Streams

On Mormonism

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Joanna Brooks, senior correspondent at Religion Dispatches, professor at San Diego State University and the author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith, gives a progressive, feminist look at the role of Mormonism in America as a Mormon in light of the recent Bloomberg Business Week cover. 

Guests:

Joanna Brooks

The Morning Brief

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Comments [65]

One of the reasons the LDS church do need that money for use in countries like Brazil, Africa is that the members here would not be able to fund construction of Temples and Chapels, For example there is always a huge difference between the census figures and the numbers the church says it has.In other words people drop out. So while other churches send missionaries out to spend years in those countries, establishing schools, orphanages, churches, Mormon missionaries spend two years. Some reports say that many missionaries convert few people. In the age of the internet it is so easy to find information on the LDS church both for and against. This can apply to the historical value of the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham.Brooks rabbits on in a general sense about Mormon values but does not deal with issues like her friend, John Dehlin does with in his site Mormonstories.

Jul. 20 2012 04:55 PM
Ed from Larchmont

For the average Mormon, who is not involved deeply with Mormon theology, it's a highly moral creed that allows people to live good lives.

Jul. 20 2012 05:51 AM
Xtina

.7% of the church's profits to global humanitarian relief? Wow! Color me impressed!

Jul. 19 2012 11:38 PM
Xtina

Good thing for me I'm not interested in a random person's explanation of a random religion or I might have been disappointed I couldn't understand a word of this guest's highly affected fast-talking word jumbling sentence not-finishing speaking style. I pity her poor students.

Jul. 19 2012 11:08 PM
Donald Weston

I am very disappointed with Brian Lehrer. He usually asks measured, challenging questions to all guests. He didn't with Ms. Brooks. There are many problematic aspects of the LDS that can be brought up without witch hunting. Institutionalized racism doesn't disappear simply because it's not on the books. I would have preferred for Mr Lehrer to show his usual incredulity at some of the guests statements. Man, you blew it.

Jul. 19 2012 07:46 PM
Dave from New Jersey

Ed from Larchmont,

I guess we know where you are coming from.

Jul. 19 2012 04:40 PM
Bonn from East Village

To HJS: A pair of Mormon boys in NYC, trying to convert people at a bus stop and on a bus: I told them I was Jewish. One said, "Oh, we have converted Jews in our church. They are so good with money." Considering the 10% tithe...humm. By the way, the Mormon church is growing very fast in NYC, quietly buying up properties along the way (not that there's anything wrong with it, just reporting). They own a building on W. 15th St. and bought a former Catholic women's shelter on W. 14th St (the buildings share a garden). So far, the building is in a state of disrepair, and no one knows what their plans are for it. They haven't been very forthcoming with the community.

Jul. 19 2012 11:01 AM
KJL from Brooklyn

Great show. Ms. Brooks is certainly one to watch.

Jul. 19 2012 10:59 AM
Sola

When I was about 15 yrs old in Okinawa, Japan, I started to go to Mormon church opened (it was a tent) near my house. It was late 70's. I was almost to be baptized but I had to ask few questions that I wasn't clear on. One was what previous caller asked, about Black people. At the church, I haven't seen any African Americans although Okinawa was heavily based by US forces that there were many different Americans living in a little island. The answer that I was given was very vague and didn't convince me to be a part of the church.

Here is my question. Mitt Romney is 10 years older than me. As your guest said, Mr. Romney was raised in an old Mormon belief, early Mormonism that taught with varying degrees and forms of discrimination against black people. I wonder how much Mitt Romney will be for people of colors especially black Americans if he becomes the president?

Jul. 19 2012 10:56 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

william - good points all. the scientologists use this tenet (basic needs before spirituality) to secret unwitting souls within desert compounds to labor 20 hours/day with no pay on behalf of the "church."

the cross-accusations between the various christian sects is amusing. they're all cults, and duking it out for legitimacy. i live for the day it has no place in our government.

very ironic that this "girl" is getting a bump in media bandwidth during an election season involving a mormon--her purpose is clear.

Jul. 19 2012 10:49 AM
Jeff W. from NYC

Yes, interesting guest. She's either in for a very dark time when she finally realizes she can't be progressive and Mormon, or she'll sound more and more like a pseudo-lib. Actuslly, she didn't sound progressive at all. And why didn't the estimable host hit her points harder? It was a classic bj interview. (Racism, homo-hatred, all still alive and well in that church -- as in others.)

