conference center

I can leave the Church, but it can’t leave me alone.

The last time I visited my family, we had an hour and a half fight over my choice to leave and be critical of Mormonism. I can understand their frustration, but I have only been accommodating and patient with their friends and ward members attempts to bring me back to the fold. In their minds, it is fine to evangelize and criticize my beliefs and choices, but it is wrong to criticize or find fault with the Church. So before you ask why I can’t leave the Church alone, understand that I care about what is said in conference because it directly affects my relationship with my family a great deal.

My parents are rational, smart, intelligent people. They are the best of the best, most faithful of the faithful, and they gave me a picture perfect childhood without want. I love them dearly. My criticism of the Church is not a criticism of how they raised me. They taught me to be honest, trustworthy, help the needy and the marginalized, and stand up for what’s right. That good, moral upbringing was what gave me the courage to leave the Church. That being said, if my parents actually took the time to learn about all the issues and decided to stay in the Church, I do not think that would mean that were  less intellectual, moral, or honest as me – I would just think they get something different out of it than I did (ala Fiona and Terryl Givens). What is right for some is not always right for others.

But that isn’t what the Church is teaching from the pulpit. Instead, the gospel “works” for everyone. Well, that’s not true. It doesn’t work for everyone. This is why it doesn’t work for me:

1. Be skeptical of everyone but us.

Elder Stanfill talked about being skeptical of voices on the internet. He said how these were people we never met, and that we don’t have a way of knowing their motives. Later, President Uchtdorf says that skepticism is bad and calls it the easy way.

I have never met Elder Stanfill. My family has never met Elder Stanhill. Nor President Uchtdorf. Their motives are as clear as John Dehlin or Tom Phillips. But because of their title and position, skepticism of what they teach and define as God should be avoided? If anything, that is the easy way – accept what others are saying, stay in comfortable place socially. It is much more difficult to take the lonely and exhausting journey of intellectual integrity.

Sure, a doctor can give you more personal, accurate information than a WebMD blog post. But isn’t it a good idea to check the reviews of the doctor online before I go to visit? I don’t want a doctor that ignores factual, peer-reviewed, scientific procedures in favor of energy healing. If that doctor has a history of secretly marrying his patients, I think that would be something worth knowing about.

2. Spiritual integrity

Elder Stanfill also said that spiritual integrity is remembering spiritual experiences and letting them beat intellectual ones.

I’m sorry, but spirituality has existed and continues to exist outside of Mormonism. I readily acknowledge I had spiritual experiences in the Church, but I understand those experiences better now. And my spiritual experiences have not lessened since leaving. In fact, I have had some of the most profound and deep spiritual experiences since leaving (which will be chalked up to Satan or some other excuse, but I am not writing this for your average member). Many people had conflicting spiritual experiences while they were members of the Church. Others say that the same spiritual experiences Mormonism uses as proof that it is the one true Church are the same experiences that convince people to testify of Islam or convince children to become polygamist wives. Surely spiritual integrity doesn’t just mean accepting a Mormon interpretation of spiritual experiences. That isn’t intellectually or spiritually honest.

3. Keep the gospel simple

Elder Uchdorf is right – we should focus on the simple things. Like love. Unfortunately, the gospel as taught by the Church is not simple, and cannot separate itself from the complexity required to justify its truth claims. There is nothing simple about DNA and the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, First Vision accounts, seer stones, how to know when a prophet has spoken as such, the Church’s finances, and Joseph’s polygamy. If the gospel was all about the simple things, I might have stayed. But requiring literal belief in provably untrue events is not simple. It requires incredibly complicated mental gymnastics and double standards of logic and morality in order to balance a somewhat testimony. Unfortunately for the Church, there is no milk without the rotten meat.

4. Give Joseph a break

If we had to give Joseph a break, he obviously did something worth needing to give him a pass for. So what was it, Elder Andersen? Was it the lying about polygamy in public affidavits? Was it incorrectly tellings us that the Native Americans were Lamanites? Was it the inconsistencies in the First Vision? The Kirkland Safety Society? Too much Masonry in the endowment ceremony? Disobeying the rules for polygamy outlined in the Book of Mormon and D&C 132? Copying directly too many scriptures from the Bible into the Book of Mormon? Destroying the Nauvoo Expositor to cover his own tracks? Drinking alcohol against the Word of Wisdom in prison? What are we giving him a break on?

