Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watch This

An online acquaintance made an excellent series of videos in response to last year's General Conference talk by Holland that many Mormons are still rabidly promoting on the internet. It's an illogical, emotional, manipulative, arrogant and dishonest example of public speaking. But I'll let FlackerMan tell you all about it:

Friday, April 30, 2010

The 2010 MS Walk

It’s almost time.

I try to participate in the MS Walk every year, in honor of my mother. It’s a cause that matters greatly to me. And I would love your help.

This year I’m hoping to raise at least $1,000. If all 328 of my Blogger followers gave just $4 that would be more than enough. See? Even small donations can make a big difference! So, if you’re able, please consider sponsoring me. Not able to donate? That’s OK. You can still help me out by blogging, tweeting, and sharing on Facebook. Any help at all will mean a lot to me, and to the MS Society.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me about the MS Walk a few more times between now and the date of my local walk. Consider this a “kick-off” post.

And, just FYI, I will make a blog signature for anyone who donates $10 dollars or more and provides a valid e-mail address in their online donation form. You’ll have to select the “name and amount” option to receive your free signature. Or, if you donate $15 dollars or more you can choose between a free signature or one month of advertising space on Domestic Dork {provide an e-mail address and select “name and amount”}. And everyone who donates {again, you’ll need to provide an e-mail address in the form”} has the option of being added to an “Honor Blog Roll.” The blog roll will be left in my sidebar on Domestic Dork for 3 months and then left indefinitely on the blog page {see the “blogs” button in my menu on the left side of my Domestic Dork blog}.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks in advance and from the bottom of my heart for any donations and/or help spreading the word.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Love You Guys

CaraDee left a link to the video below on my last post. I'm a fan of Non-Stamp Collector but I hadn't seen this particular video of his. Creationists, WATCH THIS. Thanks CaraDee!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Let me start off by saying I’ve already gotten some nice comments on my last post about “atheists having faith.” Chanson linked to a post of hers on the issue. And Andrew S. left a really insightful comment:
E.g., if you notice the guy's comment...he always pins atheists as being people who believe there is no god. So he isn't framing this in terms of belief vs. nonbelief, or do believe vs. do not believe.  
Instead, he is framing it in terms of believe there is vs. believe there is not. He consistently address those who "believe there is no god," who have faith "there is no god" etc.,  
Well, phew! All I can do is give a sigh of relief. His stinging indictment doesn't even apply to me. I am an atheist because I do not believe in gods and I do not believe there are gods, not because I believe there are no gods. And most atheists (I think, I have never conducted a formal poll) would agree. It seems to me that most people concede -- even if only grudgingly -- that belief either way requires "faith" (I agree with chanson that this also says more about the person's opinion of faith than anything)...and many people will concede that "nonbelief" is "reasonable."  
What they fail to realize is that atheism includes that nonbelief.
And then there was this “gem.” {Rant to follow.}
Well said, let first examine who is God. God is the source of everything and the creator of every creature. Answer this Questions: Do you know that there are manufacturers for every car and a potter for every pot? Have you ever seen a beuatiful garden that just happened without a meticulous gardener? If your answer is yes, why do you think the earth and man just happened; when no car or house just happened. Here is the bottom line; to deny God is to deny that there is no manufacturer of cars or no potter for pot. And that is either you are a hypocrite or you are a fool.
For more on this read my blog, Achievement The Way I See It 2
When I provide links READ THEM before you run your mouth or you just end up looking like a douche and pissing me off. Seriously. This makes me angry. I provided a LIST of things to read re: evolution. It just so happens that those links {and books} address the designer/”just happens” fallacy.
ATHEISTS/EVOLUTIONISTS DO NOT BELIEVE THINGS “JUST HAPPENED.” But then, if you had READ the information I provided you’d know that. But no, you’d rather leave trite little analogies that DO NOT APPLY.
Here’s that reading list for you again. Do not bother me with your cliché arguments again until you’ve read them.
And I highly recommend buying or borrowing: The God Delusion and The Greatest Show On Earth. We own and love both.
If the Christians who make these idiotic analogies and arguments actually spent time listening to what the other side has to say they’d know those arguments have already been addressed and answered. But it seems they’d rather sit around repeating their crap to each other and congratulating each other on how smart they are, and what great zingers they’ve come up with to show how foolish the non-theists are. No, “heaven forbid” they actually learn what the hell they’re talking about. It’s far better to spew fallacies about watches and watchmakers and how evolution is “just a theory” {yes, in the same sense of the word as the THEORY OF GRAVITY}. THIS is exactly the kind of bullshit I have little patience for.
That said, I’m done. I’m not wasting my time providing the same resources over and over and over again. I have better things to do with my time, like having breakfast with my family, which is exactly what I’m going to do.

