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Well, everyone is evil and depraved from conception to the last breath. How could God not hate us? Why did God create such evil and depraved creatures? So far, I don't think there is really a sound Evangelical creedalist answer to that one.

I think it's an unfair reach to claim that Westboro represents Evangelicals at large.

While some Evangelicals have their unkind and ignorant moments (please don't make me defend them), they don't compare to the extremely hateful Westboro Baptists.

According the Wikipedia link, they are tiny group led by a crazy pastor and his daughter (as I recall).

I don't like when tiny renegade polygamist sects define my church, and it's unfair to do the same to Evangelicals.

Get Religion links to a Washington Times article at the end where they properly talk to some sane Baptists who denounce their neighbors.

It would be nice to see a national story on how Mormons are tired of being defined by polygamy.

After scratching my head over evangelicals and their obsession with everyone else's religion, especially ours, I have come to my newest opinion that they are just frustrated conspiracy theorists. If they didn't have Mormonism, it would be UFO's or the New World Order or something.

Ironically, according to Wikipedia, the cause may be evolutionary. "Paranoid tendencies are associated with an animal's ability to recognize danger. Higher animals attempt to construct mental models of the thought processes of both rivals and predators in order to read their hidden intentions and to predict their future behavior."

Somewhere I got the idea that the Westboro folks were behind the semiannual demonstrations outside of General Conference. Since they have been in the news, I have tried unsuccessfully to verify that. Was I just wrong?

Somewhere I got the idea that the Westboro folks were behind the semiannual demonstrations outside of General Conference. Since they have been in the news, I have tried unsuccessfully to verify that. Was I just wrong?

LL -

No, I think those were some other crazy Evangelicals which I guess would undermine my earlier point somewhat.

Maybe Evangelicals are like Muslims in the sense that there is no centralized hiearchy that could better regulate the wackos from the moderates?

That and there is little pressure on them to have to denounce and reject the crazies among them.

Lonnie Pursifull, pastor of the Wilderness Baptist Church in Duchesne, Utah, and head of the Street Preachers' Fellowship in Utah is behind the news-making protests in Salt Lake City.

The Westboro church would be better defined as Fundamentalist than Evangelicals. It's an important distinction in Protestantism. Not all Protestants are Evangelicals and not all Protestants are Fundamentalist.

And even then, they really aren't representative of Fundamentalism either. They're just one patriarchical family with church sign board.

Tim, I certainly understand how you'd rather they not be considered Evangelical, but they walk the Evangelical walk and they talk the Evangelical talk. It's not like you can define Evangelicals as those who act or behave like "true Christians" -- y'all have spent a hundred years telling Mormons that, despite their good Christian acts, they aren't true Christians because they believe the wrong things.

Well, the Westboro folks believe the things you say Christians should believe, so you're all in bed together, one big Evangelical family. If that makes you uncomfortable, then that's a hint you need to rethink your whole approach to Christianity.

Dave, will this blog operate now like CNN? This kind of post doesn't seem typical of you.

Pick the most radical and hateful and say that is evangelicalism and that we are all in bed together? Even Christian fundamentalism separates in public print, even beyond public speeches, from the shark congregation.

Well, I guess it does bring sensationalism for audience fancy.

But I only have to turn on my television to get this kind of reporting.

And Dave, sometime pick up any leading evangelical book dealing with God's love. You might be surprised.

Todd, I rather enjoyed a book by a Protestant minister on the subject of the Sabbath. I actually quoted from it when I taught the lesson in Elders Quorum a couple months ago and got quite a few compliments on it.

Dave, you have been getting a tad grumpy about Evangelicals, no?

Todd, I think the problem is that the obnoxious Evangelicals are the ones Mormons see the most of. I really appreciate the kind and sensitive dialogue you are personally trying to have with Mormons. And I have encountered other Evangelicals who do the same. I'm always happy to talk with them, and I'll stick up for them any day.

But you have to realize, Protestant dialogue with Mormons has been hijacked by the hateful people in your midst for too long. You can't even post something about Mormonism on a major newspaper website without the comments immediately running into the hundreds full of hateful Jesus screamers yelling at us about how we're brainwashed cultist and are going to hell. Then you've got the Temple Square protesters, who, unfortunately pretty-much are the public face of Evangelicals for many Mormons. Then you have hurtful anti-Mormon tracts continually being circulated. Then we hear the constant stories of young LDS mothers who were turned away from homeschooling co-ops as soon as the other mothers discovered they were Mormon. We hear about Mormon kids in Texas who can't play with anyone in the neighborhood because word got out they were Mormon. We hear about Christians disowning their own children when they baptized into Mormonism. People being turned down for jobs. Constant public misrepresentation, including the utterly mean-spirited and worthless term "cult."

