That Man Is Lying! I Know Because He’s Mormon!

One wonders where to start in responding to Justin Frank’s piece in Time. One wishes one did not have to respond at all, and one actually decided not to respond, but one continues to be so rankled by Frank’s insipid article that one has concluded that one must respond or else one is going to spend the entire Trans-Pacific flight one is about to take stewing about it.  So here one goes.

Frank accuses Romney of lying about an argument made in Noam Scheiber’s book about the Obama teams’ reaction to the economic crisis. It is not within the purview of this blog to weigh on such matters, so we won’t. What we will weigh in on, however, is Frank’s statement that, “Mitt Romney doesn’t lie.  He is telling the truth as he sees it – and truth it is, the facts notwithstanding.”  In other words, Romney simply comes to a conclusion, establishes it as truth in his mind, and then ignores any and all evidence that would challenge this truth. And where, do you suppose, Mr. Frank believes Mitt Romney acquired this habit of seeing truth in cases even where facts contradict the truth? I hope you guessed Mormonism! (In fairness, Frank, gamely acknowledges that “One doesn’t have to be Mormon to lie.” All Mormons are liars, but not all liars are Mormons; it’s important for you to know that, so you don’t go around assuming that someone isn’t lying to you just because they’re not Mormon. That non-Mormon could, technically, still be lying to you, in spite of their not being a Mormon, although it seems unlikely.)

According to Frank, “In the Mormon Church, there was a decision to accept authority as true — whether or not evidence supported it.”  Also, “There is a long tradition in the Mormon belief system in which evidence takes second place to faith.  Examples abound.” Well, yes, I am sure they do. There are, what, 12 million of us, and not all of them are paragons of empiricism. Of these abundant examples, Frank cites . . . one.  Which comes from an account by an ex-Mormon who questioned some Mormon missionaries about some perceived inconsistencies in the Book of Mormon; the missionaries replied, “We know the Book of Mormon is true and that it contains the Word of God even in the face of evidence that appears contradictory.” If examples of this behavior truly do abound, one wonders why Frank limited himself to the response of two 20 year-olds (as related by an antagonist of the Church).

It becomes clear that Frank is taking for granted the existence of evidence that clearly establishes the Book of Mormon as fictitious and the divine authority of the Church as false, and that a belief in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the divine authority of the Mormon Church requires one to ignore or dismiss this evidence. His entire argument rests on this assumption. Unfortunately for us, he doesn’t deign to provide any evidence for this assumption, other than a throw-away line about Joseph Smith lying about being illiterate – and I’ve never heard the claim that he was illiterate; I’ve only heard he was unschooled, which is true – and telling us that there are some unnamed inconsistencies in the Book of Mormon.

In other words, in an article arguing that Mormons are taught to ignore evidence, Frank provides precious little.  (“Sigh.  What’s the point in presenting all this great evidence I have? They’ll just ignore it!”) If Frank is indeed of possession of spates of evidence disproving Mormonism, I – along with 12 million of my benighted coreligionists – would love to see it.

Mormons believe that the truth of spiritual things is best arrived at by spiritual means, mainly prayer and meditation. Knowledge attained in such a manner – which Mormons believe comes directly from God – is given primacy over knowledge attained in any other. This knowledge is often referred to as a testimony. However, a critical part of this process entails weighing evidence and arguments with one’s intellect and coming to a conclusion, at which point one turns to God to understand whether the conclusion one arrived at is correct. Indeed, some (but not all) Mormons are very serious about understanding the facts and evidence associated with Mormon history and doctrine. We have journals and symposia and blogs dedicated to these questions. Most of the Mormons I know believe it’s important to figure out a way harmonize scholarly and scientific evidence with their spiritual beliefs. I’ll forgive you, though, if you don’t believe me; I am Mormon after all, and therefore probably lying.


  1. Thank you for this post. What bothers me most about the Time column was not that they were able to find some ignorant psychologist to vent his hatred, but that they published it under the venerable “Time” banner. Why should Mormons ever pay a dime to Time Magazine ever again? How can we organize a boycott?

