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)


    February 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Spencer

      Wrong religion.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • LaGryphon

      Spencer, it isn't the wrong religion. The LDS and FLDS are the same religion the only difference is that the FLDS are practicing polygamy.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • scott501

      Please explain to me why Mormanism is any weirder than any other religion?

      February 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Spencer

      No, it's pretty different. In fact, I've lived in Utah my entire life and I've never even seen a polygamist. The LDS church has had offshoot groups ever since it's beginning, the same way a lot of Christian churches broke away from the Catholic church. These groups have very different views than the main LDS church, and are almost like Amish communities, except they practice polygamy. Most polygamists have to live outside Utah because the state cracks down on it hard. That's why Jeff's was arrested in Texas.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • JA Ramsey

      @ LaGryphon – utter nonsense. The two religions may both use the same doctrine as a basis, but it's like saying the only difference between the Amish and mainstream Protestants is that the Amish wear beards. Seriously, mainstream Mormon families have a lot more in common with the typical midwestern family of any other religious persuasion, or even a completely secular family.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Jesus

      Hey, It's all about that 3rd rate con artist from the early 19th century-Joey Smith. Jesus plays a minor role in the LDS cult. According to these wingnuts, magic Miormon underwear will save you, God lives on the planet Kabob (or something with an equally ridculous name), and until 1978 black people had to turn white to get into Mormon heaven. For some (Romney) Mormonism has morphed into a major business opportunity.

      February 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  2. momoya

    No wonder religions do so well; even the people they excommunicate and shun can't stay away. This lady is in for a tough time if she thinks that her role in the LDS is to be an outspoken critic of their extreme beliefs.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • turnerbroadcast

      Religion is a funny thing. At its purest essence, it's a way of singing praise and honoring a creator. A universal being. I think we can all agree that it is highly likely that such a being exists. Churches seem to be about how to share faith and help people to become better persons. Since they're run by human beings, they'll disagree. Be the best, at whatever it is you do. And when God calls you. You will know it.

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

      @ turnerbroadcast
      >At its purest essence, it's a way of singing praise and honoring a creator.
      At its purest form religion is a way of explaining how the NATRUAL world worked to a bunch of cave men.

      > think we can all agree that it is highly likely that such a being exists
      This is also untrue as those who identify as non-religious are the fast growing “belief” based group in America.

      > Churches seem to be about how to share faith and help people to become better persons.
      Churches are a controlling ent.ity for the masses and money collectors. If you buy their wears I have some snake oil to sell you.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • momoya


      I disagree completely. Religion's goal is to divide. First it seeks to divide the faithful from the non-faithful, then it seeks to divide its acolytes from their own reasoning by demanding a particular lifestyle and certain decisions. Within its own walls it divides the clergy from laity.

      The church is not a "funny thing," it's a sad thing because it refuses to acknowledge that it has no method of determining spiritual truth. All mathematicians agree on its operational principles because they work; religions don't agree because they don't have any methods to verify what is correct god-worship and what isn't. If religions and the holy books they are based on are the best god can do then he's too stupid to be worthy of worship.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  3. montyross

    the proof is in the pudding, you can not argue a changed life, from darkness to light, carnal to spiritual, just ask Jesus and he will show you the way, what are you afraid of? Youre life is not youre own, but you must have faith, even a little as much as a mustard seed......

    February 6, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Joe T.

      I asked Jesus to help me the other day and he said he couldn't because he was too busy watching American Idol.

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

      You asked so I will answer....I am a figment of your imagination...a way for your to deal with your own mortality and your being alone in this great big world. I am your imaginary friend in the sky. I am as real as Santa Claus is for a 3 year old. Here's the real truth. I never existed. I was a conglomeration of Mithra, Horus, and Krishna sanctioned by Constantine at the First Council of Nicea. No proof of my existence or crucifixion exists. Those letters by the religion purveyors were wriitten in Greek, a language I never spoke nor understood at least 70 years after my supposed death.

