THE MORMON CURTAIN
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Ex-Mormon News, Stories And Recovery
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EX-MORMONISM SECTION 7
A very large selection of posts made by those in recovery from Mormonism. Culled from throughout the Ex-Mormon Communities.
| This is the kind of stuff that is thrown at you by a TBM when you leave the Mormon Church. Notice it is all about them. Notice the threats, the guilt trips, patting themselves on the back, the false accusations, etc.
These are some actual quotes TBMs said to my wife and I when we announced our decision to leave the church:
Mother1: "I can't believe how bad you turned out."
Mother2: "Shame on you! You should know better than that!"
Brother: "Don't try explaining, there's no excuse for leaving and you'll never convince me."
Brother in Law1: "You bastard. You've deceived our sister with your anti-mormon lies."
Brother in Law2: "I can't believe how stupid you are."
Sister in Law1: "I pray you come back before God punishes you."
Sister in Law2: "How can you betray your family like this?"
Father in Law: "Well, I don't know if the church is true or not, but I have a lot of friends there."
Mother in Law: "So what commandment couldn't you live?"
Missionary after I closed the door: "You still know it's true!"
TBM Friend: "I'm so dissapointed in you. What's wrong with you?"
TBM Friend: "I don't believe any of those anti-mormon lies. The Book of Mormon is true and that makes the church true - don't make excuses."
TBM Friend: "Well, I've had too many spiritual experiences with the Book of Mormon to ever deny it."
TBM Friend: "When things get really hard in your life, you'll come back. I hope it doesn't take a tragedy to get you to repent."
Here are some that other people here have mentioned hearing from close friends and family:
"I have heard you criticize and find fault with the Church so you can justify your decision to leave and this makes me very sad."
"What happened? I am so disappointed in you!!"
"I hoped that by experiencing other Christian beliefs you would seek to gain a stronger testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ like I had done."
"My testimony of the Gospel has been challenged more than you will ever know, and I have stayed true to faith."
"I am deeply saddened that you have caved to the beliefs of man."
"You can go to some feel good Christian church as long as you want, but this church will never provide you with blessings of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ"
"You have no clue how much you have hurt mom/dad with your decision to leave the Church. How can you throw away everything she/he taught you like this?"
"Did you ever think just once what impact your decision would have upon ______?"
"I do not know about you, but I am choosing to Honor My Parents by staying true to the principles of Gospel Of Jesus Christ that we were taught as youth."
"How can you throw your missions away like this?"
"You may betray the truth but I will not."
"I hope you get your act together before your youngest child turns 8, as it would be a real shame for your children to grow up without the light of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives."
"I would gladly come and baptize ______ if _______ was given the opportunity to learn about the Church. I have seen a change for the worse in _____ countenance and this is really upsetting to me."
"It is clear that you blame the Church for much of your problems and you figure that by running away from the Church your problems will go away!! They may go away for a little while but they will be back. The easy way out is just that - the easy way out."
"I was pretty shocked when we visited you and when we said we were going to the Temple and I asked if you had seen it yet you said no."
"You you used to be smart enough to recognize the spirit. What have you done to yourself?"
"You now know how I feel. I will not say what I have just said again. You will be very upset with me with for the things I have just said! They are the truth and sometimes the truth hurts."
"You will probably find fault with me for telling you how it is."
"Those Mormons really attack you when you leave the church..etc...etc....blah, blah, blah." Get over it."
"Please do not try to explain to me why you left the Church, because there is no good reason to leave."
"You can call it the "Mormon Belief System," "Mormonism," or whatever you like. I will tell you what it is: It is The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ!"
"You used to have such a SWEET spirit."
"If I had followed you out of the church I (would not have met my spouse / had my children / recovered from an illness / got a job / found my car keys etc..)
"How can you forget all the Lord has blessed you with?"
"You know what I pray for? That you'll come back to the Church."
"Your leaving the church has strenghthened our testimonies."
"If you don't have what it takes to live the Gospel, you should at least take your daughter to Church so that she can know the truth. She shouldn't suffer for your sake."
"Have your husband reread section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, because the sin on his head for leaving the Church as a priesthood holder is greater."
"Can we still send the HT and VT to your home?"
"What are you going to do someday when you are dead and standing before the Lord and he asks: "Why did you persecute my Church?""
"This is the worst possible thing you could have done."
"But, if it weren't for the church, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN BORN!"
"I read all the anti-mormon literature too, and came to the opposite conclusion as you. I know obedience to authority is a key part of God's plan."
"What you say about Joseph Smith is probably true, but I don't have any problem with it. Neither should you."
"Who are you to question the Lord's prophet?"
"That's not what the Church teaches!"
Stake President: (Hand raised to the square) "I declare in the name of Jesus Christ that this church is true."
Bishop: "When I find myself out of synch with the prophet, it means I have to change."
"Remember the warning, "Why do the women have to veil their faces during the "true order" of prayer, while the men do not? Aren't the symbolic and theological implications of this huge -- suggesting that women have a less direct link to the Mormon god than men do?'God will NOT be mocked'?"
"Your (deceased) mother/father would be so dissappointed that you are not raising your children in the church."
"You'll come back after you know what it feels like without the spirit."
"You knew it was true! You said it many times, so don't deny your testimony now."
"I have seen a decline in your general character."
"You are a fool for trusting in the arm of flesh. You should be listening to conference instead."
"You've lost the light of Christ"
"You're so much angrier now that you want to leave the church"
"You're going to perdition because you had a full knowledge of the gospel and you're rejecting it."
"I hope I'll be allowed to come down and see you after we die."
"We believe in eternal families...that is what grandpa taught."
"I hope you rot in your lonely miserable apartment!"
"You know what you are doing is wrong!"
"But you've been through the temple!"
"So, are you going to start drinking?"
"I feel evil coming from you."
"So, are you going to picket the temple now?"
"If you don't believe it anymore then you have no business talking about it."
"I'll pray for you and hope you'll do the same for me."
"You're just pretending not to believe so that you can sin."
"Look in the mirror - can't you see how ugly you are?"
"No matter WHAT YOU DO TO US we will always love you."
"I hope you enjoy your kids now, because they won't be yours in the next life."
"Something terrible must have happened on your mission."
"You're like a fish in the ocean who sticks his head up and say "Where's all the water?" You've been surrounded by the Spirit your whole life. You just don't recognize it."
"You were a valiant spirit in the pre-existence. Satan knows that. So he's fighting especially hard to get your soul.
"It's so sad to see your children growing up without the church."
"How can you trust your husband now that he isn't a worthy priesthood holder?"
"You have to raise your kids in the church otherwise it will be impossible for them to grow up to be good people."
"I wish I cold come back when I die and tell you the truth, but I don't think it works that way."
"You realize of course that there won't be a place for you at Jesus' table?"
"There won't be any oil in YOUR lamp, when the time comes!"
"I'm sure that those who leave the church won't become sons of perdition because they didn't really understand the gospel. Anyone who really understood it would never deny it."
"It would have been better if you had died than leave the church."
"Oh, Satan/Your Husband/The Anti-Mormons/etc.. finally got to you."
"I can’t communicate with you anymore on a spiritual level because you spiritual eyes are closed.”
"Do you have a disgusting tattoo now?"
"Now that you have no morals who knows what kind of situations you put your kids in."
"I know you have a testimony, I heard you bear it when you were little."
"You won't be able to raise your children without the help of the church. The world is too bad these days."
"So when did your spiritual life start to go downhill?"
Have you received any TBM responses that aren't listed here?
| I have been thinking for a while about how much fear the Mormon Church has instilled in me and it is now time for me to let go of that fear. This has been a five year journey for me.
When I first started to question church doctrines I had the fear of the wrath of God. He surely would punish me for questioning his church and its leaders and especially for thinking of leaving my abusive husband. After all, I had made “sacred covenants” with Satan’s voice telling me I would be under his control if I didn’t obey and live up to the covenants I had made. And the throat slitting- that scared the crap out of me. That fear and not thinking for myself kept me in an abusive relationship for nearly 25 years.
Eventually I finally found the courage to leave my husband, resigned my calling teaching relief society and stopped going to church in my ward all at the same time. Surely, terrible things were going to happen to me! I felt like a failure and I was sure God was so disappointed in me for not “enduring to the end”. Unbelievably nothing happened except I started to gain self respect. My fear of loosing my eternal family began to fade also as I started to realize that the new God I was starting to find didn’t expect me to live with abuse. Before, if I went to a store on Sunday or skipped church I expected to have bad things happen. Those years of brainwashing kept me in fear. I can see now that all those “faith inspiring “stories that we heard over and over again were nothing more than a way of keeping us under control. Eventually I realized that nothing would happen to me and I slowly began to loose my fear of Sundays. But then the brainwashing got the best of me and I relapsed when I moved into a new ward and started going again. It didn’t last long though as I quickly found that I had gone from one of the elite in the ward to a divorcee. As hard as I tried I hardly could get anyone to talk to me. After 6-8 months of that I had had enough and slowly stopped going.
Throughout this all I had never stopped paying tithing. I had such a fear that if I stopped my business would surely fail. Eventually I had a local woman’s shelter that I decided to give my tithing money to instead of the church and I felt so good doing it I knew it could not be wrong. Nothing happened to my business and if fact it starting thriving. I made more money than I had ever made. My fear of not paying tithing was gone and I was doing more good than I had ever done.
