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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. LDS Convert

    Joanna is closer to being an apostate than a "pioneer". The liberal media here has found a sap to play along with their 50-year agenda to destroy sacred Christian beliefs. Sister Brooks, the restored gospel is about obedience and repentance, meaning we obey the gospel and repent when we don't. There is no glory in being rebellious or "different". Judas Iscariot was both rebellious and different, and look what it got him. Furthermore, we don't vote for our Prophet, we sustain our Prophet. When the Prophet speaks, the debate is over. We do what he says because his counsel to us comes directly from God, but you seem to know better than he. Would you please enlighten us and tell us from what source you receive your knowledge and wisdom that is greater and wiser than God? "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

    February 7, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Eddiejay

      To LDS Convert – whoooooaaa!!! Mormonism is NOT Christian. It is NOT derived from the one true Church created by Christ (the Catholic Church), nor is it one of the Protestant faiths that derive their basic beliefs from Catholicism. In fact, much of the original Book of Mormon is in stark contrast with the Bible – all versions of it. Only after decades was Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon edited to be more palatable to both its followers and its detractors. Mormons are hoodwinked!! Nothing more...nothing less...

      February 7, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Alpa Chino

      Christian is as christian does, everybody else STFU

      February 7, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • rick

      Wow, LDS, feeling a bit put upon?

      February 7, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  2. Alyssa

    Everyone is free to believe as they choose. All I ask is for respect for my beliefs. I have been taught by the LDS church to respect others beliefs, no matter what they may be or how strange or different they may seem to me.

    February 7, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Is that what your church teaches? Because when I've sat in on ward meetings or read something from the leadership, it doesn't seem terribly respectful. At least, I don't feel respected when someone tells me that my life is sad and empty because of my beliefs.

      February 7, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • LDS Convert

      The LDS Church indeed teaches its members to respect others' beliefs and that we all have the right to choose. However, the seminal point of LDS doctrine isn't about the right to choose, but to choose the right. There is a distinct difference between right and wrong, or Jesus' entire life of teachings is for naught. While the Lord gives us our agency to choose any of a great number of paths to follow, the Lord and his Prophet teaches us to choose the path of righteousness.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • *facepalm*

      "There is a distinct difference between right and wrong"

      Like how polygamy is right ... except when it's wrong. Or how black people are wrong ... except when they're right.

      You know, it would be a lot easier to distinguish right from wrong if your god didn't keep changing his mind every few years. For an omnipotent being, he sure seems confused.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • I Don't Get It

      LDSConvert,

      Therefore, you think that others have chosen the path of non-righteousness? And you respect non-righteousness?

      February 7, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Eddiejay

      to *facepalm* – Don't stop there. Keep in mind that in his ignorance of the advance of western civilization and natural history, Joseph Smith included physical impossibilities in his Book of Mormon that were not easily disproven until the 20th century. It is because science couldn't stand up and cry "LIAR" back then that his baby religion was able to latch on to so many gullible converts. Today, science debunks dozens of material points made in the Book of Mormon. Smith mentions the use of chariots in the Americas. Archeology proves that chariots didn't exist. In fact, the wheel as a mode of transportation didn't even exist until Columbus introduced it. Smith mentions horses as beasts used for transportation. He couldn't have known that horsed had become extinct int he Americas at least 5-8,000 years BEFORE the settlement detailed in the Book of Mormon. They were not re-introduced until the Spanish conquests of the 1500's. Smith mentions transparent glass pane windows – which were not created until he 11th century AD. Smith mentions the cultivation of wheat and barley, not realizing they did not exist in the Americas until introduced post-Columbus. Smith introduces a form of "Egyptian" writing that modern scholars laugh at as being nothing more than "doodles". Smith mentions entire cities, none of which has EVER been proven by archeological means – the same means that discovered Troy, etc. Smith claimed that American Indians descended from the Israelite settlers on the Americas. He had no knowledge of future DNA proof that most descend from Asian stock – which supports science's position that the Americas were originally settled by Asians crossing the land bridge that existed 10-15,000 years ago. He was also apparently unaware that 140+ years after his own death, scientists would uncover native American remains in California that pre-date event he supposed Israelite settlement. Yes, what a shame science could not stand up in the 1830's and cry "LIAR". And what a greater shame that in the 21st Century, when it can, it either refuses to do so, or is totally ignored by otherwise intelligent people too afraid to face their "religion" and call it the farce that it is.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • *facepalm*

      "Yes, what a shame science could not stand up in the 1830's and cry "LIAR". And what a greater shame that in the 21st Century, when it can, it either refuses to do so, or is totally ignored by otherwise intelligent people too afraid to face their "religion" and call it the farce that it is."