      February 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  4. PatDry

    Too bad she can't be sealed to her family. Sealing is a BIG part of and selling point for the Mormon religion. I was engaged to a Mormon once and ended up breaking the engagement off because I couldn't force myself to become part of the flawed religious cult. The information is readily available. Do your own research.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • turnerbroadcast

      I have been happily married for all of my life . If someone goes up to me and says , but you can't be happy because you're not sealed, then I'll probably look at him strangely. This person seems to be happily married as well. In my view, the most powerful thing about marriages is that good ones tend to make the others stronger. I'd say, read GK Chesterton when it comes to the question of orthodoxy. I'm pretty sure that she's not going to blow a fuse because of the sealing thing..

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

      turnerbroadcast, You've been married all your life? What, did your parents promise you off before you were born or something? I said nothing about happieness, or that she should blow a gasket because she's unable to be sealed with her family. I brought up sealing because it is a large foundational block of the Mormon religion. If she were a TRUE Mormon, she would believe and know that because she is not sealed to her family, they will not be together in the afterlife. I'm not saying that's the way that it is, that's just what the Mormon religion states. Again, too bad for her. She either doesn't really believe, or she doesn't love or care for her family enough. If I were a Mormon, there is no possible way I could marry someone without being sealed to them. I wouldn't be able to live with the constant guilt and heartach that I would be burdened with.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • LaGryphon

      PatDry, you're absolutely right for in the LDS religion the temple ceremony of "sealing for all time & eternity" is a must in order to be with your family in the hereafter. The message in this story is an attempt to whitewash the real beliefs of the LDS church into a watererd down version that would be palatable to the would be investigators. If you are a member marrying outside of the LDS cult is highly frowned upon for "you risk your eternal salvation".

      February 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  5. Jay

    Wow. She must be very confused. It's a lot easier when you realize all that religious hogwash is exactly that.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Jesus

      She is BOTH confused and delusional. She needs a lot of psychological assiatnec or perhaps a frontal lobotomy.

      February 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  6. crappy name

    Being a former Mormon, I can tell you that This religion is warped and very definitely a cult. They take the old grift "give me 10% and I will save you a place in heaven to a new level. These people are psycho's. I have seen Bishop's stealing money from the fast offerings, These people were reported to Salt lake City and they still are bishops. I have heard temple presidents say they are are thankful that christ has come back to teach people on all of the planets. W.T.F. these people are a danger to themselves and to the public. After living in utah for several years, the only people that ever screwed me were Mormons. They lie,cheat and steal and then go to their bishop and tell him and he says it is o.k. as long as they repent. I was born into this religion and held the Melchizedek priesthood for many years so i am not just a mormon hater looking in from the outside, I have been there. They will help each other and quickly turn their backs on everyone else unless they think that they can turn them to the religion. They are closet bigots and racists, they will tell you that they love everyone but then talk smack about everyone that is not white. These people are dangerous and if you think Obama is bad just vote Romney in and you will find out what fascism is all about.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Joe T.

      I'm an ex-Jehovah's Witness. Both cults are definitely very similar in their methods of cognitive control. Anybody who thinks they aren't a cult, are clueless.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • liar

      Like i believe what you say? you're the liar. When people start liieing..lieing is weakness. honesty is strength..the facts scare you so you have to lie? this is trolls on the internet propaganda..now you know why some countries nationalize or have propaganda department..that is to lie.

      February 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Chris

      Mormons will definitely hunt down anything that speaks out against their religion. Whenever there's scholarship written about Mormonism there's a Mormon paper refuting the "lies" contained within. I can definitely say that Mormon missionaries played a significant role in helping me become an atheist.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Carlos Rueda

      @crappy name: Thanks for your insightful comment!

      February 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • What?

      There is a whole world of mormons out there besides where you grew up... one tiny example- there is a black woman now who is the stake (large area) relief society president (relief society is one of the/if not the largest woman's organization in the world) in the LDS church. People are not perfect, and their imperfections don't define what a church is about... Are all Catholics gay because their leaders go after boys? Come on people, quit making world-wide general statements based off of single assumptions/experiences– it makes you look pathetic and uneducated.

      February 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  7. sancho

    Orthodox? Unorthodox? Every Mormon has a unique story.I don't see value in creating a false dichotomy.

    February 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  8. Reality

    Only for the those interested in a religious update:

    And only for the newbies:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current problems:

    The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

    5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    February 6, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • ......

