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Leaving the Church, But Not Leaving It Alone
 
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There's been a fair amount of chatter lately on a couple of threads regarding the sensitivity--or lack thereof--exhibited towards members of the church, and more specifically toward its leaders.  A common theme among Mormons who observe the Postmormon community is "If you don't believe in the church, why can't you just move on with your life?  Why do you have to belittle what is sacred to others?"  Likewise, there is often concern among our own forum members that we are too harsh in our treatment of people like Gordon B. Hinckley, Boyd K. Packer, and most recently, Julie Beck after her talk in General Conference.

 

I've been thinking a lot about that today.

 

One of the hallmarks of a free society is the degree to which the common folk can be critical of those who speak on behalf of the rest of us.  Freedom of the press and freedom of speech were specifically amended to the US Constitution because the framers of that document realized that without the freedom of the people to voice their criticisms of the institution of their government and its leaders, there was no accountability.  Without that accountability, you ensure tyranny.  Since that time, the right to shine the light of criticism on social, business and governmental institutions has been enshrined as one of our most sacred rights.

 

Here at Post-Mormon.org, you will find a large body of people who have been impacted--profoundly--by their experience as Mormons.  For some, like myself, it was a marvelous journey through a culture of believers culminating in a radical paradigm shift that resulted in my exodus.  For others, it was a terribly painful realization that everything they had stood for, and everything upon which they had built their families, was based on myths and stories that could never be substantiated as "true" in any rational way.  And for a few, their experience as Mormons was traumatic--the victims of rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, spiritual abuse and psychological abuse at the hands of those who claimed to speak for God. 

 

In other words, there is a very diverse set of perspectives, all of which are valid as we interpret our experience as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And because of that diverse experience, we have something valid to say about Mormonism.

 

And I suggest it is our responsibility, as members of a free and open society, to say it.  Without the accountability that free expression demands, we WILL see tyranny, even among men and women who profess to act for and on behalf of God.  No...ESPECIALLY among men and women who profess to act for and on behalf of God.  Ask any non-LDS member of a predominantly LDS community, and they can cite example after example of the tyranny of the majority in the fabric of their community.  And with the enormous wealth and influence that the LDS church enjoys today--including not only the Senate Majority Leader, but also a prominent Republican candidate for President of the United States--those of us with insider information and experience as Mormons would be remiss in our responsibilities as free citizens to keep our mouths shut in an effort to "be nice."

 

The institution of the church, its doctrines and its history are generally considered "safe" topics, because they can be discussed among polite people in terms that do not necessarily criticize individuals, at least not living individuals.  Most people recognize that you cannot criticize the doctrines without dragging the character of Joseph Smith into the conversation.  But when it comes to current leaders, many of us tend to want to walk on eggshells.

 

I DO believe, with all my heart, that demeaning others is in fact demeaning of ourselves.  You will never hear me refer to the church as "the cult," for for example, nor will I declare Gordon B. Hinckley to be "a liar."  I will freely, however, discuss the church in the context  of cults, however, if the situation warrants.  And if Gordon B. Hinckley is misleading in his statements, I will be quick to point that out. 

 

My intent, and certainly I know this to be true of many of you who are reading this, is not to belittle my Mormon family, friends and neighbors.  On the contrary, I love them dearly.  They go about the business of living their lives--including their religion--in the best way they know how.  But they also do not pretend to represent me or anyone else.  They do not profess authority, or the right to speak to all of us as an emissary from God.  They lead private lives, and I respect and honor that with same energy and fervor with which I reject the assertion to allow the same "free pass" to leaders who DO profess to speak for God, or who DO profess to speak for the rest of us.  When a leader crosses that threshold, they enter the public arena.  And public figures are rightfully subjected to scrutiny. 

 

How could it be any other way?  If Mitt Romney seeks the highest office in the United States, and arguably the most powerful position in the world at this time, and he adheres to doctrines that I believe are founded in mythology and in many instances--such as regarding women and people of African heritage, or the last days prophecies, or the belief that Israel holds a special place in the eyes of God--are harmful, then I am a fool to not discuss my concerns openly and often.  That does not give me license, in decent society, to call him names or demean him as a human being, but I dare not refrain from pointing out the inconsistencies and the concerns.

 

The same holds true for the General Authorities of the Mormon Church, including the leaders of the Women's and Youth Auxiliaries (Julie Beck does not get a buy simply because she is of "the fairer sex").  These men and women represent themselves before the 13 million members of the church--and the rest of the world--as speaking for God, telling the people what is God's will for each and every one of them.  Because the notion of God's will is in the public domain, and because leaders of the Church represent a public forum, it remains the responsibility of free people to scrutinize their words, comment upon them, criticize as necessary, and declare to the world the problems as we see them. 