Friday, March 5, 2010

“Atheists Have Faith”

The following comment was left anonymously on Adam’s post:
As far as I can tell you use faith as much as your parents do.  With exactly the same type of evidence.  You see everything as evidence that there is no God, but as far as I can tell you haven't proved it.  You can't, anymore then someone can prove there IS a God.  You can't know for sure that there isn't, anymore then I can no for sure that there is.  You have faith that there is no God and things just happen the way they happen, but you can't prove there is no divine being influencing things, anymore then I could prove to you that there is.  And you have little patience w/ people that do not share the same faith, which is common regardless of which faith is followed. Because everyone believes they are correct.  You have faith my man.  Your logic is as good or faulty as anyone elses. [sic]
I have a few things to say to that…but first, a comic:
logic{taken from The Godless Paladin} 
By this reasoning it would be just as valid to believe there is an invisible pink unicorn watching over us all from a rainbow castle in the sky as it would be to not believe in such a being. By this reasons it would be just as valid to believe there in Thor, or Vishnu, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster as it is to not believe in such gods.
Calling atheism, or NON-belief, “faith” is like calling NOT collecting stamps a hobby.
And it’s ridiculous.
It does not take faith to not believe in something for which there is no evidence. Would you say it takes faith to not believe in the boogey-man? Does it take faith to not believe in fairies? Does it take faith to not believe in Russell’s teapot? What’s that? I’ll let Russell explain:
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. {via Wikipedia}
You’re arguing that since you cannot prove nor disprove the existence of a supreme being then it must be equally reasonable to believe in such as it is to not believe and that both views require faith {nevermind the fact that specific religions and their claims can be shown to be untrue – we’ll focus merely on the abstract concept of a supernatural being called “God”}.
Richard Dawkins argued that “if agnosticism demands giving equal respect to the belief and disbelief in a supreme being, then it must also give equal respect to belief in an orbiting teapot, since the existence of an orbiting teapot is just as plausible scientifically as the existence of a supreme being.” And Peter Atkins “said that the core point of Russell's teapot is that a scientist cannot prove a negative, and therefore Occam's razor demands that the more simple theory (in which there is no supreme being) should trump the more complex theory (with a supreme being).”
But now I’d like to take a moment to address specific parts of your asinine and cliché comment. Let’s start with:
“You see everything as evidence that there is no God”
No, we see the fact that there IS NO evidence for God as a pretty damn big sign that there probably is not one. We’re 6’s leaning 7 on the spectrum of theistic probability. When we say “there is no evidence for God’s existence” it is not the same as saying “we have evidence for God’s non-existence” {again, you can’t prove a negative}. Your reasoning in twisting our statements on the matter is fallacious.
“You have faith that there is no God and things just happen the way they happen…”
I’ve already explained the error of the “atheists have faith too” argument. What I want to address here is the second half of this statement. If you are referring to evolution when you say “things just happen” please READ A DAMN BOOK on evolution. I don’t have the time nor the patience to lay out for you the science. I don’t particularly feel like banging my head against a wall trying to explain the ridiculousness of the “just happens” argument against evolution when other, much better writers, have already done so {see also The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion}. Or at least start by reading the following:
“And you have little patience w/ people that do not share the same faith, which is common regardless of which faith is followed.”
Again, non-belief is not the same as belief. I don’t think I need to spell that out a million times but who knows? Maybe I do. But ignoring that issue for a moment…you say I have little patience with people that do not think the way I do. I’m sorry? Do we know you? I didn’t realize you were an authority on how we feel about other people. I can't speak for Adam. But here’s what I don’t have patience for:
  • I don’t have patience for nonsense. I don’t have patience for illogical arguments. I don’t have patience for poorly thought-out comments and assertions that have no evidence. And, on occasion, I lack patience with the people who espouse them as truth, or as world-views on equal footing with those that are based on evidence.
  • I don’t have patience for faiths that require 10% of their adherents income, no matter how poor they may be all while wasting BILLIONS of dollars buying land, building malls, and remodeling perfectly good buildings for their Masonic rip-off rituals. I don’t have patience for faiths that treat women and gays like lesser persons than men but say it’s OK because really, it’s God that is the sexist/hetero-sexist. I don’t have patience for faiths that lie about their history. Would you like me to keep going?
But despite those strong feelings I manage to maintain relationships with people who believe in God. You don’t know me. You don’t know how much patience it takes to keep my mouth shut when my friends say things that make me want to scream. You don’t know how much patience it takes to watch my family and friends sacrifice so much for faiths that abuse their faithfulness and yet be quiet because it’s what they want from me.
You have no idea just how much patience it takes to be a secularist in a religious world without going completely postal. Aside from dealing with trite, apologetic comments like yours, I live in a world where people fight to teach children fairy tales instead of science in our public schools. 48% of Americans openly admit they they would not vote for an atheist. People legislate their bible-based morality instead of making laws that are equitable for all based on evidence and principles of acceptance and fairness. People throw hissy-fits about using the phrase “Happy Holidays” to refer to a season which, in fact, includes several different holidays {including Christmas which was appropriated from a Pagan celebration}. I live in a world in which people expect me to “respect” their beliefs because they are religious in nature, not on their merits. Adults all over the world insist on believing in fairy tales, including the Christian fairytale whose God is a sadistic bastard {read the Bible and tell me a deity who commands genocide and carries out the murder of innocent children isn’t reprehensible}. And on top of all that these same people turn around and say there’s something wrong with US for not believing in their delusion. So don’t presume to tell me about patience. This blog is the one place I don’t have to be patient.
And finally, in regards to your closing statement:
“Your logic is as good or faulty as anyone elses.” [sic]
I think I have shown that, when it comes to your logic, that is clearly not that case.
Note: Anonymous comments get treated a certain way ‘round here. If you don’t respect your opinion enough to put your name on it, then why should I respect your opinion? I point this out because I want my readers to know that should they want to leave comments I’ll try to play nicely, assuming they’re brave enough to own their words. I say that as a person who, when I was still a believer, DID put my name on my comments when I (and I’m not proud of this) defended Prop H8. I did it, but it terrified me. So I understand why you might not be willing to do the same. I would just like to say that if you’re not willing to link your name with your beliefs on the matter then please ask yourself why that is.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


