Got religion? Here, let me shove some down your throat...

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Unread postby Wen Choung » Tue Oct 22, 2002 5:36 am

Okay, first point off the top of my head concerning Zhuge Kongming's (Pierce...James Pierce, any name with Pierce in it is a cool name :P ) response (I never really bothered to figure out how to do the Quote thing so I'll just address it like this...), on my comment about what the world would be today. I know that it does sound like I am suggesting that the world would be a bleak and gloomy one, but let me clarify it. The context that I meant it in was didn't the world turn out pretty well BECAUSE of it? I'm sorry I can't think of any specific examples of it, but I don't doubt that the organized religion, Christianity, played a great and influencing role.

Another point, I did say something about "it was your choice" whether or not you wanted to read the article, what was meant by that was that anyone has a choice to believe or disbelieve statements presented. It was not a direct "attack" on you yourself. Just to clarify my intent.

I do agree that moral concepts do not derive from religions, but I do believe that because of religions, the distinction between right and wrong are better defined and at least something draws a line somewhere. I think everyone, myself included, make for themselves too much leeway in terms of what should and should not be done one way or another.

Being a student of Catholic schools most of my life (yet I am not an "official" Catholic because I am not baptized), I suppose I have had a certain point of view impressed upon me. However, that does give me some insight on what the person is doing and perhaps what that person was taught to do.

I am not totally agreeing with or disagreeing with anyone here or the author of that little article. I think that the person had a right intent, just the wrong means of doing what he did. (I think that including it in a program is a pretty creative way though :) . ) It seemed that everyone who replied had the same opinion on it so I decided to mix things up a bit. This topic does present the argument or what should be considered acceptable when discussing religions, especially today when there are so many different religions, sects and denominations of it, and people who are sensitive (oversensitive, I think) to this subject.[/quote]
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Unread postby Jeffro » Tue Oct 22, 2002 10:04 am

It is possible to compare religion to an economic system- I am certain that organized religion was EXTREMELY important to the unification of early societies. It brought many out of barbarian states and into civilizations- and held many of those together. To compare with ROTK, the Mandate of Heaven was the only thing that remained constant in the book- and decided all. With the Mandate of Heaven order was decided.
In a way, when a religion because too influential on a population it can cause problems- The Muslim- christian conflict can be compared with the Capitalist-communist conflict- they simply do not agree.

There was a movement for decentralized religion in history known as Lutheranism. The catholic church was acting as a "business" in Europe and Martin Luther was sick and tired of being oppressed by the church he served. Unfortunatley, It is easier and more believable to many if the religion is bigger, flashier, and more "aggressive."

it is unfortunate that people are unable to enlighten themselves to their beliefs and be free-thinkers. I agree that Moral standards are not derived from religion; however, if you think of religion as a "manual to being moral" it does have a value as far as giving people some sort of morality to set as a standard. Unfortunatley- Clashing Morals taught by religion have led to many of the worlds problems today.
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:33 am

As old as this topic is, I had to revive it, because a particular religious organization - the LDS church - is particularly bothering me right now, and I wanted to air out my frustration and bring some discussion to the table. I apologize for the length, but I want to make sure this is well explained.

And a forenote: I have nothing against members of the LDS church as a whole, and in fact have several Mormon friends. This rant is directed at the organization, not at the believers.

Here's the story I have to tell:

When I first started working at my last job, I met and eventually made good friends with a particular Mormon, whose name is Josh. We would (until he got in trouble for it) often have private religious or spirtiual discussions, and, much to my delight, he remained respectful of my religious beliefs and we had good, solid discussions without offending each other or being argumentative. I had even told him, at one time, that I appreciated his respect, and that I valued the diversity I had amongst my friends and their religious beliefs (which go from one spectrum of "pagan" beliefs, to questioning, middling, and conservative believers.) He was a good sort, who went out of his way to apologize for giving us a religious DvD at Christmas, not having meant to offend (it was the Tabernacle Choir singing Christmas songs - something not at all preachy, and we appreciated the gift.)

