It Happened Again, I got to be part of another Magical Godless Christmas.

If you have followed this blog for over a year you might have read this http://churchofthefridge.com/the-magic-of-myth/ it is sorta required reading to understand where I am coming from today.

Me, a godless heathen outcast that is totally willing to mock the divine by pretending to worship the unpretentious appliance quietly humming along in the corner of my kitchen… I love Christmas. Thanks to my parents. My earliest memories of this time of year were  of giving my favorite toy I’d just gotten from santa to the child of a family that didn’t have anything. I remember they had the branch of a tree for decoration which we replaced with a full one I helped my dad put up.

For me the spirit of christmas has always been about giving. These days I don’t think the baby jesus story is any less mythical than the jolly red elf that flies from house to house in a single night. It is baloney, but I realize all fiction is baloney. That doesn’t prevent it from inspiring me to overcome my weaknesses or help others in need. Just look at Emmet, the lego guy and how his magical world makes you feel that everything is awesome.

This is why I love participating in the Santa Underground formed by a few fellow apostates, outcasts and Fridgidarians to do something nice this time of year. A little over a month ago I popped in there and asked if anyone was up for a little do gooding. Sure! Was the reply. We started by selecting families in need and went after those needs. It was kind of slow at first, but we build up a head of steam in gathering funds to help. Then presents were getting wrapped clear across the country by people I didn’t even know other than they were part of this online group.  One particular person I will call Em, she didn’t have a lot of money to help but she really wanted to do something. I told her helping with the logistics of it all was what enabled people like me to give more. This christmas I watched the spirit of giving rock her world, not because she was on the receiving end, but this time because she gave all she could and then saw her efforts be multiplied a thousand fold by others following her example.

Religion might be nothing more than myth, but I got to tell you the power of belief in an ideal is nothing short of amazing. Call it Christmas, Hanukah, Krampus or Fridgemas. Believe in the sacrifice of a God or a Jolley Old Elf just enough that it gets you to do something nice for someone else. Believe in humanity or household appliances, just believe enough to try and make a difference. Believe enough to give a little more than you can afford to, reach out and help and lift up your fellow beings with a little bit of your own sacrifice. That is the true meaning of the myth that will bring you joy. Give to help others and you will feel good. It is that magic of the myth that this website is all about.

When you look at religion through this mythical lens it might help you see what those that still believe get from it. (Even if they are completely aware of it themselves.) Human beings love magic, it thrills us and makes us happy, you might have discovered how the trick was done, you might have seen the man behind the curtain. But guess what, that doesn’t mean that the magic needs to be lost at all. Its your choice to keep what works for you and discard what doesn’t.  You can still believe in whatever you like and if it makes you sacrifice a little more than you think you can afford, you will discover the joy it will bring to do so.

My personal reason for starting this site was exactly that. To make the myths of religion work for the good of humanity, to believe enough that we help  each other, reaching out to those in need and giving them a leg up so that one day in the future they will give someone else that same leg up. The one thing religion does really well is remind us of this duty to our fellow beings, if only we could keep them from becoming money making machines that sell people they idea that they are more chosen than that non believer next to them. If only we could not take the doctrine so seriously that we think god gives us rights to do things like torture and beheadings that without religion would simply never happen.

This year along with a few dozen other people, I believed in the spirit of Christmas without literally believing in Christ and guess what. It was magical again, two years running now!1 The emotion and love I got to feel again was nothing short of amazing. The myth works even if the literal belief doesn’t. I am sure of that now. Merry Fridgemas and happy New year everyone, may you find joy in family, love in your heart and may this next year be just a little better than the last one!2

Han solo hanukkah

  1. uh oh, did I just commit to next year???
  2. Yeah for those that are dying to know, I did cry again watching this amazing outpouring change peoples lives in remarkable ways. Myth can be magical no doubt about it.

The Morals of Superman

Superman is an alien from another planet with some amazing pretty powers. To us mere humans his kryptonian physiology is almost God-like in comparison. This got me to thinking about the morals shown by this guy in tights and how we view him. Your hereby invited to jack into my stream of consciousness and see where it leads us!