The following rambling post is written by Adam. Holly would have made it more concise and clear. That's why she gets better grades in English class, I guess.

I recently responded to a facebook status from a TBM friend-of-a-friend that read:

"Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind: which if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything, but upon good reason; and so cannot be opposite to it. He that believes, without having any reason for believing, may be in love with his own fancies; but neither seeks truth as he ought, nor pays the obedience due his maker, who would have him use those discerning faculties he has given him, to keep him out of mistake and error. He that does not this to the best of his power, however he sometimes lights on truth, is in the right but by chance; and I know not whether the luckiness of the accident will excuse the irregularity of his proceeding. This at least is certain, that he must be accountable for whatever mistakes he runs into: whereas he that makes use of of the light and faculties God has given him, and seeks sincerely to discover truth, by those helps and abilities he has, may have this satisfaction in doing his duty as a rational creature,that though he should miss truth, he will not miss the reward of it. For he governs his assent right, and place as he should, who in any case or matter whatsoever, believes or disbelieves, according as reason directs him. He that does otherwise, transgresses against his own light, and misuse those faculties, which were given him to no other end, but to search and follow the clearer evidence, and greater probability." -- John Locke

Now, normally I try to avoid getting into the middle of a TBM's testimonybook, but this time I actually had something to say that wouldn't make me a troll.
So I said:

Great quote! I'd love to pull that one out to stick it to the theists who say I've chosen Logic as my God instead of using faith - they never seem to see that they still have REASONS for deciding what to have faith in!

Which elicited this response from someone else:

I would compare logic to the thought process behind making decisions, and faith to taking action based on those decisions. They complement each other perfectly and both are required to succeed. If you sit in the library all day and do nothing but think the only good you have done is to give the custodian another piece of furniture to dust. If you constantly act without thinking, you give the paramedics a lot to do. God requires and expects us to think, and then to take action of our own free choice.

I found this stance frustrating. By that definition, Atheists and Theists use faith equally. Every day, I reach out my hand and flick the light switch, with full faith that it will turn on the light over head. But is that really what we talk about when we say faith? By using such a broad definition of faith, you've robbed it of its intended meaning.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

(I love playing "The Devil quotes scripture"!)

Faith is about things you haven't seen. Really, it's about things you CANNOT see, because if you see it, then it's not faith anymore. So the light switch analogy would only apply to faith if the person had never seen a light, had no understanding of an electric circuit, but had been told that if he moves this piece to this position, a light will appear. That would count as faith.
The next day, when he goes to turn on the light again, it would be something different, because now he has SEEN that turning on the light switch causes the light bulb to illuminate.