      I completely agree, those such a rational analysis of the obvious flaws of religion shouldn't stop with mormonism

      February 7, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Alyssa

      Yes, the LDS church does teach us to respect others:
      "We can respect other religions, and must do so. We must recognize the great good they accomplish. We must teach our children to be tolerant and friendly toward those not of our faith. We can and do work with those of other religions in the defense of those values which have made our civilization great and our society distinctive." President Gordon B. Hinckley

      http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/04/we-bear-witness-of-him?lang=eng&query=respecting+other+religions

      February 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  3. The one

    First of all, Feminism is evil. It exists at the expense of children and men. Its disguised as equality, but its true purpose is the subjugation of men and the murder of innocent children, so that a misandrist can live as she chooses.

    Feminism; responsible for the decline of the family unit, along with abortions need to be snuffed out of this society, if we are to move on as decent people.

    Secondly, Atheism is the most self absorbed religion known to man. Where the atheist is their own God, and they preach hate against anybody who opposes their own self absorbed religion. They believe as they think, and therefore do as they please.

    Now I'm not Mormon, but I have no use for a self righteous Atheist – they are what it is wrong with this world.

    Oh and to the imposter who is trolling this site: I am flattered, I must be doing something right for you to want my persona ;)

    February 7, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Mirosal

      How very arrogant of you. Atheism is not a religion. There are no 'holy books', no savoirs, no prayers, no heirarchy, no minsters, nobody who will go door-to-door in order to convert others. How can you call something a religion which by defintion has no belief in any deity? You sound rather self-righteous in your post, and isn't that the very thing you were spouting off against in the first place? Hypocrite.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • don't feed the trolls

      Mirosal, please don't feed the trolls. @The one is an obvious troll – he's posted essentially the identical post several times now trying to get a rise out of people.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • The one

      "There are no 'holy books', no savoirs, no prayers, no heirarchy, no minsters, nobody who will go door-to-door in order to convert others. How can you call something a religion which by defintion has no belief in any deity?"

      Choose to worship yourself in whichever way you like. But is not the hate speech, and ridicule, coming from all of the atheist on here not a way of trying to convert people to your foolery? When you believe in nobody but yourself, you are placing yourself as God, therefore worshiping only yourself. You believe as you think, therefore you do as you choose. That's your religion; the most self absorbed/self righteous religion known to man.

      It would take a troll to know a troll ;)

      February 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  4. Reality

    Bottom line: Mormonism is a business cult using religion as a front and forced donations/t-ithes and volunteer work to advertise said business.

    February 7, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • reality bites

      Reality: bottom line, you are a fool. Go attack the America hating Muslim Hussein obama if you want to attack something. You probably want sharia law for everyone because you are a nincompoop.

      February 7, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Reality

      Bottom line: Mormonism is a business/employment/investment cult using a taxing i.e. ti-thing "religion" as a front and charitable donations and volunteer work to advertise said business. And the accounting books
      are closed to all but the prophet/"profit" and his all-male hierarchy.

      Tis a great business model i.e. charge your Mormon employees/stock holders a fee/t-ithe and invest it in ranches, insurance companies, canneries, gaudy temples, a great choir and mission-matured BYU football and basketball teams.

      And all going back to one of the great cons of all times i.e. the Moroni revelations to Joseph Smith analogous to mythical Gabriel's revelations to the hallucinating Mohammed !!!
      ==========================================================================================

      February 7, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  5. bubbleboy

    Considering how persecuted Mormons were at their origin, I'm surprised they're not more guarded than they already are.
    It's a baby religion taking baby steps, give it a break. Why go pitchfork crazy on these "horrible" Mormons who are just scared of their own shadows? So what?

