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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

UPDATED: Mitt and the Mormons Debate Continues -- Benson Responds to Critics

In case you've missed it, check out the comments in the post a little bit below which features a heated and fascinating debate over Mormonism, a certain candidate and a fairly prominent (and Pulitzer-winning) editorial cartoonist. You can weigh in here or down there. Also, E&P has just interviewed Benson again to get his response to the criticism. And in a guest column, a Mormon journalist/professor hits negative media coverage of the faith. They are here:


Anonymous said...

Steve couldn't have said it better... or more truthfully.

deavers said...

Steve Benson has issues that distort his vision of America and religion. He is not a credible source of information, as demonstrated in his lack of commitment to his own religion that he has denounced. As a result, he expresses himself as a confused man, who lacks proper judgment. His perspective on Mormonism is about as authoritative as the opinion of a hyena on the winter conditions in Antarctica.
Steve is bent on negativity. What is he for? He doesn't have the guts to even mention what he stands for, because he doesn't stand for anything except bashing his heritage.

Max said...

Deavers, what has Steve said that is incorrect??? I'm Mormon, but Steve didn't falsify anything.

"Bashing his heritage"??? So because he was raised Mormon he's supposed to stand behind it? What kind of logic is that?

I'm wondering why Mitt lied about Jesus and Lucifer not being brothers? We teach that in Primary (children's Sunday School)! If Mitt can so easily lie about something as important as his religion, what makes you think he won't lie as president?

Anonymous said...

Steve Benson is one of almost 300 million Americans, and is one of millions of Mormons, and E&P never explains why his views on Romney deserve any kind of special attention. He just seems, as the Utah editor said, embittered, for some reason, and his seething hatred for Romney and conservatives apparently appeals to the folks at E&P, because the story seems to have no relevance to journalism other than the fact that Benson is a cartoonist.

Anonymous said...

Max, no, we were taught from primary that satan = bad and Christ = good...I have never heard of Satan and Christ described as brothers except in anti-mormon manners. It's wrong on the sense that it places an amount of kinship that simply is not there.

And what Benson said and implied is ridiculous. I, too, am LDS and have been all my life. My faith is integral into my life...it is very much important and has an effect in all that I do. I do not have a problem saying I have faith in my God and wish to obey him. But I do have a problem implying that this entails odd moments of creating a theocracy. Rather I wish to live by the principles I've been taught: live cleanly, judge wisely, have mercy and charity, learn, etc. I've been taught to live my faith. I live it in that I take those principles and use them continually.

Steve Benson isn't a fair judge of my faith. His prejudice is clear and it fogs his ability to see a candidate beyond stereotypes of a religion. If I were to believe him, I'd assume that Romney, Reid, and other LDS leaders in high positions are into some near conspiracy to make a mormon-land when in reality the hope is not in that, but to live an exemplorary life in service of our fellow men and subsequently God and Christ...to show the other portion of those primary lessons of the power and necessity of choice instead of coercing all to be the same.

Roamoff said...

I was a Mormon just like Steve Benson. I went to BYU at the same time that he did. I have Mormon heritage back to its inception on both sides of the family. I am now an atheist. I disagree with many if not most of the official doctrines as well as the unofficial practices of Mormons. However, Steve Benson can’t have it both ways. He can’t claim that Mitt Romney is totally subservient to Mormon officials while also criticizing him for changing positions over a span when the Mormon church has held a single position. In other words, Romney was not excommunicated during the times that he practiced positions in contradiction to Mormonism. Mormon leaders are happy to let high-profile Mormons do their own thing and not be totally subservient. (For instance, a major tenet of Mormonism is not working on Sundays, but they do not ex-communicate their high-profile Mormon professional athletes and coaches.) Romney will not be owned by the Mormon leaders as much as he will own the Mormon church if he were to become president. I hope he is nominated because there is no way he would beat any democrat in the general election.

Hugh said...

You are not mormon.... If so you need to study your own religioun more...

clint-o-bean said...

Could the issue here be that Steve Benson is trying to make people afraid of another group? I ask why would he do that?
Is there really anything to fear in having a Mormon be president?
If you are afraid of it, then why exactly - where does that fear come from? Is that fear founded or not?

To Max, if you read Chuck McKinnon statements on http://www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003687107
then you will see why what Steve Benson said is distorted.

There really is nothing to fear in having a Mormon be a president, simply because they are Mormon. The bigger problem is when people of any culture or religion utilize negativity and distrust that feeds off of the least favorable aspects of human nature.

I'm much more in favor of a Gandhi approach. He talked about the most important battles we face being not those against each other, but those inside of ourselves: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world"

WakeWashington said...

