On Leaving Things Alone

The quip you can leave the church but can’t leave it alone has been on my mind a lot lately. Today I realized one reason why. I have a niece who is going through the temple today, lets call her Name Redacted .1

I love Name Redacted a lot, she is a bubbly person and tons of fun to be around. She is also my sisters daughter. Of all the diehard believers in my family my sister really tries to make all this not believing the same way stuff work. I feel welcome in her home and not like I have to go out of my way to get family to talk to me and help them realize I’m not contagious.

Name Redacted like I said is a sweetheart, she is very very trusting, almost to a fault. Here a while back she got sucked into an MLM that cost her hundreds of dollars. I tried to help her see the con game it was at the time, but I was too late she had already paid for the ‘starter kit’ that all theses MLM’s seem to have. It made me sad to see her lose that money when she didn’t need to. I was talking about this with her mom once and I found out it was a church leader that had gotten this 17 year old girl into the scam and how mad she was at the leader for it. She also quipped at how gullible her daughter was and she wished she could correct that. I so wanted to tell her to teach Name Redacted to think critically and not always trust her feelings. I wanted to tell her that the church is the one that teaches her to be this gullible and I could prove it. But I did not, I left it alone. I left it alone because it would have bothered her for me to bring it up, you see people just don’t like it when their long held beliefs are challenged by reality. It is called cognitive dissonance and it feels exactly the same as a stupor of thought or spirit of contention depending on the circumstances you are in and the last thing the church wants is critical thinkers, as evidenced by this talk where Glenn Pace has this to say:

The last category of criticism I will address comes from within the Church itself. This criticism is more lethal than that coming from nonmembers and former members…One activity which often leads a member to be critical is engaging in inappropriate intellectualism.

The last part of this talk seems to be saying think enough to believe in the church and its leaders but then stop thinking.  Why would the one true church fountain of all truth advise you to stop thinking and searching for more knowledge? Does that really make sense? Isn’t there always something more to learn? shouldn’t we be adding more light and knowledge to our little old noodles? In sunday school I am sure the answer would be yes with a but, a so long as it is correlated and church approved but.

orwellianThe church has an Orwellian feel too it that you don’t realize when you are a prole. Criticism of the leaders is equivalent to a sin, and once you go through the temple it equates to breaking an oath.2 You see my wonderful niece Name Redacted is going to make that oath today and she has no idea what she is about to promise. She has no clue that she is going to promise to not laugh too loud anymore or that she will give everything she owns, does or ever will do to the church. 3 It pains me to know that she will be sucked into the believe-or-go-to-hell loop today via what I now see as a kind of hazing ritual common to all secret societies. I desperately want to tell her about it, but I leave it alone and support her instead.

I realize that even though it is founded on false pretenses it has become a right of passage in her community. It will feel on one hand like a big step, and on the other hand really weird to her. Since all of her family will be there in the celestial room she will fill a great outpouring of love as she takes this step which will damp out her natural reaction that it just doesn’t feel right. If I try to tell her what is about to happen it will only drive a wedge further down between our families.

So I am leaving it alone, I am not telling her to go to newnamenoahs videos on youtube, I’m not telling her about all the changes to the ceremony that she will think is an unchanging ordnance of god after today. I am leaving alone the desire to point out to her that she is just the latest in a long line of marks dupped by a brilliant conman from the 1800’s. You see I regularly leave the church alone to try and keep family together. It is true that I do not want to though. If you felt your grandma was being swindled wouldn’t you feel a desire  to point it out? Wouldn’t you feel a responsibility to tell someone you love if you knew they were being lied to? The whole can’t leave it alone comment was a brilliant stroke of truthiness4 because it predicts exactly what a person that loves his fellow being would do if he found out he had been conned. He’d try and tell everyone to watch out for the conman. Talk about a great prophetic warning for a prophet conman to make. It is a guaranteed hit.

One reason I leave it alone in this situation is because my goal isn’t to bash the church, it is to help people to see the light. Helping others recognize that they have been deceived is not an easy thing. This is because of something called the backfire effect. It basically means the stronger the held belief the more likely the person is to discount and disregard facts that prove otherwise, in fact showing them these facts will actually make them believe even more deeply in their assertions. This is evidenced by people still believing in guys that predict the end of the world even after the day comes and passes.

