I, SkiUtah, having been born of goodly parents, was raised a true believing, fifth generation Mormon. My ancestors were close friends with Joseph Smith and had crossed the plains to Utah with Brigham Young. I was baptized a Mormon at eight years of age, ordained with the priesthood at twelve, earned an Eagle scout award, and served a Mormon mission at nineteen. I was later married in a Mormon temple, graduated from Brigham Young University, and have served in numerous leadership positions within the Mormon church.
While at BYU, I concluded that Mormonism was not for me. There were many aspects of the religion that didn’t make any sense and didn’t feel right. So I decided to leave the Mormon church.
The reaction from my family and friends was to ostracize, avoid, shun, ridicule, criticize, and so on. One family member promised me that I would be doomed to a wicked life full of misery. Family and friends repeatedly asked:
* Who hurt your feelings?
* What commandment couldn’t you keep?
* What anti-Mormon material did you read?
I replied “none of the above”, when I decided to leave Mormonism, I was a member in full standing and had no ill feelings towards anybody in the church. I had simply determined that I didn’t think the Mormon church was true and was leaving.
Mormons claim the privilege of worshiping God according to their own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. I have found that not to be the case. Mormons are infuriated when somebody departs the fold. When a Mormon decides to leave the LDS church, church members react with disgust, ridicule, rejection, contempt, shunning, and so on. I was told that there would be a special place in hell reserved for me, as I had once been a Mormon believer but now was not.
Do the previous reactions sound like the actions of members of the only true church of God? Or more what you would expect from a frail, sophomoric, and weak-minded organization?
Asking Mormons questions
The one true church of God should be able to withstand a few questions, right? Anybody who asks questions (that are perceived as negative) or criticizes the church in anyway is met with the following:
* Why do you persecute us?
* Why do you mock us?
* Why are you tearing down the church?
The one true religion should have a “bring it on” attitude, not a “don’t ask questions about our answers or you’re anti-Mormon and full of hate.”
When Mormons point out facts that undermine other religions, it’s called “truth”. However, when somebody points out facts that challenge the Mormon religion, it’s called “persecution”, “unfair”, “tearing down our religion”, “anti-Mormon”, and so on.
Is the prior behavior you would expect from an enlightened, beacon-to-the-world, inspired of God, one true church on Earth? Or weak, insecure, hollow, shallow, and not able to withstand even the smallest amount of feedback?
Mormons responding to questions
Mormons are good at deriving explanations for questionable events or teachings. These explanations seem plausible to Mormons but often do not make any sense to the larger population. When questioned about their explanations, Mormons often respond with one of the following techniques:
* Ad hominem, name calling, attacking the person delivering the message.
* You don’t need to know that now, you’ll find out in the next life.
* I pray that the Lord will soften your heart.
* You just need to have faith.
* Use unsubstantiated statements that they have blindly accepted as truth.
* They know something is true because they feel it is true, regardless of facts.
* Feeling sorry for the person who doesn’t agree with them.
If you disagree with Mormons, you are labeled as full of hatred, bitter, and mean spirited. Is that what you would expect from an educated, enlightened, and God-stimulated culture? Or the answers you would expect from a fragile, dull, and ignorant group of people?
The Emperor’s new clothes approach to truth
The following are some techniques that Mormons use to detect truth:
* A family member or leader tells them something is true, therefore it has to be true.
* They get a feeling inside that tells them it’s true.
* They repeatedly tell themselves and others around them that something is true until everybody sees it the same way.
Instead of relying on facts to form an opinion, they first acquire a belief and attempt to find facts to support the idea, no matter how far-fetched. When you disagree with the truths that they’ve found, you are tearing down their religion, full of hate, and persecuting.
Mormons believe they belong to the one true church of Christ. All other churches are wrong. What characteristics would people tend to have that belonged to a religion that contains God’s power and receives direct revelation from God? What traits would true followers of Christ posses? Christ-like behavior would probably include charity, love, forgiveness, judge not, humility, caring, and so on.
Many Mormons claim to have a personal relationship with God, and state that they have been touched by the holy spirit. What behavior would you expect from true followers of Christ?
The Mormon culture — especially in Utah — is obsessed with outward appearances. Mormons quickly judge and label people based on the number of pierced ears, tattoos, facial hair, what they wear, what they do on Sunday, and so on.
Mormons also assume a superior and patronizing attitude towards anybody who smokes, drinks coffee, tea, wine, beer, and so on. They are uber obsessed with these traits. Fornication and thievery are lesser sins than tattoos and drinking tea.
