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Keeping the faith, daring to be different
February 5th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

Crossing the plains and kicking up dirt, a new Mormon pioneer

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

San Diego (CNN) – At a 1950s-style house nestled in a peaceful neighborhood nicknamed “Hanukkah Hill,” a smiling Buddha on the porch greets visitors – his arms raised as if to say all are welcome.

Affixed to the doorpost is a mezuzah, a decorative case holding blessings for a Jewish home. Inside, on the family’s refrigerator, hangs a magnet from the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog that says, “Jesus loves us. Who cares what you think?”

In the kitchen stands Joanna Brooks, an accidental, unofficial and admittedly unauthorized source for all things Mormon. She’s making “funeral potatoes,” a classic Mormon casserole, and heaped on the counter are the ingredients: a not-so-healthy dose of cheese, butter, sour cream, hash browns and chicken soup. Her Jewish husband strolls by, takes a look at what’s cooking, and grimaces. Bespectacled and freckled 6-year-old Rosa, standing atop a chair, proudly announces, “I’m Jewish and Mormon!”

The home and life Brooks has created is the product of a complicated journey.

She cannot separate The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from her identity any more than she can leave cheese out of funeral potatoes. But like her persecuted ancestors who braved the unforgiving plains to reach the promised land of what is now Utah, Brooks, 40, fights for her faith.

The battle has, at times, left her feeling beaten.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

As a young feminist activist, she saw her beloved church excommunicate her intellectual heroes. She’s felt outrage and soul-crushing grief while watching her church mobilize against same-sex marriages. For about 10 years, she walked away.

But today a vintage postcard of a Mormon missionary boarding a plane sits on her desk to inspire. It reads, in part, “Dare to be different.”

She believes there’s room in the LDS Church for loving criticism and candid talk, that Latter-day Saints like her can not just belong but also serve – without fear of being cast out into the wilderness.

She’s staking her claim to Mormonism, writing about it for Religion Dispatches, debunking myths in national papers, speaking up on podcasts, radio shows and from stages, and offering advice in her column and blog, Ask Mormon Girl. She recently self-published her memoir, “The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith” and writes regularly for Feminist Mormon Housewives. Politico has named her, or specifically her Twitter account, one of the “50 Politicos to Watch.” All this while being an award-winning scholar, a published poet and, oh yeah, a department chair and professor of English and comparative literature at San Diego State University.

Click the audio player for a Q&A with Joanna Brooks from CNN Radio's John Lisk
Amid Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, the “I’m a Mormon” ad campaign and the smash-hit Broadway musical “Book of Mormon,”  this Obama supporter has emerged as a refreshing voice for media, hungry for frank discussion about her faith.

Her goal? To be her authentic self and humanize a tradition and people she couldn't love more.

“I just refuse to be ashamed of being Mormon,” she says. “Don’t talk about us like we’re not in the room.”

Embracing her difference

Growing up in California's Orange County, she often was the only Mormon in a room.  She was, she likes to say, “a root beer among the Cokes,” a reference to the caffeine-free drink that her faith permits.

She fantasized about her ancestors on the other side of the veil. Her father, a longtime LDS Church bishop – a volunteer pastor – said they knew her name and that her spirit would join them when she died.

She sang pioneer hymns in church on Sundays with other root beers. She kneeled and prayed to God each night before bed. By the time she was baptized at 8, she’d read cover-to-cover the Book of Mormon, the sacred text Latter-day Saints view as “another testament of Jesus Christ” and study in addition to the Bible.

Brooks, center, and her sisters learned early to be proud of and show off their Mormon pioneer heritage.

She learned to relish being different, even when born-again classmates, taught by their pastors to believe she was in a cult, scrawled warnings in her yearbook. When Marie Osmond, a visible Mormon to the non-Mormon world, winked into the TV camera on Friday nights, Brooks was sure the gesture was meant for her.

Along the way, there were glimpses of the woman she would become. Asked one year in grade school to write two term papers, she chose as her subjects the Equal Rights Amendment and Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church.

“I’m not making this up,” she says, laughing at what some may see as irony. “This is who I am.”

But in her traditional - what she calls “orthodox” - Mormon home, she was only exposed to pamphlets on women’s rights penned by Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative stalwart who railed against the ERA push.

At LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, the only college she ever considered attending, Brooks imagined the warm embrace of being among her people. Looking at those around her, at first she worried she was too different. But during orientation, an English professor quoted a verse from the Book of Mormon that she'd carry with her.

He denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

“I felt the knot of panic in my belly loosen and disappear,” she writes in her memoir. “Deep inside my chest, a door opened. Light and oxygen flooded the room.”

She gravitated to professors who shined the light on possibilities, devouring the words of Mormon poets and feminist historians.

All are alike unto God.

In the Student Review, an alternative and unofficial school paper, Brooks poked fun at university policies, interviewed polygamists, wrote about gay issues and simply didn’t shy away from matters most people were afraid to talk about.

While getting ready for church on Sundays, she blared Public Enemy.

Outside her circle of like-minded friends were people like John Dehlin, a staunchly conservative Mormon student who watched her from afar. Whether it was hot-button issues in the paper, pro-choice demonstrations at the state Capitol or night vigils and marches for rape victims, he says, Brooks was always involved.

“She didn't know me, but I knew her. I was torn between being uncomfortable and seeing her as dangerous, and respecting her for her courage and convictions.”

Brooks was riding an optimistic wave of change at BYU, when the tide suddenly shifted.

The early 1990s brought a LDS Church crackdown on intellectuals, feminists and activists who were perceived as being threats.

Professors at BYU lost their jobs. Others walked away in solidarity. In September 1993, six prominent Mormon scholars were excommunicated or disfellowshipped – stripped of certain religious rights, including access to LDS Church temples.

The day Brooks received her diploma, she handed it back in protest.

Wrestling with God

The still-warm funeral potatoes take their place on a picnic table crowded with treats in a La Jolla  park. Milling about are those who've gathered for a monthly meeting, a support group of sorts, under the auspices of an organization called Mormon Stories.

Some, like Brooks, are faithful churchgoing members. Others no longer attend services but long for cultural connections. For at least two of these Californians (one says she is a distant relative of Mitt Romney's), the day church leaders called on Mormons to support Proposition 8 – a 2008 ballot measure to prevent same-sex marriages – was the last time they sat in the pews. One first-time visitor shows up, her crisis of faith new and raw.

“I believed everything until two weeks ago,” she says, her expression one-part grief, the other anger.

Brooks understands those in painful transition. God knows she's been there.

After graduating from BYU, Brooks headed to Los Angeles to get her doctorate in English at UCLA. For about five years, she says she regularly went to church but was still reeling from “the purge” of so many mentors.

