How religious sects can be a farce for embarrassment

Read this ridiculous article:

https://blog.oup.com/2020/04/how-religious-sects-can-be-a-force-for-good/

How religious sects can be a force for good

On Sunday, 29 March, Russell M. Nelson, president of the 16-million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released a video from Salt Lake City calling on church members everywhere to join in a fast “to pray for relief from the physical, emotional, and economic effects of this global pandemic.”

Some 71 years before, on 6 April 1949, members of the True Jesus Church around the world responded to the call of their leader, Wei Yisa, to fast and “pray for peace.” Communist forces were advancing on the city of Nanjing, where the church headquarters was located. Shortages were severe and prices were skyrocketing.

“It is hard to buy even one grain of rice,” reported an article in the Holy Spirit Times, the church’s international periodical.

One month’s worth of contributions is not enough to cover basic needs such as a day’s vegetables. It is not enough to cover even one day’s postage. We have begun to take good wood beams intended for building and sell them for firewood.

A worldwide fast as a response to a life-threatening crisis, just as spring was beginning to warm the days and coax bright colors from the earth, is a lot for these two churches to have in common. But the parallels go far beyond this.

Both the True Jesus Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are restorationist churches, claiming to have restored the true gospel of Jesus Christ after centuries of apostasy. The Latter-day Saint tradition starts in the spring of 1820 when a New York farmboy named Joseph Smith said he had a vision in which God the Father and Jesus Christ told him none of the existing churches were true. The True Jesus Church tradition starts nearly a century later in the spring of 1917, when a rural northeastern Chinese man named Wei Enbo said he had a vision in which Jesus Christ commanded him to “correct the Church.”

Both Smith and Wei were charismatic leaders who claimed to receive divine revelation, were reported to have performed miraculous feats of healing, frequently got on the wrong side of the law, and died young. Both were succeeded by pragmatic leaders (Brigham Young and Wei Yisa) who solidified church institutions and ensured the movement’s long-term survival.

Both churches have continued to thrive and expand globally, though they remain tiny as far as world religious movements are concerned. In 2017 the True Jesus Church, now with 1.5 million members, commemorated the 100th anniversary of Wei Enbo’s founding vision. This year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claiming 16 million members, celebrates the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s first vision (coincidentally, the day Smith formally organized the church in 1830 was 6 April—the same day as the True Jesus Church fast in 1949).

Restorationist churches are by nature exclusivist. For instance, Wei Enbo taught that no one could be saved unless they were baptized face-down and unless they had spoken in tongues. This exclusivist certainty leads to a universalistic orientation. In other words, the more a religious tradition insists that specific particulars of theology and practice are absolutely essential, the more likely it is to have mission outposts everywhere. If you believe your church is the only complete form of Christianity, when you move to another city or country, the local cathedral or neighborhood megachurch will not meet your needs. Wherever you go, you will seek out fellow believers like yourself, and if there are none, you will begin to seek converts.

Small, exclusivist religious groups tend to irritate people around them. Throughout their history, fellow Christians have labeled these two churches as disreputable and cultish. The Latter-day Saint movement began in upstate New York, but was driven west by flare-ups of mob violence and state suppression. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Communist party-state banned the True Jesus Church, imprisoning leaders and forcing rank-and-file members to meet secretly in their houses.

It’s sometimes difficult for upstart religious movements to strike the right balance between what sociologist Armand Mauss has called the twin dilemmas of respectability and disrepute. This is evident with the case of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea. Also led by a charismatic individual, also accused of being a cult, and also with a membership that likes to do things together, the church is now under fire.

Yet the resonance between the worldwide fasts of the True Jesus Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the spring of 1949 and 2020 suggests that such small but distinctive religious traditions also have something uniquely positive to offer. In the aftermath of World War II and today at the beginning of the twenty-first century, concepts such as “global arena” or “global community” are certainly viable. Yet in actuality, with real people, global scale tends to be overwhelming. It is nearly impossible to cast a global net without being sunk by the size of the catch. Small religious movements, however, are better positioned to pull it off.

Like Wei Yisa’s appeal to the True Jesus Church members in 1949, Russell M. Nelson’s call for a fast at the beginning of the first week of April 2020 went out to believers in such places as China, Japan, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. Tens of thousands, possibly even millions of stomachs around the world went empty in concert. A fast offering was also collected to aid humanitarian efforts to ease the blow COVID-19 is dealing to the most vulnerable.