If anything bad happens to a person that doesn’t follow the Mormon rules, then a gleeful “God is punishing you” mind-set surfaces. In this sense, the LDS religion seems to be validated through other humans’ misery.
Is that behavior the product of a God inspired society? Or does it sound judgmental, boorish, self-righteous, and superficial?
Families are forever, conditionally
When my first child was born, my wife’s Mormon parents said they would come for a visit, only if we had the baby blessed in a Mormon church. When we didn’t acquiesce, they didn’t come see their new grandchild.
Mormons know that they are right, and therefore it doesn’t matter how they act, because they are correct. This leads to a smug and condescending attitude towards non-believers.
I feel bad that my children will never know my Mormon family. These folks could have been a positive force in my kids’ lives. They are good people, but have been stripped of common sense by Mormon dogma. How true is a religion that so easily facilitates behavior that divides friends, families, and communities?
Imperfect, yet infallible
Mormons believe that sometimes leaders are human and make mistakes and sometimes a prophet is just speaking as a man. Mormons also believe that their leaders have a direct line of communication with God. Their top leaders are prophets of God, seers, and revelators for the human race.
Ironically, when you suggest that a Mormon leader is human and can make a mistake, Mormons get defensive and bristle with anger. Interestingly, LDS leaders have a long history of dubious and obviously wrong teachings. For example: polygamy, polyandry, green tea is bad for your health, blacks denied the priesthood, humanity originated in Missouri, Indians are Jews, the Book of Abraham, children can make decisions independent of the parents’ opinion at the age of eight, the 3 Nephites, and so on; this would be a very long list in its entirety.
Some of these teachings were in play for decades or over hundred years. You would think that at some point God would step in and give some direction to His one true church. Instead, the Mormon leaders only change doctrine when forced to by society or when new facts are discovered that directly contradict standard Mormon beliefs.
Perhaps God’s thinking was to institute a teaching knowing that it will make Mormons look foolish in a few decades or hundred years, but it’s part of His master plan.
LDS publications gradually morph into anti-Mormon masterpieces
All anti-Mormon topics can be read about in Mormon church publications (sanctioned at one time by the LDS leadership). Ironically, the greatest source of anti-Mormon literature are prior publications from the LDS church (The History of the Church, Book of Abraham, Journal of Discourses, and so on). Many LDS members are unaware of these publications and that they were once revered as God’s word through His Mormon prophet mouthpiece.
A God-inspired religion would fully understand its history and transparently digest the good and bad. However, if you point out some of these bizarre teachings or events to Mormons, they respond with one or more of the following:
* Ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
* State that it’s not true without doing any research.
* Use explanations that they’ve been told are true, but are not verifiable or referenced.
* Refuse to believe the material was published by the LDS church.
* State that it’s been taken out of context.
* Say that these were men speaking as men at the time, not speaking for God.
Do those answers sound inspired, strong, and knowledgeable? Or are these responses you would expect from the dreary, feeble, and uninformed?
Booked into religion
I have read the Book of Mormon at least a dozen times from cover to cover. I have prayed intently and sincerely about the Book of Mormon. I never received any type of feeling or thought that led me to believe it was from God. I truly wanted to believe, but never received an answer. True believing Mormons cannot accept this. They tell me there must be something wrong with me or that I was influenced by the devil or that I didn’t try hard enough or wasn’t sincere.
Mormons state “how could Joseph Smith produce a work like the Book of Mormon?” He was an uneducated young man. Well, there are thousands and thousands of published books that are ingenious, unique, and inspiring. Lots of humans are smart and creative.
There are over one billion believers in Islam. Each of these Muslims knows that their religion is absolutely true, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Islam was started by a guy who was visited by an angel. This guy couldn’t read or write, yet he dictated (with the help of God) one of the greatest religious documents ever produced. How is that possible?
There are nearly a billion Catholics who believe that their religion is true. I talked to a Catholic once who had seen the pope perform a service. This Catholic stated “that was the most wonderful feeling that I have ever had in my life, there is no way that the Catholic church is false, because I had such a wonderful feeling that day.”
How does one explain why people believe in various religions? Consider that humans innately have the following traits:
* Tend to believe blindly what their parents, teachers, and leaders tell them.
* Can believe a concept is true based on a feeling regardless of facts.
* Adept at justifying beliefs using flawed logic and absurd reasoning.
