MMTP: Relative Religious Righteousness Edition

Your Monday Mid-day Theological Poll:

On average, are members of the LDS faith more righteous than other folk?

Please post your reasons below.


  1. Last Lemming says:

    No. Mormons are bound by more commandments than non-Mormons. Thus, a Mormon and a non-Mormon can live otherwise identical lives and (unless both a perfect) the Mormon will be counted as less righteous because he violated commandments that were not binding on the non-Mormon.

    Not the intent of the question? Write a more precise question.

  2. I suppose all of these polls don’t say so much about who is more righteous than who, but rather what readers of BCC value more; technical accuracy even if it’s misleading, or general truth even if it’s technically false.

  3. Starfoxy and LL,
    perception is everything.

  4. You used the word “righteous.” I’d have to say for me it’s an “all are unrighteous” kind of thing, and therefore, no, Mormons are no more or less righteous than any other group.

    Now, if you had asked whether Mormons make for above-average citizens of a given society, I would say, “Definitely yes.”

  5. I’d like to see a breakdown of the results showing the difference between Utahns and mission-field-dwellers. Now there’s the makings of a great sunstone article.

  6. How are you defining righteous here John?

  7. Geoff,
    I’m leaving that for people to decide for themselves.

    If you want nuance to explain your choice, that’s what the comments are for.

  8. Here are the definitions… I’ll take a whack at responding to those (assuming you are talking only about devout/practicing Mormons in the poll):

    1. characterized by uprightness or morality: a righteous observance of the law.

    – Yeah probably more than average

    2. morally right or justifiable: righteous indignation.

    – Yeah probably more than average (including the more indignant part)

    3. acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous: a righteous and godly person.

    – Yeah probably more than average

    4. Slang. absolutely genuine or wonderful: some righteous playing by a jazz great.

    – I’ll call this one a tie so, nah, we’re no more genuinely wonderful than other people (aka children of God).

    Three out of four ain’t bad though.

  9. Mormons make a lot of generally righteous decisions but often compromise on “small” choices because they aren’t “disobeying” the “large” choices. For example, “I’m cool with watching this movie because it is PG-13” The reality might be that that particular film is violent, sexual, shows disturbing images, or perpetuates patriarchal (or matriarchal for that matter) stereotypes and archetypes, but it fine for them to feel justified in subjecting themselves to it because it is PG-13 and the Prophets have specificially condemned R films. I’ve also had a former mission president tell me that when Pres Hinckley said we should be careful about all content we watch, regardless of the rating, that he meant that it was okay to watch some R films if the content was not sexual. Hmm. I could go on an on, but I won’t. (I’m also not saying that films are the litmus test for righteousness, but rather using it as an illustrative example).

  10. I feel like I had to pick No to appear humble. (Cause I know I’m a million times more humble than thou art)

    I guess it kinda comes down to “Who am I to judge who is more righteous?”

  11. Completely unrelated–
    How can I see posts from the beginning of February? Do I have to wait until next month and search the BCC archive? Curse the new format!

  12. Mission field here:no

  13. I definitely find Mormons to be on average more “righteous” than others, in the sense that they are more service oriented and family oriented and less materialistic, and more concerned with making a genuine effort to be good and to treat one another well.

    If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t stay around, that’s for sure. “By their fruits,” and all that. In fact I question why any of you would stay in the church, with all its faults, if it doesn’t make us better people.

    (On a related note, see the previous sheep-and-goats post by Ronan. Resonates with me a lot more than some story about separating people based on who got baptized by the correct authority.)

  14. CJ Douglass says:

    Utahns and mission-field-dwellers.

    Uh, threadjack here……

    As one who served a mission in Utah, let me just say – once again – how offensive that distinction is.

  15. As a Utah-dweller who served a mission in the, uh, mission-field (duh), let me just say I agree with CJ Douglass.

    I voted no, because my experience is that people are pretty much the same inside and outside the Church.

    kodos, that’s an interesting point, but I’m not a member of the Church because of some utilitarian idea of what it might do for me or society (and even if I was, it wouldn’t make me automatically more righteous). I’m here because of a spiritual witness that it’s where I should be. Maybe that’s the same thing, though: I need a lot of improvement.

  16. StillConfused says:

    Are they more righteous – No. Do some of them think they are – yes.

  17. Basically, what StillConfused said.

    but then again, I have a different idea of righteousness anyway.

  18. Latter-Day Saints are like any other religious group, a bell curve. There are the very religious on one extreme, the totally non-religious on the other extreme and the vast majority falling at different points of religious in between. We, like everyone else, are statistically predicable in every way.

  19. The only thing I know is that my level of righteousness now is higher than it was before I joined the Church. That’s because I have more information, and a broader, stronger testimony than I did before. I guess it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Which one is sweeter? Well, some oranges are bitter or dry and some apples are bland or tart, and then some apples and oranges both have unbelievable sweetness. I think the only comparison in righteousness we have any business making is with ourselves.