    All Mormons have done wrong, as far as I can tell, is be a little too insular and conservative–and considering all this backlash, can you blame them?

    February 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  6. Stacie

    I am a pagan of sorts, and this brilliant lady has become one of my favorite Mormons! I hope all who follow any spiritual path or none at all may follow her example and spread love. This woman, like many others, inspires me. Kick butt, sister!!

    February 6, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      This is what I like to see.

      February 7, 2012 at 3:04 am |
  7. Abinadi

    Why I am a Mormon. Because it fulfills prophecy. Isaiah looked upon the latter days with relish and delight. In his 2nd chapter he states:

    “2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain ofthe LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains,and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow untoit.
    3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up tothe mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; andhe will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for outof Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD fromJerusalem.”

    Utah is a Ute Indian word that means literally “Top of the mountains”. The saints didn’t name Utah. Congress did. They thought they were foisting something on those Mormons by ignoring the saints suggestion that it be named Deseret. They probably didn’t even know they were fulfilling prophecy. What a fine little joke the Lord played on them . The mountain of the Lord’s house refers to the Salt Lake Temple.

    In chapter 29 he states,
    “ 4 And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of theground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voiceshall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground,and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.” Which is a reference to the Book of Mormon because it had been hid in the ground.

    In Ezekiel 37 the Lord says, “ 15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
    16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and writeupon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions:then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stickof Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
    17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shallbecome one in thine hand.
    18 ¶And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee,saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
    19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will takethe stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and thetribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even withthe stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be onein mine hand.
    20 ¶And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine handbefore their eyes.”

    This refers to the Book of Mormon because the people of the Book of Mormon were from the tribe of Joseph and the Church of Jesus Christ has combined the Bible with the Book of Mormon and they have become one in our hand.

    This post is getting too long, so I will take this up again later.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Abinadi

      I would just like to mention that the Lord, through Isaiah, spoke directly to you good people who are reading this blog this very day. In Isaiah 6, he said, " 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

      10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."

      Do you think that refers to some of the people making comments on this blog?

      February 6, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Isaiah 29: 18, 19 goes along with verse 4 above and says, " 18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.

      19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."

      February 6, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Abinadi

      The Lord was speaking to us when he said in Isaiah 30, "9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord:

      10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:"

      February 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • rick

      "I would just like to mention that the Lord, through Isaiah, spoke directly to you good people"

      How does one speak DIRECTLY to someone through another?

      February 7, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  8. Abinadi

    Why I am a mormon. Mormon is a nickname given to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We call ourselves saints because that is what the Christians called themselves in Jesus’ time. It is Latter-days because we are the Church of Jesus Christ of modern times which are the latter days. The church is organized on the same principles as the original and ancient church of Jesus Christ on the foundation of living apostles and prophets and with priesthood authority from God. Our beliefs are summarized by the Articles of Faith:

    “We believe in God the eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
    “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
    “We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
    “We believe that the first principle[s] and ordinances of the Gospel are: (1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; (4) Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    “We believe that a man must be called of God by prophecy and by the laying on hands, by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
    “We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, viz: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.
    “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.
    “We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
    “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
    “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this [the American] continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
    “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the di ctates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
    “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying[,] honoring, and sustaining the law.
    “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul, ‘We believe all thing[s], we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
    “Respectfully, &c., Joseph Smith”
    Anyone who would like to know more about the church can go to mormon.org.

