THE MORMON CURTAIN
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EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 3
The "Opinion" topic was created to separate out recovery from opinions on posts made in Ex-Mormonism. A large selection of posts made by Ex-Mormons that do not fit in "Recovery". These are more considered "Soap Box" posts. While they may be opinions, they are still very important in the steps to recovering from Mormonism.
| Joseph Smith worship is a back door method of worshipping the current prophet.
I have seen many times the observation that the church (without outright admitting it) appears to worship Joseph Smith to the point of spending more time talking about him that Jesus Christ.
I believe the reason this is done is because it is easier to emphasize Joseph Smith than it is to emphasize the current prophet, for various reasons.
The more people believe in the prophetic mission and greatness of Joseph Smith, the more likely they are to reverence and obey the current prophet.
Itis more effective to sell a heroic image of Joseph Smith than it would be to constantly talk about the grandeur and glory of Gordon B. Hinkley. Too much of this talk about a current prophet would be more likely to strike members as cult-like but the same effect by association can be had by emphasizing the prophet to whom Hinckley is in the direct line of authority.
Also, I imagine it is easier for the leadership of the church (the First Presidency and the 12) to feel comfortable with JS worship since the respect built up is fully transferable to whomever becomes the next prophet.
I believe it would be harder to transfer the respect and affection that would be built by emphasizing worship of Jesus to the current prophet because Hinkley's claim of authority derived from the Savior (as opposed to JS) is psychologically more remote. (Not according to official theology, of course, but likely in the subconscious minds of the paying believers.)
| In the Santa Barbara New-Press "Showing Devotion" "Mormon Church Successfully Attracting New Members" there is a reference to exmormon.org and postmormon.org that probably is why you landed here. There are hundreds of posters here, with many, many reasons why they left Mormonism.
But, they preferenced it with a inaccurate, misleading statement:
"Today there are a number of Web sites, including exmormons.org and postmormon.org that contain hundreds of stories of people who have left the church because of it's strict standards."
No, that is not true. I have no idea who the author is, but apparently did not read very carefully.
Regarding the reference to this web site, was the author influenced by a Mormon teaching?
They quoted one statement, out of context from exmormon.org only which gives the impression that people only leave Mormonism because of sin. See how carefully that was woven into one small comment?
Apparently, someone in the Mormon church got the local newspaper to do a Front Page article on Mormon youth because of the birthday celebrations of Joseph Smith going on.The article is huge. It continues from the front page and takes up all of page 12 with large photos.
Now that you are here, do some research and find out if what you are taught in The Mormon Church is the truth! Just read two links on this web site: Click on "Thinking of Joining" on the mail page and "Articles and Links" and as a good researcher, focus on the primary documented sources to valid the information there. Plan to spend several hours researching.
This statement is very, very telling:
"There is no attempt to brainwash, but children are very susceptible to being taught one way or another." Said Richard James, spokesman for the church's South Coast region. "We believe in teaching them the truth of Jesus Christ."
Of course, we know that they believe in a "different Jesus" that was not mentioned in the article either.
The article was accurate on some counts but just like The Mormon Church, only partially true on others.
They stated that there are probably only about a dozen high school students who attend early morning Seminary(photo showed eight in class) which seems about right.
But, they claim there are 250 Mormons attending UCSB. The question is: do these Mormons attend and are active, believing Mormons? If so, the Institute would be overflowing but it is not. UCSB has a long time reputation for a school where Mormons can "hide" and not be involved in Mormonism.
"I view the years I spent as a Mormon as a kind of mind-rape" wrote one man on exmormon.org. "Mormonism gave me a terrible image (I could not live up to the impossible, 'perfect' expectations.")
I believe that statistics will show these statements incorrect.Still claiming 12 million members world wide, the article said:"There are more Mormons in the United States than Presbyterians and Episcopalians."
I doubt that is factual.
They also claimed to be successful attracting youth, but I would question that also. This area probably has had only a few youth converts in a dozen years or more. I bet they can't find more than two that converted and 10 years later are still believing members.
The number one biggy that really struck me are the cards they are to carry always, if they feel pressured and have a question on where the church stands:
"For the Strength of the Youth."
This is a partial quote:
"Listen to music that helps you draw closer to Heavenly Father. Do not listen to music that encourages immorality, glorifies violence, or uses offensive language. When dancing, avoid full body contact or suggestive movements."
On sexual purity:
"Keep yourself sexually pure. Do not have any sexual relations before marriage. Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings. Do not participate in homosexual activities..."
They got this part right but prefaced it as "criticism":
"Latter-day Saints have endured their share of criticism over the years. Branded a heretic, Mr. Smith himself was murdered by an angry mob in Illinois shortly after he formed the faith."
One high school student said:
"We have to take ownership of our faith."
When asked if she would consider a faith other than Mormonism, she said:
"When I was younger I was curious about other religions, but as I got older, I 've come to believe that this is the truth. Why would I want to search for other things when I've already found the truth."
I have an important question for you: are you 100% sure that what you have been taught is the real truth? Have you truly investigated the church's history and claims?
Would thousands and thousands of members (bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, Relief Society Presidents, Primary Presidents,Elders Quorum leaders, teachers, generational life time members and on and on), probably close to over 1 million in the last ten years, only leave Mormonism because of some inability to live some "strict standards." Is that even logical?
Or are people more intelligent and credible than that? Of course they are.
Just as a side note, I wonder why journalists just accept the Mormon Church's statements of the numbers of members etc? Do they do any more checking, or just take their word for it?
Did the writer investigate this web site and pick out only one comment that only gives one impression and if so, why?
It would be helpful, I believe, if others read this article and set this writer straight on the facts !
The emphasis seems to be on the false impression that Mormonism is successful at attracting youth like they are bringing in new youth as members regularly, when it is obvious that if that were true, there would be dozens of kids at Seminary not just 12 from the whole stake area!
Mormonism has changed a lot since I raised youth in it. Now they carry cards to remember how to behave? They are that controlling and afraid the kids are not able to live up to the standards that they have them carry a card?
Sure, everything is all nice-nice and supportive as long as you go along with all of it, but try to leave and you will find out that it is not a pretty site for most people.
Think about it: if leaving Mormonism was so easy and there was no "brainwashing" there would be no need for sites like this!
No matter what you are told, people leave Mormonism in droves because the Mormon Church has not told the truth. It starts at the beginning -- Joseph Smith did not tell the truth.
It appears that most people who leave Mormonism have stricter personal "standards" for their own moral and ethical behavior than when they were Mormons. I know that I do!
The article can be read here:
Click on "Showing Devotion"
author can be reached by email at:
| There has been some discussion in some of the posts about what is and isn't a cult. This list, or a similar list has been posted to the board before. I like this list because it does not have a religious component to the definition. The following is my rant about Mormonism being a cult. Before you throw the term cult around, it would be good to understand what it means.
Until I started studying and reading again, I had not realized how the Mormon Church was becoming more of a cult. I recently saw a graph of the number of time that Free Agency was said in a General Conference; vs. how many times the word Obedience was used. The graph was very telling. The level of obedience has grown from very little in the ‘60s and ‘70s to high levels today. At the same time the levels of talking about free agency has dropped from high levels at the same time to nothing today. I have heard Mormon apologists say that they cannot be a cult because they have too many members and cults are small. Below is a summary list of criteria which denote a cult. None of these criteria say anything about size. I have used a tool from the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA)
I feel that the Mormon Church demonstrates that it is a cult. I think the evidence is overwhelming. The only criterion that I feel does not fit completely is item number 3. At one time I would have said that it did not meet the criteria because there were several items that did not match, but with the change since the early ‘80s I feel that they now meet the criteria of numbers 1, 2, 4, and 8 which I would have previously said did not fit the Mormon Church. Add to this the revisionist history which they cling to and wanting to ignore all evidence which might cast doubts on their message and you have a cult in the truest sense.
- The group is focused on a leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment. Typically, the leader is alive, but in some cases may be deceased, but his or her “message” (belief system, ideology, touted practices) is still upheld as the Truth, as law.
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry; leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar; the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.
- The leader is not accountable to any authorities (as are, for example, military commanders, and ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify the means (what members are expected to do). This may result in members participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, collecting money for bogus charities).
- The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in members in order to influence and control them. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
- Subservience to the leader/group results in members cutting ties with family, friends, and radically altering personal goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
- The group is preoccupied with making money.
- Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
- The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group, believing there is no other way to be, and often fearing reprisals to self or others if they leave or even consider leaving the group.
It is an intelligent cult and an organized cult. It is a cult none the less. I think the leadership knows this in their hearts, but they are so deeply invested in the lie that they do not see a way to get out. They have made it their life and I hope did not see what it was until they were too invested to get out. It would be worse if they knew what the Mormon Church was all along and persisted in the path because they knew they would be rewarded with power and riches.
| If you have spent any significant part of your life attending Mormon worship services and Sunday School classes, you've probably heard people use the phrase "a peculiar people" in reference to the membership of the church. The phrase comes from a verse in the New Testament in which Peter follows the time-honored religious tradition of flattering the faithful (or, as some of us would call it, blowing smoke up the asses of the sheep):
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (italics added)
The typical sacrament meeting talk or Sunday School comment that mentions "a peculiar people" centers around the following three points:
The irony is that the word "peculiar," as it is used in that verse, means something entirely different. It doesn't mean "unusual," "eccentric" or "odd." Rather, it is derived from the Latin word peculiam, which means a special possession or property. It's the same root as "pecuniary," which means it's related to money.
- The scriptures say that we're supposed to be a peculiar people.
- Mormons are a bunch of odd ducks and everyone hates us because of it.
- The church, therefore, is true.
According to Peter, therefore, the membership of the church is the purchased property of God. It means that he owns your ass, however normal or odd it may be.
| A relative who just returned from a mission in the deeeeep South, gave a homecoming speech yesterday.
He called specifically the night before to ask if I could be there, so I decided to go support him.
He and his family are well aware of fact that one of my biggest issues with the crutch is the fact that there are no honest answers, as a member of the crutch, to the question, "Why did the crutch discriminate against African Americans for 120 years?"
So the main point of his talk was that he spent most of his mission amongst African Americans (or if you are LDS, "Blacks") and he met a long time member of the crutch who told him that he always had a problem with crutch doctrine, especially in relation to blacks being denied the priesthood. But then he went to temple square in SLC and met a representative of the crutch who was black and he asked him, "How can you represent a church that discriminates against us?" And the crutch representative replied, "I KNOW THAT JOSEPH SMITH WAS A PROPHET OF GOD! I KNOW THAT THE CHURCH IS TRUE!" and from that point on he never had a problem with church doctrine again.
I leaned over to my wife and whispered in her ear, "I guess the message is that if you can swallow the whole JS story, then you can fit anything into that bag of BS."
