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The UK Mirror's "staggering" yellow journalism

British tabloids aren't known for being strictly factual, but publishing misrepresentations, distortions, and outright lies is excessive and sensationalistic. The following article appeared in the UK Mirror:

Meet the Mormons: 7 staggering beliefs, including special underwear to fight off temptations of the flesh

Before we look at the seven "staggering" beliefs, I always wonder why the wicked get so jazzed over temple garments. It's just prurient! The article includes picture of temple garments, which for all the sensation, really aren't very titillating. Some advertising firm did research and discovered that, when exposed to a lot of clustered text, human beings instinctively zero in on the words "free" and "naked." Perhaps it's also been determined that "underwear" gets a similar response, which would explain the title of the article. Now, let's examine the "staggering" beliefs:

1. Mormons must remain sexually clean
Name a real church that encourages sexual licentiousness. Go ahead. I'm waiting. If you go back and look at various religious sects that have emerged throughout the centuries, there have been some that practiced communal marriage (partner swapping) or some some sort of libertine attitudes on sex. They all either died out or fell apart over the internal conflicts caused by immorality. Is the world really so decadent that taming ones own sexual urges is considered archaic? Mormons who follow biblical expectations of morality avoid sorrow, guilt, not to mention dangerous sexually transmitted diseases. Hmmm! Seems like avoiding chlamydia would be a plus!

2. Jesus moved to America following his resurrection
The wording on this one is misleading. Jesus didn't pack up the U-Haul truck and move his household to America. In the Bible, Jesus DID say "...[O]ther sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). He appeared elsewhere in the world to various peoples after his resurrection. The Book of Mormon contains the account of three appearances of the Savior over a three day period. He appeared to a group of expatriate Israelites who had fled Jerusalem before its destruction hundreds of years earlier. In that time, he did organize his Church, appoint 12 disciples to lead it, while he preached and healed the people. This took place approximately six months after his crucifixion, probably on or around the Feast of Tabernacles. The Lord appeared and visited, he didn't move and reside there.

3. Tea and coffee is a sin
Well, not exactly. Tea and coffee, along with tobacco, and alcohol, and intoxicating drugs obviously can have deleterious health effects on the body. Some of these substances are addictive. They also interfere with the body's ability to be sensitive to subtle spiritual promptings. If you want the Spirit of God to guide and protect you, eliminating these substances from your life is helpful. Historically, the Lord has given dietary restrictions to believers. Jews don't' eat pork. Muslims don't drink alcohol and also abstain from pork. How strange is it that Mormons have a health code for spiritual reasons? Regardless, it seems to work. Just go to the database of the American College of Epidemiology web site and search their databases on studies including Mormons as a control group. Mormons live longer, healthier lives than non-Mormons. Why is that? Have a clue.

4. Baptism after death
This one gets sensationalized and made to sound ghoulish. Every Christian believer needs to answer a simple question. What happens to people who lived before Jesus was born? If salvation comes from faith in Jesus, are all the people who died before he was born lost to God? What of people who died in faraway lands where no Christian missionary or apostle ever preached? Are they damned? For God to be just, he has to have a plan to save everyone and give them an equal opportunity to hear the gospel and accept it. Mormons believe that he has such a plan. During the three days that Jesus was crucified and was resurrected. The Bible tells us that Jesus' spirit went to preach to the dead (John 5:25 and 28-29; 1 Peter 3:8 and 4:6). Ancient Christians performed proxy baptisms for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29). No other Church has a clue what this biblical practice is or how to perform it.

5. Jesus Christ asked for their church to be created
Jesus doesn't “ask.” Jesus commands. Every seeker has to answer two questions? Does God exist? If so, which Church is his? If none of the churches are true, then the seeker has a real problem. Logically, one church has to be true or else none of them are. You can't have two true churches that teach contradictory doctrines. If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints didn't exist, which church would be the true one? The Catholic Church or the Church of England? How about the Quakers? How about the Baptists? Maybe the Eastern Orthodox or the Russian Orthodox? The Syrian, Coptic, or Ethiopian? The fact is that all these competing and conflicting denominations are the churches of men. They have no authority from God. They teach men's doctrines and creeds mingled with scripture. They deny revelation from God and even go so far as to prohibit God from ever speaking again. Like Jesus said, you can't put new wine into old bottles. It was necessary to “reboot the system,” so to speak and start fresh. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820. Subsequent revelations over the next decade laid the foundation for the restoration of the ancient Christian faith as it was practiced by the apostles.

6. Swimming is prohibited
Mormons can swim. Missionaries can't? Why? Insurance. When missionaries go on their missions, the Church covers them with an insurance policy. The riders restrict certain potentially dangerous activities. This includes swimming, doing martial arts, sky diving, etc.

7. Marriage can be "sealed" for an eternity
Think about it. Other churches or civil governments perform marriages that endure for mortality. The marriage contract ends at death. Imagine loving someone and being with them for your whole life, sharing the trials and joys of family life. Then when you die, you see them in the afterlife and it's just like they were an acquaintance. It doesn't happen. Love endures forever. However, marriage doesn't unless it is sealed by the keys of the kingdom. Who has those keys? Jesus gave them to the apostles anciently. He gave them power to “seal” or “bind” an action on earth and have that action be valid in heaven. That authority is inherent in the keys Christ gave to Peter and the apostles. The fact that other churches don't perform marriages for time and eternity is evidence that they don't have the keys of the kingdom. We have them. Christ sent Peter, James, and John as angelic messengers to restore that authority. Our Church has it. The others don't. If you love your spouse and want to be with them forever, you need to be married by the proper priesthood authority in a Mormon temple. Otherwise, you've got a divorce decree that takes place when you die.

Do you feel “staggered” yet? Is your world shaken by these Mormon beliefs? The only thing that staggers me about it is that intelligent, educated people could take the UK Mirror's depictions of our beliefs seriously. (Of course, this is a paper that would Photoshop aliens talking to George Bush and say he was a reptilian alien himself.) Any religion can be made to sound weird if you take isolated beliefs and remove them from their context. The only reason someone would do such a thing is malice. Really, who wants to be malicious? If you want to know about what Mormons believe, just ask one. We're everywhere. You can go to Mormon.org and chat with one if you don't know a Mormon.