Monday, May 5, 2014

Baptism Blues

  Yesterday was a hard day for me.  I baptized my oldest daughter.  If you read my other blog entries you know why I had to do it.  I want to be a part of their lives and so I have to stick it out.

  She looked so happy and I could tell that it meant a lot to her but I just felt so sad inside like I was deceiving her.  It was important to me to be able to be the one to baptize her so that we would have that special bond.  My dad left the church when I was 7 and so he didn't baptize me like he did my older sister.  Being a child I did not understand and since the church makes such a huge deal out of baptism I was so jealous of her.  It wasn't fair that I was kept from that experience with my dad.  Well I don't want my girls to experience the same thing and so I will keep at it until my youngest is baptized.

  Perhaps someday when they are older and the truth comes out they will realize that I did what I had to do to keep us together because I love them.  Maybe that will help them to find the truth as well.  That is actually the topic I focused on in the confirmation was that she would "seek out truth wherever it may be".  I want her to find the truth out there and not settle for the information that is being spoon fed to her in the church.

  I was so happy to have the support of a good friend who was able to participate in the program who understands my position.  In fact it was through that support that another family member was identified as being in the same circumstance as myself.  I am very happy to have another person that I can talk with about this.  I was so shocked when my support friend identified this other person to me, I said "seriously? But I've seen him at church!"  She said, "well you go to church too."  I had to laugh about that because I'm sure that the reaction will be similar on his side.  I will be speaking to him soon.  So cool.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Mormon Survival Guide for the Unbeliever - Dealing with Faith Loss Part 2

 

Mormon Survival Guide for the Unbeliever

  Once you make the decision that the church does not hold the truths that you once ascribed to it, the next logical course of action is for you to leave.  But for many that choice may be far away and continued membership may be your best or only option for a while longer.

  There are a number of reasons why someone may choose to remain a member for a while.  

  At the start the most common reason will be that you are still coming to terms with the upheaval in your belief system and still trying to decide what direction to take in your life.  It is not good to rush into things.  You will note from many others that leaving the church can be a challenge and at many times embarrassing.  Be sure you know what you are getting yourself into before you make any life changing decisions.

  Perhaps you have friends in the church and you wish to stay for social reasons.  Perhaps you come from a Mormon family consisting of either relatives, children, or a spouse, and the difficulties are just to many at this stage.

  Perhaps you are not in a position to leave.  I've spoken with several people so far who are under age and don't have the option to leave on their own. 

  Staying in the church as an unbeliever can be challenging and I have listed various situations and some ideas on how to deal with them.  I welcome suggestions in the comments and will incorporate any advice that would benefit other readers.


Dealing with Parents (for teens):

  This is perhaps the most difficult of situations and so I will deal with this subject first.  Coming out to your parents can be a very scary thing.  If you're fortunate enough to have parents who would understand, and not freak out, then consider yourself lucky because you are certainly in a minority group. For most people who have parents who are believers, telling them that you don't believe in the religion is not a wise idea. Remember, being under age, you don't have many rights and telling your parents can make your life truly awful.

  As one reader pointed out, even telling your parents that you have questions can make them become concerned for your eternal salvation, and they will want to reach out to try and save you.  Lying to your parents is never a good idea and I would not condone telling them that you believe when you don't.  In this case I would also recommend not telling them everything either.  Your parents aren't generally going to come up to you out of the blue and ask you "Hey, I was just wondering if you still believe in the church."  If they did ask such a question, a satisfactory response you can give without lying is to say with a smile, "Well I'm still working on my own testimony, but I'm fine."

  In the church you may have noticed that the common way to deal with a problem is to joke and pretend the problem doesn't exist.  As long as your appearance is of happiness then all is well, all is well.  This applies to nearly every situation.  Abuse going on in the home?  Show up to church on Sunday looking like a happy family and nobody asks questions.  The important thing for you is not to appear to have doubts.

  Do not be a brooding teenager acting angry or moody.  This behavior will always send up a red flag signal to the world that you have issues that you don't know how to deal with, and many people will respond by trying to help you resolve your problems.

Ironically the chorus to a song from the hit musical The Book of Mormon is truer then we would like.
Turn it off like a light switch
Just go, click
It's a cool little Mormon trick
We do it all the time
  Anticipate problems and deal with them before they happen.  Will your parents want to have family prayer, scripture study, or FHE?  Trying to get out of some pattern that you are normally a part of will always bring questions. If your parents are going to make you do something anyway why not occasionally send them a reminder?  "Hey isn't it about time for FHE?"  No unbeliever would say that, right? Of course, if that would be contrary to your normal behavior then don't start now.  As you spend time observing others as a non-believer, you will begin to see the hooks and connections that the church uses to keep people in line.