At one point in time, I was having difficulties with a particular situation in my life, and expressed this to him. He offered to pray for us, and have his church pray for us as well, quietly ("No one will bother you," he said.) Unfortunately, they did (and I doubt this was his intention, although he would have had to provide them my information for this to happen). I started getting calls from an unrecognized number on my cellphone, but was unable to answer at work. When I did get a chance, a missionary spoke to me and let me know that my friend had told the church that we needed prayers, and that they would like to send some missionaries on a house visit to bring over a video and discuss the Mormon faith. I told her that I was not interested in such a visit, that I did not accept home visits, and that I was already Christian. She (poor girl that she was, a French missionary who was obviously struggling with English as I spoke to her) said they'd call back in a month to see if I felt the same way. I asked that they didn't, she said thank you, the call was ended. I shrugged, and didn't mention it to my friend.

A month quietly passed, and then I started getting unrecognized calls again on the cell phone. I puzzled at this; they were from a toll free number, which I strictly do not answer unless I am expecting a call from a company. My phone policy is simple: if you actually want to talk to me, and not sell to me, you'll leave a message if I don't answer. No messages were left, and after a long annoyance period, Andy answered the phone when it rang one day. Sure enough, it was the LDS church, who told him that they were returning a call I had made to them. Quite curtly, but politely, he told them that no such call had been made, and asked the man he spoke to to remove me from their calling list. The man promised, the call disconnected.

A few days later, the calls started again.

Sure enough, in the span of about two months, I have received one phone call, five days a week (Tuesday through Saturday). The phone calls are at different times during the day (sometimes around 8 in the morning, sometimes as late as 9 at night, and any times in between). In this span of time, Andy has told them three times to no longer call the number (and we have only answered the phone three times). If they call again tomorrow, they will be advised by me that continuing to call me after repeated requests to remove me from their calling list can and will be considered harrassment under law, as they are a business.

You know, most people believe in a good first impression. But the LDS church has now provided me a lasting impression, directly - that they wish to pursue their purposes despite polite and repeated requests to cease. And I ask myself, and others - don't you think they would consider these kinds of tactics before employing them? This is different from an independent layman who pushes the line with a single person too far; this is the church's organization itself which is pushing this kind of behavior. Somewhere, there is a rule stating that these particular phone numbers - one of which is my own - must be called on a daily basis to spread the word and arrange a home visit - and there are people who are working (paid or unpaid) to follow these set rules.



I come from a Christian background, so I understand the desire to preach the good word and save souls. It's a gentle and passionate concern, and I respect that - but I also expect to be respected when I say no. I was raised and trained to evangelize respectfully, and when I did so, one no was enough. I've encountered plenty of people who understand "No thank you," without needing to press the issue. I cannot, for the life of me, understand, much less approve, of this approach that the LDS church is taking.

I don't blame the missionaries. You get sent out and told to go door-to-door. You don't know I just got visited last week; you don't know me, the neighborhood, or any of the people who live here (especially if you're in the Mormon church). There is no real definitive arranged missionary schedule; no address checklist with a calandar that says my particular apartment must be visited x amount of times per month. But there is an obvious business decision here made about evangelizing, and I do, quite sincerely, blame the LDS organization for what it's doing.

The church and its leadership - mock it as you may one way or another - are all reasonable, thinking human beings. Don't they ever think, hmm, that may be taking persistance to the level of annoyance, or even harrassment? Don't they ever think it might be causing an opposite reaction than what they desire?

What is the rationale in such a decision? How does the business/organization itself pay for the reprecussions?
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Unread postby Admiral_Barton » Fri Jun 30, 2006 3:14 pm

This is a sad thing to hear about. I mean I am a Christian believer, and this thing disturbs me. I mean I find it rather sad that some people can't just accept when someone says no. I've evangelized to plenty of people, including some diehard atheist, and when they said no, I pretty much let what I said be it. In my opinion if I've said something it's enough, God can take care of the rest.

The harassment that you went through is just tragic, because it's hurts other Christians when one group, such as the LDS Church does this.

