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Mormon Church Goes After WikiLeaks 1172

An anonymous reader writes "The Mormon Church has instructed its lawyers to gag the Internet over WikiLeaks' release of the 1968 and 1999 versions of its confidential handbook for Church leaders. Apart from attacking WikiLeaks, legal demands were sent to Jimmy Wales of the WikiMedia foundation for a WikiNews article merely linking to the material, and scribd.com has also been censored. WikiLeaks has (of course) refused to remove the documents."
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Mormon Church Goes After WikiLeaks

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  • Inevitably.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:57AM (#23401454) Homepage Journal
    Good morning, Mormon Church. Say hello to Ms. Streisand [wikipedia.org] for me!
  • by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:57AM (#23401456) Journal
    You'd think after the Swiss bank debacle it'd be pretty well known that trying to suppress this kind of information (particularly when it's distributed by an international organization), just guarantees that it will be more widely disseminated than it'd otherwise have been.

    Someone circulate a memo about the Steisand effect to the lawyers of the US.
  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:57AM (#23401462)
    When heretics try to disperse reading material that the religious deem unsuitable for the public to read, the only choice that comes to mind is to burn and censor.
  • Cult. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThatDamnMurphyGuy ( 109869 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:58AM (#23401466) Homepage
    If you even have a "confidential handbook", you're a cult, not a religion...or maybe a good old fashioned pyramid scheme.
  • Re:Cult. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dc29A ( 636871 ) * on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:07AM (#23401552)

    If you even have a "confidential handbook", you're a cult, not a religion...or maybe a good old fashioned pyramid scheme.
    There is no difference between a religion and a cult. Well, a minor one: religion is a popular cult.
  • Re:Cult. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:09AM (#23401586)
    Or a Special Forces group. Or any of several classified government groups. Or a (weird but true) philanthropic group such as the PEO.
  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:14AM (#23401638) Journal
    See, the thing is, everyone thinks money=intelligence. "If you're so damned smart, why ain't you rich?"

    But there is no real correlation between intelligence and wealth. The wealthy can afford better schools, but education != intelligence.

    These people are used to getting their own way, they're used to the law ALWAYS working for THEM and can't imagine that there's the slightest possibililty that they, spoiled brats that they are, can't have things exactly as they want them to be.

    To quote Mr. T: "I pity the foo's".
  • Re:Cult. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:17AM (#23401676) Journal
    I dunno. To some extent, I believe any corporation (church, business, whatever) has the right to some privacy about its inner workings. The Masons protect the privacy of their rituals. Businesses keep private how a product is made. And though I don't even consider it a church, the Church of Scientology even has the right to of privacy with their documents. Not everything has to be transparent and openly available. Even in a church. Those documents are accessible to members of the church, but not outsiders.
  • by Ottair ( 1270536 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:18AM (#23401698)
    I'm no fan of the LDS, either as an institution or as a theocracy, but they have as much right to privacy as any other group or individual. Another organization often under attack by the societal, self-elected correctness monitoring crowd is Scouting USA which sponsors an organization known as the Order of the Arrow. OA also has self published, private material that it wishes remain so. There is also an article on Wikipedia about the Order in which editors have come to a consensus about not publishing those private details in accordance with that groups request, which is within their rights. I suggest the same courtesy be extended to the LDS, it's an issue of fundamental importance to anyone who values freedom of expression in all its forms, internet or otherwise.
  • Re:Cult. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:23AM (#23401750) Homepage
    Not really. Most of the major religions will allow you to leave their churches/temples without any problem. You can even convert to another religion with minimum fuss. For example, I'm Jewish. There's nothing to stop me from leaving my temple and joining another. (My wife and I have even discussed this very subject recently.) There's also nothing to stop me from leaving my temple, becoming Christian, and joining a church. (Beyond the fact that the Church's religious beliefs don't match with my own, of course.)

    In a cult, leaving the church is unthinkable and anyone who expresses a desire to do so is forcibly kept from doing so. Were I a member of a cult, expressing a desire to leave the group would likely result in my detention for "re-education" or perhaps in my "disappearance."

    You are kind of right about religions being popular cults, though. Most religions start out as cults and the either die out or ease up on the cult-like behaviors and merge more into society. Christianity was a cult when it first started, but over the years it integrated more into society to the point that it isn't considered a cult now.
  • Re:Cult. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eck011219 ( 851729 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:23AM (#23401754)
    Not sure I agree. Many religions have confidential texts -- some are spiritual, some are operational.

    By that logic, a lot of organizations are cults, including corporations and governments. There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to keep some policies public and some private -- the content of the policies is another matter, though (public OR private).

    IMO the stuff in this one is pretty dark and unpleasant. And keeping this particular stuff confidential doesn't allow a potential or current member to make an informed decision about their church. But in this case I think it's as much an issue of the policies as it is that they are (or were) confidential.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smilindog2000 ( 907665 ) <bill@billrocks.org> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:23AM (#23401758) Homepage
    I concur. The manual seems fairly well thought out, and doesn't have any really good secret stuff I was hoping to read. I don't know why LDS wants it concealed. In fact, I'd argue that manual is strong evidence to the rest of the Christian world that LDS is not an out-there weird cult.

    Perhaps LDS wants it publicized? Threatening Wikileaks is the perfect way to do it!
  • by goretexguy ( 619280 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:24AM (#23401764)
    As a Mormon, you should know that the materials in these 'secret' manuals are pretty boring. With a lay clergy, you've got to have *something* to help the poor souls who are suddenly responsible for leading congregations. A quick RTFM (haha) shows me this. As a lawyer, I'm disappointed you fail to see the larger issues of copyright and ownership, which is the real issue here. That the owning organization is a religion is an inconsequential detail.
  • Re:Cult. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:25AM (#23401774)

    I believe any corporation (church, business, whatever) has the right to some privacy about its inner workings

    Not being persons, they have no such inherent right, only the rights that we the people choose to bestow on them. Since you've voted "for some", I'll register my vote as "for considerably less than persons".
  • by Peter La Casse ( 3992 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:28AM (#23401826)
    Great Scott! It's almost as if the religious == irrational meme is not 100% accurate.
  • Please explain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jopet ( 538074 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:29AM (#23401838) Journal
    This is just a normal case of copyright infringement. Somebody holds the copyright and does not want somebody else to publish the book. Whether it is this book or a bestselling novel does not matter.
    I wonder how those who talk about "gagging" here would actually want copyright laws to work? Abandon them alltogether and let anyone publish whatever they like? Or just allow the publishing of something when some group decides it is "evil"?