I sort of felt like that message was supposed to be directed at me, as if naievely believing JS was a prophet, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, would reconcile all of problems I might have with the crutch and answers all of my questions.
Apparently that was good enough justification for 33 of JS's concbines to abandon reason, morality and justice for the sake of satisfying JS's carnal desires, but if anybody expects it to be a satisfactory explanation for me to abandon reason, morality and justice, and to subject my children to cult brainwashing, based on feelings, they've drastically underestimated the depths of my disillusionment with Mormonism.
What amazed me was that people came up to me afterwards and asked me if I thought that was a great talk, as if, he miraculously managed to convince me of the errors in my thinking, with the same naieve justification you'd expect from a member of any cult.
As long as the leader represents God, then that alone justifies anything and everything that flowed from that source and makes even the most corrupt fruit, delicious, even the purple koolaid.
| 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? 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?
If all the anti-Mormons were so wrong, why wouldn't they dry up and fade away? Is Satan funding these web sites? Or are people actually learning that the doubts they've always had are the same doubts that other had, and need a place to discuss how they figured it out.
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) by using DNA, but it's not good enough to show that American Indians and Jews are not genetically related?
Why don't pro-LDS web sites offer satisfactory explanations for Joseph's many wives, why animals 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?
What if none of that happened? Heresy! Evil, you might say. Is the devil inspiring me to write this right now? Is the devil prompting you to believe it? 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, are there only 12 million Mormons? 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. And the pressure starts to subside a bit. Satan does not comfort. How can it be that when I start finding out uncomfortable things about the Mormon church, I feel better? 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.
This web site, and others like it, serve to confirm thoughts 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.
I know what it's like. When a marriage breaks off because somebody cheated, you ask yourself what you did wrong. It's like that when you find out that you've been lied to at church, possibly for decades. I'm here to tell you that you didn't do anything wrong. You were just lied to. And you were lied to at a time in your life where you were vulnerable enough to believe it. It doesn't matter whether you were raised in it, and therefore very not able to think critically about the magical stories, or whether you were in a bad period in your life and were vulnerable to cult recruiting tactics.
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 they could end up getting killed in the mission field for, 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.
And if we can't stop the Mormon church, we can refuse to be involved in it. We can withdraw. 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.
Cheers, everybody. Mormons and ex-Mormons.
| Reading the eleventh article of faith as a kid always caused a sinking feeling in my stomach. I knew then that the Mormon church didn't practice it, nor did they even pretend to. |
"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
"...let them worship how, where, or what they may."
See? That statement is completely incompatible with all organized religion. The point of organized religion is to force people to believe in precisely one set of guidelines -- yours. The Mormon church claims it lets people worship how, where, or what they may. Yet this is not true. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The Mormon church lets neither it's own members nor the public at large worship how, where, or what they may.
Here's what it all comes down to:
The eleventh article of faith is about the best advice to originate from Mormonism, but ironically it is their only creed they don't adhere to.
- If you truly believed in letting people worship how, where, or what they may, why would you proselytize?
- If you truly believed in letting people worship how, where, or what they may, why would you excommunicate them for doing so?
- If you truly believed in letting people worship how, where, or what they may, why would you start a church?
| As an outsider to Mormonism, I am constantly fascinated by how much can be gleaned about Mormon life and social structure by reading church publications such as the Ensign, the Friend, or the weekly church newspaper. These publications provide an insider’s view of TSCC that can be gained in no other way and the information contained in the articles speaks volumes about LDS culture. (note: let me explain that I do believe Mormonism is far more than a just a “religion” – it is a holistic way of life characterized by a distinct sub-culture separate and apart from mainstream American culture).
What I find particularly interesting is how LDS members consistently fail to detect the poisonous aspects of Mormonism which are clearly and repeatedly illustrated in church publications. The damaging psychological features of LDS culture are glaring obvious to any objective reader possessing a modicum of common sense, understanding of human behavior, and sensitivity to human emotions. Members of the church however, seem to be completely blind to anything beyond the monotonous “faith promoting” messages these publications are intended to instill. The deeper implications of Mormon indoctrination are invisible when viewed thru the opaque lens of unquestioning faith.
A compelling example of how Mormon culture causes psychological damage to members was evident in a striking convergence of two recent articles. This first appeared in the weekly church newspaper dated November 19, 2005 and described research conducted by BYU faculty on the incidence and nature of bullying. The second article appeared in the January edition of the Ensign in which a member describes an experience with being deeply offended by a Priesthood leader and how she dealt with that experience. Each article in and of itself makes a powerful statement about toxic enculturation perpetrated by TSCC. When the two articles are studied in tandem, however, the effect is astounding.
To begin, let’s take a look at some excerpts from the first article which appeared in Deseret News - Church News Section 11/19/2005 entitled “Bullies pervasive regardless of culture - Physical, emotional domination is common”, written by Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News staff writer.
“Only hours after appearing on NBC's Today Show last May to talk about a newly researched form of bullying, Craig Hart received a phone call from one of the Church's mission presidents. The mission president had questions about the program, which featured "relational aggression" – a type of bullying in which others are harmed through purposeful manipulation and damage to relationships.”
”He asked Brother Hart, a BYU professor of Marriage, Family and Human Development, how to find someone to talk to his missionaries about using social and psychological manipulation to maintain dominance via exclusionary or demeaning behaviors. Unfortunately, the mission president confided, he saw the behavior reflected regularly within companionships of some of his missionaries.”
The BYU Marriage, Family and Human Development professors David Nelson and Clyde Robinson, along with Brother Hart, studied not just physical bullying, but also relational bullying/aggression in Australia, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. They found that children who displayed relational bullying try to control and hurt others in subtle manipulative ways such as not allowing a specific child to play with the group or demanding other children not play with a specific child, for example. The children may also threaten to not play with a child unless certain needs/demands are met or refuse to listen to someone they are mad at. The article went on to state that although there are no specific studies on relational aggression and Church members, the BYU researchers say common sense and experience – as well as the experiences of the mission president and others – tell them relational aggression occurs not just on school yards, but also in Church settings.
My immediate and overwhelming reaction to this finding was, “DUH!!! These BYU professors have an amazing grasp of the obvious!” Relational bullying is epidemic in Mormon culture. Unfortunately, it is not exclusive to children, but is a behavior all too common in adult members. In fact, bullying may be described as a defining characteristic of Mormonism. Numerous church policies and practices represent institutional bullying exactly as described by these astute (yet blind) BYU academicians. Instances of institutional and individual bullying have been documented time and again by posters to the RfM board – the examples are too numerous to list. It is no wonder the mission president featured in the opening paragraph of the article asked for assistance with bullying behavior. Too bad the myopic MP failed to see that he was confronting a far bigger cultural issue. The troublesome missionaries were simply behaving in a manner consistent with their church training and upbringing. These young men had been well schooled in how to be LDS sharks and they knew exactly how to treat LDS minnows. The sad truth is that these young men represent the General Authorities of tomorrow.
Now let’s take a look at the second article published in the January 2005 edition of the Ensign and entitled “He offended me!” I found it very telling that this article was credited to someone under the moniker “name withheld”. The following paragraph is a direct quote from this article:
“I didn’t want to hold a grudge, but how could I forgive him? I couldn’t believe my ears. A priesthood leader was standing at the pulpit in sacrament meeting, not mentioning my name but publicly expressing his displeasure at the way I had handled a recent assignment with the youth. I remembered that when the calling came I hadn’t felt skilled or confident, but believing that the Lord could make something of a willing heart, I accepted, prayed fervently, put in long hours and did my best.”
“And here he was chastising me! I could feel the worried looks of concerned friends, and my eyes stung with angry tears. I wondered how I would get out of this meeting with my dignity intact.”
The author goes on to relate how she searched her soul and struggled to find a way to deal with the humiliation and anger she felt. In the end she subjugated her own feelings and hurt by forcing herself to focus on Mormon platitudes about charity beginning at home – about being concerned with her own efforts to be more Christ-like rather than dwelling on the faults of others. In the end, she found comfort in acting as a doormat to her priesthood leader – allowing him to wipe his feet on her without complaint or reprisal. She became the living embodiment of those Mormon principles of obedience, sacrifice, martyrdom, and that perennial favorite – enduring till the end – suffering in silence. How noble, how charitable, how humble – how ABSURD!!!
Let’s think for a minute about the reality of this scenario. If this woman’s story is to be believed, the priesthood leader in question acted in a manner that is simply unacceptable by any standard in western civilization. If we accept the golden rule as a universal standard of moral human behavior, this man clearly acted in a cruel, heartless, vicious, insulting, and disrespectful manner. Without a doubt, this priesthood leader demonstrated relational bullying by victimizing a vulnerable member of the ward over whom he had some small measure of power. The woman who wrote this article had every right – in fact was fully entitled to confronting her attacker, telling him that he behaved wrongly and without justification, and demanding that he apologize. This would have been the rational adult response to this situation. Instead, she chose to subjugate herself to this “leader” by prostrating herself before him as a doormat in human form. Oddly enough, she takes some measure of pride in this victimization – she is acting as a martyr and is happy feeling that she has done the “right thing”. It does not matter that this so-called leader abused her without cause – the problem becomes hers, not his. She comes to understand and accept her place in the Mormon social order – she is a minnow and decides to act as minnows must act in the presence of sharks – she allows herself to be consumed.
So what does all this mean? The fact is that TSCC is designed to create and sustain two distinct classes of members: bullies and doormats, sharks and minnows, victims and perpetrators. The LDS organization and leadership constantly model the bullying behavior to those willing and able to learn it. Those who master Mormon style bullying seem to rise quickly within the church hierarchy. Those who choose not or are unable to become bullies are destined to be doormats. These people, who comprise the majority of members, (sometimes referred to by RfM posters as “sheeple”) are systematically taught to submit to the sharks. In fact, this willingness to submit is actively encouraged, exhorted and reinforced over and over in conference talks and Mormon publications. Normal, healthy reactions to aggression and bullying (i.e.: calling the behavior for what it is, standing up for oneself, refusing to be victimized) are discouraged and even punished in some cases. Thus the cycle is reinforced and strengthened. The bulliescontinue their aggression while the sheeple continue to permit it without complaint. The sheeple are reinforced for acting as victims through church talks and writings and interviews with the bishop. This pattern simply reinforces both the bullying behavior and the passive response so that it is more likely to re-occur in the future. The vicious cycle is repeated incessantly, while the unwitting participants become more and more damaged by participating in it.
I defy anyone who tells me that the Mormon Church is “good” for its members. A social structure built upon bullies and doormats is sick and twisted. All who are ensnared by it are inevitably maimed.
| I, Milton
Anyone who has seen the movie "Office Space" knows that Milton is the pathetic character who is aggressively possessive about one or two things. It doesn't seem to matter so much to him that his job is grindingly boring, or that he doesn't have the right social skills to make friends among his colleagues, or that he's not even getting paid anymore. But when his personal office space gets taken away he becomes agitated and mutters almost unintelligible threats. And finally, when his red Streamline stapler is confiscated, he completely loses his mind and ... you know the rest of the story.