  I would strongly caution against this but, if you do feel the need to raise a doubt but don't want anyone questioning you then you could try something like, "Some kids at school were trying to tell me [insert doubt here].  I know they are wrong and just being mean but I was trying to answer them and just couldn't come up with something good to say back.  What would you suggest?"  Be very careful with this line of questioning as it could lead your parents into being concerned that you being poisoned with anti-material and will probably start keeping a close eye on you, including your internet activity to see if you are reading any harmful anti-Mormon material, including this blog.  Remember that incognito mode is your friend when researching 'anti' material.

Dealing with Other Family Members:

  Siblings can be especially hard.  You may have a sibling with whom you are especially close to and wish to share your feelings with them.  Unless they feel the same way you do then you should not reveal your beliefs.  A relative who believes and cares about you will ALWAYS put the church and your spiritual well being ahead of your relationship.  No matter how much they would promise not to tell your secret they will break down with the feeling that if they don't do something to help you then you won't make it to Mormon heaven and the feeling of guilt may make them confide in the Bishop on your behalf.  You do not want to end up there.
  As hard as it is you will not be able to confide in a believing relative no matter how close you are.  You will have a much better relationship with them if you simply do not discuss religion.  This will have to be one of those topics that you just have to keep to yourself.  At first you may feel lonely not being able to discuss your beliefs with those you are close to, but this is only because the topic is so important to you at this moment and you just feel the need to tell somebody.  This is where your support groups come in.  Make friends on the internet in groups of like-minded people who understand where you are coming from.  You will feel better being able to share and vent and this leaves your relationships intact.
  Not having those you care about attempting an intervention on your behalf will free things up to allow you to slowly attempt to chip away at their beliefs instead.  Listen for them to complain about something in the church that bugs them, which actually shouldn't take too long, and then you will have something you agree on.  Think back to when you were a believing member yourself, how would you have reacted to someone you love telling you that they don't believe anymore.  You would have done anything to help them regain that belief.

Dealing with Children:

  As a parent who has a spouse or older children still in the church it is only natural that you will want them to share your belief.  As heart breaking as it may be you cannot attempt to force them to stop believing.  Again, think of how you would have reacted to that situation when you believed.  There are many part-member families in the church and the one believing member will close his or her mind to withstand anything that is said from the non-member.  The main difference is that the non-members in those families generally are not ex-Mormons.  As a parent you already suffer from children thinking you don't know everything anyway.  Trying to tell them that their belief system is false will only drive them away from you.  Other family members and church leaders will assist with the problem by telling your children that you are lying to them because Satan has a hold of your heart.  This could create a rift in your family that could take years to mend. 
  At this point the best thing you can do for your children is to teach them to think for themselves and to not take anything anyone says at face value.  Teach them the importance of researching and proving concepts. The scientific method is an excellent resource that does not appear threatening to the church.  After all they do profess to value learning.  Use political leaders or educational instructors to illustrate the point that many people have an opinion that they wish for you to believe and will have many arguments that sound convincing.  If a judge only listened to one side of the argument how could he make a decision about who was right and who was wrong.
  It is often by listening to the opposing arguments that truth is strengthened.  Anyone with a weak argument will not wish for you to hear the opposing side for fear that the holes in their own oppinion will be discovered and you will not side with them.  A popular expression "The truth will set you free" supports the notion that one should expose all the facts in order for the truth to be visible and the truth will always be able to stand up to opposition.  Teach them how to let go of a false belief.  Examples could include the belief that the Earth is flat or is the center of the universe.
  The famously used scripture that all missionaries and members use for the purpose of attempting to convince people of the truthfulness of the church is Alma 32, particularly verse 27:
But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. -- Alma 32:27
This experiment is supposed  to work for any truth, not just a belief in the church, although that is the only topic ever put into practice by the church.  The idea here is to take any proposed truth and by simply giving it a try you will know if it is true or not.  But the key is in verse 28:
Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief...
 This means that you are not allowed to dismiss an idea because you already think it is not true.  You have to put your current faith on hold and allow yourself to believe it, (let it into your heart) to find out what happens next.  Plant this idea with the premise that it is okay to question your current faith and allow doubt to enter in.  You don't need to try to protect it because if it is true then you will come back to it, and if not then you can move on to what is.  Anyone who would stop you from attempting this experiment does not believe their faith to be true and fears loosing it, should they start to question.