 

Anything less, and we condemn ourselves to relive the past.  Remember the Dark Ages, when the Holy Roman Church, her Popes, her Bishops and her Priests, were beyond the reach public criticism. 

 

I cannot handle the Church, nor its leaders, with kid gloves.  To do so is a gross disservice to myself and to the rest of the people who value a free society.

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What can I say, but .

 

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Crime Dog:

What can I say, but .

 

::makes curtain call::

 

Why thank you, Crime Dog....thankyouverymuch!

 

 

 

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Well said.

 

The general psychological health of any organization, church or government is how well they tolerate criticism of the leadership. The less tolerant, the more likely the group is unhealthy for its members (granted, too much of this and the organization will fold).

 

In his book Combating Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan offers a quick litmus test to tell if someone is in a cult or not. Ask them to say a criticism of their leader. If the individual is unable to come up with any criticism, the group is probably a cult or cult like in its treatment of the individual.

 

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peter_mary:
I DO believe, with all my heart, that demeaning others is in fact demeaning of ourselves.  You will never hear me refer to the church as "the cult," for for example, nor will I declare Gordon B. Hinckley to be "a liar."  I will freely, however, discuss the church in the context  of cults, however, if the situation warrants.  And if Gordon B. Hinckley is misleading in his statements, I will be quick to point that out.

 Is it demeaning to call something what it is? Is it demeaning to call a murderer a murderer? I don't think so. Neither do I think it is demeaning to call Hinckley a liar if he meets the definition of a liar (i.e., one who tells lies). Remember that Hinckley told lies to investigators who were investigating a murder. Neither do I think it is demeaning to call a church a cult if they meet the objective definition of a cult. I am not sure whether the LDS Church qualifies or not, but they are close enough that I would not hold it against anyone for calling it a cult.

 

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I so testify on this beautiful autumn morning in this building we are gathered in to meet this day. Well said, peter_mary.
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On our homepage is a statement that I think applies to this thread:

 

"As Winston Churchill once said, 'Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.' "

 

 

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Well said peter_mary!!
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In the midst of a crazy-busy week I just had to post a reply here, PM.

 

It wasn't that long ago that the Ensign, the mag of TSCC, had a picture of a woman holding what looked like a coffee mug.  Her husband was sitting across from her bathed in light.  She, however, was shown in darkness--implying of course that she was "evil" or somehow deficient.  I believe the article was about marital partners who "strayed" from the "Gospel" (cult, as I call it).  Guess what y'all?  In the real world people do drink coffee in the morning and many have a cocktail with dinner.  Women also routinely wear sleeveless tops/dresses and sundresses.  And it's not seen as a "sin" or in any other way character-diminishing! 

 

This one trait about them angers me the most.  I love CD's description of the 14 as liars and a den of thieves--I agree.  Yet they consistently imply and say that those who leave their association are "lost", "wish to sin" and label us in the most awful ways that are blatantly dishonest and manipulative. 

 

You know why I left and won't go back?  I am too GOOD to be in their association!  They treat women and children like cattle, they lie, they mislead their followers, they guilt them out of time, money and work that should be compensated, imo, then they refuse to account to their members for where all their money is going!  THEN when one of them leaves they paint them with a black brush, implying all sorts of negative reasons for the person leaving--it's never as benign as they had a change of heart, they decided to go to another church, they decided to spend more time with their family--no, it's always something that diminishes the person in others' eyes and causes them to be shunned by former friends/associates.  This adds to our grief, anger and frustration. 

 

If that cult (yes, I said cult) wants ANY respect then they will have to listen to the people who are leaving in droves, change their accountability/honesty levels and quit abusing their positions of power to discredit those who choose to leave, just for a few things I can think of now.  They are claiming to be speaking and acting for God on Earth.  They have a higher responsibility for not only economic accountability but also for emotional honesty in their role in why former stalwart members decide to leave. 

 
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Wow. Beautiful post Susan. Thanks.

 

 

What you are describing is one of the indicators of a cult or destructive group. This is from Steve Hassan's list of indicators:

 

7. 

a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group


b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.


c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.


d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are: "weak;" "undisciplined;" "unspiritual;" worldly;""brainwashed by family, counselors;" seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.

 

http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/articles/BITE.htm

 

Whether or not the church would meet a particular definition of "cult", it is at the very least cultish. It is clear to me that they use many mind control techniques. 

 
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Susan D.:

 

It wasn't that long ago that the Ensign, the mag of TSCC, had a picture of a woman holding what looked like a coffee mug.  Her husband was sitting across from her bathed in light.  She, however, was shown in darkness--implying of course that she was "evil" or somehow deficient.  I believe the article was about marital partners who "strayed" from the "Gospel" (cult, as I call it). 