  20. If righteousness is defined as degree of sanctification, then definitely YES, as that can only occur through the temple of God and the priesthood (the Restored Church happens to have a monopoly on both).

    In other words-
    number of sanctified LDS: some
    number of sanctified non-LDS: none


    (I’m not saying there aren’t good people out of the Church. I hope I don’t have to go into that discussion.)

  21. Typical question when you live among LDS

  22. It’s also reminiscent of discussions held with the Evangelicals of my youth in the South, Todd. Funny, that…

  23. Righteous? No.
    Sanctimonious? Yes.

  24. So, Todd, from where you sit, what’s the answer?

  25. It is a shift in the mean. If the average Mormon were 1 sigma more righteous than what? his or her baptist or catholic neighbors? then the average Mormon would be as righteous as the 78th percentile of the others. It might be noticeable but maybe not.

    It is also complicated by the fact the righteousness is hard to perceive. Jesus was put to death by apparently righteous people because they thought he was a sinner leading people astray!

    It is also complicated by the fact that there are multitudinous ways of being righteous, like the righteousness of works, of the spirit, or just being a good neighbor for no other reason (the best reason).

    An interesting thought, however, comes from the steroid doping scandal in baseball. These home-run kings were really good players but the steroids gave them the edge to hit 80 home runs in a season. One analyst pointed out that because home runs are so hard to hit, a little advantage can cause the tail of the distribution to move enough to get the ball over the wall, even at the 1/10 sigma limit.

    If we have a extremely narrow gate and a really straight path then the ones who succeed in getting to the kingdom of God are like the Mark McGuire’s or Barry Bond’s of the world. Quite rare. If Mormonism will allow just a few more to walk a little straighter to get through that narrow gate it might be enough. (We all assume we are going to be there! Can we all hit like Barry Bonds?)

  26. Well, actually, 73.

  27. It worries me that apparently (since these comments are absolutely representative of the Church), we don’t even know or agree on what it means to be righteous and what the roles of the gospel and the Church have in developing it.

  28. …’it’ being righteousness

  29. Cynthia L. says:

    Brady, when you say “these comments are absolutely representative of the Church,” you’re only talking about the comments in THIS thread, right? Cuz we’re all in deep doo doo if that applies to the Hitler thread too.

  30. I just want to point out that roughly a third of the people feel like we are more righteous and two thirds don’t. It’s been this way since the start of the poll. 3 kingdoms, anyone? ;)

  31. John C.- Which third is in which kingdom?

  32. I would say no, in general latter-day saints are not more righteous. Plenty of people on the planet have never had a chance to hear the gospel, and yet are probably living upstanding lives, doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. To me, that is what righteous means: doing the best with what you’ve got. Does that make sense? (I hope it does….)

  33. jmm1- Do you really think that not being under condemnation is the same thing as being righteous???

  34. I’m really sorry I offended anyone, I’ve lived in and outside of Utah for years at a time and don’t look on Utahns or non-Utahns as greater or lesser in any regard, I was just wondering whether there’s any difference in how Mormons living in mostly Mormon communities view their own relative righteousness from how Mormons living in mostly non-Mormon communities might view it. I really can’t say but think it’s an interesting question. Sorry to step on some toes.

  35. At the risk of driving the thread into the ground, the upper reaches of righteousness have to be personally mentored by the spirit. There are just too many variables and too many personalities and too many gifts. If we could definitively say that only those like Pres. Monson were eligible, the rest of us could leave the stage.

    The result is that we can not really tell what righteousness is. We can sort of tell what it is when we see it, but many of us are blind. For example, tell me, how many anti prop. 8 people feel righteous? Most if not all. How many pro prop. 8 people feel the anti’s are? I’ll wager very few. Who is right? God only knows. Does God care? Compared to the holocaust? Probably not much.

  36. I don’t think Mormons are more righteous, but a lot are definitely more self-righteous due to the focus on obedience to a myriad of nit-picky culturally created rules that, in my opinion, miss the essence of what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. My observation is that Mormons (in general) think they are more righteous because they create their own definition(s) of what it means to be righteous, then pat themselves on the back when they live accordingly. I think for the most part, it is a false sense of righteousness. When I compare my Mormon and non-Mormon friends, I see no appreciable difference in basic goodness and moral decency.

  37. Someone help me here. The results of the vote are not particularly flattering… especially in light of the church’s never ending sermons on obedience, works based salvation, and a goodly number of TR holding memebers.

    While hardly a representative sample, do the results suggest that the high level of emphasis on obedience, works and the TR process don’t really set us apart from others?

    Do the results suggest that, at least among the folks here in BCC, our LDS-style works (missionary, geneology, green-Jello diners, home teaching, etc.) don’t count for much in the scheme of things?

    Earl T.

  38. I think what a lot of commenters have really not gotten is that BCC is not the average Mormon community. Really.

    Seriously, it’s not only that it’s “not representative,” but instead the BCC posters and commenters are representative of a much different kind of person (and…if I might say…a “better” kind. :))

    I mean, I’m not even an active believing member, but I’m here. I don’t pretend to be representative of anything.

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