    Of course, news media should have the right to publish excerpts from anything that is news or relevant and in most countries this is legal (i do not know about the US). So if you want to report about some weird/dangerous,/ridiculous issues in this book, provide a write-up (your own words of what is in there: legal) and support it with facsimiles of excerpts of the original (small parts: legal).

    What would be the problem with that?
  • by Edward Ka-Spel ( 779129 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:30AM (#23401856)
    I just looked at the excerpts on wikileak and it looks like this is much ado about nothing. Agree with them or not, I find nothing scandalous about a churches stance on transexuals, sperm donations, surrogate mothers, etc. Sounds like something any good church SHOULD have a stand on, one way or another.

    It sounds to me like this really is a pure IP issue. The handbook is a published material with applicable stated copyright laws. I think if you went and asked a Mormon church leader, he would be more than happy to show you his copy and answer any questions you have... ;)

    As for the PR value of this move, that is certainly questionable.
  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:32AM (#23401884) Homepage Journal
    Ask them how well their campaign of suppression is working out for them.
  • by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:37AM (#23401950)
    In 'The Gallic Wars' by Julius Caesar, book 6 chapter 14 [ucl.ac.be], there is a description of Gallic religious practices. The druids would not permit their texts to be written down, they had to be memorized. One reason being that as soon as a text was written it would pass into a sort of 'public domain' where non-druids could read it.

    This sounds like something that should be in place today. Make all religious texts public domain, no exceptions. Religions are not for profit (well in theory) and they are tax-exempt, so they have no reason to have copyright. And they use copyright law to harass and bully their detractors. So take that power away from them.

    Oh, Your religion wants hide something? Fine, memorize it.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:40AM (#23401986)
    "I'd argue that manual is strong evidence to the rest of the Christian world that LDS is not an out-there weird cult."

    Well, the facts surrounding the origins of the Mormon church, and their behavior since then, strongly testify that it IS an out-there weird cult. Joseph Smith, their founder, was a well-documented fraudster. Apparently he alleged that he received some sort of revelation from God that only he could read using a very large pair of "special" reading glasses. Mormons also believe that when they die, they become gods of their own planet, and that our own planet is ruled over by one such god. This begs the question "Who was the first god?" And perhaps you've heard on the news about the Mormon polygamist compound in Texas that was recently raided? Many of the girls under 18 were found to be with child, and many had broken bones indicating child abuse.
  • Re:Cult. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EvilToiletPaper ( 1226390 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:43AM (#23402052)

    For example, I'm Jewish. There's nothing to stop me from leaving my temple and joining another. (My wife and I have even discussed this very subject recently.) There's also nothing to stop me from leaving my temple, becoming Christian, and joining a church. (Beyond the fact that the Church's religious beliefs don't match with my own, of course.)

    Oh really...

    The Torah states:
    Deuteronomy 13:6-10:
    If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pipatron ( 966506 ) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:53AM (#23402184) Homepage
    Not that I have anything against bashing religious groups, but in this case, didn't these people start this cult because they were rejected from the mormons? I could start a cult that worships the slaughter of young children and call me a buddhist, but that wouldn't really make the buddhist any worse..
  • Re:Cult. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @09:57AM (#23402238)

    If you even have a "confidential handbook", you're a cult, not a religion...or maybe a good old fashioned pyramid scheme.
    Not at all. Many people, businesses and other organizations have information that they desire to keep private:

    * Businesses keep business plans confidential.
    * Individuals keep journals private.
    * Hospital patients keep medical records confidential.
    * Everyone keeps financial records private.
    * Governments keep disaster response plans private.

    The existence of private information isn't an indication that something sinister is going on; it's simply an acknowledgment that people can distort and abuse information. This is especially true when it is taken out of context, which happens all to often (and especially when the organization in question has enemies).

    I've read the CHOI. There's nothing particularly unusual in there. And I bet the Church legal department is aware of the Streisand effect. My guess is that it's not about defending the material per se; I bet any legal professional would tell you that an organization like the Church *must* defend their copyright or risk setting a precedent in which no copyright can be defended.
  • Manual's Content (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daimaou ( 97573 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:03AM (#23402312)
    I have three physical copies of the LDS Church's handbooks. One is from the 80s, and two are the most current.

    All they contain are instructions for people who are asked to be leaders in their church, so they'll know what to do. Unlike other religions, the LDS Church doesn't have paid clergy, so people don't go to years of school to learn how to be a minister. Instead, they are provided with these manuals and they can reference them when they have questions.

    If you're looking for some hidden secret about the LDS Church to make you go all jiggy inside, you're not going to find anything here. If you're up for a dry read though, knock yourself out at WikiLeaks.

    Finally, the LDS Church does own the copyrights to these manuals. The law does offer them protection against violators, so I don't see anything wrong with them demanding that protection.
  • by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:07AM (#23402378) Homepage Journal
    As another LDS-born (for non-LDS, that simply means my parents were LDS, and I was baptized at age 8--I've since done a LOT of personal searching to make my own decisions about the church, thank you very much), I've read some of the older versions of the Handbook.

    My guess is that the real reason is that this is simply a copyrighted document and that its more about that than anything. I've never really understood the church's policy on keeping the GHI out of general circulation, but I don't really care. Book One (which is what this is) doesn't have anything major in it. I'd wager that there are a LOT of the LDS sladshdotters that have had a chance to read it for one reason or another. Generally speaking, any LDS member that wants a peek at it can ask their bishop if they can read what the handbook says about a specific subject, and generally most bishops will say yes.

    The reason its private? I have not idea, but I've never really cared. Is wikiLeaks doing the 'right thing' here? I don't really care. Is the LDS church doing the 'right thing' here? Who knows. I have a suspicion that this is one of those areas where its the lawyers that the church hires making a decision, rather than the President of the church. That's just how it goes.
  • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:09AM (#23402414) Journal
    Its just that some are more popular than others.

