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Straw-ex-mormons

November 14, 2008

The church likes to give a description of the kind of person who would be so terrible that he would leave the church. I don’t know if this started officially or unofficially, but everywhere, you see that there are some specific kinds of things to watch out for:

  1. Ex-es are lazy and can’t choose not to live up to the expectations of a good, clean LDS life.
  2. They have some kind of secret sin they have been engaged in (or which they want to engage in as soon as they cut ties with the church.)
  3. They were offended by someone at church and just *couldn’t* get over such an indubitably minor slight.
  4. They read some kind of sketchy anti-Mormon pamphlet and didn’t want to hear the Real Deal from the scriptures or church leaders.

Every so often, one of these reasons will slip into the faithful brethren’s (or sister…en’s?) argumentation. Now…I understand that there are TONS of blogs (both of faithful members and ex-members) that have tried to dispel this and a fairer account of why people might leave, so, maybe I don’t have to cover that…I guess people should realize that often times, these are strawmen of ex-mormons…Strawmen that glorify the church and members who stay (*phew!* So, Joe who left the church is just a lazy sinner! That means that since I’m still in, I’m that much more awesome!)

What I wanted to write about was how this rhetoric was another clever part of the church. I’ve mentioned this cleverness in a previous entry for something else…I’ll have to explain sometime later about what cleverness embodies in these kinds of entries…it’s not necessarily good, but it’s not necessarily bad. It depends on your vantage point…but it’s just clever.

Why is this straw-man clever? Well, it is a foundation that can’t necessarily be shaken within LDS rhetoric, even though the foundation may not be true. it is logically valid, but not logically sound (validity means there’s no logical misstep from premises to conclusions…but soundness requires true premises.) How can something be valid, but not sound? Well, let’s say All sheep are fish. All fish have gills. Sheep, therefore, have gills. This is logically valid. All A are B. All B have C. So, all A have C. However, the first premise is wrong…sheep, in fact, are not fish. (And if you’re a science guy, you might also point out that all fish don’t have gills.)

So, how might this work for the church? It’s in the church’s power to define sin and righteousness however it wants.

When approaching the four parts of the Straw-ex-mormon, I realized how I could not get past the church’s cleverness. For example, I can imagine someone who follows the commandments, does everything that a Mormon should do (word of wisdom, serves, law of chastity, etc.,) etc., so this would be an example of someone who breaks the 1st and 2nd straw-Ex. Aha! So nonmormons can live up to the rigors of Mormon life and may not become raving drunkards who engage in premarital sex after they leave!

But then I realized…if an ex did not go to church regularly, then it appears that the Church could easily say that this is one commandment he is not following. Oops! Just too lazy to go to church.

And then, I realized a second thing…when one leaves, one may divorce certain aspects of its morality from that of the church’s. So, one might say, “Tea’s not bad.” Even though the vast majority of people would agree, the Church defines its terms of morality! So, any split from the church leaves one vulnerable to straw-man-ization. Not as dramatic as the “OMG he left church because he got some other woman pregnant!” “sin” but ultimately cleverer.

With the others, the church similarly reserves the right to set the playing field. One can be alienated from the church merely from the words of prophets, general authorities, and scriptures (without the help of Anti-Mormon lit, which is often just ridiculous), but then the Church can always say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have been concerned with these minor issues. It is your fault you couldn’t believe through it all and just have faith.” And if you say, “but what if I don’t want to live in such a conflicted state?” You have now just admitted you can’t handle the rigors of LDS life! You lazy natural man.

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33 Comments
  1. Hay! just a shout out from my point of view. (didn’t have time to read all the way through yet, but hope to finish that soon enough)forgive me I just have to say something.

    Out of the 4 reasons you site here: I can see how it is disrespectful and falty to assume the reasoning of #1. Ex-es are lazy and can’t live up to the expectations of a good, clean LDS life.
    That is a full load of bull, It is the opinion of the LDS Faith that everyone “can” live up to the standard of the LDS Lifestyle. If someone CHOOSES not to that would be the reasoning, not because they cannot. Also it would seem bad to use the reasoning of old numero uno because it means you choose not to follow in the approved lifestyle… what we LDS must remember is that we all have the CHOICE, and that the ability to CHOOSE is sacred to us as LDS, so we should not look down upon others when they excersize their agency (especially if it is not going along with how we think one should use it).

    Although the rest of the reasons, 2-4, are accual reasons I know of that my friends have “gone inactive.” even when some have returned to full church activity they will admit to the reasoning that is in your list.
    usually #3 will be in play.

    What alarms me is that in conversation of others people use these reasonings… What are they doing, talking about others in the first place?

    Speaking percisely on the offence issue: I have heard longtime (life) members of the church talk from the stand and some of the things they say don’t always gel with my understanding. We all should give lee-way when discerning the statments of others (even the Prophet) because we all are at differing points in our spiritual learning and our understanding differs between each of us, sometimes to the extent that someone takes a hard-line rule to a item that is just a guidline for someone else.
    The key to spiritual survival in these times is this: Don’t take it personally, don’t automatically assume that someone else understands the issue better or more correct than yourself. If you disagree ask yourself how important is the issue and if you need to correct the other person… in a loving and understanding way (just as Jesus has shown us in his example). If the disconnect is not important or sevear – let it go.

    So far All I disagree with is the Lazy stuff. I think it would be far better if we all “ponied up” and made dicisions, and took responcibility for our choices, instead of thinking people are lazy.

    All said: what is worse – not being a Mormon anymore, or not believing in Christ?

