Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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dogemperor [userpic]
Mormon Author Facing Excommunication

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]lilithsaintcrow)

Reprinted from God & Consequences

There is nothing so stubborn in all the world as a religion whose cherished tenets are shown to be assumptions or flat-out lies. There is also nothing more dangerous. But for right now, let's just stick with the stubbornness. Readers, meet Simon Southerton, who has committed the grave sin of writing a book saying that DNA evidence disproves Mormon assertions of ancestry. And the Mormons are getting ready to kick him out because of it.

Simon Southerton has been ordered to appear at a July 31 hearing before church leaders in Canberra, Australia, he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Southerton's book, "Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church," was published a year ago by Salt Lake-based Signature Books, a publishing house for Western and Mormon studies. It used established DNA data to refute Book of Mormon teachings that ancient American inhabitants were descendants of Israelite patriarch Lehi.

Mormons believe Lehi was an ancient seafarer who came to the New World about 600 B.C., according to church founder Joseph Smith's 1830 Book of Mormon. Smith claimed to have translated the text from inscribed gold plates unearthed from an upstate New York hillside. His book is viewed by many members as a literal record of God's dealings with early Americans.

"We know from evidence that that's completely false," said Southerton, a plant geneticist who abandoned his church and post as an LDS bishop in 1998 in a struggle to reconcile his faith and science. "The church needs to modify its doctrine."
(Arizona Daily Sun)

True to form, Southerton isn't being called to account for heresy but for adultery, over an affair he had five years ago- after he had already separated from his wife. This is a case of the mote in Stephen's eye and the beam in the eye of the church whose hardliners still practice polygamy and take teenage brides, no matter how hard the mainstream Mormons wish the whole nasty P-word would just go away. (After all, people like Warren Jeffs and Winston Blackmore are embarrassing in every sense of the word.)

This highlights a behavior I have seen time and again in religion: a church cannot admit to being wrong in the slightest lest its tenuous grip on authority- only propped up through fear and brainwashing- be lost altogether. One would think that if any church or religion truly had a headlock on the Divine, they could admit to being fallible and human with impunity and it would be just peachy. However, they can't, much as an abusive spouse or parent can't admit that they're beating and maltreating the people they love. The parallel, to me, seems clear.

"(The letter) completely ignores what is obviously the major issue," says Southerton, who was baptized as a Mormon at age 10 in 1970. "They've been snooping around. Clearly I should be excommunicated for the most serious offense and, in my view, apostasy is much more serious."

Southerton says church authorities never mentioned adultery when they paid him a recent visit, instead bringing up his book, his renunciation of Mormon faith and his years of postings on the Web site, www.exmormons.org.

"I would have to be regarded as a threat to the church," he said.
Arizona Daily Sun

The funniest part of this whole thing is the quote of a Mormon church web page, which a Mormon spokeswoman referred reporters to. Quote: "Nothing in the Book of Mormon precludes migration into the Americas by peoples of Asiatic origin. The scientific issues relating to DNA, however, are numerous and complex."

Um, hello? This is like Enron saying, "We're not disputing that it seems like someone made a lot of money. Oh, look over here at these daisies!" Of course, I could just be laughing until tears roll down my face because I've actually read the Book of Mormon- which Mark Twain justly called "chloroform in print"- and actually had plenty of Mormon missionaries over for dinner and theological jousting.

And as usual, I have a question: if the Book of Mormon is so divine and so utterly right, wouldn't the evidence so support it in such a clear and unambiguous fashion as to convince even me? After all, I believe in quarks and random acts of kindness, though I can see no evidence of the former and little to no use in the latter.

Current Mood: amused
Current Music: Matthew Sweet