What's Wrong With Mormonism?

My comment on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism last Tuesday sparked some controversy over Facebook. To clear up my meaning, and tell my overall view of Mormonism, I decided to repost my response on Facebook as a blog post.

First off, I should say that I don't consider myself an expert on Mormonism...or Christianity in general for that matter. I also know that there is a lot of diversity within different religions, even within different denominations of Christianity, so what is written here may or may not be what all Mormons belive. What follows is some of the basics of Mormonism that I've gathered from research I've done on this subject. (www.mormon.org was where I did a lot of my reading.)

Mormons aren't exactly not Christian...but they aren't exactly Christian either. Saying I don't want to vote for a Mormon isn’t the same as saying that, say, I won't vote for a Protestant or a Calvinist. Mormons believe in Jesus Christ like Christians do, and that's good. It's just some smaller, wonky things that aren't necessarily bad, but don't have any Biblical basis (as far as I know) that put me on edge. (They have the Book of Mormon basis, of course, but still...)

For example, that the Fall wasn't all bad. That without experiencing pain and loss we couldn't experience joy. (So disobeying God was good? Or sin and disobedience is worth it because it has good consequences? Huh?)

We were once all spirit children, but we don't remember it. And we will become spirit children after we die, married to spirit spouses and have more spirit children. I'm a little confused about this one. We were spirit children, and we needed to go to Earth to be able to experience our spirit life better. Why then are we having more spirit children? Will they need to go to Earth too? Is it an ongoing cycle?

And then, the Biggie: That we will all be happy in the afterlife. Yes. Everybody. First when you die, you go to a kind of school-heaven where, if you didn't get the chance before, you learn about God. Then you make your decision. To quote "Scott" from
www.mormon.org, "Life isn't a pass or fail test...it's more like an A, B, C, test."

Basically, if you know and love God and obeyed his commandments, you get to go live with Him and all is happiness. If you were a good person but didn't know God, you don't get to live with Him, but you live with other people like yourself and all is happiness. If you choose to follow Satan after Heaven-school, you get to go live with Satan and with everybody else who chose to do so. And all is happiness.

Basically, God is too loving to punish anybody. This is a nice idea, but it isn't true. The Bible says God is a loving but Just God. Being a "good person" isn't good enough. Only knowing Christ is what "gets" you into Heaven. Saying nobody will be unhappy degrades God. It's saying that He isn't the only way to live a happy fulfilling life and afterlife. He said something else, and you can't disregard that. There IS a Hell, and people WILL go there. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life" (Matthew 7:14). Does God relish that idea? No, of course not. He does love us, and he does want everyone to know Him and live with Him and live forever joyfully...but that simply can't happen. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). The Mormon faith makes things all happiness and butterflies. Their ideas, in general, aren't evil or anything. They just aren't true.

Once again, I'd like to emphasize that I wouldn't support or not support Romney based on his faith. I would simply rather support somebody whose beliefs are closer to my own, because they would be much more likely to run the country like I would like it to be run. I would also like to say that I do believe that Mormons (and Catholics and Calvinists and all the rest) CAN really and truly love God, and therefore we should support them. But as a general rule, if the person in question hasn't proved that he or she does love God, I'll be wary of them - especially if their faith is different from mine.

