I generally don’t have much truck with Mormon notions of persecution. When you have sucked from the marrow of western capitalism as well as Mormons have, there isn’t a lot to complain about.

Except . . . this video showing a love-in between atheist provocateur Bill Maher and anti-Mormon zealot Robert Jeffress  makes me feel miserable as all hell.

It’s not a surprise that Maher dislikes Mormonism (see this video from the same show, for example), nor that Jeffress thinks Mormonism a cult. What makes for grim viewing is the sinking realisation that left and right can make common cause in hating Mormonism. Maher and the Reverend chuckle away like schoolboys even though they hate each other simply because they hate the Mormons more.

The disdain from all sides has this particular Mormon feeling uninvited, marginalised, and yes, a bona fide victim of prejudice. What’s more depressing is that if this is the fate of Mormonism in its homeland, what chance do the rest of us? Indeed, as the Daily Telegraph (UK) made clear yesterday, Mormonism’s ‘myths’ are particularly ludicrous and disqualify anyone who might believe in them from holding office.



  1. This makes me vomit in my cornflakes. And wtf on Jeffers Luther narrative?? Can we really just re-write a factual event to fit our agenda completely unchecked now? And “out front” as a bigot? Oy. You are welcome in this atheists home any day, RJH. And I’ll feed your kids when they come knocking.

  2. I’ll take your word on the distain. I dinrneant the bad taste in my mouth that I’m sure watching this would provoke in me. Maybe I’ll watch it when I’m already in a sour mood.

  3. Wow I don’t know what “dinrneant” is but sounds about what my reaction would be if I watched. I don’t do well with hatred directed at me. I wish I was braver but sometimes I just wilt. I’m married to atheist type so I know it is possible to not believe and not be a hater. Why can’t we all just get along.

  4. sigh

  5. Christian says:

    “Indeed, as the Daily Telegraph (UK) made clear yesterday, Mormonism’s ‘myths’ are particularly ludicrous and disqualify anyone who might believe in them from holding office.”

    Doesn’t this just mean that they don’t like minority beliefs? I mean, aren’t there beliefs derived from the Bible that are just as ridiculous? Isn’t denial of evolution or climate change just as detestable (now that we have accepted that the world is round)? But dang, that’s what them dadgum librals believe. LDS beliefs just don’t fit well in the republican or democratic parties — the fast tracks to political acceptance. We might as well call up Ralph Nader and commiserate over mugs of herbal tea or Sprite.

  6. I find it fascinating how far we have come. What happened to being a ‘peculiar’ people? What happened to the ‘pride’ we have felt for being different? I am quite happy being peculiar, different and espousing beliefs that are radically off the chart of mainstream christianity. I hope the church’s efforts to make us more mainstream hit road blocks due to doctrine that they don’t consider flexible. I hope the world will forever look at me and my family as peculiar because of my faith and that most will realize that that aspect of my life makes my life and the lives of those around me better.

  7. What I find funny is that Bill Maher considers himself a serious journalist, and Robert Jeffress considers himself a true follower of Jesus, of Nazareth.

    Yes, it’s sad – but it would be hilarious if it wasn’t personal.

  8. The “fate” of Mormonism in it’s own country?

    The baby boomers are currently desperately looking for replacements for leadership in their businesses and governments. Their retirement funds rely on finding someone who can fly a company on an international level. If the current grade school products of video game addicts are any indication of what will be filling that leadership pool, people will be begging Mormons to fill those spots.

    The difference between our day and that of Joseph Smith is that locals back then panicked from the sudden loss of political power due to sheer numbers of immigrants and converts. This time those Mormons will be put into power by the very same types of people who wanted them dead 150 years ago. Joseph was a prophet. There’s no way he could have just guessed about what the members of this Church would become from that pathetic group of 20,000ish Saints in Nauvoo.

  9. Robert Jeffress was interviewed on BBC Newsnight this week. What got to me was that he said something along the lines of: “It isn’t what you do that makes you a Christian, it is what you believe about Jesus that does”. Personally, I found that insulting to a lot more people than just us Mormons.