Jul. 19 2012 10:48 AM
MNYC from NYC

Nope, but most intelligent people of all religions eventually come to know they don't believe in the controlling myths they were fed as children, even though they do want to stay connected to beloved families and communities. To speak out publicly as a nonbeliever is a difficult choice for many.

Jul. 19 2012 10:44 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

ex-mormons about the mountain meadow massacre: http://www.mormoncurtain.com/topic_mountainmeadosmassacre.html

Jul. 19 2012 10:44 AM

god doesn't have a wife in christian myth

Jul. 19 2012 10:40 AM
Brian from Hoboken

Love the born agains calling the Mormons a cult. So the Mormons get on their knees and chant and sing to a god living in the sky a little differently than the way the born agains get on their knees and chant and sing to a god living in te sky. This is hilarious.

Jul. 19 2012 10:38 AM

Daniel from Lower East Side
great point. so mormons are really also jewish

Jul. 19 2012 10:38 AM
MNYC from NYC

It is interesting to watch intelligent people try to twist the square peg of religion into the round hole of reality. I think many people like the guest, who were raised in loving families, know perfectly well that the supernatural aspects of religion is just plain silly, but many cultural and ritual aspects of their upbringing are nourishing and necessary. I don't hear this guest talking much about god, just about her strong cultural ties to Mormonism. Sounds just like most secular humanist Jews and mainstream liberal Protestants in these parts.

Jul. 19 2012 10:38 AM
William from Manhattan

I'm sorry, but after listening carefully to your guest, I find myself thinking that Mormonism is even creepier than I had thought previously, and the idea of a Mormon President is absolutely chilling. Your guest is describing a cult. Everything that she says about Mormonism can be applied to Scientology. And what was that about - "You can't have a spiritual life until your physical needs are met. That's a basic tenet of Christianity." What New Testament has she been reading? Seriously, I know she has managed to get academic credentials, but that sounds like a product of brainwashing to me.

Jul. 19 2012 10:37 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

bonn--yes, mormons do extensive "missionary work" right here in new york, often targeting boroughs with high immigrant populations! and yes, they promise them jobs, residency, whatever it takes. the NYT has reported about it from time to time.

Jul. 19 2012 10:35 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

100%....every PENNY of Barry and Michelle Obama's pre-presidential charity was to Reverend Wright's "church"....it's in HIS tax returns.

Jul. 19 2012 10:34 AM
john from office

How does she feel about men in the 40s and 50s marrying teenaged girls. Sounds like a great male dream religion.

Jul. 19 2012 10:33 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I used to know a Mormon woman who was excommunicated for writing a letter in support of Sonia Johnson, who had objected to the church's positions on women's role (hope I'm remembering her name right) & then not recanting. How common is excommunication these days? Is or was Ms. Brooks at risk of being excommunicated?

And why does a feminist call herself a girl rather than a woman?

Jul. 19 2012 10:32 AM
John A

I am familiar with statues, a cross and a bible in my church. What would I see in a Mormon church? The same things? Any engraved plates of gold or somesuch?

Jul. 19 2012 10:32 AM
Daniel from Lower East Side

Don't you think it's a little duplicitous that the Mormon Church is trying to identify so strongly as Christian? Mormons read the Bible, but also the Book of Mormon. Isn't that like saying Christians are really Jewish because they read the Old Testament?

Jul. 19 2012 10:32 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Brian, please ask your guest about gay marriage and the Mormon Church. And specifically the involvement of the Church in the banning of gay marriage in the state of California.

Jul. 19 2012 10:31 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"The guest sounds brainwshed."

Bwaaa-haaa .... as compared to the brainwashed "progressives" who call in every morning?

This show is a new low, Brian.

Jul. 19 2012 10:31 AM
Elizabeth from Washington Heights

Love this guest, her thoughtful and generous worldview, and the relationship of religion to her life. BUT: the idea that you can't focus on spiritual growth if you're not properly fed is even earlier than a "basic Christian principal." Pirke Avot ("wisdom of the fathers") 3:21 says, "im ein kemach, ein torah / no flour, no learning".

Jul. 19 2012 10:31 AM
Kressel

To echo the position of your Mormon guest and the born again caller, I'm an Orthodox Jew with progressive political views, and I, too, feel very isolated in my community. Interestingly, all three of us are women.