    February 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • momoya

      No thanks.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • grinder

      mormon stands for retards that fall for con artists

      February 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • nomo

      As a Gentile in Utah,(any non Mormon) I think the most acerbic comments are from former Mormons who feel they were lied to and cheated like Sally when she questions Linus teachings on the Great Pumpkin. In my experience, the woman in this article is not a "Real" Mormon and will probably be ex-communicated. This kindly depiction of faith is to make Mitt Romney more palatable. Be advised, a Wealthy Mormon has has much in common with the average American as a space alien. If you want to see how Mormons see the world, come to Utah.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Thanks, Nomo, but these good people don't need to travel clear out here to Utah, although we would love to have them. Just go to mormon.org and you can meet Mormons and talk to them.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  9. Evelyn

    For those of you who feel the need to put down Mormons, you may not be aware that the more people attack us, the more converts we get. By the way, while CNN may call her the "it" girl, you won't find very active members who share her rebellion for many, many very good reasons. Try to find out our real beliefs and why we hold them. The Church has several websites with good information including Mormon.org and LDS.org.

    February 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the true face of the LDS church. Nothing to do with inclusion or tolerance of other beliefs. Just an unfaltering belief that you are better than everyone else.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • sam

      "Blah blah, I know what a real mormon is because I am one, blah blah." Come on.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Eddiejay

      Evelyn – according to a 2005 source, in the US, Mormons are departing from the faith as fast as converts are joining. One of the problems is because it is about as easy as buttoning a shirt to convert to Mormonism and be accepted into the Mormon Church. KEEPING members, however, is not easy, and the Mormon Church's really contradictory teachings and suspect origins are a key factor in so many people leaving to include so many new converts who had no investment in the Mormon Church and quickly realize it is based on a farcical beginning. Mormon apologists will simply say that the numbers are deceiving....that there are many more Mormons out there who simply are not in places where they can practice and attend services regularly....HAHAHA...so much for a "faith" that has a revolving door retention capability. The only SURE way for Mormons to increase their flock is to breed more and more – something Mormons are quite prone to do.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Jen

      FFS. Her "rebellion"? Because she thinks differently than you? Because she stands up for people, even people who *gasp* don't fit your cookie cutter mold?

      You make it sound like she's standing outside the chapel in a micro mini smoking a joint and handing out Anti-Mormon literature.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      You are so out of touch

      February 7, 2012 at 3:05 am |
  10. Kathy Dangerfield

    I really enjoyed the article. It was interesting to read how Joanna has managed to find a place for herself within a faith community that often has difficulty dealing with individuals like her. God is no respecter of persons even though people can't hep but be. The faith that sustains her is one that sustains me also, and although I have not experienced Joanna's struggles I do appreciate her candor and commitment to truth as she finds her peace and her place.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  11. Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D.

    There's nothing wrong with a person feeling passionate about their religion. The problems come when a person (or group of people) try to force their beliefs on others. Being a practicing and very passionate Pagan, I can understand the love of one's beliefs. As I can also understand the persecution, criticism and bigotry of the righteously ignorant.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Eddiejay

      Ahhhh....Springwolf...but sometimes it is the believer in a particular religion who denies its suspect origins (i.e., being founded by a scam artist named Joseph Smith) who is the righteously ignorant.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  12. Abinadi

    Why I am a Mormon. Because Joseph Smith was a true prophet. False prophets are always alone when they have their "visions". That is because it never happened to put it nicely. Joseph Smith had witnesses to everything he said. Witnesses are central to the gospel. Paul said, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." Here is the testimony of the 3 witnesses to the Book of Mormon as set forth in the introduction to the Book of Mormon:
    "Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
    Oliver Cowdery
    David Whitmer
    Martin
    Harris"
    That is the difference between Joseph Smith and the false prophets – JOSEPH SMITH HAD WITNESSES!

    We are also ent itled to a witness as individuals that we not be deceived. In the Book of Mormon, God gave the following promise to every one who will read the Book of Mormon with si ncerity and faith:
    " 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sin cere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
    5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
    Some of you may have gotten a witness as you read these words. The Lord's sheep know his voice and the truth will have a familiar ring to them. I want to say that I have received that witness and I know of a surety that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. You can get more information at mormon.org.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • B-Squared

      I heard Rosco P Coltrane was a witness as well.

      February 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • The One

      This is simplistic and moronic. Have you ever heard of a "conspiracy". Its even easier to invent a religion with two or more people than it is with one. The "witnesses" were obviously in cahoots with Smith. Do the research on the witnesses and I am sure it will be self evident. Remember, take off your blinders, question authority including that of your religion and government, look through the smoke and mirrors to the simple logical explanations. Magic is not real and neither are profits.