At School:

  The same rules that apply to siblings apply to Mormon friends at school.  You simply cannot reveal your doubts completely.  With any luck they will have doubts and you can discuss them.  Don't push them into a decision, but help them to make it on their own.  If you can find non-member friends then you should be able to confide with them and more often than not you will realize that they will be the better listeners since they aren't burdened by the same beliefs.  However if you decide to become an atheist and your friends are not then discussing that aspect with them could be just as bad as telling a member.  An atheist is often portrayed as the 'anti-Christ' to many Christians.
 Many christians do not understand that atheists aren't anti anything, but just non-believers. Atheist Penn Jillette said it well with the simple statement of "I don't know".  There is a huge difference between saying, "I don't know if there is a God" and, "I want to tear down everything Christ stands for".  Not everyone will be like that and it should be pretty to gauge that type of reaction from them. Most likely if they are trully your friends then they will accept your beliefs.  After all, they were still friends when they thought you believed in the Mormon church although they didn't.

At Church:

  At this point it goes without saying that you shouldn't let on to anyone at church about your beliefs.  This can be challenging when you are in class.  You may wish to contradict what is said or reveal some additional truths you have learned.  Resist this urge as any controversial comment is useless and can only bring eyes down on you.  Instead focus on the many positive things you can learn from church lessons that can make you a better friend, worker, or member of the community.
 Church teachings are not bad and when put into a proper perspective and become quite useful in helping you deal with school and work.  As a missionary I would often attempt to re-apply the various spiritual lessons we would learn, about trying to convert people, into a post mission life where a more secular approach to dealing with others would be beneficial.  Try to do a similar thing with the lessons you will hear.  Every spiritual teaching will have a secular counterpart that you could benefit from.  Or if you have a tablet or smart phone you can spend the time catching up on news or writing blog entries ;-)

Dating (for teens):

  This may be hard for some but you absolutely should not date a believing Mormon.  Even if you don't start with intentions of making this a life long commitment you never know where things will end up, and you do not want to end up accidentally getting yourself into a situation that will make your life miserable in the long run.
  If you have parents that will only let you date Mormons then you should wait until you are 18 before getting into a serious relationship.  You can still have fun going out in group activities but you need to consider what you want the remaining 5/6 of your life to be like.

Living in a Mormon Community:

  This is directed to those living in communities of higher concentrations of Mormons such as Utah, Idaho, and Lethbridge (That's in Canada, folks).  Here you face the strong possibility of being ostracized from the community.  Although it is illegal to discriminate against someone in the job space, you face the strong possibility of losing your job due to some 'other' reason and make your life miserable in the meantime.  Remember Mormons are friendly to their own as well as those investigating.  They are fearful of standard non-members, and downright mortified and hateful of 'apostates' (we're talking pitchforks and torches).  There is no worse sin, to a believer, than 'questioning the spirit'.
  The best advise I have heard in these situations is to start off by going inactive.  Don't make your doubts public.  Instead start by trying to find something to take up your time on Sundays like sports, or a job that might need someone to cover a Sunday shift, or visiting relatives and such.
  Start by missing the occasional Sunday.  Miss one Sunday a month and gradually increase it to only showing up 1 Sunday a month.  Stay friendly and positive to members and don't let your doubt show.  Just be 'busy' and good-natured.  Let it be know that you show up when you can and let them get used to your increased inactivity.  Slowly you can extend the time you are away while still maintaining community ties.  Eventually you should be able to stop going altogether and you will be known as a friendly inactive who just can't seem to get out.
 Naturally you will often be the focus of reactivation efforts and people will pretend to care if you are at church.  You will need to put up with it for a while and eventually the efforts will ease up.  Unless you find a way to move out of the community you may never be able to leave fully but should at least be able to ease into a lifestyle away from the church.  As long as the members feel that there may be some hope for you someday! they will continue to be positive and accept you in the community.

Good luck and please leave feedback if this guide helped you or if you found something you can add to help others that I can bring iN.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dealing with Faith Loss: Making Peace with Yourself

 

  There are a number of articles on the web that deal with the loss of faith or even loss in general. This two-part article is specifically aimed at those within the Mormon religion who have recently found themselves at a crossroads of their faith.  It is my hope that this guide will help to get you through and ease your pain. I broke it up into several categories.  This is by no means a complete list and I would welcome any help that anyone would like to contribute for future readers.

  First let's take a step back for a quick analysis of how you arrived at this crucial point in your belief system.  Lets break down the process into a series of stages. There is an excellent article on the stages of faith loss that I will summarize here and combine with the stages of grief and loss.

Stages of Faith Loss

Illustrated Difficulty of Stage Transitioning

Stage 1) Blind faith

  Most believers will normally enter this stage at some point in your life.  It is a childlike belief that is non questioning, much like when your parents told you about the existence of Santa Claus. It is true because someone you trusted told you so.  This is the desired state that any church wishes its believers to remain in all their lives and is often directed towards with the scripture that admonishes you to "Become as a little child." and is most likely where you existed as a true believer.

