St. George newspaper article about PostMormon.org

The Spectrum in St. George has published a decent article about our PostMormon.org and our St. George chapter. In this news blog post is the entire content of the article.

Moving away from Mormonism: Group offers support to those leaving the LDS Church

LISA LARSON
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It’s been described as something akin to “coming out of the closet” but for most in this group the reveal has little to do with their sexuality. Instead, they’re coming out against a religion they once called their own, seeking support in a group of like-minded individuals that comprise the Post-Mormon Community.

“It’s more of a validation that others are feeling what you feel and you’re not alone,” said Trish Reinert who has been part of the Post-Mormon group since she left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2002.

Chapters of the Post-Mormon Community are beginning to crop up worldwide with concentrations in the Europe, Canada and the United States, including a chapter in Southern Utah. Groups consist of former and/or current members of the LDS Church in various stages of leaving their faith. According to the group’s Web site, postmormon.org, they do not consider themselves “anti-Mormon,” rather they choose to be “open about the Church’s misrepresentations and the way in which its dogmatism and authoritarianism have proven detrimental to many individuals, families and communities.”

When asked about the LDS Church’s stand on the Post-Mormon organization, LDS Media Relations Manager Robert Howell said the church “respectfully declines to comment on this specific organization but in general we encourage all who wish to know about what we believe to come to official church sources for their information.”

Jeff Ricks of Cache Valley founded the Post-Mormon Community after he voluntarily left the LDS Church back in 1993 because “I just couldn’t believe in it anymore.” He spent the next several years feeling alone in his decision and unsure of how to cultivate new friendships. He decided to start a support group in Cache Valley and “see if anyone showed up.”

That was in 2002. In 2005 the group registered as a corporation and in 2006 they were granted non-profit status. In the past year they started using billboards in places around the state to advertise their group with the recent St. George billboard going in as No. 7.

“We’re growing rapidly,” Ricks said, crediting the billboards for much of that growth. “I think this year you’re going to see even greater growth.”

Locally, the Southern Utah Post-Mormon Association convenes monthly to participate in lectures and discussions on controversial church issues and support one another in their decisions to leave the church.

Shelley Smith, who refers to herself as “an extremely devout Mormon” prior to leaving the church, said she started wondering about aspects of Mormon history like polygamy and current practices like the Word of Wisdom Ñ the Mormon health code that, among other things, commands members not to use alcohol, coffee and tea and tobacco or other harmful substances.

And after roughly 45 years of her life “entrenched” in this faith, she left.

“That shift has been unbelievably harder than I thought it would be,” Smith said.

Which is why she comes to the Post-Mormon meetings looking for support.

“You don’t just have your life shattered and turn and walk away,” she said.

Brad Biedermann, a spokesperson for the Southern Utah Post-Mormon Association, said in a sense people have to go through a period of “de-programming” as they struggled to decide whether or not they’ve done the right thing.

Guilt is a subject mentioned frequently by those who attend the Post-Mormon meetings.

When you even think of leaving the Mormon church you feel guilt, said Donnie Alexander.

But Alexander has never actually been a Mormon. Instead she comes to the Post-Mormon meetings to “support people,” and to tell them to “go for whatever it is they’re looking for,” she said. “I’m not here to convert nobody to nothin’.”

Another participant who has never been part of the LDS Church is Charles Wood, author of “The Mormon Conspiracy.” He said he was approached to join the LDS faith when he moved to the area but decided against it. Now he attends the Post-Mormon meetings and shares his book with people but stands by his position that “it’s not an anti-Mormon group.” “My objective is to help out wherever I can,” he said.

Many of those who have left the church say that, while the end result is what they wanted, the process of removing themselves from the cultural and religious ties is extremely painful.

“My discovery about the dishonesty and deception that took place in early Mormonism caused me more pain and tears than my divorce or the death of my parents,” said Arza Evans.

Evans said he was excommunicated from the LDS Church after writing the book “The Keystone of Mormonism” which calls into question the validity of The Book of Mormon as ancient history or inspired scripture. The Book of Mormon is used by the LDS Church as a companion to the Bible.

Evans said he did not go out looking to find fault with the church but now he feels guilty for the people he misled while he was a member. And he’s left to try to maintain harmony in his family that is now about half LDS and half that are not.

“I try to keep peace in the family but that’s not easy,” he said.

For Biedermann, ultimately he’s pleased with his decision, even though his wife is still an active church member.

“There’s an intellectual freedom that occurs (when you leave),” he said. “You’re able to question your own conclusions and find yourself more tolerant of others too.”

But Smith finds herself still looking for answers to her questions.

“What do I believe (happens) after death now?” she said. “It doesn’t matter what I believe. Truth is truth.”

The Southern Utah Post-Mormon Association meets on the first Sunday of every month. For meeting times, location and topics, check out http://www.postmormon.org

Posted by Jeff Ricks on 03/08 at 03:32 PM


Comments:

I’m wondering how these newspaper writers are picking up on the chapter news?  Is someone from the chapter contacting the local paper to have them cover a news story, or is the paper taking its own initiative? 

I like the article and think it provides fair coverage of what postmormon is all about.