She wrestled internally. Each time the LDS Church galvanized its members behind the Defense of Marriage Act or supported initiatives that predated Prop 8, she felt like a cinderblock had been dropped on her heart. If her bishop asked how she was doing, she burst into tears.

“Whenever I went to church, I'd just cry,” she says. “So I just stopped. It was my way of saying 'uncle.' It was too much. I clearly needed time.”

Brooks retreated not just from church, but also from her liberal Mormon peers. She guarded her tongue and emotions around family.

Meantime, her life moved forward in other beautiful ways. She'd fallen hard for David Kamper, then a doctoral student in anthropology, “a sweet and soulful Jewish man from my California hometown: a man who saw no enmity in me, a man who would never put me on trial, a man who would never audit my heart for heresy,” she says in her memoir.

They met at a union party for teaching assistants. About two months into their relationship, she turned to him and said, “You know we're going to get married.”

When they did, some years later, she couldn't have a temple marriage, which allows two Mormons to be sealed for eternity in a sacred ceremony – a rite considered necessary to reach the highest level in heaven. Instead, their unconventional wedding blended their religious backgrounds.

When Kamper stomped on a glass, which marks the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony, Brooks knew she was in some way breaking her parents' hearts.

The oldest of four siblings, all dedicated Mormons, she still attended family events in the LDS Church during those years in self-imposed exile. Each visit made her ache with longing. She tried other Christian denominations, but none felt like home.

It was the birth of her daughters Ella and Rosa, now 8 and 6, that would eventually help bring her back. When she rocked them to sleep, she mindlessly sang a Mormon pioneer hymn, a reminder of those who walked before her.

Her faith journey was shaped, in part, by the birth of daughters Ella -- walking ahead with the family dog -- and Rosa.

She realized she had to be true to her spiritual needs and her legacy, not just for herself, but for her little girls. She began writing the book that would become her memoir, to help her heal and so they would someday understand their mother.

“I am an unorthodox Mormon woman with a fierce and hungry faith,” she writes. “Sometimes even in my own tradition I feel a long way from home. But I will keep on crossing as many plains as this life puts in front of me. I drag along my Jewish husband, my two daughters, and a trunk of difficult questions.”

Finding her way home

Slowly, in 2008, she dipped her cold feet back in the LDS Church waters.

Three months later, like a tsunami, came the push for Proposition 8.

“So I took another few months off. To shake my fist at God,” she wrote in a recent Ask Mormon Girl column. “That's what I did until the vote was over. And then I went back. Again.”

That wasn’t all she did, though. Once, during this hiatus from church, she returned to her childhood congregation for a new nephew’s naming and blessing. She squirmed in her seat as each talk and prayer mentioned the need to protect marriage, she recalls in her memoir.

Using Rosa, then 2, as an excuse, she went for a walk. On a hallway table she spotted clipboards holding data for “Yes on 8” voters, canvassing materials culled through hours and hours of work.

“My heart pounds. I look around. The hallways are clear,” she writes. Brooks snatched those papers and shoved them in her flowered diaper bag. She rushed outside, her heels clicking on pavement. Shielded by cars and with Rosa on her hip, she forced the papers down a metal sidewalk grate. “Still, I feel the weight of the cinderblock on my heart.”

When she could guard her tongue no longer, she decided to speak publicly at a rally opposing Prop 8. She held her breath as she sent her speech to her parents.

The next morning, she opened her e-mail to see this from her father: “ ‘We want you to know we love you. You have wanted a more just and loving world since you were a little girl,’ ” she recounts in her memoir. She then describes her reaction: “Tears drop on my keyboard. My chest heaves.”

Now her father is dying of ALS, an experience that’s made their differences irrelevant.

“My parents are very devoted Mormons, and they didn’t always know what to do with me,” she says. “But there’s nothing like a terminal illness to put things in perspective.”

In late 2009, she began writing about her Mormonism for others. Her first published piece was about raising interfaith children.

Brooks hopes that through her writing and speaking out she can help humanize Mormons, who are often misunderstood.

Perhaps no one was more relieved to see her name than John Dehlin, the BYU student who'd once watched her from afar.

He'd gone through his own faith crisis years after they graduated, and searched online for Brooks. He couldn't find her anywhere. When he saw her byline, he reached out immediately.

“Where have you been?” he asked. “We need you. We've always needed you.”

Dehlin created Mormon Stories in 2005, first as a podcast offering open conversations for those grasping for reasons to stay in the LDS Church, which he has. Now the group also runs conferences and online communities, as well as support groups, which are sprouting up across the globe.

Brooks didn't need Mormon Stories to get back to church. She'd worked through her struggle in her own way and own time. But realizing there were others like her out there – even if they weren't sitting next to her in church – gave her comfort. There's a kinship among those who want and need to speak freely.

The way Mormons show up for one another, she says, is part of what she loves most about her faith tradition. And while her “calling” may not be conventional or church-sanctioned, she's fulfilling a mandate to serve.

By being there for folks who are lost and looking to be found or are desperate to say things they don't feel safe uttering at church or to their families, she attends to those in need.

“Is there space for difference? People are feeling it out,” she says. “No one wants to start a new church. No one wants a schism.”

Some of her friends, especially those not in the LDS Church, have wondered why she didn't just walk away.

That might have been easier, and it's what most of her BYU friends did do. But she's shed tears and worked so hard to maintain her identity, faith and community because, like those who came before her, that's what Mormon pioneers do.

“I know who I am”

Scampering out of the garage, Mosi leads the way. The family dog - her name means "cat" in Navajo - tugs Brooks through the neighborhood on a walk that doubles as thinking time for this busy mother, professor and author.

On this afternoon, she talks about how carefully she must toe a line - one that allows her to be faithful, respectful and gently critical. She's emboldened knowing she doesn't walk alone. There are dozens and dozens like her who - thanks to blogs and social media - are also weighing in.

Brooks speaks on stages and radio programs. She also has been interviewed for documentaries, including one about Mormons in politics.

Not afraid to discuss touchy issues of race, polygamy, or same-sex marriages, Brooks says she's gotten plenty of mail from LDS Church members begging her to stop. They say she's not a spokesperson for the church, and she agrees – she isn't. She's not trying to be.

She believes this cautiousness of fellow Latter-day Saints, this fear of individually speaking up, isn't serving Mormons well. Instead of relying on church officials to read from scripts that sound likes scripts, she says, “People need to see us as human beings.”

The sacrifices of Mormons who’ve spoken out before her also help prod Brooks along. She has to trust that times are changing – that what happened to women like feminist Margaret Toscano won’t happen to her.

