Seems as though there are some rather embarrassing Mormon-related stories in the news lately. A sadistic controlling doctor is on trial for having bullied his wife into having unnecessary plastic surgery so he could have the opportunity to sedate her to death, allowing him to continue a sordid affair without having to bother with a divorce. (I suppose I should say “allegedly” but this case doesn’t seem worth the bother.)
A slightly less evil headline regards Glenn Taylor and Dave Hall, the Mormon Boy Scout leaders who decided that professional Utah State Park Rangers were incapable of managing their own territory and that a rock formation dating back to the Jurassic simply needed to be knocked over. You know, for the greater good. Somehow this greater good involved a video camera, dancing, singing, and high-fiving. Bang-up job on taking trail safety seriously, gents.
The most astonishing bit about this story is the Scout leaders’ sincere belief that they haven’t done anything wrong. They acknowledge that knocking down the rock formation was technically a no-no, but then employ some incredibly twisted logic by claiming that they did “something right the wrong way.” No, you stupid twats. You did something wrong the right way, because you videotaped yourselves committing a crime, thus making the job of the police much easier. (Normally I wouldn’t call someone stupid, but the idiocy of this crime and signs that Taylor appears to be a lying money-grabber makes me feel justified.)
I wasn’t surprised when I heard that these numbskulls were LDS. Any idiot from any belief system could have committed this crime, but it didn’t strike me as out of character for an LDS man to do something like this. Mormon men are taught that they are literally the stewards of the Earth. God is an absentee landlord, so in his place priesthood holders have authority over all things animal, mineral, or vegetable. Is it surprising that these jolly vandals felt perfectly entitled to take the initiative despite the numerous laws of the state and policies of the Scouts that would discourage them from such destructive activity?
Let’s not forget that although geologists know that the formations in Goblin Valley are 170 million years old, Doctrine and Covenants 77 makes it crystal clear that the earth is only 6,000 years old, and that the second coming of Jesus and the attendant renewal of the globe is imminent. And the book isn’t called the Suggestions and Covenants; it’s the Doctrine and Covenants, making it rather hard to have wiggle room on this point. Strangely, BYU teaches Art History courses that acknowledge human works older than 6,000 years, and their Biology department even teaches evolution. But all religious and doctrinal publications seem to support a young earth viewpoint. To shut down potential apologists, I offer a scan of a card I was given as a teenager in Sunday school:
That copyright reads “Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” which is the legal entity under the direct control of the Prophet. Anything bearing that copyright is coming directly from the Church Office Building’s Correlation department. This places the flimsy plastic bookmark in a doctrinal category equal to the Church Handbook of Instructions. Some Mormons will quibble and hem and haw and try to reconcile modern reliable science with outdated religious conjecture, but I have to be the adult in the room when this happens and point out that it’s positively embarrassing that an argument over such a simple and scientifically settled question could even take place in any organisation that wants to be taken seriously.
But back to the stupid twats. If a person sincerely believes that the earth is only 6,000 years old, fragile ancient rock formations will seem far less worth caring about than if you understood their true age and scientific significance. On top of that, if you sincerely believe that you are Chairman of the Board God’s estate manager, you are going to feel justified in making changes to the landscape, especially if his CEO Jesus is coming back in just a few more days anyway to make everything shiny and new again. So these men may not be stupid because they are callous toward nature; they are stupid because they subscribe to a belief system that encourages them to be callous toward nature.
For now they’ve only been kicked out of scouting. Let’s hope that the police go on to make examples of Glenn Taylor and Dave Hall so that any other geniuses who fancy themselves Stewards of the Earth don’t get any other bright ideas.