      February 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • ja-coffalotte

      nobody reads your manifesto N-nuts

      February 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Abinadi

      @The one, boy you are really in denial aren't you?

      February 6, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • The One

      Jesus people, you are the nut jobs. At the end of the day, Its all lies made up to gain control over people. Man has done this as soon as he learned to talk and then write, including writing in a magical language that can only be interpreted by seer stones given to a "prophet" by a golden mystical angel. bah ha ha ha ha. Whatever, I'm going to go grab a beer, because my god lets me drink. Stay in awkward nerdville for the rest of your ignorant life.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Eddiejay

      JOSEPH SMITH HAD WITNESSES! = JOSEPH SMITH HAD ACCOMPLICES!

      February 6, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • grinder

      joeboy smith used seer stones in a hat

      you think he was a prophet huh

      so much for common sense

      February 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  13. momoya

    I don't understand why some of the Mormons who are commenting are acting like CNN did something wrong. It seems to me that CNN is representing Mormons quite favorably since they display a modern, sensible, two-faithed-household mother as a representative.

    CNN could have done a story on some very rigid Mormon, and included some weird rant about his underwear or how Joe psychically read the Urim and Thummim correctly. Why is CNN biased TOWARDS Mormons? Why aren't they picking the low-hanging fruit–the absolute stupidity of some of the Mormon belief?

    February 6, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  14. cludgie

    I love Joanna, and read her often, if not faithfully. I love how she wants to crack the veneer of Mormon stupidity and wedge some kind of sense into it. I love her gentle criticisms of the LDS faith and fault her only for how gentle she actually is (reminding people that I am someone who would like to completely dismantle Mormonism). Like it or not, however gentle these criticisms are, they will eventually get her into hot water with the Big 15 Mormons and she will eventually receive LDS church discipline. No Mormon leader has ever liked a feminist intellectual, or worse yet, it's evil half-twin, the intellectual feminist. Then we'll see how much she misses the LDS church and all its "charms."

    February 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  15. thinkabouit

    Its still a sick false religion.I wouldnt be surprised if she is not being paid by Romney to try to get people to look at his religious preference as something normal and ok, Mormonism is not Christianity.Christianity teaches truth, Mormons teach a sick twisted dark message.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Which denomination of Christianity are you talking about? Every one of them would say the same thing about your denomination. What makes what you believe the truth when all those other denominations use the same Bible to justify their own assertions that they have it right.

      February 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • momoya

      You do realize that there are people who have twice as much faith that they are right and you are wrong as you have faith that they are wrong and you are right? Why do god believers believe in the same math, but in so many different gods? Think!

      February 6, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • ....Really

      Having attend the Mormon church for the early two decades of my life, I can honestly tell you that they've only said the nicest things about other churches and religions. Of course they believe theirs is the most correct of churches, but they would rather people worship Christ via any avenue than not at all. This is a notable difference between the Mormon church and so called "Christians". Countless times I've heard the Mormon church publicly praise others, while witnessing "Christian" churches preach loathing and enmity towards Mormons and Catholics -doesn't sound very christian to me.

      As a former member of the church, I can only think of my experience with the church as a positive one. It's not a cult, and those that deride it as one are more likely to be in a "cultish" church than any Mormon. Though it's unlikely to happen (judging by the broken sentences and emotionally charged, faulty logic of these posts), I encourage you to research the definition of a cult, and you'll discover that these "Christian" churches more closely fit the definition.

      Food for thought.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Eddiejay

      To HawaiiGuest – the fallacy in your comments is to say that all Christians use the same Bible. That is incorrect. The original Bible was assembled by the Catholic Church and was relatively complete within the first few hundred years of the Catholic Church. In fact, until the 1500's, there was only ONE Christian faith on the planet – Catholicism. Following the Protestant Reformation, there were numerous "Christian" faiths, but there remained only one which could trace its lineage directly back to Jesus Christ as its founder. The founder of the Lutheran faith was not Christ, but Martin Luther, etc. It is the Catholic Bible that has remained virtually unchanged for more than a thousand years. Even the Book of Mormon (supposedly inspired by God) was changed numerous times to accommodate/eradicate glaring inconsistencies with the Bible – a sure sign that Mr. Smith was an ignorant scam artist who preyed on people – and he was convicted of it prior to his "prophet" days. SCAM!! SCAM SCAM!