    A better question is what is the greater sin: not staying active in Mormonism or not loving the eX-ies.

    God bless,
    -D

  2. Good analysis!!

    Many ex-Mormons who have close family members in the church try to beat this game by showing they still follow the crucial lifestyle rules (booze, coffee, tea, sex ). But it’s a game the exmo can never win (as you demonstrate here ), and ultimately playing this game validates the Mormons’ value system. It gives the impression that you agree these really are important “moral” issues. (This shows up a bit in my novel here).

    And in my blog (and writing in general) I try to make it clear that I’ve rejected the LDS church’s “moral” values and instead follow a system of ethics based on empathy and on the real-world consequences of actions.

  3. Sorry guys for not responding earlier; I was out for a a night and didn’t have internet access where I was.

    Re: ditchu:
    Thanks for the nicely sized comment! But then, I think it makes me reconsider what I had written for 1. If I think about it, you really wouldn’t call someone lazy if they *couldn’t* do something. You’d call someone lazy if they *could* do something, but then *chose* not to.

    So it appears even worse to phrase it like that! “Oh, they were completely able to live up to these standards, but they chose not to. They take all responsibility for their actions.”

    I think my intended emphases on the strawmen was on…if someone chooses not to live to the LDS lifestyle standards (so, let’s start with agency), why is that? Saying it’s because, “Oh, they can, but they don’t want to because they are lazy/prideful/want to engage in sin/were slighted” places all blame on the ex. And not only that, but it mocks the reasoning ability of exmembers. On the other hand, if people could realize that sometimes, the church isn’t ideal for everyone…then it might not be worth it for some to continue staying in an environment that doesn’t make sense for them. I know, that doesn’t sound like the faith-promoting words that anyone in the church leadership would say, but it seems that church leadership has different goals. Whereas a person wants his individual happiness and progress, a church leader only believes this is possible in the scope of the church. So he is willing to let others wallow in discomfort in the church because that’s “enduring to the end.”

    The LDS church is big on choice, yes, but not so big on respecting the choices of others. That’s where these kinds of straw-men ideas come from, I think. If you aren’t choosing the norm, then all of a sudden, you have something immensely wrong with you. That’s really what I was trying to get with the post — you are either lazy, or giving in to some desire to sin, or just too petty to brush off what people have said, or too prideful, or something like this. When people leave the church (as in, want to disassociate and do not believe, not just go inactive), most members are going to think, “Hmmm…has so n’ so done something that could excommunicate him? What kind of sin is behind this?” Why should this be the thought process? It’s a culturally and religiously reinforced thought process, I think.

    When people in the church make these kinds of pronouncements on an exmember…how are the ex-es supposed to feel? They sure won’t be likely to feel *positively* about the church after that…and if they do, it’s because they are so able to put themselves above the pettiness of the straw-man church members have classified them as.

    I think there is a bit of a difference in inactivity and leaving the church. One might go inactive for any number of reasons…but does that cause him to reject the church? I don’t think these kinds of reasons reach deeply enough into why people *leave* the church, instead of merely stopping attending. I can completely agree that my mother is *inactive* because of number 3, but that doesn’t make her say the church is wrong or that she doesn’t believe in the church. And I think it’s a strawman to assume that people who don’t believe in the church and who have left in the church will discredit the entire thing because of how one person in their ward has slighted them. (It might be different if it’s like…a historical general authority’s words…but then that’s not a personal slight either.)

  4. Re: C.L. Hanson

    I actually think that if we were to map a process of leaving the church, this would be a unique step in the process. Isn’t there a formalized process for grieving? I don’t think this quite fits, but perhaps people have the “leaving process.” And I think I have several hypotheses on why people might want to follow crucial lifestyle rules to still seem *somewhat* normal with family and friends who are still members (I smell a new entry coming…soon).

    And you’re right…it validates the church’s value system. It is so *clever* for the church, because then a member can then say, “Oh, you must secretly know deep down inside that you’re wrong…because you still follow x, y, and z doctrines. You obviously still believe.” But of course, if you weren’t to follow those doctrines, then you’d default into a strawman: “Oh, so you left to be lazy. To pursue the easy, sinful path.” So you can’t win.

    I guess the final path of a “leaving process” would be exactly to do what you have done…solidify what values you will keep or change and then ground it in something outside of the church. I find it funny when people say they could *not* be moral without religion, but I guess it’s our jobs to show that it’s possible and in fact, more people do it than they think (who does not have empathy? Who cannot evaluate consequences of their actions? These are good ways to reach common ground.)

  5. Donnie permalink

    Strawman or not I guess the approach would have to be in belief and why they would want to leave the church to begin with. Take the basic beliefs of mormons:

    Joseph Smith gives his teachings to the mormons by way of sticking his head in a hat with 2 “magical rocks” to translate the “magical plates”.
    I would have to deny a stable mind to believe this! A man sticking his head in a hat and looking at magical stones? All I can say is wow. Paul states in the Bible that anyone, even if it was an angel, who brought a different gospel than the one he taught, let them be accursed.

    Teaching that what others do (immediate family) has a direct effect on what your spiritual life will be after you die. The Bible stated with all clarity that we are each responsible for ourselves and that after death there is no punishment, only loss/gain of rewards for the fruits of our christian walk.

    Teaching baptisms for the dead. Again, the Bible is very clear: There are two things that are certain: death and then comes judgement. We are each responsible for our own spiritual state and we cannot save others. The Bible states that when we die we are either with the Lord or we go to Hell. There is no middle ground.

