Thursday, 28 April 2016

eX-Mormons



This is one post in an A-Z series of 26 where I am writing about living as a Mormon in the wilderness of Kuantan


Ex-Mormons can be generous, kind, loving, family-oriented, opinionated, idiotic, stubborn, vengeful.

Mormons can be generous, kind, loving, family-oriented, opinionated, idiotic, stubborn, vengeful.

Hope that clears it up.


This is a post stemming from my very first posting here on open-minded-mormon titled Building bridges in interesting times. It's worth reading that post as a little background to this one.

Ex-Mormons, if treated in the right way, can open some valid and insightful discussions and questions regarding the church, its history, and policies. And it's not even left to ex-Mormons to do deep digging. Church members, most notably Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement, was excommunicated from the church for preaching her viewpoints which the church perceived to be in opposition to its own stances. Sometimes it takes people like Kate Kelly to cause us to think deeper, to cause changes for the better in the church. Ex-Mormons have quite different perspectives on the church from the typical comfortable member.

While it may be impossible to agree with each other's opinions, we can at least be agreeable in our understanding of and empathy for one another.

Ex-Mormons usually make a firm point of how happy they are after leaving the church, which is probably correct. But it doesn't mean that the happiness I feel in the church is in any way less than theirs.


I don't have to renounce my faith to be happy.

I don't have to leave the church in order to see other perspectives.

I don't have to forfeit my spiritual convictions in order to be open-minded.

I don't have to abandon my beliefs in order to acknowledge and consider mistakes of past or current church leaders.

I don't have to fight against the church collectively just because one person offended me.


From my observation, a lot of ex-Mormons are not necessarily bad people, they have just been perhaps treated harshly or unfairly by certain people in the church; they have been offended by one person's lack of empathy or unkind words or bad example; they have been overburdened with callings and responsibilities; they feel cheated by the church when they learn of proposed mistakes or contradictions in early church leaders or on points of doctrine or practise; they have differing personal opinions to church policy which leaves them marginalized and criticized by the majority.

I think we can show empathy, defend the faith, and do so with increased kindness so that we can build bridges instead of erect walls.

6 comments:

  1. Though I totally understand and even empathise with your sentiment in the above post, I cannot help but be struck by its naivety.

    There is an old Joke about the Pope and Einstein chatting, when the Pope cannot convince Einstein to become a Catholic he calls him "A blind man, in a dark cellar, seeking a black cat... that is not there."
    To which Einstein's reply is "your Holiness you too are like the blind man, in a dark cellar, seeking a black cat... that is not there. The only difference between us, is that you found him."

    You proceed from the assumption and belief that the church is true and that something or someone has caused the ex-Mormon to loose sight of that "fact"
    Where as the Ex-Mormon Knows why he or she left the church and knows that those facts disprove the truth of the "So Called Church or SCC a popular ex Mormon euphemism for the LDS of Salt lake city.

    To be clear, YOU have never been an ex-mormon, where as all ex-Mormons have at one time or another been Mormons.
    We can empathise with your POV, we can view an argument from your frame of reference, you cannot possibly do that with regard to us.
    You say you are happy in the Church and that you don't need to leave to be happy, I too used to say that until I got out (and it wasn't easy believe me, it took a lot of effort, courage and the risk of my marriage to do so) but when I was out, THEN and only then could I actually see how restricted, contrived and false was my happiness inside the church. You see I thought I was free, then one day I woke up and could see the bars of my cage and that restriction made me realise I was not happy, I was coping nothing more.
    I knew people in the church who were my friends, but when I began asking questions about my doubts and refused to be satisfied with people bearing their testimony at me, those friend moved away from me as if I were leprous, I had doubts and doubts are infectious, when I left the church they not only distanced me, they disassociated themselves and their families from me, my Bishop who had married me to my beloved wife, tried, actively, to have my wife leave me and threaten to divorce me if I did not see the error of my ways and come back to the fold. I've since found out this foul tactic is standard practice in the church of Latter day saints.
    Fortunately my wife was so disgusted by this she too left the church.

    Once you leave, become inactive and stop assuming that one all pervading fact "The Church is True" is necessarily true, open your eyes and begin to look at the church as a whole, you very quickly start to find out things you would previously have found unbelievable are historically and socially factual.