You combine this with an almost deafening... silence, from the "mainstream" of Protestantism and what are Mormons supposed to think? When you allow the lunatic fringe to hijack your message and then fail to publicly and decisively correct the hateful statements being made, what are we supposed to conclude?

The conclusion quickly becomes that violent hatred of Mormonism IS the official Protestant position. Otherwise, they would have corrected it wouldn't they?

I don't expect you to reverse this suspicion of Mormons single-handedly. Nor do I hold Mormons blameless in the mutually charged atmosphere. But it would be nice if your top leadership were willing to go on the record about Mormonism in a way that doesn't essentially parrot anti-Mormon pamphlets, but with fancier language.

Seth, go back 50 years in America. All religions lived in a culture adhering to absolutes.

Imagine some of the Mormon communities back then. Tight. Very tight. Evangelicals living in these areas have lots of stories, too, friend. And are all of these areas open and sensitive and kind, today?

Seth writes, The conclusion quickly becomes that violent hatred of Mormonism IS the official Protestant position.

Which mainline Protestant denominations in America actively promote this, today? In Idaho Falls, mainline churches and LDS are all one big happy family. The outsider is the conservative evangelical or fundamentalist. I think to help prevent the frustration with conservative evangelicals is to not knock on their doors and say, "We are just like you, but want to add a little bit more to your faith."

Thinking about Westboro: these guys do not fuel American hatred for LDS friends. No, it fuels hatred the "fundamentalist." The days for the Christian fundamentalist in America are numbered. And sadly, Americans won't even care to make the distinction between those who use Christ and those who love Christ.

I know Todd. We've circled our wagons. Possibly more than is good for us. And for the record, my skepticism mode goes into overdrive every time I hear some ex-Baptist, ex-Catholic, or ex-whatever stand up in Fast and Testimony meeting and start to get negative about his former faith.

I am also rather painfully aware of the isolation that occurs with non-Mormons in Utah. It's rather sad, for instance, that a nice Evangelical girl can't get asked to Junior Prom in some Mormon towns.

I'm just laying out where Mormon paranoia and defensiveness is coming from. Right or wrong, it is what it is. And the lack of engagement from the mainstream of Protestantism does reinforce the message of those who have hijacked the Evangelical microphone on Mormonism. So Mormons are isolated in society and their tendency toward clannishness is reinforced.

Now, maybe this has changed. Maybe there is more outreach and efforts like your blog are more and more of the norm in the mainstream. That would be excellent. But I don't see it yet. Am I wrong?

Todd, this is really a question of institutional identity, not anything negative about Evangelicals as individuals.

In terms of identity, most Evangelicals are quite happy to push Mormons outside their definition of "Christian" based solely on a creedal and doctrinal definition. So I'm just saying if that's the Evangelical approach, then you have to live with it: the Westoboro folks fit the creedal and doctrinal beliefs, so they are you fellow believers.

You're all buddy buddy with the folks over at Mormon Coffee. You don't seem to have a problem with their permanent campaign against Mormons ... yet you think I am being unfair putting up a post or two about the dark side of the Evangelicals? If I didn't know you better, Todd, I'd call you a hypocrite.

Dave: I wouldn't begin to judge all Evangelicals on the basis of the Westboro group, any more than I'd want others to judge all Mormons based on, say, the hard right-wing LDS survivalists down in southern Utah (a number of whom got themselves excommunicated back in the early 1990s). Your blog subtitle says "A friendly place..."; I think your tone belies that.

In the end, I think such fringe groups, whatever their source, become self-parodying and thus self-limiting. I've got one of my favorite photos of such on my own blog; it makes me chuckle every time I look at it.

As for the "Mormons aren't Christian" claim -- to quote an old California bumper sticker from my youth, "I used to be disgusted, but now I'm just amused." I'm not particularly concerned whether Evangelicals think we're Christian, any more than I'm concerned whether they think Catholics are Christian (hint: a lot of them don't). Such proclamations are silly and, if persisted in, will ultimately render the Evangelical movement less and less relevant and, in the end, less and less vibrant. I think that's the core concern of people like Richard Mouw, and it's a valid concern. IMHO. ..bruce..

Easy Dave, I spent about a month or two rolling in the mud over at Mormon Coffee and I honestly don't recall seeing Todd active over there the entire time. I remember him saying he had lunch with Aaron S. once and he seemed a very nice guy, which honestly is possibly the same conclusion I would have reached had I done the same.

No need to be throwin abou' accusitations.

Seth R.,

Having just come from an news site with an article about Mitt Romney, and waded through 17 pages of drivel about Mormon beliefs in the comments that followed, I thank you for your 12:31 post. You just got a lot of frustration off of my chest.

