Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Simon Southerton
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Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

Post by Simon Southerton »

I have many LDS and former LDS family members and friends, many of whom live in Utah. For many weeks I was openly praising the actions of the LDS Church. While they took too long to close temples, where many of the oldest members regularly attend, they were ahead of the curve with their unilateral decision to close meetinghouses. The number of cases in Utah reflected the success of these responsible social distancing measures.

For two months Utah had one of the lowest rates of spread of the virus. Then Utah started to open up. On the 24th May Mormons went back to church, albeit in groups of less than 100. Almost perfectly on cue, COVID cases started to spike about 5 days later, the mean incubation time for the virus. The growth in cases is now alarming.

Itโ€™s unlikely the spike is only the result of Mormons going back to church, since society was starting to leave lockdown around that time, but I have heard reports of wards where there have been clusters. Many Mormons are also full on Trump supporters and are likely to be dismissive of social distancing rules like their president.

On the 17th June Elder Bednar, an apostle and one of the most senior leaders of the Mormon Church, spoke at a law conference on religious freedom via a web link. His talk was reported in the Deseret News and on the LDS website. These are some of Bednar's comments that were quoted in the news reports.
โ€œโ€ฆ๐™ž๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™›๐™–๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™๐™›๐™ช๐™ก ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™œ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ, ๐™จ๐™ค๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ง ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ก๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ฎ ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก ๐™—๐™š๐™œ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™จ๐™˜๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™งโ€.

โ€œ๐™๐™๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™š๐™ง ๐™ค๐™› ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฃ๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™ข๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™จ,โ€

โ€œ๐™๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข๐™š ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ง๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™ž๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™›๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™๐™–๐™จ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™›๐™ž๐™ง๐™ข๐™š๐™™ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐™›๐™ง๐™š๐™š๐™™๐™ค๐™ข ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ง๐™š ๐™ž๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ง๐™š๐™ก๐™ž๐™œ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ช๐™จ ๐™›๐™ง๐™š๐™š๐™™๐™ค๐™ข,โ€

โ€œ๐™’๐™๐™ž๐™ก๐™š ๐™—๐™š๐™ก๐™ž๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ž๐™ง ๐™ง๐™š๐™ก๐™ž๐™œ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ช๐™จ ๐™ค๐™ง๐™œ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ฏ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ ๐™ข๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™—๐™š ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ค๐™™ ๐™˜๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฏ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™จ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™– ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข๐™š ๐™ค๐™› ๐™˜๐™ง๐™ž๐™จ๐™ž๐™จ, ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™–๐™œ๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™˜๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™–๐™ก๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™œ๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฃ๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™›๐™›๐™ž๐™˜๐™ž๐™–๐™ก๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™š๐™ญ๐™š๐™ง๐™˜๐™ž๐™จ๐™š ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ง๐™š๐™ก๐™ž๐™œ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™–๐™จ ๐™จ๐™ž๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š๐™จ๐™จ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™–๐™ก.โ€
Bednar even drew the false equivalence between restricting religious freedom and allowing people to purchase gas. People need gas to buy essential items to sustain life. They donโ€™t need to gather in large numbers in churches to keep them alive!

For a state struggling with a significant spike in COVID cases, calling for less restrictions on gatherings is a thoughtless and poorly-timed message, given he leads the dominant religious group in Utah. Church gatherings are notorious for spreading the virus. Bednarโ€™s comments are dangerous and ill advised and yet the LDS Church widely publicised them on its website and in the major Utah newspaper read by Mormons.

Bednar is forgetting that half the church does not live in the United States. They couldn't care less about the second amendment and the US constitution right now. The only thing most non-Americans know about the US constitution is that it is used to protect the right of Americans to buy semi-automatic weapons so they can shoot their countrymen more efficiently. That is the extent of it.

Many non-US members of the church live in countries with universal health care and strong social safety nets. These countries have far higher levels of trust in their governments, their scientific and health institutions and have for the most part been pretty content to accept that in these exceptional circumstances they need to do what the government has asked of them.