Toscano, 62, was excommunicated in 2000 – seven years after her husband. She recalls how the late 1970s Mormon supporters of the ERA were driven underground. She was among those who re-emerged in the late 1980s, only to face a slapdown. She says she personally knows hundreds who’ve walked away from the church over women’s issues.

She watches Brooks and others like her with hope, but not complete optimism. The ability of activists to do what they do while in the church, Toscano says, comes and goes at the whim of whoever is in charge.

Others who watch Brooks may be concerned about the company she keeps.

She knows there are those who fear her association with “apostates,” but she shrugs this off. “It’s not a concern for me. I know who I am.”

Who she is and what she believes rankles Ralph Hancock, a political science professor at BYU who’s taken her on in an LDS blog review called The Bulwark. Simply put, he says in an e-mail, “Joanna thinks or assumes that Mormonism is compatible with (or intrinsically drawn toward?) a contemporary liberal-progressive agenda – and I think not.”

But not all conservatives are bothered by her work.

At the helm of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR), an organization that defends the LDS Church from detractors, is president Scott Gordon. He may not agree with many of her positions, but he’s glad she’s out there.

She shows the “plurality of thought within Mormonism,” he says, and has taken on characterizations of Mormons in the press in a way that’s made him want to cheer.

LDS Church officials have never contacted Brooks directly, she says. And they wouldn’t comment directly on her or her work for this story.

While Brooks will speak openly about the church she loves, warts and all, she has limits. She refuses to feed the uninformed, broad-brush sensationalism so many use to paint her often misunderstood faith. That's why she graciously turned down a recent request from a History Channel producer who, among other things, hoped Brooks could show how she uses a “seer stone” – a prophetic tool used by LDS Church founder Joseph Smith.

“Are you kidding me!” Brooks says, remembering what went through her head but never came out of her mouth. “That's like asking David [her Jewish husband] if he knows how to sacrifice animals.”

Back from the walk, she rounds up the family to head out to dinner.

Over pizzas at a long table in the Blind Lady Ale House, her husband joins friends in sharing tastes of microbrews. Brooks didn't always follow the Mormon rules to abstain from coffee, tea and alcohol. But with her renewed commitment to the church, she does now.

Among her friends here are two women with whom she leads a Girl Scout troop. Giggling at the far end of the table are their daughters, members of what they like to call “the rogue Brownie troop.”

More important to them than competitive cookie peddling are missions these moms can get behind: a tour of an organic farm, an environmental cleanup activity and a food drive for AIDS patients.

Leaving the other adults to their beers, Brooks heads outside with the four girls. Soon the little ones are marching up and down the sidewalk, arms linked, shouting something that leaves passersby smiling.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight! Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

Brooks has spontaneously taught them the intro to the television classic “Laverne & Shirley.”

She hooks her arms with them as they scream, “Again! Again!” She coaches their footwork and matches their youthful enthusiasm. She wonders, as an afterthought, if she’s got that “hasenpfeffer” word right.

Reaching into a pocket, Brooks pulls out her smartphone and says with a sheepish grin, “Let me check my seer stone.”

On white people, lipstick and the sacrament

It's a Sunday morning, and the family is getting ready for church. Kamper serves up pancakes before racing off to change. Ella and Rosa look over their visitor to make sure she's dressed appropriately. Modest skirt and sleeves? Check.

“Church is a good place,” Rosa says. She bounds past a globe of the world and a child-sized drum set to grab a book from the playroom shelf.

“Read this,” she orders, handing over “How Does the Holy Ghost Make Me Feel?” “This'll teach you about church.”

Rosa shows off their food storage, recommended by the LDS Church in case of disasters.

In the kitchen, Brooks holds up the New York Times Sunday Review and rails against Lee Siegel's Mitt Romney-related opinion piece, “What's Race Got to Do With It?

“ 'Mormonism is still imagined by its adherents as a religion founded by whites, for whites, rooted in a millenarian vision of an America destined to fulfill a white God's plan for earth,' ” she reads aloud. And then, swatting the paper with the back of her hand, she asks, “Is there fact checking involved?”

She knows of the millions of LDS Church members dotting the globe in Africa, Asia and Latin America. And the Japanese-American, Filipino-American, black and Hispanic members in her own ward, or congregation. Later that night, she'll write her response. In this moment, Ella turns her attention to the diversity of American Girl dolls.

Scattered across a sofa are Rebecca, a Russian-Jewish girl from New York; Kaya, a Native American from the Nez Perce tribe; and Kirsten, who wears a bonnet.

“Mommy,” Ella screams, racing out of the room, “Did you know Kirsten's a pioneer girl?”

With her daughters loaded in the Prius, Brooks takes the wheel and tunes in Bob Marley. The girls start rifling through her purse in the backseat. They gob on her lipstick.

“Great,” she says, peering in the rearview mirror. “They're getting tarted up for church.”

Lipstick wiped off, they stroll inside. Brooks takes a seat in the back, and the girls dart up the aisle to sit with friends.

Who Brooks is outside of church is of no consequence. If anyone does follow her work, she says, “No one is up in my grill.” When she's here, she's here for spiritual sustenance – to pray, take the sacrament, and connect with and serve her community.

Bags crowding her feet hold the coffee cake she'll take to the Sunday school class she'll teach later, the Jeopardy-style game she's devised for today's lesson, and reading materials and toys to keep kids occupied.

The LDS Church's children's magazine features a story about Mormons in Tonga. Brooks spots her visitor reading it and whispers, “See how focused we are on white people?”

A little boy scoots a toy car along the floor. Stacked on a chair above him, next to hymnals, are “Curious George” books in Spanish.

Her husband sits down beside her, his arm around her shoulder. Kamper shows up because who she is, what she needs for herself and their kids, matters to him. Her acceptance of his Judaism, the fact that she's never suggested he convert, has helped him get over what the couple jokingly refer to as his “Jesus allergy.” He doesn't take the sacrament when it's offered and admits he sometimes passes on saying “amen” to church prayers.

“They don't know what the hell to make of me,” he says. But ever since he fell in love with Brooks, this trained ethnographer has been a close observer of Mormons. He feels embraced by her parents now, but that took time. Her father once challenged Kamper to read the Book of Mormon and accept the missionary lessons, visits from LDS teachers. Kamper figured it was the least he could do, but it didn't lead him into a baptismal font.

Unable to play an official role during Mormon family ceremonies, like baby namings, he accepts his job as the designated microphone holder. Someday he'll tell his nephews, “If you get busted and go to jail, call Uncle David.”

Here in church, his role is supportive husband. Kamper strokes Brooks' back when she weeps. Tears fall when her eyes close in prayer.

In a small classroom afterward, she meets with four high school students, three of whom are heading to BYU in the fall. When she meets with them, she says she sees herself at their age.

