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This just in: atheism is equivalent to murder

February 1, 2009

Here’s a very interesting article I read last night about “the worst missionary apostasy in the history of the Church.” In short, a group of nine missionaries chose excommunication because their personal beliefs didn’t match up to the modern Church and its modern leadership.

Were they better off after severing ties to the Church? No. The ringleader (once a very spiritual person) became an avowed atheist within 20 years, one of their number became a murderer, but luckily several of them chose to be rebaptized later on. I’ve heard a statistic that more divorcees are more unhappy a year after their divorce than they were while married, and I think this is true for the Church that we’re also “married” to. Instead of trying to change the Church, we should try to improve our relationship with it, because we’d be more unhappy after we’re cut off.

Oh, Jon. Jon, Jon, Jon. This was posted on Feminist Mormon Housewives on an article about (I don’t know if this is ironic or just coincidental) whether the church could be a “hostile place.”

I kinda want to address this. (too late, I already did at MSP.) But I also kinda don’t. It’s like that car crash…it’s so bad, you just want to stop and watch, but you know you have errands to attend to. The sad thing to think about is that this is what some (not all, but some — there’s my disclaimer, guys) members literally believe. (And Jon in particular kept digging a hole for himself in later comments.) And really, there are scriptures to back this up. Wickedness never was happiness, after all. So, in a framework where the modern church leadership represents those closes to God and godliness, anything that moves you away from that (whether it be your own agency, your own pride, and your own sinfulness) will eventually lead you into a spiraling path to doom.

I guess this is like that Mormon Matters post on why the church needs more apostates…the answer, which I never expected, was somewhat simple: we need more ex-mormons so we can have more ex-ex-mormons to tell of the misery they faced out of the church and the renewed joy they faced coming back in. And as commenter Jon notes, his story has a happy ending for the few ex-Mormons who “luckily…chose to be rebaptized later on.”

I mean, really now…do people literally believe that atheism is equivalent to murder? Now, FORTUNATELY, Jon didn’t mean something else. Some people, in believing that atheists are incapable of morality without god, might suggest that atheism leads people to be more prone to commit murders. But fortunately, Jon didn’t mean to suggest that.

So instead, Jon takes what I believe to be an almost worse position. As he elaborates, he recognizes that of course the atheist was different than the murder…and yet he still equates them. So JUST by being atheist…without having commited any grand crime, JUST the atheism is equivalent with the murder.

I guess from a believing standpoint, this isn’t too unreasonable either. After all, blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a pretty big sin. Not being saved is pretty big. So, it might seem like nonbelief is as big of a deal as murder, if you are looking at heavenly, “eternal” consequences. But I’d certainly like to think that people have more compassion for their fellow beings than to look past them at if they are likely to go to Heaven or not.

I mean, from Jon’s comments, I think that he seriously believes that atheists are not happy or that they cannot be happy. Wow. I can’t. I don’t. I don’t have anything to say. Because I would raise this up…after all, this comment was in response to an article on if the church can be hostile: should a person suffer in a church he finds hostile or should he have joy and happiness on his own?

It seems like Jon couldn’t even imagine this being possible. He would suggest instead that people must “improve [their] relationship with [the church]” because there can be no happiness and joy out of it. What is this…I don’t even…

I guess, in the end, it doesn’t help that the one who became an “avowed atheist” was the ringleader of the apostasy…the charismatic, heretical one who was able to convince so many from the cunning of his words.

Great. Now everyone will think that atheists have the cunning prowess of anti-Christs.

Update: Apparently, by the power of anecdotal evidence (I actually predicted anecdote would be brought up), we have discovered that in fact, misery, suicide, addiction, and family-less-ness (wait…is that as bad as the others?!) are the 100% consequences of apostasy!

In my family, those that have distanced themselves from the Church have universally developed harmful addictions, never raised families, or even committed suicide. When members of my family started to apostasize in the 40s through the 80s, it ruined their lives. It’s not arrogance, but sad fact.

So, there you have it!

In conclusion, I would like to apologize to Jon for seeming to trivialize his family members’ poor experiencess as merely “anecdotal.” That was such a low blow (just what an atheist might do!) to make.


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  1. I never did have much use for ranking sins. I don’t really see any positive use for such an exercise.

    But I also wouldn’t rule out the idea that murder isn’t necessarily the worst sin out there.

    The problem is, there are two ways to look at a sin – let’s use murder.

    You can look at it from a standpoint of objective societal damage, external damage, and all that.

    Or you can view it from the standpoint of what is going on inside the guilty person and what we can fairly expect of them.

    I mean, for example, I would find an insurance agent defrauding his clients more reprehensible in some real ways than a child soldier in Congo shooting a pregnant mother in the head with an AK-47.

    The key distinction is moral responsibility. The child soldier is not responsible for his actions in a way that the insurance agent most certainly is.

    One of the things I appreciate about Christianity is its teaching that all sin is, at least in some sense, equal and nobody has reason to boast over anyone else. I actually appreciate that perspective. It guards against some absolutist secularist ranking of crimes based only on external criteria, irrespective of internal state of the “sinner.”

  2. I also appreciate the theoretical teaching that all sin is equal, but it just seems that in mass practical application, that *never* gets out.

    So it’s fun to hear what people think is “more” sinful.

  3. Jesse Ventura said it best:

    “Religion is for the weak.”

    Religions exist to help wrap people’s little minds around the horrifying reality that “bad” people can do good and bad things, and that “good” people can do good and bad things. The stark white and black paradigms have no room, nor acceptance (which is so beyond the passive-aggressive mentality of tolerance), for nuances of gray.

  4. now, that’s just not fair, Sideon.

    After all, someone could just as easily say that leaving religion is for the “weak,” to help people cope with the fact that they can’t or don’t want to cut it in a religion. And as unfair as that is, that’s the way it goes both ways.

    I mean, “religion is for the weak” is its own white and black paradigm…so I guess that has no room, nor acceptance, for nuances of gray either.

  5. Re: Andrew’s comment: “I also appreciate the theoretical teaching that all sin is equal, but it just seems that in mass practical application, that *never* gets out.”
    From the apostate sinner’s experience:
    Coffee tastes better than Postum.
    Equality is better than subservience.
    Women can also be leaders.
    I like wearing pants.

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