Stage 2) Justified belief

  At some point in their lives a believer is faced with a question that will challenge their faith. Usually such questions are explained away with any number of justifications and rationalizations. Believers will likely spend most of their time in this stage. This is an automatic defense mechanism for any mind to protect established traditions and is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact your brain is hard wired to resist any type of change.  For example look at how much educated scientists debated the reclassification of Pluto as a planet, and still do. Where faith is concerned this process is most commonly known as Christian appologetics. A person at this stage will grasp for answers of any kind to satisfy that aching in his or her mind that resists change. 
 You may have heard the recent admonition by Uchtdorf to "first doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith" and to just trust that an unknown explanation exists somewhere and to just.  Perhaps you have heard from leaders something along the lines of "you can ask God when you meet him"; implying that you should do as you are told now even if it seems utterly ridiculous, with the promise that it will eventually all make sense.
  To truly hear how valid or ridiculous an argument sounds it is useful to replace the point in question (which you have been taught not to question) with nonsense and then see how well the argument stands on its own merits.  I like to replace 'church' or 'God' with Santa Claus or Zeus.  Others may use the 'Flying Spaghetti Monster', 'The Force', 'Coven', or other established fantasy ideas.

Stage 3) Honest truth seeking

  When simple acceptance isn't enough then the desire to discover the real truth will take over. It is possible that an honest search for an answer will yield an acceptable result temporarily sending you back to stage 2, but you will find yourself returning again and again to stage 3.  This is the stage where you do lots of research on the internet or read books. Even though in the church it is taught to be honest seekers of truth, most believers frown on this stage and will try to stop you any way they can. You will be met with persecution and hostility if discovered and may even face an intervention in an attempt to bring you back to stage 2 or 1. Unfortunately, because of this attitude towards honest truth seekers you will be forced to do your research in secret which will automatically taint your motives and make it look as if you know you are doing something wrong.  Be smart about how you go about learning and don't leave things lying around for others to find and confront you with.  Doing so could force you to either make a decision to move to stage 2 or 4 before you are ready and your decision should be on your own time and at your own pace.

Stage 4) Crisis (Denial, Anger, & Depression)

Denial: When no acceptable answer is found to sustain your belief or an overwhelming amount is found to prevent you from going back to your old beliefs then you arrive at the crisis point of no return where faith is lost. This is where the 5 stages of grief and loss begin, starting with denial.  Most people reading this blog will be somewhere near this stage.  This is where you will feel your world falling apart around you.  You can expect to experience anger, frustration, and depression as your mind desperately fights to let go of your beliefs that for many people have been lifelong. It can be very hard to discover that what you have been told, by people you respect, simply isn't true. Chances are your mind will be grasping at last ditch efforts to preserve your beliefs.  A good example is in the movie Rise of the Guardian's when Jamie asks for any kind of sign from the Easter bunny to help him protect his belief system. Whether it's a belief in God or the church that you question then you will be looking for some sort of sign to salvage your faith. Once that sign fails to appear then you will enter the next step.  Try to remember you are not alone, there are many who have gone through the same experiences as you have.

Anger: Once you have made it past the denial stage, you can expect to be angry at God, at your parents, your bishop, and other church leaders. Be careful in this stage as you have an increased chance of making bad decisions. Try to resist the urge to lash out or say rude or contradictory things to those around you.  It helps to remind yourself that those who have helped to propagate the lie are themselves not consciously lying to you. This is not like learning about Santa Claus, when your parents led you to believe something they knew was false.  The people around you are just as caught up in the beliefs as you once were, and are generally good people who are trying to do what they feel is right. Treat them with the same respect that all good people deserve.  It isn't any more fair to be angry with them than it would have been for a doubting friend to be angry with you when you still believed.  At this point many people will tend to turn against God or the church.  Remember that a non-believer is simply someone who no longer believes.  Not attacking believers as an Anti-Mormon or Anti-Christ.  After all, you didn't become anti-Christmas when you found out about Santa; how is this really any different?

Depression: Now that you have come to terms with the loss of your faith in God or the church you can expect to feel lost, alone, and depressed. Chances are you will not know where you can turn. Your belief system has been turned upside down and those to whom you would have gone in the past for advice and help are no longer able to provide the comfort and stability that you were once used to. Fortunately you are not left alone and there are many support groups full of incredibly friendly, helpful, and understanding people ready to listen and talk to you. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that the people who are the nicest to you now are the ones that have been vilified by the church members; the same who would now treat you as if you were possessed of Satan. Here are some websites of resources to start you on your way.

