Sunday, March 16, 2008

Look, Mommy, I Fed the Troll

I remember a short while back, Bill Whittle wrote a post about his encounter with a troll on his daily blog stroll. A similar thing happened to me while I was perusing Hot Air (I went there following Captain Ed, since he shut down Captain's quarters *tear*). I was looking at the whole furor over some of the crazier things Obama's pastor has been saying about how the US caused 9/11 and AIDS for good measure. Now, I don't believe in guilt by association, but it's amusing to watch politicians get dragged down by these "crazy-uncle" relationships. However, as I was looking at the comments, I run across this guy named docweasel, who seems really pissed that Obama's getting questioned about all this stuff when Romney didn't get the same questions last year (never mind that he gave a whole speech about it and Obama didn't, but never mind). Ultimately he starts branching into some really hate-filled anti-Mormon bigotry, and that's where I got annoyed. So, I read his comments and his blog post on the subject, and refuted him point by point. Maybe it was pointless, but I sure had fun.

Hmmm. As it turns out, I missed a point - it seems that Reverend Wright is one of Obama's campaign advisors. Or rather, he was - Obama's thrown him under the bus now that the statements have come to light. But frankly, this doesn't really excuse Obama, since the statements were made way back in 2003. If Obama wanted to avoid being associated with that kind of rhetoric, he knew what he was bargaining for when he asked Wright to sign up. If nothing else, it'll be amusing to see what Hillary's team makes of this. After all, she's behind, and desperate to find any bit of leverage she can use to pull herself back up to Obama. That includes crazy statements made by his pastor of twenty years. Expect a lot of political poo over the next few days. Anyway, for those who enjoy this sort of thing, sit back and pass the popcorn.


Docweasel, even assuming moral equivalence between Mormonism and what Rev. Wright is preaching (which is ridiculous), it's far more difficult to believe that Romney embraces the less palatable parts of Mormonism than that Obama endorses the worst of Wright's wrongheadedness. After all, there's no equivalence in what they have to do to distance themselves from the objectionable material. Obama merely has to attend a different UCoC church. According to your argument, Romney would have to renounce his entire religion - though I'm not religious myself, I understand that it's a bit more difficult than changing shirts or even churches (imagine that). To Romney, the objectionable parts of Mormonism are not sufficient to justify renouncing it - that's a reasonable statement, I think, given that plenty of Muslims in America say the same thing to themselves every time another bomber bites the dust in Iraq. Obama thinks Wright's statements aren't objectionable enough to justify driving to a different church every Sunday - that's an UNreasonable statement.

Anyway, moving to point-by-point refutation (I'd do this on your blog, except you won't let anyone comment on your absurdities):
* According to Mormon scripture, the founder of your church (Joseph Smith) was told by God in 1820 that all the churches of the day were “an abomination.” Do you agree with God’s view of other churches, as quoted by Joseph Smith? (Pearl of Great Price, JS-Hist 1:18-19)

Hmmm, this is refuted by THE VERY QUOTATION FROM CAPTAIN ED THAT YOU USED IN YOUR ARTICLE. You know, the "more than 100 years ago" response. Romney is not obliged to answer for what Mormons thought of other religions 190 years ago. Especially not if this doesn't translate into a prescription for action today (you know, like the Muslim prescription for action regarding non-Muslims, which STILL doesn't automatically incriminate all Muslims out there).

* According to your church’s Articles of Faith, number eight, the Book of Mormon is the “word of God.” Do you believe that?

No. Way. Mormons think the Book of Mormon is holy? It MUST be heresy. Is there some kind of rhetorical rule against demolishing straw men the opponent sets up for you?

* According to the Book of Mormon there are only two churches: the “church of the Lamb of God [presumably the Mormon church]” and the “church of the devil,” “the whore of all the earth.” Do you agree with that Mormon scripture? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10)

Of course, no context is provided. Without the context, there's no reason to assume that the bad church is of any particular religion or even a tangible church - it could be a symbol for devil-worship, or of US Congress for all I can tell from what's given. Is this supposed to be a genuine question? How can I tell, when it's so ridiculous? Furthermore, now we're getting into the "well, the book says this, so he's bad!" arguments. Are we next going to castigate Jews because the Old Testament forbids homosexuality?

