A Compassionate Caution to My Dear Mormon Friends

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Over the past 2 years, I have seen a particular scenario play out many times. People question.  They study and ponder in silence.  They reach conclusions.  They leave.  Parents, spouse, and siblings are caught unawares.  Family rift and strain sets in.

I would love to share the following message with ALL of my adult friends at church:

Our history, our doctrine, our current policies and especially the stigma and prohibition of even discussing these matters….is coming after your children, your grandchildren, your siblings and your spouse.  The sad part is that you won’t even know it until your loved ones have been eaten up by what WE are so anxious to hide from.  

Now is the time to talk and prepare.  Now is the time to build bridges of safety, trust and understanding.  If we don’t engage the discussion here, INSIDE OUR CHAPELS, our loved ones will KNOW that it’s not safe to discuss at church or with faithful church members.  Instead, they will turn to a community where it IS safe to discuss history, doctrine and policy.  A community where there is no stigma or prohibition.  That community is populated by a small minority of faithful members and a huge majority of people who no longer believe.

I have talked to many members who have not shared their transition with their loved ones.  Especially family.  Only when the transition is complete and irreversible is their story revealed.  Today, that’s pretty much the only safe way to pursue questions and doubts.  It reflects very poorly on the culture of our church.  And that church culture permeates our families.

26 thoughts on “A Compassionate Caution to My Dear Mormon Friends

  1. My Dear Sam,

    I am on your side. As your friend, I will give myself permission to speak frankly.

    You are swimming upstream in the big river in Africa that drains Lake Victoria into the Mediterranean Sea. I think you know which DeRiver I’m talking about. (Hope my humor attempt is not too obtuse … )

    The Church simply cannot open its Pandora’s Box on Church property. They know full well that the stench released will drive everyone from the building in short order. People can hold their noses only so long. Eventually they have to take a breath.

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  2. Greetings Gary, my trusty friend,

    Pandora’s Box is already open and eating our lunch. Holding noses? Well, I’m breathing deeply and still standing. Stench is dealt with by airing the laundry. A cover up only makes the stench stronger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head, Sam. The way to deal with imperfection is to admit the church is made up of, and always has been made of fallible mortals, and occasionally of mistaken teachings/doctrines, and quit trying to pretend otherwise.

      I am of the opinion that if open questioning were encouraged in the church, even of such sensitive subjects as Joseph’s life, the historicity of the BoM, which parts of the proclamation on the family are inspired and which aren’t, etc. there might be a few who would turn away, but many more who would accept it and cleave even more tightly to the faith.

      Many seem to think the only two alternatives are for leaders to admit the church has blemishes, in which case everyone will be disillusioned and leave, or deny the blemishes, in which case those who ask questions must be shushed. That is inconsistent with my experience of human nature. I believe people will put up with a great deal of stench, if they see the laundry is being aired. But they are likely to be offended if they uncover a stench they feel has been purposely hidden.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is the best comment I have read on the internet today, this week, this month, and maybe this year. This is well stated and very insightful- thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree. I do know that many would probably leave, but I think I might stay. Where as now, I feel like I am destined to leave because I don’t feel even today the top church leaders are being honest or being humble. I feel they are a balance between two pressures.

        One pressure is not to get too much into the details as many of the details will cause issues with members. I read the essays and in my own studying of source documents it feels to me like the essays were written saying just enough for a member that wants to believe to say, “yes – I know the subject and I am OK with it” and place it back on the shelf (and probably judge those like me that do see issues with the essay and the topics themselves because for THEM it is all fine – so it should be fine for EVERYONE).

        The other pressure is the fact that the church has clearly covered up (whitewashed) what it has been presenting as history. The essays uncover just enough to be able to say, “we did mention this, but if someone wasn’t doing what they are supposed to and digging in every portion of the LDS.ORG website, then they were just not doing enough.” They admit to history that is ground that is already lost to almost all historical scholars. In a way they are only admitting to SOME of the items that they excommunicated people for in 1993 and other times in the past. That does not work anymore these days.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent. Fully agree. However I’ve learned, the church is so glutenous for our money that they are happy lying and tearing our families apart. They feed off our our misery. If you are happy you don’t hand cash over to a cult. It just doesn’t work that way. Only when you are distraught will you pay for the cure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an effective business model. You’re sick and we are the only ones with the cure. If that doesn’t work, “Families are Forever!” and if you ever want to see your family again, (after you die) you will have too pay up now.
      Members can’t be allowed to openly discuss Mormon History, or else they could see the ruse and learn that the church never had the cure. The final nail in the faith coffin, is when the questioning member discovers they were never even sick.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Adele,

    Sounds like you have had a terrible experience with the church. So sorry about that. Things need to change. Many people I know have been hurt by church policies. It’s time to help make that change happen.