I also had a little fear of loosing some friends but I quickly found that the ones who were my true friends stood by me no matter what and those that didn’t weren’t my true friends anyway. I eventually started dating a nevermo man who was so accepting of my crazy religion. He never put me down for my fears and beliefs but would gently say, “What do you think about that?”. He really helped me to start thinking for myself. He went to a new age church and I went a few times. It was so uplifting and I didn’t come away depressed and feeling like I wasn’t good enough like when I went to the LDS church. My son was on a mission when I started to read about church history and started to realize (as firescout so eloquently put it) I had been duped. I never let him know I had any questions and only tried to give him support and unconditional love. I was still going in my new ward when he came back so he didn’t know about my doubts.
Well this leads into my biggest fear, that of loosing my adult children. What would they think about a mother who no longer believed? Would they no longer love me and accept me? Would their TBM dad convince them I was under Satan’s control and that they should stay away from me? Out of my four only 2 were active, my returned missionary son and his TBM sister. I am happy to report that within a few months of coming home my son stopped going to church and even had a few beer bottles on his counter when we visited him at school a few weeks ago. We have had a few talks and he actually wanted to read Grant Palmers book. I gave him my copy but he hasn’t read it yet because of being busy with school. I hope he does. I’m no longer afraid to let him know how I feel about the church. We had a great talk a few weeks ago and he understands why I feel the way I do. AND he still loves and accepts me just the way I am. I have found our relationship is so much better and closer than it has ever been. The one fear I have notconquered and the one I need to his letting his sister know how I feel. I have decided that I cannot go on trying to be someone I am not. The next time I see her (she is studying in Europe right now) I will let her know how I feel about the church and why. She may listen but will probably not want to hear it. She may reject me; she will no doubt be disappointed in me but I will have conquered the fears the church had instilled in me and I will hold my head high, be finally at peace and finally be true to myself even if it means standing outside the temple when she gets married.
| Even in my most faithful, believing days, I could never work up any enthusiasm for Mormon art. From Arnold Frieburg's Book of Mormon scenes with all the characters on steroids to pictures of Jesus hanging out in Jerusalem with East Asian and Scandinavian-looking kids, it all seemed like kitsch to me. |
Yet even in this sea of bad art, Greg Olsen's paintings stood out as being extraordinarily tacky. His depictions of Jesus H. Christ, in addition to having the usual un-Semitic, WASPy, white and delightsome features I had come to expect form Mormon artists, always seemed to have disproportionately huge hands and feet. Greg Olsen's paintings also had this bizarre, eerie, glowing use of light, reminiscent of Thomas Kincaid (and I can't stand Thomas Kincaid paintings).
Also, as a believing Mormon, I considered it flagrantly presumptuous for an artist to appoint himself to the task of telling everybody what Jesus looked like.
It seems, however, that I was in a minority, as both the Mormon hierarchy and the Mormon masses seem to be quite fond of Greg Olsen's paintings. You can find them all over the Ensign and in many other church publications. Many of the Mormons I know have at least one Greg Olsen print in their homes.
I suspect that Greg has made a lot of money selling paintings to Mormons. Apparently, however, he hasn't made enough money selling only to Mormons. Greg wants to sell paintings to everybody who loves Jesus, and he doesn't want any my-Jesus-can-beat-up-your-Jesus arguments to get in the way of his marketing efforts.
There are all kinds of Mormon-themed websites that mention Greg Olsen and his paintings. The church's official website has many references to him. The inverse, however, is not true. Greg Olsen's website doesn't have any clear references to Mormonism. Have a look:
Try the search function on his site. You'll come up empty on terms like "Mormon," "Joseph," "Brigham" and "Cumorah." I was a bit surprised to discover this, so I picked up the phone and called their number which, conveniently, starts with 208, not 801. I asked if I could find any Book of Mormon images on the website, and was told that the only Mormon items on the site were a painting called "Lehi's Dream" and another called "The Sacred Grove." Neither of them included any scriptural references or other explanations. His painting of Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail just didn't make the cut. There weren't any links to the church's own websites either.
No wonder Mormon art can't seem to move beyond mediocrity; their poster boy is much more of a businessman than an artist. He can find plenty of other channels to sell Joseph Smith prints in the Corridor, but he's not about to risk chasing the broader market away from his website just so he can proclaim the true Gospel. After all, Greg paints pictures of Jesus H. Christ, but follows the words of Han Solo:
"Keep your distance, but don't look like you're keeping your distance."Thus spake Mujun.
- We'll pray for you.
- The Spirit is sooooo strong.
- I know the church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.
- All in Favor? Any opposed?
- Oh, so glad you asked!
- I would be a most ungrateful person.
- We're thankful for the moisture we have received.
- The church is perfect, the people aren't.
- We love you, brothers and sisters.
- Dear heavenly father, please bless this food that it might strengthen and nourish our bodies. (GAG!)
- I would be remisss.
- It'll all be answered in the hereafter.
- With every fiber of my being.
- Magnify your callings.
- What is that? Has it a name? Can you give it to me?
- Atonement means "At One Ment"
- In this dispensation.
- We will now sing hymn page number.
- I'm eternally grateful.
- Beyond a shadow of a doubt.
- My eternal companion or my eternal sweetheart.
| The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes Addiction as a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal |
In his article When Religion is an Addiction Dr. Bob Minor, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, states:
Like substance addictions, it (religion) takes over, dominates life, pushes other issues to the background, tells them how and what to feel to prevent them from facing their real feelings about themselves and life, creates a mythology about the world, protects its “stash,” and supports their denial that they have a problem. Addiction specialist Anne Wilson Schaef would say, like all addictions, religious addiction is progressive and fatal.
It is virtually impossible to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and not be totally dependent on it. The longer you are a Mormon, the more you are obsessed by it, and the more it consumes your life. One becomes so thoroughly entrenched in the religion that devoting just one day per week to church attendance is virtually unheard of. As an LDS member, there is no such thing as personal time, because you are made to feel guilty if you involve yourself in anything other than Church-related activities or don’t live the ideal Morg lifestyle (The paradox is that no one really does). The only acquaintances you can safely make are with other church members.
Addiction to Mormonism is further evidenced in the fact that LDS members are steadfastly loyal to a church which does not tolerate independent thought. One must act and behave in a manner which is consistent with conduct outlined by the General Authorities. Members who behave or think autonomously (outside the mainstream of church teachings) are subject to discipline before a Bishop’s Court. If their misdeeds are deemed flagrant and unrepentant, members are subject to excommunication. Through the veiled threat of the “E” word, the church makes every effort to mold its members into zombies who are devoid of all free thought processes. Like junkies, they grow more and more beholding to church leaders (the pushers) for their fix.
Perhaps Karl Marx said it best when he stated Religion is the opiate of the masses. The false teachings of Mormonism appeal to human frailty in every demographic group. The wealthy, the poor, college graduates and high school dropouts alike can become entrapped in its web of deceit. It erroneously provides easy answers to complex issues, a safety net, the feeling of belonging, and fulfills the basic human need to be nurtured and provided for. It also allows potential converts the convenience of relying on (or blaming) a higher power life occurrences. The embrace of Mormonism like most organized religions can be a cop-out because it obfuscates personal responsibility.
Like any codependence, I thoroughly believe Mormonism should be treated in the same manner as drug and alcohol addiction. Those exiting the church should enter a twelve step program, including weekly meetings, sponsors, etc. It is imperative for LDS evacuees to be deprogrammed before entering the real world. In my experience, departing from the church can be a tortuously long and involved process. One does not easily rid themselves overnight of what in some instances can be lifelong obsessive-compulsive behavior. Upon emergence into the non-LDS world, it is easy to get caught up in its entrapments.
The Recovery from Mormonism Web Site can be a lifeline to those (like me) who have sought out the truth about the LDS Church. There is a wealth of research material here. Furthermore, a recovering LDS addict can find comfort in “Why We Left” stories and thought-provoking posts on the Recovery Board. However, when LDS evacuees emerge from having lived sheltered lives, they sometimes obsess about those subjects which have long been considered taboo. One can rarely visit the RB without observing sophomoric references to alcohol consumption, smoking, sex and masturbation. It can be likened to adolescents who are rebelling against parental authority.
Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed horror stories on this web site from recovering Mormons who have had absolutely no experience in sexual relationships outside their previous LDS marriages. In one such case, an individual jumped into bed with the first person who came along and contracted a sexually-transmitted disease. Any nevermo teenager can tell you that this could have been avoided if he/she had TAKEN PRECAUTIONS. Conversely, I’ve seen evidence of those who have replaced one repressive religion with another. Is this taking a step forward or backward? Perhaps it is the naivety of Morgs and their propensity for accepting without question the word of religious authorities. Are some exmos here simply exchanging one form of addiction for another?
At exmo get-togethers, the overindulgence of alcohol and tobacco are plainly evident (much more so than non-exmo events). This is why I don’t frequent the board or attend exmo gatherings as often as I used to. For those who know me, I am anything but a prude. In my earlier years I was quite wild, and today am a proponent of sexual and reproductive freedom (and I do imbibe).
I have a great deal empathy for LDS members and try my best to embrace them. I have several grown children who are TBM’s. I am constantly faced with the realization that I must bare the responsibility for their LDS codependence. I brought them up in the church. This has led me to make a distinction between the church and its members. It’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that I find reprehensible, not its members!
