10 Things I Don’t Believe

We’ve already determined that I, as a Mormon, believe some really weird hoohah. (Jackson County, Missouri? Really?) But just as it’s important to know what I believe, I feel it necessary to point out that there is a great deal I do NOT believe. I covered some of these in my post on Mormon folklore, but some of those non-beliefs need to be clarified and expanded upon. This post, then, shall both recap and expand on ten things I most certainly do not believe.

Drum roll, please…

I don’t believe…

1. … that angry Mormon missionaries have employed foot dust to make blasphemous laundromats explode.

Again, see the folklore example. I also don’t believe sister missionaries are knocking on the doors of Nephites with drawn swords that hang out with serial killers.

2. … that Lionel Richie, Steve Martin, Bill Bixby, Ron Howard, or other celebrities are clandestine Mormons.

Gladys Knight IS a Mormon, but she’s told everyone so. I have a feeling other celebs would likely make their membership a matter of public record.

3. … that John the Beloved and/or the Three Nephites have ever changed a single tire.

I do believe they will remain on the earth until the Second Coming, but I think they have more important things to do than provide 24-hour worldwide roadside assistance.

4. … that temple garments stop bullets, ward off flamethrowers, or are in any way “magical.”

I believe they provide spiritual protection by reminding us of sacred things, not by serving as cotton body armor.

5. … that Adam is God.

Anti-Mormon literature always trots out an obscure, inscrutably anomalous sermon by Brigham Young to claim we Mormons secretly believe this. We don’t, and, what’s more, we never have.

6. … that Cain is still alive, wandering the earth as Bigfoot.

There’s a weird journal entry from some 19th Century Mormon guy I’d never heard of describing an encounter with an immortal, hairy, nine-foot tall guy who identified himself as Cain and claimed he was cursed to wander the earth forever and, apparently, appear on some episodes of The Six-Million Dollar Man. Don’t know if the guy recording this visit was dreaming, drunk, or daft. Regardless, I don’t believe this.

7. … that the Lost Tribes of Israel are anywhere other than the earth’s surface.

I’ve heard quacks describe the lost tribes living in caves, in the center of the earth, or on other planets, Battlestar-Galactica style. After a U of U institute instructor boldly announced at the beginning of the 1989 fall semester that the Lost Tribes were “not on this earth,” I boldly decided I would not be attending any more of his classes.

8. …that missionaries are forbidden from swimming because “Satan controls the waters.”

There’s a revelation in the D&C that describes “the destroyer riding in power upon the waters,” which has spurred speculation that this section supplies the foundation for the rule that full-time missionaries are never to go swimming on their missions. A General Authority came to Scotland and told us he knew nothing about Satan’s unique evil aqua powers, but he did know that the Church didn’t want to worry about legal liability for missionaries that drown. Besides, if Satan controls the waters, why do we still baptize by immersion?

9. …that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by sticking his face into a hat and reading the magically glowing translation word for word off of a seerstone.*

This is the thesis of South Park’s goofy Mormon episode, and it’s based on a faulty memory of an aged David Whitmer in 1887, almost sixty years after the Book of Mormon was first published. It contradicts the process contemporaneously described in D&C 9, and it contradicts the statements of those who participated in the translation, something Mr. Whitmer, bless his heart, did not do.

* Dropping in on this post in 2015, I discover that I probably ought to believe this now. Yes, the Church’s official position now correlates with both David Whitmer and South Park. I still have some issues with this, as I think D&C 9 makes it clear that this was more than just simple transcription, but as of now, I admit that my previous #9 needs to be revisited.

10. …that skin color correlates in any way with righteousness.

Selective readings of texts ancient and modern have confused many who wish to find divine justification for racism, but the whole story makes it clear that skin color is cosmetic and spiritually meaningless. But fortunately, I’m covered either way. If I’m wrong, and white skin is in fact a sign of holiness, then I am the holiest man who has ever lived.

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