The Book of Mormon, the introduction of an additional scripture, “was a bold claim,” she tells them. “I think that's why Mormons are bold. We're OK being different.”

Trusting God’s plan

The girls plop down at the kitchen table, feasting on leftover funeral potatoes. They start humming the “Muppet Show” theme song and then, after rattling off some of their favorite Simon and Garfunkel titles, bust into the chorus of “Mrs. Robinson.”

And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know,
Wo, wo, wo.
God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson,
Heaven holds a place for those who pray,
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.

Each night at dinner, the girls lead the family in prayer. Sometimes their words are inspired by their Mormonism; other times they honor the Jewish side of themselves.

They're being raised to be part of both religious traditions. They celebrate Christmas, Easter and Pioneer Day, which marks the day in 1847 when Mormon pioneers first entered now-Utah. The family also observes Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover. Because Kamper likes to host a big Passover seder each year, Brooks decided the family would also host a Mormon seder on Pioneer Day, featuring her favorite recipes, including her “Green Goddess” Jell-o salad.

One month the girls attend Sunday school at church; the next they can be found in Hebrew school.

“It can be challenging because I have to learn one thing and then another thing,” Ella says. “But it can be fun, too, because I know I'm special.”

Brooks doesn't worry about their kids. All she can do is be responsible for her own choices and give them a rich spiritual life, she says. They'll be free to decide what path they want to travel. “God has a plan for everyone, and everything is going to work out,” she says. “I'm not afraid for them.”

Nor is Kamper, though he admits he's starting to realize some rabbis might balk if the girls want bat mitzvahs.

Ella describes how she feels in church.

“I feel comfortable because I'm in God's house. And I also feel comfortable because I know lots of people love me,” she says.

Her parents smile at each other. They want to know if she feels like she's in God's house at synagogue.

“No, but I feel like God's watching over me,” she answers.

Ella then offers to share a typical prayer she and Rosa might recite.

“We fold our arms and close our eyes,” she instructs. “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this food and this family. Please bless those who are sick... And if I was going to sleep,” she decides to add, “Please help me so I won't have nightmares. And if I do, send the Holy Ghost down to comfort me. I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.”

Seconds later, she and her younger sister switch gears.

“Shema, Yisrael. Adonai Eloheinu. Adonai echad,” they sing, the translation being, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”

Across the kitchen, their mother’s voice rises in perfect Hebrew, too.

It's a Jewish prayer sung by a faithful Mormon who believes “all are alike unto God.” And she sings it with every bit of her pioneer spirit.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Judaism • Mormonism • Politics • Same-sex marriage • Women

soundoff (1,778 Responses)
  1. SCG11

    This is a well-written story that is likely to help others, like myself, who struggle with feelings relating to a traditional "religious" upbringing of any sort and a more moderate view of life-issues we deal with today.

    February 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  2. Steve

    II enjoyed this article. In any religion there are times when you have to reconcile your personal believes with some of the core doctrines. It is through that process that faith is built and truth is found.

    February 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  3. Andrea M

    I'm not entirely sure, but I think there's a lot more Mormon women out there like this one than there are the perfect Salt Lake dwelling kind. My in-laws are LDS (Fiancee is ex-LDS, I'm nothing inn particular) and of all the women in the crew, I can think of none who even come close to the stereotype. Sure, they all regularly attend church, but they have a high-test stocked pop machine in the garage. Heck, my brother in law paid for a trip to Vegas with his gambling winnings then ended up partying (sans alcohol) all night with some professional cheerleaders he met all while being a Mormon. Yep, there's funeral potatoes (oh my god those are good, seriously, they're crack, try them) and no coffee machine, but I just switch over to a morning can of Mountain Dew when I'm at their house. The whole Mormon-as-normal-person is something I've definitely had to get used to, but it was a fairly pleasant surprise.

    February 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • wcl

      But then doesn't the hypocracy just drive you nuts?

      February 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Andrea M

      Not really, they're only being hypocritical towards themselves and it's a pretty harmless form of hypocrisy in the grand scheme of things. I'm big on live and let live, so if they want to be out till 2am then wake up and sit in a pew the next morning, that's their game. I'm sleeping in, lol. And really, the Coke rule was abolished ages ago so that's fine, gambling is a grey area too, so it's not hypocrisy so much as being rather normal. What matters to me is the fact that they're all genuinely nice people and I have no problem respecting that even if it comes with a side dish of a religion that's no more bizarre than any other.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • wcl

      Right, but do you deny the pain these harmless hyprocritical beliefs enable against those like gays and lesbians, for example? And many others.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Mel

      In case anybody missed it WCL is trying to tell us that if anybody has beliefs different from his cliches then that person is a hypocrite. Anti-religious folks love to strum the hypocrite chord, even when it doesn't fit particularly well.

      February 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  4. renster

    This article is a reminder that some people want to stand out so badly while being conformist at the same time. This lady is so "different" but so blandly mormon at the same time. If you really want to be intellectual, and logical, and consistent, be atheist. Who in their right frame of mind can believe what the Mormons preach about the origins of black people or Native Americans? Or that Joseph Smith had special access to some golden plates that vanished? Or that the garden of eden is located in the mid-west? It's all so ridiculous, but few are willing to call them out on it publicly because all other religions are based on the so many other bogus and outlandish teachings (e.g., the immaculate conception, LOL!)

    February 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • momoya

      It's the power of the social group and the weak-mindedness of the believer. Joanna sees herself as both a mormon and a person struggling against its ideals because she lacks the courage to go without religion and its easy answers. For most believers it's easier to be the "oddball" who has a more liberal outlook on the faith than to disregard it as false.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Jennifer

      I guess that because of that inevitable thing called death, we will all find out some day who is "right." I like to live my life the way I think I should and let others do the same. Peace out!

      February 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Andrea M

      I think you might be missing the fact that there's a lot of cultural and social aspects that get thrown out the window when you step away from religion. Yeah, it's all pretty weird from a doctrine standpoint, but no church is built purely on doctrine. Churches bring people together, and give them a common cause to bond over. Give up that common bond and you will lose friends and therefore lose some of the culture of the group. A lot of people go to church simply for social reasons (UUies being a perfect example of this and a fair portion of mid-west Methodists who go merely for coffee, doughnuts and town gossip) so staying home on sundays means losing a social outlet. When weighed on balance, sometimes the desire to remain in a group of friends outweighs the questions about silly doctrine. Plus as a not-quite-athiest, I can definitely tell you that ditching a lifetime of belief that you've never had any desire to question is not an easy thing to do. My fiancee has a hard time grasping that, so he tends to just shake his head and roll his eyes at my blind unquestioning belief even where it flies straight into the face of science I also wholeheartedly believe. It's easy to gloss over the bits of science that disprove believe when there's so much other science stuff to enjoy.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • bff

      Andrea,
      You are very correct.
      I guess different people weigh the +'s and -'s differently. Valuing the truth is just a liitle more important to me than joining a group of people that believe incredible things like this, just for the social interaction.