    And they all have their confidential handbooks. You know... Them Bibles, Qur'ans, Torah and such.
    Only thing is - you have to be IN the clan for the books to be confidential.
    To us unbelievers those books a just fiction. But to the "chosen ones" they are a map to heaven and a blueprint for perfection.

    Kinda like the back of the 20$ bill. You have to be high to see the men in the bushes. [youtube.com]
    Same thing with religions.
    You have to be high on the stuff they are selling to see the saint, angels, prophets and such where there are none.
  • by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:14AM (#23402494)
    I know I'll get marked as a troll for this, but that is not my intent, so please try to be open minded. :-)

    When someone can prove to me why one god is any more real than any other god, I'll believe. Until that point in time, I regard religion as a silly obsession for the weak and stupid.

    Religion absolutely requires strict autocratic control over the devout masses. Leaking out a behind the scenes handbook thins the wall between Shepard and the flock, and may allow the sheep to think out side their assigned position in life, thus weakening the control the church has over its followers.

    Free thinking and free access to information corrupts belief in god because, "as you know, reality has a liberal bias." (Colbert.) There is no proof of god and there is no universal truth, any belief system that relies on such a fiction crumbles in the light of critical thinking and knowledge. This is why all religions have tried to censor knowledge, burn books, kill heretics, and instigate wars against non-believers.

  • Re:Cult. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rolgar ( 556636 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:15AM (#23402512)
    This shouldn't be a troll since the definition of cult can be benign.

    According to the wikipedia dictionary:

    Cult: A group or doctrine with religious, philosophical or cultural identity sometimes viewed as a sect (sect: a group sharing particular (often unorthodox) political and/or religious beliefs), often existent on the margins of society and/or exploitative towards its members.

    Note that the last part of the definition of a cult is optional, which really means that most basic definition of cult means 'a group with religious identity sharing religious beliefs.' The connotation of a group that controls it's members doesn't really apply to the above post.

    I say this as a Catholic who recognizes that my Church is a cult. We are a minority in the world population (about 15% of the world population) and have many beliefs that outsiders and even many in our own church reject. Many people think the Church is out to control people, but those of us in the Church look at it differently, and I'm sure it's that way in many of the more popular cults.

    When I studied in seminary, we had a teacher that would tell the story of when he taught his first class at the school, it still had the name from the previous semester, 'Creed and Cult.' He walked in that first day, and told the students they would be studying Creed (from the Latin 'to believe') and that Cult would be practiced in the chapel afterward. In that context, the word also carries with it the type of worship (rituals) that the group uses to commune with God.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by certain death ( 947081 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:20AM (#23402588)
    Let us not forget the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Even tho he is omnipotent, he still is one...
  • by Zephyr14z ( 907494 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:35AM (#23402862)
    I find plenty of religious people to be rational about most things. It's just about religion that they are irrational. Religion is inherently irrational, as it involves absolute certainity in something utterly unprovable, intangible, and usually contradictory.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Machtyn ( 759119 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:41AM (#23402974) Homepage Journal
    I think it all falls under the desire to protect copyrights. The question is, "Does WikiLeaks have the right to reproduce the contents." I believe the attorneys for the LDS church would contend that they did not and that WikiLeaks violated copyright.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rickyb ( 898092 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:46AM (#23403056)
    The title of this Slashdot post was a bit sensationalist. According to the Wikileaks article, the Church isn't trying to "Gag the Internet." They are simply requesting that the information be taken down due to copyright infringement. The same procedure would likely follow (and has in the past) if any current, copyrighted literary work were posted to Wikileaks.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Courageous ( 228506 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:47AM (#23403064)
    Being a Christian (and pretty well educated about the origin of the LDS) I very much commend them for the work they do, but pity them for the screwed up nature of their beliefs.

    Kindof like the pot calling the kettle black, dontcha think?

    I mean really. A man chases a bunch of pigs off a cliff and says "they're demons." Today, we lock him up in a psychiatric ward. But you, you call 'im god. Weird, eh.

    I'm not trying to flame or troll.

    Why is it that about 95% of the time, statements like this are just outright lies?

  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by feijai ( 898706 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:58AM (#23403242)

    Make no mistake, LDS/Mormans are not Christians.
    Why? Because you've come up with your own special definition of the term?

    Jesus would hardly recognize Protestant sects. They're conservative, hypocritical, moneygrubbing, warmongering cults which believe in a crazy greek Gnostic invention called the "Trinity" which has no basis in Judiasm or early Christianity and was used to wipe out competing sects at the Council of Nicea. You're all going to hell.

  • by beemishboy ( 781239 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:01AM (#23403292)
    I would just add as a member of the LDS Church that the church is often misunderstood. Take the stories about the completely separate [deseretnews.com] FLDS Church in this thread. Take issues of polygamy [lds.org] or any other confusion. At its core, it is an organization that tries to help its members follow the example of Jesus Christ, hence the name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    I would just say that given the history of being persecuted for their beliefs, it's natural to want to avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding. They were forcibly kicked out of Missouri, Illinois, and other places. That's the reason they went west - to escape those who had murdered their first leader with a mob and burned their homes.

    For better background information, here [lds.org] is a site that is for the news media that talks about statistics, core beliefs, and history. Here [mormon.org] is a website that talks more about the basic beliefs.

    So please just take in a bigger picture when deciding that they are just trying to censor or gag anyone. They just want respect for privacy like just about any slashdotter wants.
  • Re:Cult. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:06AM (#23403372) Homepage
    The Torah also instructs in the proper treatment of slaves and how to conduct sacrifices. There are things in the Torah that aren't actively practiced anymore for one reason or another. I don't know of any segment of Judaism that would seriously consider killing you if you left for another religion.
  • by John Harrison ( 223649 ) <johnharrison@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:12AM (#23403456) Homepage Journal
    The LDS manual in question instructs leaders to call Church Headquarters in cases of abuse. There is not much information in the manual.

    There is nothing scandalous in the manual. However it is copyrighted. If this were a GPL violation /. would be up in arms. Since it is a copyright violation /. is up in arms, mostly on the wrong side of the issue.

    However the LDS Church should have learned by now that trying to enforce copyright on the internet is counter-productive. If they weren't putting up a fight you'd never see this on /.
  • Re:Please explain (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnr@ticam.utexas. e d u> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:23AM (#23403598) Homepage
    I wonder how those who talk about "gagging" here would actually want copyright laws to work?

