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Ear to the Ground

Mormon Economics and the GOP

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Posted on Feb 15, 2012
violet.blue (CC-BY)

Mormonism is not the quintessential “American religion,” to use Tolstoy’s words, just because it got its start in upstate New York. The church has long embodied notions and practices that drive contemporary American capitalism. And those ideas, as author Chris Lehmann demonstrated last October in Harper’s Magazine, remain central to the shaping of national economic policy. —ARK

Chris Lehmann in Harper’s Magazine:

Perhaps most important, Mormons, unlike adherents of most mainline Protestant denominations, have very little ambivalence about the acquisition of wealth. One scours the endless, incantatory pages of Joseph Smith’s revelation in vain for any suggestion that wealth complicates the spiritual lives of believers. Not for Mormons the queasy business about the camel going through the needle’s eye before a rich man enters the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead, paradise is pretty much set aside for the enterprising rich, whose upward mobility is thought to persist even in the three-tiered scheme of the Mormon afterlife.

These innovations in economic theology have long seemed a bit quaint—akin to the picture-book accounts in LDS scripture of wars and dynasties. But in recent years, and especially with the G.O.P.’s tilt to the right and the rise of the Tea Party, such beliefs no longer appear so fanciful. Indeed, the Mormon infatuation with maximal investor returns and precious metals has shaded steadily into the center of conservative mainstream thought.

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By heterochromatic, February 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

anyway, Mormonism as the end-all of all human existence is probably no better
than 50-50, Jasper…..it might be the Army of the Twelve Monkeys that does it.

Report this

By Jasperdundee, February 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

freezer burn and blueokie -

Actually guys…I’m bored.  It’s seems to me that you two are in your mid to upper
twenties which means, with your new-found ability to express yourselves with
college knowledge you feel as though your opinions translate into truth, that you
know everything, that your perspective is king.  Which is why you speak in
sweeping absolutes to benignly prove your “perfect” objectivist view in various
subjects…exciting with others your age and maturity level but boring to those
older and MUCH wiser.  If you are older than I have surmised and still stuck in this
mode of expression, well, that’s a real bummer.

You will (hopefully) learn within the next 5-15 years that opining in sweeping
absolutes is silly and unproductive.  Once you learn to express yourselves in a
humble manner…humility does not mean weak or powerless (quite the opposite
actually) rather it simply means you have the confidence requisite in recognizing
you don’t know everything and have allowed yourself to learn.  Wisdom is several
levels up friends, aim for that…trust me it’s much more fulfilling there.

At some point, instead of looking at a black painting and quickly proclaiming that
the painting was painted by a simpleton and is thereby worthless, you will
consider that perhaps you are oblivious to the painter’s intent and attempt to
derive more from the artwork…once you have you can then proceed in offering
remarks that are worthwhile.  You’re not there yet.

To be honest, I would be surprised if you’ve read this far with anything resembling
attentiveness and consideration before pounding away with angst on your
keyboard that I am deflecting the issue or utilizing some tactic…i’ve moved
beyond that friends

Best of luck on your search for truth…that is, if it’s a priority.

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By Jasperdundee, February 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment

Freezer burn & blueokie, I am unable to respond until this evening!

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By mrfreeze, February 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Blueokie & Lafayette - Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You both do a great job of focusing-in on the annoying habit of the Mormons conflating their religious doctrine with some sort of capitalist mainfest destiny. One of the things I couldn’t articulate well in my earlier posts was just how oppressive it is to live among a bunch of “white, rich, wonderful” capitalists whose whole MO was a business ethic based on “membership” in their exclusive little club.

And Blueokie - I spent my teenage and early adult life with “my friends” in Utah but guess what? I grew up in TX as a boy with “my other friends,” the Southern Baptists.

It seems as if my formative life was spent observing and dealing with some intensely self-absorbed (self-congratulatory) religious communities. Fortunately….whew…I’ve lived in Seattle where we enjoy the lowest “religious affiliation” in the U.S..

