THE MORMON CURTAIN
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Mormon funerals are vastly different from regular funerals. Mormons are counseled to use the funeral as a chance to teach the gospel of the LDS Church rather than talk about the deceased person. Mormon funerals are just like attending Mormon Church - they are centered on Mormonism rather than the deceased person. Mormon General Authorities have counseled members to use funerals as proselytizing opportunities.
| It's been over a year since I attended church, probably longer. Recently my wife's grandfather died. We all jumped in a plane and flew out to the funeral. I was reluctant to go, but I figured it would be the last time my kids would get a chance to see their extended family.
I had a pretty good idea of how the whole thing would go and it turns out I was spot on.
See, here’s what’s up. One of my wife’s aunts married a general authority. Not just any general authority, but one who ran Ricks college, the BYU law school, and was provost at BYU for a while. He’s also written numerous books. I’ve known him for years and will preface all this by stating that he is one of the nicest and most honorable men I’ve met in my life. His wife is also some muckity-muck in the church I’m not sure exactly what.
It pays to be connected in the Mormon world. The deceased was just a regular guy, but at this funeral he got the full red carpet treatment. We had a total of 4 general authorities who attended including one of the apostles. A member of the general YW’s presidency was also there with the wife of another apostle and another wife of a GA (I’ll call them the MMW’s muckity-muck women).
OK, here’s where it gets predictable. What do you think the seating arrangements were? Because of all of the rank, every other church leader in the Stake found their way up on the stand. There were so many muckity-mucks sitting up there that there wasn’t enough room for the immediate family (children) of the deceased. They had to sit way off to the side and a row back (with the exception of the sibling who was married to the GA and another recalcitrant divorced sibling who didn’t know her place she situated herself at the far side of the front row). Where were the MMW’s? Of course, sitting down on the floor somewhere.
Think about it. Anywhere else on the planet this would be considered pure weirdness. You go to a funeral and see a bunch of unrelated old guys in suits lined up along the front with the family off to the side and to the back. Of course. Totally expected. No surprises here. As a Mormon, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. As an exmo, it struck me as surreal.
After the prayer, the bishop (I think) stood up. Before he mentioned anything about the deceased, he let us all know who the important people in the building were (all men). No mention at all of the MMW’s, no mention of the immediate or extended family, no mention of anyone who traveled to attend. How and where you serve in the church really doesn’t matter;
except at funerals I guess.
As to the program, what do you think the speaking order would be? As many of us know, the order goes from lowest rank to highest rank. As expected, all the siblings went first (all female) youngest to oldest, then one of the male grandchildren who is clearly on a fast-track up the church ladder (a male upward mobile grandson outranked all of the direct female descendants, including his own COB working wife-of-GA mother!), then the GA. At this point, the GA finally mentioned that the MMW’s were in the building. Surprise! They didn’t even get recognized until well after the service started. The GA spoke followed by the local bishop who had to get in his two cents (even though he wasn’t on the program) and then the apostle. The sum message of his the apostle’s talk was “The church is true! You must give your life to the church!”
The entire ceremony was less about the deceased and more than anything a 2 hour long advertisement for the Lard’s church. Every event and aspect of his life was twisted to somehow make it relevant to the church. I was also really disappointed in the talks of the family members. They had all mastered the general conference drone. All emotions were held firmly in check; it was just
. boring; lukewarm; capped. I felt like I was in an Amway meeting delivered in dry monotone where the topic wasn’t soap but religion. The dead guy was just a prop to relate everything back to the church.
Ironically, the most honest talk of all was my wife’s GA aunt. At least she didn’t sugarcoat everything and let a little truth leak out
but only to the extent that she could make it faith-promoting. If she was feeling any emotion, she totally suppressed it. I only mention this because, although it was delivered dryly and passionless, a grain of reality and truth stood out in such stark contrast to the rest of the program it seemed completely out of place.
