Johnny Townsend: Religious leaders say, ‘No fun for you!’

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) People, including members of the Mormon Church, held a rally and marched to the LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City to request that the faith's leaders put an end to bishops meeting one-on-one with children for interviews. Friday March 30, 2018.

Fans of “Seinfeld” fondly remember the Soup Nazi, a belligerent cook who made such great food that customers battled long lines during short lunch breaks to grab a bowl. If someone made it all the way to the counter and then took too long deliberating which soup to buy, the Soup Nazi shouted, “No soup for you!” and kicked the person out of the line.

The character is funny because he’s obnoxious, over-the-top and clearly not as terrible as a real Nazi. But would we want such an “endearing” being as our God?

“No coffee for you!”

“No tea for you!”

“No wine for you!”

“No marijuana for you!”

If this were the extent of it, perhaps we could accept arbitrary bans against common pleasures. We can stand in another line, after all, and buy a burger or falafel or bagel. But this isn’t the end of Heaven Nazi’s list.

“No nice underwear for you!”

“No extra piercings for you!”

“No tattoos for you!”

“No bare shoulders for you!”

“No R-rated movies for you!”

Some of us may have little desire for a tattoo or piercing, but at times it’s difficult not to feel that many of these proscriptions are simply code for, “No fun for you!”

Mormonism’s Heaven Nazi prohibits most normal sexual activity as well.

“No masturbation for you!”

“No sexual fantasies for you!”

“No consensual premarital sex for you!”

Mormon Sophies are faced with a difficult choice — give up almost all sexual exploration and satisfaction for their lifetime or give up sex altogether for eternity.

“No temple wedding for you!”

“No Celestial Kingdom for you!”

“No sex ever again for you!”

But Heaven Nazi doesn’t stop at an eternal chastity belt with no accompanying key.

“No family for you!”

“No planet for you!”

“No eternal progression for you!”

“No presence of God for you!”

Jews in Nazi concentration camps were told, “Arbeit macht frei” (Work will set you free), to keep them hoping that if they obeyed every last awful order, they’d eventually be free and happy again. Mormons are given other brutally dishonest messages. “Seek and ye shall find.” “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” “Study it out in your mind; then you must ask [God] if it be right, and if it is right, [God] will cause that your bosom shall burn within.” But what does Heaven Nazi say if Mormons actually do any of this?

“No questioning for you!”

“No critical reasoning for you!”

“No transparent history for you!”

Mormons are so afraid Heaven Nazi will pour out his wrath that they excommunicate anyone who commits these infractions, hoping he doesn’t mistake the devoted for the damned. It’s spiritually analogous to members of the Judenrat making lists of Jews to be deported from the ghettos in a vain attempt to protect those prisoners who remained.

Perhaps it’s hyperbole to describe Mormon God this way. But who committed the first genocide with a worldwide flood? Who killed the firstborn of every Egyptian? Who cleansed the “undesirables” from the Promised Land to make way for his visiting son?

Who, in fact, allowed the “real” Nazis to murder millions of Jews, gays, Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, soldiers and others? Allowed the genocide of Kurds, Tutsis, Armenians, the Jie, the Congolese and many dozens of other groups throughout history?

Mormons are spiritually ambitious and committed to becoming gods themselves. So it is natural and necessary for them to emulate God as best they can every day. Yes, there was Mountain Meadows and decades oppressing native Utes, but these days, Mormon anger is turned toward everyone, even themselves.

“No tolerance for you!”

“No tolerance for me!”

“No tolerance for anyone!”

People abused as children often become abusers as adults. How can we expect Mormons to treat others any differently than they’ve been treated by their own Nazi in Heaven? Perhaps the best we can do, for ourselves and for them, is to liberate the camps.

Wahrheit macht frei.

Or, as a non-Nazi God might say, “The truth shall set you free.”

| Courtesy Johnny Townsend, op-ed mug.

Johnny Townsend, Seattle, is the author of “Behind the Bishop’s Door” and many other collections of Mormon short stories.