Mormon Media Observer: A response to Christopher Hitchens after his latest attack on Mormonism

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    Nov. 30, 2011 12:17 p.m.

    Atheism is intriguing to me. To claim to know there is no God. The only possible way I see someone could know this is if they knew the four corners of the universe, and everything in between. If someone knew this, what would they be?

    Nov. 29, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    Layne, why publish a response if you aren't going to refute or challenge any of Hitchens' allegations? The truthfulness of the LDS Church should make sense in the "mind" and "heart" (D&C 8:2). Don't write an article if you aren't going to challenge any of the substance of his argument. Your article, in my mind, adds more credence to Hitchens' attacks.

  • dtuttle AlpineUT ALPINE, UT
    Nov. 23, 2011 8:43 a.m.

    My only point... yes, justly criticize Hitchens if he misrepresented you in print for lack of educating himself thoroughly, but then turn your gaze inward to Mormon culture and see that members profess to 'know' what absolute cosmological Truth is, but actually know very little about the cosmos.

    Yes, okay, you'll say secular knowledge has nothing to do with faith and 'spiritual' confirmation of Truth, and being widely read and educated is not a prerequisite to receiving revelation from God. Well, that would be an entirely new discussion about the 'psychology of belief' and epistemology to try and understand why God has spiritually confirmed to many other non-Mormon religious persons on the planet that 'their' particular beliefs are True, even though they conflict with yours'.

  • dtuttle AlpineUT ALPINE, UT
    Nov. 23, 2011 8:43 a.m.

    I've read a fair amount of Hitchens, including what is referenced here, and, as an ex-Mormon, non-theist agnostic (since I don't believe you can 'know' that God exist any more than you can 'know' that he doesn't) - I actually have to agree that his comments on Mormons do come across as, well, less than deeply and critically informed.

    However, the unfortunate flip side of the Hitchens accusations, is that Mormons are equally uninformed (generally, not definitively speaking) concerning matters 'not Mormon'.

    I live in Alpine, Utah which is an upscale community full of good Mormon folks whom I like and respect, with a higher education; doctors, lawyers and CEO's, etc. I've had conversations about science, religion and philosophy with many of them. With the exception of one person (the LDS author Gerald Lund who lives nearby and whom I've been talking to for a decade now), I always come away deeply disappointed, and a little shocked actually, by their lack of knowledge and narrow education.


  • stevo46 La Mesa, ca
    Nov. 22, 2011 3:50 p.m.

    He did the same hatchet job on Buddhism completely lacking in scholarship and intelligence. He has spent his life as a dilettante with few academic of philosophical credentials. Drinking a bottle of scotch a day and several packs of cigarettes a day he destroyed his health.

  • mArnold Lincoln, NE
    Nov. 19, 2011 6:31 p.m.

    You knock that strawman down, @eastcoastcoug baby.

    Let's not pretend that Stalin and Mao weren't treated as gods by the people in power under those regimes. You shouldn't be in the dictator business unless you've studied pope-ism. And czars and popes are, in the atheist view, equally contrived ideas as the notion of god. It's held by everyone these days that Zeus-ism, for example, was man made; atheists simply use their faculties of pattern recognition to their fullness.

    It may not be said that us atheists can prove our position absolutely. But you understand where our skepticism comes in?

    Also - let's just do away with the idea that we humans possess an infallibly moral vector towards power. "Power corrupts" may not be a phrase absolutely true, but stick it on your bottle of humility pills anyway. We need everyone's help in this endeavor.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Nov. 19, 2011 9:39 a.m.

    Many atheists claim the world's problems would go away without religion. Really?? I would like to see Hitchen's and other atheist's take on the Penn St. child abuse crisis since football and charities were the enabling organizations, not religion. Is there no crime in countries that have low religious participation?

    There have certainly been many in religious leadership who have abused power intentionally. Contrast that with the tens of millions who were slaughtered at the hands of godless Communism and Fascism in the last century. Add that to the slaughters of other megalomaniacs ie. Genghis Khan, who were not religious, over the centuries and the picture broadens to show it is just men abusing power who have killed, not religion itself.