Joseph disobeyed his own revelations. Those revelations always came at the most convenient times. He lied. He was dishonest. Any investigator that looks at this well documented information from faithful sources honestly would never join the Church. Why would God make believing in His prophet of the restoration so incredibly difficult not only for faithful members, but for the people He is trying to bring into the fold?

If the entirety of the restoration hinges on Joseph, I am not going to give him a break. I am going to evaluate him and test to see if he was a man of God. By all measures that have ever been given and taught to me and after much prayer, I can confidently say that he was not.

I know that Elder Ballard took time to say that prophets are not infallible, and I don’t assume Joseph or any prophet would need to be perfect to talk to God. But preaching fallibility from the pulpit conference then saying that “the prophet will never lead the Church astray” in this year’s Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson manual send an inconsistent message about a key doctrine that could use more than one quick sentence.

5. Beware of the internet

Good heavens, all of this sounds like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Do you know who else thinks the internet is bad? North Korea. China. Scientology. There is no truth in censorship. The currency of the internet is information. There is plenty of fake and false information out there, but a healthy bit of skepticism can help you cut through the tares and get at the wheat. Of course there are websites who will spin the truth to make Mormonism look bad. But there are also sites who will spin the truth to make it look good (looking at your FAIRMormon and LDS.org). There are sites with peer-reviewed, legitimate science without a dog in the fight that challenge the circumstances of the Book of Mormon. There are sites with official Church materials and historical records that contradict the correlated version of the gospel. It doesn’t take MormonThink or the CES Letter to start doubts – there are enough contradictions, inconsistencies, and troublesome history that just sticking with faithful sources is enough to reveal serious issues. These aren’t lies or vicious attacks – these are facts.

The Church can pretend the internet is all unreliable, but there is a reason they invest so much in Search Engine Optimization. They are attempting to bury contradictory, factual information. There is a reason that dissenting voices are excommunicated – to take away any form of legitimacy. And all the while, anti-Mormon arguments that our parents heard on their missions are being now being confirmed in the Church’s Gospel Topics Essays. Which, of course, are anonymous, something that Elder Stanfill seems to have an issue with unless it’s done by the Church. But hey, doublespeak and double standards are the name of the game here in Zion.

 

 

 



Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington
Albert Carrington served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until he was excommunicated for adultery. During his disciplinary court, Elder Carrington tried to argue that he had only committed "a little folly in Israel!", but the current brethren couldn't be bothered to give him a break. Learn more about Elder Carrington here.
  • TapirGirl15

    I’ve been out for 3 years now. I personally have no objections to the flippantly irreverent author description, but it’s enough for my hardcore Mormon parents/siblings to dismiss anything else written in the actual article. I was looking forward to showing this to them but now I can’t. 🙁

  • larryj

    This is simply an outstanding summary of the points from Saturday’s conference talks which made me come out of my chair. Zelph on the Shelf is doing very astute, real-time work communicating Mormon problems. If you are an unmarried male between the ages of 24 and 30, please date my daughter.

  • Cathy den Boer

    The Present Status of the Lamanites

    “The dark skin was placed upon thee Lamanites so that
    they could be distinguished from the nephites and to keep the two peoples from
    mixing. The dark skin was the sign of the curse….Perhaps there are some
    Lamanites today who are losing the dark pigment. Many of the members of the
    Church among the Catawba Indians of the South could readily pass as of the
    white race; also in other parts of the South.”

    Answers to Gospel Questions Vol. 3 pp 122-123 Joseph
    Fielding Smith

    “The day of the Lamanites in nigh. For years they have
    been growing delightsome… The children in the home placement program in Utah
    are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the
    reservation…There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an
    Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the
    younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young
    members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness.”