    Teaching that it is wrong to consume caffeine based products. Peter had a vision from God. In this vision God made it perfectly clear that all things (food) was made for man and that he could partake of them all as long as he was thankful. Common sense tells us to do so in moderation.

    This is the shortest list I can think of and it does not even scrape the surface in regards to all of the misdirected teachings of Joseph Smith. Even a list this short can produce laughter from any person of average intellegence. I myself cannot laugh, but pray that God will be merciful and light up the minds of mormons to the truth. It is a terrible shame so many have been led astray and even worse, they continue to do so. I have been exposed to many mormons since I have been here and I can say that for every mormon I meet that can actually show that they know something about the books they say they believe in ( D&C and the Book of Mormon), the next 9 cannot state much of anything in regards to backing up what they believe. The usual response is ” I will ask my bishop and get back to you”. If this is the actual state of the mormon church, many innocent sheep are being let to the slaughter. May God have mercy on all that stray from HIS teachings.

  6. On the other hand Donnie, when you look at it, every religion has its own oddities. I mean, if someone really wanted, they could just point out that what Christians already believe is that a cosmic Jewish zombie who is also his own father can give you the gift of eternal life if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically project that you accept him as your master. Why? Because of the evil that is now ever-present in your soul as a result of an action that some woman did thousands of years ago.

    I would have to deny a stable mind to believe this! All I can say is wow.

    obviously, you might want to point out that that is a gross misrepresentation of how things happen. But then, any Mormon would do the same to your characterization and your attempts to explain some doctrines in relationship to the church. In fact, your attempt at portraying a straw-man of the Mormons and their beliefs is, dare I say it, just as inconsiderate and offensive as a straw-man of the ex-mormons and their motivations, or of Christians and their motivations.

    As a protip: you will ultimately catch more of anything (flies, the people you believe to be wayward and misguided, etc,) with honey than with vinegar. I mean, if your hope is that “God will be merciful and light up the minds of mormons to the truth,” then you may do best to not immediately represent what you are advocating for as the most uncompassionate, uncaring, and unempathetic doctrine ever heard. Because when you do that, then you help people immediately dismiss your doctrine as well. Which is probably best for them and anyone else, if this level of pity/contempt is the best you can muster.

  7. Donnie,
    I have heard over and again the same example of the stones and hat instances, but only on these Blogs from many that are making an attempt to discreadit the LDS Church. Where do you summise this action from Joseph Smith jr. from? Can I have the name of both the book and publisher so I can track down the mysterous sitighting of the supposed habit of the Prophet Joseph smith jr. of putting his face in his hat with some stones for any reason?

    I have asked others but they can only give vague referances if anything more than, “Well I read it somewhere on a BLOG.”

    I have tried to locate the original referance and as yet have found baseless statments. Please help, if you can.

    -D

  8. ditchu,

    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1993.htm/ensign%20july%201993.htm/a%20treasured%20testament.htm
    from a talk by Russell M. Nelson in 1992 to new mission presidents. Look for David Whitmer’s accounts a good way down the page.

    This is not a false detail, but it also shouldn’t be the straw that breaks faith.

  9. Donnie permalink

    Ok Andrew….I have been in SLC (due to a move for a job) for only 10 months and I will let you in on a little bit of how wonderful it has been here with mormons. First and foremost, I have never felt hatred for anyone, but the treatment me and my family have experienced with the supposed God loving, “christian”, love thou neighbor mormons has been terrible to say the least. We have been shut out by every mormon neighbor we have, my children are ridiculed at school constantly. I get frustrated every time my children come home from school to tell me how they are made fun of for the way they talk. Or how my oldest daughter has a better chance of flapping her arms and flying than finding a boy she can have an interest in and date here, due to the fact that she has been told that mormons can only date mormons. Or how my youngest daughter comes home crying because the another little girl in her class keeps singling her out and being mean to her (come to find out she is the daughter of a bishop who lives right behind my house). Or how my wife has no neighbors for friends because everyone that has talked to her never talks to her again when they find out she is a baptist. Or how many times my wife has come home and told me how she has mormons laugh about her accent when they hear her talk. They do this without even letting her get out of earshot. Yes the mormon religion is a straw man. What they say they believe is the opposite of what they live. If these were isolated incedents, I could understand. But this is not and the mormon religion is nothing I would advocate to another person. Mormons are nothing more than a cult. As is stated by their own beliefs, all other religions are wrong and they are the only ones right. The actions of the mormons proves that this is what they believe. Judging from your own sarcastic post you are a card carrying member yourself. I don’t hate you or mormons, I feel pity for anyone who uses religion to live out an elitest attitude with no love for others. I have experienced the “love” the mormons have, and I can honestly do without it.

  10. Andrew,
    Thank you for the link. I seem to vaguely remember reading that talk before but somehow missed the Witmer account entirely. Odd, as I tend to remember most of what I read. At second glance I now have questions on David Witmer’s account. He writes as if it were him who was placing his head into the hat and seeing the stuff appear, and he didn’t mention how he came to understand what Joseph Smith saw… Yes, the account has been used by a leader in the Church, but without reading the full account I am puzzled as to its accuracy and all. Now, as I understand David Witmer was present for some of the translating of the golden plates but I do not think this accuratly discribes Joseph Smith getting comands from God using this method. At the very least is retels one instance where Joseph Smith jr. was attempting to excluse the bright light so he could see better through the Lenses.

    I hope to find the accual account from David Witmer to better understand just what was happining, but still it has been mis-represented here and elseware as an attempt to discreadit the LDS Church.

