Once upon a time, very early on, one of the proto-boards which eventually merged to become ChristianForums as it’s known today used the Apostle’s Creed as its standard of “who is a Christian here”. By the time I reached the site, it was using the longer Nicene Creed. A brief experiment in 2003 allowed members to use either, but a “problem” was found: Mormons accept the Apostle’s Creed, but almost none of them can agree to the Nicene Creed.
Many traditional Christian groups say some pretty nasty things about Mormons. They are generally called a “cult”, for instance. (CF specifically prohibits calling Christian groups they aren’t kicking in the teeth “cults”.)
So, the Apostle’s Creed was yanked. There’s just one problem, which is that many, many, Christians have never even heard of the Nicene Creed. To this day, CF is full of people who don’t accept it, although they’ve mitigated this somewhat by adding footnotes allowing people to reject certain claims.
What they can’t do is just admit that the real rule is “You have to accept the Apostles’ Creed, but not be a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness”. In practice, that seems to be it.
There’s a great deal of struggle around the boundaries, as some other Christian groups (to avoid confusion, I’m just calling all the Jesus freaks “Christians”) accept the Apostles’ Creed, but not the Nicene Creed. They are generally told smugly that they are not qualified under the site’s definition – often by the people who needed the footnotes.
But no matter what, the Mormons are a special case. A special ghetto has been created for debates of a few points of theology, and for kicking the snot out of the Mormons. There’s a couple of interesting points to this. The first is that the forum has a rule against “promoting” non-Christian religions. The second is that no two staff members agree on what is, or isn’t, promoting.
Policy rulings on the topic have gradually made the fence higher, and the Mormon side of it spikier. The bullies are allowed to demand that the Mormons substantiate claims, and declare victory if the Mormons fail to do so, even when doing so would be treated as a rule violation and edited. They are even allowed to declare victory if the Mormons do provide evidence, because it will usually be removed.
The prize-winner was a Mormon receiving an official warning for demonstrating convincingly that a particular claim about Mormons was false. The rationale offered was that, since Mormonism is false, if a Mormon wins an argument, he must have broken some rule. (I don’t have the exact details of the case right, but the net result has been a general stance that, if a Mormon wins any point, it is a de facto violation of the rule against promoting other religions.)
There is a theme which runs through a number of movies and TV shows; I think I saw it in some movie related to the Kung Fu TV series. Two people are told to fight, and the more skilled one is told he must not attack, only defend. Eventually, he loses. The point of the story is that you cannot win a fight if you cannot attack.
In Unorthodox Theology, the Mormons cannot attack. Under some rulings that are still sometimes upheld, they can’t even defend.
What this produces is, of course, exactly what you’d expect. There are a few Mormons who come to CF, and they are very patient and Godly people, who have more patience and kindness than most of the people you will ever meet. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t stay around, saying what little they can, correcting the most egregious errors, and getting warned for it over and over.
Since there’s no way to ask them honest questions and get real answers (that would be “promoting Mormonism”), no one with any actual interest in the question participates for long.
So who does?
Think about the kind of person who hears the story of the two fighters, one who only defends, and thinks “I want to be the guy who only attacks.” They’re bullies. Not only that, but they are without exception really weak bullies; they are people who cannot win arguments if their opponents are allowed to argue.
What’s pathetic isn’t that there are people who come to the forum to take advantage of this. What’s pathetic is that they lose anyway.
The problem is that the net result of this is to present a snapshot of “mainstream Christians vs. Mormons” in which the Mormons are polite, well-spoken, and patient beyond the normal limits of human endurance, and the Christians are petty and spiteful liars, who present atrocious argumentation backed only by the smug assurance of knowing no one can really argue with them.
Date: 2006-11-17 20:49:07 -0600
Thankyou Seebs for this article. I think you’ve caught the substance quite well!
I might add that there is occasional and gradual improvement at CF, esp. over LDS and mainly (I believe) since “A New Dawn” was made a moderator of that forum.
In an attempt to bring some civilising of the LDS forum, I posted “Swarts Laws”: Thread t3174748 on CF.
However there are two things worse than being a Mormon on CF. The second is being an OC that defends a Mormon - even if you are a moderator: t3154766
There are dozens of OC posters at CF that still bear the emotional scars of abuse from their fellow “Christians” from daring to suggest that LDS can actually have a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ and they were betraying Jesus by not hating us and as a reult, they needed to be the recipients of “tough love” from the Christian™ thought police.
Of course, the first place goes to ex-Mormons who refuse to be anti-Mormon. There was one case where a former LDS was hounded from forum to forum with accusations that she was a closet Mormon and had no right to us the cross. Finally, after being told time and time again that she wasn’t a Christian by Christians™, she agreed. “If this is Christianity, then I guess I’m not a Christian.” She put aside the cross and took up the pagan icon. Of course the Christians™ cheered, they had scored another victory by chasing out another Christian who didn’t hate enough.
For those who don’t want to wade through the LDS and UT forum to see what you are talking about. I have three good threads to offer: The first one is one I posted about the Bible and extra-biblical books. Remember that all OPs by LDS are VERY carefully scrutinised to make sure there is no “promotion of another religion” going on, so it has to be carefully worded: t2320217
The second thread is a complete travesty. It was posted shortly after the current Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley’s wife had died as is entitled “Hinckley’s Wife”. Please note the sensitivity over the recent death of the wife of a spiritual leader. Imagine if this had been posted about Billy Graham’s wife: t118148
Also note the rampant editing of LDS posts, who edited them and their contribution to the thread.
Finally, we have the infamous “Are Mormons Christian?” thread: t1390503
Other threads where I have attempted to create some meaningful dialogue:
Date: 2006-11-25 10:44:09 -0600
This reminds me of a thread I started in Non-Christian Religions. I was simply curious about the most powerful memes running through Islam. I wanted to know what stories they grew up with and figured largely in their faith. It was basically asking what was the muslim corollary to the beatitudes or the woman at the well or Jonah and the whale.
IIRC (the thread was deleted), only one muslim came forward with the actual information I was seeking. He or she was immediately attacked for whatever reasons they get attacked. The thread was eventually deleted for promoting non-christian religions.
Date: 2010-02-05 05:55:25 -0600
So funny that you rail and rail about scientology but you apparently apply no skepticism or critical thinking to your own asinine easter-bunny cult.
You go, rainman!