First my favorite song about Superman in the whole world, literally at the top of my Superman playlist. (Yeah I got a superman playlist, don’t giggle too much.)

Superman is a pretty cool guy, one of the first things the song explains is he isn’t in it for the money. He helps other people for one simple reason, because he can. This is something worth emulating I think. Taking on not only personal responsibility, but taking on responsibility for others because he is capable of making a difference.

Another of his morals is he doesn’t sit around doing nothing when he can do something. Since he is such an awesome guy, we often see him faced with moral quandaries that push the boundaries of what he can and can’t do.

It’s why even superman has his kryptonite:1

For us to like the guy he needs to have a weakness. That’s because without the weakness he can’t have the dilemma to face. Consider the following situation. Say some guy was gonna have his head cutoff by a terrorist. Supe’ is close by and doesn’t do a thing other than watch it. What would you think about it? Pretty awful right? Tie some kryptonite chains around him though and make it his friend that is getting murdered and it is a whole different story.

In one case he is a jerk just standing there doing nothing, in the other he is a hero we want to emulate. Consider the reason why. Does the agency of the terrorist come into play at all? Or is our judgment wholly dependent on Superman’s limitations?

Think about that. If Supe’ said I can’t intervene because I need to let that bad guy do whatever in the Jaheem he wants cause you know he’s free n’ all. Would you respect that answer? I don’t think so. At the very least you wouldn’t honor him at all for those kind of morals.

Of course if Supe started taking over the world and intervening in every way becoming a ruthless dictator you wouldn’t like him very much either. In fact some of the best stories are the ones where a bad guy like general Zod with just as much power aims to do exactly that.

It’s because you expect the good guy to exercise judgment. He should know when to be involved and when not to. Telling you which presidential candidate to vote for, eh not so much. Needless beheading… yeah that’s worth stepping in for.

Which brings me to my point. There is another guy, most call him God, some even think he is an alien from the star Kolob2 In most cases the power that God wields is believed to be far greater than that of Superman. So powerful that when asked, a believer in this guy can’t imagine a situation where his power might be constrained or out matched. This God recently just stood by3 when some terrorists lopped the heads of some of his worshippers.

He did it, according to most believers, for pretty much the same reason that you would never accept from Superman. At least not and still think he was a decent guy. This God also ordered Abraham to kill his son as a sign of loyalty. Why you ask? because it was symbolic of him later having his kid slaughtered for all the world, not because he had to mind you (remember he’s all powerful!) No, he did it because he wanted to.4

So Supermans morals? Intervene and prevent a bad thing from happening if possible. God’s morals? Eh, we will just let that play out and see what happens.

When I think about it these days, if there really is an all powerful guy like superman up there in the sky cruising around watching out for me. Why is he more worried about finding my car keys than stopping people being killed for him?

To put it in better words read the response of a friend of mine to this Facebook post celebrating the all powerful guy that just stood by and watched.

I feel sick. I can’t even… I’ve had an experience where I was asked to renounce my faith under duress and I refused. I wasn’t killed, obviously, but I was beaten… At the time I considered it a spiritual experience that renewed my dedication to God….

I felt like God was there comforting me, that He was proud of me… but He didn’t DO a fucking thing to stop my abuser, just like He didn’t DO anything to stop these beheadings, and He didn’t DO anything to save the people thrown into fires for believing in Him…. What kind of God is that?

I used to buy that God doesn’t intervene out of respect for agency, until I experienced what it was like to be on the receiving end of someone choosing to assault me… actually even then I still swallowed it. It wasn’t until someone pointed out that anyone with any sense of decency and respect for life would intervene if they could. God’s supposedly all powerful, but for some reason His hands are tied.

Someone wants to behead people that believe in you and have faith in your grace and are willing to die in your name and you don’t save them because… agency? Fuck that!