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By Blueokie, February 17, 2012 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Jasper - Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you found, or were born into, a belief system that works for you and your belief that your humanity is a direct result of that belief system. 

The problem is that whenever certain articles arise there are always posters who appear to only discuss that topic from a defensive point of view.  When religion, or any other emotionally charged topic comes up, its advocates always scream hate speech, or discrimination about their viewpoint not being the
universally accepted norm.  You set your notification on new comments, and attack anyone who disagrees with your sense of emotional worth.  You will not be seen discussing any other topic unless a less than 100% supportive article on your particular subject comes back up.

You want to have a “rational” discussion about something, that’s all well and good.  But it is impossible to have a rational discussion with someone whose ideology dismisses rationality out of hand because their religion or cause has far and away too many rational holes to fill (Kierkegaard’s “Great Leap of Faith”).

Personally I was raised in an area dominated by Southern Baptists, its easy to recognize the “Freedom of Religion” doctrine anywhere there’s a dominant sect as that behavior is near universal.  (Homework assignment: Why are they “Southern” Baptists?  Hint: It coincides with events in American History circa
1860.)  As with them, you are defensive about aspects of your faith that you don’t want discussed by none believers as we “just don’t get it”. 

There is nothing personal in comments about Mormonism, or for that matter any number of the subjects that single issue posters troll this and other strings on.  If you are uncomfortable with some of the views expressed here then maybe you should work within your organization to change their views.  Its childish to say that you are free to spend a great deal of money to overturn Prop. 8 in California, demand the Air Force Academy become a proselytism battleground between yourselves and Fundamentalist Evangelicals, or, as this article explains, the economy should be run by and for rich WHITE MEN in the hierarchy of the Mormon church, when the key to your argument is that its what God wants, and only your group knows what God wants and expect no negative reaction.  The argument that disagreeing with you is disagreeing with God makes no sense when God has so many advocates on all sides of every issue.  If you don’t want people in your business, stay out of theirs. 

See you next time an article comes up that doesn’t claim Mormonism as the be all and end all of human existence.

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By Lafayette, February 17, 2012 at 1:17 am Link to this comment

GOD’S WILL? 

CL’s Harper Mag: Indeed, Skousen’s (Mormon) faith has been key to shaping his own anti-Keynesian outlook. “One of the reasons I rejected Keynesian economics and Paul Samuelson’s textbook,” he recalls, “is that I immediately felt they were contrary to church doctrine.

And

Above Post: Instead, paradise is pretty much set aside for the enterprising rich, whose upward mobility is thought to persist even in the three-tiered scheme of the Mormon afterlife.

This is the sort of irrational dogma that should give any rational individual the shivers. When religion refutes science, it almost always loses – Gallileo being a poignant case.

If Mormons want to believe that God blesses each of us with monetary rewards for keeping his faith by indulging in free enterprise, then that is their business (pun intended). But this sort of dogma can be taken a bit far – like the 40 virgins waiting for the young Muslim terrorist who will blow himself up in a crowded market in Pakistan.

What else? Mormonism is the only true path to prosperity? C’mon, now pull the other leg.

None of this makes any rational sense. Which is why religion must remain divorced from politics, if we are to remain a secular nation without the distortions of religious fundamentalism. Believe what you will, but keep it out of economic policy and the administration of a nation.

Our founding fathers did not write into the Constitution the separation of church and state. They thought it self-evident from the sad, sad history of Europe that religion should not interfere with secular matters (like economic policy making), but both should be equally enjoyed for all to pursue as each may want.

It seems like we are forgetting what history had taught them.

POST SCRIPTUM

If we must hark back to the scriptures, then let’s not forget this, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 19:16-19)

Which is the basic foundation stone of an egalitarian society where exists both economic fairness and minimal disparity amongst classes. For that to happen, a nation needs far more than just God’s Will.

It requires effective taxation.