Most religious people will tell you that their faith is built on prior experiences, that they have seen the light switch turn on in the past. Really though, they haven't. Ask around. Have any of them ever seen a miracle? Most will tell you yes. Ask the details. Most likely, it was "I felt really horrible and I got a blessing and I felt better", or "I paid my tithing and then even though money was tight somehow we made it through." If we want to match this to our analogy, it would be like turning on the light switch, then seeing if there's any sunlight that day. Chances are, at some point, the sun will shine through their window, making it brighter. They will believe that this was because they turned on the light switch. But there's always the caveat: if they had turned on the switch and light hadn't shone, it's because of God's will (His path for you, or a test of your faith). If they hadn't turned on the light switch and the light had shone anyway, it was God either reminding them to turn the light switch or testing them to see what they would do.

In short, they pay lip service to logic in connecting the dots to point to a conclusion, but the dots are placed arbitrarily based on the expected outcome.

Not long ago my father was trying to get some of his artwork showcased. After 3 or 4 deals fell through, he finally got one gallery to host him. To him, this was a testimony builder - God had lined things up such that he really had to work hard, keep trusting and not give up. But what would have happened if he had been successful on his first try? Well, that would have been a testimony builder, God blessing him for his righteousness. What if he had never succeeded? It would have been God showing him that this was a road he shouldn't pursue (sometimes God leads us down a dead end to show us to go the other way).

And what would have happened if my father weren't a man of faith? Well, with the same artwork, and the same dedication, he would still have had the same results. (I wonder how much effect these things had on the unraveling of my testimony? The blow that shattered the illusion was realizing that if God weren't there, everything would look exactly the same.)

A short while later, my parents were considering buying a new car. The researched that model, they trusted the dealer, all was well and they were very excited - until the day they went to sign the papers. Then Mom got a nervous feeling. She didn't say anything because Dad seemed fine. She tried to ignore it, but it got worse and worse. At the last second, when dad was about to pull out his pen and sign, she pulled him aside. They decided that even though they don't know why, they should follow that prompting of the spirit.
How does this story end? There was no "a week later someone else bought the car and it blew up!" or "a month later we had major financial problems." They never found out why they were "instructed" to not buy the car. But they still sent out an email to the whole family thanking Heavenly Father for His loving guidance. To them, that was a faith promoting experience!

Now, the next time they have a bad feeling and it turns out wrong, they'll draw a line between those two dots and find God. But where was God when they got scammed by the crappy window installer 10 years ago? Where was God with every bad stock they bought? Basically, life is a whole sheet of graph paper. Stuff happens. Sometimes it's random, sometimes it's due to our actions, sometimes it's due to the actions of others.

Logic dictates that we look for patterns, that we try to find cause and effect in the world around us. The scientific process is one where a theory is made based on observations, then future results are predicted based off that pattern. If the results don't match the prediction, the prediction must have been wrong.
Faith is where an event happens, then people assign a supernatural cause. There is only one dot, but they draw a line. Once their line is established, all dots that don't fall on that line are ignored, and many dots that don't hit the line are fudged to make them fit the predetermined pattern.

I think now that my original point was flawed. Initially, I wanted to show that Logic is inherently a part of faith - people use logic to decide what to believe in (otherwise it's just gullibility, not faith). Some people connect the dots of reading the book of Mormon, praying, and feeling the spirit. Some people connect the dots of turning to God and having their lives change. I've even had someone try to convince me that the Bible was unique among all other books by being written over the course of thousands of years, but still containing one consistent message (He obviously hasn't read the whole thing - it's anything but consistent).

I think what I'm seeing now is that Logic does play a role, but it's a very superficial role. While they may use some semblance of logic to connect the dots, it is mysteriously absent during the process of placing those dots.

So maybe I have chosen Logic as my God? So be it. At least I'm sticking to my guns instead of having one foot in each boat.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tweeting Your Abortion

So, there's this single mom on Twitter who is live tweeting her abortion {medical, not surgical}. Her IUD failed and she got pregnant with her boyfriend. She was 6 weeks along. She's listed some of the reasons she doesn't want to be pregnant; she has a special needs son and wants to be able to focus on mothering him; she has significant pregnancy-induced medical risks. She's also made it clear that her reason for tweeting about it is to demystify the process because there's a lot of misinformation out there, and because she wants to help remove the shame stigma.

And I think she's fantastic.

Some people are calling her an attention whore {or just plain whore}. I have a hard time buying the idea that she'd be taking these risks just for 15 minutes of fame. Apparently the death threats have already seems some extremists only value life up until a person is born. But I don't want to waste my time talking about the nut-jobs going after her. I don't have that kind of time.

This whole thing has really grabbed my attention. I've been doing research on some repro-rights and women's rights, etc. And an online friend in Provo clued me into the awful new law headed to the governor's desk in Utah. Have you ever noticed, after buying a car, that you suddenly see that car ALL the time ALL over the place? I guess it's like that. Repro-rights and abortion have been on my mind and now I'm noticing the issue coming up all over the place.