    Christ taught to love and forgive one's enemies, that power comes from service rather than dominion. For my part, I see that kind of religion (visiting the widows and the fatherless, etc.) being practiced by LDS leaders, as well as many others of other faiths.

    I don't understand the anger of Hitchens and others of his ilk. Nor do I understand the acerbic posts here by people that have left the LDS Church. I hope they find peace.

  • Ricardo Garcia Brisbane, Australia, Qld
    Nov. 18, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    @ Jiggle (I wish you used your real name, instead of a painted face) you raise many issues of LDS church history and say "you don't hear people talking about it". I am sorry to say that if you came to our Sunday meetings or mid week institute classes ( they are free and open to anyone interested) you would have heard this topics discussed in depth, from youth to adult class. Church history, teaching of all presidents of the church, Old and New testaments, as well as studies on the Book of Mormon have always been part of Mormon life. You have the right to believe as you like but "please!" check your facts before you speak on other people's believes. It makes your remarks look childish and poorly researched.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 18, 2011 5:38 p.m.

    We do not believe the jailer was in on it because he would not have left his family in the jail to go through what they did. John Taylor suffered four wounds and should have died. Willard Richards was unharmed and basically saved the life of John Taylor. If Joseph killed two men as you suggest it is more likey they were killed by those with them than by Joseph considering the number of bullets fired from outside and downstairs. Also, he had to really be good to kill two with just two shots. No matter how you look at it, it was cold, premeditated murder for the mob to kill Joseph Smith. As John Taylor stated, "he lived great and he died great in the eyes of God and his people."

    He sealed with his own blood his testimony of the truths that he restored. In twenty years he established the Church of Jesus Christ on earth again, brought forth the Book of Mormon,sent missionaries to the four corners of the world, established communities, head of militia and mayor. As John Taylor said the best blood of the 19th century was spilt in Carthage.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 18, 2011 5:20 p.m.

    He then fell through the window to the ground below next to the well. He was shot four more times outside and Hyrum also received four shots while dead on the floor.

    As you state there were five that were tried and acquitted. That is the same mentallity that lived in the south for years in the killing of blacks. Very few whitemen were ever convicted of murder. From what you say Joseph Smith got justice and so did the blacks. Same mentality. Did you know that Governor Ford pledged that Smith and those with him would be protected by the state. You also failed to state that the charges for inciting a riot were dropped and once dropped, the treason charges were given to keep Joseph Smith in Carthage. Did you know that 10 men went with Joseph and Hyrum to Carthage as they were charged as well? After the inciting riot charge was dropped all but four were left in Carthage. The jailer left the jail moments before with him wife and family downstairs leaving the jail door open. Joseph and the others were in his bedroom because the jailer allowed them to be there.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 18, 2011 5:12 p.m.

    I am going to ask this question of Jiggle. Have you ever been to Carthage Jail. Have you actually seen the inside of that same Jail? From you comments obviously not. I have and yes Joseph had a weapon that was given to him on the day of the martydom. There were over 200 individuals that stormed the jail. What you don't know is that the jailer and his family lived in the jail. The jailers bedroom is on the second floor. You state that Joseph shot and killed two individuals before being shot himself. What you fail to state is that the door to the bedroom is to the right and down a small hall from the top of the stairs. A bullet from outside pierced the lock and the men inside, Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, John Taylor and Willard Richards tried to hold the mob back from the door. A bullet pierced the door killing Hyrum almost instantly. It was then that Joseph took his pistol and fired to shots at the opening of the door. He then ran towards the window where he was shot twice through the door and twice from below.

  • madmonq ATHENS, GA
    Nov. 18, 2011 10:16 a.m.

    Well no. You are incorrect. Hitchens was writing from the direction of a non-believer. Of a skeptic. You are a believer. Your comments are based on your faith not on the facts.

    The mormon texts are one of faith. Can you prove for a fact that angels visited Joe Smith and if they were in fact angels gave him gold plates from God? No you cannot. You simply believe it the way a child believes in Santa Claus. The argument is gold plated by your desire to want something out of it. About as genuine as any of this post as a counter to Hitchens's largely logical article.