 

 OK. This is a pet peeve of mine. Why is it the WOMAN that seems to lead men down the primrose path? Why couldn't it have been the MAN bathed in darkness on the cover of the Ensign?

 

Since the time of Eve, the majority of women have been portrayed as temptresses and harlots, manipulating, seducing and leading those poor, weak, men astray.

 

Good grief. Coffee, even! Let's get real.

 

::hypatia sits down to take a deep breath and poors her third cup of coffee for the day::

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hypatia:
Susan D.:

 

It wasn't that long ago that the Ensign, the mag of TSCC, had a picture of a woman holding what looked like a coffee mug.  Her husband was sitting across from her bathed in light.  She, however, was shown in darkness--implying of course that she was "evil" or somehow deficient.  I believe the article was about marital partners who "strayed" from the "Gospel" (cult, as I call it). 


 

 OK. This is a pet peeve of mine. Why is it the WOMAN that seems to lead men down the primrose path? Why couldn't it have been the MAN bathed in darkness on the cover of the Ensign?

 

Since the time of Eve, the majority of women have been portrayed as temptresses and harlots, manipulating, seducing and leading those poor, weak, men astray.

 

Good grief. Coffee, even! Let's get real.

 

::hypatia sits down to take a deep breath and poors her third cup of coffee for the day::

Nevermind.  Sometimes I'm a bad, inappropriate Utahlib. 
 
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Re: peter_mary's opening statement:

 

 

Wow....simply WOW!

 

This is worthy of its own place in the Scrapbook, Jeff.

 

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Are we not following the prophet?

 

-FIRST PRESIDENCY MESSAGE-

Each of you has the responsibility of standing as a witness of the everlasting truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Your responsibility is to open the eyes of others "and turn them from darkness to light."

Gordon B. Hinckley February 2007 Ensign, pg 4

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Hueffenhardt:
peter_mary:
I DO believe, with all my heart, that demeaning others is in fact demeaning of ourselves.  You will never hear me refer to the church as "the cult," for for example, nor will I declare Gordon B. Hinckley to be "a liar."  I will freely, however, discuss the church in the context  of cults, however, if the situation warrants.  And if Gordon B. Hinckley is misleading in his statements, I will be quick to point that out.

 Is it demeaning to call something what it is? Is it demeaning to call a murderer a murderer? I don't think so. Neither do I think it is demeaning to call Hinckley a liar if he meets the definition of a liar (i.e., one who tells lies). Remember that Hinckley told lies to investigators who were investigating a murder. Neither do I think it is demeaning to call a church a cult if they meet the objective definition of a cult. I am not sure whether the LDS Church qualifies or not, but they are close enough that I would not hold it against anyone for calling it a cult.

 

No, I don't think it's demeaning to call something what it is.  But in this country, we don't call someone a murderer until they have been convicted of the murder.  Only then do we, as a society, make the claim to "know" the meaning of the behavior that occurred (and even THEN it is subjective).  With regard to the specific example of Gordon being labled a "liar", I can't say I "know" that he is without some form of due process.  Otherwise, it is conjecture and heresay on my part.  As a general statement, I choose not to make that claim because I don't know the man, and I don't know his heart or beliefs.  In matters of specifics, such as when he apparently misleads viewers on national television regarding polygamy or the man/god doctrine of Mormonism, then I can with some confidence indicate that I don't think he's being truthful, or that his words are clearly inconsistent with the apparent facts.  But to be honest, I don't know if Hinckley is telling a lie, i.e. the willfull conveyence of false information, or whether he is himself as brainwashed as I once was.  His behavior means something different to me now that I'm no longer a member than it meant to me when I was.  But I don't know what that behavior means to HIM.   I believe he has been made aware of the same kinds of information I have, but for whatever reason, he and many other very intelligent people choose to interpret that information differently.  Does that make them liars?  I don't feel confident in making that claim.  For that matter, most of us act at times in ways that are less truthful in order to protect our own self-interest.  Does that make us all "liars?" (For instance, I don't disclose my identity here on this site in the interest of self-preservation.)  Or does that make us human?  To me, the label "liar" suggests someone who makes a regular practice of deceit.  So rather than call Hinckley a "liar", I simply point out the times when I think he lied.  Maybe that's semantics, and perhaps I'm drawing much too fine a line where it may not be appropriate.

 

Other labels also make me, personally, uncomfortable.  For instance, I am hard pressed to label Joseph Smith a "pedophile," though others freely do.  I abhore what he did and what he taught, and the legacy he has left polygamous cults to this day is toxic.  But without knowing the makeup of his psyche, I don't know whether he believed he was being commanded of God, whether he simply caved to the temptation that is abundantly available to charismatic leaders, or if in fact he had an unhealthy predilection for adolsecent girls.  Because I can't know, I prefer to refrain from calling him a pedophile, and instead criticize his clandestine marriages to teenage girls (in addition to adult women, who were in fact the greater majority of his plural wives).

