Friday, June 7, 2013

The Articles of Faith...Kind of

I've been thinking about the Articles of Faith lately.

More specifically, I've been thinking about the hypocrisies and fallacies contained in the LDS Articles of Faith.  Mormons still present them as the basic tenets of their faith despite the fact that they were penned to summarize the beliefs of a fledgling church which has undergone almost two hundred years of evolution since these articles were authored.

The first article starts out reasonably, professing a belief in the godhead.  But after only one sentence of the creed, we arrive at the first problem, in article two:
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
That's interesting.  In the Book of Mormon, the descendants of Laman and his followers were cursed with a dark skin so that they would be unattractive to the righteous Nephites and limit the temptation for intermarrying.  Laman's great-great-grandson would have been punished with a dark skin to separate him from the Lord's faithful followers--despite the fact that he'd had nothing to with the actions that initiated the curse.  In a more modern setting, church members were punished by being denied the right to hold the priesthood for no other reason than for having the gall to be born black--which obviously, was completely out of their control.  The claim that people are punished for their own sins and not for the sins or skin colors of their ancestors is absurd.  Although the whole bit about Adam's transgression is mostly true.

The third article addresses the atonement, and there isn't much argument there.  But the fourth offers the first two saving ordinances--baptism and confirmation--without bothering to mention the other saving ordinances.  Why?  If this is supposed to be a summary of the most basic LDS beliefs, why does it not include all the things required to obtain the highest degree of exaltation?  Why not mention sealings and endowments?

Article five discusses how only those who are called of God should be preaching the gospel and performing ordinances.  But these men should be called by prophecy.  When was the last time the next President of the church was foretold by prophecy?  Where is the prophecy in which the church's practice of selecting the senior apostle as the next in line is set forth?  Why exactly should every little priest and teacher be called by "prophecy" other than the fact that it sounds pretty cool?

The sixth article laughably implies credibility by asserting the church is the same as Jesus' church, right down to the organization of it.  But, of course, there are no "pastors" in the modern LDS church and there are no "second quorum of the seventies" or "stake patriarchs" in the church of New Testament times.

The mystical, miraculous gifts that article seven professes belief in, with the exception of revelation and maybe healing, are rarely mentioned in the church.  And usually when they are mentioned, they come from those on the outer rings of the church's social circles and tend to be taken with a hefty grain of salt.

The eighth article of faith unwittingly makes the claim that, despite all the changes the church has made to the text of the Book of Mormon over the years, the Book of Mormon is the infallible word of God but the Bible can be disregarded when it's translated wrong.  Joseph Smith made a wise PR move by placing the Bible first in his discussion of scripture, but in reality the Book of Mormon takes precedence over the Bible.

The concept of continuing modern revelation is introduced in the ninth entry, promising lots of great new revelations to come.  Oddly enough, though the amount of revelation concerning the Kingdom of God has tapered off over the years and I don't think I've ever heard a prophet or apostle claim to speak the exact revealed words of God in my life--unless he was quoting exact revealed words of God as recorded by ancient cultures.

Article ten speaks to God's vague endgame, uniting Israel and such.  But I'm not sure that the earth receiving its "paradisaical glory" is really a central belief for your average Mormon.  I've never seen a pass-along card proclaiming an opportunity to see the Earth renewed in the Millennium.

As stated in the eleventh article, Mormons do in fact claim the privilege of worshiping the Almighty God.  And they do indeed allow all men the same privilege.  But they will do their darnedest to legislate the crap out of their own religion so that everybody else has to put up with it.

The twelfth statement is an attempt to assure everyone that those rascally Mormons aren't actually up to anything by setting forth a firm belief in obeying government laws.  Of course, the church continued to practice polygamy long after the United States explicitly outlawed it.  More recently, there's the failure to report contributions made to the Proposition 8 efforts and sneaking medicine through customs and plenty more if you keep digging.

The thirteenth and final article says a whole bunch of stuff.  It mentions honesty--despite the church's frequent dishonesty about its history and even about its own doctrine.  It mentions searching after lovely, praiseworthy things of good report--despite the fact that the leadership councils its members sternly to avoid R-rated movies and other forms of artistic expression that don't jive with the church's current standards.  It mentions "doing good to all men"--despite brainwashing its children into a constant fear of inadequacy, sexually repressing its members and driving some of its gays to suicide.

So, I guess, the church's thirteen articles of faith aren't really an accurate representation of the church's doctrine or an accurate representation of the behavior of the church and its membership.  It's kind of funny that the church hasn't realized this yet.  According to Wikipedia, the last edits the church has made to the Articles of Faith were one hundred eleven years ago.  But the church has changed a lot in those one hundred eleven years.

But I guess the self-contradiction, doublethink and hypocrisy have stayed pretty much the same.


  1. When I was a little kid, I remember asking my mom what happens to Catholics who don't join the church. She said that if they don't accept it, they can't go to the Celestial kingdom. That has always stuck with me, even as a missionary. If I talked to someone, and they rejected me, they would essentially be "damned to hell." Mormons don't afford people the privilege of worshipping how they may as stated in article 11. They send out missionaries to bug the crap out of them to try to get them to convert. They look down on, and avoid and shun, people who leave the church or lose faith in it. How I wish I would be allowed the privilege to NOT worship knowing that I and my wife and kids would not be persecuted, or at least disparaged or belittled, for not following false prophets and a false church.

  2. That's exactly why the only church members I've kept in any close contact with are my family members. All my other friends and acquaintances from the church...I don't want to deal with their persecution and disparagement and belittling.