    -D

  11. That’s funny, Donnie, because I could raise up your stories of poor treatment by Mormons and point out my experiences with poor treatment, by supposed God-loving, “Christian,” love-thy-neighbor non-Mormon Christians. The same people who would propose that Mormons are not God-loving (or they love the wrong God or the wrong Jesus), and the same people who would propose that Mormons aren’t so great at loving their neighbors and the people who insist that *they* are really Christian (whereas Mormons are not) don’t seem to be doing a much greater job at any of it than the Mormons are. I could raise the fact that religious followers on the whole have a tradition towards intolerance, resistance towards progress, a preference of their own ingroup at the expense of those who don’t fit it.

    …But then again, all of this would point out that people tend to be really terrible regardless and that we all individually need to work on this, regardless of whatever we believe above and beyond all of this. And *furthermore*, this is all anecdotal, and would be selectively biased against all the incidents of caring from people of all faiths (or lacks of faith). Or perhaps would be biased in that you somehow feel it appropriate to judge people (but that’s your words, not mine) to confirm your previous expectations (even when the results of your judgment are wildly away from the mark).

    I dunno. I just hope that you find peace, wherever it is, because whatever you have right now…whatever you would call it…whether it is “pity for anyone who uses religion to live out an elitest attitude” or whatever else (I don’t know; I’m not a doctor), cannot be healthy.

  12. Re ditchu:

    I don’t know if you’ve read Richard Bushman’s “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling” but I believe it covers the issue in more detail. And, as far as I know, Bushman is still in good standing with the church, so I guess it can’t be too terrible?

    I dunno, I guess I’m not the best person to ask about faith promoting stuff.

    The thing to realize is that anything from any religion can be misrepresented. Any thing from any religion can be used to discredit that religion. I mean, this isn’t just atheists or nonbelievers against religion…different denominations and religions will attack each other…so, it just seems like faith has to be much more stronger than these kinds of accounts. You’ve got to have a thicker skin, so to speak.

  13. Donnie permalink

    I am amazed by your ability to completely go around the treatment that my family and myself have experienced with mormons. You sound so inmature when you hide behind a pile of words and never hit the subject. I am stating what is happening in the now. Today. Not six months ago. Why don’t you come up with a big pile of words for why ALL of the mormons around us are acting the same. I don’t know where you experienced all of your terrible treatment at the hands of non-mormons, but it was not in an area I came from. I nor any other baptist I went to church with ever claimed perfection. But this I can tell you, I have never treated anyone the way myself or my family have been treated since we have been here. I have invited homeless into my home and fed them, I have given large amounts of money to neighbors secretly to help in dire situations, I have helped neighbors in countless ways never asking in return. This I have done without wanting attention or asking that I be commended for my actions. This is what God asks of me. But judging by your posts, you show to be about the same as my nieghbors. You preach but don’t practice. You take words and ooze your sarcasm, your judgement toward me, and you use your resentment to try and cover your blatent twisting of my words to say otherwise. Seems like you are having some issues with peace in your life. If ever I could say there is one religion that has “missed” the mark it is the wildly misplaced beliefs of mormons. But for you and others involved in the church, all of you probably have a hard time understanding the Bible because you can’t figure out what to say is truth and what is not truth. I would say that I take offense from your insinuation that what I believe is unhealthy, but I can’t knowing that your posts show quite a few unhealthy issues floating around in them also. You want to do something solid? You seem to have all the answers, so answer me this: why are we being treated so terribly by all of these wonderful mormons???

  14. Or Donnie it could be that your kids are being made fun of for reasons that have nothing to do with religion, you feel shut out simply because people find it convenient to advertise neighborhood events while at church, and you are subconsciously broadcasting to everyone you meet that you have a chip on your shoulder.

    Or maybe not. But it is possible.

    Just so you know, I got made fun of in my Mormon high school too. And my dad was one of the pillars of our Mormon ward.

    So, I suppose it’s possible that you are being discriminated against by a bunch of Mormons because you are non-Mormon. Or it could be that you are compensating for personal deficiencies by blaming it on the Mormons.

    Keep in mind, I don’t know you from Adam, and I really don’t have any way to tell which it is, do I?

    But both seem equally likely to me. Human beings are naturally wired to blame their problems on external influences that are beyond their power to change.

  15. Donnie permalink

    Your right, you don’t know me from adam. I have been a solid member of my community all my life. I stand in a fiber optic job that earns 100k a year. I hold a license to preach, over 45k worth of education. Where I came from we had plenty of family and friends. I nor my family have any deficiencies we need to make up for. I am a very intelegent person with much respect from where I came from, and even though I work with mormons I have their respect on the job. Only problem I got that I will blame on anyone is the mormons attitude toward my family. I can deal with what happens to me, but my kids cannot understand. My wife is a very quite person who will go out of her way to be nice to anyone, but the mormons are working her over too. So it seems that my job is good, my family life is good, I have a good relationship with my kids, but the MORMONS seem to be the snagging point. I can tell you this much, I don’t feel shut out and could totally care less what the church or its members do with their church events or their advertising in the neighborhood what they do. I can also tell you that I am a mild mannered person until you start hurting my family. If you want to say I have a chip on my shoulders because of that, the doors open. But don’t make a pretence of knowing me enough to say you know what type of attitude I give anyone around me. That is nothing more than another assumption on your part along with all the other psycho babble in your other posts directed toward me.