      And if more and more people start doing the same, someday there will be plenty of social groups I (and my kids) can join where we don't have to betray the truth at the same time.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I think it's pretty telling, Jennifer, that you mention death as a reason someone would struggle to keep a faith that no longer fits them. It's sad that so many people choose to live their lives in fear because religious dogma put that particular gun to their head - without a single shred of proof.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • fred

      tallulah13
      It is religion that uses the hammer of fear. It is normally the weaker bully that uses fear and intimidation to control. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus does not teach fear. The word fear the Lord was more related to being in awe, respectful, admiration and worship. Those who are in Christ do not fear death as is commonaly referred as we have already "died" to Christ in that this is no longer our body but a temple filled with the Holy Spirit. With that filling we naturally go about doing good loving things for all. Problem is we usually get the last part wrong or only get there with short bursts of goodness.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Aaron

      Bingo renster!

      February 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I stand by what I said, fred. All you have to do is look at the majority of christian responses from the article on this blog about what people talk about when they are dying. Far too many of your faith think it is good and proper to hijack a persons final hours in order to tell them the special christian horror story of hell and damnation.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Queston

      "Who in their right frame of mind can believe" that in the beginning there was nothing, which exploded? Because that makes so much more sense.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  5. bff

    Boy, the power of indoctrinating a child is incredable, as evidenced by this woman's struggles with her religion later in life.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Jerry

      The thing is, when raising your children, do you reserve the right to 'indoctrinate' your children in your religious beliefs or do you let the world indoctrinate them in worldly beliefs. What's better for your child? In taking a look at the condition of the 'world', I think I will teach my children Christian beliefs to not steal, not lie, not commit adultry, not use God's name as a swear word and to respect parents and elders.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • bff

      I think you don't indoctrinate your childern in anything.
      You teach them how to think critically and rationally.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Joe T.

      There's a difference between indoctrinating and teaching. I will teach my children to use critical thinking skills. I will let them decide what they believe.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Joe T.

      Well done bff. You said exactly what I was thinking.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Greg

      To Jerry,

      You do not need religion, organized or otherwise to teach those things to your children. I love how religion always tries to hijack values and common human decency. Until the world and those who inhabit it realize this, we will always have problems. Most of my family is comprised of very active mormons. I no longer consider myself mormon and do not affiliate with any religion whatsoever. I have been told countless times that my children will have all sorts of problems, etc because of this. The reality? My kids are the most well rounded, moral, smart, honest kids in my entired family.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  6. Glenn

    This is fascinating! Mormons view themselves as "exclusive". The few, the tough, the Mormons!
    1. You have to believe that God lives on his own planet named Kolob
    2. You have to believe that a submarine packed with Jews floated to America (hence, the native americans are really Jews).

    Believe in this and YES you are part of an exclusive group. Ignore, the Mormon doctrine, however, and you find a very nice bunch of people who really take care of themselves.

    P.S. genetic testing has proven that the Navajo are NOT related to Jews, thus the Book of Mormon is cannot be true (it is the basis of the whole Joseph Smith story). Believe in it, however, and you are indeed "exclusive".

    February 6, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Rick

      Your lack of understanding of what Mormons actually claim is staggering. Mormons do believe various groups came to the Americas, as recounted in the Book of Mormon. But if you'd actually read the book, you'd know that one of those groups wasn't even Jewish. So this claim that since DNA says the Navajos aren't related to Jews, the Book of Mormon is therefore false, is just plain wrong. I don't recommend criticizing a book you haven't read.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  7. turnerbroadcast

    Just my own thoughts on all of this. It's interesting to read something about mormonism that doesn't follow the staid and traditional representations. Despite the fact that the LDS church itself does see – to a certain extent – orthodoxy as a form of radicalism – the bottom line here, for this essay – is that it is well written and the subject is eye-opening. You've obviously got a person who is really out there teaching her children well. And she's happily married. That's pretty cool. Whatever it has to do with LDS, or Judaism, or even my dead uncle Saul – I'd say right offhand , this was a fun read!

    February 6, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • turnerbroadcast

      P.S. We're gonna make it after all ;)

      February 6, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  8. widow

    what a joke..what bothers me most about the Mormon religion is how they throw it in your face...they go door to door like a salesman in the 50's...They think they are above others...and mostly because they do all this based on a blatant lie told by mr. Smith... the biggest loser of all time... I mean this ass made people believe a lie after it was proven false..he used the old christian line" you have to have faith"...Amazing how people in modern times in a civilized country believe this line of garbage.what is up with these "Modern" christian religions? I can understand not agreeing with a crazy pope which created the orthodox church and there priests can still be traced back to Peter and Paul.. but all these other religions do not have the powers according to the bible.. they have no connection to Jesus.. they do not have the powers to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.. only orthodox Christians and Catholics do... all the others are a big big scam. if you cannot trace your priest being ordained through other priests that can be traced back to peter and Paul then where did they get the supposed powers from? baptists, Lutherans, protestants, Mormons..etc..etc.. all do NOT have the powers given to Peter and Paul and sent down the line.. Every Priest in the catholic church can be traced back to them.. Same with the greek orthodox church.. How do the others claim to have that power?

    February 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • KULUKC

      AT LEASE YOU WILL NOT BE A DESPERATE HOUSEWIFE. WE HAVE A LOT OF DRIVE. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A DESPERATE MORMON HOUSEWIFE? GOD BLESS VIAGRA!!!

      February 6, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  9. opinion0731

    Interesting article. Joanna walks a thin line between activism and faithfulness. I have known a few individuals similar to Joanna, and they almost always come to a point where they have to make a choice between activism and faith. Sadly, I have found that many choose activism. Wanting the Mormon church to change to be more accommodating to an activists agenda isn't going to happen. Mormon's truly believe that mankind should strive to mold themselves into the men and women that God wants them to be. Activists usually want religion, government and established society to change to be more accommodating to their agenda, whether it is good for society or not. The 10 commandment were not recommendations, to be practiced only when convenient. Our society would be a much better place in every one tried to truly live those ten simple principles.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Jo

      Good point. I think Brooks does have courage, and truly hope she will stay strong in her Mormon faith. However, you are correct that many tend to choose God or the church to be molded, rather than God molding themselves. It is difficult because there are many teachings of God that we as humans have a difficult time understanding, if at all. This is why faith is important. We should use intellect, but understand that our intellect also has flaws and limits that we may not see in this life.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  10. elli

    @john
    I'm no expert, but I don't think John knew when he wrote Revelation that it would become the last book of what would become the New Testament. I think he was referring to his own words. I.e. do not add or change what I have written.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • John

      I guess we should ignore the letters of John then, since most scholars believe they were written after the book of Revelation. I guess John wasn't good at following his own advice then...