It’s now been about twelve years since I renounced my membership in the LDS Church, and had my name removed from its records. My exit was not the result of personal vendetta or excommunication. It began with unanswered questions about Mormonism. After months of research, I eventually learned about the lies and deception the church has perpetrated upon its members. I was then forced to come to terms with the painful realization that I had spent a great deal of my life living a faux existence. It was an earth-shattering discovery for me. I might add that these past dozen years have subsequently become the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life.
I write these words, not to point the finger at anyone. I, myself, have been drawn into some of the same codependent behavior patterns and denial which I’ve described. For those who have recently begun the recovery process, I beg you to get counseling and or deprogramming before you immerse yourself in the post-LDS world. Please don’t let your new-found freedom become a revolving door for further dangerous addiction.
| My 8 y.o. daughter has wanted to be baptized for the longest time, since her older siblings have all been baptized.
We took the whole family down to SoCal for spring break and while we were playing in the ocean I asked her if she wanted me to baptize her.
She said sure.
So it was 80 degrees and gorgeous.
I took her and said, "In the name of the Sun, and the earth, and the air and the water, which connects all life, I baptize you!" And I did.
I told her afterwards Wow, you're lucky. You're the only one in our family who got to be baptized in such a beautiful place. You know why we baptized you here in the ocean instead of in a church? Because this is more beautiful than any church. The sky, the sun, the water, the earth, they are all the source of life. They are the elements that connect all of life and sustain life. It's really miraculous that we are alive and we get to enjoy such magnificent creations. And you are the greatest creation. When you realize your purpose here and fullfill it and make the world a better place because you've been here, that's what makes you happy and live a fullfilling life.
Then we grabbed our boogie boards and rode some waves.
It was a really great experience for the whole family.
Definitely a more memorable baptism than any other one we've experienced.
| There are all kinds of mental traps built into Mormonism. We are told that Satan wants to deceive members. But when we think about it, why do we feel relieved when we start to figure out that we're not the only ones with doubts? We realize that we're not the only ones that thought Joseph Smith's story reminded us of Animal Farm or 1984. And we're not the only ones that thought it was a little too convenient that so many passages in the Book of Mormon sounded like scriptures in the Bible.
Why do Mormon church leaders keep harping on the idea that Joseph was uneducated (i.e. not widely read)? Could it be to keep us from figuring out that he was drawing on several resources that were available to him, sometimes plagiarizing word for word? It is often said that he didn't own a bible. Who is to say that he didn't have access?
Why would geologists study and learn in great universities, only to be deceived into thinking that the earth is millions of years old? Why would scientists be able to identify criminals and put them in jail (or get them off death row in some cases) using DNA, but it's not good enough to show that American Indians and Jews are not genetically related?
Why don't apologetic LDS web sites offer satisfactory explanations for Joseph's many wives, why fossil records of animals mentioned in the Book of Mormon cannot be found, and why there is no archaeological evidence for the great battles in the book of Mormon? We can find ancient civilizations that are much older than the civilizations in the Book of Mormon, but we can't find evidence of the people in the book of Mormon. Why resort to obfuscation? Why?
What if none of that happened? Heresy! Evil, you might say. Has the devil deceived exmos? If so, and if the devil wants us to be miserable, why is my life better after leaving Mormonism?
And why, if there are 6 billion people on the face of the earth (or more), are there only 12 million Mormons (of course, only if you keep them on the roles until age 110)? If God gave us our free agency, why don't the rest of the people on earth get the chance to hear the gospel? Is God so mean that he'd want to deep fry the majority of the souls? You'd think God wouldn't want to have to burn anybody in hell.
That might be pretty heavy at first, but then we start to admit that maybe certain things aren't true. How can it be that when I started finding out uncomfortable things about the Mormon church, I started to feel better? I thought Satan wanted discord and turmoil. Why do I feel better after leaving? Isn't it because little experiences along the way have made me doubt the Mormon church and I'm finally finding out that I'm not the only one who thought some of these things are strange? Maybe I've put so many things on the shelf that I can't possibly put anything else up there. I cannot begin to describe the relief that came from not having to be perfect anymore, not to mention the pressure of never doing and being enough.
This web site, and others like it, serve to confirm doubts we've had all along. The recovery we find is that we realize we are not alone. There are whole families out there that are figuring it out. The recovery comes in realizing that any reasonable person would have believed in the LDS church just like we did when only presented with half the truth. So it's not our fault. Many of us were born into Mormonism.
In the end, it doesn't matter how we got in, how long we stayed, or what mistakes we made. The vital and critical part is what we're going to do now. Right now. We have a duty to future generations not to let them grow up believing in harmful doctrines and magical fantasies that could end up getting them killed on their mission, that they may end up marrying the wrong guy for, or that they may end up spending their time, money, and health for. We owe it to future generations to stop it now.
Since we can't stop the Mormon church, we can refuse to be involved in it. We can leave. The old saying goes, "If you dance with the devil, you don't change the devil. The devil changes you." We are not going to change the Mormon church. We aren't going to improve the situation of women. We aren't going to save young kids from making horrible mistakes. And we aren't going to help our friends out if we are still in it.
I'm being an example to my friends and some of my family that you can leave Mormonism and still be just as happy, productive, and fulfilled. In fact, I would contend that I am happier, more productive, and more fulfilled.
There's a lot of humor here. I used to think the jokes about temple outfits (bakers hats) were crass. I remember promising that I would never discuss the temple. Then I learned that none of the warnings, penalties, or threats of Mormonism are grounded in any truth. It's all based on lies. And if it's based on lies, there is no danger. It took a while, but I have become more and more at ease with being an ex-Mormon. In exmo society, I feel free to make jokes about my past and about the LDS church. In other circles, I don't feel the need to go into it.
The bottom line is, I've left and I haven't looked back. I still love my family members that are Mormons, and I still get along with them. I just don't go to church with them. I don't have knock-down, drag-out arguments with my family over religion, either. I am going on with my life. And I have really found myself. I am happy, joyous, and free. I insist on enjoying life. And life is being pretty good to me since leaving. Little by little, I'm starting to realize that all the things I was afraid would happen have not happened, and they won't.
| Have you noticed how wording plays out when people ask questions on the board? Sometimes I'm reminded of the old phrase, "When did you stop beating your wife?"
Questions with unfounded assumptions tend to elicit skewed answers.
I am serious. I've been here for years and I've met and been friends with many dozens of exmos. In my opinion exmos in general are neither "bitter" or "off the deep end."
Conversely, the TBMs I know are often both. I come from a long line of fanatical mormons who only left polygamy for a single generation, my grandfather's. They have always been extremely mistrustful and disdainful toward eveyone not in their own little insular mormon world. I call that bitter and off the deep end.
Since I left mormonism, I've learned to be much more accepting of differences. The exmos I know are like me. Overall, we're not likely to be sexist, racist, or homophobic. We're usually diverse and accepting. We don't carp about the kinds of things that bother mormons. I haven't known exmos who have turned into alcoholics or sex offenders. In fact I've seen more addictive behaviors of that type within the church than since I've left it.
If anything, I'd say that exmos demonstrate less anger than their situations warrant, not more. And TBMs tend to voice excessive anger about perceived "persecution." If you don't think so, look at how they're reacting to "Big Love."
As former members I think we've already been guilted more than we deserve. There's no need to wallow in guilt over a little private anger, expressed here and seldom, if ever, acted upon. Especially, when it's rarely even mentioned to those responsible for it.
| People that marry too young and without much life experience or maturity
often have difficult marriages, especially in the beginning.
They marry without really knowing each other, without education, careers or
savings, they immediately have kids, etc....because the church has told them
to. In other words, they marry when they are the least prepared in life.
Then the difficulty begins...no money, climbing debt, parenting kids, etc.
When things are difficult, these young people are conditioned to think that
they need the church to improve things, or that their difficulty is being
caused by not enough devotion, faith, obidience to the church....so they go
"deeper" into the church trying to solve their problems.
The trick the church has pulled on them is to put them into a cycle of life
problems that they feel only the church can fix. The problems don't get
fixed because they are NOT SOLVING THE REAL PROBLEMS!
The REAL solutions to the problems are....better education (more money),
increased savings (less debt), wait to get married (more maturity) and wait
to have kids (planned parenting)....They think they are working to solve the
problems through devotion to the church, but they are caught in a cycle of
dependency, caused by the church, that never allows them to apply the real
solutions to the problems and only keeps them coming back to the church for
more false hope.....They are stuck!
Kind of like a poverty cycle or generational welfare....the system itself
makes you slave to the system....and what makes a good slave? Obedience! And
what is the first principle of the gospel? You know it...OBEDIENCE!!!
Thats how I see it.
| So often as I discuss my disbelief with my family or close friends I hear a common message: "Even if the church isn't true, why not stay in it anyway; how does it hurt?" Sometimes I hear this too: "It's a good place to raise a family."
I have come to the belief that the church is toxic for most people. It's not just a neutral influence on life, it is a negative influence. There seems to be empirical evidence to support this. I don't mean to pick on Utah, but that state presents probably the best source of aggregate information on how the church influences people. Here are a few indicators:
1. Utah has a high rate of anti-depressant medication usage - one of the highest in the nation. (See http://www.rickross.com/reference/mo...)