In times of global pandemic, inhabitants of the planet realize how inextricably we are connected, and also how little we usually have to do with each other, given vast divides in language, culture, space, and experience. In times like these, believers in tiny global communities who have long been eager to call each other sister and brother offer a sense of what is possible.

First, how can it be “good” to set up and promote sects within ANY religion that divide followers of the same religion against each other? That only appeals to egomaniacs and idiots.

I addressed this nonsense here:

In most cases, you must be a CHRISTIAN and nothing else. Do NOT claim as your primary religious identity any subdivision within Christianity, such as Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, or anything else. You would be a Christian who might go to a Baptist or Catholic church, but that’s it. Reject as necessary or justified any division within the Christian community that claims to be the one true religion. It is only CHRISTIANITY itself that ever should have made that claim. Not Mormonism, not the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor any other such radical “reformist” or “restorationist” group within Christianity. These are simply additional divisions that do more damage to the credibility of Christianity itself.

I always thought it was the height of hubris that efforts to reform the Christian churches in the past, like that of Martin Luther and John Calvin during the Protestant Reformation were considered inadequate, but only with someone like Joseph Smith could restoration of true Christianity be accomplished and that only that specific path within Christianity could bring salvation to followers. That actually contradicts what Jesus said.

Matthew 16:18
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Emphasis mine)

Also:

Mark 9:38-40
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”
“Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me.
Anyone who is not against us is for us.

So a Christian is a Christian, period. All those conflicts and even outright persecutions of various Christian factions by other Christians were a violation of Jesus’ true teachings.

Even more stupid is the commandments of religious leaders to merely pray and fast rather than actually get up and do some practical work to deal with a crisis, like the current coronavirus pandemic. Even the many people that have been thrown out of work recently can still go volunteer at hospitals to help treat patients, but that option was not even mentioned.

Oh, wait….

Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

So…..it IS possible to do miracles in Jesus’s name but still be rejected by him in the end. You know, that could refer to charlatans like Joseph Smith and other cult founders that have turned believers in Jesus against each other.

Of course, such inconsistency even in the explicit teachings of Jesus himself would explain the fragmented nature of Christians around the world too.

 

Who was Joseph Smith?

Joseph Smith…..
……was born on December 23, 1805, in the town of Sharon, Vermont.

…..lived as a teenager in the “burned-over district” of upstate New York.

……was originally known as a treasure seeker and a teller of tall tales among his friends.

……married Emma Hale on January 18, 1827, despite the objections of her father.

……had a total of nine children with his wife, only four of whom lived to adulthood.

……claimed to have been visited by an angel named Moroni who instructed him to found a new Christian church and locate golden plates.

……..allegedly used the golden plates to write the Book of Mormon.

……named his new religious movement the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and its members “Mormons”.

…….founded the Mormon Church on April 6, 1830 with five other men.

……moved to Kirtland, Ohio, then to Jackson County, Missouri and finally to Nauvoo, Illinois to build up his religous community.

……..claimed that God now permitted polygamy in the Mormon church.

………faced bitter opposition from non-Mormons almost everywhere he and the Mormons settled.

……….was arrested for ordering the destruction of a printing press called the Nauvoo Expositor that had published criticism of Mormonism.

……….was killed on June 27, 1844 with his brother Hyrum in a gun battle against a lynch mob at the local jail of Carthage, Illinois.

A useless effort about Mormonism

Read this story:

http://kutv.com/news/local/exclusive-imagine-dragons-lds-singer-urges-change

LDS rock star wants to be voice of change from inside Mormon church

It is commendable that Reynolds wants to defend the dignity of teenagers in the LGBTQ community, but the most effective way to do that is to abandon Mormonism altogether and attempt to destroy totally the political influence of that religious movement. Then work to dismantle bit by bit the cult itself. It simply shouldn’t exist. Its false and irrational dogmas must be totally debunked from top to bottom, replaced by objective truth.

The homophobia of Mormonism is bad enough. What about the blatant racism in the Book of Mormon itself? Will Reynolds address that too? Discrimination is discrimination and bigotry is bigotry. We should stand up against ALL of it and tolerate NONE of it, even if it comes from religion.