      All reality posts are flawed. The fix? hit report abuse on all reality garbage

      February 6, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • kenny

      nailed it... reality sucks and then u die... no hereafter fairy tale just non existence... it sucks to be lied to by all those "older wiser" people of your youth but hey ... people lie... duh!!!! I have to give it up to religion in that it does tend to control the masses fairly effectively and creates a stable environment for progress... but all the torture and killing in the name of it should really be avoided now a days and eventually when religion dies becuase we figure out how to live forever the world will be at peace....

      February 6, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • JSchrubbe

      Buddha taught ritual and ceremony are not things that bring you closer to enlightenment. Buddhism is designed to awaken your senses and bring your attention to your actions/intentions. Because the story of his birth has been embellished doesn’t mean the faith is flawed.

      There is a lot of ritual around the organized sects of Buddhism (along with every faith), but the individual Buddhist is primarily focused on the way of life associated with attaining nirvana for themselves or those around them.

      The nature of all scripture is about love and treating mankind with respect. People at the top have just changed the meaning to profit or keep the power.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  9. Rich

    Magnificent article. I am thoroughly impressed with Joanna.

    February 6, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  10. Doc Vestibule

    I'm sure the LDS can tolerate her family so long as she is ti/thing her full 10%.
    Mormons are told: "if a dest.itute family is faced with the decision of paying their ti.thing or eating, they should pay their t.ithing." (Lynn Robbins, General Conference, April 2005).
    To make sure congregants are paying up, each year they must go before a Bishop for a Ti.thing Settlement.
    A member is questioned in a one-on-one interview with the Bishop to ensure the member is paying a full 10%.
    Those members who are not paying a full 10% lose their temple recommendations and therefore are in serious jeopardy of losing their Celestial blessings.
    If a member cannot get into the temple, they cannot learn the secret handshake, secret password, secret "new name" and special “sealings”.
    Without these, the member will be unable to pass Joseph Smith and the angels who guard the entrance to the Celestial Kingdom.

    Modern Mormons try hard to distance themselves from their racist dogma, but it cannot be denied.
    Until 1978, the LDS had opened temples only in lily-white areas like Alberta in Canada, London in England and Bern in Switzerland. In a rather conveniently timed "divine revelation", the church hierarchy finally decided that black people could be clergy – exactly when they were set to open their first temple in a land full of "cursed" (read: dark skinned) people in Brazil.
    According to their scripture, there is a direct link between skin colour and righteousness – that dark skin in a mark from God to single out the descendents of Cain who were fence-sitters in the war on heaven.
    LDS leader George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay stated sortly before the black clergy ban was repealed, "From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel."

    February 6, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • abinadi

      Actually, Doc, I told a family that just a month ago. I promised the father that if he would trust in the Lord and pay his ti thing, the Lord would bless him. I quoted him Malachi 3: " 8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In ti thes and offerings.

      9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

      10 Bring ye all the ti thes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

      He came to my office just the other day and said that he saw a miracle. He said that at the beginning of the month he added his bills and counted his money and there wasn't enough to pay ti thing. He said that he paid it any way and by the end of the month all his bills were paid. I have seen this happen many times in other people and also in my life and in my family's life. God lives and those who live by his word know it!

      If a person pays ti thing to a false church, will he still be blessed? Well, maybe. He doesn't know any better, but it is not really ti thing because it is not going to the Lord. I would rather pay to the Lord's church and be sure, personally.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Patrick

      That isn’t a miracle that is bad math.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Agrees with Patrick

      Yeah, bro. That's just bad math. Or you're making it up.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  11. Mormons Are Christian

    Here are the characteristics of a cult:
    • Small? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) has 14 million members in 132 countries. In America, there are more Mormons than there are Presbyterians or Jews.
    • Excessive devotion? Mormons are devoted to the Savior, but in appropriate measure He would approve of.
    • Unethical techniques? Ask the pie-throwers to name one.
    • Control by isolation? Even if Mormons wanted to, this would be impossible with 14 million members in 28,000 congregations throughout the world.
    • Control by threats? Again, evidence? Mormon missionaries may be exuberant, but do not threaten.
    • Dependency on the group? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is just the opposite. Mormons want members to be self-reliant and independent so they in turn can help others.
    • Powerful group pressure? Only if that’s the way the critics prefer to define love.
    • Strange? Guilty as charged. Mormons plead guilty to all the strange things that were done by Christians in New Testament times that were lost during the great falling away in the aptly named Dark Ages, among them temple worship, baptism by immersion by the father of the family (see 2nd century font in photo above), vicarious baptism for the dead, definition of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as separate but united in purpose, salvation requiring both grace and obedience to commandments, prophets and apostles, unpaid clergy, and continual revelation to guide His Church.

