Here’s a wonderful example of the sort of unbiased media attention coming our way due to Mitt Romney’s White House bid:
In a front-page article the Asia Times, a fairly significant voice in Far East news, their reporter reviews the history and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The primary source material appears to be an article on the Catholic.com apologetic web site entitled “The Wacky World of Joseph Smith,” and the infamous South Park episode “All About Mormons.”
Yes, someone has clearly done their homework.
Here are some of the more amusing examples of what the reporter has discovered about us:
Voters may reject a candidate whose religious views are crazy, for example, someone who thinks he talks to God. [MP: Has the reporter ever heard of “prayer”?] Does Romney believe that he himself will become God, as Mormon doctrine teaches?
* * *
Just what is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly called the Mormons? Joseph Smith Jr, the forger, treasure-hunter, magician, polygamist and self-styled priest-king of the American continent, invented an American version of Europe’s ethnically-founded idolatry. Each European tribe that rebelled against Christianity styled itself the Chosen People. Smith concocted a tale in which Americans actually were the Chosen People, and America was the Promised Land of the ancient Hebrews and Jesus Christ. In short, Smith took to the extremes of fantasy and forgery an impulse towards national self-worship that always lurks somewhere in American Christianity.
* * *
Belief in the Book of Mormon is one of the strangest collective delusions in history. The circumstances of its forgery are transparent and exhaustively documented. After supposedly finding golden tablets composed by the aptly-named Angel Moroni, Smith “translated” 16 pages of them using his treasure-hunting stones. A friend showed the manuscript to his suspicious wife, who hid or destroyed it. Smith could not exactly reproduce the “translation” which he had dictated free-style, and stood in danger of exposure were he to produce a different version. Instead he received a new revelation to translate not those golden tablets, but yet another set of tablets that no one else could see. [MP: Note that the reporter hopeless garbles the details of the early translation attempts. One would hope that getting the basic facts right would be the first step to writing a major article.]
Historians have demonstrated that a sizable chunk of the supposed Book of Mormon was copied from a novel by a certain Reverend Solomon Spalding, who concocted the notion of an ancient Hebrew migration to North America as an entertainment. [MP: For crying out loud, even Fawn Brodie and the Tanners reject the Spaulding theory!]
* * *
If the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a tyranny tempered by incompetence, as the old joke goes, the Mormon Church is a megalomania atrophied by age. Although the Latter Day Saints claim 13 million members, less than one-third are active. Unlike American Christian denominations, the Mormons have had small success in Africa and Asia, the centers of Christian evangelization. As punishment for their sins, the Mormons must live in their promised land in the Rockies. [MP: The reporter pulled the “one-third” figure out of nowhere. He ignores the success we’ve seen in Latin and South America, and in Asian countries like Mongolia. And he fails to note that more Mormons live outside the United States than inside it.]
And so forth.
For all the unintended humor that one can find in this article, it unfortunately gives us a glimpse of what the Latter-day Saint movement is up against in Asia and the world at large. Despite what we think of ourselves, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding driven by misinformation from the popular press.
We have a lot of work ahead of us.