December 4, 2009
From Fakery to Funny Underwear:
Twenty-seven people thoroughly enjoyed and participated in what must be one of the best (and longest) ever HAGSA meetings.
Steve Thoreson is co-founder of the Sacramento Meetup group, Freethinkers, Atheists and Nonbelievers (FAN). He was brought up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—better known as the Mormons. He escaped doing near-mandatory mission service by becoming a nonbeliever.
Starting with an overview of Mormon history, particularly of the early days when it was less accepted by mainstream Christians than it is today. Steve gave us an informative and entertaining talk on many of the aspects of Mormonism that are not expounded by missionaries or taught in Mormon Sunday school. The theological ideas of the Mormon faith are in some ways radically different from those of mainstream Christianity. Their basic scripture, The Book of Mormon, has language very much like that of the King James Bible, but, according to Mormons, it is based on a translation by Joseph Smith from what he claimed to be ancient golden plates. The Book of Mormon recounts events from pre-Columbian America, for which there is not the slightest archeological or genetic evidence. American Indians were supposed to be Jews whose skin was darkened because of their sins. They had wiped out the “pure” Nephites. Mormon theology has three levels of heaven, the highest of which allows those persons who enter to become gods themselves! Marriages are for eternity, not just for this life.
I did learn of some historical facts that I had not known before. The anti-Mormon mob that lynched Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois actually contained many disillusioned Mormons fed up with his polygamy and with his dishonesty in the management of the assets of his bank. Many Mormons left the official Mormon Church to found separate sects, some of which still exist today. Others returned to more conventional versions of Christianity.
Report prepared by Wayne Luney