And the benefits of following our non-US government's COVID rules are plain to see. The number of new cases a day in all of Europe now numbers around 4,000 and is falling. In all of Asia, Australia and New Zealand it is far, far less. Australia gets concerned when we have more than 20 cases a day. The US is now approaching 30,000 new cases per day! [The US just topped 36,000 new cases]

It's not hard to imagine how non-US Mormons might feel reading Bednar complaining about government overreach. All I am hearing from my Australian Mormon relatives is praise for the wisdom of our government. There will be many non-US Mormons who will be very confused, if not alarmed, by Bednarโ€™s obsession with individuals liberties and government interference at a time like this.

Bednar's comments will also be misconstrued by large numbers of American Mormons who hang off every word he says. Many will be inclined to feel more cynical about government health regulations and more inclined to flout social distancing rules.

It was a serious error of judgment for the church to publicise Bednarโ€™s comments on the church's website. These views are completely Amerocentric and send a poor message at a critical time in the progress of the pandemic. If a senior religious leader in Australia published such an irresponsible article at a time like this they would risk being censored or even arrested.

https://www.Facebook.com/simon.southert ... 4775312589
Last edited by Simon Southerton on Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dr Moore
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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

Post by Dr Moore »

Thanks, Simon, for this analysis and data. One of my relatives in Utah, a former Stake and Mission President, celebrated Bednar's comments in a call with me last night, for the clear and powerful prophetic voice of warning contained therein. They credit him for articulately pointing out the danger of governmental response to the Covid-19 as a long-term risk to religious liberty. He sincerely believes Bednar has raised a most serious voice of warning on some unseen danger of the US government restricting religious freedom. He is no longer worried about the pandemic, but worries greatly about this risk of losing freedoms. As I mentioned in this post last week, I suspect that this response is prescriptive by the brethren, as they may be maneuvering for leverage over LGBTQ+ rights.

Unfortunately, for now as it relates to the pandemic, this will only reinforce the dynamics you described here and make it more challenging for local church leaders in Utah and other regions to restrict church gatherings.

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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If it is safe to return to meetings, let's see upper leadership out there attending randomly selected wards and show up unannounced. Let them put their own lives on the lines to show just how safe it is.

Yeah, not going to happen.
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Philo Sofee
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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Fence Sitter wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:28 pm
If it is safe to return to meetings, let's see upper leadership out there attending randomly selected wards and show up unannounced. Let them put their own lives on the lines to show just how safe it is.

Yeah, not going to happen.
I second this. Let the brethren lead by example and demonstrate their priesthood and garments of protection are real and work. Gather in closed buildings with hundreds of people every single week for several months. Put your priesthood power where your blabber mouths are. If you're stupid enough to have faith in your myths, rather than medical science, them show us which one is actually real through your idiotic works, not your mere enimic faith.
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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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My wife saw your Facebook post on this.

This will go down worse than the pickle talk. At least people didnโ€™t die from following his lead on that one.

Utah is in for a bad go. Most of the problem stems from the Trump lead, unfortunately Bednar joined.
Last edited by Dr LOD on Thu Jun 25, 2020 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Philo Sofee wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:55 pm
Fence Sitter wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:28 pm
If it is safe to return to meetings, let's see upper leadership out there attending randomly selected wards and show up unannounced. Let them put their own lives on the lines to show just how safe it is.

Yeah, not going to happen.
I second this. Let the brethren lead by example and demonstrate their priesthood and garments of protection are real and work. Gather in closed buildings with hundreds of people every single week for several months. Sing with them all. Join their choirs and lift up your voices in song. Put your priesthood power where your blabber mouths are. If you're stupid enough to have faith in your myths, rather than medical science, them show us which one is actually real through your idiotic works, not your mere bland faith. Put up or shut up.
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Lucretia MacEvil
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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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I thought it had a ring of desperation to it because it wouldn't be a big surprise if some members decided during the break not to return. I'm very curious how many.
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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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I have thought long about what motivated Bednar. I don't think it's religious freedom at all.