  • jsbba SCOTTSDALE, AZ
    Nov. 18, 2011 7:12 a.m.

    Although I was not physically there I understand J. Smith had a pistol in jail with him and shot at his attackers before being killed.
    While I certainly don't blame Smith, this is hardly the action of a man going to be meekly "slaughtered" as the author suggests.
    Church "history" is often revisionist it seems.
    It seems church members, particularly those raised in the church, have trouble understanding how others would disparage or question their beliefs. Objectively however.......

    Nov. 18, 2011 6:11 a.m.

    And it came to pass...

    'Nuf said.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 6:24 p.m.


    Being "shunned" in the LDS world is a touchy subject. LDS will defend themselves by saying there is no such thing as shunning in Mormonism.

    But here is what happens. The culture of Mormonism links love and approval do tightly and directly to "righteousness" and "obedience" to parents and Church authority, that the message is subtle but clear: if you are unrighteous or disobedient, you will not be loved.

    In the cases of Mormons struggling with same-sex attraction, or drug addiction, or alcoholism, Mormon families will SAY they "love" their gay children, but they refuse to "support a sinful lifestyle". Often this includes kicking the "sinner" out of the house - but always as an act of "love" (or so they say)!

    In Mormonism, "love" is always conditional upon righteousness and obedience. Combined with the doctrines about ALL being "sinners" (nobody is perfect), everybody being "the natural man" who is "carnal, sensual, and devilish", Mormons generally have a profound sense of worthlessness and inadequacy, coupled with a powerful need to "earn" affection, love, and acceptance.

    As you may imagine, this makes for some very interesting family dynamics that, in many cases, can rightfully be characterized as "shunning".

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 1:55 p.m.


    You wont hear people talk about the militia he formed, or that he destroyed a printing press and burned down the building that it was in. You won't hear that he shot and killed two men with a gun he had smuggled into the jail. Destruction of the newspaper provoked a strident call to arms by Thomas Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal. Fearing an uprising, Smith mobilized the Nauvoo Legion and declared martial law. Carthage responded by mobilizing its small detachment of the state militia, and Illinois Governor Thomas Ford appeared, threatening to raise a larger militia unless Smith and the Nauvoo city council surrendered themselves. Smith initially fled across the Mississippi River, but shortly returned and surrendered to Ford. Smith and his brother Hyrum were taken to Carthage to stand trial for inciting a riot. Once the Smiths were in custody, the charges were increased to treason against Illinois. An armed group stormed Carthage Jail where Smith and Hyrum were--killing Hyrum instantly. Smith fired a smuggled pistol--then "sprang to the window" before being shot several times. Five men were tried for his murder, but all were acquitted. I don't believe he was a martyr.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    Nov. 17, 2011 1:05 p.m.

    I'm not real knowledgeable about Joseph Smith's death, but didn't he and/or someone with him fire shots. I heard that someone had snuck a gun into the jail for Joseph Smith and/or the others who were in jail with him. Is that true?

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    Nov. 17, 2011 12:59 p.m.

    I can only speak from what I have personally seen. Many LDS members who left the LDS Church were shunned by their families. I've seen it many times. I don't know how widespread this is, but with my personal friends who left - they were all shunned to some extent by their families and friends.

    This doesn't mean nobody ever spoke to them (although in some cases that is true). But they were really put through the wringer. I hope that is something that is changing.

  • jack fulcher DANVILLE, CA
    Nov. 17, 2011 12:05 p.m.

    This author is so vehement in his attack on Hitchens' book that he relies on his own characterizations of what Hitchens writes rather than provide actual quotes from the book. And Hitchens provides proof that Smith was a fraud - his conviction for just that in a court in 1826 (p. 161). This is not addressed or even mentioned by the author here. And Hitchens' main inquiry of this section, whether the preachers and prophets really believe in what they're selling, or do they simply "believe in belief," and its purported affects on the morale and overall health, physical and mental, of their congregations? This is the more interesting, and as Hitchens points out, open question. He suggests that Smith, who was happy to "claim supreme authority," get his followers to "make over their property to him," and "sleep with every available woman," (p. 166) was of the latter mind; this argument is strangely not touched in this article. If the author wishes to debate Hitchens on what he says in his book, he should at least discuss and quote what's written there. Jack Fulcher

  • Admiring Gentile Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 17, 2011 9:06 a.m.