    – Spencer W. Kimball;
    The Improvement Era, Dec. 1960, p. 923

    The only statements the Book of Mormon agrees with Mormonism

    • Chaos

      What the hell does this mean? I am Cawtaba. And I will never go to your dispicable church! Regardless of the fact that my Great Great Great Uncle founded it. Brickham Young was a quack. Oh sorry you didn’t know what he had hiding in his family tree. Whoops.

  • JJ Feinauer

    “If my parents actually took the time to learn about all the issues and decided to stay in the Church, I do not think that would mean that were less intellectual, moral, or honest as me – I would just think they get something different out of it than I did (ala Fiona and Terryl Givens). What is right for some is not always right for others.”

    “Any investigator that looks at this well documented information from faithful sources honestly would never join the Church.”

    Personally, I’m a lot more convinced by the first point than the second. Especially because I personally know converts who were very aware of that “well documented information.”

  • Dorth

    Well written summary of conference for those of us that can’t stomach even passing the channel today.

  • Kamis Dewey

    All of this, especially #3. All of the extra trappings and baggage the Church added to the Gospel is what pushed me off the edge. I’m so sorry. My heart couldn’t take it any more.

  • “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7)

    Jesus doesn’t want us to give false prophets a break. He wants us to engage in serious fruit-inspection.

  • Arwen Undomiel

    Great summary. I appreciate since my husband and I stopped listening to conference a year ago. Everytime we listened to conference it just made us angry because we know that that they preach and waht they teach are two different things. Thanks to your summary I don’t have to listen to all this nonsense anymore.

    Anyway, we have noticed the LDS church has deal with Google for sure. Everytime we do a search, the first results list LDS official websites instead of most visited websites that have more reliable information. This has been happening for a while now. It’s inmortal what the church is doing trying to control the information about the church on the Infernet. It’s like the catholic inquisition, disgusting.

    Is there a source where we can read the deals thee LDS church has with Google? Let us know please. If not, hopefully some hacker or church employee has the guts to make this information public. Seriously, I don’t understand how someone could work for the church, have this infomarion and still participate in this type of business and help the church conceal these kinds of things. There is got be someone with some moral principles that works for the church and thinks the truth is more important than to support these men.

    The main reason LDS church keeps important information secret is because they made sure everyone who works for them has more loyalty for the leaders than for doing what is right. I feel sorry for all that people that work for the LDS church. I wouldn’t like to be part of this church stuff. This needs to stop. Someone needs to uncover the LDS finances and all the stuff they keep on their vault.

    • highpriestinaspeedo

      If the church is like most modern organizations, then just about everyone only has part of the picture and maybe 4 or 5 people know the whole story. And my guess is that those 4 or 5 are so vested in the church’s narrative that they’ll go to whatever lengths are necessary to rationalize things in a way that lets them keep going. And it isn’t just them they have to worry about. They have spouses and extended family members (example: grandchildren’s free tuition to BYU) that they need to consider as well, not to mention the huge crater that would be left in the economy of Utah and surrounding states.

  • sunide

    And, Just #BeObedienet.

  • fides quaerens intellectum

    Wait wait wait, let me guess, don’t tell me: In this article, you have beef with… Joseph Smith’s character? Book of Mormon evidences? Brigham Young’s tomfoolery? Book of Abraham? Polygamy? First Vision stories? City Creek Mall?

    And now I’ll go look….

    Aw, well, shucks. I only blind guessed 5/7.

    I want NEW Anti material to complement the traditional crew! Unless… Are you trying the MORMON approach of repeating it until I believe you? I see what you did there…. Well played sir.

    • highpriestinaspeedo

      It doesn’t matter whether the information is old or new. What matters is that neither the church nor the apologists have been able to find satisfactory answers for these problems.

      • fides quaerens intellectum

        Well, to be fair… there are satisfactory answers for those members who know about all these things and are still in the Church. BUT, I readily acknowledge that doesn’t mean they were satisfactory for you. Fair.

        • highpriestinaspeedo

          Yep, when it comes down to it, reasonable people can look at the same set of facts and come to different conclusions.

    • Zelphie Stick

      Whether or not the material is new or old is just a straw man and misses the point. The point is there are many significant issues that seriously call into question the credibility of the founder of the religion. Can you offer any refutation or credible explanation for any of these problems? Or are you only capable of standing up strawmen? Calling it old news, just like a general authority of the church does little to answer anything.

