are so many people in this world who have no faith at all and who don’t go out of their way to show concern for others that for people to open their hearts like that is a small miracle every time it happens.

    Your LDS acquaintance may be educated and articulate, but he sure doesn’t know how to make friends! 🙂 To go back to what I said before, his understanding and his ability to express it in the way he wants it understood aren’t meshing with mine. I’m not Mrs. Perfect Mormon by any stretch of the imagination, so I would never set myself up as an expert on the intricacies of my chosen religion or anyone else’s for that matter.

    I only know what I know and nothing more.

    I appreciate your comments and I’ll check out the site you posted.

  12. Neal says:

    rick b, I appreciate the strength of your conviction, and I recognize that there are differences in our beliefs. I call myself a Christian not because I fit your definition or interpretation, but because I have felt the absolute love of Jesus Christ, my Savior as I have sought to know Him and serve Him. I have experienced the warmth and power of His perfect forgiveness as I have many times confessed my shortcomings, my weaknesses, my sins and have committed to try harder to be like Him. I have felt His presence as I have served “even the least” of His children, and know I have been guided by His Holy Spirit as I have offered words of encouragement, hope and inspiration to those who are in desperate need of His love. I have felt Him carry me in times of distress and grief, and have witnessed His divine intervention when all other doors seemed closed. I engage in these discussions because I beleive that we live in a wicked world and that those of us who accept Christ and strive to follow His teachings in our lives have a great deal to offer a world spinning out of control. What binds us together is greater than that which pulls us apart. I fear that the spirit of contention and strife that permeates many (not all) of the messages I read is not conducive to the kind of peaceful, respectful, thoughtfull and productive dialogue that will allow Truth to be revealed and allow all of us to be edified. It doesn’t mean we can’t disagree, even strongly. But to disagree in a spirit of love and respect, recognizing that we all are children of God, tends, for me, to prove more fruitful and fulfilling.

    Anyway, I appreciate you pointing out that I don’t match your definition of a Christian, but not you or anybody can wrench from my soul my conviction of the reality of a living Christ and the influence of His perfect life, His infinite atonement and His perfect love that permeates my life every day. The fact that we differ in some of our beliefs doesn’t change that.

  13. rick b says:

    Neil and Ginger.

    LDS Members are always saying 3 Nephi 11:29, ‘He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil. First off, I would like to say, this is not taught anywhere in the Bible. So for those who believe that the BoM is another gospel and basically a work of the devil, then we believe the Devil would teach this.

    He is going to want you to believe this because then people will avoid answering hard questions that simply question their faith. The Idea of Contention being of the devil, if this were true, then I see a lot of problems in the Bible. Jesus and the apostles plus prophets in the OT did and said things that easily could be viewed as Contention.

    John the baptist said

    Mat 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

    Jesus said

    Mat 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

    Notice here in these verses, the People were offended because of him.

    Mat 13:56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this [man] all these things?

    Mat 13:57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

    Granted Jesus is both Perfect and Speaking the truth, they were offended by the Truth, but still People who claim they are Offended or I am being Contentions means nothing, It in my mind is simply a way to avoid the truth, by claiming it is not true but of the devil.

    Here is two more things Jesus said, that Could be taken as a spirit of Contention.

    Mat 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

    Mat 15:15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

    Mat 15:16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

    Jesus calls the leaders Blind, and says to His Disciples, Are ye also yet without understanding?
    In today’s words, Jesus would be saying, Are you also Stupid?

    Something Else Jesus said to his Disciples,

    Luk 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken

    He called his Disciples, Fools and slow of heart.

    Can you believe Jesus did this!

    John 2:15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables

    He whipped the people and overturned their stuff, if that is not mean and a form of Contention I don’t know what is.

    We read in Scripture
    Galatians 4:16 puts it, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” I could say that, because I share the truth with you and you get mad, you feel it is Contention.

    Paul says in
    2Ti 2:17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

    2Ti 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

    Paul points out these two people as teaching false Doctrine and says it is a canker. Paul even goes so far as to name names. This could also be taken as Contention.

    The Bible tells us in 2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. We are told to REBUKE, REPROVE, EXHORT. These things can all be taken as forms of Contention.

    Now lets look at what the LDS prophets and Scripture teach.


    D and C 66:7 68:1,9 go into the church’s public or private to discuss this stuff. D and C 6:9-11 says convince us of our error if we have any.

    Why do I get accused of being contentious for doing what the scriptures teach. Now let me add this, would you agree it is good to listen to the mormon prophets? If so then I am. Read

    pg 188 of doct of salvation vol 1 I quote. “CHURCH STANDS OR FALLS WITH JOSEPH SMITH. MORMONISM, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. their is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed: his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false”.

    Why if your president and prophet said to do this and I believe it, I am in the wrong?. Did your Prophet not read that verse about contention? Let me also add what the apostle Orson Pratt said.

    The Seer pg 15. I quote ” if we cannot convince you by reason nor by the word of God that YOUR religion is wrong we will not persecute you”.

    Notice he is speaking to people of others faiths. And he states he is trying to show they are wrong through talks, but says if we cannot convince you. Well I don’t feel I have persecuted anyone if they disagree. Let me add what else he said.

    I quote Orson pratt still pg 15.

    “we ask from you the same generosity–protect us in the exercise of our religious rights–CONVINCE US of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds”.

    I am just trying to look at mormonism in a logical way and point out what I believe are problems. I find it interesting that mormons of old were willing to tell others they were wrong or be open to talks, But it does not appear to be that way today. Then even after what Orson Pratt said, he does and feels should be done with the LDS I am still accused of being Contentious for sharing.

    Ok this is stuff your Prophets have said about Christians. And if this is true, how can you say your a christian. If it is false, then your prophets were wrong, so could they be wrong about other stuff? Also regardless of whether it is true or not, could this be taken as a form of contention?

    Here is what some of the former LDS Prophets and presidents have said about christians and I Quote:
    “B Young: “with a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called christian world” (Journal of Discourses 8:199). I quote 3rd president John Taylor (Brigham Young quotes Mr. Taylor) “Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell, the eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and kicked onto the earth” (J.O.D 6:176). I quote Heber C. Kimball “Christians-those poor, miserable priests Brother Brigham was speaking about-some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth” (J.O.D 5:89).” then we can add the first vision by Joseph Smith. If God really did speak to him then he said all the christian creeds are an abomination in his sight. rick b

  14. Neal says:

    Rick B — I have never said there was not a time for boldness — in fact, I complimented you on your passion. But you paint only one side of Christ. He also sat with the publicans ans sinners. He taught gently and lovingly to those who would listen. If you truly find me to be in sin and error and I exhibit a willingness to dialogue and an openess to discuss, I would suggest that the right approach may be to dialogue back so you can teach me. To the wicked who are unwilling to engage, a more strident approach is appropriate. I am not knocking all contention, I am only stating that I won’t engage in it. It is not worth my time.

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