2. Utah has a high rate of teenage suicide - one of the highest in the nation. (See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249... and http://www.utea.org/newsEvents/breaki...)
3. Utah often leads the nation in the filing of personal bankruptcies. (See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249...)
4. Utah is well known as the business fraud capital of the United States. (See http://www.pyramidschemealert.org/PSA...)
5. Utah's adolescent teenage pregancy rate is at the nation's average (not lower). (See http://health.utah.gov/rhp/pdf/1997re...)
6. Utah's LDS population is fourteen percent more likely to be obese than their non-LDS neighbors (See http://www.deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,...)
These indicators exist even in the face of Utah's well known and well touted high educational level (http://ibis.health.utah.gov/indicator...). So why are all these smart people acting in such a self-destructive manner? The previous listed website links high education to reduced health risks. So, Utah should be leading the nation in health, but it is lagging behind or even leading the way in unhealthy living.
What bothers me is not just the Church's silence as to these issues. What bothers me is that the church's influence isn't just neutral, it is damaging. The church and the message it preaches is actually hurting people.
The toxic poison the church gives people is contained in a shinny bottle. The church's bottle emphasizes family living, self sufficiency, morality, and a descent society. But what the medicine is actually doing is killing people, often literally. And people feel powerless to stop drinking the poison, even when they can see that it is hurting other people. They drink the poison because their parents tell them its good to drink, they drink the poison because they have been told since childhood that the poison will make you happy; they drink the poison because they have been promised by the poison makers that it will give you eternal life with your family; they drink the poison because they are afraid that if they don't drink, their families will be damaged - all while families are being damaged.
The church isn't just some good organization and good place to raise your children; it is a deceptively dangerous place whose product is damaging people. Its leaders smile serenely and brush the bad news under the carpet. The First Presidency and Twelve don't appear very interested or even capable of calling a spade a spade. No, they seem more inclined to say, "All is well in Zion" despite those damned statistics.
It's time that the poison drinkers call the church what it is - damaging. It is no place to raise children.
| I am reading Sam Harris' book "End Of Faith" and it has really gotten me thinking. One of the points he makes is that religious beliefs are important (and often dangerous) because they translate into behavior or action. What a person believes affects how a person acts.
It strikes me that the Mormon faith includes numerous assumptions about a variety of things that are harmful - in fact TOXIC - because they cause memebers to behave in ways that are self-defeating and hurtful.
Skeptical made a post today about Mormons who stay in even though they no longer believe the outrageous doctrine because they think it won't do any harm. Well, he rightly asserted that this is false - the Mormon belief system DOES in fact cause harm to those who try to bring these beliefs into action.
The following assumptions are pure Mormon. Many of them happen to be contrary to what we as humans know to be fact at this point in time. Mormons stubbornly cling to these assumptions and ltry to live their lives by them as they are directed to do by the brethren. As you read these assumptions, think about the damage they do when translated into day-to-day action.
Marriage and Family:
1.Any two people can be successfully married to one another as long as they focus on TSCC – personal compatibility is not important – only righteousness in the church matters.
2.Being married is always better than not being married. Marriages should be preserved at all costs.
3.Marrying young is preferred to waiting till after school or career preparation. This is even more true for females.
4.Once married, couples should have children right away and continue to be "blessed by child birth" without benefit of family planning.
5.The ideal family structure is for the male/husband/father to work and provide for the family with the female/wife/mother staying home to care for the children.
6.Family time should be centered around the church and worship.
1.Chastity is more important than almost any other virtue. Human sexuality is confined to marriage and is intended for procreation. All expressions of human sexuality that are outside of marriage or not intended for procreation are wrong and must not be engaged in.
2.Homosexuality is a choice or a “lifestyle” that is inherently wrong or sinful. Homosexual impulses can be changed or at least suppressed with sufficient faith and discipline.
3.Gender is eternal and is an inescapable defining characteristic. One’s gender dictates a specific set of life roles and responsibilities that is immutable and unchanging.
1.The world is an inherently wicked place and is getting worse.
2.Life on this earth is a test full of trials that must be endured to the end.
3.Life on this earth is unimportant or insignificant when compared with eternal life.
4.Heavenly father's children must strive for perfection throughout eternity.
5.Mormonism represents the one truth – all other belief systems are false. Only those who embrace the tenants of Mormonism will be “saved”.
This is by no means an exhaustive list - what have I forgotten?
These beliefs are a recipe for disaster when put into action. Mormonism is poison.
| When I first became an exmormon, I got all excited about all the holes in LDS Doctrine I found. I was particulary excited about the Book of Abraham crashing in flames due to Joseph Smith's facsimile translation could scientifically be proven tottaly and absolutely FALSE!
When I tried to share my new found truth with my True Believing Mormon relatives, it fell on deaf ears. This is when I realized Mormonism doesn't really run on doctrine at all, it runs on a system of high pressure social engineering.
Basically, the membership is shown or told how to act, talk, and think in every aspect of Mormon life. That's why everyone in the church gives the same answer to questions or statements that are percieved as being anti-mormon. Individual thinking outside of the Mormon circle is stomped on usually by family members or other Mormons in the community.
A good example would be going to the temple. Here at exmormon.org most of us have come out of our Mormon shell of lies and are honest. What's amazing is the majority of us had simular bad experiences in the temple and had the same thoughts on how the temple tottaly sucks. But when we were True Believing Mormons, we suppressed those feelings and told ourselves and others the cliched Mormon lies about the temple. The same with missions. "I was the best two years of my life!" When in reality, it sucked and no way in hell would we ever do it again.
Mormonism runs on social pressure and well rehearsed lies that are told over and over and over until we just spit them out because that is what the whole society around us wants to hear. Say something contrary and you will be called out by your fellow members.
What really keeps members in line is when the pressure comes from the family. You can always find new friends but parents, brothers, sisters, spouses, children, and in-laws are harder to get rid of and better yet, chances are high they control you in variouse ways. No wonder the church is into families so much. They are the glue that the church uses to stick the organization together.
Lying the way the church wants you to lie is the key to a friction free life in the church. Comming out and being honest about your natural and true feelings will bring trouble. In other words, liars who tow the church line of conduct are always rewarded while those who are true to themselves are reprimanded.
No wonder so many Mormons have deep levels of stress. They are constantly at war with themselves trying to keep up outward appearances while their inner, natural feelings are being supressed by self-inflicted guilt inspired by the church doctrine and leadership. Being Mormon is exhausting. No wonder so many finally crack in their 30's and 40's and just need to get out of it when they realize the cycle will just continue and suck another generation into it.
| It seems to me that Mormonism is on the run... like the bank of a large river during spring run off... Mormonism’s claims are eroding faster than they can shore up their doctrine. Of course they will never admit this... but have they even gotten one thing right? Anything? |
Let’s just look at a few examples:
Mormon Claim: Native American’s are descended from an Israelite linage
Science: DNA conclusively proves that Native American’s can trace their ancestry back across the Barring Straight to middle Mongolia.
Mormon Claim: Their was no death on this earth prior to 6,000 years ago, prior to “The Fall of Adam “our first father.
Science: There has been both life and death on the earth for millions of years. Man in his current state has existed for over 80,000 years.
Mormon Claim: The first man and woman (Adam and Eve) lived in what is currently the State of Missouri, USA in the Garden of Eden.
Science: Mankind evolved out of Africa... Through our own DNA, every member of mankind can trace his or her linage back to our common beginnings in southeastern Africa.
Mormon Claim: Polynesians emigrated westward from the American continent to the Islands of the Pacific. They too are descendants of Father Lehi.
Science: Polynesians emigrated eastward from micro-Asia, Linguistic, DNA, plant DNA migration, archeological evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.(except to Mormon faithful)
Mormon Claim: The Sun borrows its light from some mystery planet called Kolob.
Science: This is so ridiculous, it hardly needs comment...however let me just state that the Sun does not borrow any of its power from any other planet or source...and is self powered.
Mormon Claim: Our solar system revolves around the this central planet, Kolob
Science: Our universe is expanding but it does not revolve around any central planet.
Mormon Claim: Noah collected two of every species onto an Ark prior to a universal flood, which was also the baptism of the earth.
Science: There is no observable evidence supporting the concept of a universal flood, no evidence supporting the concept of a so-called human bottle neck created with the death of the entire human population 4,000 years ago, no evidence that all earthly animal life migrated from some central final landing area following a flood. And "NO" evidence that Noah strategically placed each species throughout the earth so that their uniqueness would confirm Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
Mormon Claim: Dinosaurs are not native to this earth, but were merely used parts from some other world used by God in the creation of this earth.
Science: Again a ridiculous Mormon claim, the Scientific evidence is overwhelming that dinosaurs are not only native to this planet, but an essential element in the evolutionally chain that reaches back millions of years.
Mormon Claim: Horses were first introduced to the American continant in 2200 BC with the arrival of the Jaredites.
Science: An early ancestor of horses in the Americas were killed off my humans in about 12,000 BC. Horses were not again introduced into the Americas until the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500’s AD.
(The same could be said about all other Book of Mormon claims regarding sheep, pigs, elephants, barley grapes, figs etc etc)
Mormon Claim: All living things exist in the same form in which they were created by God.