I think a funeral should be about the deceased. It should not be about the religion he or she happened to belong to. People should laugh, cry, and rejoice in the memory of the loved lost. They should talk about the good and the bad, relive and share memories, and bring the person to life. Not go on droning soliloquies creating an imagined plasterboard character whose sole net worth is determined by the number and percentage of descendants that are active LDS.
That was something I knew would happen and which the GA said multiple times on cue. I knew it was coming, but when it finally came, I double-clutched. It would have been so obviously inappropriate anywhere else on the planet, but in the shadow of the church it was oddly right on target. It was the thesis of the whole meeting, the purpose for the event; the true reason we were there.
What’s the true worth of a soul? The answer: How effectively it brings people under the church’s control including itself.
That’s why women are encouraged to be baby factories, why men are encouraged to be mindless automatons, where obedience and submissiveness are held in higher esteem than honesty, integrity, creativity, hard work, a desire to find the truth the real truth and not some imagined fantasy world or any other worthwhile trait.
A conservative haircut, a white shirt, a neutral suit this is how you can recognize a Mormon. You can spot the ‘less valiant’ a mile away. They don’t wear the costume nor do they have that vacant look in their eyes. The ‘church’ is a parasite which sucks all life, happiness, and joy from people for its own purpose. Those who belong to the church may disagree. They are wrong. They live out their lives believing that the church is the true source of joy and happiness in the world, unaware that this is an innate gift of our humanity. The church merely uses something that was already there for its own gain.
I just wanted to jump up and yell at everyone, “HELLO!!!! THIS WAS YOUR FATHER!!!!!!!!! IF THERE EVER WAS ONE TIME IN YOUR LIFE TO LET GO OF THE FAΗADE
.. NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME!!!!!! WAKE UPPPPPP!!!!!!!”
The real service occurred afterward when the family got together in a side room and shared a few memories. They only had a short time to do this because the extremely long conference proceeding consumed all the time. Why was that extra meeting even necessary? Because the true topic of the gathering (who the deceased really was and how much he truly meant to us) wasn’t covered IN THE FUNERAL.
Oh well, what else would you expect?
"The funny thing about navel gazing, if you do it long enough you're likely to find some lint."
| It has been about a year now that my brother-in-law was killed in an automobile accident. He was a member of the Mormon Church but would be classified as a Jack Mormon and lived a pretty ruff life. He wanted to be buried next to his sister in a very small Central Utah town. My TBM wife contacted the bishop of the ward of this small town and he was gracious enough to let the family use the chapel and I might add the relief society brought food for our family. (Afterward our family made a donation to the relief society in appreciation).
Upon arrival at the chapel my TBM wife requested that her ultra TBM son (my stepson) who was in the bishopric at the time in a nearby state, give the prayer at the chapel and also dedicate the grave. The bishop pulled my wife aside and asked her if her son was worthy to give the prayer. She assured him he was. Upon arriving my ultra TBM stepson was pulled aside and interviewed by the bishop and showed the bishop his temple recommend.
So there I was chuckling in disgust, wondering what the bishop would do if the family told him they would hold the service out in the street and what would he do if they dedicated the grave without his permission.
In a way I just stood all amazed at the spiritual abuse Mormons accept from the Morg.
Its great to be a ExMormon!
| "The Unwritten Order of Things," a devotional address delivered at Brigham Young University on 15 October 1996.
Here are Boyd K. Packer's exact words regarding funerals how they should be handled and what their "real" purpose is:
"Another point of order: Bishops should not yield the arrangement of meetings to members. They should not yield the arrangement for funerals or missionary farewells to families. It is not the proper order of things for members or families to expect to decide who will speak and for how long. Suggestions are in order, of course, but the bishop should not turn the meeting over to them. We are worried about the drift that is occurring in our meetings.
This is why the LDS Cult uses funerals as missionary tools.
Funerals could and should be the most spiritually impressive. They are becoming informal family reunions in front of ward members. Often the Spirit is repulsed by humorous experiences or jokes when the time could be devoted to teaching the things of the Spirit, even the sacred things.