The red Streamline stapler is America's new pop culture metaphor for The Last Straw. In the old metaphor, a camel's master loads the camel with many heavy things, and he is still able to walk, but walking becomes increasingly harder as more loads are added. When a lightweight piece of straw is added to these burdens, it becomes too much for the camel to bear, and it collapses. In the Office Space movie, the metaphor is reversed. Instead of burdens being added to a person until they lose their capacity to endure, things are taken away one by one. A person learns to get used to the lack of intellectual stimulation, being socially outcast, and the loss of income through tithing contributions. But there is one thing this person holds near and dear, and if that thing is also taken away, this person either implodes or explodes.
I will attempt to put myself into an analogy that compares life in the Office Space movie to life as a believer in the Mormon church. There is one hole in the metaphor I am trying to paint, and that is that if I am comparing my old TMB self exclusively to Milton, then I would have to leave out the fact that there were some burdens that were added that seemed beyond my capacity to bear. I mention this as proof of my modesty and deference to higher truths. But I think I can pull this off anyway, for the sake of a logical essay.
In my last years of active membership in the Mormon church, I became increasingly agitated. We had moved from the laid-back atmosphere of California wards where people admitted they weren't perfect. In fact, we liked talking about imperfection a great deal more than perfection. In fact, we didn't even want to HEAR about perfection. Anybody who tried that would get laughed at until they came to their senses. Just attending some of your meetings won you consideration for "promotion."
So we moved from California to Colorado - just a wagon ride away from Zion. Our new ward was composed mostly of people who came from Utah or Idaho. We had like 6 ex-bishops and a couple of stake presidents and relatives of general authorities in this ward. I quickly realized the Relief Society was where the Stepford Wives ended up after their computer chips fizzled. Their chips were replaced by antidepressants. Perfection was expounded upon week after week in Relief Society, and then the topic found its way into sacrament meetings and, sadly enough, Primary. I guess what started the Milton Meltdown inside of me was the meeting in Relief Society when the topic was forgiveness. The teacher broke down crying because she couldn't get her Jewish grandfather to forgive the Nazi teacher he had in Germany who threw him to the floor when he was a kid and stomped on his back until it broke.
What disturbed me was not that her grandfather wouldn't forgive the Nazis for disfiguring him for life, and for killing millions of Jews, but that his own granddaughter couldn't empathize with him enough to understand why forgiveness for him just wasn't possible. I sat there and cried for her grandfather. And then I cried for myself because there were some people in my life I couldn't forgive either - the men who sexually molested me when I was a little girl. It didn't seem like it was MY job to forgive child molesters. It seemed like one of those things in society that are so wrong that forgiveness has no place.
That day was the beginning of the countless Sundays that I went home either depressed or mad. People and the well-meaning lessons they taught were fucking with my sense of right and wrong. They were taking away my sense of self-respect.
One day the bishop called me into his office. His boss skillz equaled those of the boss in Office Space:
Bishop: "Howz it going?"
Me: "Fine, except I ...."
Bishop: "Good. Glad to hear it. Love your family. Great family. Listen ... aahhhhhh ... I'm going to need you to take a calling."
Me: "What is it?"
Bishop: "Cub scout leader, mmmmkay?"
Me: "But I ... but I ... but I don't WANT to ... but I've never done this before ... I don't know a THING about ....
Bishop: (sigh) "Do you want to SERVE, or not?"
Me: "I ... I ... ok."
And that began a string of callings that I learned to perform adequately, that took up much time I should have used for expanding mine and my children's minds, until I became a primary teacher. It was the year of the The Prophet is Almighty and Infallible and Perfect and Not One to Argue With chanting. The primary was to perform in a sacrament meeting, so every week they'd have to chant a new version of Follow The Prophet. The primary president told stories about how every piece of poop the prophet craps is golden, and every word he speaks is gospel. I exaggerate only just a little; by degrees my blood pressure rises as I write this, and sometimes truth takes wing and becomes a big fat flying fib. But I know my audience here, and I know you have finely tuned bullshit radar.
So on this one Sunday I find I can't march around the room with the kiddies and chant "follow the prophet" anymore, and I tell the bishop to find a new teacher -- NOW.
This enabled me to return to my sisters of the Relief Society, who by then had forgotten who I was because I had been in the primary for so long. I noticed some changes. The lessons had nothing to do with us. They were coming from a manual the Peter Priesters were teaching out of. The sisters kept telling me, "isn't it special that we are learning the same things as the priesthood," and I kept thinking "NO, it's boring, and it's man-centric." I missed talking about motherhood and touchy-feely stuff until the meeting went over but we didn't care, and then we'd come out of the classroom clinging to each other, wiping mascara-stained tears from our cheeks. I missed the smug looks of the husbands who elbowed each other in the ribs, rolled their eyes and made fun of how emotionally weak the sisters were. All that was gone. We now emerged from the relief society room with eyes glossed over from boredom, and our teeth clenched to sustain determined smiles.
Our lessons now consisted of loads of "the prophet said this, and the prophet said that." One week we got a lesson about why men shouldn't have their testes snipped as a birth control method, but it was fine for women to undergo major surgery to have their tubes tied. (Because it says so in the Bishop's manual).
My questions in class became more wrought with probing questions, with challenges to established thinking, and with quotes from Andrew Lloyd Weber's Jesus Christ Superstar musical. During ward socials, nobody talked to me other than the obligatory, "How ARE you?" By then I had built my life around Mormonism, so I hadn't made many friends outside the church either. I was socially crippled.
The Red Stapler moment came in a Relief Society meeting. The president stood up at the end of class and urged us, with all the confidence of a self-righteous bigot, that we should go to the capitol building and march against gay marriage, for we all know what an evil thing gay marriage would be, and that she obtained her directive from Salt Lake City, wink wink, nudge nudge (oh WHO could she possibly be referring to? Probably the prophet himself)
My head spun with the cognitive dissonance that comes when a situation becomes sickeningly unreal, and you realize that either the other people are freaking insane, or you yourself have completely lost your marbles. "How could somebody stand up in church and say such hateful, ignorant things?" I kept asking myself. I looked around the room and nobody else seemed to mind in the slightest. Years of being in the church and learning to be a submissive jellyfish who never wants to make ripples in the water out of fear of being eaten alive prevented me from standing up and calling that Relief Society to repentance.
From then on, I quit going to Relief Society and Sunday school. But that wasn't enough. I suddenly couldn't bear anything that was said in sacrament meeting either. My Milton Meltdown didn't involve burning down the building. It involved burning down the pillars of lies that supported my alleged testimony of everything the church taught me. I read about a half dozen books on Mormon church history and Christianity - none of them sold in Deseret Book - until I was a flaming mass of anger.
This story has a wonderful ending. To keep to the analogy of Office Space, I, Milton am happily reading books on a wonderful, metaphorical tropical beach where the waters are calm. To depart from the analogy, I have found peace again in my mind. I'm working on a college degree so I can become what I always wanted to be when I grew up, but didn't think I was good enough. And I really want to go buy a red Streamline stapler to keep as a reminder of my triumph.
| I have been amazed at the amount of doubt and dissent the internet has "revealed" to me.
Like many in Mormonism, I went along with the whole thing, thinking something was terribly wrong with me. Any doubts were my fault, and I was alone. Sure there were some I could talk to, and they had their doubts too, but I thought it was a small group, a few malcontents who could not "hearken unto counsel."
The internet has "revealed" quite a different world to me. I did not realize how extensive the doubt is, and how many doubters there are. And, like in any other totalitarian society, they are not bad people,---they are just people who cannot believe, follow, or obey the party line. And they do it out of real concern, real knowledge--not just to be troublemakers.
Mormonism is very effective in shutting up doubt and dissent. They manage to scare people out of honesty--not into it. They also manage to alienate doubters, by using social pressure, fear, and intimidation. You don't find many vocal doubters in the mission field. or in the wards. But they are there.
What a system. Much like the old Soviet bloc, where people went about their business, and kept their doubts to themselves.
The internet is information, and it seems to flash its light into all the corners. When the doors fly open, and the lights come on, there are always more rats than holes. Now, members with doubts are starting to see the rats.
| It am always somewhat amazed when I read books, articles and posts, that address the issue of the rationality of religion and faith with rarely, if ever, any discussion as what the writer means by words such as "rational," and "irrational." These words are usually thrown out simply as meaning that religious belief does or does not "make sense." But for such statements to be meaningful, and to have logical force, what is understood by the terms used must be spelled out. This is complicated by the fact that such terms have different connotations across academic disciplines.
Thus, when considering the question "Is religious faith rational or irrational?" we must begin by considering what we mean by "rational," and how such a term is related to the slightly different term, "logical." The distinction between these terms is subtle, but important. "Rational," as I understand the word, is related to the term "reason," and refers to cognitive processes. It is a term that relates to mental functioning. A belief, then, is rational if literally there are good and valid "reasons" that lead the particular believer to the belief. Such reasons relate to the mental experience of the subject, and the relationship of such experience to the belief in question. Since all of this is subjective, it is impossible to objectify the term "rationality" unless the notion is tied to something objective, for example, "normal" human behavior, "normal" human goals and desires, and/or "normal" brain functioning. Let' state a radical example. Suppose X believes that he was abducted by aliens who examined his body and then returned him to his bed where he woke up. X does not believe this simply out of the blue. In fact, X may articulate reasons for this view that undoubtedly encompass his own, private mental perceptions, i.e. his phenomenological experience. In order to say that his belief is irrational–i.e. in order to objectify rationality–we must of necessity tie the belief to what is "normal," in terms of human experience. Now, we could point to objective evidence, for example, point out that there were no sightings, no physical evidence of a landing, and even point out that X was on LSD. But none of these evidentiary points directly affects X's rationality. In short, given X's mental experience, it might be perfectly rational for him to form a belief that seems irrational to the rest of us. Moreover, such experience of X may be so compelling as to "rationally" override the lack of other evidence, and the lack of consistency with the norm. So, then, it is only through some process of objectification that we canassess the rationality of another person's beliefs.
Now shift gears for a minute and consider the word "logical." This word relates not to a relation of mental states, but to propositions as expressed in a language. Here, objectivity is built into the meanings of the words used, and the rules of inference, including basic probability considerations, that are given or assumed as intuitively uncontroversial. Once we accept such meanings and rules, we can assess whether a proposition is logical or not. This is a different issue than a consideration of rationality. So, if a believer states his or her belief in the form of a proposition, for example, "God exists," and provides supporting premises, we can assess the logic of such an argument or inference, including an evaluation of any objective evidence that might be involved. Since the substance of his belief has been turned into a proposition about the world, we are granted a window to the mind, and can determine whether his belief is rational by appealing to logic. In this way, a person's rationality is objectively accessible by subjecting intentional mental states to propositions. In short, until a believer commits to expressed conclusions and propositions, his beliefs are his own. With this background, let's turn to religious beliefs.
