Have you noticed the Mormon reaction to the Tony-winning Broadway musical The Book of Mormon? Probably not. There wasn't much of one.
Mormons haven't tried to defend themselves by claiming that it got things wrong. And that is because it didn't. Mormons believe what The Book of Mormon claims they do.
Take the song, I Believe, for example. Here are some of the lyrics.
- I believe that ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America.
- I believe that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people.
Here is what God said in 1949 through the First Presidency under George Albert Smith:
The attitude of the Church with reference to the Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the Priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: "Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to."
And here is what God said after changing his mind in 1978:
He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the church may receive the Holy Priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that follows there from, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.
- I believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob.
You can read all about it in chapter 3 of the Book of Abraham.
- And I believe that the garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri.
This one is less clear to me, but there's no doubt about it among Mormons.
Here is the secret code left by Joseph Smith identifying Independence, Missouri in Jackson County as the original Garden of Eden. (Mormons believe "the center place" to be the Garden of Eden. You'll just have to trust them on that.)
Hearken, O ye elders of my church, sayeth the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of saints.
Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
Thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; a a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the court-house. -- Doctrine and Covenants 57:1-3
That is a fair summary of entire Book of Mormon. Ancient Jews sailed to America and separated into two groups: one "fair and delightsome" to God, the other evil and dark-skinned. (God darkened their skin to punish them for their disbelief and to discourage intermarriage with the white folk.) The dark-skinned Jews killed off all their white relatives and thereby became the ancestors of today's Native Americans.
Richard Bushman, the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, claims that "The Book of Mormon is like looking into a fun-house mirror; the reflection is hilarious but not really you."
But it is you, Dr. Bushman. It is you, and all Mormons like you, that believe the things you believe. You may not recognize yourself, since you've never looked at your beliefs in a flat mirror before. But your beliefs are bat-shit crazy, as anyone viewing them from the outside knows immediately.
And you seem to understand it, too, when you say this about The Book of Mormon:
I suppose it seems obvious to many people that a moment’s reflection about personal planets, Kolob, and the Garden of Eden in Missouri will plant doubts. Any rational person in the modern world who thinks about such outlandish ideas for one second will see they are preposterous. Mormons can’t think about their faith; they must “just believe.”
I agree with you here. It is obvious to any rational person after a moment's reflection that Mormon beliefs about personal planets, Kolob, the Missouri Garden of Eden are preposterous. Mormons can't think rationally about their faith; they must just believe.
And as long as they just believe, we will just laugh at them.
If Mormons don't like people laughing at them for believing stupid things, they should stop believing stupid things.