Jul. 19 2012 10:30 AM
jane from nyc

shes a good looking morman...

Jul. 19 2012 10:30 AM
Mary from CT

The definition of Christianity is to acknowledge that Jesus is God's son. Do Mormons believe this?

Jul. 19 2012 10:29 AM
bernie from terrestrial kingdom aka bklyn

who's scarier....scientologists or mormons?

Jul. 19 2012 10:29 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

"....the remarkable moral superiority of the least virtuous."
LOL...that describes most of your comments quite accurately actually

Jul. 19 2012 10:28 AM

That's the Problem "Churches are businesses." We need leadership that shows us how to build for the future on less. A no-growth policy would help all mankind but no religious leader is capable of framing the message.

Jul. 19 2012 10:28 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

I would like to see someone ask Mormons about the space issue... that all latter day saints have the opportunity to have a planet like Jesus did. This is far from mainstream Christianity. There's also baptism of the dead.

Jul. 19 2012 10:27 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

so if the guest acknowledges that churches are businesses, can we, at last, tax them?

Jul. 19 2012 10:26 AM
Bonn from East Village

When I lived abroad, Mormons targeted illegal immigrants and promised them jobs and legal status in exchange for their conversion to Mormonism. Is this a regular practice, and does that happen in the US also?

Jul. 19 2012 10:25 AM
elisa from yonkers

If it is a Christian based faith, why are you only serving Mormon poor? Why not the greater community? I see Christianity as servinng all peoples regardless of their own faith. I don't know what how active of a social service network Mormon's have. I ask this with all sincerity.

Jul. 19 2012 10:25 AM
Lindsay in Harlem

The guest sounds completely brainwashed. It's futile to attempt to marry Mormonism with a progressivism.

Jul. 19 2012 10:24 AM

I've always wondered: In eternity is one a child in their parents family, an adult with one's own children, etc.
It sounds to concrete a vision to be explained by some cosmic "simlutanious existance on many planes" kind of thing.

Also, are there any male progressive Mormans, or is that just too good a deal to give up?

Thanks

Jul. 19 2012 10:23 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

" atheist secularism"???

That sounds great! If only it were a TRUE description!

Nice backpeddle on Mormon racism, Ms.Brooks..blame it on those damned Protestants!

Jul. 19 2012 10:23 AM
MARILYN DELALIO from 11542

Mormon girls worked one summer for my friends as au pairs. They never returned to Utah.Why do the guides at Brigham Young's house (all girls) have such a brain-washed look in their eyes?
Why do Mormons never talk about the Mountain Valley Massacre? Was a Romney involved?
What about post-humous baptisms of Holocaust victims?

Jul. 19 2012 10:21 AM
yosif from Manhattan

Do black people still have the mark of Cain in Mormonism?

Jul. 19 2012 10:21 AM
shani from brooklyn

Having been raised Mormon, graduated from Seminary and faithfully gone to church until the age of 23, I don't understand how you can play both these cards. If you married a Jew you didn't go through the temple and take our your endowments, you don't wear garments, which means you won't go to the celestial kingdom and you aren't in good standing with the church. That's not really mormon by mormon standards... there is no progressive mormon

Jul. 19 2012 10:21 AM

According to Joseph Smith’s biographer, Fawn Brodie (Vintage, 1970), Smith, in his first autobiographical writing, took the opportunity not to talk about his newly formed religion, or his vision of the Lord which purportedly happened in 1820 when he was 14 years old, but the “fortune seeking” enterprises of his youth, from which he was trying to distance himself.

Sound familiar?

Jul. 19 2012 10:21 AM
Butcher from Williamsburg

As a "progressive Mormon" how do you square the church's anti- gay marriage endeavors in California, Arizona and elsewhere.

Jul. 19 2012 10:21 AM
Brian from Hoboken

I read the article and it didn't answer the question brought up on the cover: how does the IRS treat these business ventures? If the mall they built makes money, is it tax free? The church has these investment groups- are they treated as tax free as well?
Any time that we see churches involved in commercial money making ventures, or priests telling their flocks how to vote, they are no longer simply churches and should lose their tax exempt status. Since they are tax exempt, that means that everyone else subsidizes them. I don't want my tax dollars subsidizing a church which covers up molestation, a church thy cares more about its businesses than giving to the poor, etc.

Ed- as an atheist I can tell you we don't go the church to try to fool others. Obama is not an atheist. Nice try.

