Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Belfast Telegraph: What if Mormons are right?

Photograph of boxer, Harry Tracy I hesitate to share this article with you, but if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church), you will probably enjoy it. After all, the article defends the Church's practice of gathering records and performing baptisms for the dead. Titled "What if Mormons are right and Catholics and Protestants wrong?" one could wonder if the author, Eamonn McCann, was on the verge of conversion to Mormonism.

Not likely. McCann seems to be the Howard Stern of the Belfast [Ireland] Telegraph. McCann is a pro-gay,  pro-abortion activist; anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, radical antichrist, outspoken atheist; a prominent card carrying Socialist Workers Party member; and a left-of-the-left Trotsky-Marxist. More likely, the author's real intent is to ridicule Christianity by pointing out intolerance among Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Mormons.

Christ and Children from around the World. © 1997, IRI.
Christ and Children
from around the World.
© 1997, IRI.

Members of the Church may find the article persuasive and logical, even entertaining. I know I did. But once I was aware of McCann's beliefs, I re-read the article. Now I find it petty and baiting, prejudicial and demeaning. I find it manipulative that the author draws Jews and Protestants into his world view where there is no god and religions are intolerance incarnate.

Mr. McCann, you're wrong. Intolerance is a choice God leaves up to individuals. You almost got me, but I choose tolerance.


  1. You are extremely intolerant. Just because he does not share your dogmas, he is not allowed to write about intolerance between different Christian sects? Shame on you.

  2. Dear AI,

    Your re-interpretation of Eamonn McCann's essay made me sad. Rather than being frightened by all the pros and antis you used to describe him, I read more of his writings. From the bits of satire (not IMHO directed toward Mormon or early Christian practices) I understood his intent to be anti-repression, pro-free agency and, yes, pro-tolerance. We may not agree with all his political positions, but comparing him to Howard Stern was beyond harsh. How about Jonathan Swift?

    --A "card"-carrying LDS genealogist

  3. You have received the "I love your blog" award from me at http://rzamor1.blogspot.com/2008/09/people-like-me-wahoo.html
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Please. I read your blog for "the unofficial, unauthorized view of the two big genealogy websites," not to get your commentary on religion. Set the God talk aside and focus on what you do best.

  5. Dear Anti-Intolerant,

    Let me see if I understand you correctly. (Sarcasm/humor warning: I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you.)

    You believe he has a right to be intolerant of intolerance (between religions). Presumably you also think it is not shameful for you to be intolerant of my intolerance. Yet you believe it is shameful for me to be intolerant of intolerance (between him and religions). Why the double standard?

    Seriously, your presumption that I feel "he is not allowed to write..." is incorrect and unfounded. Just because he does not share my dogma doesn't mean he can't express his own. You'll notice that unlike some blogs, I allow anonymous comments.

    See my other comments for more clarification.

    -- The A.I.

  6. Dear Sue,

    I'm glad you read more of his writings and came to your own opinion. I too felt his "bits of satire [were] not directed toward Mormon or early Christian practices." It was a "right things, right reasons" analysis that led me to the conclusion I came to. While I agree with his position on baptisms for the dead, given his background I think you are mistaken about his motives.

    Granted in true journalistic tradition, my fact checking was shallow and depended extensively on McCann's Wikipedia biography. Perhaps you could assist me and other readers of this article by double checking the references in that article. Did he write Dear God - The Price Of Religion In Ireland and is it a "radical debunking of Christianity"? Is he a Trotskyist? Is he a "prominent member of the Socialist Workers Party" in Ireland?

    Tolerance has to be a two way street before I consider it "pro-tolerance," so I have to disagree with your assessment. The article was certainly pro-tolerant of Mormon practices, but you can hardly consider his criticisms of infant baptism and transubstantiation, both sacred elements of Catholicism, as pro-tolerant of Catholic practices.

    I confess I was baiting you with the comparison to Howard Stern, but I'm also quite serious. Both make a living by writing and speaking on social topics. Both take extreme positions, also using "baiting" to engage their audience and elicit responses. Both defend themselves by expressing sincerity in their positions. Can you be certain that the comparison is not legitimate?

    Thanks for reading. And thanks even more for responding.

    -- The Insider

  7. Dear Renee,

    Thank you! The timing of your post was most ironic, coming in the middle of a discussion on tolerance. Unknowingly, you showed us what true tolerance looks like.

    -- The Insider

  8. Dear Intolerant-of-God-talk,

    I am sorry. I hesitated posting that article. If you are a long-time reader, you know the level and number of religious references that I normally make and you know that this article crossed the line. It is my intent to continue at my previous level.

    I do try. I have another story that I worked on for over three hours about the 1880 US Federal Census of Utah that I have scraped because I decided it crossed the line.

    If you are a new reader, let me set your expectation. McCann's article was spawned by the request of an organization that a prominant national archive deny release of genealogical records to FamilySearch. That aspect falls within my editorial target and I would not have felt I was crossing the line by mentioning that the requesting party was a bishop of the Catholic Church or that FamilySearch is an arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I would also consider it OK to provide minimal doctrinal backgrounds in explaining the positions of each of the two Churches.

    Again, I acknowledge that I violated my intended boundary and the expectations that I have attempted to set with you and the rest of my audience. And I am sorry.

    Stick with me for a while and we'll both learn together if I can maintain my historical level of relevance to anyone of any religious persuasion, despite my change in employment.

    -- The Insider


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