    February 6, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Mormons are not Christian and never have been. The Jesus Christ of Mormonism is no different than the abusive use of the Holy name as a curse. If a Mormon met the True Jesus they would cease to be a Mormon. After more than a century as an alternate at odds with Christianity, Mormon leaders decided to "steal" a more Christian veneer to appeal as a mass marketing technique to increase their numbers and their take. The original founder was a False prophet and Known con man whose language skills have been proven false.

      February 6, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • Abinadi

      If Paul were here today, what church would he belong to? Paul actually answered that question in 1 Corinthians, " 10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
      11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
      12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
      13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
      14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, abut Crispus and Gaius;
      15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name."
      It is pretty obvious that Paul would not approve of the Lutheran church, or the Methodist, or the Baptist or any of the evangelical churches of the day. He said himself that he would only belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, and if he were alive today, he would belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Days. You can learn more at mormon.org.

      February 6, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Abinadi

      Paul would be absolutely disgusted by the Mega Churches who sell the word of God and rake in millions. Ron Hubbard was heard to say that if he wanted to make a million dollars, he would start a church, and that is exactly what he did. Christianity has apostatized from the truth! Jeremiah said, " 11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. " 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
      People no longer worship idols but they have replaced the idols with false churches – churches who preach watered down Christianity, churches which have no power to save them from their sins; churches that have no priesthood authority to perform the sacred ordinances, churches led by uninspired usurpers who pardon sinners in exchange for their money! Well did Christ say of them, "1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." (John 10) Of these he will say, " 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." A man or woman who is too proud to admit they are wrong and accept the truth will never see the Kingdom of God!
      22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
      23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

      February 6, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • fred


      "It is pretty obvious that Paul would not approve of the Lutheran church, or the Methodist, or the Baptist or any of the evangelical churches of the day. He said himself that he would only belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, and if he were alive today, he would belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Days. You can learn more at mormon.org."

      How is it so obvious?

      February 6, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • abinadi

      Fred, just read the scripture. It is obvious what Paul said and meant.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Paul , the apostle was a Christian and had been brought up as a Pharisee Jew. Assuch Paul would not be led astray by a cult like the LDS. Paul like all Christians would reject the false prophecy and claims of the LDS, call on them to repent or perish. A great deal of Paul's writings deals with the false teachings of his day. The same type of teachings found today in the LDS cult.
      If an angel or any man teach a Jesus other than the one we teach let him be accursed forever.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Slimmons

      I like how An inconvenient truth, responds by saying mormons aren't christians and never have been, by using no logic or facts, and only says what he thinks. I love that you are thinking good sir, but you don't understand the definition of christian. I am not mormon, but I am a christian, and I know the definition of christian, and if there is a christian church that exists, the mormons represent that in every way. I disagree with the mormon church in one area of hypocracy, and that is that their church has stood firm that they would enver endorse any politician, or be a part of political policies, as a church. They broke that rule in California when they gave money to fight gay rights. Other than that one point, I agree with their belief system, as a christian, and I don't understand how anyone can be as ignorant as to say they are not a christian church. Go review the definition of christian. I'm pretty sure it doesn't say the belief of specifically your view of Jesus Christ. Bazinga.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • TheTraveler

      "Mormons are not Christian and never have been."

      Hmm, I live in a predominately Mormon community, no, not in Utah. I have several friends who are Mormon and they are certainly Christians. All my Mormon friends believe in the Christ as their personal savior and all of them read the Scriptures. But then again, so do my Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Catholic, etc friends. I don't get the "Book or Mormon" thing, even after all the years I've lived here, but hey, that's their choice.