It absolutely sickens me to see people taking comfort that these victims are now “in a better place” and hoping that they can also have the strength to be a martyr if it’s asked of them, and this God they’re putting their trust in continues to sit on His ass and do NOTHING. Who knows, maybe He approves. The beheadings are committed in the name of Allah after all…

I’m not all powerful. There are days it’s all I can do to take care of myself and my kid, let alone help others in need. But I damn sure try. And if I were all powerful, you can be damn sure I wouldn’t be twiddling my thumbs while others suffer.

Personally I think Superman’s morals are worth striving for. This God guy on the other hand not so much. So forgive me if I don’t kneel before your deity anymore. And for the love of Fridge. Please think a bit about the guy you have chosen to kneel before… You might have picked the villain to worship, cause last time I checked Superman didn’t require anyone to kneel before him. It was this guy:

  1. Yeah this is on the play list too, don’t worry I won’t link them all!
  2. In hind site  this is one of the crazier Mormon beliefs, but it is true, look it up here. Maybe this is why I still like superman 🙂
  3. Of course it might have been Allah standing by watching and approving since the terrorists did it in his name I suppose, but I don’t think this blog gets much traction in the muslim community so we won’t delve into that bit of irony for now.
  4. Some mormons believe that God was once a guy and is really more like superman with some limitations. God with a little ‘g’. You know, god-like relative to our own pitiful powers.  It helps resolve this quandary a little bit, but not entirely if you think about it. There are so many other ways of dealing with forgiving people, one simple one is just saying it. ‘I forgive you.’ See no human sacrifice necessary! The LDS church has however gone more christian mainstream over the years, pulling away from that doctrine to be more line with standard Christianity and Islam where God has a big ‘G’ and can do as he pleases no matter what. These days you are hard pressed to find a Mormon that will admit they think god is limited to a small ‘g’.

Thankfulness Leads to Happiness

I am thankful for my Fridge. Seriously I am! Think about it for a minute and imagine your life without the tall cool one in the corner of the kitchen. How would it change? What if there was no ice to cool your beverage? No place to preserve those leftovers from your thanksgiving meal. How else would you be able to enjoy them the next day and ponder the happy laughter and memories of families and loved ones enjoying a feast together?

Quietly humming without fanfare or expectation of reward, the Fridge gives light in the darkness! It preserves the gifts given unto it and freely shares with any willing to open the door and partake. Is it really just a meager appliance or a metaphor on how to treat your fellow beings?

Be the Good

We all share a small bit of this marble hurtling through the vastness of cold empty (Fridge like :)) space in backwater galaxy in an un-presuming corner of a vastly larger universe. The more I think about it, The more I realize I am damn lucky to be here and now. Sure life is tough sometimes, but it is life! An unbelievably rare commodity in the vastness of the universe. Can we be like the Fridge and quietly hum along doing our part each day to make the world a little better place? Shouldn’t we get about being the good the world needs? Don’t you think doing something good is more effective than praying for it? I do, and so does your Fridge.

So next time you open the door and grab your favorite refreshment think about how lucky you are that was so easy for you and be thankful! Consider for a moment what life would be like without that in it, and then figure out a way to make life a little easier for your fellow man that might not be as lucky. You will be glad you did. That is the promise of the Fridge.

Thankfulness leads to happiness and helping others leads to joy…. It really is that simple.

fridge

The Church is NOT True, even if I sometimes wish it was….

I have to admit, there are times I miss being part of the club, I miss the socialization, the camaraderie of being part of something that most people you know are part of. Feeling like you are part of something bigger than you.

But no matter how much I wish the church were true, it simply isn’t. No matter that I see my children hearts broken when friends are forced to choose between them and the church and they choose the church because they think the leaders are the arbitrators of who, and who doesn’t get forgiveness in this world and the next. No matter that I fear for them being the odd exmormon kid in Utah where an avowed atheist is allowed to attend BYU but the person that lost their LDS faith is kicked out. Some days I desperately wish that it was true so that I didn’t fear for the social effects of disbelief amongst the believers has on my family.