      February 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  11. gah

    i know exactly what brooks is going through. like her, i was raised in the church but never accepted all its teachings as absolute truth. i have a gay cousin (also mormon), a pro-choice feminist cousin (also mormon) who graduated from BYU, and then there's me – I'm in the hiatus section of Brooks' journey presently, also brought on by living in CA during the Prop 8 push. it's so hard to deal with a faith that you love because of your heritage but then feel persecuted within your own faith because you ask questions and follow your own heart.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  12. KULUKC

    ILOVE MY RELIGION MAN. NIGHTTIME IS THE BEST FOR ME ALL MY WIVES. DO YOU KNOW HOW GOOD IT FEELS? JOIN MY RELIGION. YOU WILL BE A HAPPY MAN. NO MORE SLEEPING AROUND. YOU WILL BE SLEEPING IN NEXT TO ONE OF YOUR MANY WIVES.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  13. bk

    The Morman religion is a good one to live by but a terrible one to die by.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  14. Dave

    As a Mormon I don't really mind this women's ideas or faith. I am annoyed that the media only gives people like this and antimormons a pedestal on which to speak. Why don't they dedicate an article this long to a mainstream Mormon's defense of issues such as gay rights, genetics and The Book of Mormon, and the wives of the church's founders? Common CNN it is about time!

    February 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Don

      Because Dave, a lot of people would like to put Mormons and other religious groups in a nice tidy box that can be easily criticized and margainlized. There are just as many non-Christians who would disagree with Mrs. Brooks's point of view on social issues as Christians, but they are harder to put in that box. Once you can put someone in a compartment, you instantly become superior. Athiest are just one example of a group looking for a target to blame for everything they don't like while pretending intellectual honesty.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • EJ

      ...which I think is the point Brooks might be trying to get out... "all are alike unto God" ... We shouldn't put people in boxes....and we shouldn't judge people...

      February 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  15. Scott

    QUESTION TO A MORMON: 4 Years ago when Mitt Romney ran for President I did some research and found that a specific tenant of Mormonism is to: "Strive to become a God"...This causes a little concern for me,specifically that the President of the United States would be using his elected office to become "A God; Consider this.....If George Bush had been a Mormon and he went to war in two different countries, how quickly would his critics have accused him of living out his faith? Would a Mormon please respond to this?

    February 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Dave

      Becoming more God like has to do with loving your fellow man, trying to make the right moral decision even if it is hard, etc. So I don't really understand the question, it has nothing to do with political decisions. Plus Mitt has made it clear that he is running for President of The US, not pastor of The US. As president he will be obligated to make whatever decision is best for all Americans, not himself or his church. Being selfless and doing what is best for other seems like a God like quality anyway :)

      February 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • gah

      i was raised mormon though i'm not practicing at the moment. honestly, i don't understand your question. the quest to become "a god" as mormons believe is about trying to become perfect through not sinning not causing war and conquering the world. while there are a lot of tenants of mormonism that i don't agree with (and why i'm not practicing) there are some admittedly positive tenants as well. for instance, we're always taught to avoid debt. heaven knows the US could use that! do i support mitt romney? not really, i'd prefer a candidate who doesn't flip flop, but i do think he's a capable man

      February 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Chris

      Help level set this question for me, what do you see the end result being for Mitt's life if he was to "Strive to become a God"?

      February 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • john

      Once you recieve temple Blessings and everything else, if you die a good mormon you will become a GOD.. this is what Mormons believe..

      It's in their BOM,Pearl of great price , and doctrine in covenants.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Mick

      The concept of becoming a god, according to the Book of Mormon and the Bible, is not one that can be accomplished in this lifetime. As followers of Christ, be embark on a journey that will ultimately get us there. Being on this world is just part of such journey.
      Also, such belief is not one to mean that you can strive become a god just to exersice power and dominion over people.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Rick

      I have been a Mormon for my entire life and I have never heard our tenants phrased like that: "to become a God." Our tenant is to become LIKE God, i.e., develop "god-like attributes" such as love, charity, patience, humility, selflessness, etc.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Susan

      You are confusing the term. We strive to become LIKE God, not A God. Big difference. We strive to be honest, charitable, loving, serving individuals who put others before self, LIKE God did. Not one Mormon thinks that during this life he or she will become anything approaching A God.

      February 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • EJ

      I'm sorry John unless you have read those books you shouldn't say anything. I have read them several times...and studied them along side the Bible. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon or Pearl of Great Price about becoming a "god". Most references for that actually come from the Bible (King James version to be clear). The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and his Atonement that's why it is called another testament of Jesus Christ. Also, anyone who focus' on the idea of becoming a god is really missing the point...the point is like the others here said..it's about trying to do the right thing and following the example of Christ and using his atonement to become clean....

      now whatever that has to do with someone who is a Latter Day Saint becoming president you can decide..

      February 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  16. LouisP

    It's kind of sad that we're all God fearing people living on this earth, yet due to different religious belief, if you do not belong to My religion you're different!
    I can remember growing up Bethesda, Md., our neighborhood was surrounded by the incoming Mormons, most of my friends were non Mormon, they always said "there goes the neighborhood!" For me being a Buddhist, it was an opportunity for me to find and learn a new religion!
    My belief in God/the Creator is that we all worhip the same person...the only difference is the interpretation. As long as we live and respect others, we'll all live in peace and harmony...isn't this what God/the Creator had intended for us to do?
    It would be very interesting that Mitt Romney is elected President, after all Prez O is an undeclared Muslim?
    Don't feel bad, God/the Creator love us all...

    February 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • KULUKC

      I AM A MORMON. I HAVE 30 WIVES. I AM AS HAPPY AS A CAT IN THE FISH MARKET. I AM ALWAYS SMILING AT NIGHT. WHO CARES WHAT PEOPLE SAY. VOTE WARREN JEFFS FOR PRESIDENT. HE IS BETTER THAN ROMNEY. ROMNEY IS NOT A REAL MORMON BECAUSE HE DOES NOT HAVE MANY WIVES.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Patrick

      @LouisP
      You are living in make believe land. We are NOT “all God fearing people”. Also your statement: My belief in God/the Creator is that we all worhip the same person. Is because you are ignorant of the other belief systems.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Cllgestdnt

      At kulluck. You're not Mormon. I'm a mormon, and you sound like the kind of person our community keeps away from. Go back to your Texas ranch and troll there.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  17. KULUKC

    I am the phophet. I can marry 12 yearolds. Have 30 juvinile wievs. I got my message from God. Now God says I should marry Mrs. Romney as my 31st wife. I love my Mormonism. I am guaranteed a woman every night. VOTE WARREN JEFF FOR PRESIDENT!!!