    I would like them to work the way it says in the Constitution, "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries". In other words, and excellent way for copyright to work is to temporarily restrict copying of new works, thus providing economic incentives for more new works to be published in the first place and enriching the public domain in the long run.
    Bad ways for copyright laws to work include:
    • Making that "temporary" restriction so long that old works can be lost entirely, or even just so long that the marginal promotion of the original work is less valuable than the still-forbidden creation of new derivative works.
    • Extending that restriction retroactively, which impedes rather than promotes the progress of new derivative works and the dissemination of the original but which (unless we invent time travel) gives no additional incentive to the original author's creation.

    Or, as in the CHI cases, bad ways for copyright law to be used include:
    • Impeding the progress of history by making primary sources harder to come by.
    • Restricting the flow of factual information (in the case of the original CHI lawsuit, the excerpts were part of a "How to Remove Your Name From the LDS Records" instructional page) which seems to qualify for all four factors of "fair use"
    • Trying to apply economic incentives to the publication of a work whose authors have no interest in selling it and would happily keep it out of the public domain forever.
    • Trying to create a chilling effect [utlm.org] to restrict criticism of a work.

    And finally, even those of us who see this as "gagging" don't necessarily see the solution to be "fix copyright law". Fair use, in particular, is a tricky thing to legislate in advance and a tricky thing for a court to decide. In some cases, such as this one in my opinion, a better fix isn't to have the law on our side, but to have the public on our side. Note that even the Mormons posting here are disappointed by their church's action; hopefully that kind of backlash can lead to these legal demands being withdrawn due to persuasion, without the need for litigation.

    So if you want to report about some weird/dangerous,/ridiculous issues in this book, provide a write-up (your own words of what is in there: legal) and support it with facsimiles of excerpts of the original (small parts: legal).

    What would be the problem with that?

    In the case of religious censorship, you just need to check out the apologetics to see the problem. Paraphrases and commentaries get dismissed as "persecution" and "lies"; small facsimiles are accused of being "taken out of context". Sometimes you really need to give people all the information available before you can get past all the walls trying to obscure it.
  • by BytePusher ( 209961 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:25AM (#23403644) Homepage
    Hey, are you really suggesting religion bashers aren't always 100% accurate?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:33AM (#23403764)
    So before you get self-righteous about the irrationality of religion compared to science, just note that ANY set of beliefs (religious, scientific, or otherwise) can be either "proven" incorrect or have enormous holes in the foundational logic when looked at in the proper context.

    Take physics today. While modern physics theory can explain an awful lot about the world we live in there are things that are simply missing. For example, quantum mechanics has no explanation for gravity, which very clearly exists.

    There is a 3-volume book called Pricipia Mathematica which attempts to fundamentally prove math as we know it. It takes hundreds of pages to reach the point of "proving" that 1 + 1 = 2. OF course, there was quick criticism of the proofs contained in the book, which begs the question of whether we can really prove that 1 + 1 = 2, and yet the world goes on. That was in 1913, before Kurt Godel basically said in 1931 that mathematical theorems as we know them cannot be proven - that they are either inconsistent (meaning there are contradictions) or incomplete (meaning there are situations with no answer).

    All of this to say - just be careful when getting on the high horse of logic and what is "provable". Those of us with faith in God are not necessarily fanatics who disregard science. I think faith and science work together wonderfully. After all, truth is truth. If there is a God, which I believe there is, than He uses the same forces of the universe that we are trying to understand little by little.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:33AM (#23403768)
    I grew up Mormon and ever since I was old enough to know better, I have been atheist. But, as my parents were strict about it, I had to continue attending Mormon church for several years after making my own decision (and not informing them of it).

    This gives me perhaps a different view on religion than people who never dared to take this path. The religious devout seem to think that religion is about worshiping this "god" fellow. I had long ago decided that gods are for mythology (I enjoyed reading about Greek and Norse mythology, and was capable of making the connection between these apparent religions that have been abandoned, and religions that have not yet been abandoned, such as Christianity), and so church to me became more about friends and family, and becoming a better person. And this is reflected in what I see of most Mormon families -- my family, my siblings' families, the Mormon family on South Park (and the episodes)...

    And the thing is, if they could get rid of the "god" stuff, there would be a lot more merit in religion. Granted, that would seem to be religion's Achilles' heel -- without scaring or otherwise compelling people to attend, there wouldn't be an organization to begin with.

    God - a necessary evil?
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:34AM (#23403778) Journal
    A church keeping secret documents and threatening people over them? Hmmmm, sounds a lot like some other group [wikipedia.org] I can think of.
  • by LBArrettAnderson ( 655246 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:46AM (#23403968)
    Disclaimer: IAAM

    That being said, how is this different from any other person orrganization requesting removal of copyrighted material? (pretty much all LDS materials are copyrighted). Sure, most slashdotters don't believe in copyright, but this sort of stuff happens all the time. The church copyrights stuff not to make a profit (the leaders of the church do not make money based on how much the church makes), but so that things aren't taken out of context. As has been said down the thread, there is nothing crazy about this book that would drive people away from the church, but this now allows for tons of things to be taken out of context (things taken out of context are the main reason that people think the LDS church is so weird... that, and flat out lies about it).
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by workindev ( 607574 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:49AM (#23404040) Homepage

    Joseph Smith's background is pretty well documented.
    Alpha830RulZ is a pedophile.

    There. Now it's "pretty well documented" that you are a pedophile. Nice how that works, huh?
  • by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:50AM (#23404052)
    This is probably why religions should not be allowed to copyright their religious texts.

    Copyrights should be reserved for Business, and such.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @11:56AM (#23404180)
    Of course they were not following the "current Mormon beliefs", they were a fundamentalist church. Hence, they were following what they believed to be the Original Mormon beliefs.

    Unlike the LDS Church, they did not agree with changing religious beliefs just to satisfy the US Government like the LDS Church did when it got rid of polygamy so Utah could become a state and allowed people of color to join so they would not lose their tax exempt status.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:00PM (#23404266)

    The "Mormons" in El Dorado weren't the same religion as the "Mormons" in the OP.