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By mrfreeze, February 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

Jasperdundee - Perhaps you don’t “get it.” There’s no need to defend Mormonism by hurling stones at its critics. There is absolutely nothing I’ve written or described on this thread that is untrue….not even an exaggeration really. To deflect the discussion to me and my apparent “misunderstandings” or “issues” with the church is a tactic with which I’m quite familiar having lived in UT for a long, long time. So let me cut to the chase shall I:

You know, as do I that Mormons spend a lot of time parsing both the bible (which is a bunch of baloney) and the Book of Mormon (which is utter nonsense and which Mark Twain got completely right) in order to “prove” that all other churches and spiritual beliefs are an apostasy and that your religion is the only true faith. You know this. You know I know it. You know many others know it. And you also know that those of us who have lived among “the latter day saints” endure the most insidious sort of suubjective persecution. It’s always about “the church” being right. 

The reason my rant is so personal is because mormonism is “personal”....and it’s political….and it’s profoundly dishonest and coercive and bullying at its core.

I’m sincerely sorry if I’ve offended some of you with my blunt comments on this thread. Consider it a “knock on the door” by a missionary who desperately wants you to know that sometimes there’s a reason to be on high alert when someone comes knocking on your door…....

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By Jasperdundee, February 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment

heterochomatic-

Touche!  I did smile upon reading your Danite sentence, truth be known…

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By Jasperdundee, February 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm Link to this comment

frozen

“nothing could be further from the truth” is the extent of your argument?  Wow!
How convincing!  Your debative tactic of “just believe what a vindictive person
says” is brilliant!

Ready for some reasoning dialogue or are you still wishing to derive joy from
having little to offer?

The following is just in case you are Christian:

“So many people” didn’t like Jesus when He was on earth either, and still don’t. 
Therefore He must have been an evil charlatan.  Quite a hole in your implication
isn’t there?

Report this

By heterochromatic, February 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

Jasper, first off, indeed bless your wife’s heart.

other than that, I would have hoped that people would recognize from my
comments that I really don’t share freeze’s big-time bad feelings toward people
following today’s LDS and that I was lampooning comments widely offered in this
country deriding other religions .


as Mormons are sooo widely recognized as being exceptionally adept at offering
and recognizing humor, I surprised that there might be any confusion.

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By Jasperdundee, February 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

bluokie -

Your inability to express yourself properly took over towards the end, huh?  Just
keep practicing, friend.  At some point your wispy opinions based on other’s wispy
experiences will appear frail to you as well.  Perhaps as you practice thinking you’ll
determine to develop a concrete mental construct from which you will
embarrassingly realize the ridiculousness of your post…

Your friend may indeed have come across some Mormons who don’t really
understand their own religion’s teachings on how to appreciate and treat
others…truth be told, there are many who don’t.  But that’s the case in just about
every organization, if not all.  But you are making the same flimsy case against
yourself…can you grasp that?

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By Jasperdundee, February 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

First to heterochromatic (and Freeze) - fair question…no I would not begin to
convey that Freeze is lying about his experiences.  There are mean, hateful, awful
people in likely every organization or group…but these people are generally not a
good indication of the whole, because most people are decent and lovely.  Even,
surprisingly, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!  I do not
know him well enough to fully judge his reaction either. 

However, If a person implies that EVERYONE in an organization is awful, hateful or
judgmental or even that the vast majority of them are…then I tend to believe the
person is either exaggerating grossly to strengthen their argument because they
are still hauling a grudge (grudgers add pricklier details as time goes by to
maintain the grudge and engender sympathy)…or that person is the type that will
jump through HOOPS OF FIRE for the opportunity to be offended and then
proclaim that offense from the rooftops (also with the requisite exaggerations). 
People that are hurt and angry lash out with wide generalizations stated as fact…
an example would be me sobbing to my wife during an argument that she ALWAYS
interrupts me!

Also others are merely spewing info (caring not if it is or isn’t so, and unwilling to
find out) for shock value, or as a pathetic cry for momentary fame.  I don’t know
Freeze’s real motivation.  And because I don’t know, I cannot discount it.  But his
manner in presenting it makes it suspicious and hollowly vengeful.   

