Sticky-fingered mormons

This was posted in the exmo subreddit. Apparently mormons are stealing library books that paint the church in a negative light, and offering to replace them with pro-mormon materials. Pertinent quotes from the thread:

I was in the [Richland, Washington] library today trying to check out Beck’s book, ‘Leaving the Saints.’ I finally had to ask the librarian to go on a hunt, with it no-where to be found. It has disappeared just recently, after someone checked it out and returned it. She said that it happens all the time in that section. I mentioned how the missionaries have sometimes removed controversial books from libraries. Here, they come in all at once, up to 20 at a time, with regularity. I won’t look them in the eye, as they look around for prospects [to convert].
The book is hold until after the first of the year, when the new budger kicks in and she can order another. So the Morg also steals from the tight library budgets, paid for by our property taxes. — Carol Y.

I can verify that one. I read several [anti-mormon books] that . . . magically “disappeared” when I went back months later to research. I reported them missing, and the librarian I reported to was so surprised that they were gone. — Devorah

This has been going on for at least 40 years that I know of. Cowardly, ain’t it? — Worldwatcher

Another commenter posted a link to an online copy of The Changing World of Mormonism.

The page she linked to has a section called Suppression and Book-burning, which quotes two church publications as implicitly or explicitly promoting members censoring so-called “anti” materials. Specifically, the quotes were:

“Now that we had these books which told the truth about their religion, undoubtedly we would like to discard other books in the library which told lies about the Mormon Church. Other libraries, they said, had been glad to have this pointed out to them.
Following the expose . . . a friend of mine tried to find out how extensive the missionary book-burning campaign had been . . . Self-appointed Comstocks among us have for years been dedicated to the unholy quest of seeking out and destroying books considered unfavorable.” (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1967, p. 26)

“Sven A. Winman . . . relates how when he returned home each evening from his part-time employment in various used books stores throughout Sweden, he would produce an anti-Mormon book and then proceed to burn it. Sweden, you learn, has literally no end of anti-church books, and Elder Wiman has set himself up as a one-man cleanup committee to destroy as many of these diatribes against the church as possible.” (Desert News, Church Section May 16, 1953, p. 10)

To be frank, I’m stunned. Speechless, actually. I really don’t want to believe this — no Mormon I have met would do this — but at the same time, I have to reluctantly admit to myself that this is completely within the larger M.O. of the LDS church and their ongoing quest to downplay, hide, or outright destroy information that is embarrassing or otherwise problematic to the church. My reactions, upon reading the story, were essentially:
  1. What kind of selfish, self-involved, self-righteous jerk would intentionally steal from a library? It’s a library. You’re not just stealing from the building and/or collection, which would be bad enough, you are stealing from your community. You are stealing from every taxpayer in that community; from your neighbors and friends and fellow churchgoers.
  2. Wait — Richmond? Richmond, Washington? By the Tri-Cities? This is happening in my state? What? I would have maybe figured this could happen with the Utah or Idaho or maybe even Arizona Mormons, but Washington? What the eff?
  3. Hey, my sister lives near there! I wonder if she’s heard anything about this?
Then I went and read the section on suppression and book-burning in that linked bit, and I was again just stunned speechless. Book burning? Book burning? Really? I am a woman with very, very strong opinions on books, and I cannot imagine voluntarily removing a book from a store or library and burning it so others can’t read it.
And there are some books I really, really hate — I don’t need to go into my rant about how Twilight is disturbing Joseph Smith fanfic that depicts abusive relationships as normal and desired again, do I? We don’t need to talk about how Mein Kampf offers nothing useful or intelligent to the world, or how Glenn Beck keeps releasing misinformation as factual history, do we? But as much as I loathe Mein Kampf, the Twilight series, and anything by Glenn Beck,  I still wouldn’t burn this stuff. What kind of asshole burns books? That’s just . . . horrible. There are other options. For instance:

Of course, I’m kidding. I’m not advocating destroying books I disagree with in anyway. It’s true that if someone ever gave me the brain-cancer inducing ramblings of Glenn Beck, Stephenie Meyer, or Adoph Hitler, I would choose to put them to use in an either actual useful (storage) or aesthetically pleasing (artwork) way, but that’s me. If someone else chooses to read them and enjoy them, kudos to them.

But stealing library books or destroying them because you disagree with them, or are threatened by them, or scared of them? That’s just . . . sad. Talk about not being willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s