Consider how humiliating it has been for the leaders of the church to be told by health experts you can't hold church gatherings. For years and years the church has run Utah. They call all the shots. Then along comes invisible little SARS-CoV-2 and the impotence of the church is exposed. The pandemic has exposed how utterly useless thoughts and prayers are and how science is saving us from the worst of the ravages of the virus. The promise of a miraculous vaccine, delivered by science, must also be spinning their cognitive dissonance wheels.

If you read Bednar's talk he doesn't say they don't want to flout the rules. He wants the power back. He wants the church to be in a position to get the best medical advice and then deliver the message to the members. That way they can continue to publicly ridicule science and pretend to be extremely responsible at the same time. They need the sheep to think the church saved them. They want their cake back.

Just a few weeks ago we were being bombarded by arrogant TBMs praising the prophetic introduction of home centred church supported. Its like the prophet saw the pandemic coming. Now they are screaming about having too much of a good thing. The hypocrisy is utterly astounding.
LDS apologetics --> "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up, which creates the scandal."
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Dr Moore
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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Very interesting.
So possible theories for Bednarโ€™s motivation are:
1. Prophetic detection of a clear and present danger to religious freedom
2. Church wants the power back
3. Posturing for LGBTQ battles to come
4. ??

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Dr LOD wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:56 pm

This will go down worse than the pickle talk. At least people didnโ€™t die from following his lead on that one.

Utah is in for a bad go. Most of the problem stems from the Trump lead, unfortunately Bednar joined.
I agree this piece will not age well. It's use by date may be in the next few weeks if Utah gets much worse.

I wish you folks could appreciate just how much of a tool Trump looks from outside the US. Almost all of US politics is right of Australian (and Western) politics. Last year they did a poll on Trump's approval among Australian right wing voters. Only 30% approved of Trump. If they did that poll again today his approval rating would be in the single digits among right wing voters. He is the most ignorant narcissist imaginable and the worst possible president to have at a time like this. It's sad to see the US in such incapable hands.

The church is collapsing in all western democracies. The alignment of the church with the right wing and Trump is a significant cause of that decline. (ignoring the truth bit for the moment) If Utah goes red in November there will be major problems ahead.
Last edited by Simon Southerton on Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
LDS apologetics --> "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up, which creates the scandal."
"Bigfoot is a crucial part of the ecosystem, if he exists. So let's all help keep Bigfoot possibly alive for future generations to enjoy, unless he doesn't exist." - Futurama

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Simon Southerton
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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Dr Moore wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:30 pm
Very interesting.
So possible theories for Bednarโ€™s motivation are:
1. Prophetic detection of a clear and present danger to religious freedom
2. Church wants the power back
3. Posturing for LGBTQ battles to come
4. Members are scattering
In our Australian Post Mormon Facebook group we are constantly hearing reports of husbands or wives or entire families not planning to go back to church when they open up. We just had a bishop in Sydney resign and take his entire family with him. Life with two Saturdays is a blast.
Last edited by Simon Southerton on Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
LDS apologetics --> "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up, which creates the scandal."
"Bigfoot is a crucial part of the ecosystem, if he exists. So let's all help keep Bigfoot possibly alive for future generations to enjoy, unless he doesn't exist." - Futurama

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Simon Southerton wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:46 pm
It's sad to see the US in such incapable hands.
Imagine how it feels to us!
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โ€œThe easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.โ€ - Mark Twain

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Hagoth wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:49 pm
Simon Southerton wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:46 pm
It's sad to see the US in such incapable hands.
Imagine how it feels to us!
Even when I was a believer, Australian Mormons found Utah culture suffocating. I stopped reading the church news years before I left. It was like reading North Korean propaganda. For Pete's sake!! ALL THE NEWS CANNOT BE GOOD NEWS!!
LDS apologetics --> "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up, which creates the scandal."
"Bigfoot is a crucial part of the ecosystem, if he exists. So let's all help keep Bigfoot possibly alive for future generations to enjoy, unless he doesn't exist." - Futurama

