Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

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Gunnar
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Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

Post by Gunnar »

Believing in the Big Lie
Almost exactly a month ago, the Public Religion Research Institute released a survey looking at partisan and religious belief in the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

To be clear, the assertion that the election was stolen is stupid. The only basis for the assertion is that people can formulate the concept in a (grammatically) coherent way. Donald Trump’s attorneys had dozens of opportunities to assert that there was something illegal about the election in court but were unable to convince judges of any political persuasion. State Attorneys General support the fairness of the election. The Big Lie is, precisely, a lie.

And who believes it? According to the PRRI survey, 61% of white Evangelical Christians. But not that far behind them?

Mormons. Forty-six percent of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (in the United States) mostly or completely agree that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

This represents an existential threat to the future of Mormonism.

The previous sentence may well seem hyperbolic. After all, so what if nearly half of our coreligionists believe something dumb or even dangerous?

The thing is, the idea of discernment is critical to Mormonism. Upon baptism we receive the Holy Ghost, which, among other things, helps us discern the truth. We teach things that are not obvious, things which require this type of discernment to evaluate and believe.

But if 46% of us believe something that is completely and obviously untrue, what does that say about us? It undercuts our claim to recognize and embrace truth. It suggests that, collectively, we are as easily deceived as any other group. And if we can’t tell simple and obvious truth from lies, why should someone trust that we can differentiate religious truth from lies, especially where, when it comes to religion, truth is far less obvious and provable?


So what to do about it? As individuals, of course, we need to push back on the Big Lie. But individual pushback is probably insufficient. This is one of those cases where the church needs to make a formal statement. And not just a vague statement about how insurrection is bad. The church–be it the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve or both–needs to explicitly say that the United States election was fair, that Joe Biden won, and that, as members entitled to the Holy Ghost, we can read the evidence and come to that conclusion for ourselves.

I’m a little hesitant about this recommendation. After all, the U.S. election is, well, a U.S. thing. And the church often focuses too heavily on the U.S. Still, the church does address things of interest to the U.S. And this is one of those moments that could portend both the beginning of the end of democracy and the beginning of the end of our religious credibility. It seems like a great candidate for actual church engagement. Not, probably, as a conference talk, but definitely as an official letter to be read in every U.S. sacrament meeting.

Will that reduce the number of Mormons who believe the Big Lie to zero? Absolutely not. We’re not automatons. Contrary to some public perception, we don’t act in lockstep. But we collectively trust the church leadership and, I suspect, a statement would substantially reduce the number of members who believe the Big Lie.

Will the church lose some members? Perhaps. There’s a tribalism to modern politics and some may be more attached to their political priors than their religious priors. Still, to the extent young (and even not-so-young) people see their former bishops and YW/YM leaders spouting obvious lies, to the extent people curious about the church see its members adopting impossible conspiracies, they will legitimately question those people’s claim to recognize and speak truth. And that will have long-term effects on the church going forward.
The inescapable takeaway from this is that the mere fact that about half of LDS membership, whatever is the actual truth about the election being stolen, is mistaken about this issue, absolutely destroys the credibility of the claim that baptized and confirmed LDS members have any God given advantage when it comes to discerning between truth and falsehood.
No precept or claim is more likely to be false than one that can only be supported by invoking the claim of Divine authority for it--no matter who or what claims such authority.
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Some Schmo
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Re: Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

Post by Some Schmo »

That's an interesting take, given that it sounds like it's a member speaking.

It's kind of interesting that he doesn't actually take the next step and declare, "Hey, Mormons really can't discern the truth better than anyone else." He just seems to be writing to protect their internal image from themselves.