    It's interesting that people in the USA easily grasp that different Christian denomitations are essentially different religions but somehow they can't grasp that there are also different Muslim religions. I didn't hear anyone in the USA calling for the pope to go straighten out the polygamist Christians in Texas because they grasp that that would be ridiculous. On the other hand, I hear people in the USA calling for Muslims generally to straighten out radicals like Osama bin Laden.

  • Re:Cult. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:05PM (#23404372)
    Then I demand laws against corporate pedophilia and incest: no companies can merge until they have reached at least 18 years of age, and no executive or member of a board of one corporation may be a member of the board or executive of another.
  • by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:09PM (#23404446)
    Ah, the good old "Out of Context" defense. Only slightly higher on the stupid scale than the "Chewbacca defense".
  • by StraightToPlaid ( 1289318 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:11PM (#23404504)
    You could get any of this information just by walking up and asking a Mormon leader about it. None of this is secret. In fact, Mormons love telling you about their church, and everyone who's spoken with one of their missionaries know it. They're usually polite but will talk for hours if you let them. The issue here is that the LDS church is the legal copyright holder of those books. As such, they get to say who publishes them and how they are distributed. There's nothing more than that. My bet is they're getting angry because once other people start publishing it they can start to modify it and say that it's real. How easy would it be for somebody to doctor the file and distribute it? The Mormons have a valid legal claim on this one and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I usually agree with wikileaks, but this is just ridiculous. It's a clear cut copyright violation and isn't 'leaking' any secret information.
  • by Woundweavr ( 37873 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:16PM (#23404606)
    I think you might think that because you are a Mormon. Hate to tell you... The Church of LDS is weird. Portraying NA as a lost tribe of Israel, the Garden of Eden and the new Jerusalem in Jackson County Missouri, history of polygamy in Western society as a central tenet of faith (followed by denouncing that practice), the tiering of the "Celestial Kingdom" and the structure and demands of the church is weird.

    Weird is not inherently good or bad. This isn't an attack on Mormonism. But realistically LDS is a church that formed as what was considered then (and would be now) a cult with frankly bizarre practices and beliefs that retreated from developed areas of America and formed its own isolated community. The fact that some of the stranger pieces of theology have been disavowed or deemphasized and that the membership has increased greatly doesn't change that its a weird church.
  • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:21PM (#23404702)
    Don't forget the undeniable racism inherent to the religion. Basically if you have dark skin you were punished by God. Yet another thing they laughably try to excise from their "religion" like polygamy. Apparently God changes his mind, you know.
  • by IdleTime ( 561841 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:26PM (#23404806) Journal
    As can be seen from above, there is no limit to the bullshit a human being is willing to accept. Amazing!
  • by davolfman ( 1245316 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:36PM (#23405014)
    There are a great many people out there who think the entire picture of a religion should be visible to the public. Thus when a faith tries to have hidden knowledge it appears as having one face to the public, and another face to the initiates. If the LDS church didn't have these practices Lighthouse and company wouldn't even exist.

    It's pretty much the same reason by which people fight Scientology as well. There's simply a drastic difference in magnitude, with Scientology making much scarier threats, and having the vast portion of their entire religion be hidden knowledge.
  • by electrictroy ( 912290 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:39PM (#23405076)
    What's wrong with polygamy?

    This is a "free" country, is it not? I should be able to marry as many women (or men) as I want. It's my "right to pursue happiness" in whatever form that takes (and as long as no one is physically harmed).
  • by the JoshMeister ( 742476 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:42PM (#23405142) Homepage Journal

    I'll bite. I have nothing to lose but Slashdot karma.

    I know I'll get marked as a troll for this, but that is not my intent, so please try to be open minded. :-)

    Likewise, I hope that you will respect my opinion and read this post with an open mind.

    When someone can prove to me why one god is any more real than any other god, I'll believe.

    You're not the first person to say something to that effect. There is documented history showing that people have been making similar statements for millennia. For example, I would refer you to the story of Elijah vs. the 450 priests of Baal as recorded in 1 Kings 18 [lds.org], except you would probably scoff and say that it's a religious text and not a historical document, although I would contend that it's both.

    Until that point in time, I regard religion as a silly obsession for the weak and stupid.

    What an unfortunately hasty statement. Do you really believe that the likes of Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, renowned computer scientist Don Knuth [wikipedia.org], "the father of genetics" Gregor Mendel [wikipedia.org], Michael Faraday [wikipedia.org] (a major contributor to the scientific field of electromagnetism), Henry Eyring [wikipedia.org] (who is credited for one of the most important developments of 20th-century chemistry), and a host of other brilliant scientists [wikipedia.org] are all "weak and stupid"?

    (Incidentally, Eyring is a Mormon, and he has humorously but insightfully posed "Is there any conflict between science and religion? There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men.")

    Leaking out a behind the scenes handbook thins the wall between Shepard and the flock, and may allow the sheep to think out side their assigned position in life, thus weakening the control the church has over its followers.

    As other commenters here have stated, this issue seems to be much more about copyright infringement than suppressing "secret" information.

    Free thinking and free access to information corrupts belief in god because, "as you know, reality has a liberal bias." (Colbert.)

    Nice. You quoted Stephen Colbert in order to get a karma boost. Congratulations.

    Setting aside the irrelevant Colbert quote, I strongly disagree with your claim that "free thinking and free access to information corrupts belief in god." As previously noted, some of the most brilliant scientists in the world would disagree with that assessment. Beyond that, there are whole organizations with very intelligent scholars who dedicate much of their time to in-depth research on religious topics (The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship [byu.edu], formerly known as FARMS, comes immediately to mind, but I'm sure other readers can think of similar organizations).

    There is no proof of god and there is no universal truth, any belief system that relies on such a fiction crumbles in the light of critical thinking and knowledge.

    As another poster has wisely assessed [slashdot.org], "Logically, then... your own statement cannot be universally true."

    Is there proof of the existence of a supreme being? Any statistician should be able to tell you that the odds are in favor of the existence of a god.

    Consider, if you will, that you're walking along a beach and happen upon a beautiful Swiss watch lying in the sand near the surf. You pick it up an examine it, and it's in perfect working condition. The time is even set correctly, to the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:46PM (#23405226)
    What would you really have the church do at this point? Do nothing and lose the ability to enforce their copyright? Do copyright laws then in fact mean nothing? Do we have no respect for them at all?

    I think all the Church is asking for here is a pretty basic upholding of copyright law.