 

I also believe that the church meets the definition of cult.  (Frankly, I believe MOST religions meet that definition, and the obviousness of that fact is only lost because such huge numbers of people have adopted the cultic beliefs and thereby inculcated society with those tenets to the point where they seem to be part of the normal fabric of daily life.)   However, for me--and here I emphasize the me--I know how labels like that can hurt the people I love who remain entrenched, in the same manner that the labels they slap me with--apostate, sinner, and most recently I have been accused of "going off the deep end" because I don't attend church --hurt me.  So I personally do not choose to refer to the church as "the cult."  If I did that, I know I would be doing so from a place of injury and anger, and frankly, I'm really not injured or angry anymore.  I simply prefer not to stoop to their level, although at times I catch myself while on a cathartic tyrade. 

 

Really, the point of this thread was actually not to criticize people for their own personal expression regarding the church.  In the same way that I demand the right to criticize the leaders of the church, I respect the right of others to speak of their experience as a church member in whatever language they choose.  (I do get testy when those who have never been Mormons start abusing my former faith...but that might just be my problem.) 

 

Ultimately, it's probably a matter of taste. 

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Utahlib:Nevermind.  Sometimes I'm a bad, inappropriate Utahlib. 

 

Dude!  If you're gonna tempt us with your inappropriateness, at LEAST send me a PM so I can share in the inappropriateness with you!

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Thanks Rebellious Spirit and Hypatia!

 

PM, I agree with you.  Sometimes the hypocrisy of their position just gets to be too much for me (assuming they have a "higher truth" than I do, for instance, and that I am less without their association) and I use the most succinct words to describe how I feel about them.  

 

Although the anger is largely behind me there are things that trigger it.  One of those things is the message to my loved ones (my eldest TBM daughter) that I am not "worthy" of her association and that my interaction with her children will harm them somehow, but mostly spiritually.  I know it's my issue with which to deal and I'm doing my best to move on, but I am starting at such a lesser place with her that I won't ever be able to catch up according to LDS mythology.  To me, that's just not right.  

 
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peter_mary:
Utahlib:Nevermind.  Sometimes I'm a bad, inappropriate Utahlib. 

 

Dude!  If you're gonna tempt us with your inappropriateness, at LEAST send me a PM so I can share in the inappropriateness with you!

 :: hypatia makes the sign of the cross ::

I am way-nervous about what Utahlib is thinking now.

 

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peter_mary:
So I personally do not choose to refer to the church as "the cult."  If I did that, I know I would be doing so from a place of injury and anger, and frankly, I'm really not injured or angry anymore.  I simply prefer not to stoop to their level, although at times I catch myself while on a cathartic tyrade. 

 

A "cult" is subject to one's definition thereof, hence placing it squarely in the eye of the beholder.

 

 This beholder says cult. Not "the cult," just "a cult" among many others. Had Joseph Smith not been killed when he was, this entire church would be a relatively insignificant smudge on the fabric of history, along with every other religious charlatan that has danced his way ever so briefly across the stage - all the Joneses, Koreshes, Applewhites, Hubbards, Moons, Bergs, Phelps, and whoever else you care to name.

 

Sure, they might seem important now, because of the damage they have done, or because their cults remain active, but in fifty years no one will know who they were. So it should have been with Mormonism, had Smith been allowed to live and inevitably destroy that which he wrought.

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Well said Peter_Mary.  This "Leaving the Church, but not leaving the Church alone"  is another one of those smug quotes that TBM's love to throw at us.  It ranks right up there with "Anti Mormon material".  The first time a family member threw the "not leaving the church alone" comment at me, I didn't have an adequate response, but that is not case now.  My response now is...... "The day I leave the Church alone, will be the day the Church recognizes that must of us leave because of doctrine and misrepresentation and not because we were offended by someone or committed some immoral sin."  Put another way....."As long as the Church continues to devalue me, I will continue to devalue the Church."
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Crime Dog:

 

A "cult" is subject to one's definition thereof, hence placing it squarely in the eye of the beholder.

 

 This beholder says cult. Not "the cult," just "a cult" among many others. Had Joseph Smith not been killed when he was, this entire church would be a relatively insignificant smudge on the fabric of history, along with every other religious charlatan that has danced his way ever so briefly across the stage - all the Joneses, Koreshes, Applewhites, Hubbards, Moons, Bergs, Phelps, and whoever else you care to name.