According to the Pew Forum, more than 70% of American children follow their parents’ religion (http://religions.pewforum.org/reports). Children are very impressionable and believe without question what their parents teach them. If God wanted humans to find Christ and join the one true religion, why would he create people that nearly always accept whatever religion their parents raise them with?
How does one explain an adult’s belief in superstition? Even if a person is presented with facts that the number 13 is not any more unlucky (or lucky) than any other number, an adult will hold onto the belief that a number is unlucky because that’s what they were taught at an impressionable age.
I have read the Bible from cover to cover. However, I don’t find the Bible very inspiring. Is the Bible really what an all knowing, all powerful, creator of heaven and earth would provide as a guide for the human race? It’s not plausible to me that the Bible comes from God. It is believable that the Bible was produced by uninspired humans who could document aspects of their lives several thousand years ago.
God’s evolving plan
Humans have been on this planet for the last 100,000 or so years. If the purpose of religion is to learn about Christ and accept him, why would God make his one true religion (Mormonism) available to a small fraction of the people that have ever existed?
Many people say they know there is a God and have proof that makes sense to them.
How does one know there is a God? I can only conclude that I don’t know.
Let my people go
Many Mormons state “you can leave the Mormon church but you can’t leave the Mormon church alone.” I left the Mormon church many, many years ago. Yet Mormons have continued to visit my house, send letters in the mail, and pester me and my family. If a person chooses to leave a religion, why doesn’t that religion leave them alone?
Mormon children are immersed in the religion from an early age, and are told over and over again what to believe. This formula is successful for Mormonism (and other religions). When one leaves Mormonism, family and friends become upset and ask themselves “what went wrong, the formula worked on me, why doesn’t it work for them?”
Leaving the hive
Leaving Mormonism has been somewhat painful because some family and friends have ostracized and rejected my wife, children, and me. However, in leaving Mormonism, I feel like the bird that has pecked its way through a shell and has discovered a new world. Life is fulfilling and exhilarating. Once outside the core, one can never truly climb back in.
Advice for Mormons
* That’s great if Mormonism has done wonders for you and brought untold blessings into your life; however, let people who want to stop believing in Mormonism freely leave, let them worship how, where, and what they may.
* You don’t behave better than anybody else on the planet (oftentimes you act worse); obtain some humility, you would do better if you discarded the superior attitude.
* Stop the divisive behavior that results when somebody decides to leave the Mormon church.
* Your answers to questions are often seen as unbelievable and ridiculous to others, even if your answers make total sense to you, and you know and feel you are correct; don’t get offended and attack those that disagree with you; that has the opposite effect of what you want.
* Stop whitewashing your history and become more transparent with your leaders’ historical behavior and teachings. Admit it when the prophets and leaders made/make mistakes. You might initially lose half of your membership, but you’ll be left with a solid core that will form the base for a much stronger and resilient organization for the future.
Taking Mormonism mainstream
Mormons desperately want to be seen as mainstream Christian religion. However, the hard reality is that as long as Mormons keep telling other religions that Mormonism is the only correct religion, then Mormonism will never be accepted as a Christian religion. In this mode, Mormonism will always be a pariah religion.
Here’s a roadmap for growing Mormonism:
* Drop the story about all other religions being wrong. Mormonism is just as wrong/right as any other religion.
* Admit that polygamy was a huge mistake. Remove D&C 132 from LDS canon. Stop allowing Mormon men to be married to multiple women in the temple (if the first wife dies).
* Disavow all the obviously wrong statements from past prophets. Here a just a few small examples: the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, Blacks were at one time unworthy to hold the priesthood, American Indians are descendants from Jews from Israel, God was a Man, Man will become God, Polygamy was ordained of God, baptizing/marrying dead people, God lives near/on Kolob, and so forth. These are just utterly ridiculous beliefs that nobody outside of Mormonism views as being even remotely credible. Just admit these teachings are flat out wrong and these past prophets made mistakes. These teaching served a purpose at one time, but now are just a PR nightmare and drag on growth.
* Marginalize the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, and D&C. At a minimum, toss the Book of Abraham, this is an obvious hoax, many current church members will even admit to this.
* Marginalize Joseph Smith’s role. You don’t realize how bad Joseph Smith looks to people who look at easily verifyable facts. Mormons don’t believe it, but it’s the reality. Focus instead on Jesus in the U.S. and Europe, and then focus on Mohammad if you’re to convert people in the middle east.