But it isn’t and I can’t pretend it is. You see I was taught a very simple logical principle, that the church is true because Joseph Smith was a prophet. He was a prophet because God said so. We are assured of that claim because he produced this Book of Mormon to prove it. To me at a very personal level the LDS church was restored truth. It got the world back to original Christianity that was lost when Rome killed all the apostles and put their own talking heads in charge. The catholic church was great and abominable and caused all sorts of false religions to splinter off and start up to lead the children of men away down false paths that had only a portion of the truth but not all of it.

Logically this made sense. I never imagined a divine perfect father in heaven having fuzzy truths that were sorta true or kinda right depending on whoever you were or what religion you belonged to. Maybe that makes me a zealot or maybe I was naturally that way, but I felt truth is truth, there is not kinda or sorta fuzziness about it.

I was 100% sure I knew as sure as the sun was shining that I was in the right religion, the one that eventually would take over all the rest and bring all truth unto it. All of that rested on a single keystone though. The claim of one man that he was the prophet that God called to restore his church. The logic is really that simple, his claim has to be true for the church to be true. If that claim is false, then the church is false. Just like Gordon B Hinkley said:

 “Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud… upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this church.” 1

You see if Joseph was lying or even hallucinating about that claim then it follows that the church is not true. No matter how much I wish it were. If it is not true, then what? Should I pretend it is? Should I go along with it because it just ‘works for me’? Or should a person have the integrity to stand up and declare what they have discovered even if it isn’t what your friends or family want to hear? Having made that choice, I have to live with it now. I am sure the church is not true and guess what, sometimes living with that knowledge really sucks. Sometimes it means you look a man in the eye that you deeply respect and watch him tear up because he doesn’t understand why you would leave the faith you once loved. You have to live with the fact that because of basic human psychology there will be some people you care for that will never honestly question the faith like you did.  They will never fully understand where you are coming from when you tell them you know the church is not in fact true. That is what my post is about today. How I know the church isn’t what it claims to be. It is not the fully restored gospel.

How do I know? Because to claim that it is means that the God of the Mormon church is a-ok with forcing 14 year old girls to marry 37 year old men. It means literally that Joe Smith could do exactly what Warren Jeffs did and it’s all good because he was a ‘real’ prophet.  You can’t call this anti-mormon propaganda anymore. The church has admitted that these are the facts.

But consider this. No matter the spin you put on it a 14 year old girl was coerced into marriage with a 37 year old man. The same man that spiritually married 2 at least nine other teenage girls, most without his wife’s knowledge or consent. Those are the simple facts. Now I know it is possible to put these things on your mental shelf, I did that myself when I discovered that this same person ordered a printing press destroyed to cover it all up. You shelve them and try not to think about them because they make you question. Would God really command this guy to marry teens or was he just a horny and possibly deluded megalomaniac with a messiah complex? Would God really want him to destroy a printing press that exposed his affairs with over 40 women of Nauvoo that would eventually lead to his death in jail?It really does come down to that one single question:

Was Joseph Smith who he claimed to be?

I don’t think so. Because I don’t believe any divine being with a hint of intelligence would send an angel to force Joe to marry a bunch of other mens wives and teen daughters and then try to cover it up in a way that would make him look like a total jerk and cause people 150 years laters to lose faith in his one true religion. That makes no sense. 3 I don’t believe a divine being would have his prophet translate some ancient papyri that would later be found and would easily prove he was making it up. I don’t believe a divine being would fill his ancient record that proved said prophet was a prophet with anachronisms that would later try the faith of all his followers. To put it simply I cannot believe in a loving father in heaven that would deceive his children as a way of testing their faith in him…. I personally would never do that to my children, I think it is morally despicable and completely un-godlike.

out of hatYou see, I simply do not believe God is that tricky. To believe in the truthfulness of the church once you realize these simple facts are true means you must justify them and the only way to do that is to imagine a divine being that is like a 9 year old with an ant farm. (You know, just messing with us randomly to see what we will do.) I could not imagine such a person claiming to be a loving father looking out for us. It doesn’t make sense to me and even if I am wrong I realized that is not the type of person I think is worth worshiping. Do you think you could worship the kind of God that Warren Jeffs believes commanded him to do what he did? In any time or any place? Think about that.