Mitt Romney

Summed up in one sentence, Mr. Romney makes me nervous. I’ve always felt a little uneasy about him, though I can’t pinpoint why.
The Susan B. Anthony List recently released a pledge for the 2012 Presidential "hopefuls" to sign stating pro-life measures, such as de-funding health centers that are involved with abortion, and appointing pro-life people to the appropriate positions. Mr. Romney wouldn’t sign this. (To be fair, Herman Cain and Gary Johnson wouldn't either.) I guess I can understand what he means in his explanation [paragraph 2 and 4], but it isn’t enough. So Mr. Romney doesn’t want Planned Parenthood (PP) de-funded? Or does he? I’m confused now. The only reason the pro-life movement is going after PP specifically is because it’s the biggest abortion provider in the US. If we could de-fund all abortion clinics, so much the better. So why is he uneasy about that? It also seems very strange that he practically repeated the PP argument against de-funding: that women will lose access to vital health services. Hmmm.
He also thinks that appointing only pro-life appointees to relevant federal positions would "strictly limit his choices" [paragraph 4]. Why? Does he intend to not appoint pro-life people? Who else then, except pro-abortion?
Besides this statement, Mr. Romney is still a little dangerous because of his past strong support for abortion and his slowness to take up the “De-fund PP!” battle cry. Never trust a politician who switches his views. Never. Even if it’s for the better. Because we have absolutely no way of knowing if that is what they really mean or not. I hate politicians who flip-flop. If he becomes pro-life and stays pro-life and consistently does dangerous things (politically) for life, then I might consider actually believing him. I have a rule about whether to believe flip-flopping politicians or not: are they going to gain anything from suddenly stating such-and-such? And if they do, do the risks they take outweigh that statement? Do they hover in the background or do they shout from the rooftops, even when the shouting is unpopular?
Enough about the pro-life issue. Here is the rest of my analysis:
Mr. Romney’s saying all the same things everybody else is. He’ll replace Obamacare, he’ll create jobs, he’ll stop the out-of-control spending. I got bored reading his website simply because it was all the same things I’d heard before.
One thing I just recently found out (so is not the reason he makes me nervous) is that Mr. Romney is a Mormon. I don't think he's evil or anything, and it may have absolutely no impact on how he does as President, but that's another thing to add onto my why-Romney-makes-me-nervous list.

Myths of Planned Parenthood

I’m sure most of the country has noticed at least a little bit of the hype surrounding Planned Parenthood (PP). I posted about them a little over a week ago about threats from the federal level towards a state that de-funded their PP.

Why should PP be de-funded? There are two main reasons. PP has cheated on the government multiple times, over-charging it for mislabeled services in order to get more money. As some undercover videos have shown, they also are willing to aid and abet sex traffickers and men taking advantage of underage girls, instead of reporting it like they’re supposed to. It doesn’t make sense for us to fund a company that breaks laws. The second reason is that they perform abortions. They’re the largest abortion provider in the US. PP has created several “reasons” why de-funding them is ludicrous. (I have yet to hear PP addressing the monetary fraud issue.)
Myth #1: “Only 3% of our business is abortions.”
PP has created its own twisted way to count their services that would be viewed as completely ridiculous if another business did it. An excellent article from Live Action gave an example of this. Paraphrasing, there is a company that makes airplanes, but also makes spare parts for airplanes, some of those parts costing as little as $0.25. Selling airplanes is the company’s main business, profit-wise. About 99% of their business is airplanes, and 1% is all the spare parts. This is how the normal business world operates. However, this company sells many more little parts than airplanes. So, PP style, 99% of their business is little spare parts, and 1% is selling airplanes. One spare part = one airplane, which, frankly, is ridiculous. Their business doesn’t revolve around spare parts. It revolves around airplanes.
So in PP, one box of contraceptive pills = one abortion, which is also ridiculous. Looking at it profit-wise from PP’s own report (I’m aware this report is an old one, my apologies, the new one doesn’t include profits, but the percentages are roughly the same), abortion is actually 36% of their business. This is a far cry from 3%.
Myth #2: “None of the taxpayer/government money is used for abortions.”
This argument has never made sense to me. Glenn Beck gave a good example of this strange way of thinking. Again paraphrasing, let’s say there’s a business that does torture. Naturally, nobody likes torture. “Don’t worry!” the business says, “We won’t use your money to fund the actual torture.” Okay, great. Instead your money goes to pay for the lighting, the floors, the cleaning supplies, the exam tables. Now, are you helping fund torture or not? PP will simply use your money instead of their own money to pay for less massive things, and use their own money, which you saved them, to pay for the abortions. It’s all the same thing.
Myth #3: “Women will lose life-saving services if you de-fund us.”
For the most part, this is not true. The money that used to go to PP will instead to go other charitable health clinics…that don’t perform abortions. In Indiana, Governor Daniels said during the time that they de-funded PP, “[I have] commissioned a careful review of access to services across the state and can confirm that all non-abortion services, whether family planning or basic women’s health, will remain readily available in every one of our 92 counties. In addition, I have ordered the Family and Social Services Administration to see that Medicaid recipients receive prompt notice of nearby care options. We will take any actions necessary to ensure that vital medical care is, if anything, more widely available than before.”
Myth #4: “Our goal is to make abortion rare.”
Okay, all the blood-money-hungry suspicions aside, let’s look at this in terms of numbers. Overall, the number of abortions nationally have been declining. This is good, but is it because of PP?
It makes sense that PP’s customers that come for other things would also come to PP for abortions, right? So the number of PP’s customers wanting abortions should be declining, right?
That number is rising.