    Thanks for reading my blog and all my best to you!

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  5. Hey, Sam!

    For sure, you see clearly the Church’s Pandora’s Box and you have opened it wide. And for some members, they see the Box open to varying degrees, and mostly not talking about it. Like when you smell a fart in Sacrament Meeting. Everyone in the area smells it, yet nobody calls out, “Jesus Christ! Who farted?” Only the bravest members might glance around with a raised eyebrow looking for signs from others who are enduring the fragrance.

    The Brethren are relying on the majority of members remaining clueless that Pandora’s Box even exists. The last thing they will ever do is display the Box from the pulpit and announce its existence, let alone dare to crack the lid open and invite members to explore the contents.

    You are mistaken to believe that the Stench can be eliminated by merely airing the laundry. If you open a Box full of reeking sewage in the chapel, you can open the windows and turn up the fans all you want. Some members may clothespin their noses and ignore it as best they can. Others will recoil in horror and run for the exits.

    Sam, it sounds like you are willing to stay put, breathe deeply and have miraculously not passed out yet.

    I will confess that I do not understand what kind of Church environment you envision where Pandora’s Box is wide open, most members are gone, but some remain to make the best of what’s left.

    If the remaining members are able to simply dismiss and ignore the cornucopia of false truth claims, how do you propose to handle the hate crimes dispensed from Salt Lake City that drive marginalized members into self-loathing misery?

    I fail to understand how the healthiest solution for members who have opened the Box and understood its contents is not to escape to fresh air asap and freely follow the teachings of Jesus according to the dictates of their own conscience.

    The Church not only does not own Jesus, but they actually blaspheme His name to high heaven.

    Sam, can you help me understand what is worth salvaging within the Church, other than its wonderful, kindhearted, compassionate members? Don’t they all deserve fresh, clean, pure air to breathe?

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    1. I have sent the entire post to my Stake President, Bishop and High Priest Group Leader. They’re very good folks. So, hope to hear from them soon.

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  6. It is a pandora’s box and not one that can be shut. Once opened I don’t know that a bridge can be built sufficiently. It is an individual journey of faith and personal relationships. The focus needs to be on building up those willing to listen and grow their faith through action and a personal relationship with God. We need to make sure the soil is well tilled and nourished for their faith to sprout and to grow their roots prior to when the drought comes. How is HT and VT doing? How well are our leaders striving for the virtues of Christ in having long suffering, patience, kindness, love unfeigned, etc etc?

    Has the drought already come? In the past 20 years there have been so many changes. I can only imagine the impact the next 5 or 10 will be.

    Is the box already open? Maybe… I haven’t heard any inklings from leadership discussing it locally. The 12 seem to be guarding us against it on a personal level. How soon till the tsunami hits?

    If we are thinking we are a peculiar people now, after the tsunami hits, those remaining may really be considered peculiar. The sense of logic and proof are often not on our side. Apologists have indicated that it is a 50/50 situation as to supporting evidence. If you want to base things on facts and logic, it is a tight race. The social issues we are facing may tip the scale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the psychology behind claiming that the dispute is 50/50 is humbling attempting to walk away with the claim that “we are both right in our own ways”, but that isn’t the case.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am having a hard time understanding the need to make such a big deal over the past. Our purpose is to follow the Plan of Salvation and return to Heavenly Father. All the rest of this is distracting to the purpose. The Lord gave us families, and it has been that way since the beginning. If you have problems with doctrine, policy, something in history, go to someone within your family that you feel has the wisdom and that you trust. If you don’t have a family member, then go to home teacher or visiting teacher. Then to the Bishop and Stake President. Either you believe the Church has the fullness of the Gospel that you need to return to Father or it doesn’t and you need to find a religion that meets your needs. This constant Mormon bashing accomplishes nothing. It is the same people with the same arguments and it’s not going to change. We need to spend more time away from past mistake of men and concentrate on what words and actions are going to help us reach our destination. This is the time, IMHO, for us to get serious about whether we are living the gospel or are we are going to fill up pages like this with the same old stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janice, I *think* I can understand a bit why you feel this is making a mountain out of a mole hill (repeatedly). I think it is frustrating for both sides and often both groups are talking right past each other and never really communicating.