    February 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • McT

      Warren Jeffs ain't a Mormon dude – he's very far from Mormonism in fact

      February 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Mr. Realistic

      Wrong religion, and in case you're not informed, Warren Jeffs is in prison for life bro. Warren Jeff's religion is dissolving, simply because it was obviously and blatantly wrong and messed up. Mormons don't believe in plural marriage dude. Cmon bro do some research before you blast your opinion into the world.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Mick

      It is obvious you know nothing about the Mormon church and you are nothing but a fool, believing nasty rumors. If you want to know about carpentry, you go to a carpenter, not to someone who knows nothing about carpentry. Get your facts straight.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Dave

      Ignorance.....alive and well.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • John

      It seems as though you don't know how to edit a sentence though...

      February 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  18. john

    I've been excommunicated from the mormon religion due to speaking out against how the Bible contradicts the Book of Mormon. All I need to say, and how EVERYTHING is summed up by Revelations 22:18-21....

    18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

    19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

    21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

    It's funny... I've spoken with Stake Presidents/bishops/ temple presidents/ and top diciples about this scripture.... and NOT ONE has given me an answer on it.

    Mormonisn is a CULT and will destroy peoples lives.

    I consider myself lucky to actually come out of Mormonism sain.

    I have studied and studied everything you can think of... just have faith in Jesus Christ, our savior. And be the person you are suppose to be.. but don't fall for profitable churches like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    The BIble is the only true doctrine.

    Feel free to comment.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • McT

      Ha ha, John, you wouldn't get excommunicated at all for that. You've talked to all those people and haven't received an answer? You could find one just by googling. How about how most historians say that the book revelations was written by John way before many of pauls writings, and that those scriptures just refer to anybody adding onto the book of revelations. By the way, when the Bible was organized (bible meaning "collected writings") they were all a bunch of separate books and were organized by length, not chronologically. It says the same thing Deuteronomy 4:2.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Patrick

      @The BIble is the only true doctrine.
      Please define ‘true’ as the bible as repeatedly proven to be inaccurate, inconsistent and outright contradictory.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • john

      McT,

      I have a letter from the Ex-Prophet Gordon B Hinckley stated that I have been removed form the records of the church and I have been excommunicated. Don't say that I wouldn't be excommunicated if I have proof..

      The key is that there is no evidence of the golden plates, the sear stones, the sword.. EVERYTHING...

      I was about to go on a mission for this church.. and once I started questioning it.. I was excommunicated..

      As well, my parents kicked me out of the house, I haven't spoken to them since. My mother hit me, and my father threw my stuff on the street...

      You're either a mormon or your not..

      The Bible was put together by time periods, and even so.. adding different contents to it, like the BOok of Mormon, wouldn't even flow with what the Bible preaches.

      Additionally,

      February 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Mick

      John, how often did you go to church, and how seriously did you take it? Any LDS member (to iclude nonmembers) knows that the Book of Mormon is not part of the bible; t is a separate book to reiterate and strengthen the bible. Consider this quote: "It is better to be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt."

      February 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • JDJ

      The Bible warns against later revelations by stating:

      "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8

      Mormonism is founded on the assertion that an angel spoke with Joseph Smith about starting a new belief system.

      The particular difficulty is that Mormonism contains a lot of truth, but misses the mark. God does not offer salvation to people because they are good, but He makes people good after they repent of their sin and ask for forgiveness. If I can only make it to Heaven because I keep the 10 Commandments, I assure you I will not make it.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Norm G

      The bible is a compilation of many books and John was only refering to the book of Revelations in reference to Revelations 22:18. He was not refering to the whole bible which is not one book but many. Deuteronomy 4:2 also talks about not adding to the words in Deuteronomy, which if blown out of context would come to mean that all scripture past Deuteronomy was not meant to be and therefore false including Revelations. So keep in mind that these two quotations were only meant for their specific books in the bible compilation.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Norm G

      @JDJ: Paul taught the gospel of, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The angel Moroni came to Joseph Smith to teach him the same gospel through the revealed Book of Mormon.Galations 1:8 states any other gospel than this. The Book of Mormon gospel and the gospel that Paul taught are one and the same. Read what Paul taught then read the Book of Mormon and you will see that they both teach faith in Christ, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Moroni is not that "an angel from heaven" who taught a different gospel.

      February 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • john

      Exactly what JDJ said.....

      Galatians 1:8

      explain that? Because you still can't fully explain it without bringing up the BOM...

      Don't use the BOM to explain it... use basic knowledge..

      But you can't, because you always try to refer to the BOM for support.

      There would be better evidence and proof of the golden plates if this was another testament to go hand in hand with the bible.

      February 6, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • GodPot

      "There would be better evidence and proof of the golden plates if this was another testament to go hand in hand with the bible."

      I love how Christians try and use the unsubstantiated revelation of the golden plates as an excuse to discredit the BOM but then have no problem whipping out their bible which they claim was inspired of God which has angels and miracles and stone tablets supposedly written by God of which NONE can be verified. It's like saying "You are so stupid for thinking the moon is made of cheese when it's obvious to any true Mooninite that it's made from cotton candy."...

      February 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • john

      ok then..

      Explain why blacks weren't allowed to get in the temple for so long?

      Explain why you HAVE to give 10%, why can't it be with a willing heart?

      Explain why GOD would EVER let polygamy be ok?

      Explain why Brigham young told his people to go murder those people who passed through Utah, and he said God told him so.

      Explain why once Martin harris took some pages of the book of mormon home to his wife, LUCY, Joseph couldn't remember ANY of the words written on those pages.... and he said because he was being punished by God.

      Explain why baptism for the dead is NEVER mentioned in the Bible.

      Explain why "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known" (John 1:18). and that God would come to a 14 year old.

      February 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • John

      I'm disappointed we share the same name John, that is the easiest thing to answer. Most scholars believe that more of the current New Testament was written after he wrote that. I guess he John couldn't follow his own advice about not adding or taking away..?

      February 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • GodPot

      @John – I don't need to explain any of that nonsense since I was only pointing out that the BOM is as verifiable as the bible, which is not at all. I was not defending Mormons, I was showing you Christians that you are all in the same nut filled boat.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Dan

      John it says the same thing in Deuteronomy. If that's the case, the entire Bible after Deuteronomy would be null and void. Why don't you tell us the real reason you left the Church. You are either making up your excommunication and you aren't even a member, or you committed a grevious sin and are tying to spend the rest of your life justifying your way out of it. It doesn't work either way, I am afraid.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • John

      ps John: I just saw your rant up above. Have you read the Bible? God allowed polygamy in the Old Testament on several occasions...Baptism for the dead is mentioned in the Bible, and people have seen God before. I think you need to read the Bible before you go on your rants. It's the book that's kind of thick and has lots of smaller books inside. Starts with the book of "Genesis"

      February 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • john

      I'm talking God the father... no one has ever seen him..