Stage 5) Acceptance

  Eventually the turmoil and confusion that you have experienced will pass and you will feel a burden leave you that you never realized was weighing heavily on your shoulders. This is an even lighter feeling than the promised lightness that you would feel after being forgiven of your sins. If you still are holding a belief in God then you will realize that all the things that the church made you feel guilty for are no longer existent and you will feel free.
  If you no longer have a belief in God and you can't push blame and responsibly for the world around you, then in addition to the above freedoms you will also feel an additional responsibility to make the world a place worth living in. You will also posses a new appreciation for life and the beauty that surrounds you. As a believer you were told of the misery and unhappy state of the godless, but this is simply another lie to get you to cling to your faith. An atheist is not sunken into depravity but will feel the responsibility of providing for others. While believers are waiting for God to do something to help the suffering, the atheists will be out taking it upon themselves to do something about it.  Naturally there are atheist extremist groups out there putting up freeway signs in an attempt to outrage believers, but just as not all Christian groups represent the beliefs of all christians and you will find the same to be true of atheists. Most are seekers of truth and knowledge who care about helping others, and you will encounter many within the various support groups that you find on the internet and in person.
  Either way you choose to move forward in your beliefs you will find that you are no longer as judgemental as you once were when you were an active believer in the church.  Contrary to the teaching of the church, most Mormons are extremely judgemental of others, particularly of those not within the faith. 

  Once you realize that the church does not contain the truth you once thought it did, what do you do about it?  The first natural thought is "I need to leave the church right away."  hat may not always possible or even a good decision to make hastily.  Before you make a decision you should make peace with yourself.  I would suggest taking the time to examine yourself and discovering what is most important to you.  For me it is my family, my children and their happiness.  Everything else is a distant second.  Once you find your center in life you will be able to find your peace. Once you have achieved peace with yourself you are ready to make your decision on how to proceed with the remainder of your life. There are a number of choices available to you. Your path may require you to remain in the church for a while longer as either an active or inactive member.  If you are ready to take the step to remove yourself from church membership you will need to send in a request, see mormonnomore.com or mormonresignation.com for information.

If you decide to remain in the church then keep an eye out for my next post:
Dealing with Faith Loss Part 2: Mormon Survival Guide for the Unbeliever

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The One Fold Mission of the Church


  We just had stake conference this last Sunday and as I sat there with my family listening to the various talks I was struck by their similarity.  Every single talk that was given was entirely focused on bringing other people into the church.  Whether it was through inviting them to dinner, giving them a BOM, or sharing family history it was all about advertising the church to others.  I felt like I was viewing a web page where all I could see were ads and the content was lost somewhere in-between.

According to the Church website there is supposed to be this Three-Fold Mission involving:
  1. Sharing the Gospel
  2. Perfecting the Saints
  3. Redeeming the Dead
 I don't think I have ever really heard any talks that revolve around points 2 and 3 on this list.  I mean sure I have heard talks about how guilty we are of sin in an effort to make us feel so guilty that we have the desire to run off weeping and throw ourselves at the mercy of the bishop in an effort to repent.  But NOTHING about how one could actually become a better person in the community, to each other, or at school, work, or friends and family.  

 All they every seem to be able to manage with point 2 is that you SHOULD do it but never how exactly.  It's almost as if they don't actually know how, or are so focused on point 1 that they either don't care or have no time left over to explain it.  I just sat in the back of the meeting wondering what any non-members in the audience would be thinking. After all this really was just a bold declaration of the church's intentions, "Hey if you're not yet a member we want to make you one!"  I wonder how I could have overlooked this obvious self-propagation my whole life.  I guess Mormons really are good at turning a blind eye.

 And redeeming the dead?  What was the last time you heard anyone get up in sacrament meeting and give a talk on that subject?  The closest to that I can recall is an announcement that the youth would be doing baptisms or that ward temple night would be this Friday (feel free to feel guilty for not going).  Of course there is the watered down version where the focus is on genealogy (which will fill the lists at the temple for others to do the work for the dead.)


 Every week seems to be the same thing.  Even the classes are the same way, everything being centered around getting other people into the church.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this observation that the church is more focused on expanding its membership rather than trying to improve the lives of the members living within it.  Sure some classes get beyond that a little but I know that Elders Quorum meetings center around pushing people to do their home-teaching and various methods of sharing the church with others using stories of how someone else managed to share the gospel in some inspiring way that makes my want to *face-palm*.


 The really funny thing to me is that the church has done such an amazing job in scaring members away from the evils of those outside the church that people are too afraid to have any contact with those evil corrupted-by-satan non-members that the thought of bringing them into the home is terrifying.  I mean, *GASP*, what would happen if THEY wanted to share their beliefs! Oops, I mean spread their lies and poison from the grasp that Satan has on them.  Because they know that non-members are just waiting to jump at the chance to deceive them using the silver tongued lies of the devil.
For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it -- D&C 123:12
 Well I think everyone knows about Mormon missionaries so I don't think the argument of not knowing where the Mormon-truth is located would be a valid argument.  And couldn't that apply to members as well?  Wouldn't all denominations indicate that many members have been deceived?  Whoops I guess Joseph Smith forgot to include that all important word "other" to say all other denominations.  I'm sure the church will eventually put out a corrected version for that omission later.

