The God Makers
The God Makers is the granddaddy of all so-called "anti-Mormon" films, and for that reason alone it deserves a viewing. This 56 minute film first appeared in 1983. It is a drama which has Ed Decker of Saints Alive in Jesus, and Dick Baer of Ex-Mormons and Christian Alliance teamed together to bring a class action lawsuit against the LDS Church for, ironically, breaking families apart. Decker and Baer present two attorneys with all sorts of information on what Mormonism is and how it is, in Decker's words, "One of the most deceptive and most dangerous groups in the entire world!"
There are interviews with LDS representatives (Dr. Harold Goodman--LDS mission president and BYU professor; Brian Grant--director of public relations for the LDS Church in Great Britain Ireland; and also some laity) as well as former LDS (Greg and Jolene Coe, Jim and Judy Robertson of Concerned Christians, Cindy Bauer of YWAM Hawaii, Sandra Tanner of the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, et al.). There is also about a 7 minute animated clip that describes the Mormon worldview. The God Makers also contains reenactments of bizarre LDS temple rituals done for themselves as well as for the dead (many of these rituals are obsolete since the LDS Church has changed them in 1990 and again in 2005 [for more detail on the LDS temple ceremony and its continued evolution, see HERE and HERE]).
The God Makers has become notorious among films that are critical of Mormonism not simply because of the secretive temple reenactments it presents, but primarily because of its gross generalizations, sensationalism, and other inaccuracies. For some of these, from an LDS perspective, see HERE (this review has gross generalizations and inaccuracies as well). There has been much written of this, but this isn't the venue to pursue it in detail. Nonetheless, here are a handful of problems:
Contrary to the film, LDS missionaries are not trained at BYU. The film shows a shot of a sign for the Missionary Training Center (MTC), but fails to note that the MTC is near BYU, not at BYU.
There's an ambiguity as to whether the Heavenly Father actually lives on Kolob or is "near" this planet.
Contrary to what Decker said, LDS wives get out of the grave regardless of whether the husband calls them forth. It is just that they will only go on to serve as goddess wives if the worthy LDS husband calls them forth.
Subjective accounts of not feeling love and some particular bishop's apparent indifference are about as moving to the objective investigator as LDS bearing their testimony. I'm sure within every church there are dissidents who don't "feel the love."
Many LDS don't believe the Heavenly Father as an exalted man got it on with the Virgin Mary to produce the earthly body for Jesus. Many LDS are skeptical as to how Mary was conceived, and even allow for the possibility of divine artificial insemination.
LDS do not believe that Joseph Smith has done more for us than even Jesus Christ. In fact, LDS scripture clearly makes the exception for Jesus.
Now having admitted that there are problems, The God Makers can still be used as a very basic introduction to Mormonism... particularly if you want to keep individuals from becoming Mormons. Come on, let's face it; Mormonism is bizarre, and the film does do a good job at showing how bizarre it truly is. Even if The God Makers doesn't always argue as well as we might expect, it does a service in alerting the viewer to some of the major issues of debate concerning Mormonism.
To view the beginning of The God Makers, click HERE.
R. M. Sivulka
Salt Lake City, UT
February 11, 2005
Updated: Septemeber 20, 2007