My wife, bless her heart, was raped by an African-American male in Connecticut
eight years ago.  She could erupt into a tirade any time Connecticut or rap music is
mentioned about how the people of Connecticut are evil pagans with no human
decency or that Black people cannot be trusted…but she never does, because she
isn’t ridiculous and irrational. 

There are two sides to any story or experience.  Most people tend to believe a
version when it’s the only one presented.  And we are not likely to get the other
side of Freeze’s experiences.

I am interested in reasonable discourse…and will certainly poke holes in the frail
arguments of those who are not.

Your mention of Danites is interesting…  I am a member of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and am fully aware that, like everyone else,
we are NOT perfect or anywhere near, my friend.  Members of this or any Christian
sect that judges others unfairly or with disdain do NOT know or understand
Christ’s teachings… and I have always been willing to call them on it.

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By Blueokie, February 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

When I saw the title of this article I couldn’t decide if it was gift pitch to mrfreeze wheelhouse or a repository for hetero’s humor, with at least one of them enjoying a game of Wak-aTroll.  You guys did not disappoint.

mrfreeze - A friend of mine works for the Rail Road out of UT (Cedar City), Mormons can seem like such nice people until you realize their sense of Freedom of Religion means you’re free to have our religion, or free to move on down the road.  How crazy does it have to get to base a religion on making some white men rich, able to have sex with the young girl of their choosing, and have all of eternity be exactly as they wish?  I guess we can all see.

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By gerard, February 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Freeze:  If it helps—but I doubt it—I’ve known three women in my life who were victims of Mormon teachings and they pretty much share your views. Further, it seems to be traumatizing enough that a person really has to make a run for it in order to breathe free.

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By mrfreeze, February 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

Fred E - 
“I have always been taught that a relationship with other people is a two way street.”

Thanks for your insightful comment. Now, print out about 5 million copies of it and send it to all the members of the LDS Church so they can finally figure out why it is so many people don’t like them. With Mormons it’s never a “two way street.” It’s always, our way or the highway…....

And for those of you who might think I’m off-base or psychotic or irrational about my comments regarding the LDS Church, nothing could be further from the truth.

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By Fred E., February 16, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It would be interesting to look into the heads of such folks who spew such Hate
against their brothers and sisters regardless of what faith they may choose to
become a part of. I have always been taught that a relationship with other
people is a two way street and so it doesn’t say much for those who are
spreading propaganda against any religion to blame those pesky mormons,
Catholics, or Evangelicals, that would include the religion of the the atheists as
well. If there is a failure in a relationship we have with others we need to accept
our share of responsibility for failure in making that relationship a good one.
Selfishness is the main ingredient of sorrow and suffering. If those who hate so
much would make a determination the serve their fellow man (male and female)
they would discover how to find a fulness of joy. Hate is after all a tool of the
devil, isn’t it???? whether you believe in the evil force we face each day or not
he is there and this site is obvious evidence of his existence. The other force on
this planet is the force of good and whether or not you believe in God or or his
power the presence of good is obvious just as Satan’s power is obvious. What is
happening in Syria with the slaughter, leaves no room for argument. Such
things are a part of the evil on this planet and we are adding to that by our idle
words. Matthew 12:36-37

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By heterochromatic, February 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

Jasper—-are you suggesting that freeze is manufacturing all the childhood
memories?

or perhaps you think the reaction is a tad severe?


anyway, you ain’t one them Danites, am you? is their some blood-atoning in
th’offing?

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By Jasperdundee, February 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

MrFreeze,
Congrats on demonstrating a phenomenal example of uncontrolled online regurgitation!  It
is a source of continual fascination to witness as people publicly humiliate themselves
intentionally!  I certainly hope, for your sake and those close to you, that you break out of
your self-imposed stupor…but understand this is only possible with wise utilization of
rational thought, which given your obvious vitriol, eludes you. Best!

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By mrfreeze, February 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

Esteban & Shaun - I don’t drink Koolaid…...........
I can’t even begin to explain to you exactly how much I revile the LDS Church, its phony Jesus-in-America history, it’s profoundly narcissistic world-view, its defacto misygony, it’s ponzi-scheme tithing system, it’s claim to its “latter-day-authority” (administrated by all that “unpaid-lay-clergy”...who think they’re all religious experts)......I could go on…you get the picture.