    If wikileaks is oh so bold and courageous and wants to reveal to everyone the truth, why not do something truly bold like pre-release the text of the next popular "Harry Potter" type book before it comes out? Or, why not reveal the source code to Windows? I'm sure you have lots of people interested in knowing what would be in those sources.

    Telling people the truth and violating copyright law are very different things. You can very easily do one without the other.
  • You don't think magical underwear is weired?

    IAAM. I don't think they are weird. I do think it is weird that people so credulously believe any rumor they hear about them. I enjoy learning more about other religions and faith traditions, and I think Stendahl's Rules are a good guide.

    (1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.

    (2) Don't compare your best to their worst.

    (3) Leave room for "holy envy."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krister_Stendahl [wikipedia.org]

    This is a pretty clear violation of rule #1. I don't get the impression you particularly care to know much about Mormonism, but it certainly strikes me as ignorant to combine apathy and ignorance and pass it off as having an opinion.

    It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people are.

    Stendahl (above) is not a Mormon. Daniel Peterson is. He added a 4th rule to Stendahl's Rules:

    So the principle that came to me on this was that if you are looking at a religious tradition that has a large number of adherents...then there must be something in it that appeals to different people.

    Mormonism, for example, has clearly lasted long enough and has clearly appealed to a wide enough cross section of people that you don't have to concede that it's true to say there must be something there that appeals to people; bright people, practical people, highly educated people, uneducated people; all sorts of people in all sorts of cultures have found something appealing in this movement. The same is true of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

    http://www.fairlds.org/Anti-Mormons/Critics_of_the_LDS_Faith.html [fairlds.org]

    Then again, you may be one of those folks that think all religions are stupid. It's not always obvious whether an anti-Mormon is a belligerent atheist or a belligerent evangelical, but most of them break down into one or the other. (With a smaller category for angry ex-Mormons, I suppose.)

    Some piece of clothes all of a sudden have magic meaning.

    I know. It's so stupid. Like the way we just pretend that all of a sudden patterns of black lines on a white background have meaning and call them letters and numbers. What could be dumber?

    It's so absurd it's beyond comprehension.

    Which means either:
    1. All 11 million Mormons (say 5 or 6 million if you want to just talk about practicing Mormons) are retarded.


    2. Your perception of their beliefs is not accurate.

    I don't think anyone could seriously believe #1, but it makes a nice insult if that's your goal.

    If you think religious clothing is a must, you have some serious mental issues.

    What if you don't think it's a "must". What if you choose to believe that it's merely a symbol of personal commitment and wear it for that reason?
  • by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:04PM (#23405532)
    I'm not going to quote your post because it can be summed up by two things, first was: were "great thinkers" who were religious wrong?

    Well, you lose on that one as Einstein was not religious and he personally refuted anyone who tries to assert his religiousness in an argument. This leads me to believe you are only parroting those things you have been told without verifying their factual accuracy.

    The second is the spontaneous watch nonsense. Standing on one end of a random occurrence or the result of untold random occurrences, or in the case of evolution, untold random occurrences with the feedback of Darwinian survival of the fittest, it is easy to say "someone must have created this." But god is an unnecessary component and manufactured by ignorance.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phreakhead ( 881388 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:09PM (#23405630) Homepage
    Jesus wouldn't recognize any form of Christianity. Jesus was not a Christian.
  • by eikonos ( 779343 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:10PM (#23405642) Homepage Journal
    If things taken out of context and lies are a big problem, then releasing the real, complete documents is a great thing. Now people can look up the context of quotes or check if statements are true.
  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:17PM (#23405764)
    My question is: what business a religious institution has copyrighting its materials? Why would a religious institution require a copyright over any of its material or doctrines? Why would it use that copyright to prevent people from spreading information about the inner workings of the religion? No offense to any Mormons who are reading this, but it raises warning flags in my mind when a religious institution insists upon secrecy, and then uses the legal framework of its host country to enforce that secrecy (think Scientology).
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flitty ( 981864 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:19PM (#23405806)
    Really? Forgiving? Someone who has had such a surgery cannot 1) bless his family or seal his family for eternity 2) won't be married for eternity 3) cannot get into the celestial Kingdom (top teir heaven) 4)Cannot hold many church offices 5) will be separated from his eternal family. What other reason is there to be a mormon than to get a temple marriage and get into the celestial kingdom? Might as well take your chances being a moral Catholic.
  • by cusco ( 717999 ) <brian DOT bixby AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:51PM (#23406524)
    Sorry, but it's the TRUTH about Mormonism that makes people think that it's weird. That and its ever-so-selective official history, which ignores the reasons (theft, kidnapping, murder, arson, fraud) that they had to leave the Midwest and go to a place so remote that no one else wanted it.

    If some guy previously convicted of fraud told me that he had found some golden tablets that no one else could see, inscribed with a text that only he could read, I'd look at him and his followers as being weird. If those texts made a bunch of bizarre claims that were totally unsupported by history, geography, anthropology, liguistics, or any other known science then I'd look at them as doubly weird.

  • by Steve Hamlin ( 29353 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:55PM (#23406590) Homepage

    how is this different from any other person organization requesting removal of copyrighted material?

    It's not any different. This article isn't making fun of the LDS Church for being Mormom, or for the contents of the book - it is making fun of them for tilting at copyright windmills.

    It's just another example of a copyright holder who, though validly defending their copyright, just doesn't understand the internet.

    Their copyrighted material has been turned into a digital bits, and they can't stuff those back into a bottle. Their actions are absolutely ineffective, which is why this is of interest - "look at the pointlessness of it all! and carried out by lawyers that should know they barely have a claim ! (snicker)"

    U.S. law is unclear - maybe a hyperlink on Wikinews to infringing material on Wikileaks is contributory infringement: see DeCSS, and the 1990s action in this very LDS case. Maybe it's not: see most other cases, and the lack of follow-up action when the DeCSS links were simply changed from hyperlinks to text. But it just doesn't matter - that LDS book is going to be available on the internet forever.

    This legal area is interesting in a way similar to the SCO/Linux IP cases - interesting framing out of novel legal issues, development of new legal theories and case law, and then boring repetition of the same matters over and over again. I'm not sure we're to that last point yet, unlike the SCO/Linux IP matters, or GPL cases. You may already be, however.