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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It's not all good news Simon, but like their own paid and brainwashed apologists, they only tell a partial truth at best, always miscontexted to supposedly bring out the best, giving people the "fake news" that absolutely everything about Mormonism and BYU is roses, wonderful, and uplifting. It is pure phony. They have taught Dan Peterson, Lou Midgley, and Kiwi57 well how to tell lies with the partial truth. The blind lead the blind and they both fall for Trump. Ya gotta admit, that self-proclaimed pussy grabber has impressed the "covenant keeping," gift of the Holy Ghost possessing Utah, Book of Mormon believing Mormons far more than their "prophet" ever could.
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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Philo Sofee wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 10:34 pm
It's not all good news Simon, but like their own paid and brainwashed apologists, they only tell a partial truth at best, always miscontexted to supposedly bring out the best, giving people the "fake news" that absolutely everything about Mormonism and BYU is roses, wonderful, and uplifting. It is pure phony. They have taught Dan Peterson, Lou Midgley, and Kiwi57 well how to tell lies with the partial truth. The blind lead the blind and they both fall for Trump. Ya gotta admit, that self-proclaimed pussy grabber has impressed the "covenant keeping," gift of the Holy Ghost possessing Utah, Book of Mormon believing Mormons far more than their "prophet" ever could.
I was just thinking the other day. The Mormon church paid for 50 to 60 years of apologetics at BYU and what impact has their "scholarship" had on the views of ordinary members and the Brethren? Essentially none. By most measures that is a total and abject failure as a venture. But we all know why the Church paid for 60 years of junk scholarship. It was to hide the truth. It gave the leaders a place to send genuine truth seekers who had doubts. And it gave the church some semblance of academic credibility. Booting FARMS out of BYU shows there are some decent people around but the whole apologetic enterprise is mutating into an online sham run by young upstart geeks who only know how to regurgitate the lies from the last 60 years.
LDS apologetics --> "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up, which creates the scandal."
"Bigfoot is a crucial part of the ecosystem, if he exists. So let's all help keep Bigfoot possibly alive for future generations to enjoy, unless he doesn't exist." - Futurama

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Lucretia MacEvil wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 7:01 pm
I thought it had a ring of desperation to it because it wouldn't be a big surprise if some members decided during the break not to return. I'm very curious how many.
I think this is one of the top reasons for giving the speech. The brethren are probably ______ their pants over this one, hoping people don't realize how unnecessary church is and how ineffectual the brethren's supposed prophetic leadership is. My guess is the longer that the Mormons cannot meet, the more members will realize the above and stay away for good.
"Religion is about providing human community in the guise of solving problems that donโ€™t exist or failing to solve problems that do and seeking to reconcile these contradictions and conceal the failures in bogus explanations otherwise known as theology." - Kishkumenย 

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Simon Southerton wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:04 pm
By most measures that is a total and abject failure as a venture.
I think it has had the actual effect that was intended, at least to some degree. It gave many members the false assurance that some really smart people have answered all of the questions, and the illusion that their doubting family members have no excuse for their doubts.

I saw an example of this this with my friends and colleagues when I tried to discuss the Gospel Topic essays with them. "Have you read them?" "No, but I have a pretty good understanding of what they say." Then they would repeat back to me some lame apologetic from their grandfather's era. One person actually told me the Nauvoo polygamy essay said polygamy was just a way of taking care of the widows of men who died from persecution. I never could get him to read the actual essay because he was satisfied with the answer that he was certain must surely be in that essay.

People walk through Deseret Book and admire all of the books and FARMS pamphlets written by really smart people and it gives them a warm, fuzzy reassurance that the thinking has been done for them. I still hear people talking about all of the evidence for the Book of Mormon throughout Central America, and how they have found conclusive evidence of Lehi and Nephi in Oman. They haven't read about it, mind you, but they have seen the titles of the books and articles.