The discussion of which I've been a part regarding the law in Utah have been interesting. Some people have defended it with a "well, it's not going to be used in a bad way" argument. I think that's an irresponsible assumption. Laws are often twisted in one way or another...and the wording of this law is practically begging for it to be applied in bad ways. I have a lot of thoughts on the situation, and not sure how organized they'll turn out to be but, here goes:
  • I fell down the stairs TWICE while pregnant. It must have been on purpose! Nobody's that clumsy, right? {Hah! Even the most graceful woman can find herself suddenly QUITE clumsy while pregnant, center of gravity changes, can't see your feet, etc.} The first time I fell I hesitated to head to the hospital. I was worried out of my mind, but I was also worried I was overreacting and that I'd be a burden/nuisance to the hospital staff if I went in to get checked out. Eventually some online friends convinced me that it was worth it, if for no other reason than to get some peace of mind. So I went in. But I sit here, and I remember how I hesitated {I hesitated even though it wouldn't have cost me a dime}. And I imagine how much more hesitant women will be to seek medical attention if they're worried someone is going to report them to the police. After the case in {was it Iowa?} in which a woman was turned over to police after falling down the stairs I worry that women in Utah won't seek medical attention after accidents.
  • Who gets to decide what's reckless? Is the woman who has a baby at 40 being reckless because of her age? Is the woman who feels trapped in a violent relationship being reckless? Is the woman who drinks coffee while pregnant being reckless? What about the woman who eats deli meat, or sushi? What about the woman who goes horseback riding every day {I knew a woman online who rode every day, including the day she went into labor}. It's easy to say the law won't go too far...but not only can you not promise that, you have to ask...WHOSE definition of too far? Some people have an occasional drink while pregnant {sometimes following the, in my opinion, bad advice of their doctors}. I think that's reckless...but I don't think it should land a woman {a woman who may have a family who depend on her} in jail.
  • I'm wary of any law that seems to put an embryo's "rights" above that of an actual, living, breathing, thinking, person. - I don't believe an embryo is a person. I think at some point a fetus must count as a person because I don't feel comfortable with the idea that passing through the vagina suddenly instils a baby with person-hood when there was none the day before the birth. That said, I don't know where that line is drawn...age of viability? Maybe. But here's the thing...very, very, very few abortions are late term. In Canada {according to Wiki} "During the year 2003, 6.5% of induced abortions were performed between 13 to 16 weeks, 2.2% between 17 to 20 weeks, and 0.8% over 20 weeks" And {also according to Wiki re: the US} {my thoughts in pink} of the women who got “late term abortions” did so because of the following reasons
71% Woman didn't recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation
48% Woman found it hard to make arrangements for abortion - With the number of anti-choice laws in place that attempt to do just that {make it difficult to get an abortion} this doesn't surprise me. The pro-life movement is actually doing fetuses a disservice in this case. If they didn't make it so damn hard for women to get a safe and legal abortion this number would probably be a lot smaller because the women this number represents would have been able to get the abortion earlier on {this problem also occurs with the pro-life efforts to restrict access to Plan B and birth control}.
33% Woman was afraid to tell her partner or parents - This is a cultural problem that won't change any time soon I'm sure, but I think the woman tweeting her abortion and the article in Glamour probably help. If 26 out of 100 {Wiki} pregnancies are ended by induced abortion worldwide, then it's probable that we all know someone who's had one for some reason or another. If we can remove the shame stigma from it then we can lower this number too. I would much rather women be choosing Plan B, or RU 486 than be getting abortions later in their pregnancies when we can't be sure of the person-hood status of a fetus.
24% Woman took time to decide to have an abortion This number {as well as the 6% who didn't realize timing was important and the 5% who didn't know they could get an abortion} are disturbing. Women who are educated with the truth about abortion will have an easier time making their choice, one way or another. But the sad fact is that there is a LOT of misinformation, or in the case of abstinence only programs, no information at all. This is yet another reason I think it's great that the woman on twitter {and now another woman getting an abortion who has joined her} are tweeting. Honestly, I've been pretty clueless myself. I'm educating myself now, because it interests me. But I really have been holding some outdated, untrue, etc. ideas or been unaware of certain facts. This seems to be common. In the discussions I've been seeing it seems most of us aren't even clear on the difference between Plan B and RU 486 and how they work, nor what the laws say about our bodies. And I find myself very unsettled by the idea that we're not making sure we know what's going on, not only medically concerning our own bodies and options, but politically and legally.
8% Woman waited for her relationship to change
8% Someone pressured woman not to have abortion
6% Something changed after woman became pregnant
6% Woman didn't know timing is important
5% Woman didn't know she could get an abortion
2% A fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy I'm wondering if this number includes induced stillbirths.
11% Other
So, yeah, off on a tangent there. But my point is this...I think a law that values fetus rights over the rights of women {about whom we have NO doubts of their person-hood} are anti-woman. Women are people, not just walking incubators.