If your goal is to expose the deception like mine is, I suggest that we realize first and foremost people don’t make decisions logically, we are emotional beings much more than rational ones and inside the church members are literally trained to make decisions emotionally, it is the very foundation of how you ‘know’ the church is true. Now to those that have left it is obvious that emotions can be misleading. As a prole however it isn’t so obvious. That means when you keep picking at a topic or pointing out leaders mistakes or doctrinal errors, it will often have little effect on the person that you will hope someday will come to their senses. Remember when it seems like you are talking to a brick, you used to be that brick.5  To borrow a little from the conversion techniques I was taught as a missionary, you first need to build a relationship of trust. You have to seek common ground, and then express your opinion. It is a far more successful approach than screaming liar from the mountain tops. The more often we can remember what if felt like to be a believer the more easily we can connect with those that still believe and help them have a chance to learn something new. I know that every fiber of your being telling you to help your brother or sister or niece see the deception and that is hard to set aside, but please consider the best chance you have on influencing others is by remaining friends that can eventually talk about these touchy issues, that is why I think that once in a while it actually helps to leave it alone.


Addition and slight edit 3/9/14:
My sister contacted me today and asked me to change this article out of respect to her and her family. It is anonymous to begin with for that very reason, family would often be bothered by some of the things I point out. In this case she felt like I was mocking something she held sacred. Kind of like eating meat in front of a Hindu.

It is incredible how religions want respect for their own and yet are totally oblivious to what offends others, in the very scriptures of the church all religions but their own are decried as abominations, as it says in the PoGP, JS history 1:19:

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…

How you can think that isn’t offensive to other religions I do not know. I personally wouldn’t like being called an abomination, although I am sure there are people that think I am exactly that for my willingness to simply tell the truth. Thinking about it some more I do know how that can seem like a non-issue, I used to think that scripture wasn’t offensive in the slightest when I was on the inside looking out, I mean no one is forced to read it (not unlike this blog).

It is a trick of human psychology that we all succumb to, it is an illusion that we are willing to celebrate diversity. (Read the link this time, its very worth it!) Once you realize that it is in your nature to feel offended in this way you can start to see things from a different point of view. I only hope to encourage different points of view.

What that all means is this, even though I can point out the hypocrisy in the request for censorship, even though I can point out how the church censors information from its members repeatedly, it doesn’t matter. Because like indicated in the meat of this article we are emotional beings. We are wired for it. If hard pressed my sister wouldn’t be able to describe legitimately why this bothers her and eating meat in front of a hindu wouldn’t in the slightest, it just does.

So this post from her perspective made light of a thing sacred to her because it predicted the name my niece would get in the temple yesterday, It bothered her, not because it is logical but because it is emotional. Of course if the church hadn’t set all this up to seem like some magical mysterious prophetic thing that wouldn’t be the case, if the church didn’t make sure you were emotionally invested at every level this wouldn’t be the case.

Now I personally detest censorship of all kinds, but I also realize that her feelings are very real, and as I have mentioned before feelings matter. By letting my niece know what would happen I made the whole experience less magical (like Dorothy discovering Oz behind the curtain)

On top of that when you get this name you swear never to reveal it as part of the ceremony and that makes it feel like an affront to something sacred which can cause bad feelings.

For those bad feelings I apologize and out of respect to the feelings of my sister I have redacted the name that bothered her. Even though I felt like I was doing nothing wrong or saying anything untruthful I realize that feelings were hurt. The truth is I wouldn’t care in the least if it were a stranger that was bothered, but it was my family and my sister who has been very accepting of my position that felt offended.

I hope to never feel the need to redact anything I post in the future, this was a very difficult thing for me to do I felt like I was being asked to choose between my integrity to the thousands of readers 6 of the things we post on the Fridge door and the feelings of my family. I hold my integrity dear, I also hold my family dear. This is my attempt to balance both. Thank you all who help put this blog together and all the readers that have given me so much support and feedback I hope you understand why I do this. 7 

  1. I picked this Name Redacted because it is the one she will get in the temple today on march 8th, profet need to be profetic you know 🙂
  2. a blood oath if you went through pre 1990 as I did where you promised to die in a gruesome way if you ever criticized your leaders or laughed really loud
  3. It’s like signing a non compete agreement at work where the place that pays your salary has rights to every business idea you have or ever will have in exchange for a pay check. Only you don’t get paid. Good thing they don’t enforce it all that much.
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness
  5. The Book of Freon, Chill, 3:1
  6. yeah I knoooow, crazy isn’t it? a stupid little blog about a Fridge gets thousands of readers, it still flabbergasts me when I look at the stats!
  7. On the plus side while this whole thing did cause some strain on family relationships, I am happy to find out that my family does in fact know I write this blog and they read it. Maybe one day they will truly understand where I am coming from and look into these things deeply and think critically about them. That is one of my greatest hopes!