  16. Donnie, I guess it’s my magnificent gift.

    I’ll tell you: I don’t deny your experiences. I just point out that you will see it everywhere. Everyone sees it everywhere with everyone. Wherever there are people, that is how people will treat people. So, prematurely blaming one thing or another precisely as being the “characteristic belief and action” of a religious community…seems like a recipe for getting yourself let down as you realize that people outside of that group (or even in groups your relate with) also have those same flaws. Or when you realize that others may see the same flaws in yourself.

    I find it curiously amusing how you come to this site pleading innocence for yourself and the areas you come from, yet you cannot see how your own actions and your own words would push others away from you and entice people — if they are inclined to do so — to come to the same conclusion about you or your beliefs as you have apparently done from Mormons and their beliefs. I find it curious how that self-righteousness too is an enduring quality and fault of humanity.

    I’ve seen it and experienced it enough to know that the issue is not so simple, so that is why I offered you suggestion and advice on what you might want to do to make your position, well-meant as it is, more palatable. I offered it subtly and softly, and you rebuked it as sarcasm and “hiding behind a pile of words.” I know surely beyond anything else that if you do not want my suggestion and advice, and you have other purposes, then that is your call. I have no place to make you see what you do not want to. So I take a step back and I do approach the issue lightly for precisely that reason.

    But, let us experiment. Let’s say that I am as terrible as you say (which is amusing to me, since you seem to have me so figured out — do you know your siblings or family members so well from such little contact?). As I alluded to in the past, if you really want to reach out to me, or anyone else who is the misguided, the unbecoming, the misled, they who you feel are uncharitable and unfriendly, then you must learn to turn the other cheek resoundingly to our supposed offenses and reach out with kindness and charity yourself. You must come to forgive and forget about the misdeeds and trespasses of Mormons or any other group against you and come to see them as rational, reasonable human beings who are to be loved and regarded as lovable.

    But you know, it is your life. I can’t really speak for you. I can only say what I would try to do if those were my goals (protip: they aren’t. I don’t speak for the church and I don’t speak for anyone else than myself, which is why it’s particularly amusing to read how you have so surely typecast me).

    So I will answer your question with another question and an answer to that overall question. To answer your “Why are you being treated so terribly by all of these wonderful mormons?” I ask: Why is everyone being treated so terribly by all of these wonderful representatives of every group alive? And I will answer: because it is not representative of any group in particular to be human. It is not a fault of any group in particular to have fault. No group has monopoly on poor behavior. No one is immune.

  17. Donnie permalink

    I will have to say that in stating that I came to this site “pleading innocence for myself and the area I came from” is blatently untrue.There is not one word in my posts that say you were a terrible person. That statement is also intrue. Maybe you need to go back and reread the posts. I came to this site to voice the problem I have with the way mormons are treating my family and the lack of their ability to marry their beliefs with their actions. This is where the straw man started.

    You must have taken atleast one course of psycology in college. Your writing is so peppered with the language. But believe me, without being sarcastic this does not impress me. Why? It was a way for you to write something very long winded and completely avoid saying that the mormons are wrong for the way they are treating my family. Instead you go into a long post talking about all humans and how they are, and how I need to practice forgiveness and show the mormons the right attitude. You know, I am not the one who went out of my way to be this way toward them. They are the ones who advertise their religion and beliefs and tell everyone how they love God, yet show no signs of love, tolerance, or forgiveness. Maybe somewhere down in your great wisdom you can explain to me how this was turned around from my family being treated bad by the mormons to me being the one wrong?

    I find myself being amused with your posts. You write about how you are subtle and soft and your going to offer me some advise on my situation, but all you do is turn this back on me and tell me how I am lacking and how I need to forgive. All I can say is wow. Once again I will say that if someone is hurting my kids or wife I have every right to be upset. When you are surrounded by people who claim to love God and follow his moral laws, the first thing that myself or my family should have to worry about is definetly not forgiving inmature hypocricy. I have traveled to 30 of the states and all the way to India on a mission trip and can honestly say that I have not met any other people like the mormons.

    As far as more “advise”, I am not looking for any. An apology for the actions of the mormons would do just fine. This would go a long way.

  18. So Donnie, what would be the reason why you made an entire post claiming your so-called good deeds…that “you nor your family have any deficiencies you need to make up for,” the bold claim that “you have NEVER treated anyone the way you and your family have been treated.” Meanwhile, the words for me and others on site have been that we must be, “immature,” “hiding behind piles of words,” “the same as your neighbors,” having “a few unhealthy issues,” obviously a “card carrying member” (and since you denigrate the characters of all Mormons this is implicitly lumping me as terrible as what you think of the rest of them.)

    Really, what do you SEE from your posts?

    Honestly, if this is the way you treat your neighbors, if this is the way you treat ANYONE, then there is no question of why you get such responses back. If you think it is OK to treat people like this (even if it’s just a habit you’ve taken to online), then there is no question. And if you then think that after making these accusations and judgment calls that you can wipe it all away by speaking of all of your good works, and that all of those factlets can somehow erase your deeds and words, then there is no question as to why you’re being treated the way you are by ANYONE.

    I mean, really, you ask me to reread the posts, as if you truly do not see how your words sound! That is amazing.

    You want me to somehow apologize for the actions of those who are not me and those who do not represent me. And yet you aren’t even willing to search yourself and apologize for yourself — indeed, you don’t see any meaningful blame for yourself, so you say things like “I’m not the one…” So what use would such an apology be for someone who doesn’t understand forgiveness in the first place?