* According to the Book of Mormon a dark skin is a curse imposed by God on the unrighteous and their descendants as a punishment for sin. Do you agree with that doctrine? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 12:22-23, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 5:21-22, Jacob 3:8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Mormon 5:15; references to the “Lamanites” are taken to be referring to Native American “Indians”.)

Is the question "Are you a racist?" going to somehow become a better question because you attached a religious quote to it? Now I know why nobody's asking these questions; they'd get laughed out of the room.

* According to Mormon doctrine, the president of the Mormon church is a prophet of God, receiving revelations and commandments (God’s laws) directly from God. Do you believe that? (Doctrine and Covenants , 21:5, 43:3, 58:18)

According to the Old Testament, God talked to people, According to the New Testament, God talked to people. Why are you shocked that according to Mormonism, God might still be talking to people?

* One of the most sacred rituals for adult Mormons, performed only in a Mormon temple, is a ceremony called “the endowment.” Have you undergone this ritual? If so, in what year?

* To be admitted to the temple for the endowment ceremony a Mormon must be “in good standing” in the church and undergo a personal interview with church leaders, who examine the member as to whether the member obeys church commandments, supports church leaders, pays full ten percent tithe, wears the prescribed Mormon underwear, abstains from coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco and extramarital sex, and other matters. If the member answers correctly, a pass to the temples (called a “temple recommend”) is issued, good for two years. Do you have such a temple recommend now, indicating that you are in good standing in your church?

Obviously these two questions are meant to go together, but it's not obvious what they're getting at. Is is somehow a bad thing if Romney is in good standing with the Mormon Church? Is it somehow a bad thing if he isn't? What exactly is the point of this?

* In the secret Mormon temple ceremony Mormons take an oath of obedience to “the law of the Lord.” Did you take that oath?

Well, it's no more ridiculous than having witnesses in court swear on the Bible. Again, is there any point to this question other than to figure out whether Romney is really Mormon or not?

* Before 1990, the endowment ceremony required members to take an oath of secrecy not to reveal anything that happened in the temple under penalty of death. Did you take that oath?

Who cares?

* In the temple ceremony Mormons also take a secret oath to “consecrate your time, talents and everything which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…” Did you take that oath? Would you consider the office of the presidency of the U.S. to be a “blessing” with which the Lord had blessed you?

No, Romney isn't going to consider his happiness in this life a blessing from the Lord. It must be a lie. Like the cake. You know, this refutation is getting really boring. All these questions are meant to SOUND incriminating, but they never actually get there.

* Mormons teach that by obedience to all the commandments of Mormonism, a Mormon may attain the highest degree of heaven and ultimately become a god, creating and ruling over his own universe. Do you believe that? Is this your ultimate personal goal?

"Mormons teach" - what an ambiguous phrase. Is this supposed to be another part of the Book of Mormon, or is it something that's commonly taught, is it something a few radicals espouse, or what? Who cares what Romney's plans for the next life are, anyway? Are they going to somehow affect your judgment of his actions in this one?

* Although your church presently condemns the practice of polygamy, the scripture commanding it is still in the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132. Many early Mormons were polygamous and married (”sealed”) to numerous wives “for eternity.” Do you believe then that there will be polygamous families in Mormon heaven?

This is the lamest question ever. Even if polygamy retroactively became a sin, even a Protestant would say that's just more time spent in purgatory, assuming you lived your life in a generally virtuous way.

* The extensive interest of Mormons in genealogical research is to enable them to perform “baptisms for the dead,” thus posthumously inducting previous generations into the Mormon church. Many non-Mormons become angry when they learn that the names of their ancestors - having often been faithful members of some other religion during life - have been used in this way. often without permission of the living descendants. The posthumous baptism of many Holocaust victims caused considerable anger among Jewish groups, and your church agreed to stop the practice as to them (but admitted that it was unable to do so). Do you feel that such anger is justified? (Would you feel anger if some voodoo cult was using your deceased grandparents’ names in some voodoo ritual, and then announcing to all the world that they were now voodoo worshippers?)