  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot&pitabred,dyndns,org> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @02:07PM (#23406828) Homepage
    Saying "my religion is just as fucked up as other religions" isn't really that much of a defense. Just because you're as bad as other people, that makes it right and ok?

    And re-read your link about the golden plates... all of those have physical evidence of, you know, EXISTING, as well as being much, much shorter in text than Joseph Smith's plates.

    The sooner you realize that ALL religions are a sham and a ploy to control their congregation to different extents, the sooner your eyes will open.
  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot&pitabred,dyndns,org> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @02:16PM (#23406976) Homepage
    If the Book of Mormon says that the decendants of Cain were cursed with black skin, I'd say that's pretty much inherent in the doctrines of the religion. Just because people ignore that part now doesn't make it any less of a part of the religion.

    Or do you now just get to pick and choose the parts of your religion that you follow, depending on what is popular and what isn't? Gotta love it. Internal consistency is only for people who actually think logically.
  • by ROU Nuisance Value ( 253171 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @02:23PM (#23407118) Homepage
    I don't mind people considering the religion weird, but I do wish they'd be a bit better informed about it.
    Hey, cool. And Wikileaks is really just helping you achieve that swell wish of yours, right?
  • Saying "my religion is just as fucked up as other religions" isn't really that much of a defense. Just because you're as bad as other people, that makes it right and ok?

    I'm just figuring out which argument I'm having. The argument that Mormonism doesn't violate the Bible/original Christianity is different than the argument that religion is not inherently irrational.

    And re-read your link about the golden plates... all of those have physical evidence of, you know, EXISTING, as well as being much, much shorter in text than Joseph Smith's plates.

    Right, so it helps to know if you think the plates are retarded in particular (e.g. you're OK with supernatural, just not this instance of it) or if you think the supernatural is inherently retarded. Obviously I can't use the same argument in response to both criticisms.

    The sooner you realize that ALL religions are a sham and a ploy to control their congregation to different extents, the sooner your eyes will open.

    And now I know which court you're in. The thing that's really funny to me is how die-hard atheists are so religious. The dogma, the conversion experience, even the promise that the truth will set you free. It is the exact same pattern of evangelism you find in proselyting religions.

    I think a serious discussion about religion is probably not worth my time in this context. Feel free to message me or email me. Suffice it to say I'm familiar with the works of Hume, Descartes, etc. I've read and deeply respect the French atheist existentialist (Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir). I'm not clinging to my religion out of ignorant. I understand the arguments against religion and some of them are quite compelling. But my reasoned position is to believe.

    You're free to call me an idiot for doing so, or blind, etc. But I'm quite comfortable that there can be intelligent and rational people on both sides of this issue.
  • by HeronBlademaster ( 1079477 ) <heron@xnapid.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @02:33PM (#23407284) Homepage
    You kind of missed the point of that excerpt. The point is to prevent people from doing the following:

    1) Commit some sin that the church disapproves of
    2) Request that your name be removed from Church records in order to avoid the consequences
    3) Get re-baptized, thus obtaining a "clean slate" according to the records of the Church

    By asking leaders to hold off on approving name removals before determining whether there is cause for a disciplinary council is perfectly valid. There would certainly be an uproar if a guy rapes someone, gets his name removed from the church records, moves to another state, gets rebaptized, rapes someone else, and then someone finds out what happened at his last location. It's a protection mechanism for the church. (Disciplinary records are not removed, as far as I know, even if a person's name is removed from the list of members; again this is for the church's protection.)
  • by Anonymous Psychopath ( 18031 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @02:42PM (#23407434) Homepage
    I am not a Mormon, but I would like to point out that every single religion I can think of has their own kind of relics or other objects that are considered by them to be spiritually meaningful. These object are sometimes thought to have extraordinary powers that non-believers often find incredulous.

    Many Catholics, for example, wear a crucifix on their body at all times. From what I understand of Catholicism and Mormonism, the Catholics wear this for the exact same reasons that Mormons wear their underclothes. Mostly to be a reminder of their commitment to their religion, and some believe it might help protect them from harm, etc.

    As another example, if you aren't Jewish, strapping little boxes to your body seems pretty weird.

    This is just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many, many examples of this sort of thing.

    My point is that singling out Mormons as "weird" for their "magic underwear" doesn't make much sense when placed in context with other, more accepted religions. They are all "weird" to outsiders.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @02:52PM (#23407634)
    The reason he said that is because receiving the Eucharist is also an act of saying that you are in agreement with the Catholic church. Since you're not, he wanted to make sure you did not accidentally lie.
  • by Omestes ( 471991 ) <omestes@ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @03:18PM (#23408068) Homepage Journal
    I have nothing against Mormons in particular, but I always find it odd when religions copyright (and protect) their material, or try to keep things secret from the general public (or their parishioners). Religion seems to me to about as public domain as one can get.

    Mormonism IS weird, but so are all religions to outsiders. All religions adopt a series of rituals and ideas that are by nature alien to all other religions. Granted the LDS seems a bit weirder than most since it doesn't follow some of the direct traditional ties in other Christian faiths, but I still doubt that enforced legal obscurity would help that. If anything openness would be a better practice to remove the "weirdness" barrier.

    To be honest I had a lot against Mormons when I was younger (thought you guys were a cult, etc...), until I met and worked with a lot of Mormons in college (Northern AZ), and had some friends convert or marry in. Familiarity is the best solution to most cases of xenophobia. And copyright is generally the enemy of familiarity.
  • by Pendersempai ( 625351 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @03:26PM (#23408232)

    I do think it's more stupid to believe in miracles that happened 170 years ago If you mean that it's more stupid for people in 1830 to believe in the supernatural then I think you have a valid point. If you think it's more stupid to believe supernatural things happened in 1830 vs. 1030 than I think you don't. So I'm guessing you meant the former, but I'm not sure.

    Yes, with a twist: long enough after the supposedly supernatural event, the evidence needed to verify or disprove it has faded. The relevant people have died, the stones have been buried or whatever, and you have only the account of the event. In 30 A.D. it was not reasonable to expect people to subject Jesus's tricks to skeptical scrutiny. In 1830, it was. Believing Joesph Smith today even though he refused to submit to the methods of proof well known and available at the time of his revelations in 1826-30 is much stupider than believing in Jesus today; the methods of disproof available in 1830 were not available in 30 A.D, so it is not a black mark on Jesus that he did not subject himself to those tests.