2011 Pro-Life Laws of Kansas

(Yes, I did watch the Republican Presidential debate last night. (Most of it, anyway; I missed the first part.) I didn’t find anything particularly striking about it, and all the candidates seem decent. I’m not posting about it because I think it’s too early in the race to tell anything.)
Kansans for Life sent out a summary of all the pro-life legislation passed this year. I thought it very nice and handy, so I’ll copy and paste it here. But first, a short version, if you don’t want to read the whole thing:
·        Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act/House Bill 2218
o   Abortions banned after 22 weeks gestation based on the pain capability of the fetus. (Exception to save mother’s life.)
·        Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Act/House Bill 2035
o   Tightens reporting regulations of abortions, like all other medical procedures. (Yeah, no-brainer. Have to wonder why it wasn’t done before.)
o   Tightens parental consent laws – both parents, and getting a judicial bypass is harder.
o   Wording is changed from “fetus” to “unborn child” and the fact that “abortion will terminate a separate, whole, unique, living human being” is added to informed-consent materials distributed by the State.
·        Abortion Facility Licensure/ House substitute for Senate Bill 36
o   Lots of little details that overall makes the clinics safer: more inspections of the clinics, abortiosn have to “be performed by a state-licensed physician with local hospital privileges”. (You know, all the things that normal clinics and hospitals have always needed to do. Yes, another no-brainer.)
·        Health Insurance without Abortion/ House Bill 2075
o   What it says. Health Insurance won’t automatically cover abortions, except for cases that involve the life of the mother.
·        State Budget Provisions
o   Planned Parenthood loses a lot of funding, money goes to non-abortion health care clinics.
2011 Pro-Life Laws Passed in Kansas
Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act/ House Bill 2218 
  • Due to the medical evidence of the pain capability of the unborn (not viability) abortions are now banned after 22 weeks LMP/ gestation (20 weeks post-conception) except if needed to authentically save the mother’s life.
Abortion Reporting Accuracy & Parental Rights Act/ House Bill 2035 
  • Abortion and elective abortion are newly defined, consistent with all other 2011 abortion laws.
  • Each report to state health department of abortion after 22 weeks LMP/gestation (which should be extremely rare under HB 2218) must include a medical diagnosis and a referring physician’s affidavit of independence.
  • 1998 state partial birth abortion law is replaced with the stronger federal language upheld by U.S. Supreme Court in 2007, which does not allow for mental health exception.
  • The consent of both parents (with exceptions) replaces current 1-parent notice required for abortion of minor.
  • The judge issuing a “bypass” (waiver of parental consent) is now required to report suspected child abuse and may order a professional evaluation of the minor.
  • Abortion laws are worded with “unborn child” instead of “fetus,” consistent with the 2007 unborn victim protection law that defines the unborn child at any stage as a member of the species homo sapiens.
  • The medical fact that “abortion will terminate a separate, whole, unique, living human being” is added to the informed consent materials distributed by state health department. 
  • The aborted woman / girl and her family now have improved standing to sue for illegal late-term abortions.
Abortion Facility Licensure/ House substitute for Senate Bill 36
  • Physician medical offices, surgical centers and hospitals doing elective abortions must be licensed by completing annual state health department inspection with an additional unannounced inspection that year.
  • No abortion after 22 weeks LMP/gestation may take place in a physician’s office, even if licensed.
  • Standards are adopted for abortion facility personnel, equipment, emergency access, and prompt reporting of accidents and deaths; the state health department may take actions for an emergency closure for violations.
  • Every abortion must be performed by a state-licensed physician with local hospital privileges.
  • Abortion pills cannot be administered via ‘webcam’-- the physician must be in same room with the woman.
  • Formerly-optional ultrasound use at abortion facility is now mandated, to be administered by the physician or specifically-trained staff, and – in addition to the woman’s current right (at least 30 minutes before abortion) to view the image, and receive a hard copy --  she can now ask that the physician review the results with her.
Health Insurance without Abortion/ House Bill 2075
  • Private health insurance plans will no longer include coverage for abortion (except to prevent the death of the mother) except through individually-purchased riders.
  • As allowed under Obamacare, future state health ‘exchanges’ (plans) set to begin in 2014 will not cover abortion except to prevent the death of the mother.
State Budget Provisions
  • $339,000 in grant-matched funds are restored to the ‘Stan Clark Fund’ for pregnancy assistance and adoption counseling.
  • Title X federal money for 'reproductive-related' services will only go to public health clinics, and those qualified hospitals and clinics offering full service primary and preventative care-- thus, due to limited ‘services,’ Planned Parenthood will lose tax-payer funding of $300,000 or more.