The Westboro bunch do not fit the doctrine of Scripture. They don't even come close. I don't just "live with it." Dave, how many evangelical churches do you need to confirm this to you?

If there is anything that I would enjoy trying to communicate about myself to LDS bloggernacle, hear this: I want to discuss and measure religion (my religion, your religion) by the biblical data not creeds.

We are all to judge a man or a Christian church by their faithful belief in the God and gospel of the Bible. To sign your name at the bottom of a creed does not bring about the supernatural work of regeneration to make one a Christian.

Seth shares my experience. For the record, I like Aaron. He is a good guy, a genuine brother in Christ (worlds apart from Westboro preaching). And Aaron would be the first to tell you he has an assertive personality. He is passionate for the gospel. Vocally passionate. Come to think of it, there are a lot of passionate men in Scripture.

Of course, I know many LDS who have the same assertive personality.

Hypocrisy? Dave, I just know that you and I both appreciate when distinctives are made. There can be huge chasms between fundamentalistic Baptist evangelicals. The media just says, "Duh, they have the same label. They carry the same Bible. Therefore, they must be the same." Fundamentalist is the f-word, given to the pariah of America.

Anyways, I am done with this topic.

I will throw the frustration of my chest as well.

Cheers, Dave.

Have a good night's sleep. And I will do the same in Idaho.

Todd, how, exactly, do the Westboro bunch not fit the doctrine of Scripture?

It sounds to me like you are saying that based on their works, the words they say (which are the same as yours, i.e. "Triune God", "one substance" etc.) do not qualify them as true believers or rather do not save them in the sense of invoking God's grace and bringing "the supernatural work of regeneration to make one a Christian". Is this what you are saying?

Todd, I know I'm being a little snarky. I just get tired of seeing Evangelicals pick on Mormons. I don't see Catholics doing it. I don't see Buddhists doing it. I don't even see Democrats doing it. Just Evangelicals. What goes around comes around.

To be fair Dave, we do tend to get our share of atheist critics too. But they tend to be a little more equal-opportunity offenders (i.e. they go after everyone) and they don't seem quite so aggressive about it.

I will say I find atheist criticisms of Mormonism much more challenging than Protestant counter-cultist arguments (which are often laughably self-unaware).

Todd,
People who make it their life's work to destroy the religious beliefs of other people are not nice people. They are sociopaths. Aaron plays nice, because he feels it is necessary to pull off his schtick. He does not differ in belief or in aim from the Evangelical trolls who enjoy nothing better than pointing out how everyone who isn't them are going to hell. He differs (slightly) in tone, but that is all. He may be nice to his family, his children, his pets, and his co-religionists. But he is not nice.

Dave, if I might pop back on after my initial display of frustration . . .

John C., if you lived in a city, 80% evangelical, would you vocalize any of your concerns that if they don't start believing and living right, they aren't going to make celestial glory no matter what prayers they have said in the past or what comes out of their lips, presently.

Or would you be "nice" and quiet? just a sweet, good ol' boy among all those professing Christians.

In regards to your first sentence, what about some of the O.T. kings who sought to stamp out and destroy the religious beliefs of others? Were they sociopaths? This is exactly how many of the secularists in America would label a majority of the godly leaders in the O.T. In fact, that is what they would say about the God of the O.T.

When I think of O.T. prophets or even N.T. apostles, "nice" is not the first descriptive term that comes to my mind. This is not even a good adjective for describing all of Jesus Christ's activities. Jesus was not always nice, but he was always loving.

"Nice" is a term coveted in interfaith dialogue. And in confession, I like to be thought of as "nice" by others. When my wife and I were seniors, graduating at one of the local high schools in Idaho Falls, guess what we were voted as? "Mr. Nice/Friendly" "Miss Nice/Friendly"

But someday when I die, I want to be known as something a little more substantive than the synonym, "nice". Hopefully, it would be one who had a passion and love for God and His glory.

When I was in seminary and living in a city professing to be 80% evangelical, I was not always nice. Many needed sticks of dynamite to wake them up out of their false security. I knocked on the doors of "evangelicals", sharing everything I could with them. And yes, I did want to destroy those religious beliefs that did hinder them from making celestial glory their final home.

Yet some try to destroy falsehood through their own self-sacrifice. John C., in the world of computers and blogs and fiesty posts, you never see the sacrifice that goes on in real life. Unfortunately, the limitations of internet.

Sometimes, neighbors have a different picture than bloggers.

God will work on Aaron as well as me in maturing us and making us more like Jesus Christ in the days ahead. I pray for that.

Dave -

this post, and your comments, are a bit of a Tu Quoque fallacy. Just because Evangelicals do it to us does not mean that we should do it to them.

Really, Evangelicals are a diverse lot, and lumping them all together like this is a bit unfair.