      • fides quaerens intellectum

        Come now, if you can satire Mormonism you can’t get up in arms if people satire Anti-Mormonism 🙂 Fair is fair. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of responses to those points (at least not that I’m interested in sharing via the comments portion of a blog haha). Really, my point here was that there are 20 odd articles on this blog, and most of them mention the same half dozen beefs. Which is fine, I just think variety is called for in any good blog! Maybe more personal stories? Like the “I’m a Mormon” campaign, but in reverse. Best of luck!

        • Zelphie Stick

          I’m sorry. I didn’t notice the satire.Try to give these folks a break. They’re just getting started. I honestly think they do have a good bit of variety, although I think this region of the blog-o-sphere is getting a bit saturated.

          • fides quaerens intellectum

            You know, I vaguely recall this blog recently criticizing a certain Elder Anderson on the concept of “give ____ a break”…. 😉 hahahaha

    • MTB

      fqi, you want “new.” I think the recent advances in the study and understanding of DNA would qualify as “new.” I’d be interested in your thoughts on this recent podcast: “Three Geneticists Respond to the LDS Essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon, and to Apologist Michael Ash” and the implications it has on the narrative of the Book of Mormon.

      http://mormonstories.org/three-geneticists-respond-lds-essay-dna-book-of-mormon-michael-ash/

      • fides quaerens intellectum

        I know the National Geographic frequently publishes shoddy work… But I liked this one. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131120-science-native-american-people-migration-siberia-genetics/

        • MTB

          This study is damaging to the Book of Mormon. It, in now way, bolsters the Book of Mormon. The MormonStories podcast that I linked (did you listen to it?) discusses this particular study. The Book of Mormon tells of 3 migrations:
          1) Jaredites (approximately 2,300-2,000 BCE)
          2) Lehites (Lamanites/Nephites…. approximately 600 BCE)
          3) Mulekites (approximately 587 BCE)

          The National Geographic article states:
          “Prevailing theories suggest that Native Americans are descended from a group of East Asians who crossed the Bering Sea via a land bridge perhaps 16,500 years ago, though some sites may evidence an earlier arrival.”

          The timelines of the Book of Mormon and the NG article contradict one another. Additionally, the church still adheres to the literal belief that the earth is only 6,000 years old, which also contradicts the NG article. Why would any believing member of the church cite an article which states that people (Homo sapiens) existed and were roaming around the earth 17,000 years ago? This doesn’t fit into the Adam/Eve story and the LDS understanding of the age of the earth.

          The NG article talks about migrations from the Middle East to Asia and then to the Americas. All of this happened thousands (tens of thousands) of years before the Book of Mormon migrations. The key point in all of this is that everyone came from Africa. And the people that eventually ended up in the Americas came through the Middle East (and Asia) on their way there. So, it is logical that the Asians that ended up in the Americas had, at one point, been in the Middle East. Here is a good map to describe this:
          https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/human-journey/

          Simon Southerton (former Bishop) also has a good piece on this article:
          http://simonsoutherton.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/the-great-dna-surprise.html

          • fides quaerens intellectum

            The church also literally believes that 1 day to God is as 1,000 years to man. And in another place, that “time is only measured unto man.” Personally, I have zero beef with the earth being older than 6,000 (human years). So… I’ve got no problem with whatever time line you would like to propose. Additionally, I am NOT part of the crew who thinks that the America’s were unpopulated before Book of Mormon civilizations, nor do I think that the Lamanites were the PRINCIPLE ancestors of the Native Americans… And before you quote the 1981 edition introduction, I know what it says. I don’t agree with it, and prefer the previous 150 years version.

            (^ I know… it must be incredibly frustrating to have religious people choose to redefine traditional constants such as “time” and “space” and “speed” and “light” and “elephant”…. But hey, tie goes to the… runner?)

  • mbcruisin22

    Based on the title and thesis of this post I am suprised you didn’t address Jeffrey Hollands talk about people who leave must not love their mothers.

    That will have a profound effect on a lot of families in a very negative way.

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