  2. Dr. Frank apparently specializes in writing books which purport to psychoanalyze people he has never interviewed. in other words, as a psychiatrist, he commits malpractice for profit. His license should be revoked. He brings disrepute on the George Washington University Medical Center if he is actually on its staff, something that particulsrly offends me as a GWU alumnus.

    The alleged statement of two unnamed missionaries is actually, if you read the reader reviews of the book at the link he provides to, a fictional statement put in the mouth of two characters in a NOVEL which is the way the author has presented her argument against Mormonism. It makes it a lot easier to make your target look stupid or evil if you get to write all his lines. So Frank LIES about the reality of the statement which is his ONLY piece of evidence that “Mormons lie.”

    Frank’s claim to have insight into the mind of Mitt Romney, who has never been interviewed by him, is also a lie, one that would be obvious to any mental health professional. He tries to bolster his opinion by citing two completely anonymous unidentified colleagues, who are probably also fictional.

    Dr. Frank appears to lack insight into his own fictionalization of reality. He exhibits paranoia about Mormons trying to deceive him, and has schizophrenic episodes in which he thinks that he is Mitt Romney’s psychiatrist. He appears to be one of the.most emotionally and intellectually disturbed psychiatrists.since Major Nidal Hassan.

    I served 20 years as an Air Force officer at NORAD and the Strategic Air Command Operations Center, and held a Top Secret clearance that was tenewed with a full background investigation every five years. In other my personal integrity and trustworthiness has been certified by the United States government. words,

  3. Alaska Boy · ·

    Awesome reply to an infuriatingly AWFUL article. Writing this kind of drivel about any other faith would be considered “hate speech”. But Mormons, as always, are fair game.

  4. The barrage of secular attacks against Romney are getting to me, too. What secularists fail to realize is that a spiritual witness doesn’t come from the scientific method, it requires a leap of faith to get a spiritual witness, as taught in the Bible and other holy books; and it true for people of any faith, not just Mormonism. People of faith konw what secularists are never going to ‘get’ them, but still we try to defend ourselves against mean-spirited attacks, as well we should. I am a Mormon blogger myself.

    For the record, there are over 14 million Mormons worldwide, with over 6 million in the US, or 1.7% of the population. I think Mormons are doing a great job rising to defend their faith against the liberal media who want to give Barack Obama as much help as possible, knowing full well he needs all the help he can get.

  5. Thank you for saying what I wish I would have said as soon as I read the poorly written and reasoned opinion of Dr. Frank. If essays such as his – essays without any evidence of scholarly research or thought – can get published in a national publication and be put forth as worthy of our time, then we are all destined to having our time wasted.

    Thanks to D.T Bell for eloquently exposing this fraudulant attempt to inform the public.

  6. Mormons, and, therefore, Romney, filter everything through their own version of the Koran, “The Book of Mormon.” That fact gives me great pause, as we are rapidly moving toward an intransigent world many of whose citizens are directed by the dictates of mere mortal men claiming to have great insights into all things supernatural. If the trend and the opinion of many pundits are correct, should Mitt Romney be elected President, this country will be utterly transformed from a Christian nation going off-course to a country on its way to living through the prism of Joseph Smith and Muhammad.

    If members of the Mormon sect are to be believed, they MUST fulfill the role of missionary for their entire lives. Romney, with the advantage of the Presidential bully pulpit, will certainly speak the language of his “Koran” at every opportunity. He will be the leader of the Tabernacle that stretches from sea to shining sea. Already the LDS is experiencing an onslaught of applications for membership. At the end of four years with Romney at the helm, America will be even less Christian than it is today under Obama. This country and the world will be flooded with LDS missionaries trying to convince those of other Faiths that theirs is deficient and that they should turn to the one true Faith of Joseph Smith. That is a world I for one do not relish living in.

    affiliated with any religion at al are highly susceptible to unaffiliated

    1. joe, my friend. The only thing you are proving is that you do not see Mormons as people, but as objects, all programmed exactly the same, (possibly you have never personally known many?), that you have neither read The Book of Mormon nor the Koran, and you allow your prejudice to create an imaginary, fearful picture of the future. Please look at your words and recognize the error in them and think about what you really know rather than what you are afraid of before you speak.