Steve always has been a pretty funny guy and I half believe he's saying all this tongue-in-cheek.

He got his start and has made a good living out West poking fun at the gap between Mormon ideals and the amusing compromises made on a daily basis to deal with real life.

If the LDS church has such powerful control over its members, why do stores of all kinds do such thriving business throughout Utah on Sundays? Why isn’t every congregation 100 percent in attendance, tithing, fast offerings, home teaching, etc? Why not 70 percent or at least 60 percent?

Steve conveniently neglects to acknowledge Mormons consider the constitution divinely inspired. (Doctrine & Covenants 77:80)

And Romney interpreted perfectly the way the constitution protects and limits the influence of religion on government in his speech on Faith in America.

Most of all, Steve should remember the way his grandfather was defied by Mitt’s father, George Romney, when Ezra Taft Benson thought he’d try to misuse his high-ranking position in the church to influence public policy.

This cartoonist has grown bitter against the church and has made a hobby of attacking it unfairly for most of the years since he left it.

It sets a bad example for the industry to use him as a source in anything readers are expected to take seriously. He has a great sense of humor, but I’d even question quoting him in something light hearted, he’s become so bigoted. It’s very sad to see.

tdrod1 said...

I'm always mystified by those who claim to be Christian who bash others for their beliefs.

The LDS Church 12th Article of Faith declares:
"We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

As a world church with over 13 million members the church and its members must defer to the authority that governs the land in which the member resides. The New Testament records Christ's teachings on this subject in three of the four gospels. Luke 20: 25 records:
"And he (Christ) said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s." This isn't just Mormon doctrine, it's Christ's law.

Mr. Romney, as Governor of Massachusetts, displayed an ability to be obedient to this higher law by following the laws of the land, which required him to embrace the will of the people on many social and political issues that would seem to be in conflict with church doctrine and perhaps his own set of beliefs.

This election should not be about religion. It is ridiculous and unfair that Romney has to provide explanation of church doctrine as well as his political platform while running for president. Presidential candidates who have attempted to introduce this into the debate have revealed their true colors while Romney seems to be a person of solid character.

Oh, and as we are all children of God wouldn’t that make all of us brothers and sisters? Can we move on now?

Anonymous said...

Steve is bitter, it is easy to see his anger in his critical commentary. Look at what he does for a living - criticize a community of people for their beliefs. What a waste of time! Why anyone holds any merit to what he says is beyond me. He is neither a believer nor expert but a mere cartoonist. He is only mad that he did something against the teachings of the LDS church and was excommunicated for it. He lead himself down the path of anger and hatred towards the Mormon church when he could have chosen the path of humility and change. Excommunicated Mormon church members can be rebaptized and I think that is the path he did not choose because pride and anger ruled his heart. His actions speak to this truth clearly and that goes for anyone else in the world that speaks negative of other beliefs or systems. It is a pessimistic approach to life that yields nothing but self gratification for attempting to discredit others. Why can't we discuss the positive in others and desist in drudging through the muck of mediocrity?

D. Young said...

Steve is correct in his understanding of the LDS Church's masterful ability to dodge and weave around issues. Having said that I miss being a Mormon. (I left the LDS church 27 years ago.) I miss the sense of certainty that I had then, and the simplcity of not having to derive my own sense of morality. I also miss being young.

Related to that, my concern with Mitt Romney is not that he has changed positions, but that as a Mormon his moral compass is more likely than others' to be underdeveloped. Changing fundamental moral positions in the future will once again depend too much on cold calculation and too little on "that still small voice", whose primary purpose (when I was taught in LDS Sunday School)was to convince us of Mormonism's truth.

Max said...

To the Mormon "Anon" who doesn't know his/her churches beliefs concerning Jesus and Lucifer (yes, Satan) being brothers-

The following was posted on the LDS churches' official website prior to the Utah Olympics (before they decided to try and make the church *appear* mainstream and removed some of their statements regarding their bizarre beliefs from their website):

"We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, ‘Whom shall I send?’ Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, ‘Here am I, send me’ (Abraham 3:27).

Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, ‘Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it.’ (Moses 4:1)"

As bizarre as that belief may be to some, it is not as bizarre as the one saying we can all become gods ourselves and rule over our own planet someday.

I agree with what some media people have said. I don't care if you want to believe all that crazy (to me now) stuff, but at least BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR BELIEFS. Don't suddenly try to erase everything your church believes in and try to appear to be mainstream. If Mitt can't be honest about his religion, what CAN he be honest about? Why should I trust him as PRESIDENT???