All plant, animal and human life is unique unto itself and does not change. Man procreates man. Dogs procreate dogs; corn seeds grow corn etc.
Science: All life is subject to the same forces of natural selection, mutation, genetic drift. Life is always in a constant state of evolution and change. This process has been going on for billions of years.
Mormon Claim: The earth is 6,000 years old.
Science: The earth is billions and billions of years old. This is a confirmed fact.
Science is observable, testable and always subject to question. Mormonism is fixed, absolute and is not subject to any subjective test, skepticism or questioning.
So again I ask the question... Has Science EVER had to YIELD to Mormon Doctrine? Has Mormonism ever gotten any thing right? Anything that has been proven true in the scientific world?
| I don't really know where to start... I'm BIC, son of a "known" LDS family in my area, eagle scout, the whole 9. Me and all my brothers went on missions. My older brother and I both got temple marriages and no doubt my younger brother will as well.
(I feel like going to an AA meeting for the first time would be something like this... geez)
I have had questions about aspects of the church for some time now, even pre-mission, but I just dismissed them as "mysteries". It was the book of mormon that did me in I guess.
For me, things need to make sense. And the geographical theories of where the events in the BOM took place just didn't add up. For whatever reason I couldn't just pass it off as I had done in the past (more on this in a sec). Its funny looking back now because to get an answer for my question I was directed to the FARMS website. Not only did I find the answers to my question inconclusive, but I also found, right on the main page I might add, links to a hand full of other issues (adam/god, Book o' Abraham, DNA...) that would eventually squelch my faith in the mormon church as being the "only true".
I guess I always felt that I would get my "conclusive" spiritual witness with time. I even made myself believe that since I was BIC I had always had the spirit so I shouldn't expect a HUGE enlightenment. Plus I had all these leaders around me that knew soo much and in large part I passed the burden of proof off to them growing up. Really my first "crisis" from not "knowing" came when I was called to teach the 14-16 sunday school class and didn't know the truth yet. I remember sitting in those same chairs (ironically I grew up in the same ward where I was called to teach SS) and looking up to my teachers thinking," wow, they really know its true." I lied to them and told them the church was true, but I really didn't know. On top of that, I began to analyze others in the church and most everyone just seemed either "waxy" (for lack of a better term) or just following out of godly fear. A slight crack in my faith was all it took for me see things right. After that moment, when presented with something that didn'tcorrespond with my faith i no longer asked," Why do people try and disprove God's church", instead I asked," How accurate is this information..." The rest is history.
So here I am, I got a temple marriage 3 years ago, have one child, and am falling from my cloud of faith. My wife's life is centered around her faith and emotions run her life. Getting her to see the light is not going to happen. She has informed me that no matter what, she is going to raise our daughter in the LDS faith. I still don't know what I'm going to do about that. I foresee a lot of unhappiness on the horizon as I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place as many of you are.
No wonder the church wants everyone to marry quickly. No wonder we aren't supposed to wait to have kids. The church knows that the sooner a person has higher responsibility, the sooner they will be locked into an impossible situation if they decide to leave. It makes me soo angry because I now realize I rushed into marriage wayyy to quickly and on the pretenses that I was doing what I was "supposed" to do. Even more unfortunate is that one of the qualities that cemented my decision to marry my wife was her ability to keep me on the straight and narrow - talk about a backfire...
I feel much like Neo in the matrix. I was presented with 2 pills, one that would lead to the truth and another that would give me a precedent to choose faith every subsequent time a faith challenging issue arose. I chose the red pill. I feel like the more I see with my new eyes, the more hypocrisy I behold. But for my situation, ignorance may have been bliss... I now face a decision of either being true to my wife and daughter, or being true to myself and I honestly can't find an answer to that one.
So here I am starting my recovery from mormonism. Luckily I find myself in good company. And many of your words have helped make me feel like I'm not alone in this. Despite all of the hardship I know I will have to face in the future, I can't deny that, at least for me, it feels good to be out of the matrix and in the real world.
| There once was a boy who lived all his life with a cardboard box over his head. His parents taught him that he should never take the box off, for doing so was dangerous and foolish. The box protected him from the scary world outside of it.
On the inside of the box, he could make out some letters, and he could see the outlines of the box around him. His world was brown cardboard. His parents taught him to study the inside of the box carefully, for in it it was all the wisdom he needed to navigate life. Inside the box was security and safety. Inside the box was reality.
Some of his friends told him that they had taken off the box and life was much better, but he didn't believe them. His parents made sure he stayed away from these people, who clearly wanted only to hurt their boy.
But as he grew older, he found that he kept bumping into sharp and painful objects that he couldn't see because of the box. His parents told him that those things weren't real, that he was safest and happiest inside the box. But each day brought more injury as he seemed to constantly run into painful things.
"Just take the box off so you can see where you're going," said his friends.
"No! You can't! You'll hurt yourself, and you might even die!" warned his parents.
After too many painful days, he made up his mind to see what was out there on the other side of the box. The light hurt his eyes briefly, but after a moment, he could see colors and trees and sky. It was more beautiful than anything he had ever imagined.
He looked around and saw his friends, who smiled at him and welcomed him to a better world. And then he saw them. His parents and friends came groping toward him, boxes on their heads.
He called out to them, "Take the boxes off! You'll see that there's so much more out here! Trust me!"
But his parents told him sadly, "We have failed as parents. All we ever wanted was for you to be happy, and now you've rejected us and everything we hold dear. Please, son. Put the box back on, for us. You'll see that we know what's best."
"But Mom, Dad. It's so beautiful out here, and the world is full of possibilities. Can't you just lift the box, if only for a moment? You'll see that I'm telling you the truth."
His parents turned sadly and told their friends, "We have lost our son. Let this be a lesson to you. This is what happens when you take off the box."
And they groped their way slowly away from the shining sun.
| Anger is one of those tricky emotions. People often aren't comfortable with it. It's considered a "bad" or "immature" emotion.
I've been reading that word on the BB a lot lately, and just had a discussion about it with a friend last night. My friend is going through a rough time, and her traditionally feminine mother has been advising her to not get angry ("acid destroys the vessel that holds it" adages and the like).
Anger is a helpful emotion. It's usually a sign that there is some need or hurt that should be attended to. It helps us survive and protect ourselves. It's energizing, and it can motivate acts of self-preservation. In a lot of ways, anger is the emotional equivalent of a scab. It's a temporary protective shield that lasts until a hurt is more healed.
And, it tends to run it's course. Like all human emotions, it's impossible to sustain indefinately.
Many of the people that read and post here got hurt in some way by TSCC. We weren't being overly sensitive, we actually got hurt. Part of taking care of that hurt is feeling angry.
It's a foundationless leap of logic to assume that our feelings of anger somehow invalidate our conclusions about TSCC. Our feelings of anger don't suggest there is something wrong with *us* but instead make a real case that there is something troubling about the system that hurts us.
If so many people feel angry as a result of their affiliation with TSCC, then it says more about TSCC than it does about any one individual.
My guess is also that most people didn't get angry at TSCC first and then lose their "testimonies" and leave TSCC. My guess is that many of us, in the beginning stages of our exit, felt more shock, denial, and fear than we did anger.
I know I didn't feel much anger until months after I left. That pattern suggests that the anger is the *reault* of our experiences, and not the cause.
Other thoughts on anger? There are lots of newer posters, and although this topic comes up from time to time, I think it's healing for people to share their thoughts and experiences about anger as we all work through our recovery.
| I have been reading Elaine Pagels’ book Adam, Eve, and the Serpent where she summarizes the debate between Julian and Augustine in the fourth century, and analyzes why Augustine’s view was ultimately adopted and continues to form the basis of Christian doctrine 1600 years later. Augustine’s view supports the interpretation of suffering as the result of sin. Pagels gives several examples of this belief in many cultures, such as the Jewish belief that the sudden death of an infant is due to the demon Lilith bringing punishment for the husband’s infidelity or the wife’s insubordination. And the Hopi explanation that a child’s dying from the bite of a poisonous spider is because his father neglected to prepare ritual ornaments for Spider Woman, the tribe’s protector.
“One may know perfectly well the statistical possibilities concerning natural disasters, freak accidents, and life-threatening diseases and regard these - theoretically, at least - as fully natural phenomena. But when such events suddenly threaten (or spare) one’s own life, questions occur, so to speak, in the first person. Like the Azande, one asks not what caused the earthquake, fire, or disease (for this may be obvious enough) but “Why did this happen now, in this way, to this person?” (p. 147). Pagels explains that we prefer to believe that our actions cause these events, and feel the guilt associated, because this offers reassurance that such events do not occur at random but follow specific laws of causation, and therefore lie within human control.
A counterpart to this is the major Book of Mormon theme, and Mormon assumption that health, wealth and prosperity are natural consequences of righteousness. I am remind of the sappy lines from a song on the Alabama Christmas album: “I don’t know how our crops survived the drought and too much rain. It must have been a miracle, how else would you explain?”
It doesn’t take much examination of history to discover that the devout are not necessarily the prosperous or protected. In the western US, we enjoy a measure of longstanding peace and prosperity, which allows believers the comfortable myth of having “Angels watching over me.”
