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Judging by Fruits

One of the principles from the Bible I agree with is that religions and religious leaders ought to be judged by the fruits they produce.  When judging a religion, I think it a useful exercise to ask the question: "What would life be like if this religion had control of society, if it could institute laws in accordance with its teachings?"  Asking this question while I was at BYU law school was perhaps the beginning of my journey out of Mormonism.  BYU is not governed according to the secular principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.  Rather, it is governed by ecclesiastical leaders in accordance with the principles of the religion as they interpret them.  Life under the BYU "honor code" provides a glimpse into what life would be like if the LDS church ever became powerful enough to shape the laws of the land.  To me, it's a frightful thought.  The way the LDS church behaves when in total control, unencumbered by secular or ecumenical influences, is truly Orwellian.

Similarly, if we want to know the true fruits of Islam, it is instructive to look at places in the world where Islamic law governs, unfettered by the influence of non-Muslim viewpoints.  Islam may appear harmless when Muslims live as religious minorities in a place like the United States, where religious pluralism is woven into the cultural and historical fabric of the nation and also expressly protected by the Constitution. But what about when Islam is subject to no social constraints, where the Qur'an and the Hadith are the basis of not jut religious but civil law? What fruits are produced when the religion governs all aspects of life?  For a glimpse of what life is like under such circumstances, watch this video:



Great points, IMHO. I went to BYU right after high school. I found the atmosphere to be both stifling and insulting. I felt like they were bending over backwards to try and control every little nook and cranny of my life. I had no interest in "sinning", but I found it quite insulting that they seemed to assume that I did and that I couldn't be trusted to manage myself & make my own choices. Even at 18-19 it all seemed rather hypocritical to me. Preach how important free agency is and then bend over backwards to completely control people as much as possible.


Ooh! I had the same exact reaction to BYU (and the semester I spent at Ricks which was even worse). Their assumption seemed to be that given the slightest opportunity I would choose to do the worst possible thing in any given situation. I also found it profoundly insulting--and the older I got, the more insulting it felt.

Richard Breitenbeker

I'm a current BYU student. I found my way here via a link unrelated to this issue, and, seeing as this is a site obviously against mormonism, thus I don't mean to engage your agenda or mine. There are a lot of unpleasant reactions to the honor code, yours and those who might see the honor code as you criticize it, and I acknowledge both exist. The honor code being an agreed upon system though, I don't think it inherently exhibits those characteristics unless an attitude imbues them. The attitude might as well be this: "If you're living the standards of the church, then surely you wouldn't mind doing these things." Perhaps not so much a method to prevent and punish as a litmus test for those who go in. I would wager your attitude is a result of either a) an unpleasant encounter with someone who had the attitude you criticize and your misappropriation of their attitude into the honor code as they reference it to support their attitude, or b) carryover from other feelings of oppression. In either case, the argument in the above article is a little misguided as well in a like manner. Namely, to accuse a voluntary organization of oppressing freedom or controlling personal life is inherently sketchy at best. You might say it was exclusionary or elitist or demanding, but that's a different arguement. Simply for humor's sake, and I hope you find it humorous too, imagine putting the Lions Club into a position of government. I wonder what Habitat for Humanity would be like. And you we could hardly blame either if they ousted your or publicly condemned you if you went around kicking hobos in the street or burning down animal shelters. The Mormon church is, after all, a voluntary religion, not a constitutional government. Radical Islam is unique in its enforcement of standards on those who are not a part of the organization and its belief that not being a part of the organization is so heinously offensive, but again, that's another discussion.


Richard* - true (about the other organizations put in control) - BUT. The point is that the Bible talks about judging religions based on their fruits - not secular organizations. And that, I think, is the point of this post: what the author has seen of the fruits of religions (not, for example, Habitat for Humanity, which type of organization is neither based on, nor mentioned in the Bible).

Also, no matter whether or not you're living the Mormon religion, there are some seriously sketchy things in the honor code. For example, I found it pointless and insulting that I, as a girl, was prohibited by the honor code from having my father or brother in my bedroom. I mean, COME ON. If I'm doing inappropriate things with my brother, I have bigger problems than the honor code.

Swearing is against the honor code, but not prohibited by Mormonism. Extreme hairstyles, piercings, and tattoos are against the honor code, yet I know many, many Mormons in good standing who have all three. And I had a friend who went to Ricks - where the honor code prohibited students from owning any R-rated movies, which is not something the LDS religion prohibits. So no, everything in the honor code is not what "good" Mormons are doing anyway.

*DISCLAIMER, since apparently I'm coming across as really abrasive in blog comments lately: I'm NOT trying to be nasty or anything. I'm just pointing out that there are some things you may not have considered, or at LEAST that other people are seeing very differently.

Apostate Molly

"The Mormon church is, after all, a voluntary religion, "

That's Orwellian. Tell that to the hundreds of people who try to leave or just be Mormon on their *own* terms. The emotional/social extortion they experience in the hands of their friends, family and church leaders is NOT the hallmark of a VOLUNTARY organization. There are all kinds of social pressures and ecclesiastical punishments in place to keep people behaving, thinking and feeling the way the church teaches them to. It's decidedly not as HARSH as Islam, but the concept is the same.

"You might say it was exclusionary or elitist or demanding, "

At least.


Oh, wow. I have a near perfect example of what you are talking about. I am currently reading this article at BYU and BYU's network has blocked me from viewing the video that you posted! The irony...

Great job on your blog, by the way. Not all BYU students are mindless clones, though. If that were the case I would be rapidly typing my testimony and feeling an evil spirit from coming across "anti-mormon literature". :)

Another point to add on how ridiculous the honor code is how we are required to dress modestly to avoid being "of the world". However, this does not seem to apply if you are a cheerleader or a womens volleyball player. Don't you think it would be a little more appropriate for the church to change the standard athletic attire to a little bit more lengthy shorts or even sleeves. I find it hard to believe that short shorts and sleeveless tank tops increase your performance. ;) Plus, heaven forbid that we lose a match because we are modest. Wouldn't that be a great sunday school lesson?

And, since I'm on a roll here, my brother's friend was just recently "enrolled" on a mission at 18 years of age in order to be back in time for basketball training camp on the BYU basketball team. The last time I checked, only mission presidents' children were allowed to go early but I guess the church can make an exception for BYU basketball. It's nice to know where their priorities are.

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