Monday, August 4, 2008

To Our Evangelical Friends: Don't Be Suckered With "The God Makers"

The definition of a "sucker" is "a gullible and easily decieved person". Usually I'm not one to call names, but even Delbert Stapley once said "The Saints are suckers". Sometimes that's true. Unfortunately, I am astonished at how many of our evangelical friends and neighbors have been suckered into watching The God Makers (even in their own churches!) and actually believing it! Turns out there are more suckers in this religious world after all.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. It's hard to blame them for believing something that is so commonly spread around evangelical circles. Why would they ever feel the need to question the motives of their well respected pastors and church leaders?

It's even more ironic that so many of them insist that we're the ones who have been deceived. If only they knew the kind of garbage they've been fed about "the Mormons." Truman Madsen has called The God Makers "religious pornography." I couldn't agree more. This kind of deception, spread not only by The God Makers but by other anti-Mormon "ministries" often takes years for unsuspecting and believing Christians to disbelieve it and recognize it for what it actually is.

Kudos to those who are courageous enough to come to a realization that they have not been given the full truth by those who they'd expect to get truth from the most. (Note to self: When wanting to learn about other churches--go directly to a practicing member of that church!) Once the lies, smearing, or half-truths have been dished out and allowed to simmer without clarification on the part of those who know better, the end result is suspicion, religious bias, and ignorance rather than true understanding, tolerance, and love.

For those who haven't heard of "The God Makers", it is an anti-Mormon film produced in 1982 by Ed Decker and Jeremiah Films. The church is "portrayed as a multi-billion dollar corporation that destroys marriages and drives members who cannot live up to its standards to commit suicide. The doctrine of the Mormon church, as portrayed by the filmmakers, involves an obsession with godhood and the population of other worlds through a process referred to as “endless celestial sex.” (Wikipedia)

A sequel was produced in 1993 entitled The God Makers II. Watching it would have been almost laughable to me if not for being so perplexed at such deliberately deceptive tactics. For example, the producers interview a "Mormon Fundamentalist" who explains how she was brought up and taught to live polygamy, without ever even explaining that "Mormon Fundamentalists" have no modern connection to the Mormon Church at all; that they're all splinter groups broken off years ago.

I'm sure the makers of this "religious pornography" don't mind one bit perpetuating the myth/misperception that Mormons are polygamists without ever mentioning that polygamy was done away with over a hundred years ago, and never practiced by the majority of Latter-day Saints anyway. It was the exception rather than the rule. Monogamy, not polygamy, has always been the standard doctrine. (Even in the Old Testament, polygamy was the exception (Abraham and his wives, etc.) rather than the rule). But polygamy is the least of the lies.

The film’s narrator adds that the temple is used for “only secret ceremonies which are reserved for an elite few,” and that temple attendance is required in order that “the worthy Mormon can become a god himself in the life hereafter, ruling over his own planet, with a number of goddess wives.” It teaches that Mormons expect to become “infinite gods” and populate planets through “celestial sex” with their “goddess wives.” And on, and on, and on.

Um, no.

Not only is it not true, but it's inflammatory and repulsive. There might very well be more suckers outside of the church that believe this than suckers inside the church.

Among other inflamatory and maliciously deceptive statements are:

*Entire Mormon "doctrine flows from this about becoming gods.”
*God the Father lives on a planet called Kolob.
*God the Father journeyed to earth “from the Starbase Kolob,” to “have sex with the virgin Mary, in order to provide Jesus with a physical body.”
*It is also stated that Jesus Christ, referred to as the “Mormon Jesus,” had a number of children through multiple wives.

What LDS Sunday School class did they attend? Not only is this stuff not true, but it sounds like something from a bad science fiction movie. And yet in all my interactions with evangelicals on other blogs and with friends I've grown up with--this is the kind of stuff that is believed and constantly brought up by them about "the Mormons"!

Little wonder why we're accussed of not being honest with them when they never hear us talking about this stuff. We don't talk about it because we don't believe it! Yet, there are some who still think we actually believe it but keep it a secret. If I were them, I'd sure be suspicious too.

Is there anyone out there who will trust that what we actually tell you is what we actually believe?! Is there anyone out there who actually wants to sincerely investigate truth for truth's sake?

Aftermath:

The film created “considerable religious controversy” in some of the communities in which it was shown and that the negative reaction came from both Mormons and non-Mormons. Rhonda M. Abrams, the Regional Director of the Anti Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith, stated:

"I sincerely hope that people of all faiths will similarly repudiate ‘The Godmakers’ as defamatory and untrue, and recognize it for what it truly represents- a challenge to the religious liberty of all."

It was noted by LDS scholars that the film deliberately “portrays Mormonism as a cult far removed from mainstream Christianity,” and that many statements that are represented as Mormon doctrine are not actual doctrine, with a particular emphasis on “those ideas which would seem most anomalous to Christians.” In particular, the repeated references to “endless celestial sex” are viewed as “absurd and profane.”

LDS respondents claim that the film portrays all Mormons as either part of the conspiracy to cover up information, or as being deluded by their leaders.

National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) editor Max Jennings attended a showing in Mesa Arizona that was “sponsored by a group known as Concerned Christians” whose purpose was “to reach out in love to those lost in Mormonism.” Jennings reported that “If what I saw Tuesday night is love, I must have had the wrong Sunday School lessons back in that dusty west Texas Methodist Church of my childhood. I didn’t hear anyone reaching out in love Tuesday night. I heard people reaching out in hatred of another’s right to believe what he wants.”

