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This is what members of the church LITERALLY BELIEVE

January 14, 2009

I’ve always been amused by various anti-Mormons…who find the oldest and weirdest things and bandy them around as Mormonism (like that one youtube video of the cartoon “banned” by the church.) If you want to find stuff, you don’t need to pull rabbits from hats. You need look no further than modern doctrine.

I’m going to post some probably rather tame stuff here, but to me, it just seems unbelievable that certain members (not saying all) of the church literally believe this. This first edition: what members of the church literally believe about exmembers.

So, we start at Mind on Fire. John is considering resigning formally from the church. A lot of ex-mormons have feelings both ways with this. Some adamantly support resigning (to officially distance themselves from Salt Lake); others don’t think it is necessary, and some, like me, aren’t too concerned either way. I think it’s a hassle to send in a letter through a bureaucracy. And essentially, being inactive and being a formal ex-member don’t have many practical differences…the church won’t contact you much (if at all) in either case.

Well…to explain John’s situation…he’s pretty out of the church. He regularly attends another church. So, it’s not like he’s just floating around wondering. But the conversation doesn’t really highlight that fact originally (you have to have read the prequels to this novel), so it’s interesting to see what people say.

We have Greg. Now, I hope that Greg is just a small element…I hope this title is false advertising and what Greg says isn’t generalizable to what members in general believe. Anyway, let’s start with Greg’s first comment:

Sad to think what you’re giving up. Leaving the Church violates promises you made to God. It affects not only your relationship with your family, but with all those in your family line that preceded you and those who will follow you.

Somewhere on the other side of the veil, there is a chorus of concerned voices telling you to not throw away something precious. There are perhaps your future children who are praying that the promises you made to them will not be forsaken. There are ancestors who would grieve your loss from their family in the eternities.

Satan is real. He urges us to act out of pride and out of selfishness. The Spirit of God would lead you to humbly consider the impact that violating your covenants will have on those who love you and those to whom you owe love and loyalty.

Please reconsider it.

I tried to cut this down to find just a bite-sized morsel to quote…but all of this is gold. Members literally believe that leaving the church formally is a violation of a covenant with God. Never mind the fact that you’ve already left de facto; it’s the letter that does it.

Leaving the church has heavenly proportions. There are freakin’ angels watching out for you beyond the veil. Perhaps even your ancestors and future children! How can you let THEM down? Of course, leaving the church is a real temptation from a  real Satan.

I admit, a lot of people stay precisely for social reasons, not causing trouble with the family, etc., But the way Greg says leaving the church is “violating covenants” that will have “impact” is ominous, but this comment is chock full of doctrine and cultural lore.

But this is just the first comment…let’s continue!

…In the spirit of meekness, I reminded John that his actions have repercussions beyond himself. As it is said, “no man is an island. ” Satan tends to get people to focus simply on themselves and ignore their loved ones. So far, I’m the only one here that’s telling you to act unselfishly and consider the impact your actions have on others.

Don’t listen to me if you don’t care, but you also shouldn’t be listening to the voices that are luring you to break sacred obligations to people who love and care about you.

Every time anyone talks about how religion is bad (not just “untrue” but “bad for humanity” or “abominable”), they are generally going to bring up guilt (or maybe sexual molestation…I haven’t read my latest atheist agenda memos). And this is…guiltmongering. So now, Greg implies that it is selfish to leave the church (especially if it goes against the wishes of family). At this point, I’m wondering if Greg is for real. Sometimes, you can’t tell the difference between fundamentalism and trolling that mocks it. I think Ann Coulter is the latter, but Bill O’Reilly is the former, for example.

Greg’s next comments are pretty good, but long, so I’ll just link to them here and here. This is what Greg literally believes. And, unfortunately, I can see arguments from LDS scripture and, at the very least, culture, that could support him — so it feels like my title doesn’t seem to be false advertising.

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7 Comments
  1. Andrew, it’s great to see this same conversation with a bit more perspective. I think one reason anti-Mos go back to the golden plates and Adam-God stuff is because most of them, as Christians who believe that some guy who died 2000 years ago got back up and is now watching them all from the sky so that he can send them to an eternal oven if they don’t sing songs to him one day out of seven, need to find wackiness that they’re capable of mocking.

    Anyhow, as much fun as Greg was, I’m kind of sad he interrupted the resignation discussion–it was an unusual blend of opinions that couldn’t be predicted based on the church standing of the commenter. And thank you for your input.

    One qualification: I’m not a very good Quaker, if regular attendance is the measure. :P

  2. I dunno…I think the whole inter-faith criticism process just opens up criticism of one’s own beliefs (especially as with your deconstruction of Christianity). I guess one of these days my beliefs are going to be knocked senseless. “Waaat? From nothing, the universe just poofed into being?!”

    No need to worry about too regular attendance, haha.

  3. Well… I guess Greg could be right… I guess…

    But I don’t think that’s the sort of argument that’s going to work.

    I mean, someone ought to ask Greg if he pays much attention when an Evangelical street preacher tells him he’s going to hell unless he leaves the “Mormon cult.”

    Scare tactics just don’t tend to do much for most people. At least, not on people with enough education to read a blog post anyway.

  4. *Exactly right, Seth*.

    I guess what really worries me is that people — and not just members like Greg but *also* some Evangelicals — actually think that this kind of “love hurts” (we love you SO much we just can’t see your eternal soul go to hell :3) missionary work is effective when this is the kind of stuff that, I think, turns people away in the first place.

  5. At least theoretically it discharges YOUR pious duty to your fellow misguided beings. I guess…

    Always happy to help someone complete their spiritual checklist.

  6. This just goes to prove a point I’ve made many times before, why does Catholic guilt get all the attention when Mormons are so expert at it.

  7. If anti-Mormons (they *still* contact me sometimes) brought up Mormon guilt instead of the crazy stuff (which is usually ignorant and misses the wealth of tradition the church *actually* has [I guess that's not so faithpromoting...but why search for the most ridiculous, untrue stuff when there's a bunch of questionable stuff that need not be exaggerated]), I think that would be a step in the right direction.

    I can deal with charges of guilt.

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