 

 

 

 Yes, I agree with this pov also.  They also fit the description of a cult in any kind of online test you can pull up, not missing any of the criterium for that definition.   I use the word out of derision but it also fits them descriptively imo. 

 
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Crime Dog:

 

Sure, they might seem important now, because of the damage they have done, or because their cults remain active, but in fifty years no one will know who they were.

 

 That's because the Apocalypse will happen and then we'll all find out that the JWs were right after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dude.

 

I'm totally just kidding.

 

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Susan D.:

Thanks Rebellious Spirit and Hypatia!

 

PM, I agree with you.  Sometimes the hypocrisy of their position just gets to be too much for me (assuming they have a "higher truth" than I do, for instance, and that I am less without their association) and I use the most succinct words to describe how I feel about them.  

 

Although the anger is largely behind me there are things that trigger it.  One of those things is the message to my loved ones (my eldest TBM daughter) that I am not "worthy" of her association and that my interaction with her children will harm them somehow, but mostly spiritually.  I know it's my issue with which to deal and I'm doing my best to move on, but I am starting at such a lesser place with her that I won't ever be able to catch up according to LDS mythology.  To me, that's just not right.  

Susan, I think we ALL feel this way at times.  We know our believing friends, family and neighbors are looking down their noses at us.  We know that they feel sorry for us, because we were too small, too pathetic, or unwilling to adhere to the standards.  We know this because we once stood where they stand now.  (Hmm...sounds like a couplet:  As they are, we once were; As we are, they may become.)  WE know the real reasons we left, and it is terribly frustrating and at times painful to navigate those attitudes, especially with people we love.

 

It's sort of like this.  I was born in an English speaking country.  Grew up speaking it just like my friends, family and neighbors.  But for some reason, I found myself spending a couple of years with an Asiatic hermit living in the steppes of Mongolia, and he taught me not only his language, but concepts that are unique to his culture...and therefore only described in his language.

 

When I returned home, I still spoke English, but I spoke Mongolian, too.  And I had these exciting ideas to tell my friends, family and neighbors, but no matter how hard I tried to explain to them in Mongolian, they couldn't understand a word I said.  And what I knew didn't translate well into English.  In the end, I am left to throw up my hands in frustration, and they just look at me as if I've lost my mind.  (Note: A re-read of this reveals it to be nothing but a revision of Plato's Cave.  Carry on...)

 

We know what we know, but we find ourselves in a no-win situation with the faithful to convey what we know.  As I once read Black Elk said, "They do not have ears." 

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Thanks, PM.

 

You can nibble on my ankles anytime!  LOL

 

 

 
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Crime Dog:

 

A "cult" is subject to one's definition thereof, hence placing it squarely in the eye of the beholder.

 

 This beholder says cult. Not "the cult," just "a cult" among many others. Had Joseph Smith not been killed when he was, this entire church would be a relatively insignificant smudge on the fabric of history, along with every other religious charlatan that has danced his way ever so briefly across the stage - all the Joneses, Koreshes, Applewhites, Hubbards, Moons, Bergs, Phelps, and whoever else you care to name.

 

Sure, they might seem important now, because of the damage they have done, or because their cults remain active, but in fifty years no one will know who they were. So it should have been with Mormonism, had Smith been allowed to live and inevitably destroy that which he wrought.

Crime Dog,

 

I so totally agree!  Again, maybe I'm splitting hairs, but for me, I'm quite comfortable saying, "The church is a cult."  Hell, I'm comfortable saying that about ANY organized religion.  But the disparaging term "the cult" is, for me personally, akin to dismissing them with a perjorative rather than addressing the real issues.

 

So I stand by "this beholder" and agree with "a cult." 

 

What are we holding, by the way?  Something liquid and refreshing I trust? 

 

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Susan D.:

Thanks, PM.

 

You can nibble on my ankles anytime!  LOL

 

 

 

Such promises!  Remember, I'll be hugging you on Saturday!  (And I'll have $5 in my wallet in case you open your fundraiser...)

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Wow..great posts here, I have enjoyed everybody's input/take on things.. Susan, surely a Priesthood holder would not be "shown in the dark".. It is no wonder that mormon and post mormon women struggle with depression.. For every 2 steps we take up on a ladder to perfection...they bring us down three steps... By the way, coffee for heaven's sakes?? My Dad beat the shit out of my Mom because he found a coffee pot.. Hey...everybody have a great time at the conference this weekend..hopefully next year, I can join and meet all of you!
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Great Thread!

 

 

PM thank you for the thread and your kind hearted wisdom.  Also I am grateful to read the view of women who are the first "victims" of Mormonism in my opinion. I was pissed when I learned the facts. Had I been a woman I would have been in a rage.

 

 

Crime Dog please dont ever get cleaned up. I think we need voices like yours as a  balance.  I want always to hear the the opinion of someone who works in the fraud detection business. 