      Don't "judge" them by their "religion" but by their personal acts and personal faith."A tree will be known by it's fruits." It's not important what "religion" one belongs to. What is important is that you accept Christ as your personal Savior and apply His teachings to your life everyday.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • fred


      Where does the bible mention the LDS. I must have missed that when I read it.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • fred

      Ok, fred if you are going to use my name at least get the Bible right or talk about something else. Paul had a focus that Christ and the Cross of Christ was the main thing. Paul could care less about religion or the name of your church so long as the true gospel was preached. That gospel is that Jesus was God, Jesus died on the Cross in full atonement for sin and that the Holy Spirit would fill believers hearts so they could know the truth of God not mans wisdom. The LDS brought mans wisdom into play just as with the Greeks and that is what would have rubbed Paul the wrong way. The LDS do not teach Jesus as God. Now, being LDS will not block anyone from knowing the truth just as Catholics strange additions to the truth do not block the Holy Spirit from giving a true heart the wisdom that only comes from God not man.

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

      @fred (bible thumiping one)
      It's my name, and I'll use it if i want to. Feel free to keep using it, or don't, either way I could care less.

      If I understood Abinadi correctly, he is trying to say that the LDS is somehow the "right one" because it is "The Church of Jesus Christ" of LDS.

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

      Well, I gotta agree with you there. LDS as many others have moved far away from the Gospel that Jesus brought to us. I will give the LDS credit in that they really step in to help their families with more than prayer. That part they got right as they have a firm structure in place that they follow through on. They actually assign a seasoned LDS mentor for each family and that mentor is held accountable and mentored by another right up the command structure. Very impressive.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • shonuffd1

      I just happen to have a bible right here,And your are really reaching,he did say church of Christ.but show me in the bible were he said latter day saints,book of mormon for that matter.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Turtleguy

      Looking at this string of responses, is it any wonder that anyone who actually takes the time to THINK about religion is an atheist? What a bunch of unadulterated baloney. If people like these would spend more time dealing with reality and less time in their fantasy world, maybe things wouldn't be so screwed up everywhere we look.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Already posted the 'proof' in the response. So Slimmons you do not know squat about what being a Christian really is. I suspect at judgement you may be one of those exiled because you never knew God at all and served only yourself. You had better check your belief system because it definitely is not Christian.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • shonuffd1

      Matthew 24 verse 4-5And Jesus answered and said unto them" Take heed that no man deceive you.For many shall come in my name,Saying I am Christ:and shall deceive many.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • shonuffd1

      Abinadi I can see you actually read the bible. but the verses you just quoted where in fact where talking about the LDS.

      February 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  12. Reality

    Dear Joanna Brooks,

    Some help in joining the 21st century:

    Putting the final kibosh on religion to include Mormonism

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details are available upon request.

    A quick Google, Bing or Yahoo search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    February 5, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Laurie

      Curious Reality.... How do you know all this? Where is your proof? I can utilize the internet to find anything I want... and to justify any answer I have. People do it every day.... It is amazing how many people walk into the ED and think they have an actual MD after their name because of the internet and they are certain they know their diagnosis. Yet... they come up wrong time after time. I find it interesting, how people like to put down others for something they actually can't prove. Why do we as human beings have such a hard time embracing differences? .... always thinking our way has got to be the "right" way making the other guy wrong. The only way we actually prove this point regarding religion.... is when we die ourselves and see what happens. Short of that.... the actual "right" answer, is only a logical guess for those that don't believe.... and faith for those that do.

      February 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Mormons Are Christian

      Perhaps Joanna believes it because it is true and can be proven to be the restoration of Jesus Christ's teachings:
      Mormons’ theology is based on New Testament Christianity, not Fourth Century Creeds. For example, the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views on Baptism, Lay Ministry, the Trinity, Theosis, Grace vs. Works, the Divinity of Jesus Christ comport more closely with Early Christianity than any other denomination. And Mormons’ teenagers have been judged to “top the charts” in Christian Characteristics by a UNC-Chapel Hill study. Read about it here:


      According to a 2012 Pew Forum poll of members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) 98 percent said they believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and 97 percent say their church is a Christian religion. Mormons have a better understanding of Christianity than any other denomination, according to a 2010 Pew Forum poll:


      11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (including several presidents) were non-Trinitarian Christians. Christianity is a "big tent", which includes Joanna Brooks

      February 6, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Mirosal

      About that 2010 Pew forum poll, take a look and see who ranked highest, above the Moron .. oops, Mormon church (wink wink). Does that tell you anything?