    I never claimed that Mormon society was "impeccable." I'm well aware of the various problems beneath the "Happy Valley" surface, including high rates of depresssion, high suicide rates of gay children, etc. I do think the church hierarchy needs to reconsider the excessive demands it puts on its members.

    I'm also aware of the darker incidents in Mormon history. I'd be surprised if there hadn't been any, since we're all human.

    But I find Mormon *values* beautiful, and I see that beauty in the lives of so many "rank and file" Mormons all around me. I don't think that can be faked.

    I remember as a college student here being invited to Sunday dinner by my Mormon girlfriend's family. I never felt more at home in my life--and they didn't even do anything special. They just made me feel like I belonged. (And no, they never once tried to proselytise me.) I could only attribute it to Mormon values in action.

  • Edwin1234 West Jordan, Utah
    Nov. 16, 2011 10:31 a.m.

    Mr. Williams

    The Hitchens article is clearly a response to Mr. Jeffers referring to Mormonism as a cult. Mr. Hitchens does not claim that Mormonism is a cult in this article. Instead he lists mormon beliefs that he is uncomfortable with (the weird stuff) and a few items he believes to be wrong (the sinister stuff). He believes Romney's voluntary membership in this organization shouldn't be protected from criticism. In the article where did Mr. Hitchens lie? Please tell me one bishop who doesn't appreciate hefty donations. Mormons including Joseph Smith practiced polygammy. Mormons today believe in the principle of polygammy although they don't actively marry more than one living spouse. Mormons didn't allow blacks to hold the priesthood before 1978. Where is your outrage coming from? Everything that Hitchens refers to in the article is fact. He refrains from calling the Mormon church a cult and insists that Americans excercise their patriotic duty to think freely and question the beliefs of others. Just because it is special to you means it is special to him. If you demand reverence from him then you must give it freely to all. Unfounded outrage...weak article.

  • Kathleen Abrams SEATTLE, WA
    Nov. 16, 2011 1:27 a.m.

    "I used to be a fan of Christopher Hitchens, but now I need to speak up."
    This is untruthful. You shouldn't lie.

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 16, 2011 12:56 a.m.

    A great defense, Lane. Thank you for taking the trouble to write it.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Nov. 16, 2011 12:00 a.m.

    I would go further than Williams and say that Hitchens has probably never even begin reading the Book of Mormon. At least I have to say that to think he has any connection with the truth.

  • mArnold Lincoln, NE
    Nov. 15, 2011 7:07 p.m.

    I would encourage you to look up the phrase 'confirmation bias' and what it can mean. I would also encourage you to research how the recent claim of matter-faster-than-light has been followed up on by scientists. It's a bit of a downer for sci-fi fans.

    @Admiring Gentile
    Considering what's come out about depression rates among Mormon women, it would seem that the claim of an impeccable society generated by the LDS is a rather spurious one. Nor is it, I remind myself, a claim particular to Mormonism.

    I can take your comment as more than an ad hominem, as it also has the quality of being false. Hitchens has perhaps not gained so much from reprints of his Iraqi reports as much as he has in greater solidarity from the now-free Kurdish peoples. I've taken us off topic however, so I'll also admit that my contrary has valid criticisms of its own. May we digress no longer :)

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 15, 2011 5:57 p.m.

    Religion. Let no criticism go unanswered.

  • JediToby Tooele, UT
    Nov. 15, 2011 4:28 p.m.

    As a regular commentor on Slate, I'm surprised this is so late. This discussion has been over and done with for, as pointed out, a couple of weeks now.