There is an obvious alternative for LGBTQ members who were raised Mormon. They can leave it and join Unitarian Universalism. They can add their stories to the many others here: Ex-Mormons. They can go here and learn about others who have done the same:
https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/

I really do not understand people who insist on staying within a religion like that. Even mainstream Christianity is preferable to Mormonism, no?

 

The Baha’i Faith, Mormonism, and Reddit

Two weeks ago, I made an account on reddit, yet another social media site. I immediately dove into battles with the Baha’i bigot and backstabber Scott Hakala (who was using the false name DavidbinOwen but was exposed anyway), until I got so sick of his arguments and self-serving bullcrap that I finally blocked him. He was infesting the Ex-Baha’i forum, which as a Baha’i propaganda minister he certainly had no business being in.

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A Mormon for President?

Mitt Romney is shaping up to be the Republican front-runner for President. By all accounts and

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

appearances, he should be the ideal President candidate for conservatives: he is a successful businessman, he managed the state of  Massachusetts as governor according to consistent conservative principles, and he even managed the Salt Lake City winter Olympics, making it a huge success.

There’s just one problem: he is a Mormon. And for members of the Religious Right, which is dominated by orthodox Christians, that can be a stumbling block. Of course, it would have been better for the credibility of the conservatives if they had never included the Religious Right; using religious matters to judge people and policies in our government violates the spirit if not the letter of church-state separation.

When I was a Baptist, there was a film shown at my church titled “The God Makers” which depicted Mormonism as a cult infested with pagan elements. This is ironic; Jews could say similar things about Christianity itself. Today, having rejected Christianity, I find those arguments about Mormonism pointless, but I do have my own reasons to oppose any political influence the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints may have:

https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/the-book-of-mormon-is-a-p-o-s/

http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-10-27/bay-area/17137948_1_mormons-salt-lake-city-based-church-ballot-measure

Racism, homophobia, and whatever other forms of bigotry the Mormon Church may endorse should be eradicated from secular politics in America.  Nobody who would take the Book of Mormon seriously as scripture should be trusted to run the world’s most powerful democracy. We should have some standards for truth, logic, and ethics from our leaders. Thus, I will never vote for a Mormon for President, even if he was not a Republican.

The Credibility Effect

There is a website, stuffmadesimple.com, that claims to take complex subjects and make  them easy for the average person to understand. But in doing so, it seems to have some underhanded agendas.

First, note that it puts out some videos that are actually very useful and full of valid information, like these two about diabetes and swine flu:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGL6km1NBWE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGWOAL1PTl4

It soon becomes obvious that the people running that website are Mormons and are using it, and a sister site, to teach the Mormon religion:

http://mormonsmadesimple.com/index.html

Certainly, the other videos made by this group are consistent with Mormon attitudes. It is common knowledge that Mormons are overwhelmingly conservative in politics, are heavily involved in genealogical research, and are hostile to the idea of same-sex marriage.

I have dealt with Mormonism earlier. For that reason, I don’t respect the makers of the Made Simple video series. It seems they are trying to take advantage of what I call the Credibility Effect.

The Credibility Effect is when someone or some institution that puts out valid or useful information at an earlier time tries to use the reputation built up from that to entice people to accept information that is actually dubious, even downright false or nonsensical, for ideological or religious purposes.

Here is another example of that effect in action:  https://dalehusband.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/shane-killian-sells-out/

No matter how noble or right you appear to be at certain times, that doesn’t mean your claims should EVER be taken at face value. ALL claims from ALL people should be tested and when those claims fail the test, the claims should be discarded.

The Book of Mormon is a P.O.S.

P.O.S. = Pile Of Shit

As a rule, I try to respect different religious beliefs and their followers even while disagreeing with them, usually because most religious believers I know have good qualities I admire and want to encourage, and you don’t do that by rejecting them because of one or two issues that one may overlook on a casual basis. Most Christians, Muslims, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and Atheists I can respect, as long as they respect me. But there are exceptions to my tolerance. I completely reject, deny and refuse to accept in any way the Book of Mormon and its teachings, period and feel only pity for Mormons themselves that may not yet know the truth about that book. And here is why:

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Mormonism and the Baha’i Faith

Yikes! Reading this testimony, I wonder how many people lost their faith in Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, because another religion accepted as valid by it, such as Christianity or Islam, was also debunked in the eyes of the now ex-Baha’i.

http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Talk/talk.religion.bahai/2008-06/msg00026.html Continue reading