Reason #169: Because Mormons call my books “religious pornography”
When I was a Mormon . . .I could not understand why anyone would oppose an organization that did so many good things for people. However, I never considered the implications of . . .an early anti-Christian book published by the LDS Church, the one in which Joseph Smith said he was told about all Christian churches: “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong. . .all their creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt. . .”[i] That of course is standard Mormon doctrine from the official version of the First Vision itself in the Pearl of Great Price, firing the first shot in this battle directly at the character and doctrines of Christians.
By name it [the LDS Church] has attacked all the major denominations at some point in time. The following is a summary of the statements made by the Mormon church and Mormon leaders through the years: all churches are wrong; Satan sits at the head of Christian churches; none of the Christian churches have authority to act in God’s name; none is inspired; none can save souls; marriages performed by them are illegal and children by those marriages are illegitimate; the Roman Catholic Church is the mother of harlots; the Protestants are the harlot’s daughter and apostate; the churches are the ‘whore of Babylon”; the Bible has parts removed or is mistranslated; the false Christian gods bear the same name as the true Gods of the Bible—Beyond this they have little resemblance (to true Christianity.)[ii]
“Abomination,” “corrupt” – not merely the language of the nineteenth century. The defense of historical Christianity against Mormon claims was characterized by one General Authority as “theological pornography that is damaging to the spirit.”[iii] This man, Vaughn J. Featherstone, advised as do many LDS officials that members refuse to read materials critical of the Church.
Do some anti-Mormon materials deserve the label of “pornography”? Some, unfortunately, do deserve that characterization — not because they dealt with sexual themes but because they, like trashy demeaning pictures, put unsubstantiated or exaggerated disturbing images into the mind. Some of the anti-Mormon materials of the 1980s in particular (I’ll call them “gasoline literature,” others have called it “New Age Anti-Mormonism” because of emphasis on a link between the LDS Church and satantic forces) which used overstatement, took words out of context and did not properly document their claims could qualify for that label. Like pornography, some were sensationalistic; and even worse, they encouraged a kind of cock-sure and superior attitude in their readers. Such things make me cringe. They represent the extreme end of the spectrum.[iv] Others are characterized by being merely jarring and confrontational. (However, in spite of their excesses, some of the most unrestrained still have brought conviction to the hearts of some LDS readers.)[v]
The “middle ground” of literature critiquing Mormon doctrine and practices is honorably exemplified by the work of Sandra Tanner and her late husband Jerald.[vi] Though their frustrations with people and things Mormon sometimes show through their writing (as is true in the epistles of the apostle Paul), they are scrupulous in the documentation of their claims. They were integral in my own exit from Mormonism and have been not only rigorous in their research, they have turned a spotlight on the writings of others who out of enthusiasm, sloppiness, pride or other motives have not been accurate in their own claims against Mormonism.
For more information, see The Mormon Mirage 3rd Edition: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today (Zondervan, 2009)
[i] Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith – History 1:19.
[ii] Ex-Mormon John R. Farkas quoted by Edmond C. Gruss and Lane A. Thuet, What Every Mormon (and Non-Mormon) Should Know (n.p., Xulon Press, 2006), 17. Farkas has footnoted each of these claims in the Gruss-Thuet book.
[iv] My observation, after spending some time on Internet message boards where ex-Mormons post about their experiences, is that even the vehemence of the most extreme “anti-Mormon spokespersons” of the last two decades pales in comparison to the rage, resentment, and sense of betrayal expressed online by many “regular” ex-Mormons in speaking of the LDS Church.
[v] Some people regard the work of Dr. Walter Martin as being too extreme, for instance, while others such as ex-Mormon Cindy Baer count him as one of the most positive influences on her. See my book Why We Left Mormonism: Eight People Tell Their Stories (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990), 140.
For more information, see The Mormon Mirage 3rd Edition: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today(Zondervan, 2009). Also available as an audiobook and as an expanded-text E-book for Nook, Kindle and other reading devices.