  19. I typically don’t respond well to angry people. Just something I’ve discovered about myself in my later years.

  20. Donnie permalink

    Andrew. I can and will state again that I DO NOT treat others the way they are treating me. I know trying to use all the psycho babble to justify a meaningful answer from your side is all you know, but it does not work. You can sit here all day and try to get me to admit I have some problem, but it is just not so. I have treated every neighbor I have met with respect and honesty. Me and my family do have a problem. We are kind even though we are not treated that way. As I stated above, I don’t claim to be on the list of perfect people nor will I ever. I am sure that the problem is that you have lost the ability to understand that there are still people walking around on this earth who do act that way to others. I have one bad fault on my side at this moment. I never voice what I feel to the people who are acting like this toward us, instead I got on here and voiced it. I really don’t care how you take this, but this is only 1 of 2 times I have ever gotten on a blog. I usually confront my problems and not hide behind a keyboard to do it. I just have not figured out how to approach the self righteous religions in this state. But that will be ok too. I won’t get back on another blog. I hope this has been a learning experience for you. I doubt it. I have met many like you in my life. You know, the I know all, have all the answers, understand more than you type? Just like yourself they never see just how terrible their though patterns are. They judge well, but just not themselves.

    Just remember this, while you sat here and tried your best to make me realize I was a bad person, I had problems, I am the one who has issues, the reality of what mormons are can be seen right outside my door and on into the workplace. So no matter how you try to blame me, the proof walks around in public all day. I leave this post with the thought that there are others out there who think like you, that when you have problems with others it MUST be you. What a flawed way of thinking!!

  21. I guess you’ve really shown me what’s what. Thanks for posting, Donnie; it was fun. I’ll definitely think about everything you’ve said and try to remark about all those others who think just like me and try to become more Christlike like you.

  22. Don,

    Forgive me because I did not read the entire diatribe against the mormons of your community.
    However, from what I have read, it appears from the outsiders point of view that you are dangerously close to using Mormons and their religion as a Scapegoat for the resent ills you are incountering due to your new acclimation to your community. Not sure if you know about a scape-goat, in the anchiant Jewish culture once a year the community would select a goat and the people would assign their sins and the blame for their collective ills to the Goat, then it would be sacrificed and burned as a offering. this is intresting because the goat was not a particluar good offering as sheep of other cattle. That is beside the point. I think you may be experiensing the same adjustments that follow any major move, as most people do. I think it has nothing to do with Mormonism nor Baptist, I think it is people dealing with people. From what it reads from your telling you have had a difficult time dealing with your community, others have suggested that it may be due in some part to your families actions or attitudes. My suggestion is that it is fully due to your attitude how you precieve your experiences, and in turn you responces to the precieved actions of others may cause the results you are prredicting. I have never lived in SLC but the Mormons in my community are in general kinder than other christians. From my experience in the state of Oregon, Baptists tend to be the elitest and closed group funning at people from other christian groups: Mormon, Luthern, Catholic, Methodist… ect. My 3 years attending a Baptist church has shown me that they are as apt to blame and poke fun at Lutherns and Mormons as you blame Mormons in your community to have done to your family.

    I do hope that these people (in the wrong at mistreating your fammily) realize the error of their way and choose to correct their mistake, I do hope that you find the peace and support in you new community that we all seek near our homes. You may have to get out of your confort area and extend the hand of friendship first, and as a tip do so in a neighborly way, not like prostlizing to Mormons. As far as you have shown if you take to trying to get mormons to revoke their religion to join yours, it will reek with the underlining ideal you hold that they are not “Real” Christians.

    Because who is more the Christian, the one who has asked for Christ to come into their heart but walks by the poor man on the street, or the budhist who could care less about what the guy’s faith is but gives his last dollar and his only blanket to the poor fellow?

    You have stated for these people to “Live what they say they believe,” but have you done as your Savior (Jesus) has asked of his followers, “Turn the other cheek also,” or are you holding a grudge.

    Let the grudge and any anomosity go, it will just fenter and poison you if you hold to it.

    God bless,

    -D

  23. Donnie permalink

    -D, I guess since you want to get in on this, I will let you know what Andrew already knows. My two children have been made fun of and excluded at school. They are constantly being made fun of because of their southern accent. Here is a little extra info: both of my girls have received nothing but praise from their teachers at school. Both do extremely well and stay at or above 3.0 averages. We have received multiple notes from teachers who compliment my children for their manners and the respect they show. My oldest daughter has been outright told that the reason she is excluded is because she is not a “mormon”. Me and my wife both have no trouble making friends. We have been kind to all of the neighbors we have met. (My wife sends pies and cakes randomly to neighbors showing hospitality). The only problem we have run into is as soon as people find out we are baptist they no longer speak to us.

    I will agree that it can be hard to acclimate to this new environment, but I did not come here with hatred nor a sour attitude. I accepted a new job here and came with a good attitude looking forward to a new environment. All I have heard from Andrew over and over is how I need to admit I have a problem. I am amazed. My children have not done anything to provoke the taunting they receive. My wife has shown nothing less than a good attitude toward our neighbors. My gosh, how can the treatment we have received here be turned around on us.

    This I will say, where we came from we had plenty of family and friends. We are not odd people who have no social skills. Being a teacher and then being licensed to preach is proof enough that I have good social skills. If you see or feel anger or resentment in my posts, it is because this attitude was brought out by the way my family has been treated since we have been here. So as far as trying to make me admit that I am wrong for how the locals here have treated my family, it is not going to happen.

    As far as me and have I lived up to what I say I believe. The answer is no. That is something I take up with the Lord. As of now, I am trying to cope with what is happening to my family. Any man who would not feel protective about his kids or wife is not a man.