Rick Santorum

I listened to Rush Limbaugh interviewing Rick Santorum a few days ago while I was painting the kitchen. I liked what I heard, so when I finished painting, I Googled Mr. Santorum to find out more about this presidential candidate. I found his website, and, out of curiosity, I took a look at another Google result that was titled “Rick Santorum’s 12 Most Offensive Statements”. I read through them all, and at the end, thought happily, “I think I like this guy!”
In my book, offensive=politically incorrect=good. Most of his comments I didn’t find offensive, just true, and many of them made me think that the “other side” was just trying to twist something he said into something that was offensive. Even if some of his views were offensive (nobody’s perfect), at least he doesn’t hide his true beliefs and is brutally honest.
Anyway, I’ve been researching Mr. Santorum, both from positive and negative sources, and I’ll “break him down” for you here.

He served as the Pennsylvania U.S. Rep in 1990, and then in the U.S. Senate from 1995-2007. This despite his being a Conservative in a usually blue state. In twice of his four winning races (he lost one) he won running against an incumbent Democrat.

Overall, Mr. Santorum seems to have no qualms saying exactly what he thinks, despite how unpopular it might be, which is why I’m impressed with him. He has a 0% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, meaning he has a very pro-life voting record. He’s against Obamacare and wants to change Medicare, but I’m afraid I can’t get more specific than that, because I’m still trying to figure out exactly how it (Obamacare and Medicare and health care in general) works. However, all you smart people can watch his interview on Fox  to hear him explaining his stance on it. He proudly declares that he calls “The War on Terror” “The War on Radical Islam” instead, because that’s what it is. He’s very unpopular with pro-gay people because he’s very loud about his opinion that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Another fun little “plus” about him is that he has seven children, and I believe he homeschools at least some of them.
Mr. Santorum gets a lot of negative media, and considering that the media tends to be left-leaning, and he’s a Conservative, that may very well be a good thing. I may end up supporting Mr. Santorum, but I really wish Sarah Palin would let us know if she was running or not first…

The Core Issue: When Does Life Begin?

It doesn’t matter what argument pro-abortioners have, it doesn’t matter what answer pro-lifers have. Whatever the specific debate, whatever the good reasons for either side, it all comes down to one, central question.
When does life begin?
Or, perhaps to be more specific, when does life begin to matter? I have heard people say “from conception”, and I have also heard people say “when the fetus breaths air for the first time”.
But to start with the basics, we do need to address when human life begins, period. So, here follows a crash course on human reproduction.
"The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote." -- [Sadler, T.W. Langman's Medical Embryology. 7th edition]
Every person has their own, unique chromosomes. Forty-six of them, to be exact. The zygote is the earliest form of a new human there is – created in the sperm fertilizes the egg. The sperm has twenty-three chromosomes. The egg has twenty-three. Put them together, twenty-three plus twenty-three equals forty-six. Brand new genes, brand new person. These chromosomes, from the instant they are joined, specifies everything from gender to hair color to height. Everything is “decided” about the new human that isn’t affected by environment he is born into. This person’s genes are now completely different from that of his or her mother and father. (Notice that this renders the pro-abortion “a woman can do whatever she wants with her body” argument irrelevant.)
That’s the technical, scientific explanation for when a new human life begins. There is no debate over this.
Things get stickier when you actually need to decide when life begins to matter. When does killing a growing human change to murder? Or is it always murder? Does the morality change at all?
When does the zygote/embryo/fetus actually become a person? Opinions I have heard follow:

    1.   When the first brain waves are recorded. (There is debate over this. There’s debate over virtually every aspect about the timing of development of the fetus.)
    2.   When the heart begins to beat. (Obviously a functioning body now.)
    3.   When the fetus can feel pain. (Again, a lot of debate, and, if I may say so, a lot of lies.)
    4.   When the fetus develops bones.
 5.   When the baby is viable (can survive on its own outside the mother’s body). (Totally irrelevant for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that this relies on science, suggesting that the baby will achieve personhood earlier and earlier as science progresses.)
 6.   When the baby breathes. (I do not get this one. How does this mean personhood?)
 7.   When the umbilical cord is cut. (I don’t get this one either.)
8.   From conception.
Okay, are you ready for this? I could go into detailed analysis of each of these, and perhaps I will someday, but right now I won’t. Instead I dare suggest something else: it doesn’t matter. Yes, you read that right. It doesn’t matter when the baby becomes a person. Why? Though  evidence points overwhelmingly in favor of the baby, let's assume that, scientifically, we can't know when the baby becomes a person. Science proves nothing. Nobody can remmber being in the uterus.
Let’s say you’re out hunting behind your house. You had to be sneaky and clever and quick to make sure you got out without your little brother tagging along – you want to actually catch something this time. You hear rustling behind you and you turn around, aiming the gun. Now, it could be a rabbit in the underbrush. Or it could be your little brother. Do you not shoot, and risk the inconvenience of needing to hunt longer, or do you shoot and risk killing your brother?
Not a perfect analogy, but I hope you get my point. If there’s a possibility of a real, precious, human growing inside of a woman, hadn’t we better play it safe? Isn’t it better to risk nine months of inconvenience and then sorrow over adoption or money troubles because of another child, as opposed to the alternative: that you were responsible for the murder of an innocent child?
I don’t want to downplay the difficulties, hardships, and heartbreak that men and women and families go through because of unplanned pregnancies. But I don’t want to downplay the significance of thousands upon thousands of people unwittingly playing a hand in infanticide either.
Question for you: when do you believe life begins to matter? Why?
Note: Pictures taken from WebMD. No copyright infringement intended.

How to Destroy Your Own Cause: Planned Parenthood and the Obama Administration

After the failed attempt to de-fund Planned Parenthood (PP) nationally in Congress, Indiana made history last May by passing a bill that prevents health care centers that perform abortions from receiving state taxpayer funds. (As of today, Kansas and Texas have done the same.)

PP is a self-described “reproductive health care”* center that performs roughly 25%** of all abortions in the USA. Understandably, PP and its supporters don’t take kindly to even remotely pro-life legislation, and this bill was no exception.

One of PP’s strongest supporters is the Obama Administration. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but what did surprise me is how the Obama Administration reacted to this bill. One of PP’s most cited arguments against being de-funded is that minorities and the poor will lose access to vital, life-saving health care. Assuming they really believe this, you would think PP would protest what the Obama Administration did to attack this bill. After claiming that states don’t have the right to restrict Medicaid on a state level, the Obama Administration is now threatening to cut billions of dollars of Medicaid funding specifically for low income people in Indiana if Indiana doesn’t revoke the bill.

Now, how much sense does this make? PP shouldn’t be de-funded because it helps minorities and poor people, therefore we should cut billions of dollars of funding that helps minorities and poor people? Huh? I can only assume that the Obama Administration is hoping to be able to pin the blame on Indiana, like the childish quip, “I TOLD you I would hit you if you didn’t give me my toy! It’s your own fault! Nyah nyah nyah!” (Never mind that the toy may actually be Indiana’s in the first place.)

I can post in more detail later about the controversy surrounding de-funding PP and PP itself, but this struck me as so outrageously absurd and contradictory to the supposed beliefs of PP and its supporters that I thought it merited a short post all of its own.

*From the Planned Parenthood website.
**For some reason I couldn’t find an abortion estimation in the USA past 2008, so I calculated using what seems about the average, 1.2 million, and Planned Parenthood’s fact sheet from 2010 (page 2).