      As for baptism for the dead it is mentioned but it is not said to baptism live be in behalf of dead people.

      NO where in the bible it says that.

      and to answer why i got excommunicated.. because I stood up in sacrament meeting and told everyone that it was a fake... and then later on i met with the stake high council and asked them multiple questions... and they could only answer 2 out of the 50 things i asked...

      I was a loyal member until I was 19, and then I grew some brains..

      They consume you in everyday bible study, family home evening, wednesday night church, relief society, priesthood meetings, etc... They get your soo wrapped into it.. If you leave you might as well be shunned.

      @Dan I was a member my whole life. my dad was a bishop for 4 years, and as of today is actually a temple president... so don't act like I don't know anything about the mormon religion.

      I practically know everything.

      It's sicking.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Dan

      @John: I didn't act like you didn't know anything about the Mormon religion. I acted like you don't know much about the Bible, which now seems even clearer to me. I would say though that if I based my faith on 19 year old faith, I would have left the Church long ago too. If what you say is true, you left too early. You apparently know a lot, but sadly not the right things....That said, if you are a still a practicing Christian today, then good on you.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Mel

      Reply to John, the first, I think. You said you grew brains at age 19. We are looking for evidence of that, so far we haven't seen much. Maybe we need a better archeologist to help us.

      February 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Mormon Mom

      I think what you are missing is that the author and prophet of THAT book is John. John says not to add to 'this book'. The bible is made up of MANY MANY books. All with different prophets as the authors. Each testifying of Christ. John is asking that people do not change HIS book, the one that he is the prophet and author of. It doesn't say that you can not have other books, or there wouldn't be much written in the New Testament, Bible, Book of Mormon, etc. John understood a fundamental truth about the Bible, it would be translated, taken away from, added too over the course of 2000 years. He is asking to keep HIS book as pure to it's truths as possible in spite of time and translations. I hope that helps those who have read that and struggled with it.

      February 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • John

      John you're a champ, I love the flip flop. Baptism for the dead is NEVER mentioned in the Bible, Oh wait it is but who cares! You're great man. Ps: I also have yet to see the brains, mostly just ramblings that then get debunked 1 or 2 comments down. Did you ever check out the book I mentioned to you, the one called "The Bible"? Also, the scriptures say that Stephen saw Jesus on the right hand of God, sounds like he had God as the reference point for Jesus....

      February 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • john

      tell me this....

      Galatians 1:7-10

      7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

      8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

      9As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

      10For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

      Joseph Smith SUPPOSIVELY saw Moroni?

      And by the way @Mel and @DAN, I think I'm a pretty smart cookie for my age now. I'm 22 years old and I go to a top 10 school in the nation for Graduate school. I work for the #1 firm in the world of investment banking and I have more faith in Jesus than most of the world. So i feel that I'm pretty blessed.

      I know who I am, and you should know who you are. Christ is my Savior, as he is yours. But my beliefs are my beliefs... and I stand firm for what I believe. I also know what I saw, and I know what goes on in that religion. I know what the religion is about and I know exactly why I left that religion.

      It's all my opinion... this is why we are blessed to have freedom of religion/speech.

      February 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • john

      @John

      I love the flip flop on you too.

      You could only SOMEWHAT answer the questions I asked.... but you only TRIED to answer 1-2... try ALL of them

      February 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • john

      @John As well... NEVER ONCE DOES IT SAY THAT STEPHEN SAW "GOD THE FATHER". It says he saw the GLory of God, and Jesus standing to the right hand of God. Oh you know... they guy above Jesus? See you're as well a flip-flopper... you might not know what you're talking about...

      February 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • John

      Did I flip flop? Or just not answer all of your questions? I guess that "Top 10 ten graduate school education" hasn't covered what a flip flop is yet huh...which to me sounds like a bunch of bs.... Let's be honest, you are 22, trying to do a hack job on a church that you say you know what it's all about but clearly don't, quoting bible verses that are easily explained.....

      Galatians 1:8? Is this like disprove Mormonism 101? Yea it says if an angel announces another gospel to you it's wrong, I don't think that happened, sounds like what was announced was to believe in Christ, get baptized, repent, have faith...doesn't sound different to me. And it's not like he was writing to say that nothing should be added on, since a significant portion of the New Testament was written after that...

      February 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • john

      @John

      Your post is pathetic.... you didn't prove one point whatsoever. SO tell me this... DID MORONI COME TO JOSEPH OR NOT?

      February 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • john

      @John

      Your post is pathetic.... you didn't prove one point whatsoever. SO tell me this... DID MORONI COME TO JOSEPH OR NOT???

      February 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • john

      @John

      oh and btw... you haven't explained anything to me that I haven't already known, and you haven't shown me ANY proof of the mormon religion be the ONLY TRUE CHURCH ON THE PLANET.....Yeah i remeber hearing that in primary... if you wnat to talk about bs.... that's BS

      February 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • John

      Oh John, you need to lay off the caps lock bud. Anyways, if you already knew all this why were you posting false information? If you knew that God had been ok with polygamy, why did you say He wouldn't have been? And if you knew that baptism for the dead was mentioned in the Bible, why did you say it wasn't? If you knew that it did....why would you say it didn't?

      Also, even if Joseph Smith saw an angel is that blocked by Galatians? Didn't John see many angels during the Revelation? And I never said that the Mormon Church was the only true church. How come every time your comments are disproved you just move on to some other topic, seems like this is a pattern. You say something false then it is corrected, and you bring up something new lol.....

      February 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  19. Jimmy

    I think religion blows unless you are the pope. He is like a 20th Level Cleric with awesome spells. I think it might be cool to be a sith lord too, then you could shoot lightening from your fingers. But the rest of the religions are weak. When religion finally dies away, man will have begun the evolution into a species that has a chance of making it off this planet.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Dave in Portland

      LOL. Being a Sith Lord is pretty cool. Just play swtor and find out.

      And before I receive all of the inevitable nerd comments, don't bother. I'm an ex-military IT specialist with a girlfriend and my own apartment.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  20. scaredsilly

    Inform yourselves fully about this religion. They are looking to take over the world.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Patrick

      They all are.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • angryersmell

      Considering the other religions that are out there, I hope they succeed.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Merino

      First we will take over the USA thanks to Mitt then the world muaah muaah

      February 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.