By Jeff Ricks
on 03/08/2008

Most articles about us are done because of a billboard that goes up in the area. In this case, we currently have one billboard up in St. George, but also, one of our members who helps manage the St. George group, contacted the Spectrum to make them aware of the billboard and the local chapter. It was primarily his sticking his neck out and contacting them more than once that got them interested in doing an article.


I just want to say…well done!

Arza, Brad, and their lovely wives, I am honored to call friend.

Keep up the wonderful Southern Utah group! wings


I wrote the following on the thread about this column and knowing it’s a day or two late due to having company visiting, and the thread is pretty much dead at this point, I want to post it here…at least the clarifications or additional insights to what was written. 
THE ARTICLE SAID:
Shelley Smith, who refers to herself as “an extremely devout Mormon” prior to leaving the church, said she started wondering about aspects of Mormon history like polygamy and current practices like the Word of Wisdom, the Mormon health code that, among other things, commands members not to use alcohol, coffee and tea and tobacco or other harmful substances.
CLARIFICATION:
I didn’t leave the church because of the Word of Wisdom or polygamy.  These were questions that didn’t add up in my mind all the time I was a mormon…along with many others, but it didn’t destroy my ‘testimony’. 

No, I left because I did enough research to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith and the mormon doctrine with all it’s claims isn’t CREDIBLE.  The credibility of these very important issues are why I left the church.

I know the church wants us to look at their website to learn about them, but would you buy a house after only talking to the owner about how wonderful it is?  After all the church is getting 10% or more of my money and even more of my time.  So how wise is that?  Having the internet in my home was the best way for me to shine a very bright light on ALL the information and judge for myself.

I didn’t need my feelings anymore.  After all, the terrorists felt strongly enough about their beliefs when they flew into the WTC to die for them.  So lets look at feelings:  Are they

the Holy Ghost

the Spirit of Christ

gut instinct

brainwashing

upbringing

what i want to feel

delusions

craziness

emotions


Additional clarifications:
THE ARTICLE SAID:
And after roughly 45 years of her life “entrenched” in this faith, she left.
“That shift has been unbelievably harder than I thought it would be,” Smith said.
Which is why she comes to the Post-Mormon meetings looking for support.
“You don’t just have your life shattered and turn and walk away,” she said.
CLARIFICATION:
It’s the scariest thing in the world to step off the merry-go-round of the life I was living and say that the emporer is buck naked.  It was painful, I was judged, ignored, exiled and even self-exiled, too name a few of the whirlwind of emotions and experiences. 

Postmormon is a great way to find support, empathy, advice and friendship during this huge transition.  Many people move on and don’t stick around, but there are many who do stay to help those needing it…which is why we have it. 

Thanks to these people (especially Jeff Ricks) for staying close to the tunnel and helping people like me get through in one piece.
 
THE ARTICLE SAID:But Smith finds herself still looking for answers to her questions.
“What do I believe (happens) after death now?” she said. “It doesn’t matter what I believe. Truth is truth.”
CLARIFICATION:
if the earth is round, all the feelings in the world aren’t going to make it flat…and Santa isn’t going to show up either.

I’m not running around looking for something to replace my mormon beliefs with anymore.  But I’ll always be trying my best to learn and grow emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, honestly and compassionately.  I’m a truth seeker.


Thanks!


Coming out of the closet? That comment does not seem necessary in this story. It bothers me.


Personally, whatever lies brought about by the early findings are not enought to convinces me of the spritiual nature that lives within me and being a member/Moromn- it has helped change myself and my desires of being gay-a feeling I never thought would leave me. After so many years of thinkig I was gay-living the principles of the LDS church has changed me in ways I never thought possilbe. I don’t have those desires anymore, and it was the truth that set me free…the truth I found in the church. No other church did that for me. Thanks for openning my mind about lies in the church, but just like the great flood and Noahs ark, sometimes I don’t think it is the storys authentisity that is the main point-it what it is suppose to mean, and the church has great guidence for making a meaningful family and personal travel plan while on this earth.I could not imagine my life any other way.


I am glad that you have found a helpful way to be in the mormon church that brings you peace and happiness, Gardenboy. Although I could not agree enough with the church doctrines to stay, I still appreciate the many wonderful and true things that the church can bring to many peoples’ lives.

Although I have long believed that no one can ever change their natural sexual orientation through religion or anything else, (except for bisexuals who can learn to focus on one desire instead of the other), I have learned to hold open the possibility that some people may feel that they have had their sexual orientation changed without being brainwashed and without lying to themselves.

I hope that you continue to feel free as you said above and that you continue to find the kind of peace and happiness that you desire.


I am interested in your comment about “feelings,” Campbellite. The first five, I definitely recognized as being brought on by my disassociation with the organization. I had to break away from what they told me i was feeling vs. reality.

Delusions and craziness are brought to us in a psycho-linguistic mindset. I don’t buy into that.

Did you read the book yet?

What I want to feel and emotions, that is my only reality. When I recognize MY emotions vs. the organizations built in emotions…then i had a chance.

I have had many experiences where my perceived emotions were not really what they appeared to be. It is that euphoric, religious high that can mis-direct true emotion.

Santa Clause is not coming. But I always hope.


 

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