I'm truly sorry for what you went through in being bothered daily. I think it is their responsibility to make it up to you, and I honestly do believe that should they keep calling to prosecute them under the basis of harassment.
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Unread postby Catalyst » Sat Jul 29, 2006 3:33 am

I find it strange, and very coincidental, that I've just read your post, Rhiannon. Just tonight, my got a visit from the local LDS. This was actually a very odd turnout. As many know, my family is essentially agnostic. As accepting as we tend to be of other beliefs, we make certain exceptions when it comes to actually speaking with members of certain groups, for essentially the reasons you've described. So, tonight, as we noticed that a few of the local LDS members were "doing their rounds", so to speak, we went through our normal procedure of locking the doors, turning off lights (quickly), and allowing our dog to bark when the bell rang.

Curiously enough, we found that they had left something in our doorway. Of course, we initially thought it was little more than a prayer notice, or some other such thing. However, my mom decided to look through it, and she nearly started crying. Apparently, these guys had managed to dig up a lot of our family's history, such as census records and military records, things of that nature. Now, my mom is VERY interested in genealogy. This was information she had been unable to find, well, anywhere. She seemed to feel remorse about having left our door closed to them.

I look back on this, only a few hours later, and wonder if what we did was right. And the moment I saw your post, I begin to think more and more that we were. Certainly, there was information to be had, but at the expense of what? Privacy? Sanity? The ability to feel secure in my home?

In my opinion, people like this go too far. I know people of many different ideologies, not including those I know from the Internet. Amongst my friends, we often discuss different religions, and though we rarely try to convert one another, we can sometimes lean toward the point of "Why don't you agree with me? You're a fool for disagreeing." But we never really persist with things like that. We have a very peaceful coexistence that doesn't involve having to pressure each other to believe the same way. And I wonder, why is it that there are people in this world who have to go beyond that? Isn't believing something on your own good enough? And when someone disagrees, is it really worth it to keep pressing them? What do you gain by converting someone? What is there to be gained by pushing someone to the point of aggravation? Is pushing so hard to gain a few really worth the irritation of many? I wonder if the leaders of these churches have ever considered that.

I hope your own problem has been cleared up, though. It is groups like these that go too far, and are a large part of the reason for my own dislike of religion in general.
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:02 am

Yes, it has. They have not called me since, which has been a great relief. You know, I wouldn't have been so offended if they tried say, once a month - but once a day, that's too far.

As for genealogy ... the LDS church has an incredible nack for genealogy (though it makes you itch sometimes, because it's a little like having your family invaded without consent). There's things I'd love to know about my genealogical history that would do me a hell of a lot of good in life (namely, the records that show that I'm officially Cherokee), but I would not join or even permit a church to cross my lines of sanctity just so I could use them for a little family history research.

Now, if one of my Mormon friends was willing to help me with that, no-strings-attached, I'd not decline the help: but that's because it would be coming from a friend, and not from an organization with other goals in mind.


You know, it bothers me too - some of the most aggressive religions have the most closed door policies. LDS and Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance: I would actually love to be a guest at services, but have always been given an exclusivity air when mentioned (you come here, you're a part of us - you go elsewhere, you're an exile and never welcome here). Religion and spirituality research is both an academic and personal hobby of mine, but I find it amusing that the places that want you in the most, let you in the least.
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Unread postby James » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:12 am

Some of what you say is quite surprising to me, Jaime. Much of the genealogy research done in the Mormon church is basically Mormons tracing their own family lines—the church routing its members’ place in history. It never seemed the sort of thing they do in exchange for something, and the information they gather is freely available.

The only great concern is the eagerness of the church, and the researchers, to assign proper religions to their families. No good Mormon wants a pagan in their family history, let alone something more unusual like a witch or satanist. This is also where the highly bizarre ritual of baptisms for the dead comes into play. Pesky pagan? No problem; baptize them Mormon by proxy!