 I guess the alternative to hearing talks about missionary work would be testimony meetings with thank-you-monies and travelogues; when people get to stand up at the pulpit and declare, between tearful sobs, how thankful they are from the bottom of their heart for the various trials in their life, or all about their latest gossip with a little fiber-of-their-being sprinkled in at the end for good measure.  As a missionary  I used to cringe when it was time to attend testimony meeting because I never knew what oddities I was going hear.   Now I go for the entertainment value of it all.  I once heard a thank-you-mony that sounded nearly exactly like an acceptance speech at the academy awards.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Full Disclosure 13 Articles of Faith

 I was thinking about how the Articles of Faith were designed to explain the beliefs of the church to non members and realized that they really only give a part of our beliefs. So I decided to extend them to give a proper, more truthful account of what it is that is actually believed. My additions are in blue.

This is not intended to be a sarcastic rant and I have attempted to stick to personal experiences and factual beliefs where I have documented various sources.  I will add more references in the future.  This got kind of long but I hope you enjoy the read.


The 13 TRUTHFUL ARTICLES OF FAITH (FULL DISCLOSURE)

 


1) We believe in God, the Eternal* Father, and in His Wives the Goddesses and Eternal* Mothers, and in His Father the Eternal* Grand Father, and in His Father etc, and in Godly Aunts Uncles, and Cousins, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in his other Son Lucifer, and that we are all His sons and daughters, and in the Holy Ghost, and in our own Future Godliness as well.
*Eternal here is used loosely as God is believed to have once lived on an Earth of his own and has his own Heavenly Parents and Grandparents back through eternity.  Thus making his spirit not having actually existed until he was born to his Father giving him a beginning much the same as Jesus and the rest of us.

  Eternal parentage is often taught through Church Hymn #292 "O My Father"
the second half of the 3rd verse reads:
In the heav'ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.
  It is widely accepted within the church that upon attaining the Celestial Kingdom that men along with their wives will become "Gods and Goddesses" having worlds of their own and having their own spirit babies for eternity.  The family unit is regarded as the most important unit in the church and is believed to go on forever and thus it is one 'eternal round'.  It should become obvious to anyone that one would immediately gain Godly relatives at this point.  God becoming the Grandfather, while Jesus becomes the jolly Uncle, along with our fellow celestial dwellers, and their children being the cousins.  (This is all starting to sound rather Greek to me.)

  Even though no longer practiced, polygamy is believed to be a divine decree.  And since we know that God and Jesus sets the example for us to follow. It must logically follow that God and Jesus also have plural wives like the great father Abraham of old.

    2) We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression except for the first sin which we are all held accountable for.
      If the original statement were really true then the rest of us would all be born into the Garden of Eden.  However that isn't the case and 1 Nephi 10:6
    Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer.
      The original sin applies to all of mankind and we are all held equally accountable for Adam's decision.
    3) We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances* of the Gospel as defined by the Church.
    *This is a misleading sentence.  On the surface to non-members it would appear that by obeying the commandments and teachings in the scriptures that one might attain salvation.  The catch here is that laws and ordinances is broadened to the scope of anything that the church decides to be important.  Such as receiving your temple endowments after baptism.

      Okay, fine, so give me the extra ordinance then and I'm all set right?  Wrong, in order to qualify for that you will first need to be a member for a year and in that time attend church regularly and pay a full tithing.  Then you need two interviews, first with the Bishop and then Stake President to have them decide if you are worthy to go to the temple.  This is done through a series of questions rather than from divine inspiration known as the 'spirit of discernment'.  Then they will let you wear the temple underwear and get your ordinance.  Following that you will need to find another Mormon and get married in the temple because, yep that's right, single people won't go to the highest heaven.  According to the LDS website

    To live in the highest part of the celestial kingdom is called exaltation* or eternal life. To be able to live in this part of the celestial kingdom, people must have been married in the temple
      So now I'm saved right?  Well, no, not really.  did you catch the word 'may' in the article?  It's kind of important because if you stop attending the temple, paying tithing, accepting callings, attending church, or disagree or question your church leaders, then you are automatically disqualified.  In fact you must 'endure to the end' of your life in all things before you can appear before the 'judgement bar of God' which is actually a panel of your peers chosen by God from his history of prophets and apostles. They will then decide your fate.

      Oh and all those 'promises' you were given when you had your ordinances done?  If you decide to leave the church then God will take back his promise that he made as if it never really happened and you get to go to Hell.  Oh wait, there is no such place.  Okay you get to go to the Telestial Kingdom.  But don't worry, it's a pretty sweet place.  Only a handful of people from all of human history, (actually only the last 6,000 years of it) will ever end up in outer darkness.