    That said, no one likes to hear their beliefs ridiculed, nor the history of their church reviled. Nevertheless, Hitchens's claims (and resulting discussion) did pique my interest into some historical questions that ultimately led to my viewing early Utah history quite differently. It does not shake my testimony nor change my faith in God, and in this regard, I think Hitchens and his ilk perform the valuable service of trial by fire. Latter-Day Saints should not be afraid of scrutiny nor science. The faith embraces truth wherever and whatever it may be and is not afraid of defending that truth.

    Was Hitchens sloppy? Yes, but no more so than anyone else who is just parroting other's words. He hasn't studied the Book of Mormon. He hasn't attended church services. He has no firsthand knowledge of the matter. What else can be expected from him?

  • cabinfever14 HURRICANE, UT
    Nov. 15, 2011 3:41 p.m.

    Excellent article. The bulk of those that make off the cuff comments or perceived intellectual statements about mormons haven't read or studied a scrap of LDS doctrine. I challenge anyone who thinks we are a cult or who has been told we are a cult to spend a day in the life of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints before making any type of conclusions.At least pick up the Book of Mormon and draw your own conclusions only after studying it's pages. Like many, you will find that we are oceans away from anything remotely resembling a cult.

  • Ricardo Garcia Brisbane, Australia, Qld
    Nov. 15, 2011 2:15 p.m.

    Thanks Lane for your well balanced and truthful take on this subject.

  • friedeggonAZstreets Glendale, AZ
    Nov. 15, 2011 12:09 p.m.

    Thank you for this article. I am guilty of getting upset over the word 'cult' and it's almost laughable because before I joined I used the same word to describe The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS. I would like to thank you for your thoughtful and insightful article. I learned something regarding the use of 'cult' with your example of how he died. I never had thought about how he did not call others to shield him, but turned himself in. How different Bro. Joseph was than Jim Jones and David K! Clearly, we are not members of a cult. I am going to use this example in the future when I hear our faith called a 'cult' and try to follow your example of not getting mad about it. Thank you again.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2011 11:49 a.m.

    Mr. Hitchens was bitterly anti-USA for decades over the Vietnam War and then for money and fame supported the Iraq invasion in 2003; some writers go against the grain in order to make money.

  • Admiring Gentile Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 15, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    I don't have a "testimony" regarding the truth of Mormonism and I doubt I ever will. But that doesn't stop me from enjoying the Mormon energy which permeates the state I've chosen to live in: kindness, civility, compassion, high standards of behavior, respect for, and welcoming of, people who believe differently.

    It's a shame that Mr. Hitchens, in his one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to religions, hasn't gone deeper into what Mormonism gives to its adherents, and what, in turn, its adherents give to the world.

    The danger of being a media figure, as Mr. Hitchens is, is that you can easily fall into thinking in sound bites. "Mormon" makes a very good sound bite these days. But that doesn't come close to understanding what makes Mormonism so valuable to so many people.

    It's like taking a bite of a dish at a buffet, making a quick judgment, then moving on to the next dish. That's a great way to not get much nourishment at all. Despite his girth, Mr. Hitchens doesn't look to me like someone who's particularly well-fed.

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    Nov. 15, 2011 11:18 a.m.

    Joseph Smiths publications stand the test of time and science.
    Recently, science has accepted the theory that there is matter that can travel faster than the speed of light. I was indoctrinated from science classes that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Science has a long way to go before it can catch up to the light (intelligence) revealed to an uneducated 14 year old farm boy from up-state New York.

  • Meg Stout ANNANDALE, VA
    Nov. 15, 2011 11:16 a.m.

    Mr. Hitchens, by this report, appears to be intellectually lazy. But he could have delved deeper and still come away with a principled argument that Mormons are weird.

    I'm in Japan at the moment. An American at breakfast was rolling their eyes about how weird the Japanese are, to eat fish and miso soup for breakfast.

    We Mormons are other than most Christian religions, than other religions. We believe in a prophet who translated God's word in a way no other religious (or non-religious) tradition has in their portfolio of "normal."