Let's first consider some additional terms. For now, we will combine rationality and logic and will assume that a religious belief encompasses propositions about the world, as supported by other believed premises, the whole of which encompasses a belief system that can, at least in principal, be logically assessed. However, as we do so, keep the above distinctions in mind. Thus, we will agree that a belief system is "rational" if (1) the propositions expressing such beliefs are internally consistent, and (2) the propositions representing such beliefs are supported by either valid inferences or by "acceptable evidence." "Acceptable evidence" shall be discussed in more detail shortly, but for now, it shall mean evidence that intuitively relates to the believed proposition, such that given the circumstances, a normal person would accept such evidence as justifying the believed proposition. Thus, "acceptable evidence" for the present argument is entirely intuitive. This move eliminates hundreds of years of unsettled and controversial epistemology, but preserves, I think, how most of use intuitively feel about these issues.
Now, given the above, I think we would all agree that a belief system could, at least in principle, encompass internally consistent propositions, and could be consistent with all other non-religious beliefs, again as expressed in propositions. Moreover, it could be consistent with known facts about the world. Thus, there is nothing per se about religious faith that entails a belief in inconsistent propositions, or a belief that is contrary to known facts about the world. The common criticism of religious faith generally has not primarily been inconsistency, but rather the lack of supporting evidence. Thus, the simple claim "God exists," is not generally inconsistent with any known facts about the world, it is simply a matter of questionable evidence. (I say this as generally true, recognizing that there are certain beliefs about God, for example the trinity, that are arguably inconsistent with the idea of a personal God)
Thus, it seems that it is the second prong of rationality that poses the biggest problem for religion, i.e. the question of evidence. On the surface it would seem that here the battle is won for the skeptic, since there is clearly no scientific evidence that supports a belief in God. Case closed. Religious faith is irrational. But before we gather up our cards and go home, we need to discuss more fully what is meant by "acceptable evidence." Although I defined the term above–hopefully in a manner that was acceptable to the most diehard skeptic–it needs to be fleshed out a bit. And here we need to keep the rationality-logical distinction in mind. First, we cannot demand scientific evidence here, including verifiability or laboratory replication. To make such a demand would clearly be unfairly strict by any standard, including the intuitive one stated above. We often have justified beliefs in the non-religious context that are not verifiable. Such beliefs are based upon both our direct perceptions, and our reliance upon third person reports. If I see something, I am generally justified in believing some state of affairs in the world that correlates with that perception. Although this is philosophically controversial, intuitively it is not. Moreover, unless we are prepared to accept idealism, i.e. the denial or doubt of a material world beyond the senses, it seems we must accept the common sense notion that perception leads to justified beliefs about the physical world, assuming, of course, that there are no known circumstances regarding such perception that should lead us to doubt that we saw what we saw, or heard what we heard. In order words, under ordinary circumstances we are perfectly justified in accepting the content of our perceptions, which include an intuitive sense of a real world that such perceptions reflect. So, with this in mind, what kind of evidence can we insist upon as justification for religious belief and faith? The answer, I suggest, includes evidence derived from our perceptions that relate to the belief, and that a normal person would accept as justifying the belief. So at this point, all of the scientific materialist should be scratching their heads. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO BASIS ON WHICH TO DEMAND THAT RELIGIOUS FAITH BE SUPPORTED BY SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. IT IS ABSOLUTELY A BOGUS ARGUMENT.
But, obviously, our work is not over. What kind of "perceptions" could legitimately lead to faith in God? In considering this question, first consider an extreme example, and one that should be familiar. Consider the 1838 first vision account of Joseph Smith. Before fingers start flying over keyboards, please be assured that I am presenting this example, not out of belief in its historicity or validity, but only as a thought experiment to make a point. Assume for a moment that the experience actually happened to someone, call her Y, just as related in this account, and assume that it happened in the modern world, and that the person having such experience was sane, not on drugs, and there was no apparent material explanations for the experience. Given such an experience, what would Y be justified in believing? It seems, again intuitively, that Y would be justified in believing that there existed some "glorified" being from another world that in a very real way meets the minimal requirements for "God." Can't we all agree on this? In fact, wouldn't we deem Y irrational to conclude that such an experience was meaningless, and wouldn't we think Y to be acting irrationally to ignore it without any rational basis in doing so? To me this just seems intuitively clear. Hard core materialist might argue that Y should simply assume that the experience had some unknown material explanation, a hallucination, or other delusion. But clearly such a view would only be demonstrating a materialist bias. Fundamentally, we are entitled to rely upon our perceptions in the absence of specific, controverting evidence.
What this tells us is that there is at least in principle, totally subjective, non-verifiable, non-scientific, evidence that could, again in principle, warrant a belief in God. (Here I need to remind the reader that I am only talking about rational belief of the person having the experience, nothing else.) Who among us would say that the person should walk away from the experience, forget it, and just call it a tweak in the brain–without supporting evidence for this conclusion? If the experience happed, belief would be justified. That is not only what our intuitions tell us, but also it is consistent with our commonsense view of perception and beliefs generally. Most importantly, what this tells us is that subjective experience is "evidence" to be considered when evaluating religious beliefs and faith. Such evidence may not be "good" evidence, all things considered, but we must, it seems, admit that it is relevant evidence nonetheless. But, then, what about garden-variety spiritual experiences, the kind commonly reported? Can they support a rational belief in God?
| Is it true that we leave because we were "offended" - that it is so powerful that Mormon leaders can actually kick out thousands of members because of their self righteous arrogant ego driven behavior?
Just a few personal notes: I know that hearing the "The church is perfect, the people aren't" manta got to be very disheartening as so much of the time.
The behavior of the leaders was so far outside the norm and so difficult to work with that it was no longer productive to be involved.
Then, when they resorted to such negative, humiliating, manipulative tactics of bullying, tattling, shaming, guilting, finding fault, false accusations of "sinning", bearing false witness, then having the audacity to claim that obedience is the first law of heaven and earth and that the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity are necessary for some kind of salvation which results in the leaders thinking they have permission to be invasive, rude and exclusive and rude, arrogant, self righteous and judges etc, how did that make you feel? Great, right?
Somehow, all the parts of Mormonism that are offensive are to be forgiven by the members as it is ok to be offensive, but not ok to take offense!
But, besides that, isn't the whole claim by Joseph Smith Jr offensive? I mean, really, isn't if offensive to the normal person to be involved with a religion that says it is more important to accept a hoax and a story of imaginary people and imaginary old records on faith than on reason, common sense and facts and evidences?
From my own experience, even if the JS story was true and factual, (and I had no reason to doubt them as a huge organization that was religious in nature and not supposed to lie, because of how the story was sanitized and rewritten), dealing with the members in leadership would make it impossible to be a reasonable organization much of the time.
I suppose it is our general nature as human beings to be hard wired to accept the notion of a God that gets us wrapped up in Mormonism (and other religions) as it appeals to our needs to be loved and accepted and given some reward in an after life for a job well done while living. That appeals to the general public, it seems.
But, in the end, were leaders often a huge stumbling block to a "testimony" by faith for anyone ? How can one have faith in leaders, for instance, if they get an "out" because they are not perfect?
| I found that I had misused a lot of words, had Mormonized some other ones, and gave completely different meanings to words with meanings that were standardized. |
A case in point is the use of "gentile," which to a Mormon means anyone who is not a Mormon!That of course, is a word that is misused.
Others that are Mormonized, "new" words are ones like: "priestcraft" and "telestial" and made up words like: "curelom" and "cummons" and many others.
[I am sure you all can think of many others in these categories!]
One of the most misused words, in my observation was the word: CULT. I observed that it was used as a kind of "dirty" word for beliefs/religions/churches and getting a lot of press and used incorrectly also.
I found that there were people writing books on that four letter word, giving it a derogative, nasty meaning that denigrated other believers. It showed up in a Christian religious bookstore on a "CULT" bookshelf referring to Mormonism in particular.
I wondered why anyone would call themselves Christian and then call Mormonism a cult. It did not make any sense to me until I understood how the word was used to denigrate and demean other believers.
After some simple dictionary research (about 60 seconds worth!) I realized that the war for converts was taking on a whole new meaning with the misuse of the word: cult.
I also realized that I had, in the past, misused the word as I did not know what it really meant.
There is a kind of "nener nener" element to saying something like: "You're in a cult, and I'm not. I'm a Christian, and you're not" when it came to Mormonism in particular.
It also took on a kind of "evil" context also, like there was something very "bad" about someone in a cult, when, in reality, the word applied to those same people. It seemed to imply that people were backward, uneducated, uncivilized, less than human, stuck in some kid of savage type ritualistic belief.
I find it disingenuous to call one belief a cult when another one not a cult. The dictionary (cult: formal religious veneration) does not make that distinction.
So there is no confusion about what I am talking about these are the dictionary and thesaurus meanings I have used as the standardized meaning of the word: cult.
Main Entry: cult
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: French and Latin; French culte, from Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate -- more at WHEEL
1 : formal religious veneration : WORSHIP
2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4 : a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
5 a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion
Main Entry: cult
Text: 1 a group of people showing intense devotion to a cause, person, or work (as a film)
Related words discipleship
2 a body of beliefs and practices regarding the supernatural and the worship of one or more deities -- see RELIGION 1
That is why, when someone says Mormonism is a cult,(1 : formal religious veneration : WORSHIP
2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents) I point out that all religions are cults. Every single one of them.
After researching Mormonism and it's roots in Christianity and it's roots in Mithra and other older belief systems, they all fit the definition of a God myth; a supernatural deity of which ther were thousands, female ones long predating male ones.
Some books that gave me greater understanding of the power of religion/churches/cults/faiths/ beliefs/god myths are:
"The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers" by Joseph Campbell
"The Demon Haunted World" by Carl Sagan
"Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer
I understand, more fully, the power of myth and it's importance in the development of the human being and particularly like what Campbell said: To him mythology was "the song of the universe, the music of the spheres."
Once I understood that the notion of: virgin births, saviors, marriage, heroic figures, the dark side, etc. religion/churches/faiths/beliefs were ancient, varied, and not new, the ideas took on a new meaning and one which could be used to enhance our meaning to our lives by parables, stories, fantasies, etc.
Joseph Campbell said: "People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're seeking. I think what we are all seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive...."
So while learning to "feel the rapture of being alive" in our Exit Process from Mormonism, or "recovery" as some call it, we can keep what is helpful, what resonates with us on some level, allowing that to change.