Then some smartass comes along and writes a book about DNA or something that tells the real story and they toss him out on his head as a traitor.
"Be excellent to each other." - Bill and Ted
โ€œThe easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.โ€ - Mark Twain

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Hagoth wrote: โ†‘
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:47 am

I think it has had the actual effect that was intended, at least to some degree. It gave many members the false assurance that some really smart people have answered all of the questions, and the illusion that their doubting family members have no excuse for their doubts.

I saw an example of this this with my friends and colleagues when I tried to discuss the Gospel Topic essays with them. "Have you read them?" "No, but I have a pretty good understanding of what they say." Then they would repeat back to me some lame apologetic from their grandfather's era. One person actually told me the Nauvoo polygamy essay said polygamy was just a way of taking care of the widows of men who died from persecution. I never could get him to read the actual essay because he was satisfied with the answer that he was certain must surely be in that essay.

People walk through Deseret Book and admire all of the books and FARMS pamphlets written by really smart people and it gives them a warm, fuzzy reassurance that the thinking has been done for them. I still hear people talking about all of the evidence for the Book of Mormon throughout Central America, and how they have found conclusive evidence of Lehi and Nephi in Oman. They haven't read about it, mind you, but they have seen the titles of the books and articles.
This is so effective in the Mormon church because belief is based on emotion not information.
Testimony > evidence.
"Any over-ritualized religion since the dawn of time can make its priests say yes, we know, it is rotten, and hard luck, but just do as we say, keep at the ritual, stick it out, give us your money and you'll end up with the angels in heaven for evermore."

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

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Leaders say testimony IS evidence.

It is THE primary evidence, to be trusted over all other sources.*

* So long as the testimony affirms what the brethren teach and how they interpret scripture.

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

Post by Dr Exiled »

Hagoth wrote: โ†‘
Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:47 am
Simon Southerton wrote: โ†‘
Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:04 pm
By most measures that is a total and abject failure as a venture.
I think it has had the actual effect that was intended, at least to some degree. It gave many members the false assurance that some really smart people have answered all of the questions, and the illusion that their doubting family members have no excuse for their doubts.

I saw an example of this this with my friends and colleagues when I tried to discuss the Gospel Topic essays with them. "Have you read them?" "No, but I have a pretty good understanding of what they say." Then they would repeat back to me some lame apologetic from their grandfather's era. One person actually told me the Nauvoo polygamy essay said polygamy was just a way of taking care of the widows of men who died from persecution. I never could get him to read the actual essay because he was satisfied with the answer that he was certain must surely be in that essay.

People walk through Deseret Book and admire all of the books and FARMS pamphlets written by really smart people and it gives them a warm, fuzzy reassurance that the thinking has been done for them. I still hear people talking about all of the evidence for the Book of Mormon throughout Central America, and how they have found conclusive evidence of Lehi and Nephi in Oman. They haven't read about it, mind you, but they have seen the titles of the books and articles.

Then some smartass comes along and writes a book about DNA or something that tells the real story and they toss him out on his head as a traitor.
This is spot on. It doesn't matter what is in the "scholarly" apologetic work. As long as it is 900 pgs like Mormon Codex, members will feel satisfied that the group conclusion still stands without analyzing what the book says or even reading the book. It is why Mormon Scholars testifying about the nonsense has legs. Members feel reassured when authority speaks, having been trained like pavlov would have done. Midge or DCP could insert 50 pgs of "all work and no persecution/stalking of anti-Mormons make apologists dull men," and who would know or care?
"Religion is about providing human community in the guise of solving problems that donโ€™t exist or failing to solve problems that do and seeking to reconcile these contradictions and conceal the failures in bogus explanations otherwise known as theology." - Kishkumenย 

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Re: Bednar (and Church) is helping spread COVID

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

So, ironically, they put their trust in the arm of flesh.

Cool.

- Doc

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