Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mormon FAIR-Cast 85: Foundations of fundamentalist polygamy

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What is the connection between some of the modern polygamist groups and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? In this episode of Religion Today that originally aired on February 26, 2012, Martin Tanner discusses the arguments used by some fundamentalist groups to justify their practice of polygamy, and why these arguments are inconsistent with the modern doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This recording was used by permission of KSL Radio and does not necessarily represent the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of FAIR.

Mormon FAIR-Cast 84: Journey of Faith: The New World

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This is a collection of audio clips from the 2007 movie entitled “Journey of Faith: The New World,” directed by Peter Johnson and produced by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.

Thoughtful insights from 32 top scholars continue the journey into the Book of Mormon’s thousand-year span, aiding understanding of this sacred text. Mormon’s description of the land, religious history, culture, and traditions create a fascinating mosaic. Stunningly beautiful images filmed on location in Guatemala and Mexico combined with the art of Joseph Brickey illuminate the right culture of the Book of Mormon.

The video includes audio tracks in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Special features address specific topics such as the law of Moses and the Book of Mormon, DNA and the Book of Mormon, language and the Book of Mormon, metal in Book of Mormon lands, and more.  The full video runs approximately 90 minutes and can be purchased at the FAIR Bookstore.

These clips were posted by permission of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

Sally Hemings and the Gods Themselves

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Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens

[Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain]

—     Friedrich Schiller, The Maid of Orléans

The vicarious temple ordinances performed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Mormons”) are back in the news.  This time, it is because someone has reportedly sealed Sally Hemings to Thomas Jefferson. (Hemings was a slave owned by Jefferson.  She bore children that have Jefferson DNA.  [1])

As usually happens with such things, the media and the blogosphere are a-bubble.  Some are well-intentioned expressions of concern, others are ill-informed, and some seem to just want to pile on and make the Church look bad, or use this as an opportunity to push their own reforming agenda on the Church.

The unspoken assumption seems to be that the Church can be “shamed” or at least “public-pressured” into “doing the right thing.”  In this case, the right thing would presumably be not performing vicarious sealing of slaves to former masters.  (The more hostile want temple work vastly curtailed or stopped altogether, but we’ll leave them to one side—it isn’t going to happen.)

This is not, however, simply one more case of “Mormon institutional insensitivity” to go with performing temple rites for Holocaust victims (despite what some have suggested).  LDS policy forbids performing Holocaust victims’ temple rites.  The people who did so had to circumvent fairly significant warnings and technological obstacles to do so.  (Those obstacles have since been increased even further.)

Likewise, it has never been LDS policy to seek out female slaves and seal them to their former masters and/or rapists.

Now, I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of not sealing slaves to masters.  The idea is obscene.  I don’t know any sensible person that would endorse it.  And that, unfortunately, is precisely the problem—I said sensible person.

Let me explain.

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Mormon FAIR-Cast 82: Evidences for the Book of Mormon

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In 2005, a film was released titled: “The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon”. Produced by an evangelical Christian ministry, the primary purpose of the film was to present arguments against the authenticity of The Book of Mormon, a text sacred to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the LDS Church believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon are authentic ancient scriptures revealed by God to prophets, and join with other Christians in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is an audio version of the video presentation produced by FAIR that addresses some of the concerns raised by the film. FAIR’s video presentation can be viewed on YouTube.