  • As best as I've been able to glean from the news is that this whole mess got started after a 17 year old girl hired a man to beat her up in an attempt to cause a miscarriage. I definitely think the girl should be charged with filing a false police report, but I certainly don't think we need to go and create a dangerously vague law in response to this one, very sad situation. And I'm annoyed that the "solution" to this problem is to create a new law that infringes on women rather than CHANGING the bad laws that created the situation in the first place. This girl hired this guy because her father wouldn't let her get an abortion. Utah has parental notification and consent laws in place so her FATHER got to make the decision about HER body. That's just wrong. Parental consent laws are wrong. And here's why I think that...first, it's not the parent's body. The parents will not be going through 9 months of pregnancy and then giving birth. It's not the parents who will have to provide for this child by either raising it or giving it up for adoption. Secondly, parental consent laws basically say "we, as a society, think you're old enough to be a parent but not old enough to decide on your own, without your parent's knowledge/consent whether to have an abortion." That's ridiculous. But now they're making another bad law to fix the problem created by the first bad law! I also have to wonder how this girl might have fared if Utah schools taught comprehensive sex ed. Did you know that the Provo location of Planned Parenthood gives out more Plan B than any other PP in the nation? Just something to think about.
  • This law isn't about protecting people, it's about punishing women...punishing them for having THE SEX outside of the prescribed manner, or punishing them for being "BAD MOTHERS" {being reckless while pregnant}, etc. This girl was stupid, but I don't think we should make stupidity criminal. What I do think is that we should make it easier for girls like her to get safe, legal, and {preferably} early abortions.
I really do think that, ultimately, most anti-choice laws have more to do with punishing women than we'd like to admit. And the way some pro-lifers talk about women only strengthens that suspicion. If it were really about babies then the pro-lifers wouldn't be trying so hard to limit access to Plan B {emergency birth control} or regular birth control. But it's NOT just about babies. On some level it's about THE SEX. Some people don't want people having sex outside the prescribed "appropriate" manner {heterosexual marriage}. It doesn't matter that not everyone holds the belief that only married people should have sex. Some people who think that's wrong think that they're on a moral high ground which makes it OK to enforce that belief on society as a whole...even if that means embracing sex education methods that lead to MORE teen pregnancy and MORE STDs. Of course, there are also the people who think that a fertilized egg = person. And I just don't know how anybody is supposed to reason with them. They're opinion isn't based on science or anything provable, so trying to explain to them that a 6 week old fetus should not have the same rights as a 20-something year old mother of one is, at best, a frustrating endeavor. These are often the same people who think regular, hormonal birth control, is evil because sometimes an eggs manages to get fertilized but then doesn't implant because of the birth control. To these people any type of abortion, even the ones women don't know about that were caused by their birth control, are murder. And then there are the outright liars who have been saying this woman on Twitter has aborted a fetus with arms, and eyes, and hands and blah blah blah.

But back to the "punishment" idea. If you listen long enough to the arguments against choice you'll hear the subtle indicators that underlying the anti-choice movement is a current of misogyny. Phrases like "well she should have kept her legs shut" or the more polite version "she made her choice when she chose to have sex" and "she wants to have sex without consequences" {"consequences being a code-word for "punishment"} are often thought-stoppers. But we should think about them, hard. First off, we should think about the imbalance of this attitude. It takes two to do the {horizontal} tango. But we only seem to insist on punishing the girls...their biology makes it so easy to do so. But secondly, when we throw arguments out like "well, this is the consequence or her previous choice" as an argument against abortion we're basically saying it's more important to us that this girl or woman face the consequences/punishment for having THE SEX than it is to consider her well-being or the well-being or a potential child. And, for those of us who are married and using birth control, it's doubly crappy for us to use this argument. When we do that we're saying it's OK for us to have THE SEX and not want the consequence {babies} because we're married...but it's not OK for the unmarried people. That's a double standard based on moral codes not all of society shares.

So, there are some of my thoughts. I'm pro-choice. I'm uneasy with late-term abortion; it's great that it's so much more rare than the anti-choice movement would have you think. I don't know that I would feel comfortable legislating my uneasiness. I think that if we made sure all our citizens had not only comprehensive sex education, but easy and affordable access to birth control, Plan B birth control, and RU 486 that we wouldn't even need to worry about late term abortion. And I think the new law in Utah is at least as stupid as the current laws that created the problem in the first place.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Gotta Ask Yourself…

Q: According to Ezra Taft Benson, “we are to ‘give heed unto all [of the prophet’s] words’--as if from the Lord's ‘own mouth,’" and the prophet will “never lead the church astray” {see quotes below}.