 

 

I want to add one little tidbit. We do the Mormon leaders a disservice by not holding them accountable. They are only folks,and we will be here to check their power when we can. We owe them that much as fellow travelers.

 

 

ft

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free thinker:

I want to add one little tidbit. We do the Mormon leaders a disservice by not holding them accountable. They are only folks,and we will be here to check their power when we can. W owe them that much as fellow travelers.

 

ft

I think this is not only true of THEM (and it most certainly is true), but of us, as well.  We do ourselves a disservice when we don't hold one another accountable.  Power to the people!  Crime Dog, Susan D. and Hueff have chimed right in to make sure I'm accountable for my words, and I appreciate it enormously!

 

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peter_mary:
Susan D.:

Thanks, PM.

 

You can nibble on my ankles anytime!  LOL

 

 

 

Such promises!  Remember, I'll be hugging you on Saturday!  (And I'll have $5 in my wallet in case you open your fundraiser...)

 

 Nah, no need.  You can be my "practice" kiss. 

 
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dogzilla:

 That's because the Apocalypse will happen and then we'll all find out that the JWs were right after all.

 

 

Can you get me the skinny on JW's secret handshakes, just in case?

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hypatia:

 

 OK. This is a pet peeve of mine. Why is it the WOMAN that seems to lead men down the primrose path? Why couldn't it have been the MAN bathed in darkness on the cover of the Ensign?

 

Since the time of Eve, the majority of women have been portrayed as temptresses and harlots, manipulating, seducing and leading those poor, weak, men astray.

 

Good grief. Coffee, even! Let's get real.

 

::hypatia sits down to take a deep breath and pours her third cup of coffee for the day::

hypatia,

 

I'm with you ! The pic should have her back-lit to look angelic, and the guy should be in shadow, with only the coffee cup in the light, emblazoned with "Stan's the Man!' just in case anyone is a bit slow to pick up he is the baddy!

 

P_M,

 

That was a lucid  and right on the money. Personally, I have no problems with being a little tougher in 'calling a spade and bloody shovel'. But that's fine. We thrive on diversity around here.

 

I had a former High Counsellor visit for 2 hours yesterday who is clearly walking towards the exit door at a more and more rapid rate, and he was at pains to point out how the culture has shifted in the last 15 years since we left. He claims consistent aloof, heavy handedness by 'leaders', and a Corporation mindset that knows no limits. This man sat on the verge of tears in remorse at his role in over 100 Church Courts, which he now sees in all their ineptitude, particularly in dealing with sexual offenders.

 

No P_M, I am with you. Not only is it a right to do a critique on leaders in power; it is a duty. Most particularly leaders who are convinced that their word and God's are undifferentiated.

 

Daryl 

 

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peter_mary:

There's been a fair amount of chatter lately on a couple of threads regarding the sensitivity--or lack thereof--exhibited towards members of the church, and more specifically toward its leaders.  A common theme among Mormons who observe the Postmormon community is "If you don't believe in the church, why can't you just move on with your life?  Why do you have to belittle what is sacred to others?"  Likewise, there is often concern among our own forum members that we are too harsh in our treatment of people like Gordon B. Hinckley, Boyd K. Packer, and most recently, Julie Beck after her talk in General Conference.

 

I've been thinking a lot about that today.

 

One of the hallmarks of a free society is the degree to which the common folk can be critical of those who speak on behalf of the rest of us.  Freedom of the press and freedom of speech were specifically amended to the US Constitution because the framers of that document realized that without the freedom of the people to voice their criticisms of the institution of their government and its leaders, there was no accountability.  Without that accountability, you ensure tyranny.  Since that time, the right to shine the light of criticism on social, business and governmental institutions has been enshrined as one of our most sacred rights.

 

Here at Post-Mormon.org, you will find a large body of people who have been impacted--profoundly--by their experience as Mormons.  For some, like myself, it was a marvelous journey through a culture of believers culminating in a radical paradigm shift that resulted in my exodus.  For others, it was a terribly painful realization that everything they had stood for, and everything upon which they had built their families, was based on myths and stories that could never be substantiated as "true" in any rational way.  And for a few, their experience as Mormons was traumatic--the victims of rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, spiritual abuse and psychological abuse at the hands of those who claimed to speak for God. 

 

In other words, there is a very diverse set of perspectives, all of which are valid as we interpret our experience as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And because of that diverse experience, we have something valid to say about Mormonism.