      February 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • grinder

      hey really

      look up the definition of what a cult is genius

      if youre too lazy to do that then here it is

      religion = cult

      same thing

      get over it

      February 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Guy

      Christianity is truth? I'm not Mormon, but seems to me you're puttin on airs. theres plenty of things wrong with many Christian folks.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  16. The One

    This Church like all "Organized Religions" is false and based on ridiculous lies and false pretenses from its fake, lying prophet Joseph Smith to foster his own agenda, mainly saving his own but . The sad thing is that the members are very nice but all too gullible who don't question anything because they have been brainwashed from the womb to accept this church and follow it like unquestioning sheep. If something is true, like 2+2 is 4, do you really need to self affirm it at every opportunity in front of your peers as the Mormons do during their meetings by saying "I know the church is true" The Church is a super huge business enterprise at this point and they are here to stay. They run it tighter than the FBI. Which is why they are trying to bury their skeletons, hide their silly doctrine, and changing doctrine and policy at the drop of the dime to become more globally PC. Let's scratch the surface a little, shall we.... polygamy was part of their basic doctrine and highly encouraged until they wanted Utah to become a state, then it was totally yucky and forbidden, kind of like black people were a scourge, until they realized that the whole world would hate them for being racist, then its all, "Yeah, we like the darkies, matter of fact lets go to Africa and convert them all. Africans are to uneducated there to know how full of cr@p this church of convenience is" As soon as something falls out of favor with the crazy doctrine, just change the doctrine. Presto. Also, the fact that Brigham Young authorized the killing of scores of fellow Americans at the Mountain Meadow Massacre, just underscores the brainwashing power of this religion. The members of this church are nice people but they don't question this stuff or the 1000 other examples of illogical doctrine and history which pretty much proves this church is false and which shows how dangerous this church is. I wish I could take their blinders off and set them free. The reality is that I'm sure most members do realize all the BS at some point, but just ignore it as the church just becomes an all encompassing social and cultural hub that they are permanently ingrained in, as most religions are. Just sayin'. Also, trust me, I am well aware that the Catholic church has probably killed more people in the name of that religion than all religions combined. See my reference to "all organized religions" in my first sentence.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • k

      Obey the one and only one God. Every time humanity deviated from this path, God sent down His of prophets (Noah, Ibrahim, Mosses Jesus and Mohammed were among thousands) who carried this single message to the whole humanity (And they all had the highest moral standards). That is the message of Islam.

      God speaks to the whole humanity through His book Quran..

      “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

      “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

      “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

      “…anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people....." Qur'an [5:32]

      Most exalted is the One in whose hands is all kingship, and He is Omnipotent.The One who created death and life for the purpose of distinguishing those among you who would do better. Quran [67.2]

      Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous. Quran [5:46]

      Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

      February 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  17. HawaiiGuest

    @noolibs

    You really give new meaning to the words, idiotic, partisan, and arrogant.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  18. AnnieM

    Do you realize that if you take the second 'M" out of Mormon it becomes Moron? Makes you wonder what Joseph Smith really had in mind...

    February 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Sammy

      The Angel Joseph Smith made up was named Moroni. Coincidence? I think not. :)

      February 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • ....Really

      Again, the dumbest thing I've ever read.... Why not argue that if you move the n in "santa" you get "satan". It's scary to think that you're a functioning adult in the modern world.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • The One

      I don't know. I think Sammy nailed it. As a matter of fact "I know its true" because a magical angel just appeared in front of me and gave me magic glasses that only sees the truth.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  19. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  20. 13Directors

    I think it's great that the writer is putting a new face on Mormonism. I still think it's a ridiculous faith, though. As with all religion, their holy book contains some truth, but few facts.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
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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.