Buzzfeed reports on a Bill Clinton stump speech in which the former President gives a false representation of LDS theology:
Clinton also recalled a moment from his youth in Arkansas being approached by two or three Mormon missionaries in Hot Springs, where they explained the Mormon view.
Clinton spoke highly of their effort, recounting the different degrees of heaven as was explained to him 50 years ago, describing it as a pyramid with many levels that put Hitler and Stalin at the very bottom, faithful Mormons on top, and everyone else in between.
Clinton, a Baptist, said the sticking point for him was leaving his friends and family out of the top level of heaven.
“I didn’t want to leave all these other people behind,” he said.
I can’t speak to what those missionaries told Clinton — assuming this ever actually happened — but the representation of LDS beliefs is false. Unlike much of Christianity, LDS doctrine is nearly Universalist as to who gets saved. As I wrote five years ago on this site when Gary South at Politico tried to play the same card:
This posting — indeed, my starting this entire blog [Adventures in Mormonism] — is prompted by Hugh Hewett’s blasting of a piece by Gary South on Politico.com talking about “Mormon Intolerance”. South’s big concern: the LDS Church’s claim that “no other Christian church…is valid” and that only those who receive proxy baptism will be saved. He sees this as intolerance, being apparently unaware of that the LDS belief (and practice) actually is vastly more inclusive than the “problem of the unevangelized” that has plagued Christianity for most of the last 2000 years, viz., eternal condemnation to hell for anyone who doesn’t accept Christ (and, for some churches such as the Catholic Church, the appropriate sacraments/ordinances) in this life. Didn’t South ever read Dante’s Inferno, if not St. Augustine? In fact, by Augustinian doctrine, even Christians, however sincere, who never received an acceptable baptism, are damned to hell forever. Does South consider that religious intolerance?
The irony is that LDS theology is possible the most inclusive and diverse in terms of salvation of any major Christian denomination.
- Honest-to-goodness Mormons (by which I mean — and will always mean on this blog — individuals who in this life have been baptized into the LDS Church since its founding in 1830) will make up a very tiny fraction (<0.01%) of those who who inherit the highest (celestial) kingdom of glory.
- Virtually everyone (>99.9% and probably >99.9999…%) who has ever lived upon this earth will end up in a kingdom of glory (celestial, terrestrial, telestial — glory likened to sun, moon, stars), in service to God — and the glory of the lowest (telestial) kingdom “surpasses all understanding” (D&C 76:89). Mormons will be scattered throughout all three kingdoms, based on how they’ve lived their lives.
- Mormons, on the other hand, will likely dominate among those in this life who end up as the “sons of perdition” (D&C 76:26-32, 43), the only group that will not ultimately be saved in a kingdom of glory.
Let me explain.
Read the whole thing. Also, if you’re interested on how LDS concepts of “hell” (a term actually not used much within the LDS Church — instead, we tend to talk about “spirit prison” and “outer darkness”) differ from the rest of Christianity — no actual fire and brimstone and (with a very few exceptions) only of limited duration — here is this post as well.
UPDATE: The irony is that Bill Clinton gave this speech the same day that his wife Hilary, our SecState, tweeted, “The U.S. deplores the intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”