    Then there was Joseph's reluctant and tortured history with polygamy. I find it instructive that Joseph only appears to have acted on the 1831 revelation to institute polygamy after his dying father "blessed" him in 1841 that Joseph would not die until he had accomplished "all that had been ordained." We all know he taught polygamy. But Emma Smith and lack of any DNA offspring indicate Joseph, himself, never partook, ceremonial marriages notwithstanding.

    Either of these is at least as weird as sardines for breakfast, to those who are not, themselves, Mormon.

    I embrace the weird label. Let it be for factual reasons in civil debate.

  • slimothy NEW YORK, NY
    Nov. 15, 2011 11:10 a.m.


    This is one of my favorite quotations, and agrees with the point you were making...

    "If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are sub-consciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do." - Bertrand Russell

  • LetsBeRational Spanish Fork, UT
    Nov. 15, 2011 10:18 a.m.

    I totally agree about the civility of this discussion. Thanks to all who have responded. I get so tired of people bashing each other on discussion boards. It appears that those who have commented thus far know why they agree or disagree with the authors or another commenters opinion, and therefore they have stated their case with logic. I suspect, that too often people don't know why they agree or disagree, so so they resort to name calling.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Nov. 15, 2011 10:16 a.m.

    There are very legitimate issues that the church can be challenged on and too many members are overly sensitive about anything that may even remotely resemble a critique. However, I cringe at the vitriolic tone some critics certainly draws attention away from legitimate concerns and make a critic like Hitchen's appear to be an angry, thoughtless recalcitrant.

  • slimothy NEW YORK, NY
    Nov. 14, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    @J-TX - Yes, that's my point exactly. My best friend in the world is devoutly religious and we go back and forth about it all the time. But we love each other like brothers. I've always felt that if we could somehow swap belief (or lack thereof) systems we'd end up being the exact same people.

    Btw, this has got to be the most good-natured discussion board on the entire internet. lol It's such a treat to encounter actual civility and thoughtfulness.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Nov. 14, 2011 9:37 p.m.

    The best comment I ever heard of Rushdie was from Dan Peterson. He admitted to buying Rushdie's book because of death threats against him, and then pointed out that Rushdie's book was just downright horrible on multiple levels.

    Some provocations are just not worth doing. This is more so because they are often done in poor and meaningless ways.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Nov. 14, 2011 6:42 p.m.

    slimothy | 3:11 p.m. Nov. 14, 2011

    I think you did a very good job of not taking a militant tone. As a devout LDS, I assure you that I have good Atheist friends, very good Agnostic friends, and friends of many different religions. I like them all. We joke good-naturedly about each others' positions while we watch our kids play in the band, or as we play basketball, or whatever.

  • donn layton, UT
    Nov. 14, 2011 6:01 p.m.

    Re: BalancedFulfilledLife, JS has directed its restoration to the earth through the prophet J S. Through an unbroken chain of priesthood authority since its restoration.
    According to Joseph Smith. it is false to believe that God literally dwells in the believers heart. JS wrote the idea that the Father and Son dwell in mans heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false (D&C 130:3).

    I in them and you in meso that they may be brought to complete unity(John 17:23).
    if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9) . And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness Romans( 8:10)
    I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: ..( Galatians 2:20)

  • mArnold Lincoln, NE
    Nov. 14, 2011 5:55 p.m.

    It's interesting to me that the writer of this rebuttal has taken a firm, resolute tone. To the extent that he is interested in critical thought, he may wish to google "witnesses to mormon plates" and read what comes up (I'll not anger the mods by placing a link here). His response to this will be rather routine and not nearly as interesting as the psychology behind an earnest, unabated apologist.

    So, please, don't fully read the arguments against your position. You'll spoil it. We Americans are rather lucky to have such a minority as the Mormons. Consider other parts of the world who house sects that are louder and more flammable, and rely on stories that can't be refuted by newspaper archives, prehistoric as they are.

    I have a suspicion that the writer is merely joshing us, having ignored the posh tone of Hitchens, and included some innocent errors of his own. Maybe he's actually a good guy to have a beer with - or a club soda anyways.

  • slimothy NEW YORK, NY
    Nov. 14, 2011 3:11 p.m.