As far as the church policy, your situation must be the exception. The Mormon church, for as long as I have been in Utah, was always very warm and welcoming to guests, and they were generally allowed a great deal of peace there. Granted, if they know you are—shopping—you will have their attention, and if you are a new face, you will receive a great deal of conversation, but I’ve flat out denied ties to the faith while in Mormon church and still been received warmly (even if often superficially, but hey, they are superficial with each other anyway).

I’ll take Mormons over Jehova’s Witnesses any day.
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:58 am

All I can say is that I've heard stories from Mormons, ex-Mormons, and non-Mormons. How reliable all these stories are is beyond me (I've never interacted on that level), but it seems as if genealogy is so important to them, they covet it with a bit of an unnatural guardianship. I certainly don't mean to mischaracterize something, but there's that aura of "ours, not yours," I get repeatedly from the LDS church in general.

And that baptizing the dead thing is what I consider a little bit of invasion of family privacy, so to speak: I know there are plenty of people who have complained that their deceased family member was baptized by the church without their permission or consultation. Although, in all honesty, it shouldn't matter so much if you don't believe the dead can be baptized.

I do imagine indeed that there are LDS churches around here who would tolerate a visitor's prescence; I've had more experiences with those in California.

And oddly enough, one of my best friends in JuniorHigh was a Jehovah's Witness who never preached to me, even while I was in her own home, with her parents, surrounded by leather-bound versions of the WatchTower. She simply and happily agreed to agree with me on the points we shared in our Christianities, and never brought up those we knew we'd been raised differently in. One of the sweetest friends I've ever had.
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Unread postby James » Sun Jul 30, 2006 7:14 am

Rhiannon wrote:All I can say is that I've heard stories from Mormons, ex-Mormons, and non-Mormons. How reliable all these stories are is beyond me (I've never interacted on that level), but it seems as if genealogy is so important to them, they covet it with a bit of an unnatural guardianship. I certainly don't mean to mischaracterize something, but there's that aura of "ours, not yours," I get repeatedly from the LDS church in general.

Certainly they are protective of it. And yes, genealogy is <i>very</i> important to the Mormon church. They are highly protective of the ‘integrity’ of their information, but they do not limit access to said information.

Rhiannon wrote:And that baptizing the dead thing is what I consider a little bit of invasion of family privacy […]

I consider it to be a <i>big</i> bit of an invasion of privacy. Granted, disregarding such is a very valid (and proper) approach, but I would be quite distressed if people close to me, who I knew the varied faiths of, were summarily baptized Mormon. I’m screwed myself. As a family member descended from the Joseph Smith—a very prominent one in the Mormon church—I’ll be listed as Mormon in church genealogy until I arrive with a large army and bombs—plenty of bombs—to set matters straight.

Rhiannon wrote:I do imagine indeed that there are LDS churches around here who would tolerate a visitor's prescence; I've had more experiences with those in California.

I have no first-hand experience with the Mormon churches here (yes, I’m in California now, and Jaime’s in Utah—we switched places), but in Utah the interpretation was always that out-of-state Mormons were always more tolerant. I have heard some conflicting stories from my wife’s friends here in California, however.

Rhiannon wrote:And oddly enough, one of my best friends in JuniorHigh was a Jehovah's Witness who never preached to me, even while I was in her own home, with her parents, surrounded by leather-bound versions of the WatchTower. […]

And as well they shouldn’t. My thoughts were more along the lines of their missionaries that go from door to door. Mormon missionaries are pushy too, but not nearly as aggressive, and I don’t see them on street corners telling me that I’m going to hell. By no means can a generalization be made, however. There is an exception to any rule, and I have no basis to judge a Jehova’s Witness relative to their day-to-day lives (when they aren’t on the street corner telling me I’m going to go to hell).
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Unread postby Hubsta » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:21 pm

I hate evangelism; religion is a personal choice and should be kept personal. People who try to forcefeed others their own beliefs, no atter how much they believe they are "saving" the person, are just asking for trouble.
This is why I like Buddhism because it doesn't try to make those who don't follow it think that they will be worse off as a result.
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