When the family insists that several family members speak in a funeral, we hear about the deceased instead of about the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the comforting promises revealed in the scriptures. Now it's all right to have a family member speak at a funeral, but if they do, their remarks should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting.
I have told my Brethren in that day when my funeral is held, if any of them who speak talk about me, I will raise up and correct them. The gospel is to be preached. I know of no meeting where the congregation is in a better state of readiness to receive revelation and inspiration from a speaker than they are at a funeral. This privilege is being taken away from us because we don't understand the order of things--the unwritten order of things--that relates to the administration of the Church and the reception of the Spirit."
| Made the trip to Utah to bury my mother. Thanks for your condolences. As feared my siblings had intended for the Bishop to conduct the funeral. I explained to them I had a problem with this because of past instances where funerals were in effect hi-jacked and employed as a missionary opportunity to preach the gospel rather than celebrating the life of the deceased. I explain to them my wife and children was not interested in traveling thousands of miles to hear a bishop preach the gospel. I explained that besides faithful LDS members, people in attendance would include non-members, ex-members, closet doubters, heathens and the bishop should speak to this group differently than he would his own congregation.
None of this went over well, there was some tense discussion and it took a while to get these ideas across.
My request was for the bishop not to conduct or speak and just have people get up and relate fond remembrances of my mother. Which is contrary to what the church directs, they want gospel sermons-
“He (the bishop) ensures that the services are simple and dignified, with music and brief addresses and sermons centered on the gospel. ” From the Bishops Handbook of Instruction
Even though this was at a funeral home the church has the presumption to direct bishops to try and extend their influence into private mortuaries and call it an official meeting of the church-
“A funeral conducted by the bishop, whether in a meetinghouse or in another location, is a Church meeting and a religious service.” - From the Bishops Handbook of Instruction
A compromise was reached. A relative conducted, many family and friends were able to walk up and take a few minutes each instead of having assigned talks, but the bishop still spoke. However, he was informed of my concerns and didn’t do the whole plan of salvation like he would have normally for which I was grateful.
During the viewing a nice DVD slide show was discreetly looping on a flat screen at the other side of the room. This was a great hit and brought back memories to all who watched. (Sure beats just standing around looking at the body.) But the church disapproves even of this-
“Videocassettes and slides should not be used as part of the service.”
From the Bishops Handbook of Instruction
Because my fall from grace is well known. I felt old ward members and distant family I had not seen in many years were scrutinizing me. Several times I was asked with unnatural voice inflections ‘So
How are you Doooing???” All the while looking deep into my eyes as they turned on their special powers of discernment.
I feel we should resist unwanted Church intrusions. As has been shown in hundreds of other posts on this board, often they will back down.
| Fortunately, I have not been to many funerals in my life. The last funeral I went to was over six years ago, and it was a very casual, non-religious open house where friends and family got together and just shared stories about the man who passed away. I really liked that. I thought it was a great way to acknowledge his accomplishments and say goodbye.
Today, the funeral of a very close friend’s mother (who I’ll call Sarah), was not like that. I knew this was going to be a... different... kind of ceremony when the bishop started by first recognizing the two stake high council members also on the stand (whoopty-do; so glad they could be there). The whole thing felt more like sacrament meeting: opening and closing prayers, plenty of hymns, talks about church doctrine followed by testimony bearing, etc. etc.
I was surprised that very little was actually said about Sarah, and what was said of her was always related to her involvement in church. Obviously, I’m in a position where I don’t care about church-related stuff, but I would think everyone would want to hear more about her life and the cool things she did, like living in Europe for several years. I looked forward to hearing my friend talk, thinking he would say something about how she was such a role model and inspired him to be a better person, but he ended up not saying anything about her. His entire talk was on the plan of salvation, and thus was spent his last formal remarks about his mother.
