I’m not quite up to one of those meaty sink-your-teeth-into-it doctrinal posts today, so let’s do some link and comment paragraphs highlighting a few news stories. Because it seems like Mormonism is always in the news these days.
At the Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land: Church buys Washington ranch and Hawaiian hotel. Another 12,000 acres were added to the Church’s sprawling real estate empire. The article notes that the Church already owns 600,000 acres in Florida, or about 2% of the land mass of the state. I imagine you have heard the quip that the Church is more like an investment company with retail outlets (chapels) than a church with an investment portfolio. On the bright side, I’m happier they are buying Florida real estate than buying up the State of Missouri. I’ll be much happier getting a call from the bishop saying: “Time to pack up the family and move to Zion. By the way, it’s in Florida.”
From Jana Reiss at Flunking Sainthood: Rising numbers of young adult Mormons in the US are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Lots of interesting data in this article, responding to some recent national survey data. She cautions: “[I]t is unlikely that the rates of sexual diversity are as high as indicated below for GenZ and Millennial Latter-day Saints. Our estimate is that they may be around 7 to 9 percentage points lower than indicated in the Nationscape data reported.” Still, striking data. There’s a strong generational trend observable in the data. You can guess which way it’s trending.
You’re gonna love this one. From Yahoo Entertainment News: Andrew Garfield, Daisy Edgar-Jones to Star in FX on Hulu Series ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ From Dustin Lance Black. I guess we are entering the era of Mormon docu-dramas. Wait ’til they get their hands on the Mormon Meadows Massacre. Here’s a quote from the article:
The series hails from write Dustin Lance Black and is based on the Jon Krakauer novel of the same name. In the series, a devout detective’s faith is tested as he investigates a brutal murder that seems to be connected to an esteemed Utah family’s spiral into LDS fundamentalism and their distrust in the government.
Novel? No, Krakauer didn’t write a novel. Perhaps that comment suggests the script will be a fictionalized version (“based on a true story …”) of the events recounted in Krakauer’s book. Have you read it? It’s now or never. Here’s another graf from the article:
Garfield will star as Pyre, an LDS elder who is committed to his Church and family but begins to question some of the Church’s teachings through his contact with a suspected murderer. Edgar-Jones stars as Brenda, a young faithful Mormon who is the victim of a brutal murder.
Last but not least, from Fox13 Salt Lake: Lori Daybell found unfit to stand trial. That’s for the moment, while she undergoes treatment. The Court notes, “The completed assessment determined that at this time the Defendant is not competent to proceed, and recommends restorative treatment.”
I’m assuming most readers have followed earlier articles on this story. I considered doing a whole post on this, with the title “Are All Mormons Insane?” Because the beliefs that Ms. Daybell espouses — that her children were possessed by evil spirits — are quite firmly based in standard LDS beliefs, namely that there are zillions of evil spirits roaming to and fro upon the earth seeking to possess the bodies of good and faithful Mormons, young or old, male or female. Granted, very few Mormon parents, if confronted with kids who would rather watch TV than clean their room or do their homework, jump to the conclusion that their kids are possessed and then, on that basis, harm their children. Plainly, Ms. Daybell’s judgment is highly questionable, to the point that she is not competent to stand trial. But she’s not insane. She’s just Mormon. Expect a Netflix series on this in two or three years.
All of these so-called articles demonstrate just how much the modern media has adopted an agenda of anti-religion. The media focuses on obscure events, tiny fragments of the religious population, and isolated business transactions, instead of focusing on everyday members and events.
This agenda is having a devastating impact on today’s youth. They have become immersed in a world or virtual violence and wanton sexuality. Sadly, this virtual world is now becoming reality, resulting in increased rates of crime, disease, and broken families.
Responsible parents will make sure to keep these scurrilous movies and television shows out of their homes. The future of our young people depends on it.
Is it “anti-religion” or anti-Mormon to examine:
1. The LDS’s purchase of significant land and properties?
2. The high percentage of self-identified LGBQT LDS?
3. The insane behavior of the Daybells whose belief system is rooted in LDS teachings?
I guess we could put our heads in the sand and ignore all these stories.
Josh h, that’s exactly what they want us to do.
Come on Josh. You know full well that Hollywood lives for any chance to make religion look bad. And Krakauer clearly hates the LDS Church.