      I think overall it comes down to some things about how the church was formed really bothers SOME people to the point where they question that it is of God. Others, presumably yourself, find enough confirmation and positive things in the church that none of that other stuff matters.

      Why are some people vegetarians while others are “I don’t care how the sausage was made or what parts of the pig are in there, give me some!” Some people will not eat sausages because of what goes in them. Some people are upset that they have been eating sausages for a while (their whole life) and were told that “only the best cuts of organic free-range meat” only to find out that all kinds of pen-confined animals pumped with antibiotics – and they are really angry not so much about the food, but that they were intentionally not told the facts.

      I agree that much of the back and forth does not really change people’s perspective / beleifs. But both sides feel passionately about it. Would you be offended if every few months a pair of ex-mormon knocked on your door asking if you wanted to hear about “the REAL truth” and investigate it? I suspect most members would be quite upset with that – not realizing that is essentially what the church does.

      I think that both sides need to have more compassion for what the other is thinking/feeling/going through.

      But I do think your point of “the same arguments over and over are not going to change things.” I see Sam pushing for allowing some people to ask questions and not be told, “just don’t think about that.” That does not work. Sam seems to want to keep these people in the church. Others seem to want to say, “I can hack this church’s requirements and if you can’t then get the hell out!” (obvious embellishments on my part – but some do take it that way). I just can’t see Christ saying that.

      But please keep posting to help us all understand a bit better and hopefully narrow the gap so that it isn’t tearing apart families.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Janice, you should consider that maybe this message of “Compassionate Caution” is directed squarely to members like you who so casually brush away the valid concerns of other members about LDS church history – because there are many members of the LDS church who are concerned about it. Your attitude of simply ignoring their concerns has been the modus operandi of the LDS church for too long, and people are resigning over it.

      Confronting the “past mistake of men” as you put it is exactly what needs to happen – which is a pretty ironical statement considering on September 18th on this very blog, you claimed that the Lord chose men who were infallible to lead the LDS church. Perhaps if you were more versed in the “big deals of the past” you would not make such claims. You have precisely exemplified why the issues need to be discussed and confronted and reasoned with – because LDS leaders are *not* infallible. They *have* introduced incorrect doctrines in the past. It behooves members to confront these issues head-on, because as the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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  8. As for me and my house, we run away from people like Janice (as fast and as far as we can)!

    The LAST THING we want, or need, in our search for truth and goodness is some “holier than thou” know it all wagging their finger at us and declaring “If only you’d do what I tell you….”.

    IMO these kinds of statements are completely reflective of why “the Church” is dying. I suppose that Janice and a hand full of others may enjoy meeting in the mostly empty and joyless chapels which are being left behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We need to be a church that is more inclusive and less exclusive. I’m a convert from over 25 years ago and have always struggled with the church culture. From very early I have hated being called Brother Last Name, as I actually do have a first name. Over the years, I’ve come to dislike how judgmental many Mormons can be. There seems to be this quest for perfection and to see who can quote the most scriptures, attend the most meetings, have the highest home teaching percentage, hold the most callings, etc. Heaven forbid someone see me wearing a tank top and sipping an iced tea, the signs of someone who has really lost direction! I personally agree with Sam that what is of most importance is that we are Christ like in how we treat our fellow man. There is too much focus on trying to be perceived as being the devoted Mormon and not enough focus on treating others with kindness and respect. I don’t think anyone will get to heaven based on their quest for perfection if they don’t take time to befriend and communicate with those that are not of our religion. I find much greater satisfaction in participating in service opportunities in the community as opposed to helping load the moving truck of a member. I have more friends outside the church than in the church, and they know I’m Mormon. My wife and I both can both be ourselves around non-members as they know we aren’t judging them, even if we’re drinking a coke while they have a beer.

    I too have gone through a faith crisis and have contemplated the significance of the material recently released by the church with regards to the sketchy past of Joseph Smith. That has not changed my belief in the restoration, but has made me believe that while Joseph was a prophet he was also susceptible to the temptations of the times. He got caught up in the role he was asked to take to restore the gospel and got carried away in going down paths he should not have. I’m sure there were many around him who were encouraging him to do some of the things he did. Men (and especially men of power) throughout time have made mistakes and will continue to do so. Was that not the purpose of the Atonement to be able to repent of our mistakes? There has and only will be one that was perfect.