And Romney is condemned for the well-intentioned but misguided action of Mormon leaders over half a century ago because...why?

* It is well documented that Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, secretly had many wives. Some of those women were at the same time married to other men, some were as young as fifteen, He claimed that he was commanded by God to enter into these marriages. Do you feel that these early marital practices of the church founder were really commanded by God? (See the book In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith by Mormon historian Todd Compton for detailed biographies of these wives.)

Hey, if all those wars the Old Testament documents weren't sinning because God said they weren't, why can't the same overriding authority be applied to polygamy?

* Mormons believe that when Christ returns to earth, a millennium of peace will begin under Christ’s rule (Article of Faith number ten), presumably as a single theocracy. Most Mormons believe that during that time, Mormons will be Christ’s appointed officers and that the law will conform to Mormon teachings. Do you believe that?

Translation: If the Mormons turn out to be right, do you think the Mormons will be rewarded for being right? Answer: Who cares?

* According to Mormon scripture (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3) Joseph Smith did more than any other man except Jesus Christ “for the salvation of men in this world.” Do you agree with that, keeping in mind the contributions of men like the Apostles, Saint Paul, Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, and others?

No way, the people who thought Smith was a prophet put him above people who weren't prophets. Unthinkable.

Damn, dude, why did I waste my time with this drivel when I could be sleeping? I love how you try to pull the moral equivalence stunt with Wright's conspiracy theories. For your next trick, I suppose you'll prove that Joseph Smith caused cancer...or something.

The feebleness of your attacks only justifies to me the suppression of them by mainstream conservative thinkers. Spewing idiocy like this will only make conservatives look bad.

This is pretty hilarious. The same fucking rightwing blogs that declared Romney’s racist, sexist, intolerant cult to be out of bounds for criticism or discussion are now piling on cherry picked quotes about Obama’s minister. You can find plenty of really hateful slurs against blacks, Jews, Catholics etc. in the book of Mormon, but, partly because of blind hatred for McCain and Romney being his main competition, blogs, just like this one, refused to allow any debate on that.

Actually, what's really hilarious (but not surprising) is that you have no f***ing clue who Ed actually supported. I won't give any hints, but it starts with a "Fred" and ends with a "Thompson". And if we're talking "racist, sexist, intolerant," why aren't there women priests n other branches of Christianity? Break out the torches and rakes and other handy implements, let's storm the Vatican!

Link me to ONE FUCKING article where Allah or anyone else talks critically about the hate filled crap Romney teaches and gets taught by his minister every fucking day of the week. Romney is a 3rd generation elder in a dynastic family of Mormon leaders. Obama just attends the church.

The sad thing is, I probably could link you to an article on Captain's Quarters that does just that if I felt like expending the effort. Since I don't, you'll just have to suck it up. And your comment only illustrates why Obama's choice is more damaging - there's less personal damage involved in not making the choice. Imagine Romney's position as a child of the second dynastic elder of the Mormon community. Imagine trying to renounce your religion and most likely your family name because bits of the holy book disparage black people. Now imagine Obama's choice between listening to Rev. Wright's rhetoric and...going to a different church. That Obama chose to listen to Wright despite the ease of not doing so demonstrates that he doesn't find it all that objectionable. Not so in Romney's case.

Now you can debate the relative evilness of what Wright says vs. the Book of Mormon all day: the point is, its JUDGING SOMEONE’S RELIGION, which none of us has the right to do, in fact, if you ARE a Christian, Jesus told you DIRECTLY NOT TO DO IT, FUCKWITS.

Idiot. I can finally say it because you finally made it clear that you missed the entire point of the discussion. WE'RE NOT DISCUSSING OBAMA'S RELIGION. Being a card-carrying member of the United Church of Christ is not the objectionable thing here. The objectionable thing is that he sits and listens to Wright (and helps support him financially) as Wright makes these ridiculous speeches, when it wouldn't be difficult to distance himself from all that. On the other hand, your assaults on Romney's Mormonism are definitely judging religion, though your judgment is incredibly weak if this is the best you can offer. I'd hope you could come up with more, except then I might have to do another monster comment like this, and I don't want to do that.

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