* Allow the Public Relations department dictate what a prophesy is. Allow the PR department to vet all talks by prophets, apostles, and general authorities. The PR department seems to be the only group in SLC that understands the above bulleted items.
I bear my testimony and prophesy that if Mormons follow the prior advice, Mormonism will grow at 10x its current rate.
Why is Mormonism the target of so much criticism, ridicule, and mockery? Ponder this, have you ever played sports? Did you ever play against a team that was constantly trash talking and taunting all of the other teams? Pretty soon, everybody is rooting against the trash talking team. Nobody wants to see the trash talking team win; people will always cheer against the arrogant team. It’s human nature.
Mormonism is the trash talking team of religions. Mormons loudly state they have the one true religion, all other religions are wrong. LDS members smugly look down on non-Mormons. Mormons are God’s chosen people and others are not. Mormons don’t care how they deliver the message because they’re right and everybody else is wrong.
Until Mormons stop the condescending behavior, they will continue to be mocked and will never be accepted by other religions and cultures. This superior attitude has gotten them into trouble with other groups since the inception of the church. The problem is, LDS members inside the Mormon bubble can’t see their holier-than-thou demeanor and the consequential emotions it evokes from those outsiders who witness it.
Mormons don’t view their behavior as hurtful. The LDS community isn’t capable of fixing the bad behavior because there is no concept of introspection or humility. And why would there be? After all, God guides the Mormon church… and this is the same God that told Mormons that polygamy was a new and everlasting covenant, that Blacks are unworthy to hold God’s priesthood, all American Indians are descendants of people from Israel, human sexuality is a choice, and on and on.
Does it make any sense that God would create an organization that breeds haughty, conceited, myopic, opaque, and egotistical behavior? Nope.
Nothing will change until Mormons understand their behavior and how offensive it is to the rest of the world. People of good character will continue to leave the Mormon church. The true believing Mormons won’t be able to understand why. Other than “there must be something defective with the non-believer or somebody hurt their feelings”. These simple types of answers are the only ones the arrogant and short sighted can imagine to be true.
Some quotes from Carl Sagan to ponder
“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.) ”
“Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? ”
“What I’m saying is, if God wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could think of doing it, he could have done a better job.”
“The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can’t all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It’s a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I’m not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they’re called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation.”
Post mormonism note
I was watching a science fiction movie with my Mormon mother-in-law, who is a very strong believing Mormon. After watching the movie, I stated that I thought the movie was quite realistic. The mother-in-law stated that movie was just too unbelievable, the facts didn’t add up in her mind. At that point, I agreed to disagree with her. That’s fine that she didn’t think the movie was believable. It’s okay to disagree.
Later, she asked about my beliefs in Mormonism. I said that I didn’t believe in the LDS religion anymore, the facts just don’t add up in my mind. Joseph Smith’s story is unbelievable to me. None of it makes sense to me. She countered with “what’s wrong with you, did somebody hurt your feelings, you must be under the influence of the devil, are you some sort of loser, do you know you’re going to burn in hell?” and on and on…
Analyzing facts regarding Mormonism oftentimes turns into a fuzzy Rorschach test. The person looking at the facts will see whatever they want to see. There’s no way to convince somebody of your interpretation when they have a completely different view (of the same set of facts). Disagreement is fine. The issue I have with my Mormon relatives and friends is that they get quite angry and upset when somebody views the facts differently from the Mormon interpretation and Mormons quickly turn the discussion into personal attacks (label people as mentally defective, easily hurt feelings, anti-Mormon, hate-Mos and so forth), and furthermore claim the Mormons are being unfairly persecuted, ridiculed, and mocked when somebody views the facts differently from the Mormorn perspective.
Mormonism is an extraordinary success story in many ways. There are millions of dedicated and hyper-believing members worldwide. Mormonism connects emotionally with large audiences on a visceral level.
However, it seems like the LDS church is incapable of contemplating alternate realities. The LDS church cannot accept that a person has an equal right to choose and espouse beliefs that conflict with theirs. Anybody who disagrees is automatically labeled an anti-Mormon, disrespectful, persecuting, hate-filled, feelings hurt, emotionally damaged person.
The LDS belief system is a zero sum gain; if I am right, you must be wrong. This relieves church members from any obligation to learn or understand what they lack in the ability to process, analyze, synthesize, and comprehend. The LDS church gives itself a pass from understanding facts because the underlying belief system does not require and is not dependent upon facts. The resultant limited world view of the LDS church’s static universe does not correspond to an empirical reality which results in a dysfunctional mental dystopia.