  7. R.J. Maloney · ·

    It’s pretty easy to prove that Mormons ignore evidence to the contrary. All you have to do is realize that they believe some Native American tribes are really Jews (thus ignoring history), then combine that realization with the fact that they’re knowingly following a convicted fraud who wrote his book in fake Egyptian (thus ignoring basic rules of language). Really, his ‘hieroglyphics’ are the literary equivalent of going to China and saying ‘ching-chong wing-wong’. But FAKE OUTRAGE from D.T. Bell, who can’t understand why people think Mormons ignore facts.

    1. Dale Wight · ·

      Dr. Ariel Crowley, back in the 1940′s, published a comparison Joseph Smith’s characters with accepted Demotic (not hieroglyphic) Egyptian characters, accompanied by analysis and commentary. I have yet to find a refutation of his work. His articles are viewable at these links. I especially recommend the Feb, 1942 article for photographic evidence.

      * Jan, 1942 –!/media/set/?set=oa.314023038620991&type=1

      * Feb, 1942 –

      * Mar, 1942 –

      * Sep, 1944 –

  8. It still strikes me as interesting that all of these people–Dr. Frank, the last two commenters here, etc–mind Mitt Romney’s campaign, but do not say a word about the many Mormons serving in our Congress, Executive Branch, CIA, FBI, NSA, Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, etc, etc, etc.

    It is like Romney is some kind of aberration. He is not. He is an extension of the norm.

  9. EE said ” I think Mormons are doing a great job rising to defend their faith against the liberal media who want to give Barack Obama .”

    Have you read these comments? They’re not coming from liberals or even Democrats. They’re coming from the usual intolerant voices of evangelical Christianity with their usual uninformed concept of Mormonism. Wake up and figure out who the enemies of the Mormon Church really are.

  10. Romney will certainly have a ground game, as his Mormon followers are accustomed to ringing doorbells and distributing literature.

  11. DR King · ·

    When I first read Joe’s comment I thought it was going to be a clever satire, but he is evidently dead serious. According to Joe, all Mormons think exactly alike, as if they were stock characters in some zombie novel. Mormons are used to encountering a person like Joe every now and then. But we expect more from Dr. Frank because he has the title of MD and gets published in national magazines. His claims of how Mormons approach truth is based on the claims of one ex-Mormon and therefore lacks evidence. But that didn’t stop him from profiling all 14 million members of a world-wide church. What does that say about how Dr. Frank approaches the truth? That’s not science, folks. That’s bigotry.

  12. As a scientist myself, who is constantly concerned with the nature of evidence, I have come across this naive idea that faith is belief in the face of contrary evidence.

    First, no evidence is ever collected with such precision that there is no degree of uncertainty.

    Second, no “facts” speak for themselves; they require a theory to interpret them in a broader framework.

    Third, because of the foregoing there will always be evidence to the contrary to a greater or lesser degree and some of which we choose to ignore. As example, consider why you accept that the earth goes around the sun. If you claim this is based on evidence I will walk you outside and stand there while we both see the sun move! In other words, scientists (or more generally, rationalists) often accept conclusions in the face of contradictory evidence because it holds greater explanatory power within their theoretical framework.

    Fourth, the only ones that I have heard make this kind of point (i.e. faith is dangerous because it ignores evidence) are people who have no faith. Thus, they don’t really know what they are talking about. If they had faith, and exercised it, they would likely come to know that it is very closely tied to evidence.

    There are such things as “religious experiences.” Faith is based on evidence. In some sense you might even call it an experimental discipline. It also involves arriving at certain conclusions because the evidence for it is deemed to be more convincing than the evidence against it. The only difference between the evidence in science and in religion is that the latter is personally acquired, analyzed, and interpreted; the former it is all public. This is why science is of such general use in society at large but why religion is so motivating personally.

    Thus if Dr. Frank can use his understanding of faith to explain my dishonesty then I can use his misunderstanding of faith to explain his ignorance. If he had some faith then maybe he would understand that he doesn’t not know what he is talking about.

    Perhaps he should take his own advice, let go of his belief that Mormon’s are liars, and pay attention to the evidence to the contrary. Romney is successful, respected, and competent. You don’t get this way by ignoring reality.

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