Why is it that Mormons are so “surprised” that someone (such as myself) would be so “mean-spirited” in my criticism of them??? I lived up-close-and-personal among Mormons as a non-Mormon for many years and endured some of the nastiest, most manipulative, condescending, meglominiac behaviour and treatment at the hands of “that tiny little church that does so much good in the world” than you can possibly imagine (as did all of us “gentiles”) The bottom line is pretty simple really: I’m not required to respect or care about what Mormons believe or “feel.” Paybacks are a bitch….....

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By MeHere, February 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

Chris Lehmann’s article in Harper’s is excellent.

Nobody is out to destroy the Mormon church. There’s plenty of criticism about all religion institutions when their activities are aimed at influencing government and politics. Why do they need to have lobbies?

Just for the sake of humor, this is what Mark Twain said on The Book of Mormon: “It is chloroform in print.”

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By gerard, February 16, 2012 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

shaun:  Here’s your “tiny voice out there” who wants to say something nice about the Mormons:  Obviously, they are human.

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By heterochromatic, February 16, 2012 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

Big B_____ the Evangelicals who refuse to vote for a Mormon are not necessarily in
the majority of the bunch.

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By Big B, February 16, 2012 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

Unless a miracle occurs, and one candidate is able to collect a clear majority of delagates on super tuesday, there may very well be a brokered convention where the GOP can toss Mittens aside and choose an acceptable candidate to the business oligarchs and the religious wak-a-moles.

Remember, the GOP once had a chance to support George Romney. But when push came to shove, George was placed in the dustbin of GOP history, and they threw their support to the beast Nixon. Ah, the more things change…

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By Big B, February 16, 2012 at 6:11 am Link to this comment

Nearly a third of the GOP wil NEVER vote for or support a Mittens presidency. Let me explain,

During christmas, we hosted my wilfes family, a family that is half fundamental christians. There was but one political subject broached during that time (thankfully) and that was this, a true christian cannot ever vote for a non-christian president, period.

Why do you think that a pin head and dominionist facist like Santorum is even being mentioned as a serious candidate on the GOP side? He’s all they have that can truely appeal to that large chunk of the GOP elecorate that is fundamentalist christian.

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By mrfreeze, February 16, 2012 at 12:09 am Link to this comment

heterochromatic - You’re making me laugh. Listen, when I was growing up in UT, my mormon peers would (literally) tell me that in “my universe I’m going to have warm snow.” They weren’t f**king kidding. Indeed, I grew up among a bunch of misogynist creeps, whose founder concocted a lame fairy-tale by sticking his head in a hat and read golden plates (written in “reformed egyptian”) with seer-stones…...and from this they came up with proclamations like this: As man is god once was and as god is man shall become…....duh…......????? It boggles my mind that I endured years of living among people that believe this baloney. Oh how I despise them and I utterly revile their “god incarnate” Willard. He so reminds me of the condescending, self-righteous bullies they breed there in UT.

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By heterochromatic, February 15, 2012 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

given that the Republicans are going to nominate the guy, yeah, it’s pretty damn
likely that at 40% of those voting are going his way…..unless of course everybody
finds out that Mormons have that dual-citizenship going between here and their
planet-to-be-named-later.

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By shaun, February 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I had no idea that EVERYONE on this planet hates the mormons with the exception of the Mormons. I have seldom read such a slanted and mean spirited piece of journalism, there was not a word of respect or any mention of the great good that this tinly little church has done in many areas of the world. I had no idea that the whole world had become so hellbent on our complete and total destruction, is there not one tiny voice out there to say anything at all that is nice and positive about the mormon Church?

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By mrfreeze, February 15, 2012 at 11:32 pm Link to this comment

heterochromatic - My warning wasn’t directed at you…...but I’m afraid there are those out there who will!