The ending talk was from the bishop. Sarah had four other children and a husband who could have spoken last, but the bishop got the privilege. And his talk went something like this, “Sarah was a great woman, because she introduced herself to my wife when she first moved to the ward. Now let’s talk about Lehi’s dream and the tree of life. Blah, blah, blah. The church is true. Amen.”
What the hell! What is this? After the funeral, I found myself very angry, because this woman--this great woman who I’ve known my whole life--wasn’t even the focus of her own funeral. The funeral was an hour and a half long, but only five minutes were spent actually talking about her. The rest was a repeat of everything you hear/do every Sunday, just with the name Sarah thrown in occasionally. I don’t feel like there was any proper closure to her life. I certainly didn’t get the closure I needed, and now it will take me even longer to come to terms with her death.
| So I drove my friend to the service this morning. I'd never been to this particular building, since it was constructed after I left the church. They held the viewing in the Relief Society room, so I helped her hobble down the hallway and find a seat.
The deceased's father was the only one who was kind to my friend. He gave her a hug, and told her everything would be alright. I found myself with an arm around her, meeting the dirty looks other people were shooting her when they found out who she was. She was too busy sobbing to notice.
The service was held in the chapel, and she was *not* invited to sit with the family. It really *was* like sacrament meeting sans sacrament, much like one of the other posters mentioned. The Relief Society president had been asked to read a narrative of the young man's life, and my friend gasped in shock when she was completely ignored in the talk. There was a song, and the bishop got up to give a less-than-cohesive talk about forever families and knowing where you're going. It all seemed slapdash, unprofessional, without substance, and slightly cruel. They capped it off with a closing hymn, and the family filed out to go eat in the cultural hall. My friend and I headed as quickly as she could hobble for the door.
It was all an eye-opening experience for my friend. She really over-did it to try and make the funeral right after the miscarriage, but she seems like she's going to be ok. I took her home, got her into bed and off to sleep.
Me, I feel like I need another shower to wash the place off of me. I *really* don't want to set foot into a Mormon church ever again.
| The sister was the only member of her family who was LDS.
The speaker was a former Bishop- he went on and on about the Plan 'Salvation and people were visibly upset. When it was my turn to give the Eulogy, I just apologized for the sermon and turned the time over to the family for memories and reflection on their loved one.
Later, one of the family came up and thanked me for putting the service "back on track", but would never set foot in a mormon building again.
Former Bishie was furious, but I just said "this is about them and not about the church".
Truly a long and difficult day. My first time conducting a funeral, and thankfully my last.
| A dear relative had their funeral this past weekend. A life-long less active with an active wife, his funeral was held at the local LDS Church. Many friends and relatives came from great distances to pay their respects, most of them non-members. This man attended on Christmas and Easter and had little regard for the church or it's doctrine but he supported his wife and her activity going as far as allowing her to attend the temple last year for the first time. He was a man who worked with is hands, had no formal education, but was the first one to show up when someone needed help. He did not seek recognition nor public praise. He was humble.
His funeral was not your typical service. The floor was opened for his friends to comment on his life. His sons told stories of fishing, hunting, camping, and growing up in the Pacific Northwest mountains and forests. His friends, the ones from work and the bar, told of racing cars late at night, sneaking in late after a night out with the buddies, and enjoying the lifestyle they shared at hunting camp and opening weekend of fishing season. People laughed at the stories, tears were shed, and the memories repeated were heartwarming for those who shared.
Then the church stepped in.
The local Bishop, who had clashed over the years with this man, got up and called those in attendance to repentance. He started in on the plan of salvation story, about how each of us chose where we would come to earth, and how that choice led them to the services today. How, although Mr X was a nice man who enjoyed the things of the world, he was not truly happy because he didn't live the gospel. And those who shared his wordly experiences with him are not truly happy due to their rejection of the Church and Christ's covenants.
He closed with two scriptures about being in the world but not of the world, and told those who knew Mr X that the thing he would want, now that he was on the other side and saw the errors of his ways, would be for his friends to embrace the gospel.