"I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)

“I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home....Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: "My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it." Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, "But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray." Marion G. Romney [In Conference Report, October 1), p. 78]

The Prophet Brigham Young said {among many reprehensible things}:

"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Journal of Discourses, Vol.10, p.109)

As a Mormon I was always told that God would remove a prophet before he would let him lead his people astray. So, here’s what you gotta ask yourself: If Brigham Young was the prophet, and he was incapable of leading the church members astray, then what do we make of this particular teaching?

Was he just “speaking as a man?” The problem with that idea is that:

  •  Ezra Taft Benson warned against dismissing the teachings of a prophet in just that manner.
  • It seems far too convenient an excuse to not make anyone with a shred of logical thought suspicious. “Follow the prophet! Follow the prophet! Follow the prophet! Don’t go astray! Follow the prophet! Follow the prophet! Follow the prophet! He knows the way…except for when he doesn’t because he’s just speaking as a man and we can feel free to dismiss anything he says if we don’t like how it makes the church look.” {That last bit is a play on a song Mormon children sing regularly on Sundays.}

So, was he not speaking as a man after all? The problem with that idea is that:

  • It makes it pretty damn clear that the church was in fact racist and that God is a huge jerk.
  • It begs the question…why is interracial marriage OK with God now, but not then? Which in turn begs the question…so, in the future, will God decide he’s OK with gay marriage after all?

Makes you wonder…doesn’t it?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I’m A Winner!

I would just like to say THANK YOU to all those who voted for me in the Brodie Awards. I won in two categories!


Check it out!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Please Vote For Me

If you head over to Main Street Plaza they’re having a blog awards thingy. I’m nominated in the following categories and would LOVE it if you voted for me. :)
Best Humor Piece: Well, Duh
Best New Blog: A Marvelous Work and a Blunder
Best Gay Rights Post: Some Common Arguments Against Gay Marriage
Best LDS Church Watch: I’m Not Buying It
I would especially like to win Best New Blog and Best Gay Rights Post {though, I feel weird about that being straight and all…but it’s a post of which I am very proud}. I actually didn’t vote for myself under Best Humor Piece because, well…the LolDowment {scroll down} just DESERVES to win.
So anyway, please vote for me. I’ll love you forever and ever, or something.
Thank you!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire!

The official church statement regarding the film 8: The Mormon Proposition:
"We have not seen '8: The Mormon Proposition.' However, judging from the trailer and background material online, it appears that accuracy and truth are rare commodities in this film. Although we have given many interviews on this topic, we had no desire to participate in something so obviously biased." {via the Washington Post, emphasis mine}
HA! Ha ha ha! AHHH HA HA HA! *snort* HA HA HA HA HA HAA! Ah ha ha! *snicker* Hee hee hee hee hee! *squeal* Ha ha HA ha ha HA! *pant*
I can’t speak to the accuracy of 8TMP because, like the church, I haven’t seen it {yet}. But I’d like to think that if the film were full of lies and inaccuracies the Washington Post might have pointed that out, or that Sundance wouldn’t have selected it, or that…you know, the church would actually address WHAT is inaccurate or untrue. But sure, go ahead and just refuse to see it because it’s “so obviously biased” and throw out snarky little sound bites about accuracy and truth to make people {and by “people” I mostly mean “church members”} believe it’s just anti-Mormon propaganda and the church is once again, the victim of persecution. I mean, I don’t for one minute buy this “accuracy and truth are rare commodities in this film” crap because if that were really the case the church could point out specifics. But you know, that’s not their style. The usual game plan is to paint anything critical of the church or its history as anti-Mormon lies and pretend it isn’t there {and warn the members to NEVER read such things}.
But that’s not what has me laughing.
What has me laughing is that this is the ultimate example of the pot calling the kettle black {except, in this case I don’t think they’re calling the kettle black so much as calling the clear crystal vase black, but I digress}. I mean, of all the organizations to know about lack of truth and accuracy the LDS church has to be a top one. After all they’re intimately familiar with lack of truth and masters of purposeful inaccuracy.
"Truth surely exists as an absolute, but our use of truth should be disciplined by other values. ... When truth is constrained by other virtues, the outcome is not falsehood but silence for a season. As the scriptures say, there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Dallin H. Oaks
"My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors." Dallin H. Oaks
“There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.” Boyd K. Packer
Both of those men are current church leaders. Clearly they think the church’s reputation and the member’s “testimonies” matter more than truth or accuracy. And of course they’d have problems with full truth and accuracy regarding church history. Have you READ the true and accurate history of the LDS church? It doesn’t take much delving into that history to come face to face with problems with the version the church teaches. I’m not going to get into all the examples in this post because, well…it would be a really freaking long post and it’s already been done {by members of the church no less}!
You want a really insightful look into the practice of “lying for the Lord?” Check out this article.
I could, honest to Google, write an entire blog on NOTHING but the lies and inaccuracies the church teaches and not run out of material for years. So excuse me while I go laugh some more about the ridiculous hypocrisy of the church’s statement regarding 8TMP.
Because if I don’t laugh I’ll cry.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More on the LDS Church and Haiti