 

And I suggest it is our responsibility, as members of a free and open society, to say it.  Without the accountability that free expression demands, we WILL see tyranny, even among men and women who profess to act for and on behalf of God.  No...ESPECIALLY among men and women who profess to act for and on behalf of God.  Ask any non-LDS member of a predominantly LDS community, and they can cite example after example of the tyranny of the majority in the fabric of their community.  And with the enormous wealth and influence that the LDS church enjoys today--including not only the Senate Majority Leader, but also a prominent Republican candidate for President of the United States--those of us with insider information and experience as Mormons would be remiss in our responsibilities as free citizens to keep our mouths shut in an effort to "be nice."

 

The institution of the church, its doctrines and its history are generally considered "safe" topics, because they can be discussed among polite people in terms that do not necessarily criticize individuals, at least not living individuals.  Most people recognize that you cannot criticize the doctrines without dragging the character of Joseph Smith into the conversation.  But when it comes to current leaders, many of us tend to want to walk on eggshells.

 

I DO believe, with all my heart, that demeaning others is in fact demeaning of ourselves.  You will never hear me refer to the church as "the cult," for for example, nor will I declare Gordon B. Hinckley to be "a liar."  I will freely, however, discuss the church in the context  of cults, however, if the situation warrants.  And if Gordon B. Hinckley is misleading in his statements, I will be quick to point that out. 

 

My intent, and certainly I know this to be true of many of you who are reading this, is not to belittle my Mormon family, friends and neighbors.  On the contrary, I love them dearly.  They go about the business of living their lives--including their religion--in the best way they know how.  But they also do not pretend to represent me or anyone else.  They do not profess authority, or the right to speak to all of us as an emissary from God.  They lead private lives, and I respect and honor that with same energy and fervor with which I reject the assertion to allow the same "free pass" to leaders who DO profess to speak for God, or who DO profess to speak for the rest of us.  When a leader crosses that threshold, they enter the public arena.  And public figures are rightfully subjected to scrutiny. 

 

How could it be any other way?  If Mitt Romney seeks the highest office in the United States, and arguably the most powerful position in the world at this time, and he adheres to doctrines that I believe are founded in mythology and in many instances--such as regarding women and people of African heritage, or the last days prophecies, or the belief that Israel holds a special place in the eyes of God--are harmful, then I am a fool to not discuss my concerns openly and often.  That does not give me license, in decent society, to call him names or demean him as a human being, but I dare not refrain from pointing out the inconsistencies and the concerns.

 

The same holds true for the General Authorities of the Mormon Church, including the leaders of the Women's and Youth Auxiliaries (Julie Beck does not get a buy simply because she is of "the fairer sex").  These men and women represent themselves before the 13 million members of the church--and the rest of the world--as speaking for God, telling the people what is God's will for each and every one of them.  Because the notion of God's will is in the public domain, and because leaders of the Church represent a public forum, it remains the responsibility of free people to scrutinize their words, comment upon them, criticize as necessary, and declare to the world the problems as we see them. 

 

Anything less, and we condemn ourselves to relive the past.  Remember the Dark Ages, when the Holy Roman Church, her Popes, her Bishops and her Priests, were beyond the reach public criticism. 

 

I cannot handle the Church, nor its leaders, with kid gloves.  To do so is a gross disservice to myself and to the rest of the people who value a free society.

 

dang....i wish i had the blessing of the gift to WRITE like this!!  all i could do when i was read was just nod my head yes!

 

way to go!!

 

poodledoodledude

 

 
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Thank you, P_M, for writing the post I've wanted to write all week but haven't had the time (nor the eloquence).
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bear:..... "The day I leave the Church alone, will be the day the Church recognizes that must of us leave because of doctrine and misrepresentation and not because we were offended by someone or committed some immoral sin."       

 I couldn't agree more,  every discussion I have ever had with anyone regarding the topic of leaving, they have apologized to me on behalf of whoever offended me.

As far as the sin goes, well.... ummmmm........  that's not why I left, but is without a doubt the reason they don't want me back

 

 
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I can identify with this..I have not yet resigned, I have not actually left the Church...I just haven't been there...but, to walk down my street..you would think that I had a disease or something printed on my shirt...that says "I don't go to Church cuz I am bad"...I have to get mad at myself for holding my head down to avoid their looks...some are of pity and shame and for life of me..I am the same person...only better..
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It is very hard to leave the church alone. Especially when it is in your face all the time. Luckily even though I live in a Mormon Rich" environment, the Mormons are so insular and busy with Mormon things that I hardly ever see them. The other day my wife came home and told me she avoided an "encounter". A number of people we knew were in the grocery store and she was able to avoid them.

 

I on the other hand couldn't when I went to the bank. An old friend was there and I heard my name. I stopped to talk. She told me how good I looked and that I looked really happy. It came out that I had been asked to leave the church or be ex'd and she was generally surprised. I told her what we've been doing and of course she invited us back and said we were missed. I told her it was very unlikely we would ever be back. And my tattoo has sealed the deal. I'm out. My body is mine. My mind is mine. My time, talents and energies are mine.  