    It's not easy for an atheist (like myself) to avoid taking a militant tone in the US these days considering the assault on public life being mounted by the forces of religion ("intelligent design" etc...). I think it's worth the effort to do so though. I would reject any notion that there is a god, Jesus was his son (if he ever existed), or that Joseph Smith was anything but an opportunist. I would also say just as strongly that I've never met a Mormon that I didn't like almost instantly, and love Salt Lake City! That has to count for something. At the end of the day the vast majority of us are thoroughly decent people regardless of the road that we took to get there.

  • mightymite DRAPER, UT
    Nov. 14, 2011 1:32 p.m.

    I agree with Hitchens. Very well siad Mr. Hitchens!

  • johnnylingo62 Gray, TN
    Nov. 14, 2011 11:58 a.m.

    We are taught not to be "contentious" when people bash our religion, but this does not mean we don't point out incorrect information in other's arguments. This was a well thought out article to set the record straight on Hitchen's false claims.
    Opinion is not as easily defensible, but it is important, as Paul did, to aright incorrect statements concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ and his church. In the end, only a personal testimony of the positive nature of the gospel can overcome disbelief and soften others to conduct their own search for happiness.

  • Grandmatk Cedar Hills, UT
    Nov. 14, 2011 9:45 a.m.

    Thank you for your post, the prejudice of Hitchens's statements need to be addressed and you did it with greater care, kindness and wisdom then was exemplified by him. I do hope more people will see your response.

    Nov. 14, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    Thank you for a well thought out and reasonable response, without vitriol or ad hominem attacks. It is amazing how much headway you can make with religious or anti-religious extremists by just simply smiling and calmly brining up the flaws in their argument.

  • abejones SCOTT DEPOT, WV
    Nov. 14, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    Not all well placed intellectuals are athiests NOR anti-mormon. The Dean of Humanities at Yale, author of many books, called Joseph Smith a genius. Now, I believe I know what he means. It may bother "all is by revelation" people. They should remind themselves of "the glory of God is intelligence" The Dean of Harvard's School of Religious Studies described LDS temples as entirely Biblical and Devout.Except for individuals whose theologic positions cause them to view Mormonism as a rival and a threat, attacks against it are usually from people attcking religion and the nature of religion itself.My visiting missionaries once told me of a man who kept asking them "where are the golden plates?" I told them to tell him they were in the same place as the Ten Commandments tablets. They reported that he paused, actually blushed, then said all religions were nutty. Mark Twain said as much when using the phrase" in the broad daylight of the 19th century" i.e. you can't get away with religion in this day and age.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    Nov. 14, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    A very good article and I too have liked and admired Mr. Hitchens and much of his political insight. I think his vitriolic anti-religion tirades are the product of some deep seeded feelings from past experiences. What they are, who knows. In any case, it is obvious that religion and reason don't mix in Mr. Hitchens world. His testimony that there is no god and religion is just a myth, is just as strong as the testimony of Joseph Smith, or any latter day prophet, that indeed Jesus Christ lives, and He leads a Church. The powerful testimonies of Apostles and Prophets come from men of great character and honesty. Not men who get rich from the church. Many people, as the author stated, have sacrificed career and money for church service. I'll take my chances with people who have that kind of testimony rather than the "prove a negative" testimony of Mr. Hitchens.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    Nov. 14, 2011 8:00 a.m.

    One more comment that could have been made in this article is that whenever writers or spokespersons such as Hitchens make their outlandish and shallow comments about the Church, they create more interest and more people actually begin to investigate it and even choose to be baptized.

    We cringe when we read the things uniformed people write and say, just like that pastor in Texas when he was trying to drum up support for Rick Perry.

    But in the end, it backfires, and so badly did it backfire in Perry's case that he almost immediately fell to the status of also-rans among presidential candidates, while the pastor actually incited many comments contrary to his outlandish rhetoric from notable people who are not members of the Church who wrote in defense of it and its members.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    Nov. 14, 2011 7:49 a.m.

    Well said, and without "bashing". We all need to stand up for the truth, which need not involve contention.