But simply put, if there is a God in heaven and he isn’t a trickster, then this can’t be the right religion because of the simple facts. They don’t add up if God really is a decent guy. Men on the other hand…they have proven to be really tricky, especially when it comes to churches. You can find example after example of guys pulling religions of their hats. It’s a trick that has been going on since the beginning of time.

You see, if you check the facts, the idea that Joseph was a prophet just doesn’t add up. Not any more so than the claims of Muhammed or the claims of Warren Jeffs.  And that means the church just isn’t true no matter how much you wish it was.4

 

 

 

  1. General Conference, Oct 2002
  2. again just like Warren Jeffs, because polygamy was illegal at that time and place just like here and now.
  3. the same being also didn’t think it was worth his time to stop subsequent prophets from being total racist jerks either, won’t marry a teen bride, send down the sword angel…. treat black people like slaves… eh no biggie
  4. I’d like to point out that there is no emotion in this logic, simply the facts. I realize that you can pray and get a testimony that the church is true. I did it and I had one right up until my shelf collapsed after realizing this simple logic. It is completely possible to feel like the church is true and ignore this logic, in fact that is exactly what all religions do. They push you to ignore evidence and just trust them…. they tell you to pray and that if you try hard enough you can hang up all these doubts and still believe… and you can do that. It is possible especially if you really really want it to be true. But consider this… Have they ever at anytime said it was possible to get a negative answer? Imagine if a Muslim told you the same thing, that only if you prayed hard enough you would know for a fact that Muhammed was truly the last prophet on earth (we are not talking half ass prayers here, you have to put all on the line) would you be willing to try that hard or would you recognize that proof that comes that way isn’t valid because it doesn’t allow for the false outcome? If you are truly honest with yourself and your search for truth shouldn’t you pray just as hard to know if Islam is true or if Warren Jeffs is the true prophet? When you realize why you won’t do that…  That is when you realize your own feelings are not all that effective at picking out truth from falsehood, if they were then all the conmen with all their tricks in the world would be totally out of a job.

The Casualties of Judgement

My father said something very profound to me a couple of years ago after we had been discussing some of the issues with Mormonism.  It resonated with me and explained a facet of Mormonism that has always troubled me.

He said, “All most people really want in this life is the right to live life as they see fit and to not be judged for it.”

judgement

Mormonism is a belief system which requires the subjugation of self, our hopes and dreams, even our very lives, into a strict, narrow, conforming and confining path, controlled through a host of written and unwritten rules.

A couple of the more psychologically damaging teachings of Mormonism are “Avoid the very appearance of evil,” and the temple admonition to avoid “…every other unholy and impure practice.”  The real difficulty with these admonitions is they are undefined.  It grants to all Mormons the right to pick and choose among their own prejudices and apply those as “evil or impure.”  When you combine these teachings with the idea that Mormonism is “the only true and living Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today,” you have a recipe for an environment filled with judgement, condemnation, and disgust for people who don’t see the world in the same way.

Humans are social animals.  What others think of us does matter, particularly in communities with rigid social mores. If one doesn’t “toe the line” doors are closed, people are gossiped about, children are disowned, and relationships are destroyed.

This is, of course, the center of our difficulties between believer and apostate.  Judgement and resentment go hand-in-hand and the combination is corrosive to our most important relationships. Where I think both “believers” and “apostates” are making a mistake is in the ground in where we choose to fight our battles.

Tactically speaking, it has been a time honored position in warfare to hold the high ground. The person in that position has a definite advantage because gravity is on their side. Sieges have always been long and costly and resulted in great destruction.

Citadel

Believers argue from the “high ground” position of “faith and God” where no negotiation can happen because in their beliefs their position is “RIGHT.”  It is the ground where condemnation, judgement, and disgust shut down communications.  Communications are of the sort, “my way or the highway.”  This is usually where the casualties start piling up.