Anonymous said...

"I agree with what some media people have said. I don't care if you want to believe all that crazy (to me now) stuff, but at least BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR BELIEFS. Don't suddenly try to erase everything your church believes in and try to appear to be mainstream. If Mitt can't be honest about his religion, what CAN he be honest about? Why should I trust him as PRESIDENT???"

So you are not mormon, correct. Or at least no a believing one. As it is, I feel more comfortable saying Christ and Satan are not brothers, but would subsequently feel fine say, once they were. It would be similar to saying Satan is an angel (it sounds like an oxymoron) but to say he was is just fine. In other words, it's past tense.

It's alright to admit your not mormon...you don't need it to validate your claims, especially when LDS come and call you on your own bluff. Besides it does as much good as this article's validation of Benson by mentioning his own credentials.

"Changing fundamental moral positions in the future will once again depend too much on cold calculation and too little on "that still small voice", whose primary purpose (when I was taught in LDS Sunday School)was to convince us of Mormonism's truth."

No, listening to that small voice or your consciencce as a witness of truth is only one of its purpose. To be a guide is yet another (In other words, don't become automaton, and learn to bend a bit...be situational and well as theoretical or practical.

Max said...

The Truth: I am *technically* still a Mormon. Been waiting a few months for my confirmation letter (which I need in order to stop being harrassed by the church and its minions). Trying to get out of this church is harder than pulling teeth.

Greg Mitchell said...

We have a new interview with Benson up on our site in which he responds to some of the criticism here. It's at: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003687866

Anonymous said...

After all, Harry Reid gets his marching orders directly from Salt Lake, and you know just how much he and Hatch form a united front.

Benson remains a spoiled brat, who will do what it takes to generate attention, combined with extremely rigid black and white thinking.


carmstrong said...

Gov. Romney is what America needs. People around the world need to see a different kind of Leader. Foreign Nations think Most Americans are unfaithful, womanizer, drunk, uses filthy language, unclean etc.

Governor Romney has all the talents, intelligence, business acumen, successful experiences, perseverance, diligence and cleanliness inside that people outside the US will exclaim, "WOW, You never had a cigarette or drink beer or had premarital sex or swear ever in your life?"

As for Steve Benson, I couldn't care less, nothing is positive about him except his last name which is the same as our past great President Benson.

Anonymous said...


First you totally misquoted the scripture that you ineffectively used to prove a point that Jesus and Satan are brothers. Just paste it directly on the comment. Here it is for you:

And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. (Abr. 3:27)

And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. (Mos. 4:1)

As everyone can tell the word "brother" is not in there.

If you are trying to say that Satan and Jesus are brothers just like you and your next door neighbor are brothers, then you would be more correct. Mormon doctrine teaches that we are all brothers and sisters. I think that belief is actually taught by many faiths. If you can't even be honest in one comment (mis quote scripture to try to prove your point) why should Mitt Romney even want your vote!

Anonymous said...

Benson is trying to lure good members of the faith to reveal sacred Temple ordinances. It has nothing to do with our ability to disprove him.

Keep waiting Steve.

As for Max, I am about to submit a form for someone that wants to leave the church. The process is pretty straightforward, a letter to the Bishop and on its way it goes.

Greg Mitchell said...

A Mormon journalist/professor has written a guest column for E&P hitting negative media coverage of the faith. It is here:


Mary said...

As a devout Latter-day saint and sister of Steve Benson, I disagree with Steve’s analysis of church leadership during Ezra Taft Benson’s tenure as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. I also saw first hand President Benson’s condition during his administration, including personal visits with him during the final weeks of his life as his health failed. Pres. Benson was subject to the natural conditions of aging. However, at no time, did I feel “fooled” as a member of the Church into believing that Pres. Benson was doing more than he was physically or mentally capable of doing. I, along with other members of the Church, knew of his health related limitations. However, we also knew that the Church would continue to move forward with Pres. Benson’s best efforts, that of his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, along with other church leaders. We were never deceived or led to believe otherwise.
Mary Benson Richards

Stephanie said...

Thank you, Mary Richards. As Mary's and Stephen's sister, I agree with Mary completely and support the position she has expressed. Her observations are mine as well.
Stephanie Young

Anonymous said...

Steve Benson was not ex-communicated from the Mormon Church. He personally requested that his name be removed from the church's list of members.

deavers said...

Either way, Steve has issues. He needs to repent. IT's that simple. He needs to repent. His pride is nothing but enmity between himself and God, and then he shares it with the rest of the world. Steve needs to work on the one relationship in his life that matters most. He needs to repent.

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