He closed with his testimony. As a final salvo he changed the closing song from one that was to be sung by his sons, to "I Believe in Christ". He invited the sons to sing the prepared song at the cemetery instead.
You can imagine the shock and outrage that was felt by those in attendance. As soon as the closing prayer was finished, the chapel emptied out in record time. The guests who came and shared their stories gathered out front and loudly expressed their anger and feelings at the Bishop who was waiting by the hearse. The Bishop continued to repeat that they need to take what he said to heart and that someday they will understand his message.
Many of those who were going to attend the graveside service instead went to Mr X's favorite watering hole and held an impromptu service in his memory instead. Those who went to the cemetary returned to the church and enjoyed a lunch of ham, funeral potatoes, rolls, and water.
A good day was ruined by a pompous Bishop with an axe to grind. And any possible goodwill was destroyed in a matter of minutes.
Keep up the good work you Bishop in Oregon. With leaders like you the church will cease to grow and Salt Lake will wonder why. And we'll rejoice.
| I've been waiting a couple of weeks to share this story to hopefully avoid too much IRL. A friend of mine has a husband who was recently called to be a bishop in Utah county. When I spoke with her last month, she told me her DH had a bad day because he'd just conducted his first funeral. When I sympathized about how hard that must have been, she said it was even worse than just doing his first funeral. Partly because the guy who died was a golf buddy of her husband and partly because the whole family involved had serious doubts about Mormonism and had been going to a Mormon Sacrament meeting each week and then attending a service at the local Evangelical church the same day. The wife of the man who died wanted to just have a service at a mortuary but my bishop friend talked her into having it at the Mormon church by allowing the Evangelical pastor and two Evangelical church members to speak. Then the bishop and the oldest son of the family (who is apparently an older, married TBM) spoke for the Mormons. The two younger sons are undecided about religion and just shared stories about their dad, according to my friend.
I said "Wow, that must have been an interesting service" and asked how it went when the bishop starting talking Mormonism, because I knew that bishops were supposed to share the gospel at funerals. My friend replied, "Oh, DH promised the widow he would tone down the Mormon stuff and talk just about Christ. But DH had to get special permission from the Stake President in order to NOT talk about the plan of Salvation."
My mouth congratulated my friend on her husband's sensitive handling of a delicate situation but my mind thought "WTF????" He had to get special permission from the SP to NOT talk about the Plan of Salvation. I still can't believe it, weeks later. How unbelievably controlling of Mormons on SO many levels. It just still boggles my mind.
| The last time I was in Utah, I had to go to a funeral for one of my husband's high school friends. She was 29 and had a degenerative disease. She also had two small children and an inactive husband.
So at the funeral, the Bishop was going on about something snore-worthy. Then he turns to the grieving husband in the first row sitting with the two little boys and says to him: "I know you've sinned. I know the sins you have committed. You can change, you can become active and go to the temple. You can be sealed with your lovely, lovely wife for all eternity. You can do that." Then, he gets down from the pulpit, goes over to this guy, goes down on one knee and holds his hand and says "promise me right here you'll do it."
I was the ONLY ONE sitting there with a horrified look on my face. I was active at the time. On what planet is that appropriate to do at a funeral??? Oh, maybe Kolob. It's actually not appropriate to do AT ALL in front of a group of people!
I'm surprised he didn't add "and you can pay your tithing." Another way the Morg has zero sensitivity, and only cares about the numbers.
...at a funeral... the nerve...
| I was one of the caretakers for a convert who recently passed away from cancer. Her family were not members but they accepted our help with her care. They were cordial to me and I was cordial to them....of course, I'm sort of on the outs with the TBM's....but most TBM's didn't really help with her care either.
So, her memorial service was held in the Relief Society room and I was asked, right before the service, to speak. There we were, all of her family (3 adults and 2 grandchildren) and a few members of the ward, maybe 20 people in all.