Jul. 19 2012 10:20 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL....just reading the snarky negative attacks on this woman on this comment board brings to mind Shakespeare's lines about the remarkable moral superiority of the least virtuous.

Jul. 19 2012 10:20 AM
MN from Manhattan

Please expand more on that "When we came to earth" remark that slipped by Brian....
I also find the explanation to justify Morman economic expansion somewhat wanting (as iffy opinion really matters against this juggernaut)

Jul. 19 2012 10:19 AM
Lisa from New York

I would like to know more about why Mormons call themselves Christians. Muslims similarly ascribe a role to Christ -- they believe that they take off from where Christianity leaves off, trumping it with a new prophet and a new holy book. If Christianity is God 2.0, Islam is God 3.0. Yet they do not consider themselves Christians. Why do Mormons?

Jul. 19 2012 10:18 AM
Lisa from New York

I would like to know more about why Mormons call themselves Christians. Muslims similarly ascribe a role to Christ -- they believe that they take off from where Christianity leaves off, trumping it with a new prophet and a new holy book. If Christianity is God 2.0, Islam is God 3.0. Yet they do not consider themselves Christians. Why do Mormons?

Jul. 19 2012 10:17 AM
John from NYC

I do not know which bothers me more -- the bigotry of the comments here, or the fact that Brian is having this discussion (which is great) in the context of the Romney candidacy.

Could someone point me in the archives of this show where there was a discussion of Obama's church during his initial candidacy?

Jul. 19 2012 10:17 AM
bernie from bklyn

@ed/larchmont- obama's atheist secularism? really? unfortunately he claims to be a practicing christian. the sad part is that he HAS to claim this because the vast majority of this country believes that their cult is the right cult and everyone should believe in their cult or they're committing treason and should leave the country. guess what? you're all wrong and we need a president that's brave enough to say they don't need that fantasy-land in their lives. it'll never happen but we all have to dream.
and BTW, most established religions are ridiculous cults but mormonism is at the very top and is certainly a reason to be scared of any mormon elected official.

Jul. 19 2012 10:15 AM
Sarah from BK

What does Ms. Brooks think about the phenomenon of "Mormon mommy bloggers"?

Jul. 19 2012 10:15 AM

all u religious people are CRAZY!

Jul. 19 2012 10:14 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Don't be so smug, Brian, about "the narrowness" of their religion.

LOL...there can't be anyone more narrow than the "tolerant" liberal haters that comprise the self-righteous WNYC audience and New York "progressive" provincialism.

What a hoot.

Jul. 19 2012 10:14 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

"Progressive mormon" sounds like an oxymor(m)on.

Jul. 19 2012 10:13 AM
Meg from CT

Would like to hear guest's comments about the fact that Harvard University leadership is, quietly, full of Mormons.

Neat guest BL Show!

Jul. 19 2012 10:13 AM
RL

Come on Brian, you have got to ask this woman if she believes that the John Smith trip in the woods and his meeting with god is a fact and that adding to the new testament is for real.

Jul. 19 2012 10:12 AM
john from office

A religion started by a man named "Bring Them Young" that allows for male dream of many female mates. Makes me doubt all religions.

Christ did not walk the earth in upstate New York in the 1800's. Sorry.

A cult, which produces productive people, but still a cult.

Jul. 19 2012 10:12 AM
Jean from Financial District

I liked to ask her how she feels about her church's historical racism. For example, it Blacks were not allowed to be priests until 1978.

Jul. 19 2012 10:11 AM
bernie from bklyn

does her progressive version of the mormon cult believe in the magic underwear and jesus' appearance in the state of missouri?

Jul. 19 2012 10:10 AM

Wake me when it's over.

Jul. 19 2012 10:10 AM

Melissa Harris-Perry and the Center for American Progress may be 'progressive' in the eyes of the American mainstream, but anywhere else in the world the American mainstream is deeply conservative. So what does it actually mean for Brooks to be "progressive"? Does she support single-payer health care? Progressive, redistributive tax policy? Public education? Public transit?

Jul. 19 2012 10:09 AM
kc from Massapequa

Has the guest ever read any books by Sonia Johnson, a Mormon lesbian who condemned the teachings of elders and the treatment of women?

Jul. 19 2012 10:04 AM
Ed from Larchmont

One might not be thrilled with Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, but compared to President Obama's atheist secularism, it looks very good.

Jul. 19 2012 05:55 AM

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