    When it comes to Baptist and how they act, I have no idea where or when you had problems with them, but this is not how the Baptist I know treat people. No they are not perfect, yes they make plenty of mistakes. I’m just saying that I have had the pleasure of being involved with some good folks.

    I found out the other night by getting on this post that if you need to vent, don’t vent with the locals. Even if they are the ones in the wrong, all they will do is tell you how you need to look at yourself and how you must be the problem. I will forgive what has happened so far since being exposed to mormons, bu that does not mean I will forget it.

  24. Don,
    I am sure there are Mormons in the south, with southern accents (unless ya’ll kick us Mormons out of ya state.) By the way that is the best representation of the speech pattern of my Granny who lives in North Carolina, not an insult or jab at any accent. I think you are either picking up on people being people not necessarily “Mormons” being mean. I will give you that a southern accent may be strange to the Utah Locals, but have you ever thought that maybe these people are not poking fun at your kids but trying to make something “strange” to them more familluar? When I moved from Minisota to Oregon as a kid everyone knew I was not a “Local.” For years I had to put up with others trying to mimic my dialect and choice of word phrasing, often giggling as they heard something they are not used to. Where they singling me out? Sure. Where they picking on me? No. They were trying their best to familurize themselves with something they have not encountered before. In fact is some strange human adaptive way they were trying to relate to me. While I, much like your Family were trying to adapt to a wholy new enviroment. Much in the same way when these neighbors “find out” you are Baptist, It is more likely they are unsure of your culture (religion is a part of one’s culture) and how to approach you with the little knowledge they might have of your faith.
    Again, I stress the point of your perception. Maybe you are preceving the multitude of situations in a way that seems like your new community is ailenating you. Maybe these people just do not know how to approach you without offending you as much as you are unsure of how to cut to the core of your issues with them and not offend or injure anyone.
    I fully agree that, “Any man who would not feel protective about his kids or wife is not a man.”
    I think that it is that attitude (not incorrect though) that is precluding you to the preception you have that these slights are attacks upon your family, when in fact they are sore attempts to acclimate your family to the paradigms of the “Local” people.
    Instead of focusing on the differences you should be the better Christian (as you have said you have tried) and seek out the simularities. Look for opertunities to share the simularities you share with your fellow Brothers and Sisters in the Human race.

    “When it comes to Baptist and how they act, I have no idea where or when you had problems with them, but this is not how the Baptist I know treat people. No they are not perfect, yes they make plenty of mistakes. I’m just saying that I have had the pleasure of being involved with some good folks.” I respond in kind just switching the Baptist with either term: LDS/Mormon. As it comes down to it in truth we all are human and neither baptist, mormon, nor any religon lable will devide us enough to really be so separate that we can find no common ground.
    “I found out the other night by getting on this post that if you need to vent, don’t vent with the locals. Even if they are the ones in the wrong, all they will do is tell you how you need to look at yourself and how you must be the problem. I will forgive what has happened so far since being exposed to mormons, but that does not mean I will forget it.”
    How do you suppose to find a soultion to your problem (people not being friendly is the problem if I understand correctly) if you give all control over the issue to other people. Just placing blame on others hands your control of the situation to them. It may seem easier to just say they are wrong and I don’t have the problem (giving blame to others) but them there is nothing I can do to correct the problem. Is this right? I say it is better to assume some blame myself so I have at least in part some control in the situation, then if I correct my error, I will at least start to correct the real problem
    I’m Mormon and you’re Baptist, does that preclude us to be in disharmony? I think not. Our choice of religion is aside from the relationship we choose to presue, if we ultimatly choose to be friends or foes, our religion is not the deciding factor, though we could make it the scapegoat.
    A strange comment you just made is: “Being a teacher and then being licensed to preach is proof enough that I have good social skills.”
    Working in education I know plenty of Teachers that are outright odd and have almost recluse social skills, and anyone can get a license to minister, so I am unsure how the license is an indicator to your social skill. Your writing however is somewhat telling that you have no problem with words and speaking your mind, but you suggested you hold back to be nice to your neighbors. All in all it seems good, just remember most of our experiences are filtered through our paradigms and passed to our preceptions, thus what we think is happening “TO” us, may accually be something that is happening but we are preceiving it differently that intended.
    God bless, (I hope your kids take a bit of pride in their speech, it is something special especially in a foren place)
    -D

  25. The fact that you would cite a teaching/preaching license as proof of social skills…

    Well… gee…

    I guess I have no response to that.

  26. Donnie permalink

    -D, I see where you wrote that anyone can get a license to minister. Here is what you wrote: Working in education I know plenty of Teachers that are outright odd and have almost recluse social skills, and anyone can get a license to minister, so I am unsure how the license is an indicator to your social skill.

    Maybe up here anyone can get a license to preach, but where I am from a valid license is not so easily obtained. I had to stand in front of a 200 member congregation and be approved by all that I had proven abilities to engage in personal relationships and high social abilities also. Not only this but I also stood in front of this congregation and also showed my ability to preach with a deep understanding of God’s word. The license I hold would not have been given to me without the above listed personal qaulities but also quite a few more besides.

    When I say I was a teacher, I do not mean a public school. On Sunday mornings I taught the 60+ class of men and in the evenings the 40+ couples and singles. This was before I submitted to preaching. In all of these positions I had to show and be tested on my ability not only to speak and teach, but also how I handled interpersonal counceling to these same people.