Who doesn't enjoy a good fairy tale, a fantasy, Star Wars, etc.?
While it is understood it is the imagination speaking, it allows us a safe place to enjoy, and understand, more fully an experience of "being alive."
| This went under another thread, but I thought it might have some legs as its own thread. We'll see. |
I think what we do here, deconstructing Mormonism's claims, is valid and has some worth. However, I think Mormonism has once again pulled one of the the biggest shams in history by handing off the burden of proof to us. I got this from wikipedia:
"burden of proof" means that someone suggesting a new theory or stating a claim must provide evidence to support it: it is not sufficient to say "you can't disprove this". Specifically, when anyone is making a bold claim, it is not someone else's responsibility to disprove the claim, but is rather the person's responsibility who is making the bold claim to prove it.
In other words, the burden of proof is not on us to show that Mormonism is a bunch of concocted silliness that has had serious consequences for many members. It is up to Mormons to prove to us that Mormonism is true. We can't "faith" our way into something being the truth.
And we definitely can't use feelings as evidence, because they aren't. Look at the age most children are when they are told they need to get baptized. 8 years old. Do they yet know how to separate feelings from truth? I doubt it. I'm sure there is a child psychologist that will agree with me. I remember when I was 8, back in 1977, and Star Wars came out. I was sure that the movie was a historical account of something that actually happened "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." After all, it was written right there on the screen. I thought "The Force" was real. I really felt it. It had to be real. There must be wookies and lightsabers. I felt it.
It was only until I was much older and remembered back to some of the silly things that fantasy made me do that I realized I could not separate feelings from reality at 8.
I remember being a teenager and meeting the 'right' girl. She must be the one. I could feel that she was the right one. I have also found the ultimate car, the ultimate guitar, the ultimate stock pick, the ultimate job, and the ultimate MLM. I felt that all of those were the ultimate thing to do. I really felt it. Some turned out OK, some didn't.
I do not know how much I was influenced by the feelings=facts method of fact-finding in Mormonism, or how much of it was just being a gullible kid, but I've felt a lot of things in my life that didn't turn out to be true. One of those was the wonderful feelings I associated with Mormonism. But in the end, they were just feelings.
Still today, I am not always able to completely separate my feelings from facts.
The funny thing, and this is more of a side note, is that once I stopped using feelings as evidence of facts in Mormonism, I stopped using feelings in other areas. I've been able to make much better decisions.
| Oher threads have exhibited the hostility - and fear - that Mormons and fellow conservative Protestants have of secularism. Mormons and conservative Protestants usually point to the courts as the source of their affliction.
I think the real answer is that Mormons et al. are afraid of secular *ideas* more than the government these people already largely control.
One metric is where the bodies and minds are going. A very interesting survey shows that the population of religiously non-affiliated persons is expanding, in historical terms, rather rapidly in the United States. But this is a quiet, person-by-person phenomenon.
This metric argues that Mormons and their conservative Protestant allies do have something to fear iin spite of their growth and political strength: the disaffection of people from religious mythology to secular ideas - i.e., the inability of extreme religious myths to permanently win over minds and hearts of independent people.
The LDS and other religious righ fear they will wake up some day and find the U.S. socially like Europe, with religious myth becoming increasingly irrelevant and formerly Christian societies unabashedly secular in outlook.
That is why LDS et al. want to insulate young minds from secular ideas - evolution and beyond. That is why there is such a rush by conservative religions to put the lid on gay marriage with a constititional amendment. They fear their day of power may wane.
Exmos are certainly part of this trend, with many defecting to secular, agnostic viewpoints that are skeptical of Mormon and other religious claims. Therefore we are the enemy.
"According to the City University of New York Graduate Center's comprehensive American religious identification survey, the percentage of Americans who identify as Christians has actually fallen in recent years, from 86 percent in 1990 to 77 percent in 2001. The survey found that the largest growth, in both absolute and percentage terms, was among those who don't subscribe to any religion. Their numbers more than doubled, from 14.3 million in 1990, when they constituted 8 percent of the population, to 29.4 million in 2001, when they made up 14 percent.
"The top three 'gainers' in America's vast religious marketplace appear to be Evangelical Christians, those describing themselves as Non-Denominational Christians and those who profess no religion," the survey found."
| This guy, Rick Koerber, has a radio show in Utah about financial prosperity principles. He gets real religious sometimes, but he has some interesting things to say about money.
Anyway, he has a forum where they were discussing the church's support of the marriage amendment. He used to oppose it, but he changed his mind when the church officially supported it.
He makes some interesting points, but something about his arguments bother me. They seem to be able to be made both ways. He claims not to be following blindly to the brethren, but I wonder if it's possible for him to disagree with them in any principled matter.
Anyway, for those willing to read it, I would like to know your thoughts. What do you think about his argument?
Here's the link to the thread, and the text of his post:
Nicely Entering the Debate
I'm interested in this discussion and so will enter the debate with Brandon and John. I want to do it nicely so we can all stay friends... Seriously. Sometimes people read too much into what I'm saying and not enough into what I've actually said. So, regarding this discussion on the proposed Constitutional Amendment on Marriage. I want to make three points and then respond to some comments of Johns.
1. I have been against any Amendment of the Kind.
In the past I have not liked the idea of Amending the Constitution for the purpose of defining family. First, the Founders spelled out a formula that we have almost completely abandoned. That is ---- to ensure the greatest good for "society" whatever that is, the government should secure and protect the rights of all individuals. You see, individuals have rights. Collectives do not get "new rights" because of affiliation. I've not seen any good arguments for "group" rights. So, each individual's rights represents the ultimate object of government protection. Families are collectives. The problem with this is two fold. I'm not convinced families have any rights per se, but only the individuals in these families have unalienable rights. Once rights are "granted" by government to groups or collectives, it creates one huge mess - to put it simply. One of the inherent God given rights incorporated into the "Liberty" Jefferson references in the Declaration and included in the pretext for the First Amendment is theindividual right of free association. So, when the government attempts to regulate this association by kind or degree then I have a problem philosophically - I think it violates principle. Any attempt to define family seems to become infinitely regressive when credibly challenged.
2. I like the idea of the Government out of the Marriage business all together.
In my judgment this is the best way to strengthen families. I think the most threatening force used to destroy the family is the force of corrupt government using its resources to condone, and protect immoral and lascivious behavior from the natural consequences of this behavior.
3. The Church's Position has Given me Cause to Re-Think my Position.
I believe as a matter of faith and religious doctrine that the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is inspired and that the men who have given us the counsel to support this membership is counsel given by prophets. I recognize this is a personal matter but it is a candid explanation of my motivation to rethink the issue. Because of my belief I have been challenged to "re-think" the issue. Notice I did not say turn of my brain and obey. I said, "rethink." I think it is the honest "duty" of all individuals to be responsible for their own judgments or actions and not to blame someone in authority for doing all the "thinking" for them. So, please spare me the whole litany against blind faith, absolute obedience, fallibility of leaders etc. My argument takes this into consideration and therefore I am explaining the "context" of that consideration here. You'll have to have your brain on to understand this. Now I'm sure Brandon and John did not need that last comment ( ) it was for everyoneelse. lol
4. I have, in the last few days, started to see the wisdom in this approach. I am not yet 100% resolved in my thinking on the matter, but I have realized a few things that I think are highly valuable in this discussion. In the process of rethinking my 0osition regarding the strategy of amending the constitution I think that it may be perfectly principled to amend this constitution in this way and it may be the most effective way to bring about good in the battle to protect our republic. I'll explain specifically as I respond to a few of John's comments below.
Now that I've summarized my basic feelings and judgments on the matter I am going to take a few quotations from John's writings so far and respond where I disagree. For example, John states:
It states that neither the state constitutions, nor state or federal law can be amended or written to require the same legal protections currently bestowed upon participants of monogamous heterosexual marriages at tax-payer expense be extended to same-sex or polygamous unions."
Well, first of all this statement is highly assumptive and inaccurate for a number of reasons.
1) The proposed amendment text says nothing about the "legal protections currently bestowed upon participants of monogamous heterosexual marriages at tax-payer expense be extended to same-sex or polygamous unions." The text of the Amendment referenced in this discussion is the Senate version scheduled for debate on June 6th, which reads in substance, word for word....
"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."
So the first problem with John's assumptions which are included in his statement quoted above is that it is technically inaccurate. His conclusions are his own speculations, which I'm not disagreeing with in this point.
2) The "legal incidents thereof" is not a reference to the protections afforded married couples under the law it is instead related to the definition of a particular type of contractual relationship. This amendment does nothing positively or negatively to the protections afforded or benefits provided to any group. The reason this is important is that both the federal legislature and the state legislatures are still free, according to their constitutional authority to write and pass legislation related to the protections and/or benefits of marriage or any other contractual relationship. For example there is nothing prohibiting either the Federal or State legislatures from creating "Gay Unions" under the law and defining certain contractual protections and provisions for such an institution (other than common sense in my opinion) but the reason this is not acceptable to the political movement against this amendment is that this would require a political movement in all states, and at the national level, and take a long time. This, however, is how social change was expected to occur in a democratic republic. The thing that is expressly and simply prohibited is calling or labeling "under the law" something as "marriage" that is not "a" union between "a" man and "a" woman.
This is important for a number of reasons not the least of which is that it is important because certain political movements are trying to create new "law" through the judicial process rather than the legislative process. This is no small problem for a republic such as ours. This by the way is precisely what Elder Russell M Nelson explained as one reason for the endorsement of a constitutional amendment. He signed a letter which states that: "We are convinced that this is the only measure that will adequately protect marriage from those who would circumvent the legislative process and force a redefinition of it on the whole of our society.” The reason this is so critical is that many laws have been passed both federal and state that related to marriage with the assumption that the laws would apply only to marriage meaning between a man and a women. This concept is known as legislative intent. All U.S. courts have used legislative intent as one of the standards for understanding, interpreting, enforcing and passing judgment on laws. But, certain political groups that can not apparently get the support they need to write new law have pursued and to some degree successfully the strategy of judicial sabotage. This strategy says, if we can "redefine" what the word "marriage" means under the law then we can "claim for ourselves" all of the "rights, privileges, and blessings" of those laws previously passed. This would (and has in the past) create legal and social chaos. The idea of new legislation by redefining terms is a political strategy that is flawed in principle and seriously dangerous. Not to mention that the strategy is more politically sophisticated than most "laymen" are educated today to be alert to. So, the courts begin remaking society in a way not intended at all by the constitutional framers of our republic. Those who defend this strategy support the idea that the devastating consequences of legislation by judicial fiat and the blurring of distinction between the three branches of government is less important than the "public good" served. Of course the "public good" is not the protection of individual rights as checked by the republican form of government the democratic input of the people but by the few elite in power who know better than "the people" what is good for society. Funny thing is that the political rhetoric of these supporters is just the opposite. If the political cause was genuine then the fight would be fought honestly in public - which is what this constitutional amendment does by the way, it moves the debate where it should be - into the publics view and participation.