7 Comments

  1. Loved this post! I struggle with this balance myself. It feels like I hold back 95% of the time in my public expressions about the church. There are a lot of great articles I come across on Facebook for example, that I want to “like”, but I don’t because it might be offensive to some of my Mormon friends. Part of me resents this because I feel like I can’t share things I’m excited about, and will just be misunderstood (again) and have more distant relationships.

    Yesterday, for the first time in weeks, I decided to share something. I posted an email I received from someone who left the church because of a letter on my blog. She described feeling so hopeful, free of guilt and fear, and more conscious of her choices. I was so happy to see someone live courageously like this, so I posted it. It didn’t say anything really negative about the church, just discussed emotions. Yet, I was asked why I spend so much time doing anti-Mormon missionary work.

    Since leaving, I’ve had a lot of members tell me they’re fine with my decision to leave the church, but they ask, “Why do you have to talk about it?” They don’t seem to realize how much I *don’t* talk about it, and how little I think about it. But what’s so wrong with talking about it, anyway? I’m fine if people want to stay in the church. I’m not telling anyone what to do. They’re welcome to talk about the church all they want.

    I recently read a comment a member left on a friend’s post. She claimed that his comment about a certain doctrine “hurt” her. And this is where I think the issue lies:

    Rob above said “My respect does not allow them to restrict my own actions that do not affect them.” And you said in your reply, “While don’t agree with the reason she is offended the reason I do empathize with the feelings it gave her.”

    Can our words hurt other people? Or are they hurting themselves because of how they choose (or are conditioned) to receive those words?

    We can intentionally try to hurt people by calling them names, and they may or may not choose to take offense, depending on how much they identify with those labels and how much they value the relationship. Unfortunately, even if we’re not intentionally trying to offend, and we’re not even talking about a person at all, but just a belief or a fact or a bit of history, if it is something people identify with, it can be hurtful to them.

    But are we the ones causing the hurt? Or is it their attachment to the belief? And is it our responsibility to walk on egg shells and make sure we don’t trigger someone’s emotional response? Or do we just be ourselves and let people deal with whatever comes up for them? We could say, “If they can’t accept me as I am, along with the authentic expression of my opinions, then what kind of a friend is that, and how can we have an authentic relationship anyway?” Or do we just try to keep things amicable, play along with their game so they can feel content inside the matrix and safer around us? Do we try to sustain a limited version of a relationship when an complete one isn’t possible, or do we allow the relationship die if the other person can’t stand us expressing our thoughts?

    I’m fine letting others believe and and say what they want. But do I have to take responsibility for how they feel about what I do? Do I have to change my behavior to protect their feelings? Would I hold back with someone who I know is sensitive about their medical condition, sexual problem, or relationship issue? And is it even fair to compare that to religion? How do the rules change for public (non-personal) blogs and Facebook posts, where people can choose to read or not? How do I balance sensitivity with authenticity? Maybe it all boils down to how much we value our relationships, and the type of relationships we want?

    Tough stuff… I know this is long. Hoping you have more insight here…

    1. My only insight is you have to choose. Ironic isn’t it :). Even if a person is offended simply because they are emotionally invested in their religion, you can’t change the fact of that emotion connection. Like it or not that is human nature. The person is the only one that can do that. Once you personally realize that you had been misled and lied to it is like a beacon light of discovery. You see others that have been misled or are hurting themselves by trying to live a made up standard and you want to help them. That is also human nature. The reason you want others to know they have been lied to is an emotional one as well for it is out of love for your fellow man you want the truth to be told.

      This is why truth sometimes hurts. Because of the emotions attached to it. Me personally, in regards to my family that is closest to me, I reign in the desire to expose the fraud to the lowest possible level. Because I realize the emotional investment in it for them. They have no idea how much I reign it in, and they will never know until the day they make the same journey as I did. I hope they do because of the joy of living an authentic life, yet I have to accept the fact that may never happen.