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By heterochromatic, February 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment

what—-ever makes you think that I would vote for him????????

If a Mormon was preseident, then wouldn’t we have to live under sharia law and
have sexual relations with many women,( assuming that we’re not women)?

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By Esteban, February 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It always fascinates me that the only major religion in the U.S. that doesn’t have a paid professional clergy is continuously blamed for being greedy. I doubt that there is a single institution on the face of this earth that does as much to lift the poor out of poverty than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People driven by ideology only see what they want to see and conveniently forget or overlook the fact that our church originally attempted to form a completely communal society with no rich or poor. While the first attempt may have failed, we have always remained committed toward the achievment of a social order founded on complete equality. To this day, that commitment remains one of our core beliefs. Anyone who really wants to know our beliefs about wealth should just go to lds.org and do a search on the subject. There is no excuse for ignorance.

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By mrfreeze, February 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment

heterochromatic - I grew up among those pimply-faced, condescending, cheap-ass, I’m-going-to-be-a-god-salesmen missionaries….......oh now you all know what Willard looked like on his mission in Paris!

To think, a man who would be king of the world, did his mission on Paris, France and doesn’t even know what a good glass of wine tastes like….........vote for him if you hate yourself.

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By heterochromatic, February 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment

everyone hates the Mormons.  this country and the world were destroyed when we
turned our back on the Bible, which declares “thou shall not suffer a Mormon to
live”

my neighborhood is overrun by hordes of spotty teenagers, well-dressed, well-
spoken and polite with the nerve to wear their lying nametags describing
themselves as “elder something”


who knows if they aren’t already spreading to the rest of the solar system and
insuring that when we get there, there won’t be any regular underwear in the
stores?

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By mrfreeze, February 15, 2012 at 7:15 pm Link to this comment

Wow,NABNYC,probably one of the best posts I’ve ever read about the “the business of Mormonism.”

I have to be one of the most virulently outspoken critics of the Mormons that I know of. I grew up in UT in the 70’s (pre-we’ll-let-black-people-in-because-there’s-money-in-them-thar-black-people-mormonism) and 80’s. I consider them to be the AMWAY OF THE GODS, a business masquerading as a religion.

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By NABNYC, February 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

I’ve always thought the Mormons were like any other franchise arrangement, except for the tax-free cloak and their supposed religiously-dictated “secrecy” of everything which keeps the world out of their business dealings. 

If your average family makes $50,000/year, and you (as a Mormon) manage to convert the head of a family at 21, he will contribute $5,000/year for his working years, let’s say to 65, 44 years, or $220,000, and if he lives longer let’s say $250,000.  Each of the children from that family will grow up and also contribute $250,000 during their lifetimes.  Most mormons have large families (it’s a religious duty) whether by natural birth or adoption, so let’s say 5 kids.  That one convert equals $250,000 x 6 or $1,250,000 contributions to the Mormon church.  And that’s just stopping at one generation.  Once they are raised in the church, they tend not to leave for the reasons discussed by Chris Hedges in his book about Christian fascists in the U.S. 

Let’s say that if you bring in a convert, you get a percent of their tithing.  Half?  That’s how most of these systems work.  How would that money be handled?  Probably in cash so it can’t be traced. 

I know this much.  The local mormon groups are usually headed by wealthy business men and always a CPA.  Always.  To keep the books? 

I think it’s more a business than religion.  The religious aspect is simply to control people, particularly women, turn them into robots. Remember, the Catholic church was just a cover for the quest for empire.  The men who run these religions are always very rich. 

I suspect that most Mormons live simple lives, and it’s just the head guys who get rich.  I read that Utah has a very high rate of bankruptcy (#9 in the states).  Think about it:  working people barely getting by, having somebody take 10% off the top of their paycheck their entire lives.  It’s not as bad as being female (white men take 21% off the top of every woman’s paycheck for her entire life),  but it’s not good either.  Then we see the leaders of each mormon group in each community, very rich men. 

I think it’s a pyramid scheme, but most of the participants are too brainwashed to figure it out.

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