  10. Observer fka eric s says:

    Bigotry porn.

  11. I’m an exmormon who feels that the LDS church is institutionally abusive to women, children, and LGBTA people. I feel that there’s a lot that can be said about the church’s real issues without lying, being mean, or name-calling. And I strongly dislike Bill Maher’s fundamentalist atheism, almost as much as I dislike fundamentalist Christianity.

    ldsbishop @9’s observation is spot on. According to Jesus’ own words, Jeffress has it backwards.

  12. “left and right can make common cause in hating Mormonism”

    Mormons and self-described “real Christians” seemed to have no trouble whatever in common cause against same-sex marriage. Then, just as I predicted, the Mormon-bashing started the day after the $40M was spent. As a general principle, “common cause” is the bedrock of the democratic political process (its currency is horse-trading). For those who do not believe this, I have one word: Israel.

    The alternative is far worse: plurality rule. Coalitions are the only way for single-issue minorities to be heard. I think that on balance this is great news for LDS.

  13. Left Field says:

    # 6:
    Remembering a memorable quote by Ardis on another thread:

    “I’d like our religion to be just mainstream enough that when people list our weirdnesses, they’re at least hitting real weirdnesses and not making stuff up.”

  14. Bill Maher is a bloviating idiot. Some people try to defend him on the grounds that he is a comedian, so we ought to be able to laugh at ourselves. But to me, one of his biggest offences is his seeming inability to be funny about anything. He clearly doesn’t understand, or care to understand Mormonism, but I’m more offended by his lack of comic ability.

    It’s also a shame to hear his lips profess love and honor for reason and science, when his heart is so clearly far from those things.

  15. i also dinrneant this

  16. Romney / Huntsman 2012 says:

    I’m a believing Mormon who actually likes Bill Maher. I think he’s smart and talented, and his atheism helps us believers avoid getting carried away with religion.

    This video is harmless. Basically it’s two guys who have based a portion of their career on de-legitimizing Mormons staring at the very real possibility of a Mormon becoming president. If Romney does become president, it will make these two guys look bad. They’re nervous.

  17. I always thought that the left and the rights disdain for us were represented well in the book of mormon with both Nehor’s philosophies which mimic some on the right and Korihor’s philosophies which mimic some on the left.

  18. HBO has always been weird. They will never cease to disappoint.

  19. The exchange between these two men had very little to do with Mormonism. What makes the exchange interesting to watch, for me, is the dynamic between them as they carefully talk around their points of disagreement while simultaneously trying to be gracious and pointed in their critique. The fact that they were in the same room together at all, and not at each other’s throats is great, I think.

    They’re both enjoying their time in the limelight, and trying to state their case. Let ’em.

  20. I’ve heard Maher ridicule Mormons on his show before. I am not going to watch the clip right now. Perhaps later.
    What amazes me is that a few weeks ago Stephens Colbert managed to put together an excellent, funny piece that makes fun of Mormons and their beliefs and most Mormons can laugh along with it. However, with Bill Maher you can feel the contempt.

  21. Christopher says:

    For whatever it is worth re: Maher’s actually understanding of Mormonism (and that may in fact mean very little), his most recent ex-gf was born and raised in an active LDS home.

  22. I don’t doubt that the Telegraph reader interviewed must have interviewed dozens (even hundreds!) of Mormons to come to the conclusion that the most ordinary of them are “shocked” at the revisionism of BYU anthropologists having backed off the strongest claims of Hebrew-Indian ancestry (let us hope these ordinary members don’t read the latest Book of Mormon introduction page!), but it’s just strange that this shock hasn’t trickled down into any of the wards I’ve attended. See, I thought that most members were either generally ignorant of Book of Mormon anthropological studies or pretty much on board with the more limited revisionist claims. Heck, I even know a few who accept the Book of Mormon for literary value alone without caring about the historical questions. For those of you walking around in shock after having read that article, I hope you can find support here at BCC!

  23. Left Field says:

    I don’t have quite the stomach to watch this today. There’s a lot of dinrneant going around. But based on Maher’s previous work, his knowledge of Mormonism does not rise above the level of “talking points for the boorish.”