    When I left the church there was no real internet as such, I had to actively find other ex Mormons in my local area, imagine my shock when the one that I knew about ( a daughter of an ex bishop) turned out to be not a loan isolated and rare case, as I had been assured that I was by my high Priests quorum leader.
    There were dozens of us and contact with other groups all over the country and we all had horror stories to tell.
    Lies, misleading facts, interference in private family life, sexual abuse, financial ruin (in one case were a respected member of the bishopric had conned members of the church out of a fortune in a ponzi scheme and the local area seventy had intervened to try and stop members reporting him to the police by spiritually threatening them), Adultery ( one local bishop had a string of affairs with local married sisters and on and on it went, an in each case, the church's response was to blame the victims and protect the image of the church some times going so far as to disfellowship and excommunicate people to shut them up or make their allegations worthless in the eyes of the faithful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Henry, I have tried to be kind and attempted to make a case for empathy and understanding, which I'm sure you can appreciate more than the typical LDS response of observing ex-Mormons as outcasts and cursed of the devil!

      It is true that I have never been an ex-Mormon while you have been on both sides, so you are right that I cannot fully understand what it is to be an ex-Mormon, though as I mentioned in the paragraph above, I am at least trying to build bridges instead of tear them down. It is intriguing to hear your story, Henry, and ther are numerous cases, as you mentioned, of church leaders abusing their authority and being complete and utter pigs in the process. I went through an ordeal with an absolute self-righteous idiot, if I may say so, who was my branch president here in Malaysia a few years back. It became evident to me then not to expect anything special from any Mormon - we are error-prone humans like everyone else. What church leaders may have done in various circumstances to unfairly 'protect' errant members, I don't know. But I know that that accusation is not true to every church leader, member or disciplinary council in the worldwide church. I can see that you have encountered such instances, and it is an extremely sad state of affairs.

      Anyhow, thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Delete
  2. Being an ex-Mormon is not something that happens because
    A the devil got to you (as was said in my case)
    B You want to sin (there is enough sinning goes on among active members)
    C You did not have enough faith (faith in this case being a synonym for Gullibility and or self delusion)


    Ever heard Plato's parable of the cave? Look in to it, it may help you understand were I am coming from.


    I hope this makes my position as an ex-Mormon and former Christian more clear and more comprehensible to you and your readers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's right, Henry, and I never mentioned those 3 points as reasons why church members may desert the church.

      Seems like Plato's cave allegory could represent any group of people in any form of organisation. Considering the Mormon church has more revealed word than any other Christian denomination proclaims today, I would venture that that particular parable is not completely suited to the LDS church. Though having said that, Henry, as a person who has left the fellowship of the church and found other things to be of more value, you may indeed ascribe this parable to your experience with the church.

      Delete
  3. Your 'oh so patronising' tone, and your initial premise that ex members are 'not necessarily' bad just shows your true colours. The church rhetoric is always to discredit anyone who leaves the church - a theme continued by you. I love the way you lead with the reasons of leaving as being petty 'such and such was horrible to me' - rather than the leading REAL reason being that most ex members feel that founder and main culprit was JS - who really was horrible.

    I for one have no problem with members themselves, other than wishing they'd step back and look 'openly' at what their church is actually teaching them. But like it did for me, that time may come.

    Whilst you say you don't have to abandon your beliefs to recognise failings of the church - so I'd counter this. What would it take, what would be the final straw, what point would you say enough is enough?

    I suppose what I'm asking is are you too entrenched to separate 'churchianity' from Christianity? Because blind faith in the face of confirmed paedophilia, fraud, hatred of different sexuality or colour - to be honest sounds more like a cult by any common definition?

    I particularly liked your subtle way of trying to give more authority to your views (you must have been a member a while to pick up such subtle use of language) by describing your beliefs as 'spiritual convictions' - to try and make them beyond question. It's almost laughable.

    If it wasn't so self serving or deluded.

    Posing as some kind of 'bridge builder' is frankly nonsense. You're just following the well trodden path of Mormonism - bring them close, then try to convince and convert (again). When that doesn't work - just discredit.

    (This is posted anonymously as I don't have the other accounts needed to log in - but my name is Steve Allan)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Steve. As I am most fully aware, I don not understand what it is to be an ex-Mormon as I have never been one before. Yet I am attempting to understand through a number of lengthy discussions with ex members.

      I frankly have no idea about the Mormon tactics you bring up in dealing with ex-Mormons. I never cared for thoughts about ex-Mormons when I was younger and in a ward; I have been living completely isolated from Mormon populations for the last ten years so really have no idea about alleged tactics in play.

      You have made a whole raft of assumptions about my motives and character, which are false. I have no intention of being patronising at all. I have also made no attempt to authorise myself or discredit anyone else. If you continue to follow my blog you will see in the near future that I'll be posting about real people with real opinions, not only my own. You might find great interest in that.

      Thanks for your visit Steve

      Delete

I welcome comments and discussion on all perspectives relating to Mormonism and Christianity and the personal quest for acquiring truth and developing a relationship with Deity.

Go ahead!