The trick is, I think, in shifting the ground from “high moral position” to the ground of “relationship.”  This can often be accomplished by asking this question.

“You may be right, but is being right so important to you that you would rather destroy the relationship between us in the name of being right?” 

Bad_Friends_quotes__02

Most believers aren’t focusing on the relationship, they’re focusing on the “rightness” of their position.  Becoming cognizant of the destruction of the relationship is pretty much like getting hit in the face with a bucket of ice water.

On the other side, the apostate holds the high ground of “Science and Reason” and we get so caught up in the battle we lose track of the casualties in relationships, too.  Eventually both sides seem to accept the casualties as a “necessary part of the battle.”

It really is sad.  But there is an antidote.  It is called “unconditional love and acceptance.”  It doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and permit people to walk on you, it only means that you will continue to love and accept people for who they are, not for what they believe. The cool thing is it can be extended unilaterally.  Sometimes, we have to experience it before we can share it.

In my own life, judgement and condemnation toward me by my (ex) wife eventually ended my marriage.  She couldn’t accept me for who I am.  I never pointed out to her the damage she was doing to our relationship.  Instead, I gave of myself until nothing was left, trying to be what she wanted.  Would things have been different if I had explained?  I guess I will never know.

A Note to Our LDS Family and Friends

– Guest post today from Desire Truth, I hope you enjoy her perspective as much as I did!

In the LDS church, certain assumptions are commonly made about people who leave the church, especially if they were very faithful believers prior to making the decision to leave. Some of these assumptions include being offended at people in the church, desiring to “sin” and leaving so that we don’t feel guilty for doing it, or that we simply don’t understand the doctrine well enough or we would stay. Honestly, every single one of these assumptions is incredibly insulting to our intelligence and decision-making capabilities. Please give us more credit than that. For those of you who are still faithful and believing, there are some things that those of us who have left need you to know and try to understand, and we would still appreciate your support, friendship, and love. In general, most of us respect your decision for yourself to remain in the church, even if we do not agree with it. We ask for the same respect from you.

One of the primary issues with this expectation of respect from the active believer is that believers actually must go against their own church doctrine, in one way at least, to truly be okay with this concept. On the one hand, you have the teaching that the LDS church is the one true church on the earth, that it is restored by God himself and that every single individual who has ever lived, does live, or will ever live on the earth must choose this religion and be baptized either during this or the next life in order to achieve the highest of blessings that God has for his children in the next life. On the other hand, there is the concept of agency. So while an ex-Mormon can look at a believing, active Mormon and think and actually believe, “Hey, they are making the right choice for them. That’s totally okay with me,” the active, believing Mormon cannot look at an ex-Mormon without thinking, in some part of their mind, “It is so sad. They are making the wrong choice because this church is the only true church. I can respect them for their right to agency, but I am still going to know (think) that they are wrong in that decision, no matter what the reasons for that decision.”

Then when a believer asks a friend or family member who has left for the reasons that they left, but is not okay with listening to anything negative about the church, they are not really asking for answers. All they are doing is searching for confirmation that their own biases and assumptions about people who leave are correct. Then when that person who leaves tells them, “I did not leave the church for its positive aspects, I left it for the negative things I found out about the church,” that believing member can justify their preset biases.

Fortunately, not all church members do this. To those of you who have stuck with your friends or family even after they leave the church, whether or not they are public about their dissent and problems with it, we sincerely thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Leaving the church that many of us were raised in and that was such a massive part of our identity is difficult and heart-wrenching. We have to completely redo ourselves from the ground up in terms of belief, practices, identity, and moral standards. Please know that we did not make this decision lightly, nor was it the easy way out. The very real potential of being shunned and at times, outright disowned, by family and friends is daunting. The church is very exclusive in many ways, and the leaders of the LDS faith continually urge members to attempt to befriend, with the hopes of converting, people they know or meet who are not members of the LDS church. Moreover, upwards of 80,000 missionaries are sent out nearly worldwide continually to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in this pursuit. Please do not attempt to silence us in our need to discuss the church, in both its good and bad lights, if you continue to support and participate in these practices of member missionary work as well as worldwide proselytizing attempts.