After I had been inactive for a couple of years, the stake president called me in for an interview. He recounted the peace and comfort he gets from his devout testimony of the gospel, which gives his life direction and purpose. Had I ever felt that? He asked. I admitted that I had. Wouldn’t I like to feel that again? I reflected honestly. Yes, it was a great comfort to feel God’s approval in my life and to have faith that He directed the events of my life. As I paused to recall what I was now missing without the church, and felt some nostalgic longing for the comfort of it, he misinterpreted. He told my wife that the spark of testimony was still there, and he could tell I was not yet lost. Though I recognize the benefits of a belief in a personal god, that comfort is forever denied to me.
I have a solid background in science, and accept completely the world-view that science presents. The science world-view has its own mystery and majesty, but denies me any belief that I am other than one of billions of humans trying to follow the program of my genes and make what I can of my life before I die. No super-parent in the sky has got my back. It is like my own little personal exodus from Eden. I don’t glory in this view, as some do. I envy those like my mother-in-law who writes of her own mother’s impending death as a glorious reunion with those who have died before her. It reminds me a little of what I remember of Logan’s Run, where those of a certain age join willingly in a ritual called “carousel” which they believe will renew them through reincarnation, but they are really being killed to spare society having to care for the elderly. Early Christian martyrs entered the coliseum just as willingly, firm in their belief in an impending reunion with Jesus.
I believe that this fear of the abyss of meaninglessness and loss of control is at the root of Mormon apologetics and the reason intelligent people will argue incessantly in the defense of Mormonism. They cannot allow themselves to be wrong for, right or wrong, without their world-view they believe they will have nothing left but despair. Lucky are those, like my wife’s new Christian friends, who cling to a comforting world-view that is more easily defensible and less personally demanding than Mormonism, though no less deluded.
I don’t rule out entirely the possibility of an impersonal god. I have a small hope that things may be far more complex than we humans have yet been able to discern. I hold to this hope because I fear I may need it when facing personal tragedy and loss. But as I told my wife, I see no reason, other than hope, to presume that there is a god.
I suspect that the way many cope with the lack of belief is by creating a surrogate purpose for life such as acquisition of wealth, career advancement, hobbies or even distraction through daily details. I still have not solidified for myself a paradigm for mental health that acknowledges my general helplessness and finite existence that will hold up in the face of severe crisis, including my own eventual death. This remains part of my own ongoing “recovery”.
| I think I've discovered the foundation of Mormon belief in a single scripture:
"And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated" (Doctrine and Covenants 13:21).
This one verse explains the extreme self-centeredness that is at the core of Mormonism: everything in the world has its causes in what we do as individuals. Read that verse again: everything good that happens to us is a blessing from God, and He won't give us any blessings unless we keep His specific commandments.
When I was a Mormon, I believed that everything good in my life was a result of my doing good, and everything bad that happened was punishment from God. God was not so much a loving Heavenly Father as a set of algebraic formulas: obeying X equals blessing Y squared. This is embarrassing to admit, but I remember thinking that BYU lost once in part because I touched my little factory. And people believe that their financial success is an indicator of their righteousness.
My colleague wondered why his LDS friend obsessed so much about the proper amount of tithing to pay. He thought it was admirable that she was so exact. But anyone who has ever been a Mormon knows that what she was really doing was making sure to be precise because it wouldn't count otherwise, and she would be denied the blessings. It's not surprising that in the temple ceremony, Satan says that if members do not "walk up to every covenant they make" in the temple, they will be in his power.
Sorry, but I don't want to follow a God who acts like an Olympic figure-skating judge: no, sorry, there was a little toe-touch on the landing. 5 points off.
But the odd thing is that Mormons explicitly reject this scripture every chance they get. When a priesthood blessing doesn't work (say the recipient isn't "made whole," for example), Mormons will say, "Well, it's just God's will. We don't know why He did that." But unfortunately for them, Joseph Smith didn't give them a way out: that priesthood blessing failed because someone wasn't obedient. Plain and simple.
Is it any wonder we were so stressed all the time?
| Writing to mom and dad about my unbelief is fundamentally difficult, since I would be basically telling them (implicitly) that I reject how they raised me. Obviously, they did their best, did what they believed is best, and I think they did a pretty darn good job. They are many, many things about how they raised us that I appreciate and love. But by telling them I reject Mormonism--and have no plans to raise DS Mormon--I reject part of them. And I hate that. (I will not shield DS from Mormonism, or any other religion. I want him exposed to a plurality of religions and ideas so that he can choose when he is older. I will be up front with him about how his extended family is Mormon, why they are Mormon, and why I am not Mormon.)
I go back and forth about writing everyone. On the one hand, Mom and Dad are convinced that I will return someday, as witnessed by the peace they have felt about me. They have their comfort in that; it is their coping mechanism. Part of me wants to let them have that comfort, even though I think it is false. While they felt peace and interpreted that as "CD will return"--that is the only way they _can_ interpret it within their Mormon worldview, that's the only thing that makes sense--I think that emotion of peace can be interpreted differently. Such as how I interpret it: "No matter what, we love CD. We can sense that she is okay and happy and the spiritual path she chooses for herself is fine." A problem I have with them "knowing I will return" is that this denies me freedom of choice (this is a common philosophical argument of an omniscient God). If God knows I will return, that means I will definitely return--it is not my choice to return; it's "already" been decided. Is God so omniscient that wedon't have truly free will? During my process of leaving, I asked this question. I adopted a somewhat modified version of an omniscient God, one that can see possible future paths that open and close before us as we make decisions and can guide us if choosing better paths, and is really, really smart and wise.
About dropping scripture, prayer, etc. You know I was an extremely faithful scripture-reader. Daily. When we were abroad in [year], we went inside at sunset (6:30, to avoid mosquitoes), and DS went to bed soon after that. Lights out really early. My scripture habit had been read right before bed. It became much harder to do during that time, simply on a logistic level. But I still read, just not daily. After coming back, my not-so-daily habit stuck. I kept up with that until things really started to break (after the "drowning in shallow water" and about the time of the "crumbling building"). Somewhere in there, I finished the Book of Mormon for about the 14th time, and decided to read DandC, since I hadn't since I was in 9th grade seminary. My trust and faith in Joseph Smith really wavered as I read DandC. Pretty much by the end, I felt that most of it was a document of man. When I went back to the Book of Mormon, I found it was actually painful to read, as I was considering the possibility that Joseph Smith wrote it himself. To paraphrase BH Roberts, was this a work of inspiration, or was this a wonder tale of an immature mind?
I think I have the church's formula (of read the scriptures, prayer, attend church) a fair chance, as I did nothing but that until for many years, and kept it up for a couple years while I read other stuff. What is more, there came a point near the end where I decided that that church's formula was not a perfect way of knowing. In fact, it was an extremely faulty way of knowing. I think it's a way for faith, but an emotional feeling cannot get at facts. I think that believing in God and other religious things is always a matter of faith. Religion is about devotion, faith, comfort, and explaining things we don't or can't understand. It is not about facts or truth. It doesn't need to be. I still find spirituality, comfort, and peace in religion. Even atheists can find this, in the right religion and outside of religion. But I don't find it in Mormonism. Mormonism's emphasis on its truthfulness, its emphasis on the (mythologized) "facts" of its past, get in the way of comfort, peace, devotion, and spirituality.
In some ways, Mormonism is good at the peace-side. For example, the sacrament. It was about reflecting on your week, your life, and finding comfort in the idea that forgiveness could be achieved, that even though you are imperfect, you can do better. Mormons don't worry about the "facts" of the bread and water being Jesus' flesh and blood, but about the comfort of forgiveness and redemption. Whether or not Jesus actually died and was resurrected is of course at the core of Mormonism, but I don't think it needs to be so. For a whole lot of Christians in the world, the point is the ideas of redemption, sacrifice, a human-like God, and forgiveness, and not whether it all actually happened. I could even find a place in a Christian church as long as the emphasis is on the ideas, and whether or not Jesus was resurrected is left to faith. Because we don't have the facts; it must be left to faith. And I think that's fine. I am willing to make a leap of faith for God; I don't think the existence of God can beproven either way, for or against. If I believe in God, it is based on faith, not knowledge. As for Mormonism, there are plenty of facts against the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, the prophethood (and decency) of Joseph Smith, the origin of the Book of Abraham, the restoration of the priesthood, etc. To make a leap of faith against those facts is ridiculous in my mind.
So why don't I take the church in the same way I see general Christianity or religion? (The ideas might be good enough to overrule any uncertainly about the facts.) Why not forget about the truthfulness of the church, and just find what is good about it ("it" now includes the culture, institution, theology, and gospel): emphasis on family, moral anchor, forgiveness, service, community, family heritage, etc.? (As far as family goes, that would certainly be the easier route.) For one, all that is good about the church can be found elsewhere?in another congregation or even in a secular, non-religious life. And two, besides what I find to be false about the church, there is so much I find to be negative about the church's ideas, attitudes, and way of doing things. Attitudes about women, intellectuals, homosexuals and homosexuality, (one example: 1993 speech by Boyd K. Packer said the Church's three main enemies to be intellectuals, feminists, and homosexuals), and race; over-emphasis on one-size-fits-all and obedience; over-emphasis on truth and de-emphasis on other great aspects of religion; attitude of denial of uncomfortable church history; the church's infiltration into too many aspects of member's lives; hypocrisy in teachings and actions; the institutional church's resemblance to the Pharisees more than to Christ, among other things.