  24. To me whats ironic about the whole lamanite/nephite claims is the BoM addresses this in the text. Those who fought against Nephi, etc. were “adopted” into the Lamanite name. Those who were supportive of Nephi were lumped together and called Nephites.

    The modern church calls itself the house of Israel. The promise of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood is to become the sons of Moses and Aaron, the seed of Abraham. If we can “become” that seed, surely Indians on the American continent can become inheritors of the blessings due to those whom the promised land was given.

  25. Persecution is supposed to strengthen a people. I have been carefully sprinkling a little pepper under the tails of zealous Mormons most of my life. But these two are squirting skunk oil and it makes them stink far more than their intended target.

    BTW Chris, I consider myself a cultural Nephite. I made a clay pot from the dirt in my back yard and baked it in my oven and sent it into one of those contests that BYU has from time to time, claiming it was an authentic Nephite pot. But they were not amused.

  26. they’re at least hitting real weirdnesses and not making stuff up.”


  27. I don’t think “love-in” is the proper internet nomenclature, but it’s a Mormon blog, so I digress. I haven’t watched the video, but can only imagine the starter question is something like “Pastor Jeffress, which set of beliefs is the most ludicrous, and why Mormonism?”

  28. I’m struck by how many people on this topic are saying “I haven’t watched this clip (or won’t watch it), but here’s what I think about this thing that I haven’t watched.”

    I don’t have any particular interest in defending anything said by these two men, but *come on, people!* Either watch it, then give an opinion, or don’t watch it and don’t. It doesn’t matter to me what your opinion is, but it does matter to me that you’re so willing to divorce your opinions from facts, information, and context.

  29. Left Field says:

    Paul, if you’re talking about me, I didn’t express an opinion on this clip. I expressed an opinion on “Maher’s previous work,” which I have seen. In fact, if anyone else has commented on the clip without seeing it, I must be missing it. Who might you be talking about?

  30. Meh and yawn. SSDD.

    RJH, I believe you took me to task once for recounting my opinion on evangelicals’ level of hatred for us as being hyperbolic? Mebbe not you, but somebody did. This is the enclave of Southern Baptists in my neighborhood on a good day. These people, institutionally, despise us, and some churches make it their mission to “save” us and if we can’t be saved, we must be destroyed. That is not going to change.

    I honestly have been thoroughly stymied about why the depth of their hatred is suddenly so shocking. In fact, I still can’t figure out why Romney or anyone in his campaign hasn’t grokked this yet, and I know they can’t quite wrap their heads around it by thevway they’re running his campaign.


  31. Glass Ceiling says:

    “Brought to you by William Maher Inc., and the Campaign to Reelect Barack H. Obama. ”

    I hope Jeffress knows what a tool he is for the liberal left. He will be proud of his work if Perry gets the Primary and Obama gets the Presidency. Then Southern Protestants can hate Mormons as well as themselves, and and everyone but liberals can hate Southern Protestants.

    Huckabee needs to get up and remind the South what he did to usher in Obama in 2008.

  32. Paul, I was quite enjoying my Sunday afternoon and I know watching it will get me worked up and maybe angry and sad, I decided that I would give myself a break and not watch it today. I figure I can still hold an opinion that I’m upset by this type of thing without getting down in the muck of it all right this minute.

  33. Glass Ceiling says:

    This too shall pass. But it will be exciting to see what happens when the two sides meet each other head-on. The result of it could define the future of this country.

  34. It’s not surprising to me that Maher is enough of a hypocrite to use Jeffress to knock Mormonism, or that Jeffress is stupid enough to let him, but it is irritating to me that other intelligent people of good conscience let Maher get away with rank dishonesty.

    The good thing about Maher’s disdain, however, is that it’s so over the top that no one who actually knows any Mormons personally are going to buy it. That’s one good thing about the Romney campaign: like him or not as a candidate he comes across as smart and competent and his resume speaks for itself. No one who knows anything about him is going to believe that he’s a guy who could be taken in by a con job as facile as the one Maher describes Mormonism to be.