3) The proposed amendment says nothing of monogamous relationships. For example, it does not define a marriage as valid or invalid based upon the fidelity of the partners. This is a matter left up to legislators to decide. It also does not prohibit a person entering into multiple marriages - such as bigamy, polygamy, polyandry etc. Some "assume" this because of the phrase "a" man and "a" woman. However what the text does mean instead is that marriage cannot be defined as the union of two women and one man. But to assume the endorsement of monogamy (while not out of reason) is not legally consistent with the text. The political threat being addressed is not the attempt of polygamists to change the definition of marriage... but the judicial strategy to redefine marriage to mean something it has not traditionally mean in previous legislative processes. If it was meant to exclude other types of associations it would say the "exclusive union" of "a" man and "a" woman. But, for example polygamy has never been defined as "group marriage" it has been defined as when one man or one women is involved (or to use the term more accurately - you can reverse the genders here) in more than one marriage. Or in other words in a polygamous family where one man is married to three different women there is not "one marriage" defined as the man and his three wives but instead there exists three marriages, each between one man and one woman. BTW, I think the Church would not support an amendment to the constitution that the Lord would say "is more or less" than what he originally established or in other words inconsistent with doctrine.
John also states that:
In essence, monogamous heterosexual marriages are being subsidized at the expense of everyone else. Anyone claiming to be a "Free Capitalist" and in support of such an amendment is NOT acting in integrity in my opinion. The ideal is "Liberty and Justice for All", not "Liberty, Justice, and extra benefits for the Privileged Majority at the expense of All".
I disagree. The "subsidizing" of marriage is a separate issue. What the amendment is doing is keeping marriage from being redefined so that a new class of relationship can inherit protections and privileges which previous legislators did not ever intend. I would argue that the subsidizing of marriage is a separate, serious problem but not germane to this debate - though the issue would become much less controversial and the opponents of the amendment would not get nearly the support of this were admitted. I do however understand that as a practical result this amendment would do nothing to abolish this problem of subsidy, but this is much different than an argument that it somehow validates or keeps in place the current problem. It quite simply does NOTHING to the current problem of subsidy. So, while I agree with John's sentiment of a Constitutional "present or privilege" being given to one group and not another is a travesty, I just think it is a bad argument and dangerous to mix issues here. As I have saidbefore, I don't think the proper role of government would ever include bestowing "group" rights at any time and I do not think it principled to decide who gets which rights any more than I think it appropriate to decide who gets which goods. That government quite simply, when it does this, is ripe for abolishment. This, at least, is what Jefferson writes in the Declaration. So, again I agree with John's sentiment but I think it is HIGHLY dangerous to bring that sentiment to this debate because it blinds the real issue, it makes this a nebulous conglomerate issue and obfuscates the principles, and actually makes it harder to win the fight for good government by doing so.
Finally, John's attack on the integrity of a "Free Capitalist" supporting this amendment (which I think by the way is simply unproductive) is based upon an assumption that the support of the amendment would be the support of the government granting special rights to special groups. This has never been my argument nor was it Brandon’s. So, if there are other issues of "integrity" I'd like John to elaborate more clearly. I think this misunderstanding happens a lot in politics. We think with our own set of assumptions (all of us are guilty and some of us are more blind to questioning our assumptions than others) and therefore fail to consider that someone who disagree with our "stance" on an issue may in fact not be disagreeing with us in principle but may "see something" that we have not yet seen. Which is what has happened for me. At first I was disappointed to see the Church's endorsement of this idea, and now I think I see some of what I did not see before.
John says about the proposed amendment that:
It would require an amendment to the Federal Constitution to allow State Constitutions or state or federal laws to require the same legal protections that this Amendment would forbid.
No, I don't think so. The prohibition here (and this is the only thing this amendment does - prohibit) is simply prohibiting any State or the Federal Constitution from being "construed to require" a redefinition of marriage. This is very limited in that it is basically a check against the judiciary. It IS NOT a limitation on the legislature.
Think about this for a minute. To my knowledge there is nothing in the Federal or any of the State constitutions that "requires" a speed limit, or local sales taxes, or any of the many many many government functions taken on by the legislative and executive branches of the government. Yet these laws exist. They arise freely from the legislature. You see it is not the legislature or the executive that can "construe" the meaning of a law. The legislative creates the law, and the executive enforces the law, the judiciary construes the law. This amendment simply prevents judicial fiat creating new law (and at that only related this topic).
This means for example it would simply require legislation (either State or Federal) to create a new class of relationship rather than a judicial ruling construing new meaning to old legislation and thereby forcing new law to be written. But nothing would prevent a state from freely choosing, without coercion from the court, to pass a law granting gay marriage or any other kind of marriage. The only thing prevented by this amendment would be the judiciary forcing the legislative or executive branches to do so. This is as it should be. So for example, Massachusetts could have gay marriage on the books, but it would have to come freely from the legislator, not compulsory from the State Supreme Court as it did. And, if a State did have such a statute on the books no court could use the State or Federal Constitution to force other states to recognize the law/statue of another state. This is how contract law - by the way - works. For example, in Utah a real estate investor can use a "lease option" agreement to form a contractual relationship with a tenant. However, in Texas the state legislature does not recognize the lease option agreement as such but instead considers all such agreements as actual conveyance instruments of real property - thus changing dramatically what is available under the law to citizens of each state. Now that is not a prefect example but it demonstrates that state laws vary and recognition of different types of contracts vary. Some states allow minors certain privileges, while others forbid the same. Some states allow concealed carry permits, some do not. Some states require professional licensing for certain services, while others do not. Some states allow certain types of adoption, while others forbid the same. Some states allow marriage without parental consent at age 13 some at 18. Some states criminalize homosexual activity of all kinds, some states restrict such activity by age, and some states do not restrict homosexual activity per se.
This proposed amendment would not necessarily create any new legal conundrum or even any substantial change. It would however put a stop to judicial tyranny in this one area of the law.
So, John then makes the argument that:
Since marriage is a legal contract as far as the government is concerned, I see no reason why all states shouldn't recognize and uphold contracts legally made in other states. Imagine the confusion that could ensue if a marriage recognized by one state is not recognized by another. If one person took up residency in another state which did not recognize their marriage contract, would their marriage contract remain in force, or would it be dissolved? What of the distribution of property jointly owned, or any fiduciary responsibilities? Of course, this would require a uniform standard for contracts across states, including but not limited to the age of consent and what terms and conditions are enforceable by law.
There are a few things I would like to comment on here.
1. All States should not be compelled to recognize or uphold contracts legally made in other states because this would threaten the sovereign authority of each State to virtually eliminate any semblance of statehood whatever, and make all States simply federal provinces. To the degree that we have done so much with so much loss of liberty resultant from this type of federal usurpation already, I'm surprised by John's argument here.
2. What would be confusing about a marriage in one state not being recognized in another? There are two faulty assumptions here.
The first is that states wouldn't "freely choose" to recognize the other types of marriages performed in other states. I know this seems like an easy argument against my position. However, over time - though no federal constitutional or state constitutional requirements were used to coerce the states - the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) which was created to harmonize the law of sales and other commercial transactions in all fifty states was freely accepted by 49 of the 50 states and Louisiana has essentially adopted it, but has found it hard to reconcile the language with its own civil tradition in Napoleonic Code. My point here is just because the COURTS can not compel acceptance does not mean acceptance won't happen. This is a common mistake made by "socialists" or those thinking with socialist tenants. That because something is not required by law, it will not happen. Quite the opposite is true. The market place of ideas is subject to all of the forces that participate in the political process. The only difference is that the political process legalizes the use of force for compulsion. The UCC and other uniform acts are perfect examples of how the code (though not in itself a law) was created and then each state legislature was free to judge its desirability for itself. As acceptance grew, nonacceptance became too costly. This is REAL social change vs. TYRANICAL change that creates the illusion of right - rather than right in substance.
The second faulty assumption is that a lack of uniformity would create intolerable confusion. This however is more of an appeal to the sensational than anything else. History has shown over and over that this is not the case. Just look at a few common examples.
A. In Business Relations - Laws and Recognition Vary By State. For example, in one State I can do business as a school without a license but in another it is a crime. No confusion, but awareness is critical.
B. In Government Subsidies - Laws and Recognition Vary By State. If I qualify to receive State administered assistance in one state, I am not necessary qualified in another. No confusion, but it does create an incentive for certain people to choose to live in certain places.
C. In Marriage - Some states recognize common law marriage but in other states they do not. Standards also differ from state to state. However, there does not seem to be an uproar about confusion on this issue.
D. In sexual Relations - Premarital sex is a crime in some States and in others it is not. Adultery, cohabitation, sodomy, etc., are regulated differently by state.
E. In Education - In some states I can choose where my child goes to public school and in others I can not. In some states I, as the parent, can legally teach my child at home without government permission in others this is a crime.
The entire American experiment includes a fundamental understanding that each State creates, engenders, and develops its own laws, cultures, etc., underneath the Federal banner which unites the states in key principles. We have survived as a republic without uniformity in marriage and many many other areas as well.
3. Finally, regarding property rights, financial responsibilities etc. These questions are not germane to the issue. As I have pointed out, the proposed amendment does not change the actual existence of any legal benefit currently. Secondly, this argument is often used to justify the need for everyone to be able to "marry" regardless of gender particularly. However, all of these issues including inheritance, custody and guardianship of children, finances can and actually do have a history of being thoroughly addressed in contract law. It does however take personal initiative and an attitude of self-reliance. If one abandons this, I agree that current law does provide disproportionate protection of rights to individuals involved in one type of association called marriage than others. Whether or not this is good/desirable is a different debate as I've already explained.
So, in the end, I was surprised in my own research and exploration on the topic to see how nicely the "real" issues pair down to a simple decision about the role of the judiciary on this one topic. That’s it! The debate in public however will be much more spectacular and probably the result will be much different than those enthralled in the debate currently imagine.
On a separate note I would also like to point out (especially for the LDS audience) something that is also highly important in my opinion related to the Church's "endorsement" of this amendment. Even the Deseret News gets it wrong based on flawed assumptions. I seem to have a built in "hot button" for the mental laziness that afflicts us all at times to "hear" what we think was said, instead of what was "actually" said. For example, after having researched the issue thoroughly I think many would be surprised to learn that:
1) The Church did not endorse this amendment.
2) The Church did not recommend its members endorse this amendment.