Some of these things bothered me when I believed the church was true, some of them I only realized when I saw them in the light of a nonbeliever. But as a believer, I worked my way around them, justified them, or put them on the back burner, because I believed the church was true. They were not reasons I stopped believing. They are reasons I stopped attending, reasons why I won't go back as a "faithful nonbeliever."
I regret now that they were not reasons I challenged the truth of the church. I wish I had asked, "If the church does such destructive things, how can it truly be God's church?" I wish my own sense of rightness, my own moral compass, had helped me stop believing. I regret that I let my mind do gymnastics around racism, homophobia, polygyny and polyandry, and misogynistic attitudes. I am angry at myself for doing that.
But I will not apologize for the church any more; I will not make excuses and rationalize negative institutional, theological, and cultural ideas and behavior. I will not stand by the church and support it with my membership, tithing, or attendance. This isn't a lifestyle issue, this isn't an issue of not wanting to live by the restrictions (garments, church every Sunday, etc.); this is, for me, a question of morals and ethics.
This is why part of me wants to write the family. I want them to know that I am not lazy, inactive, too intellectual, deceived by the liberal northeast or the world, or that I was somehow duped or manipulated by DH, which is the main reason they think I don't attend. (Mom: "Is DH not letting you go?" MIL to us: "Did one of you [looking at DH] influence the other [looking at me] out?" MIL to SIL: "I'm just afraid that her DH made CD do something she didn't want to." Grandpa to DH: "I hear you have turned your back on the church and influenced your wife out too.") You and they certainly don't have to agree with me, but I do want to make it clear that this is my decision based on my research, my moral compass, and my heart. DH's decision was his own, based on his own reasons (many of which, but not all of which, overlap with mine).
What bothers me most is what they think about DH. I hate that they think DH is manipulative, a victimizer, and I am a victim and an idiot (so able to be manipulated). I imagine that they think because DH is the man, the priesthood holder, he is more responsible, and because I was so faithful and believing, I couldn't possibly disbelieve. It must have something to do with DH--surely not CD!--they imagine.
I want them to know that I am not just struggling with my testimony, that I didn't wander off the path, that I am not in the dark and dreary wilderness or the great and spacious building. I want them to know that I have made a decision, that I feel good about it, and that I am truly happy. I don't want to die with people thinking of me as an inactive Mormon or a jack Mormon; that is not who I am. I want to stand for what I believe. However, I don't know that they can see me how I see me. They can only interpret my life how they know how--according to the Mormon worldview. It is one decidedly different from my own.
My only unhappiness in my decision is this rift with the family--and that is substantial. They will never understand me, they will not know me. We keep up relations; we love each other; we talk and enjoy each others' company. But a huge part of us--their religion and my disbelief in that religion and belief in other things--is never touched. Granted, it's only been months since my "coming out of the closet" and I live 3000 miles (or more) away from them; there's not much opportunity to talk. Eventually, we will likely talk. Over the years, there will probably be points of greater pain and points of greater understanding.
Is it better that I pull off the band-aid and disabuse them of the notion that I am coming back? This would force them to confront the issue head-on and begin the healing process, rather than patch over it with their false comfort of my return. Will it help? Will it change anything? Or do I let them continue on interpreting my life according to the only way they know how?
When I was there at Christmas, and I was happy, friendly, didn't bash the church, and was so very normal, did they interpret that as "Oh, CD is happy after all. She must not be in such a bad place"? Or did they interpret it as "CD is so happy. She must have returned to church and being faithful, and it's just her DH who is struggling"? Will every action be taken wrong? So should I even bother? Will writing them just cause them to think, "Oh, wow, she is really angry. She is prideful. She really is deceived," or, "She has her reasons for her actions; we may not agree, but I can understand that she is where she needs to be and it is good for her"? That's all I want. I think that's all I can hope for.
| My Family And I Never Doubted That We Were Loved In The Mormon Church. What We Lacked Was Something Much More Important |
Monday, May 1, 2006, at 07:21 AM
Original Author(s): Mujun
Topic: EX-MORMONISM SECTION 7 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Recovery from Mormonism, for me, doesn't require that I reinvent my personal history and put a negative spin on every association I had with it. I believe that Mormonism ultimately does more harm than good, but I'm certainly aware of the good that I found in it. Similarly, I'm aware of a lot of genuinely good people with the best of intentions whose goodness was all too often mitigated by the agenda of the institution they serve.
I felt a lot of love in the Mormon Church, and I know my wife and children did too. My children had primary teachers who were truly able to love all the kids they taught. (Most of them were better at that than I am; I love my own children, children in my extended family and other children with whom I have some connection, but I am not someone who, by nature, loves all children.)
As I started to put some distance between myself and the church, I saw a few priesthood leaders in my ward try to find ways to get me to come back. For the most part, they were respectful and allowed me my space, but I was well aware of their genuine concern and, yes, love. I think that this love they convey is one of the things people mistake for "the Spirit" because it tugs at emotions.
What's better than being loved? What's more important and more valuable? What's an incomparably higher compliment?
There were only a few wards and branches in the church where I felt totally accepted, and these were units that because of demographic or geographic circumstances had thus far avoided assimilation into true Mormon conformity and orthodoxy. Everywhere else, I was always acutely aware of being different. I didn't vote for God's Own Party's candidates. I didn't attend the Lord's university. My wife and I didn't marry until I was twenty-six, and we didn't reproduce until we were both close to thirty. We only have two children. My wife spent most of our first ten years of marriage as both a full-time mother and a full-time graduate student, finishing her doctorate a few years ago.
The irony of all of these things that made us different is that we were quite sincerely doing all of them based on what was supposed to be the belief system we shared with all the other people at church. Dr. Mujun pursued her education in her chosen field because she truly felt that she had been spiritually led in that direction. The timing of our marriage and the planning of our family were also results of our honest and sincere efforts to determine what God wanted us to do. Our political and social views were consistent with our interpretations of "the gospel."
It always seemed to me that differences brought variety, vitality and exciting synergies to a spiritual community and that those relatively minor differences should, therefore, have been embraced. After all, we were far more united in our overall goals and cosmology than we were divided by our minor variations in interpretation and implementation. I just never really felt that my differences were embraced within Mormonism. There is, to be sure, a part of each of us that wants to fit in, and I think that most of the love I felt in Mormonism was directed at my inner conformist. I know a lot of Mormons who are truly able to love me for who I am and for all that I am, and I dearly love them. They always seem to be the more liberal, less orthodox Mormons. That's because there is a constant and inherent conflict between total acceptance of the individual and the dogma of the church.
Love and respect are both wonderful - and fully compatible - things. A couple of years ago, I reached a point at which the scales tipped, and I no longer wanted to sacrifice the latter for the sake of the former. There is plenty of room for respect in love, but it can't accommodate respect and condescension at the same time.
As I examine my family's current spiritual community, I've realized that the key difference between what we experience at the Unitarian Universalist Church and what we experienced as Mormons is that we are respected as much as we are loved at the UU Church. They treat us like adults. They don't exercise a line-item veto for those things that make us different. Our differences are not merely tolerated or accepted, they are embraced.
My wife feels it. My children feel it. I feel it. We respond to being respected and we grow because of it. It's so refreshing to be sharing a spiritual journey with a group of people who really do want us to bring whatever beliefs we have and let them see if they can add to them.
Thus spake Mujun.
| Got To Add This On To The "Deodorant" Discussion From "Things That Make You Go Humm..." |
Monday, May 1, 2006, at 07:23 AM
Original Author(s): Deenie, The Dreaded Single Adult
Topic: EX-MORMONISM SECTION 7 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| I'd mentioned a few people who thought that using deodorant was "worldly," and who had to be discreetly told that they were offending others.
In the discussion, I mentioned one guy who didn't use deodorant, and didn't have a problem---but, then he married, and commanded his wife not to use any. She gritted her teeth and said, "Fine. If that's how he wants it..."---and it lasted about three days, before he apologized and replaced what he'd thrown away.
"Anon for this" came into the discussion, and declared that NO ONE who bathes needs to use deodorant. (Just like my friend's husband...)
All I can say to that is: Wrongety-wrong-wrong-wrong!!!
Sure, there are some people who don't have strong body odors, but I've found that they're few and far between. (I'm NOT one of them, and even snuck some deodorant into the hospital with me last year... Despite the fact that I showered AT LEAST once a day--twice, a couple of times-- and was obviously not doing strenuous work, I couldn't stand to be with myself after about 3 days.)
Yeah, we were talking about deodorant, but it's indicitave of an entire mind-set I encountered in the church. Let me explain:
Your comments, Anon for this, are exactly the kind of self-important 'ignorant' thing I was referring to...excuse me, I don't mean that you ARE ignorant, but you were obviously taught erroneously in this area. Just because YOU don't have a problem (and I really hope you don't; just because you ask someone, it doesn't mean that they have the guts to tell you the truth!), you think that NO ONE ELSE needs to use deodorant.
This attitude is a problem throughout the church, most often seen in men's attitudes dealing with women (but in other places, too). *I* don't need _______, so *YOU* don't need it, either. If you insist upon using ______, then you are [lazy, weak, indulgent, stupid--whatever fits].
PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT. IT'S OKAY. REALLY. EVERYBODY DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THE SAME AS YOU TO BE "RIGHT."