I felt terrible because the entire service was pounding away at the fact that she was now a missionary in the kingdom and was doing all the things she couldn't do while on earth. I was appalled and humiliated for her family who looked distant.
I got up and read a scripture from Isaiah, which basically says: I am the Lord and I know your name. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. I will hold you in my hand.
And then I talked about HER, her spirit, love and curiosity. I talked about the love of the Lord for her children and grandchildren.
I sat down, and the bishop got up and started reading from the Book of Mormon--which her family does not accept. And talking about the hereafter and how she is now proclaiming the gospel to her family. I was literally sick at heart because there was no love in his message....none whatsoever.
It was Boyd Packer's idea to make funeral mini-sacrament services, but it was a piss-poor idea and gives comfort to no one.
| This past weekend I attended the funeral for my nephew. He passed away a couple of days before Christmas and I wanted to share some experiences from this visit with family. It was quite a blow for my brother and his family, so we attended the funeral to pay our respects and to support my brother and his family.
There are two aspects of this visit that I wanted to share. First: the funeral itself. The funeral was a very emotional affair for everyone, obviously. But the bishop kept mentioning that “the spirit” was strong today? Really?? Crying = The Spirit? I was annoyed that he kept associating emotion with the spirit. People were not feeling the spirit, they were just really sad! It annoyed me that he was co-opting normal human emotion at a funeral and trying to associate that with a metaphysical experience. Besides, I had never thought the spirit was associated with such emotions as anguish and despair.
And then he did the normal mormon bishop asshat move and gave the plan of salvation sermon! Seriously?? The f*cking plan of salvation sermon at a funeral??! I know that is official direction from above to do that, but that is still a pretty asshat move. The girlfriend of my nephew and her family are all non members, so of course the funeral is the perfect time to try and convert them! It was so arrogant and offensive for me to listen to this BS that I made and excuse to get up and leave. My wife was already out in the hallway with my daughter, so I got up, pretending to go check on them. I couldn’t take it! I even tried to turn down the intercom in the hallway so I wouldn’t have to listen to the bishop.
Additionally, outside of all of the funeral drama I also had family drama to contend with. I am the only exmo in my family my mother is uber MO, my bother and sister are marginally mo, and my dad is (non baptized) mo when my mom is around but Buddhist the rest of the time. (Pretty weird, eh?)
Anyway, the night before the funeral we were visiting with the family and my mom asked me what I got for Christmas. It has taken me a lot of time and courage to get to this point with my mom and I turned to her and said “I got an expensive bottle of wine for Christmas.” There was a little pause and my mom said “are you going to drink it?” I calmly replied “yes” but in my mind I was thinking “Duh!! What else do you do with a bottle of wine??!” Anyway, that was all that was said about that. I didn’t notice it until the end of the weekend, but for the rest of the visit my mom really didn’t say much else to me. Pretty much got the silent treatment. Oh well. Did I mention that my mom is crazy?
Finally, before we were about to leave, my mom was bitching to one of my relatives about her kids. She had specific gripes about my brother and sister, but when she got to me she said “and
. he’s not the son I raised!” Hmm, so now that I have admitted to you I drink wine, all of a sudden you don’t know me? Well, of course you don’t know me! You have never wanted to know the authentic me. You only cared to know the me that could fit in the mormon box you contructed for me. I have not changed, you just have never taken the time to get to know me, cuz you never cared for anything about me that was not mormon. And, let’s assume for a second that I have changed. Wouldn’t you as a parent want to take the time to get to know your child?? Wouldn’t you as a parent have tried to be there through all the changes?? Nope, apparently if you are not mormon then you are written off. Oh well.
In the end though, my wife (nevermo) really helped this weekend to forge a stronger relationship between us siblings, independent of my mom, in these tough times. It is very ironic that it took a nevermo to help heal my family. The relationship between my sister and I has been pretty good for a few years, thanks to my wife. I am hoping that I can slowly build a better bond with my brother now, thanks to my wife
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