Friday, April 25, 2014
I used to wonder what the world had against Mormons and the LDS Church. Ever since Joseph Smith's first vision in 1820 persecution has hounded the Restoration. Why? Why would anyone turn a 14 year old into a pariah for having a vision? Why would anyone attack peaceful, industrious settlers? Why would a governor drive a religious group from the state? Why all the rumors about Mormon boys being born with horns? Why the accusation that Mormons aren't Christian? Why all the disinformation in the media? Why would anyone mistreat a young missionary?
Remember how Satan bound young Joseph's tongue to keep him from praying? That's the kind of asshole we're dealing with. He hates the work of God. He hates the truth. He controls the hearts of man. He appeals to the minds of everyone who wants the easy way and not the straight and narrow. Satan sucks! It's his evil influence (and God's curse against Adam and Eve) (and human nature, which was designed by God) that makes people persecute the One True Church and the saints.
The problem is that we have no reason to believe persecution is even the slightest indication of God's truth under attack. We don't point to the persecution of pre-contact indigenous Americans as evidence of closeness to God. We don't look at the American institution of slavery as evidence that Blacks had the truth. We don't study the ways of the persecuted Aborigines of Australia either. We don't look at those living in slave labor-like conditions today and draw the conclusion that Satan is trying to suppress their saintly souls. We don't look at the opposition faced by other churches and faith traditions to determine their truthfulness. The very idea of using persecution as a measuring stick of truthfulness is absurd - UNLESS IT'S APPLIED TO MORMONISM.
Let me repeat that last point: in the Mormon brain, persecution is only a valid signifier of truth if applied to Mormonism (and sometimes Christianity at large).
Now please don't misunderstand me. Violence, oppression, litigation, misinformation, slander, etc. exist and can all factor in to the unjustifiably adverse treatment of other people. Willfully hurting other people because they don't accept all of your faith claims is immoral, but disagreeing with and challenging someone's faith claims is an everyday part of life and a huge part of the learning process.
Being asked to shoulder the burden of proof is not persecution. Having that proof examined is not persecution. Having that proof rejected on the basis of logic is not persecution. Having someone pointing out that your claims are highly suspicious is not persecution. Having someone speak openly about the lack of proof behind your claims is not persecution.
But it does give you a shit feeling when someone doesn't except your claims at face value. And it feels like shit when someone rejects what you consider solid proof. It especially feels awful when you've based who you are and all of your life plans on those claims. It's easy to feel attacked when everything you think about yourself and the world is based on something so many others find questionable, if not ridiculous.
I wouldn't doubt that having two teenagers show up at your door telling you your brain and life are all wrong might feel equally shitty. Some might even feel a bit persecuted. Especially if you're, say, homosexual or something.