My friend's non-smelly ;^) husband found that out in one "quick-and-easy" lesson; he tried to force her into complying with him, but had to admit he was wrong.
I know the deodorant discussion is a kind-of silly example, but isn't it silly for someone to declare that something as neutral as DEODORANT is "worldly?"
Another really silly example: The woman in my ward who decided that coin-operated washers were too 'worldly,' and that garments shouldn't be washed in them... She concocted this whole elaborate scheme, whereby g's would be washed in 5-gallon 'pickle pails,' by putting said pails in the trunk of your car, filled with hot water, detergent, and dirty garments, and then driving around town while the water sloshed in the buckets... I thought she was kidding, and burst out laughing, but she was serious as can be!
Neither deodorant nor washing machines are inherently 'evil' or 'worldly,' but these folks got an idea in their heads--and they were out to make others follow them.
Kinda makes you think of pierced ears, facial hair on men, and flip-flops, doesn't it?
| I have been thinking lately about the power that is transfered from the individual to the Mormon church when things are kept sacred/secret. Eventually, that became one of the red flags that bothered me for years.
It starts when we are interviewed even as children at baptism age by a Bishop and told not to share what was discussed. All interviews that follow are supposed to be confidential. Notice, however, that the member generally keeps them confidential, however, the leaders do not.
Our Patriarchal blessings are too "sacred" to share except with a few chosen special people, like close family members.
Did you feel like you were asked to be a tattle-tale when you were given a Visiting Teaching or Home Teaching list? Were you told you were the eyes and ears of the Bishop and were to report back regarding your concerns?
In this regard, how many sat in on Ward Council Meetings which were gossip sessions where people shared confidential, private information about individual members? Did you notice that the "confidential loop" in Mormonism is huge?
Of course, there is that temple silliness that is supposed to be "sacred" and kept secret.
Does Mormonism change the meaning of the word secret to sacred so they can keep people from owning their own power?
What I finally realized is that making things sacred/secret takes away your personal power and gives it to the male leaders.
If you used the welfare program, did you notice that the RS president had the authority to come to your home and look in your cupboards and the bishop can check your finances also, even taking over your checking account?
Is one of the reasons that leaving Mormonism is difficult because we didn't learn to talk personal responsibility and think for ourselves?
How did you handle the secrecy in Mormonism? Did you divulge the temple rituals, the bishop's interviews, etc?
Also, many here were male leaders in the Mormon Church. Did you have a sense of entitlement to share (an expectation from those above you) other people's personal information?
| The current stake president is a pretty decent guy. However, his two counselors are complete power maniacs. Just when you start finding ways to like them, they raise the bar. One counselor in particular seems to be driven by his ego more than compassion. Here is an example.
Pres. Jones [named changed] is the second counselor in the stake presidency and has been been given authority over institute and seminary. A couple of years ago, the stake began a bizarre agenda of ridding the church buildings of anything which wasn’t church approved. This included posters, ward bulletin boards, excess pictures, unapproved clocks on the wall, chalk boards, etc. The person directly responsible for this campaign was a high counselor with building oversight. For his efforts, he earned the label the “The Picture Nazi.” Nursery leaders would arrive on Sunday mornings only to find that all unapproved toys had been removed, teachers would find posters missing. No matter the anger generated, the Picture Nazi had free reign under the protection of his benefactor and comrade in arms, Pres. Jones.
One day the Picture Nazi made an unannounced and uninvited visit to a certain early morning seminary class taught by Sis. Noble [name changed.] He rudely informed her that the rolling chalk board she was using would have to be removed as it wasn’t church approved. She protested because the topic being taught included a large flow chart of the “Plan of Salvation” which consisted of large cutouts attached to the chalk board, which she wheeled into the classroom each morning for use. The Picture Nazi told her that the solution would be for her to arrive earlier every day and to tape the pictures to the wall and then take them down after class. Sis. Noble made the mistake of questioning priesthood leadership and complained to Pres. Jones about the incident. She was not very well steeped in church politics. Within a few weeks, Pres. Jones had arranged a visit with Sis. Noble during a ward activity. Following his visit with Sis. Noble, Pres. Jones came to me and ask me to arrange a calling for her. I took it that she had been released. I knew she would be hurt because she loved teaching seminary and wanted to teach a fourth year and finish a four year teaching tour with her son, a student.
In bishopric meeting we discussed the ward’s needs and couldn’t immediately find a place for Sis. Noble. A week turned into a month before we extended the calling of Teachers Essentials Instructor to Sis. Noble. The bishop asked me to visit with her about the calling. As I sat and discussed the position with Sis. Noble I could see anger in her face. Finally, she looked me directly in the eyes and said:
“This is why I was released, to be the Teacher’s Essentials Instructor? You took me away from a calling I loved to do this?”
Now, I was confused. I asked her what she meant. She explained that in her interview with Pres. Jones he had told her that the reason she was being released was because the ward had asked for her back. This was a patent lie. We had made no such request for her and had been told about the chalk board contention. We had been left to clean up Pres. Jones’ mess. She must have seen the surprise on my face and asked: “Did Pres. Jones tell me the truth when he released me?” I have never been one to lie. I told her that we had not asked for her back and felt badly that she had been released.
Pres. Jones flexed his ecclesiastical muscles in such a cowardly way. And that is the way the church works.
| Is it just me? It seems the further I distance myself from Mormonism, the more the need for duplicity fades further and further into shadows. It was easy to be duplicitous as a Mormon; even needful. It's survival. We're taught right from the BoM that it's not just ok, it's great to do the wrong thing for the right reason, e.g. Laban's drunken head rolling around in a ditch. We have to lie about our personal habits just to appear worthy enough to associate. Anything we may struggle with in a human way is considered weakness. And weakness, as you know, is not tolerated. We could be punished. They utter the words in the temple "You and each of you" as we stand before an alter, right arm to the square, anxious to be worthy, to be accepted, knowing full well that we and each of us are not going to be able to live up to the unrealistic "covenants" foist upon us. So we play along, hoping against hope that God will understand our humanity better than our church compatriots do. And so it goes. A gay married father reaches for another gay married father under the cloak of darkness. A missionary prays in desperation to believe. A mad housewife and mother savors a stolen cup of coffee in a shop across town, and not because she likes coffee. A young couple in college may deliberate on what might slide by as a full tithe. We all know we're just keeping up appearances. But at church, we smile, feel the spirit and bear testimonies of how happy the gospel has made us. In the church of expectations, we are only walking from shadow to shadow.
How better it is for me now to walk in the full light of day, the sun on my face, my shoulders, my back. Nothing to hide. No 'authority' to judge my humanity as inhuman. The shadows now replaced by integrity. No more duplicity. It's so simple.
| I posted this on another thread, but I was thinking that several months ago, I posted a version of this on FAIR and got raked over the coals because people said I was blaming the church for my own messed-up thinking. What do you think? Does Mormonism contribute to fallacious thought processes? |
I have mentioned that I suffer from clinical depression, more precisely disthymic disorder, which is a long-term, low-level depression. I've had it so long that I don't remember not experiencing depressive symptoms–at least not until I started therapy and began taking medication. Life is much better now.
Mormonism is often blamed for depression, and some statistics suggest that treatment for depression is indeed more prevalent among Mormons. But blaming depression on religion really minimizes the causes of depression: low levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Yes, environmental issues, such as stress, can exacerbate depression, but the cause is biochemical, not necessarily behavioral. These biochemical problems lead to distorted cognitive processes, which tend to exaggerate symptoms.
It's these cognitive distortions that religion may contribute to, so in that sense there may be a relationship between religion and depression. Here are the common distorted thought processes associated with depression (from Wikipedia):
1. All-or-nothing thinking - thinking of things in absolute terms, like "always", "every" or "never". Few aspects of human behavior are so absolute.
2. Overgeneralization - taking isolated cases and using them to make wide, usually self-deprecating generalizations.
3. Mental filter - Focusing exclusively on certain, usually negative or upsetting, aspects of something while ignoring the rest, like a tiny imperfection in a piece of clothing.
4. Disqualifying the positive - continually "shooting down" positive experiences for arbitrary, ad hoc reasons.
5. Jumping to conclusions - assuming something negative where there is actually no evidence to support it. Two specific subtypes are also identified:
* Mind reading - assuming the intentions of others
* Fortune telling - guessing that things will turn out badly.
6. Magnification and Minimization - exaggerating negatives and understating positives. Often the positive characteristics of other people are exaggerated and negatives understated. There is one subtype of magnification:
* Catastrophizing - focusing on the worst possible outcome, however unlikely, or thinking that a situation is unbearable or impossible when it is really just uncomfortable.
7. Emotional reasoning - making decisions and arguments based on how you feel rather than objective reality.
8. Making should statements - concentrating on what you think "should" or ought to be rather than the actual situation you are faced with, or having rigid rules which you think should always apply no matter what the circumstances are.
9. Labeling - related to overgeneralization, explaining by naming. Rather than describing the specific behavior, you assign a label to someone or yourself that puts them in absolute and unalterable terms.
10. Personalization (or attribution) - Assuming you or others directly caused things when that may not have been the case.
I'm not going to say that Mormonism teaches all these distortions (which are, at root, logical fallacies), but I will say that I can see how in my life, my religious beliefs contributed to most of them.
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