 

 

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Grape Nephi:

 She told me how good I looked and that I looked really happy. It came out that I had been asked to leave the church or be ex'd and she was generally surprised. I told her what we've been doing and of course she invited us back and said we were missed. I told her it was very unlikely we would ever be back. And my tattoo has sealed the deal. I'm out. My body is mine. My mind is mine. My time, talents and energies are mine.  

 

 

Also, it helps if you grab her and plant a big ole' kiss, right on her lips.  "My body is mine, my mind is mine, but my lips, baby...you can have those ANY ole' time!" 

 

Just a thought!

 

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I only have a minute peter-mary. I haven't even read half of this thread, but let me say something brief. That church qualifies as a cult. Read the books "Religious Cults in America." Read author Steven Hassan's works on cults. As a student of psychology, I am aware that there needs to be more information gathered about cults. But for now, this info is what I go on.I immediately when on the defensive when I heard you say you don't use the word cult. And, that is just me.I don't care about the emotional connotations or not. The church is a cult.I know OJ Simpson killed his wife and bf, even though DNA evidence wasn't there yet to make a difference in the outcome of the trial. I will call a liar a liar, because, sometimes due to my own abusive experience, I CAN"T WAIT FOR DUE PROCESS!
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for cryin out loud:
I only have a minute peter-mary. I haven't even read half of this thread, but let me say something brief. That church qualifies as a cult. Read the books "Religious Cults in America." Read author Steven Hussain's works on cults. As a student of psychology, I am aware that there needs to be more information gathered about cults. But for now, this info is what I go on.I immediately when on the defensive when I heard you say you don't use the word cult. And, that is just me.I don't care about the emotional connotations or not. The church is a cult.I know OJ Simpson killed his wife and bf, even though DNA evidence wasn't there yet to make a difference. I will call a liar a liar, because, sometimes due to my own abusive experience, I CAN"T WAIT FOR DUE PROCESS!

It's okay, for cryin out loud, it's a long thread...they get hard to read after a while.

 

But somewhere up there after you quit reading, I respond to Crime Dog, and state emphatically that I don't disagree at all that the church is "a cult."  I also happen to be pretty liberal in applying that label to MOST religions.

 

I read a book several years ago entitled "Cults in our Midst" by Margaret Thaler Singer in which she described cults in detail.  Though she never mentioned Morminism specifically, I was underlining every point she made, because it was clearly an indictment of the church.

 

My only point was that I personally--me, Peter_Mary--prefer not to use the prejorative "the cult" when referring to the church because it seems uneccesarily abusive to the people I love who have no idea upon what I base my opinions.  That's all. 

 

You'll get no disagreement from me about the nature of the church, nor am I offended if others choose to call the church whatever they want.

 

Goodness, but it's easy to get sidetracked on the nits of my original post, when REALLY what I was saying was that it is our responsibility to hold leaders accountable for what they say, even if it doesn't seem very "nice."  But as I've said before, if I'm gonna stick my neck out there in a public forum, I better be prepared to be held accountable for what I say, too.  Apparently, not everyone agrees with me.

 

::scratches head::   [or chin]

 

How is that possible? 

 

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peter_mary 

It's okay, for cryin out loud, it's a long thread...they get hard to read after a while.

 

But somewhere up there after you quit reading, I respond to Crime Dog, and state emphatically that I don't disagree at all that the church is "a cult."  I also happen to be pretty liberal in applying that label to MOST religions.

 

I read a book several years ago entitled "Cults in our Midst" by Margaret Thaler Singer in which she described cults in detail.  Though she never mentioned Morminism specifically, I was underlining every point she made, because it was clearly an indictment of the church.

 

My only point was that I personally--me, Peter_Mary--prefer not to use the prejorative "the cult" when referring to the church because it seems uneccesarily abusive to the people I love who have no idea upon what I base my opinions.  That's all. 

 

You'll get no disagreement from me about the nature of the church, nor am I offended if others choose to call the church whatever they want.

 

Goodness, but it's easy to get sidetracked on the nits of my original post, when REALLY what I was saying was that it is our responsibility to hold leaders accountable for what they say, even if it doesn't seem very "nice."  But as I've said before, if I'm gonna stick my neck out there in a public forum, I better be prepared to be held accountable for what I say, too.  Apparently, not everyone agrees with me.

 

::scratches head::   [or chin]

 

How is that possible? 

 

 V. sheepishly grins, with big eyes and says, "Garsh, Im sorry."  I know to read more into your use of semantics now. I think your use of them is a characteristic of a bright mind.  Your main point IS a breath of fresh air.  AHHH~

 

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