The NCCJ committee sent a letter to “Concerned Christians” on 5 December 1983 which stated, among other things, that,
The film does not fairly portray the Mormon Church, Mormon history, or Mormon belief. It makes extensive use of half-truths, faulty generalizations, sensationalism, and is not reflective of the true spirit of Mormon faith. We find particularly offensive the emphasis that Mormonism is some sort of subversive plot-a danger to the community, a threat to the institution of marriage, and destructive to the mental health of teenagers. We are of the opinion that the film relies heavily on appeals to fear, prejudice and unworthy human emotions."
(Wikipedia)


Thank heavens somebody sees through the bunk.


The Truth About "The God Makers"

8 comments:

DH said...

Hmo Lago,

I read your blog regularly and love it. I've even listed your blog on mine be/c I think it is great. I'm intrigued by your interaction with Evangelicals as I am trying to do the same here where I live. I wholeheartedly agree that a healthy dialouge is mutually beneficial for both Mormons and Evangelicals. I've found it to be true in my recent conversations with Evangelical friends. I have found we have more in common than one seems to think. It is too bad for movies like the Godmakers and other "Mormon teachings" that distort our doctrine and only lead to mistrust. Likewise, though, we as members need to broaden our horizons and learn more about other churches so we aren't ignorant either. We can always learn from our neighbors, no matter the faith! BTW there is a great Mormons and Polygamy site that the church has made if you haven't already found it...mormonsandpolygamy.org

DH

Eric Nielson said...

I have never seen the Godmakers, but I have read a lot of anti-Mormon stuff. From my observations the content falls into three broad categories of roughly 1/3 fitting in each category.

Roughly one third of the stuff is simple fabrication. Just plain lies.

Roughly one third of the stuff is technically true, or at least has goo foundation behind it. But it is deliberately expressed in the worst possible way with no background.

Roughly one third of the stuff is true, and we Mormons need to be less defensive about it.

Clean Cut said...

DH--It's nice to see you leaving a comment! I agree with you that we have more in common with evangelicals than both sides even realize. There are significant differences (ie: The Godhead versus the Trinity), but it's such an education and mutually rewarding to engage in conversation with others not of our faith.

Eric--I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. And I generally tend to agree with you on this one too.
In most cases--you're right on. In this particular case with The God Makers, I would apply only your first two-thirds examples.

Mindy said...

I am a new convert. I understand that there is some confusion on Kolob and I am one of the confused! Can you give me some info on it?. I can't seem to get a clear answer. We sang "If you Could Hie to Kolob" today in Sacrament but I can't find anyone that can tell me what it is. Do you know what that song is about? I appreciate your insight and your thoughtful writings. Thanks!

Clean Cut said...

Hi Mindy. Thanks for stopping by! The only thing we know about Kolob is what's listed in the Book of Abraham of the Pearl of Great Price. Specifically Chapter 3, verses 1-4 and 9.

The Lord told Abraham that Kolob was the star that was "nearest unto the throne of God". That's what I think of when I hear "Kolob"--the star that's closest to the residence of God. We also read that it was set to govern all the planets "which belong to the same order as" the earth, and "that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto [the earth]".

When I sing "If You Could Hie to Kolob", I think of it as an invitation to step back and leave our hurried and busy little lives, slow down, and contemplate the things practically timeless and eternal things of God, perhaps even approaching the "mind boggling" things we can't even begin to understand right now.

There's kind of a mysterious aspect to the hymn that I assume is intriguing to people. It's kind of awe inspiring to imagine continuing onward from "Kolob" and then going even further in our understanding of some of those "mind boggling" things that are interesting to think about, but not necessarily important or imperative to our salvation.

It's kind of like taking time to be holy at the same time as stretching your mind and understanding to another realm--speculation that's good for you! But perhaps more practically, we could think of it as a metaphor to come closer to God in our own life as Kolob is physically and geographically close to to the celestial, or the residence of God. Just a thought...

Mormon Soprano said...

Hi CC, Thank you for stopping by my site recently and leaving a comment. I am enjoying "getting to know you" through your site and enjoy your cute family photos.

I appreciate your post and I hope that those who read it will realize that disaffected Mormons who purposely want to drag others down into the hole they have dug for themselves made this shameful media production. The “doctrines” it teaches are not true. The script, narration, slander tactics and sensationalism should be considered offensive to anyone’s intelligence and spirituality. To all reading, I add my voice that you please rise above this! Seek the things that build and enlighten the spirit. Choose things that increase love, patience, tolerance and kindness toward others. Keep an open dialog with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and see them for who they truly are. Honest, good, hardworking, family-loving, law-abiding human beings. The Godmakers movies were designed specifically to stir up war, contention, hatred, and fear. I hope and pray we will choose to be on the Lords side instead, and be peace makers.

Ryan said...

You know, that crack about how Mary came to be with child dates back to the Roman anti-Christian writer Celsus ca. 175AD; actually, the highlights from the Wikipedia article about him are eerily similar, though it looks like the bit about Mary was a bit too offensive to make it into the article.

I wonder if those who spread these lies realize where they come from?

Ryan said...

Ah, here's the source: http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/Celsus.pdf (thanks to Jeff Lindsay's LDSFAQ for the link)