    4) We believe that all the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; fifth temple endowments; sixth marriage sealing.
      It's odd that Joseph Smith chose to omit the remaining 2 ordinances off his list and list only the first four. I mean it says right on the church website that there are only 6.  How hard would it have been to include the remaining two.  As a child growing up in the church and having to memorize this I often wondered about what the remaining ordinances were and how many there were that they couldn't be listed here.  By stating 'the first' would lead one to believe that many might follow when in fact it is removed to not scare away potential believers.  'Milk before Meat' is the phrase that is often quoted.

    Doctrine and Covenants 19:22 - For they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive; wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish.

    5) We believe that a man must be called of God or the current leadership, by prophecy or by whomever is available, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
      This thought comes directly from sitting through Bishopric meetings where I have watched them use their 'prophecy' to decide who should be chosen to fill a calling. 

      My first experience of this was a discussion where a [name of calling] did not agree with the direction the bishop wanted to go with that calling.  The solution?  Release him and call him to a different calling and bring in someone else who will agree so they can move forward.  When they said that I couldn't hold it in and let out a laugh.  The bishop looks at me and told me that eventually I would get over the snickering because that is just how these things work.

      Filling callings comes down to looking at the ward list to see who currently doesn't have a calling and deciding whom they could place into the slot.  If nobody comes to mind then it comes down to 'who showed up at church today'. The bishop once told his counselors to scan the congregation while sitting at the front during sacrament meeting to see who they could put into the calling.  I don't recall hearing any talk about, 'lets pray and wait for the Lord to inspire us with a name'.  That sort of thing is reserved for stories they can relate to the congregation about how some visiting general authority was inspired to give the bishop a name of someone he had never met to call to a particular calling.  Naturally it was in some distant nameless place and completely unverifiable.  The effect is to inspire thoughts into the members that ALL callings are given with this level of divine guidance so you better not say no when they ask you if you'll accept.

    6) We believe in* the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, seers, revelators, deacons, and so forth*.
    * notice it only says a belief in, not of copying said organization exactly.  The intention to not copy the original church is emphasized with two remaining phrases.
    Primitive: defined by thefreedictionary
    1. of or belonging to the first or beginning; original

    2. characteristic of an early state, esp in being crude or uncivilized
      One may argue that only the first given definition is to be inferred but many things have been added to the church organization that never existed in the 'primitive' version of God's church indicating that it was unfinished and only in the early stages of development.  This way of thinking also lends credibility to the desire of the church to include continuing revelations.

       'So forth' is an escape clause meaning 'and anything else we decide to add in later that we can't think of at this time'.  It's also interesting to note that there are no 'pastors' or 'evangelists' within the organization of the Mormon Religion.  It will be argued that it is merely the function of those position and not their titles.  However as all apostles are sustained as prophets I think we can safely agree we are referring to titles here.

    7) We believe in the ancient existence of the gift of tongues*, prophecy*, revelation*, visions*, healing*, interpretation of tongues*, and so forth*.
    * Events involving these gifts are believed to have occurred at the time of Christ and Joseph Smith but are not believed to be occurring now, except in unverifiable whispered rumors and stories about miracles performed in secret by the Prophet and apostles.  Anyone who attempts to claim the use of any of these gifts will be frowned upon by the church and thought (correctly) to be acting a big crazy.

      It is widely accepted in the church that the gift of tongues is given to missionaries to help them in learning a new language.  However as other groups have adopted similar language learning strategies with the same success as missionaries we have to declare that either God grants this gift to everyone who wishes to speak or that this isn't really what the gift of tongues is.  The gift is to speak in a language without prior knowledge of that language.  Then the gift of interpretation is for someone to understand that language without prior knowledge of it.  Given the amount of effort put into learning languages by missionaries it is safe to assume that they possess some knowledge of that language.  Also anyone who has served a foreign speaking mission will tell you that it takes about 6 months to a year to be able to speak the language with any amount of decent ability.

    8) We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly*; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God; we also believe the Book of Moses, Book of Abraham, these articles of Faith, the Doctrine And Covenants, and any word from the Prophet such as declarations and proclamations to be the word of God.
    * This is another escape clause which means 'We hold the right to dismiss anything as incorrect that doesn't agree with our current teachings.'

      According to the wording it would seem that the members are free to dismiss the 'additional scripture' as not being the word of god. Anything said by one speaking by the spirit is supposed to be scripture.  That got out of hand in the early days of the church so it was restricted only those things officially agreed upon by the first presidency, quorum of the twelve and then sustained in general conference.  Then Ezra Taft Benson gave the biggest trump card of all when he said:

    "The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works."
    I think that about sums it up.

    9) We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
      This is pretty straight forward and should be taken to mean that God has not told us everything we need to know as yet (see articles 6 and 8) and so you can expect big changes in the future.  Remember this was written before blacks received the priesthood or Polygamy was rejected.