    Your religion teaches that there was an advanced civilization of white people in America before the Native Americans. Actually it teaches no such thing. They were neither "white" in any conventional sense nor were they the first inhabitants in the Americas.

    Whatever. The whiteness and firstness parts aren't important; the important part is that they were a non-Native Americans with an advanced civilization that predated the thirteen colonies. Again, archeology demonstrates that this is false.

    Joseph Smith, while in jail in violation of double jeopardy, was shot and killed by a mob of over 100 people. So it's also historical fact that people hated the man. The governor of Illinois issued a famous "extermination proclamation" that all Mormons had to leave the state or they would be executed. So it's obvious that this hatred extended to government officials acting in their capacity as such. Given these historical facts, do you really think it's significant that he was found guilty of a crime?

    Yes, since the conviction predated all the religious stuff for which he was hated. He didn't publish the Book of Mormon until about four years after his conviction. Or is your theory that the state government figured out that he was the type who might later try to start a hated religion, and therefore they needed to taint him with a fraud conviction before he got his religion off the ground?

    Joseph translated 116 pages. He gave the pages to Martin Harrison. Martin Harrison lost the pages. Joseph Smith believed that they had been altered so that if he retranslated them the re translation would not match the original. Thus he did not retranslate them.

    This is some seriously weak sauce, and pretty convenient if he was a fraud. If he seriously thought Harrison altered his translations, he could have found a trusted third party and then translated the documents several times with the third party vouching for the similarity or dissimilarity of these subsequent translations.

    he enjoyed enormous personal gain when people believed him. This is utter rubbish. Joseph Smith enjoyed nothing but deprivation and persecution as a result of his claims. He lived in poverty virtually his entire life. He may have enjoyed some brief measure of comfort in Nauvoo in the years before he was killed, but the fact is that if he wanted to make a bunch of cash it would have been trivial to do so, given his talents, without going through all the trouble of getting himself driven out of several states and eventually shot to death.

    Um, he was the leader of a religion of over ten thousand by the time he was assassinated. He had numerous wives, including one whom he married when she was 14. He had a COMPOUND. If this does not sound like some serious indulgence to you, I don't know what to say. Also, he likely did not anticipate bein

  • by Big Boss ( 7354 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @03:28PM (#23408278)
    Unless you have some proof that the LDS church leadership ordered the massacre, they have nothing to apologize or take responsibility for. Not that it wasn't a terrible thing, but blaming the whole religion for the actions of a few misguided people is stupid. Should all of Catholicism be held responsible for a few priests molesting kids? And that's just to name the first such example I could think of. I would think most any religion that's been around for a while will have examples we could name. But that doesn't make the whole religion bad, it just points out that a few people made a mistake.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @04:03PM (#23408822) Journal
    They couldn't compete with Scientology via door-to-door sales, so instead they try Scientology's legal techniques. Tin-foil underwear anyone?
  • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @05:36PM (#23410230) Homepage Journal

    Joseph translated 116 pages. He gave the pages to Martin Harrison. Martin Harrison lost the pages. Joseph Smith believed that they had been altered so that if he retranslated them the re translation would not match the original. Thus he did not retranslate them.

    Was it because he couldn't? Or because he was legitimately avoiding a trap? It seems silly to say "he couldn't" because it makes no sense to say he was somehow less capable of translating non-existent plates the second time than the first time.
    So this is really not a coherent argument at all, but just a clever bit of slander. Whether or not Joseph Smith was an impostor, the case is not strengthened or harmed by the fact that he refused to retranslate once the original text was out of his control.

    I think the implication is that his translation was not a translation and he made those 116 pages up from scratch.

    You say "it makes no sense to say he was somehow less capable of translating non-existent plates the second time than the first time" but it makes perfect sense. If he's making it up as he goes along then if he does it again it won't be the same.

    If he made another set and the first "translation" was found again then he'd have been exposed as a fraudster because the two would be different, thus he made up a fairly ridiculous excuse.

    This is the word of god that has been given to me but I'm not going to translate it again because someone's out to get me? He obviously didn't think that 116 pages of the word of god was worth much.
  • Re:Cult. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by duckInferno ( 1275100 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @07:26PM (#23411620) Journal
    So you don't know any true segments of Judaism then. The book's quite clear on what you should do and should not do. Anything less is to disobey the word of the LORD thy God :P.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @08:53PM (#23412466)
    The church copyrights stuff not to make a profit (the leaders of the church do not make money based on how much the church makes), but so that things aren't taken out of context.

    No, they use copyright to bully others into not publishing things that they would rather keep secret. I'm sure that Mormons would rather the world forget that their "church" did not allow people of African descent to be clergy until 1978. I'm sure that the "church" would rather the world forget that for a century they taught that black skin was alternately the mark of Caine or a punishment for failure to choose a side in the war during pre-creation. I'm sure that the Mormon "church" would rather the world forget about the massacres that its membes committed during the late 1800s.

    The only "church" that's any crazier than yours is Scientology. Funny, isn't it, that they use the same tactics to silence critics.
  • Uh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @10:44PM (#23413372) Homepage
    Well, given that a Roman Emperor decided what would become the Bible three hundred years after the fact, you don't have much place to say anything at all. In another hundred and fifty years, these issues with true early Mormon thought will be whitewashed, just as the ideas that didn't turn out to be popular were weeded out of the official version of events for a good two hundred years after Christ died.

    Religions are continually liberalized to remain relevant to modern society. And you think this criticism of your pink unicorn is different from his pink unicorn, it's doing it's true job of preventing you from thinking rationally.
  • Re:Inevitably.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by immcintosh ( 1089551 ) <slashdot@@@ianmcintosh...org> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @07:32PM (#23426468) Homepage
    It's only a logical fallacy if his moral character weren't actual substantive grounds for such a dismissal. If you have a scientist whose ideas you are dismissing on the basis of his moral character, that's one thing, and an obvious fallacy. For someone who is pretending to dictate morality, to start a religion even, that person's moral character is very much in question. PARTICULARLY if that moral character gives you direct reason to believe he had ulterior motives for his supposed divine revelations.

Vax Vobiscum