    A lot of time has passed since the restoration and the church has changed very little, and if we believe this to be the restored church not much should need to change. At the same time, there is need for some change as we live in very different times than when the church was restored. We also live in very different times from biblical times and don’t try to live by the laws in place then. There needs to be open dialogue in order to determine what’s on the minds of members so that meaningful thought can be given to topics of concern. The church is run very much like a company and what company today operates as it did almost 200 years ago? I know that’s comparing apples and oranges, but the times have changed. It’s time for some open discussion without being made to feel like you are rebellious and trying to cause problems. I think Sam has demonstrated that he has a true love for the church and its members and he is making a sacrifice of his own to try and initiate some change. Sam, you are not alone in your desires.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Roy,

      “We need to be a church that is more inclusive and less exclusive.” Amen, my friend. That’s exactly what I’m working for and thanks for your support and encouragement.

      “What is of most importance is that we are Christ like in how we treat our fellow man.” Double Amen!!

      We are pretty much on the very same page. I love the church, I love it’s leaders. But, my faith is in Jesus Christ, his teachings and example.

      BTW, Roy, thanks for reading my blog and especially for your comment.

      Like

  10. Great article. I am one of those that have left the church. The rest of my extended family is still in. The inability to discuss any of these issues is a BIG deal. And yes, the only real place to discuss them is outside the LDS faith. On the outside, you can safely discuss the history. On the outside you can safely examine the scriptures. On the outside, you can evaluate the Joseph Smith story. and on and on and on.

    To Janice’s point, The Plan of Salvation is a bit dependent on all of that other stuff being real.

    So, the history part matters. If it really happened, then it is a big deal. But if it didn’t….then it’s not. Then it’s just one of many, many other religions in the world. Not that it is bad. Just that it isn’t special.

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  11. Sam, once again, you hit the nail on the head. I did not share my faith transition with my wife for years in fear that she would divorce me. I still haven’t shared it with a lot of my family in fear of damaging those relationships; I know Mormonism promotes exclusion of my particular “out group” because I was in the church for decades.

    Even today, I still cannot have a conversation about why I left with even the small group of my closest family who know. I can freely have these conversations with members of my new congregation or my non-Mormon friends, but I cannot talk to those closest in my life about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sam,
    It is really hard when you have been in something for a long time and accepted it as something good to rationally look at it and understand what is going on as a whole. You appear to have love for the LDS church and its members, to some extent which is good considering where you came from but that love obscures some painful facts.

    Like pressure, shame and control are integral components of the LDS church – it is just as bullying as the protection rackets that the mob runs, just more all encompassing. It is a hallmark of the groups that rise up from a guy who claims that the Bible was corrupted and only he can fix it.

    Like this is not a social club you are talking about – if the historical claims are untrue and they so obviously are then it is a false religion that has bamboozled its people for hundreds of years. False religions are clearly just bad.

    Prophet means prophet, one who speaks on behalf of God – either they were or they weren’t – if they weren’t then no matter how much you care about the structure, the next step should be saving the people who are being oppressed by the fakery — not to find some way to make the fakery less obviously fake.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Thomas,

    First, thanks for reading my blog and them being interested enough to join the conversation with a comment.

    Second, I have made the decision to stay in the church. Of course, there are problems. How ever it was founded, I and my family have derived huge benefits. I am now actively engaged in working to fix the flaws. That starts with common consent. I am very concerned about people who are being hurt by the church. Their situation does not go unnoticed by me. To fight for them is one of the big reasons that I stay.

    All my best, my friend,

    Sam

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    1. Hi Sam,
      I understand what you are doing and why, but since you are inside I don’t think you are seeing the problem with your line of argument.

      The LDS church cannot survive without the fear and intimidation and will never depart from it because it is built on a rotten foundation. If people are allowed to examine the rotten foundation without reprisal and pressure or even worse, encouraged to test the spirit behind the rotten foundation without cultural punishment the edifice of spirituality will naturally crumble.

      However it was founded is not something that can be just brushed aside as it is a question of whether the entire church, everything the LDS church does is from God and therefore holy or is a fraud and therefore detested by God. Heaven or hell. Joseph Smith is either speaking directly from God to man or he is a false prophet working to destroy man. Based upon his own claims there is no in between.

      All the best to you as well.
      Tom

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