    As far as how I am just perceiving everything as bad toward my kids here are some examples,these are the actual statements by kids at school to mine: one girl stood up in a classroom with my 15 year old daughter and told her after she heard her talking to another girl, ” I am worried about you, people that talk like you are usually stupid and need help. Or my youngest daughter coming home and telling me several little girls at school (we have names and know who the children are)are telling her that people from the south are stupid, or telling her that she needs to learn how to talk. Unlike your experiences these have nothing to do with other children being curious or trying to mimic their speech. Nor does this have anything to do with them giggling because they here someone speaking differently. My children keep 3.0 or higher grade averages, and what these other children are doing is downright terrible. When my girls come home crying because another child has called them stupid or humilated them in front of others, this goes much further than a perception problem.

    I think what is just as bad is having you and this other guy Andrew tell me how I must not be thinking right on this or have I thought about that. Understand this (without taking it as a smart remark) I am a grown man with quite a bit of experience behind me and I do alot of thinking without getting someone else to help me get there. I have met a guy here who is an ex-mormon and he made a comment not too long ago that I brushed off, but after being on this blog I had it come back. This is what he said: understand this one thing about mormons, they all think they know what is best and they will treat you as if you can’t think for yourself. I don’t mean to repeat this as an insult, I understand there is some things being said just to be helpful, but after multiple posts with the same things being said over and over about whether have I thought this is the issue or did you think this might be the case, I think what he said holds some truth.

    But overall, this blog has been an eye opener. I hold no hard feelings and have made a few decisions in regards to the situtation me and my family are in. Hopefully others feel the same way.

  27. Whoooo Donnie,
    Hold on a minute. Your Kids grades are not in contention here. I will go farther and give over that they are smart. We all face ignorance in our lives and I am sorry that you attribute the ingnorance and intollarence of these Children (and maybe their parents) to a religion. It is not the standard of my church to prolong ignorance nor to produce un-educated people. I fear that you are taking a small segment and labling the entire group by what a few people have done. Too often I see this, it is no less than what you are taking offence at being done to your girls. There are more obovious cases of this prejudist attitude in our society: we see people slaping steriotypes upon groups like Blacks, hispanics, the Jewish, Gays, people from the mid-west, people from the South, and now Mormons.

    Remember kids do and say stupid things, tell your daughters that the attitude these other children have shown is incorrect and that is wrong. Then ask them to be the example of the right thing and refuse to hold to those attitudes, learn to understand others before passing judgment on them. You seem well versed in scripture and have described an understanding of Christian ideals, Your Daughters seem to be bright enough (congrats on the 3.0, that’s hard work) they should be apt to understand the teachings of Christ, so teach them to follow those principals and apply it to your lives and you can be the example and set the expectation of the Compation and understanding you desire to see in your community.

    By the way all help offered to you (even from God) is not thrust upon you but it is up to you to take it how you will. I offer my comments to you out of love for a Brother in Christ, you can take it or leave it but it is up to you to do with the advice and comments as you seem fit.

    Truly sorry that you have to deal with other people’s ignorance and prejudgest. God bless you and your family,
    -D

  28. Don,
    You have specifically talked about your Ministery License before, and after discussing with you I think You are the perfect person to answer my pondery of what a true Christian is:

    What is your opinion of this: Who is more the Christian, the one who has asked for Christ to come into their heart but walks by the poor man on the street without a second glance, or the budhist who could care less about what the guy’s faith is but gives his last dollar and his only blanket to the poor fellow?

    Is a christian someone who goes regurally to a building to sing and hear a lecture with others of the same professed faith, or someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ (even if they know nothing of Jesus)?

    What is you take?

    -D

  29. Ditchu, Donnie didn’t come here to discuss things objectively.

    He came here to rant, and have a personal therapy session. When nobody wanted to play therapist, he decided that having a punching bag for his anger would be a good second prize.

    Right now, that would be you. Let him be. You can’t help an angry guy on the internet.

  30. Donnie permalink

    Hey Ditchu, I would have to say with full assurance that neither of those two mentioned in your second paragraph is a true “christian”.

    1. The person who claims to have asked Christ into their heart but shows no proof is not a truely converted christian. According to the Bible, a person who truely is converted will show works that are in line with their beliefs. All actions including charity are brought on by a love for the Saviour. Jesus said this: “If you love Me you will do my commands”.

    2. I have been asked many times about all of those folks that do good, but do not believe in God. What will happen to them? The Bible states that any works done apart from God are no good. I do believe this personally. The Bible states that we are not our own, but that we belong to the Lord. If the ultimate goal is not to please the Lord, it is to please ourselves. Usually people do good to others to feel better about themselves, to feel like your life has purpose, some for the attention, and ect…

    The definition of a christian as far as I understand it, is someone who has given their life over to God with the intent to trust and serve Him. Building or meeting areas play no part in it. The Bible states that our bodies are temples. The reason for gathering together in a church is because we are commanded not to break fellowship with other believers. I guess to out right give an answer a believer is someone who attends church and follows the teachings of Christ.

    Thanks for the subject change. I think I have already admitted that I have learned something here, and will also say thanks to those with good input.

    A big thanks to Seth R. for his insightful comment.

  31. Donnie permalink

    Ditchu, I seen where Andrew replied back to you on the seer stones and hat issue with Joseph Smith and his translations that was posted earlier. Here is what I found and maybe it will have enough info to research it further:

    “I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.” (An Address to All Believers in Christ, by David Whitmer, 1887, page 12)

    Hopefully this will help you get the info you need on this subject.

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