Doesn't that just sound funny given what most of us "heard" last Sunday. Well, let me explain. First, you should re-read the text of the letter that was read. You can find it here. In the letter the First Presidency says only that "the United States Senate will on June 6, 2006, vote on an amendment...designed to protect the traditional definition of marriage." This statement is informative, not prescriptive. The only behavior of the members being endorsed is in the final sentence where the brethren write, "We urge our members to express themselves on this urgent matter to their elected representatives in the Senate." Notice anything missing? The letter falls short of an actual endorsement. It is, I agree, a conceptual endorsement - meaning to me that it is clear+ the brethren want something done to protect marriage and family and that one method that they endorse is a constitutional amendment. However, the did not endorse any specific amendment. Actually they have gone to great lengths to allow church membersto voice their opinion to change the wording, redraft an amendment, etc. This is quite different than simply encouraging members to support a vote one way or the other. At least it is quite different in my mind.
For example, the brethren have published 3 public press releases on the subject of supporting "an amendment" to the Constitution... but no specific endorsement of any particular one. April 24, 2006, October 19, 2004, July 7, 2004. As a matter of fact on July 7, 2004 there is a specific statement that while the brethren support the strategy of amending the constitution to protect the definition of marriage it is not endorsing "any specific amendment."
Now I make this point not to somehow de-emphasize that it is quite apparent that the brethren would counsel us to support the current amendment absent a better alternative (my judgment of the matter) but it also seems clear that they have not given us divine permission to turn our brains off and disengage in the debate but only blindly support what others come up with. To the contrary they even anticipate members involvement in the debate. In the April release they write, "Because national campaigns on moral, social or political issues often become divisive, the Church urges those who participate in public debate – including its own members – to be respectful of each other. While disagreements on matters of principle may be deeply held, an atmosphere of civility and mutual respect is most conducive to the strength of a democratic society."
So, I make this point only to say that all Americans but particularly Latter-day Saints (because of our belief in the divine inspiration behind our leading authorities) have a duty to keep our brains on, to be effectively engaged in good causes of our own free will and choice, and should not wait for the Church to set up specific programs, to endorse specifically worded legislation, or to send out an instruction manual for civic responsibility. We know the doctrine, we know the counsel, and I am convinced the brethren expect that we act accordingly - which does not mean "zombie-like assent on this or any other issue."
Now one last point - more personal to me. Please understand that the following is related more to my personal and private opinion while the previous is a more public discussion of my own mind on the subject.
So, I have come a long way in my willingness to consider this approach (a constitutional amendment defining marriage and restricting it to opposite gender relations) to solving the problem. To be perfectly candid my biggest reservation at present may be a bit surprising to some. However it has to do with what I'm sure will be debated socially, politically, and legally. Just like John, I think many including the majority of the supporters of this amendment would construe this amendment to "outlaw" polygamy. In my post here I have outlined a brief description about why I don't think the text as it stands, does so. Nevertheless, it will be debated. The text could be changed, etc. Additionally, the multi-denominational statement signed by Elder Nelson includes the call for an amendment that defines marriage as, "the exclusive union of one man and one woman." Now the reason for my concern over the matter is this.
Obviously the Church has some history with relation to plural marriage / polygamy. (We use the term polygamy, which has broader meaning, but we use it to mean one man entering into more than one marriage) I am certainly aware that this history was and remains largely misunderstood and that after 1890 the Church's position changed dramatically. However, the DOCTRINE of the church does not change. My understanding of plural marriage is that it was not simply church policy at the time, but that it as a principle is DOCTRINE. There are two parts to the marriage doctrine - as I understand it.
First, celestial marriage - meaning marriage for Time and Eternity by proper Priesthood Authority.
Second, plurality of wives.
Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants addresses much of this topic as explained in vs. 1 and 2. Most of the section appears to deal with the celestial nature of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. However, this section of the scripture also very clearly explains as touching the "principle and doctrine of their having many wives..." In verse 34 the Lord explains that Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham because it was "the law."
So, my point is not to teach, encourage, or in anyway suggest that members of the Church question the current position of the Church. However, it is to explain a concern I have related to this DOCTRINE. I believe it is Christian doctrine and could enter into quite a lengthy conversation on the topic and its many facets. However, the part that concerns me is this.
1. The scripture seems clear to me that having many wives was not just a temporary policy of the Church but is a doctrine of the Kingdom.
2. When President Woodruff issued the Manifesto Oct. 6, 1890 he explained that, "Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise...And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land." Then, when President Snow offered the motion for a sustaining vote he offered it by stating that the manifesto would be "authoritative and binding" on the Church. No where did the DOCTRINE change nor was it forsaken, as I read the document. I could be missing something, but because of the Constitutionality issue - and the subsequent revelation from the Lord, the manifesto was issued.
3. President Hinckley on the subject does not dismiss the doctrine, but says instead, "If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (A of F 1:12). One cannot obey the law and disobey the law at the same time." To see my point, notice that the Constitutional status of plural marriage is given as the binding force behind the current position of the Church.
4. Now I do admit I have not completely understood President Hinckley's further elaboration that, "More than a century ago God clearly revealed unto His prophet Wilford Woodruff that the practice of plural marriage should be discontinued, which means that it is now against the law of God. Even in countries where civil or religious law allows polygamy, the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage."
5. Lastly, concerning the Constitution of the United States, the Lord has said, "...I established the Constitution of this land, by the hand of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose..." The Lord also said, "Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; and as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil." There is much more contained in DandC sections 98, 101, and 109 on the subject.
So my concern is this and it is twofold.
A) I think it would be highly troubling for the Church to take a Constitutional position that is inconsistent with the Doctrine of the Kingdom. The Church in the past argued vehemently against the position now viewed as Constitutional that polygamy could and should be prohibited by the government. If the Church now argued in favor of the abolition of the practice and to do so by supporting amending the actual text of the instrument God has already endorsed it would seem to me to be a serious contradiction, especially since the Constitutionality (or lack thereof) was used in 1890 and recently by President Hinckley as the reason for the current position of the Church.
B) I do not claim to know EXACTLY what the Lord is up to here today, but it is my understanding and I believe it was the understanding of the brethren at the time of the manifesto that the day would come again in the future when the Lord would require the practice of plural marriage. Though it would seem troubling to many, both in and out of the Church, as it did over 100 years ago, I can not see why we would now want the government of the United States to make illegal ANEW a doctrine of the Gospel. Of course, it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things what I can or cannot see as far as the Church is concerned, I just state my case for the purpose of explaining a concern that I have. It seems to me that the Church would benefit from the opportunity to get the government out of the marriage business as it originally argued years ago.
I have always thought that it would be a strange irony that Satan’s movement to destroy the family would mobilize support for the governments withdrawal from the marriage business which would at the same time lead the way to validate the arguments of the Church over 100 years ago in defense of the Celestial Order of marriage in its completeness.
| I'm guessing that the general authority who gave the final approval for the letter that was read last Sunday in all the US wards was Lance Wickman. He may not be one of the Top 15, but he's the church's official General Counsel. I suspect that Dallin Oaks played a key role with this letter too. If you haven't seen the exact text, here's a link:
The last line is the sneaky one. They urge members to express themselves on this matter, but they don't tell them exactly what opinion or position they have to express.
Don't get me wrong. It's glaringly obvious what they want the members to do. The members will understand completely. Their leaders are counting on it. But, if anybody initiates a serious challenge to the church's tax-exempt status by saying that its activities are overtly political, the church will point to that last sentence and claim that they don't dictate any political positions to their members.
Here's how the logic works. It's about the same as if I told you that 1) All Mormons are evil, and 2) Mitt Romney is a Mormon, then later claimed that I never said that Mitt Romney was evil.
The sad thing is, I suspect that it works from a purely legal point of view.
| From Townhall.com:
The fact that Joseph Smith roamed about in upstate New York as a young man searching for the lost treasures of Captain Kidd should have been enough to warn people that he was a few fries short of a happy meal. But his later claims to have received a set of Golden Plates from the Angel Moroni spared him from being seen merely as a quack. Instead, they ensured that he will go down in history as both a fraud and a heretic.
The Golden Plates of the Angel Moroni supposedly disappeared into heaven never to be seen again after Smith transcribed The Book of Mormon. This is but one of the evidentiary problems faced by the Latter-day Saints (LDS). The dearth of archeological evidence supporting the claims of Mormonism is also disturbing given that the events described in the book allegedly took place as late as the fifth century A.D.
That many of my LDS readers place The Book of Mormon in the same category with the Bible is odd, to say the least. While archeology has failed to substantiate The Book of Mormon, the veracity of the Bible - both the Old and New Testaments - has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years.
| From TownHall.com:
Last week, I ran a series of columns on Mormonism. In the first installment, I voiced my refusal to buy into the notion that all Mormons are “cultists.” I also refused to say that all Mormons are “non-Christians.” For the most part, I received polite emails from those who disagreed. Those who, for example, wanted to argue that you can’t possibly be both Mormon and Christian usually began arguing with some variation of “I respectfully disagree and here’s why.” They generally ended arguments with some variation of “although we disagree, I eagerly await your future columns.”
But numerous anti-Mormon religious fanatics also wrote saying they had lost respect for me and would no longer read my columns. I thank God for the loss of that Kool-Aid sipping portion of my readership.
Among the Mormons, the response was predictable. Most wrote expressing thanks to me for taking the time to study The Book of Mormon and other credible sources about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). They also thanked me for relying solely on sources recommended by LDS members - carefully avoiding anti-Mormon hit pieces throughout my research. For the most part, those readers reminded me that the Mormons view the U.S. Constitution as divinely inspired. Many offered words of encouragement for my defense of the First Amendment – even after I criticized their religion. I consider them valuable allies against a common enemy.
But the Joseph Smith-worshipping LDS crackpots (a vocal minority) also wrote – mostly to remind me that Smith was appointed by God to provide divine revelations, not Mike Adams. Dubbing me “ignorant” and a “liar” they urged me to keep my mouth shut or face eternal damnation. I also thank God that these Kool-Aid guzzlers have pledged to stop reading my columns.
| Mormon Doctrine and history as we know is full of holes, contradictions, and in short, paints an obviouse picture of the falsness of Joseph Smith's claims of being a true prophet of God and the founder of the one and only true church on earth.
I think we as individuals get very excited when we know that the church is fase because the brain washing, fear, and guilt the church controls us with becomes void because once you know it's not true. It's like being a kid and finding out Santa Claus was really your parents and being relieved that this magical man can't read your mind and there is no list with bad marks by your name. Phew!
So we approach our Mormon relatives and friends with our excitement and try to sell them on what we discovered hoping they will feel the same sense of urphoria and freedom as we did finding out it all is a lie and we were busting our butts mentally, spiritually, and physically for nothing!
Then we find most of who we talk to are argumentative or stuck in their old ways of thinking. Experiencing this myself is when I discovered it's not so black and white why people stay in the Mormon Church and lot's of complicated issues come into play here.