Seth R. -

I've found that while atheist critics tend to go after everyone, they tend to really, really, really not like Mormons. They usually are okay with laid back liberal Protestant types who don't proselytize, but since we have an active missionary program - well, that tends to get a lot of atheists extra angry at us (though it applies to any church with an active missionary approach as well).

With regards to Mormon bashing, check out this article. This website put up a billboard about political correctness. Inside the website at the link below is an interesting article on Mormon Bashing in Utah.

http://www.fightpc.net/showthread.php?t=75

Aaugh! My eyes!

Why do I suddenly feel an uncontrollable urge to buy a Bo Gritz bumper-sticker, purchase an AK-47 online, and beat up a Mexican?

Todd,
I grew up in a city that had the 8th largest Baptist Church in the US at the time, so I am a little familiar with being in a minority religion. I can confidently say that although I never believed (or much appreciated) the dominant religion in those days, I never went over to my Evangelical neighbors and told them they were going to hell. I have never, ever, considered the possibility that any particular person is not going to make the celestial kingdom (setting aside the obvious generic murderers and tyrants). That includes all the good (and not-so-good) Baptist and Evangelical neighbors of my youth. I am happy for them to be happy in their faith (though I think it is possible to be (at least a little) happier in mine).

I simply do not believe that Aaron is driven by an interest in the well-being of my soul. If he was, he would approach the situation by trying to help me contact the divine, not by seeking to undermine my current contact. I do believe that Aaron insists on the manner of his ministry out of a desire to find himself in the right, over and over again. Aaron is motivated, I believe, by pride, not by the humility that, to me, would indicate a follower of Christ.

Again, I don't doubt that Aaron is kind to his neighbors or kind to his friends. However, due to his online behavior, I would tend to question the motivations of both behaviors.

They really aren't that bad, are they?

http://imsofunny.blogspot.com/2007/11/southern-baptists.html

Dave,

Long time listener, first time caller.

To be frank, I was initially dismayed at this post and its message but then I realized I wrote a negative post or two on my website regarding the Evangelicals recently as well. I would hesitate to equate the Westboro Baptist folks with "mainstream" Baptists but I understand your point that they do seem to be broadcasting the basic Evangelical talking points but do so with a little more zeal and aggression.

That said, I have noticed the fairly recent increase in Mormon bashing in the mainstream Evangelical movement and can really only attribute that to the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney. The message of love seems to have turned to the "in your face, take no prisoner" style of Evangelism. The idea of pragmatism has escaped this generation of Evangelicals as "they answer to a higher power not a secular society". Mainstream Evangelical's seem to have lost the ability to balance religious life with life in this diverse society.

You may have already alluded to this but the rhetoric coming out of the Evangelical movement of late mirrors the dangerous rhetoric coming out of some mosques, "Our way or...our way!".

The simple fact that you have some people, including members of congress asking Mitt Romney not to discuss his faith, downplay his religion, and stop calling yourself Christian makes me a little nervous. What of the shoe was on the other foot? What if people were asking Huckabee to not discuss his religion (which by the way seems like the only platform he has right now)? Can you imagine the outrage from our Evangelical brothers and sisters?

I too am tired of hearing I am going to burn in hell and I reacted a couple of times on my blog but I have decided to let it go from now on. There is no point in engaging in these types of discussions as it will just drive the wedge further. I do not mind being called a "cultist" or being told I am following satan. It is acceptable to have religious disagreements. What I do have a problem with is that at the end of the day, Mormons and Evangelicals share the same basic values socially and politically and yet they do not see us as an ally rather an enemy. There is a tangible "us vs. them" atmosphere and I am really starting to feel like I have no place in the public square because of my faith and that is what really scares me.

Either way, I am sure a couple of Paxil will get me straightened out.

Rock on Dave!

Lug

I've enjoyed a heaping helping of the Evangelical views of Mormonism on my NC mission way back when, and of those there who really knew us, the war was a friendly one: "I surely don' want to hear nothin' 'bout your Joe Smith, but would you stay for pie?" They saw us as really nice boys for satanists, and I will forever love the folks down there.

That said, I never hear word about the rabid hatred the Foursquares have for us. Seriously, I once dated a girl who was a Foursquare and it was only after she started liking me that she found out I was LDS and I found out how much her church loathed us. She was so angry-- with herself as well as me, 'cause she wouldn't stop seeing me. It was the weirdest thing. We'd be kissing on the couch, and then she'd stop and punch me hard or slap my face to vent her frustration. Then we'd resume kissing (I'd be lying if I said there wasn't something strangely hot about the whole thing). I don't know... msybe that's how Foursquares exorcise.

Anyway, since the subject was Evangelicals, I wondered if anyone else ever heard about the Foursquares and their ongoing campaign against the Church?

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

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