    The only surpising thing is that Ronan would let this get to him.

  35. “The good thing about Maher’s disdain, however, is that it’s so over the top that no one who actually knows any Mormons personally are going to buy it.”

    And it’s giving others an opportunity to come to our defense and illustrate how over the top it all is. We’re moving into a time where people may not even have to personally know Mormons to be able to start to sift through what’s propaganda and what’s truth.

  36. Just what was was said by Bill Maher in this tape that some of you find SO upsetting?!
    Put it quotes__PLease!

  37. >The only surpising thing is that Ronan would let this get to him.

    Count me as surprised too.

  38. Mostly what I felt when watching this clip was pity for Jeffres. He was foolish enough to get on a show where he then had to sit and laugh through Maher mocking his beliefs. Maher was clearly using him. Jeffres does not appear savvy enough to deal with the media (in more than one interview he has looked incompetent), making him a great tool for interviewers who want to look smart.

  39. Ronan, the Daily Telegraph post is more irritating.

  40. Yes, and it could do with a letter to the editor. Get to it!

  41. Steve Evans says:

    Link please, chaps.

  42. Second to last line of the post.

  43. I knew we’d be sorry when the preacher part got written out of the ceremony.

  44. I’ll skip the video, but I got a chuckle out of Ronan’s “sucked from the marrow of western capitalism as well as Mormons have” phrase. I presume that means that since some Mormons have prospered in business that we should expect (or deserve) persecution. If Romney (or Huntsman) win the Republican nomination, I expect to see far more ridicule of Mormons in the press and entertainment industries than has been seen in generations.

  45. I find Maher to be very entertaining in his brash, take-no-prisoners, yes-I’m-a-jerk way. And he’s pretty consistent: I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find sources where he calls Evangelicals, Catholics, Muslims, etc., members of brainwashing cults. He pretty much preaches to the choir, and at least doesn’t couch his arguments in pseudo-moral terms, but comes at it from the pure logic/science viewpoint. I don’t get the impression that he thinks he’s morally better than anyone else (cf “I’m perfectly fine with shooting my enemy in the face”), merely that he thinks he’s right.

    Jeffress on the other hand is facile and un-entertaining. He puts on a long, pious face and then goes spouting nonsense that HIS church’s recent provenance (1516) makes it true, Catholic’s ancient provenance (33 AD) makes it false, and Mormonism’s recent provenance (1830) makes it false. For crying out loud, use your brain, man! This is why other religions’ attacks on Mormonism bug me a lot more than the atheists’. The atheists are at least juts trying to save you wasted time and investment; the fundies always think they’re going to save your soul.

  46. MikeInWeHo says:

    I should probably stay away from this pity-party but would like to point out that from a different perspective, Mormons picked these fights on both the Right and Left. When a growing church asserts that all others are apostate and proselytizes aggressively among Christians, it shouldn’t be surprised at the response. Similarly, when a very rich church consistently and publically supports right-wing social causes can it really claim “prejudice” when progressives like Maher push back?

  47. observer fka eric s. says:

    (47) BCotW for its provacateur – gimme a second, holla! While there are some nuanced misperceptions baked into it I think, Mike’s comment leads to some good introspection.

  48. seconded. Also, Maher is an opportunist, not a progressive. There is a difference.

  49. #15 for BCotW! Am I too late?

  50. “as the Daily Telegraph (UK) made clear”
    If you see Damian Thompson as expressing the thought of the Newspaper he blogs for, let alone that of its readership, I don’t wonder that you feel “disdain from all sides”. Sorry but it seems like paranoia to me.
    All these folks are being outrageous to generate attention and thought, like you are doing here, to some extent.

    More remarkable to me is the outrage that was expressed on the blogs and commentary in national media about Jeffress’s original remarks. I didn’t see that to near the same extent 4 years ago when Huckabee drew the world’s attention to the fact that Mormons believe Jesus to be Satan’s brother.

    In a climate where 2 NYT collumnists and a Washington Times collumnist have written that Romney should/would surely be the nominee (Douthat, Brooks, Rubin) I am more worried about Mormon success than any disdain.

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