But yeah, the point is correct: pretending the election was stolen is F'ing dumb and shows your judgement is poor. Trump was outrageously lucky to win the first time. If the election was fixed, it was to make it closer than it was.
Religion is for people whose existential fear is greater than their common sense.
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ajax18
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Re: Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

Post by ajax18 »

Anyone can be wrong about some things and right about other things. Believing something must be right or wrong based on who says it rather than what is said is about as far away from the truth as it gets.
Gunnar
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Re: Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

Post by Gunnar »

ajax18 wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 2:52 am
Anyone can be wrong about some things and right about other things. Believing something must be right or wrong based on who says it rather than what is said is about as far away from the truth as it gets.
Unless the one saying it is Trump. Right? You have abundantly demonstrated on this board that you give much more credence to anything that Trump says than to what your LDS leaders say, including President Nelson. I really think that if you knew how your Prophet actually felt about Donald J. Trump, or even said the most mildly negative thing about Trump, you would immediately resign from the Church.
No precept or claim is more likely to be false than one that can only be supported by invoking the claim of Divine authority for it--no matter who or what claims such authority.
drumdude
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Re: Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

Post by drumdude »

ajax18 wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 2:52 am
Anyone can be wrong about some things and right about other things. Believing something must be right or wrong based on who says it rather than what is said is about as far away from the truth as it gets.
I think this doesn't always apply. For example, you are an apprentice learning how to perform a trade. Your teacher tells you a rule of thumb, something they have learned which works well for them. Do you believe them based on who said it? In this case, yes. You don't have enough knowledge to determine if they are right or wrong.

In the future, however, you may recall what your teacher told you and you two can have an engaging discussion on the merits of his rule of thumb. You may even bring new information to his attention, or a new way of thinking about it which he had not previously considered.

In the Mormon sphere, none of us are Egyptologists. Very few people can read glyphs. So we have a choice - do we believe Dr. Ritner or do we believe Dr. Gee? They both can spend hours trying to impart the requisite knowledge for us to make a decision, but we will never spend our lifetimes becoming experts on Egyptology.

In this case, I think you absolutely consider the source. I examine the difference between the scholarship approaches of Dr. Ritner and Dr. Gee. That difference is much easier to see than the actual specifics that they argue about.
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Moksha
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Re: Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

Post by Moksha »

Look, even if half of all Mormons elevate the stature of Trump over Joseph Smith and the Easter Bunny, that in no way proves that the Easter Bunny was not equally crafty in its generational Easter egg deceptions. It only shows the Mormons are a believing people.

Additionally, the Trumpian denial of science corresponds to elements of LDS theology, such as the denial of evolution, the earth being around 7000 years old, dinosaur bones were planted by the adversary, and that Joseph Smith was innocently influenced by Jeffrey Epstein.

Evangelicals will follow Trump. Follow him wherever he may go. As Pastor Connie Mann, of God's Wrath Ministry, puts it, "nothing you could say could tear me away from my Trump."
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Some Schmo
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Re: Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

Post by Some Schmo »

Gunnar wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 3:14 am
ajax18 wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 2:52 am
Anyone can be wrong about some things and right about other things. Believing something must be right or wrong based on who says it rather than what is said is about as far away from the truth as it gets.
Unless the one saying it is Trump. Right? You have abundantly demonstrated on this board that you give much more credence to anything that Trump says than to what your LDS leaders say, including President Nelson. I really think that if you knew how your Prophet actually felt about Donald J. Trump, or even said the most mildly negative thing about Trump, you would immediately resign from the Church.
I've got ajax on ignore, but obviously, I still see his posts when someone quotes them. This is a prime example of why I ignore him.

He just says stuff that he doesn't mean. There are plenty of people he believes simply because they say the things that bring him warm fuzzies. Trump is only one example. He listens to and believes anything breitbart, Hannity, Carlson, and anyone else says who has his white supremacist sensibilities. And there are plenty of people he won't believe because of who they are, simply for having a (D) by their name, or anyone else he idiotically thinks is a communist.
Religion is for people whose existential fear is greater than their common sense.
Alf'Omega
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Re: Religious Consequences of Believing in the Big Lie

Post by Alf'Omega »

ajax18 wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 2:52 am
Anyone can be wrong about some things and right about other things. Believing something must be right or wrong based on who says it rather than what is said is about as far away from the truth as it gets.
You mean like rejecting literally everything out of hand because you conveniently call the messenger a Liberal, Leftist, Communist, Rino, pinko, deep state Republicans, etc?
Last edited by Alf'Omega on Mon Sep 20, 2021 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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