      I have to realize that even though I see 10% of their income being stolen from them on false pretenses, it is that same voluntary emotional investment that allows them to manufacture happiness. Watch this video to understand the science of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q1dgn_C0AU

      We love what we sacrifice for, irrespective of the truth of it. Love is an emotion and human beings are primarily emotional creatures.Once you realize this, it does boil down to how much we value that particular relationship with that particular person. It does boiled down to the types of relationship we want. I do know this from experience, I now have two very close friends that I can have conversations on this topic with in person without them getting offended or upset, we can even joke about my apostasy and them coming to visit me in the telestial kingdom in the next life. I take care to not go too far but I can still be pretty frank. They are both still true believers even though I am not. They are two of my best friends in the world too. Family I value, just because it is family. I long for the same type of friendship that I have with my best friends, but it may never happen. I can see they are visibly agitated by the issues I talk about so I reign it in even more to the point in person I completely avoid the topics. I even avoid posting things on FB these days, just because people in my family might be offended. This is after I had a run of posting all sorts of stuff exposing the fraud though, eventually I had shown people all the information I had found and I decided my integrity had been satisfied for at least they had a choice to investigate on their own or blindly ignore it.

      As you move back and forth over the line of too little or too much affront to the senses of those in your circle of influence, I wish you the best. It isn’t any easy thing to do leaving a religion especially if you are the first one in your family and friends to do so. It makes you the rebel and the outcast it brands you as the one who apostatizes from the family. Do your best to live authentically while following this priceless council of the fridge my friend and ‘be cool’

    1. Mormon leadership should take a lesson in vocabulary.

      Truth: A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like.

      Half-Truth: A statement that is only partly true, especially one intended to deceive.

      Deception: To mislead or falsely persuade others.

      Lie: An inaccurate or false statement.

      Faith: Belief that is not based on proof.

      Mormon leadership presents Members with Half-Truths, asking them to believe they are True. While in reality, they are literally Deceiving the Membership and that Deception is simply an outright Lie.

      Their response when they are confronted about this is for you to have Faith that the Lies they are presenting to you are True.

      A nice, circular explanation of Mormonism and its logic.

  2. I’m sad that you were coerced to change anonymized data for no reason other than “sacredness.”

    I’ve eaten meat in front of multiple Hindus at the same time. My respect for them was enough for us to ensure that we picked a restaurant with good vegetarian options, but that doesn’t mean I need to forgo eating as I would normally. Would a Hindu make such considerations for a fruitarian? Now what if you want to eat with a Freegan? Are you all required to dumpster dive? While some might consider making such huge considerations, I think it shows increasing levels of ludicrous expectations.

    I feel the same way about the church. I respect my friends and family, and am careful to not do anything that could be interpreted as coercing them to do something they believe is wrong. But that is the extent of my respect. My respect does not allow them to restrict my own actions that do not affect them.

    Religious people NEED to understand that respect does not mean silence.

    Ideas & beliefs should be evaluated by their merit, not arbitrary categorizations of sacredness. It is literally the same as when Scientologists get upset if you ask them if there is any secret scripture in their religion. While they have the right not to answer & even the right to request that I not inquire, they do not have the right to forbid me from asking.

    So, when I oppose an idea, as I oppose the LDS temple, I speak freely about it. I will quote directly from the initiatory, endowment, and sealings. This is not disrespect, it is disclosure and truth, without which no real progress can be made.

    If the faithful want to say “he who must not be named” I wont coerce them to do otherwise, but they shouldn’t ask me to refrain from saying “Voldemort.”
    (yes, this is a facetious example. I used it because the “new name” in the temple is of equivalent silliness).

    1. While I completely agree with your ‘voldemort’ example. I don’t feel as if I were coerced into making this change, and I didn’t do it because it was sacred to another person nor out of respect to the religion. I personally think the religion at its core is based on a false premise making it simply not true as it is claimed to be.

      However I still remember how I might have felt from her perspective and I made the change because I hurt someones feelings that matter to me. I see it as part of getting along in a world of differing opinions and thoughts because no matter how crazy the reason I believe feelings matter when it comes to understanding each other. While I do think it is silly from my perspective from hers it is not. While don’t agree with the reason she is offended the reason I do empathize with the feelings it gave her.

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