The first issue is social engineering. The church leaders know darn well we aren't going to go out and baptize the number on new converts at the same levels as we can retain "born into the church" members. The whole focus of the church is to get it's men and women married in the temple and start having children right after. Why? To get them stuck in the church.
The missions aren't so much to bring new converts into the church as they are to brainwash the young lads into the Mormon lifestyle that will enslave them for the rest of their lives and to get them so horny, they will rush into marriage with a young Mormon girl soon as they get home. I'll never forget how horny all the missionaries on the plane going home were.
The young women get hit up by these horny return missionaries and many end up popping kids out even before they are 19. What has happened here is a woman who could have finished college and had a career is stuck dependant on her young stud RM and kept in her place by the circumstances. Getting married young also makes the couple dependant on their parents and family more and that is what the church wants.
Individual independance means a higher chance of leaving the church. So they want you dependant on your family, inlaws, and husband. The church makes your own family and the family you marry into their prison guards in the prison that is known as the Mormon Church. Then they rope you into callings and get you in social situations where you will lose face bad with your peers at church if you don't tow the line the bretherin have set for you and your family.
Also, temple weddings are used to shame non-temple attending adults in the family.
It's temple marriage that is the focal point of how the Mormon Church retains it's members. Without it, the young men and women would go off into the workplace or college and drift away, so lets keep them on a short leash with the shackles of temple marriage and all that results from it.
The church has enjoyed economic growth in the last 50 years simply because it's members have made money in the vivarant US economy. This is comming to an end. The US is now the largest debtor nation with a currency that is becoming weaker against the Euro, and Yen. China will float their currency in a few years and that will pummel the dollar. Since Americans have a low savings rate, there isn't going to be retirement the way the WWII and Korean War generations enjoyed retirement. This means less volunteers and money donations for the church.
Outside of the US the church is nothing. The Chinese don't want it. The Europeans rejected it. The third world accepted it only for the possibility of making contacts with rich Americans. But make no mistake. 5/6th of the tithing cash flow comes from the US that runs the whole church. Most of the $40 Billion of assets the church owns are in the US. The church is almost completely tied to the US economy and if the US economy declines, so does the church.
The church has done a horrible job of keeping itself relavent in the younger Mormons lives. The fun activities of the past are gone and in a world of the internet, cell phones, and a zillion flavors of choices, the church needs to have fun activities more than ever for it's youth and it's completely dropped the ball here.
The high expense of college has killed the mission option. Most parents would rather see their children go to college than go on a mission now. The high cost of living has made many Mormon parents lay off pressuring their kids to get married. With higher temple marriage divorce rates and the parents being stuck with the bride and baby, getting Jr. married off is less appealing.
In truth, Mormons are slowly going the way of the world around them and it's a world that isn't compatable with young marriage and having lots of children young. As the United States becomes more of a has been that has to pay it's dues for decades of overspending, so will the church influence around the world and even at home. The church will have to cut back it's spending as well and hunker down and try to survive the downturn just like other organizations will.
Meanwhile, China and other prominent countries will become the new worldwide economic players influencing the cultures of other countries just like the US did in the 20th Century. In short, Mormonism isn't an international religion, it's an Americian religion and Mormonism isn't a 21st Century Religion. It peaked in the 20th Century and very well could meet it's demise in the 21st Century because it was too inflexiable to move with the way the world changed.
| What kinds of gods do people create, so often full of hatred, anger and bigotry? Members of the LDS faith were once persecuted, hated and driven from their homes, in part by other religious zealots repulsed by unconventional "marriages." Now, come full circle, the once-bullied have joined themselves with the bullies in the voice of bigotry as they battle their boogeymen.
American youths and innocent civilians continue to die in an unjustifiable war. Greed leads to gas prices climbing into the stratosphere. Millions of innocents die of still uncured viruses. Religion- and ethnic-induced hatreds rage worldwide. Poverty runs amok and the poor starve. Yet when the Mormon God speaks, he speaks out against two people who love each other and want to express that love in a committed formal way. I imagine a day will come when the LDS Church will regret lending its support to a failed president and a failed constitutional amendment that did nothing more than divide a nation and rally bigoted and frightened people to the ballot box.
There is a parallel with the way the LDS Church today marginalizes the gay community much as it once marginalized the black community. To previous generations of Mormons, blacks were descendants of Cain and less valiant in their pre-mortal days, a lower class. I wonder what future prophet will become enlightened as to the fact that all are equal in the eyes of a just creator? Who or whatever that may be.
| Back when I was a TBM and was learning about faith, I came to believe that the first step of faith was being willing to entertain the possibility that something might be true. This is because once we are willing to entertain that possibility then we begin looking at the evidence and seeing how it might fit with the model that whatever it is might be true.
Now faith gets a lot of airtime in the church (well, that is debatable) and I think it is useful at times. Heaven knows one of the first things I help my psychotherapy clients do is to entertain the possibility that some idea that they have previously been closed to might be true. The error that the church makes is they teach faith is universally good and lack of faith is therefore always bad.
Sometimes we falsely assume that by entertaining the possibility that something is true we are automatically at the same time entertaining that some idea in opposition to the first idea is not true. But, people can similutaneously hold directly contradicting beliefs. I am sure that all former missionaries have met people who believe in everything and were unwilling or incapable of giving up all doctrines that contradict Mormonism. Although some Sunstoners do reconcile seemingly contradictory beliefs, others continue to hold mutually exclusive beliefs after they learn the church's real history.
I believe another virtue is learning to entertain the possibility that something might NOT be true. Only by doing so do our minds become free to look at evidence in a different way and only then can we really see which model fits the data best. We in the foyer took that step and that is how we got where we are. And it is precisely because some of our families are not willing to entertain the possibility that the Church might not be true that some of us get so frustrated with them.
I want to scream that faith is not always a virtue. Following the "Spirit" does not reliably lead one to what is real. There likely was no God who declared that we should trust the "Spirit" more than reason. This is the gulf between me and my former self, I no longer value those things and I feel much healthier for it. I can respect that others have different values than me. But, I hate being judged inferior by loved ones for not even trying to live by those values anymore. And that is what makes me angry. But, I am coming to understand that they would not appreciate being judged inferior by me because they are not living up to my values.
I have always despised ignorance and especially willfully remaining in ignorance. I don't feel as upset with the Grant Palmers of the world (at least they were not afraid of learning the truth no matter where it led them). I must learn to be more tolerant of Mormons who refuse to look at evidence that challenges their worldview.
I remain open to the possibility that I could be wrong, but I feel quite comfortable acting on what I am quite confident of. Who I really dislike are those who know the truth, but actively try to keep others from discovering it.
| Watching the brief clip from "The Godmakers" has made me think--a lot--about the full extent of Mormon deception. After all, I was a missionary, and participated in the game. I "converted" people who did not know the truth about Mormonism at all. The church was very up front about tithing--they want the money--but not much else.
When people in Provo saw "The Godmakers," they were aghast, appalled, horrified. "Its not what we teach at all," they said. But in truth, with the exception of the designation of Kolob as "starbase Kolob," the film was painfully accurate. Something about watching Elohim knocking on Mary's door, and hitting on her must have been very upsetting. But that is what the church taught. The church would not want to face that reality now. But that is what the "prophets" taught.
The missionaries lie. They don't even begin to tell the truth about Mormonism. Polygamy is ignored. So is becoming a god. But Hinckley dared not talk about that, did he?
Many Mormons born in the church, raised in the church, and secure in the church have no idea what Mormonism actually entails. One has to go looking. And when the truth emerges, its quite a shock to the system. So is the temple. Nothing prepares you for the ceremony. Nothing.
Shouldn't a true church stop the deception? They badly need to. Think what a shock it is for a person with an active interest in the visible world to read the "Doctrine and Covenants," and the "Pearl of Great Fraud." You don't find the church paying much lip service to the "Pearl of Great Fraud." Its the door to some real revelations, the kind the church does not want one to have.
They can't be honest, of course, but with so much information available, the church is in a bind. They have their asses in a crack. Tell the truth, and you get no converts. Let people find out the truth, and you have no members. What a sorry mess Joseph Smith made of things--including the lives of so many decent people.
| What is Doctrine?
Firstly, true "doctrine" of the LDS faith must be canonized as such. Probably around 1950 or so, the LDS church moved to a system whereby all "official" statements and "revelations" must be UNANIMOUSLY endorsed by the first presidency and twelve apostles. Those fifteen individuals hold the keys to declaring doctrine.
Secondly, the fifteen leaders of the church can "override" any previous doctrines. The Lord apparently changes His mind occasionally and transmits this knowledge to his only true and living leaders on Earth. The LDS leadership can then declare a "change" in the doctrine. This is what occurred with the Priesthood and the blacks and the "Adam-God" doctrine.
Thirdly, all "doctrines" must coincide with scripture. If anything is said to be doctrine, but clearly violates scripture, then we can conclude it was NOT doctrine, but "speculation."
Doctrine vs. Speculation:
LDS members have often been told that anything a church leaders says over the pulpit is doctrine. Some believe it can only be during "General Conference". However both of these ideas are false. In order for something to be doctrine, the "prophet" of the church must state specifically "We the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declare . . ." Only then is it doctrine.
This can be very confusing since most leaders of the church freely speak about topics that HAVE been canonized by the Church. But their "spin" and "embellishment" of those doctrines may be speculative. Others just speculate opening without any reference to any doctrine. Therefore, members of the LDS church really have a difficult time separating doctrine from speculation.
Because of this "fine line" between doctrine and speculation, it is very difficult to for LDS members to know what they really believe. An example of this is as follows:
LDS members have often been taught that they lived in a Pre-Existence where there were two "plans" presented – one by Lucifer and one by Christ. We chose Christ's plan and rejected Lucifer's. Lucifer and his followers were cast out and sent to earth as "spirits" to tempt the rest of us. That is in scripture. That would be considered doctrine.
However, many Mormon leaders have embellished that story to include that our "position" here on earth was determined by our level of "valiancy" in the Pre-Existence. Those that are in a disadvantaged area (Africa and China are mentioned) were sent there because they "wavered" in their devotion and loyalty to God in the Pre-Existence. Therefore they were sent to a disadvantaged area on Earth. Those that were very loyal and devout were sent to an "advantaged" area (United States) where finding the secret "codes" and path back to God would be easier.
It is further stated that some were "pre-ordained" in the Pre-Existence as leaders here on earth. Many LDS lessons indicate that those living today are "choice spirits" because they were preserved for the "last days" in an advantaged situation and must have been the choicest of all "spirits" in the Pre-Existence.
All of that "embellishment" is nothing but speculation. It is not doctrine. If you were to ask ANY member of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles if our "valiancy" in the Pre-Existence has ANYTHING to do with our station in life on Earth, they would indicate that they don't know and it would be speculation. Yet, most Mormons believe it as doctrine because it is spoken of and taught over the pulpit and in lessons.
It's all bullshit!
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