As a good friend of mine said recently:

“Just as you would never tell a freed slave not to discuss their difficulties as a slave, or tell a freed prisoner not to discuss the condition of the prison, or tell a woman who has escaped an abusive relationship not to discuss her abuse, or a tell a returning astronaut not to talk about space, do not tell a person leaving a life encompassing religion to just move on and not talk about their experiences within the religion. To do so is asking them to deny and hide a fundamental piece of their story.”

Now to address some of the misconceptions often perpetuated about those of us who leave. As someone who grew up in the church, and who has come into contact with thousands of ex-Mormons, the following are generally true of nearly all of us, though each of us has a different reason or combination of reasons that ultimately caused us to decide the church was not for us. These are what we really need you, as our family and friends, to try to understand.

  1. Far from leaving hastily or quickly, or from being offended, please understand that the majority of us took time and some serious effort to research the church, from many sources including church published references, before we decided to take this leap. We did not make this decision in haste, nor without also looking at what the church and its supporters (including well-studied apologetics) had to say regarding the most controversial and troubling issues. In general, we did not consult only “anti” literature. We consulted many sources, both supportive and non-supportive, scientific and otherwise, before making our decision. Just as you would not submit a serious research paper for a college assignment that only had one source and supported a single view of the topic, we did not take that approach in our research efforts. I do have a question for those who believe. What do you define as “anti” literature? Is it a scientific article debunking something commonly taught at church? Is it evidence by secular professionals, with no stake in the church, that show how the origins of certain things is entirely different than what prophets have taught? Is it evidence-based research compiled by ex-Mormons who use church sources to show that practices that are no longer done were once called doctrine over the pulpit at conferences by multiple general authorities? Is it direct quotes from previous prophets that contain doctrines, defined as such, that are now completely buried, and most of them unknown by current church members? Or Is it simply anything that shows the church to currently have, or that it has had, negative aspects or results from its practices or doctrines? Please respond in the comments if you can clarify.

 

  1. For most of us, our intent is not to drag you down. I have heard that very phrase, or ones similar to it, from more than one person. First, “don’t drag me down with you” implies that you are at a higher or better level of being than I am. It is insulting and presumptuous. The irony is that many of us can tell a believer over and over how much happier and at peace we are, and most of them won’t really believe us, even if they pretend to be okay with it. The reason for that comes from your very own scriptures: “Behold I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.” 1 So even if we have a fantastic life, things are going well for us, and we are generally happy and at peace, many of you do not see it that way. You truly believe that because we are not faithful to the church, that we are somehow secretly miserable and are just hiding it. You also assume, as the scriptures say, that we will all be judged. So perhaps you can make peace with it now that we seem to be happier, but you may still fully expect us to be chastised and punished in the next life. Alma 41:3, “And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works;” and then in verse 8 of the same chapter, “Now, the decrees of God are unalterable.” Your very own church’s canon of scripture condemns us for making what we see to be the right choice for us. Those of you who can rise above this and be sincere in your love and support of us, especially when we are doing nothing to intentionally harm other people, we greatly appreciate. Yet you still believe that God will ultimately punish us for making this decision if we do not go back to church at some point. I would hope sincerely that those who believe can at least put this aside enough to love and support friends and family who leave. More about what we really need from you soon.