Religion — all religion — has to answer for the effects it has. While someone can choose to concentrate on who watches what movies, I can see people refusing to observe public health and their responsibility to the common good, attacking the roots and the most sacred symbols of our democracy and vilifying their fellow man to despair that too often results in suicide. And they do that too often in the name of and egged on by religion. Mormonism is most specifically not exempt from these toxic effects. Meanwhile, there’s a significant absence of leadership that pulls the reigns in on these dysfunctional effects.
But, boy!, the church sure has real estate…
Ever since listening to the Daymon Smith interview with John Dehlin, what I’ve longer for more than anything else is for the church to give a true and accurate accounting of both its finances and membership. I expect it will never again provide either. But why it is building malls, investing in Game Stop, and becoming the largest rancher in Florida still should be explained to tithe-payers, in my opinion. I am not a tithe-payer, so perhaps I have no right to know, but still …
Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on real estate is hardly an “obscure event.” The two property purchases occurring while the world is in the midst of a pandemic. And the Church is only spending a million here and a million there to improve world conditions. And it does seem that the leadership owes the membership an explanation of why these purchases are happening at this particular time. After all, one half of members are living in developing countries with limited access to vaccines and other resources.
And the timing for the these purchases couldn’t be worse, with the Church being sued by one of the Huntsman brothers. He wants his $5M in tithing back. He thought he was donating to a religion not an investment company.
The stats about those identifying themselves as something other than hetero is also important. Hopefully, it will encourage the leadership to ease off the LGBTQ+ discrimination.
And the films, about Hoffman and now the Laffertys, should also give the leadership pause for thought. Someone should start wondering about why so many church members are behaving is such extreme ways. Whether it be the Bundys, Laffertys, anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, et al. And why a high percentage of Mormons voted for Trump, including Senator Lee, ex-Senator Hatch, and their ilk.
Thanks for the comments, everyone.
JCS, “a world or virtual violence and wanton sexuality.” Yeah, to be honest, I think we’re all a little worried about the next generation. And the one after that.
rogerdhanen, “Someone should start wondering about why many church members are behaving is such extreme ways.” I can’t tell whether it really is the case that Mormons do crazy things more than comparable groups, or whether we just get more attention when that happens. But it does seem to be the case that when a Mormon goes a little crazy, they do it in a particularly Mormon way. Maybe we need a lesson on this in the curriculum: “How to go crazy in a way that doesn’t embarrass the Church.”
Judging by things lately, maybe the lesson should be: “How Church craziness can be accomplished without continually embarrassing the members.” As an aside, can you cleanup the problems with my post?
JCS, “so called articles?” Pray tell, sir. What test of religious purity must a piece of text in a serial publication pass to be considered an article?
Also, did you just insinuate that violent video games caused the pandemic?
JCS: “a world or virtual violence and wanton sexuality”. May I suggest it is more like a world of wanton violence and virtual sexuality?
“zillions of evil spirits roaming to and fro upon the earth seeking to possess the bodies of good and faithful Mormons”
Are there any other LDS scriptures or teachings on this?
Seems to me the KJV Gospels is the only place that has ideas on possession.
Dave B., please be kinder on your posts about the Daybells. This happened in my hometown and I followed it closely. There were hundreds of people holding out hope that Tylee and Joshua would be found safe. It breaks my heart and careless jokes about Lori being “crazy” are hurtful. You’re also ignoring the beliefs of Chad Daybell as well. He murdered his wife.
Tylee, Joshua, and Tammy deserve to be remembered with respect. They suffered greatly.
Thanks for the comments, everyone.
SisterStacey, I didn’t use the word “crazy.” I just reported the fact that the Court determined she is not mentally competent to stand trial. Nothing but sympathy, of course, for the kids. I also noted that her judgment is “highly questionable,” which is about the mildest way I can think of to describe things. I’m sorry it happened in your hometown, but now it’s national news and we get to talk about it. Maybe if more people in your hometown talked about it, they would be more aware of similar situations and report abusive situations to the authorities before events spin out of control. I say “events spin out of control” as a mild description. To be candid and direct, what I mean is report abusive situations to the authorities before parents take the ultimate bad judgment actions of killing their children. You ought to be less concerned about talking about bad events in your hometown and more concerned with protecting innocent children.