      February 6, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • Reality

      Google "Muslims bible burning" to get all said references about Muslims burning the bible but note that once the "bowers" of Islam see how they have been conned by their imams and ayatollahs for the last 1400 years, they too will burn their copies of the koran i.e. the angel Gabriel never existed so there is no way that the warmongering, womanizing, and hallucinating Mohammed got any koranic passages from some god.

      Tis the great angelic con game. Joseph Smith was the latest to pull it off with his "angelic" Moroni. The significant stupidity and gullibility of it all!!!!!

      And ditto when we the "pew peasants" of Christianity finally realize the con that has been pulled on us, they too will burn their bibles. I have not burned my copy but have relegated it to the mostly fictional section of my reference library.

      February 6, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians and Mormons from the Infamous Resurrection Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      February 6, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Reality

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      February 6, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • ......

      End reality bull sh it hit report abuse on every reality post

      February 6, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Reality

      They are called the Infamous Angelic Cons:

      Joe Smith had his Moroni.

      "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      Some added references to "tink-erbells".


      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."

      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      February 6, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • The Man

      Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • The Man

      Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools...

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

      Reality posted: "So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?"

      I know why I care, the better question is, why do you care? For someone who thinks the whole "religion thing" is just so much "mumbo-jumbo and historical falsehoods" you spend a lot of time posting to refute it.

      You have your personal convictions and that's fine, leave others to theirs ...

      February 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  13. k russell

    Unfortunately, this woman doesn't see that it isn't God she is drawn to. It is the culture that fills her needs. Mormons are a tight knit group who use social attachments to keep a lot of members involved.
    She really needs a psychiatrist. Her image of herself is truely demented, and she's probably passing off her neorisis to her children.

    February 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  14. Marcia

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

    February 5, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Abinadi

      If only you knew the Lord as I know him. "1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

      2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

      3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

      4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

      5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

      6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

      February 5, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Turtleguy

      Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich. It does this by convincing the poor man to remain humble and servile, thus allowing and encouraging oppression by the rich, who then continue to get richer. Religion is a political tool for crowd control.

      Bronze age fairy tales have no bearing on reality. Keep religion in church where it belongs.

      February 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  15. J.S.

    I enjoyed the article. It was well written and I liked getting to know Brooks and her family.

    February 5, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  16. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 5, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • pat

      I am praying for your forgiveness

      February 6, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  17. Kevin

    Sincere kudos to Jessica Ravitz for deftly handling a complicated and tender subject. She did not resort to stereotypes throughout a long and involved interview. THANK YOU for your excellent article about a wonderful woman who is, like all of us, trying to figure it all out. Answers to difficult questions only come through difficult searching. Cheers for Brooks and Kamper for working together.

    February 5, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  18. urafkntool

    see my name to see yourself!

    February 5, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    February 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Prayer even has the capacity to turn a Mormon to the Truth

      February 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm |

    • Well, let's start things off right. In what ways are Mormons in error? In what ways do they not teach, speak, or live the Truth?

      February 5, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Or an evangelical to the truth! Greetings! Hope you had a great sabbath!

      February 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Brad

      Good evening Abinadi.

      The LORD bless you
      and keep you;
      the LORD make his face shine on you
      and be gracious to you;
      the LORD turn his face toward you
      and give you peace.

      February 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Numbers 6:24. Hi, Brad, thanks for the good wishes. How was your Sabbath?

      February 5, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Xycxyxyzyd


      Just wondering, are you Jewish? Or are you one of the few Christians that recognize the true sabbath?

      February 6, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Mormons are a cult founded by a liar and known con man. Mormons are no better or worse than any other people group, they are involved in a false belief system and are deceived.

      February 6, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Nope

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      February 6, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • just sayin

      don't study studies
      studies are prejudiced
      study God

      February 6, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • just sayin

      don't study studies
      studies are prejudiced
      study God.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • YeahRight

      "don't study studies
      studies are prejudiced
      study God."

      Yo moron, you just said studies are prejudiced so studying your God is prejudice. That explains a great deal about you stupid crhistians.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 5, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • bringoutyourdead

      demon uses hate vulgarity and lies to try to harm the concept of prayer

      February 6, 2012 at 6:57 am |
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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.