 

  1. Thirdly and finally in terms of misconceptions, those of us who have been church members for any length of time, especially those who were born and raised in the church from infancy on, are fully aware of what we are “giving up” in terms of blessings, both those that are considered earthly blessings and those that the church teaches will be the blessings in the next life for those who stay the course. There is a fundamental issue here that we would like you to try to understand. We do not believe this anymore. While not believing does not make it untrue, I would argue in return that believing does not make it true. The simple fact of this matter is that not a single one of us know absolutely what comes after death. There are stories of NDEs (Near Death Experiences), but they vary somewhat and can also be explained by scientific principles. My intent is not to discount those experiences, but to simply state that we do not know of a certainty that there really is a next life for us after we die. Please do not tell us that you do know these things. Believing does not equal knowing. Regarding current blessings and trials, or positive and negative circumstances and events in a person’s life, you can point to individual people and claim they are blessed or are having trials at any point in their life. But the simple matter of this is that life is often messy. We do not understand the whys of everything. We do not know why a particular individual can smoke for their entire adult life and live to a ripe old age, and on the other hand, an innocent child can contract cancer and pass away from it. Church members are no more exempt in general from problems in life than those who are not church members. Please understand that a few of the claims and common things we hear related to this are incredibly offensive. They include statements such as the following:

 

    • “I can see a darkness now in your eyes/countenance.”
    • “Satan has a hold of your heart because you have made the wrong choices.”
    • “I cannot believe that you would hurt your parents/family by leaving the church you were raised in.” (The intent is not to hurt family. The purpose of leaving is to find our OWN happiness. We are not responsible for your happiness, just as you are not responsible for ours. Please understand this. In general, we do not blame parents and family for their teachings; most of the time, they were teaching what they knew and believed, and we can see and appreciate that.)
    • “You aren’t REALLY happy, you are just trying to convince me/yourself that you are.” (No one gets to judge a person’s happiness level but that person. This is both insulting and demeaning to say to any person.)
    • “You just don’t understand the doctrine, and that’s why you left.” (Try us. See if we can’t point out the doctrine just as well as you can, and you may see that a lot of the time, leaving has caused us to do much more research into the church than ever before, along with concentrated prayer and scripture study because it’s what has been taught to us that will give us the answers that we wanted. We are often extremely knowledgeable and well-versed in both current and historical claims, practices, and events in the church.)

We love you, our friends and family. It is true that I would love to see people leave a church that I find incredibly harmful to people who do not fit its very narrow mold. However, even with that sentiment, I am completely willing to respect your decision to remain in the church. Please respect the decision that I, and other ex-Mormons, have made to leave. Whether or not you understand it, know that we made the right decision for us. Please understand that we see things from a different perspective now, but that we understand your perspective. We were there. Many of us were very ardent in our defense of issues that we saw people bring up with the church. We know the church’s answers for all of the issues that plagued us before we decided to discard it as all together more harmful than good, and simply false.

path to believe

As another wise friend stated:

“I want to tell [active LDS members] my beliefs in no way threaten yours. I am not attacking you as a person because you believe. I am discussing why my feelings have changed.” – Alice Maxwell

Finally, please try to understand that we simply want your love and support, your true friendship. We know the church keeps you busy. Please be a friend to us. Please don’t be scared that our apostasy will somehow rub off on you. If you have questions, please ask us. And most of all, please understand that we have and are still going through some serious emotional trauma in leaving the church. Especially for those of us who were born and raised in the church, or born and raised into other fundamental or Christian-based religions and then converted to Mormonism, there is a lot of learning we still have to do, a full remaking of who we are, and finding ourselves outside of the religion(s) that were all encompassing for so much of our lives. If we speak out in hurtful tones about the church, it is because the church’s practices and doctrines hurt us or others that we know. We have ultimately decided that there is enough negative in the church and we do not want to be affiliated with it any longer. Please be patient with us. Understand we are not directly attacking you. We have serious problems with being lied to by trusted leaders throughout our life and at times, that anger and sense of betrayal can spill over into our tone and comments. Ultimately, we simply want to try to be loved and understood. As Mormons, do you not want the same thing? Does it not bother you when people have misconceptions about the church or its members, and do you not work to correct those? Do you appreciate it when people tell you to be silent about your faith or beliefs? If not, please do not ask it of us. We want to bridge that gap, but in general, we are unwilling to risk the happiness and peace we have found in leaving the church to come back to the church itself. Please do not require that of us in order to still love and spend time with us. Love should triumph over all.

 

love is my religion

  1. Alma 41:10, Book of Mormon