    10) We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes*; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.
    * restoration is done figuratively through Patriarchal blessings where you are told from which tribes 'loins' you spring from.  If your blessing does not indicate your loin-hood it will indicated which tribe you have been adopted into.
    Elder John A. Widtsoe, an Apostle, declared, "In giving a blessing the patriarch may declare our lineage-that is, that we are of Israel, therefore of the family of Abraham, and of a specific tribe of Jacob. In the great majority of cases, Latter-day Saints are of the tribe of Ephraim, the tribe to which has been committed the leadership of the Latter-day work. Whether this lineage is of blood or adoption it does not matter"
    Earth being renewed: No need to explain this one further, it's pretty far out there as it is.  We get to have the Garden of Eden all over the place and the earth will be changed in a number of crazy ways.

    11) 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 attempt worship how, where, or what they may***.
    * 'our own' refers to the conscience of the leaders in place at the time.  All members in the church are taught how to open and close a prayer. (we had an ordered list on a display card on my mission) How to fold our arms, bow our head and even the proper posture.  Naturally those in the scriptures who stood tall and raised their hands to heaven to pray were in the wrong.

    ** all men may have the same privilege of worshiping in the prescribed way.

    *** They can attempt to worship in a way different from the prescribed way but it won't do them any good because God only listens to Mormons anyway.  At least that is the attitude that any believer of a religion takes towards their own.

    member Bob has broken his leg: It's a trial from God  which he will gain blessing by enduring.
    non-member Bob has broken his leg: It's a punishment from God for his heathen ways.

    12) We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law as long as they conform to church's teachings.
    This is very obvious with the current case of the Law stating that same sex marriages ought to be allowed and the church saying that they won't obey, honor, or sustain it.
    Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society.

    13) We believe in the appearance of being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men our friends; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things approved by the church, we hope all things that were promise will actually happen, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things provided their prior approval.
      It is generally accepted that many members of the church are very nice and generally tend to be honest in dealing with others.  Many companies will actually prefer to hire Mormons on this general premise.

      Anyone who has been in the church for a while will see the gossip and backbiting that abounds within the church.  Relief Society is often associated with being gossip central.  As long as you give off the appearance of obeying the rules then members will generally do good to you.  However the moment you step out of line then you can expect to have dirty looks and withdrawn friendships from those who profess benevolence.  Such as in the case when someone decides that the church is not for them but has no ill-will towards any of it members, many of which have been long time friends, they may find that the person they once thought of as their loving friend now views them as a contagious spawn of the devil with whom any contact with could taint their spiritual well-being and thus affect their chances of entering heaven elite. (See article 3)

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Introduction


     First off, welcome to by blog.  I assume that you are here because you are either a Mormon yourself or know someone who is.  Perhaps you have doubts or just find some of the beliefs to be a bit odd or confusing.  Well you are not alone.  Here you are welcome to vent your frustrations and hopefully find your own resolutions and find peace within yourself.

    About Me

     I am an active Mormon.  I attend church every week with my family and even attend the temple twice a month.  At the time of this writing I currently have a calling as a minor member of the Bishopric. I have regular scripture study with my family and hold weekly family home evenings. Basically all the things I'm supposed to do to keep from falling away from the faith.


     Oh and I'm an atheist. 


     Okay, so maybe you think that seems a bit odd and out of place, or maybe you don't.  Either way that is my circumstance.  There are a number of reasons why I still go to church and am a 'closet atheist' which I will be happy to expound on later, for now lets just put it down to family reasons.

     I have no ill-will towards Christians or those of any faith.  I'm not out to convert you to atheism, you are free to make that decision on your own but I'll be happy to share my conversion story with you.  Unlike the pretended stance of the church I honestly believe that people should be free to make their own decisions.  To put it briefly it was not a decision I made quickly but was about 15 years in the making.  I have been off and on a devout believer in the church and God and fully understand why believers believe. As of this writing I have been an atheist for a little over a year now and I feel better about my decision each and every day.


    So Why Blog?

     I have to thank my friend Mormon411 for encouraging me to start this up.  I have been making comments on his blog and he made me realize that I have a lot that I want to say.

     Coming to realize the church is false was hard.  At the time of realization you have no knowledge of where you can turn for support, you feel angry, betrayed, and lost.  You can't tell anyone you know because of the fear of rejection, judgement, and loss of friendship that would ensue.  You are left wondering where you can turn to find someone with whom you can express your new found self and accept and understand you for who you are.  I imagine that the fear and experience would be similar for anyone faced with the need to 'come out' with socially unexcepted beliefs and/or feelings.  It can be a confusing and frightening time and I hope that not only will you find an outlet here but you can then in turn help and become a shoulder for others to lean on as well.

    Live long and prosper,
    --Senigami