After my last post about the LDS church and Haiti it seems someone signed me up for the LDS Philanthropies newsletter. Ha ha. {Can you say “unsubscribe?”} It was weird, but whatever.
Then I saw this article about the initial rebuilding costs in Haiti being $3 billion. Don’t forget, $3 billion is how much the LDS church is spending on their mall/condo building project.
Then I heard that just last month the LDS Church bought 3,152 acres in Florida for $31.7 million.
This month the church bought another 13 acres in downtown Salt Lake City for an undisclosed amount.
This past week the church announced they’re building another temple, this one in Payson, Utah.
Yet, with all this spending the church has the gall to ask their members to give, give, give so they can help Haiti. Don’t forget, the members already give 10% of their income {and more} to the church fully believing that the church is doing God’s work, helping the sick and afflicted, the poor, you know…the stuff Jesus taught? Never mind that estimates place the LDS church at giving a mere $3-4 per member to the poor each year {and I’ve seen estimates even lower than that}. Never mind that the LDS church is estimated to give LESS THAN ONE PERCENT to the poor. Never mind that WAL-MART {the store many people think is downright evil} gives MORE to charitable work {1.5%} than the LDS church does. Never mind all that, just pay, pray and obey!
Here’s another disturbing tidbit:
"In 1997, U.S. congregations of the similarly sized Evangelical Lutheran Church in America raised $11.8 million in cash donations for worldwide hunger. The same year it raised $3.64 million for domestic and international disaster response, for a one-year humanitarian cash total of $15.44 million, more than half the amount the LDS provided over fourteen years." P. 129, Mormon America , Richard Ostling {via MormonThink}
So, keeping all that in mind, I was more than a little annoyed when I received the following e-mail from a Mr. Barret Christensen from LDS Philanthropies:
I found your blog online and noticed that you might have an affinity to the work the LDS Church is doing down in Haiti. If this is the case we officially launched a giving/informational widget for Church members to use on their personal blogs and social networks.
If you would be willing we would love to have you post this widget on your blog and social networks, to help spread the word and raise money for the cause. In the first three days of the widgets launch we have raised almost $100K. It has traveled to 89 countries and 54 different languages. We would love to keep it moving. If you have any questions please feel free to send me an email. You are also welcome to forward this email on to other LDS bloggers and social media users.
To share it, click on the “share” button which will expose the embed code for your blog or website. It will also allow you to post it to the more popular social networks.
Three methods for posting:
1: Here is a link:
2: Here is an image of the widget that has the link embedded in it.
3: If you lose track of the widget you can always find it on the LDS Philanthropies, Humanitarian Services Site.
801-422-1940 (w)  |  801-234-9587 (m)  | , barett@byu.eduLinkedIn: Personal, Business Personal, Business :Facebook
YouTube: Business Personal :Twitter
NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.
My response?
You clearly didn't bother READING what I had to say about the LDS church and Haiti. I wouldn't give a DIME to the LDS Church. If they really want to help Haiti they can sell their $3 billion dollar mall and send them the money.
Mormon 8:37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

As for the notice at the end of the message, tough luck. You sent me an UNSOLICITED e-mail asking me to help make you money. Your church has MORE THAN ENOUGH MONEY TO HELP HAITI. STOP increasing the burden on your trusting members. USE THE MONEY THEY’VE ALREADY GIVEN YOU. AND READ MY #$&*ING POST BEFORE YOU ASSUME I’M INTERESTED IN YOUR WIDGET.
And, because I think it deserves to be repeated, here’s that scripture again {from the Book of Mormon}:
Mormon 8:37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
I wanted to write an eloquent post. But you know what? I’m too damn angry. I gave thousands and thousands of dollars to this church thinking I was helping make the world better, helping the poor. I shudder to think how few student loans I’d have to repay {if any} had I not been giving 10% of my pre-tax income to that dishonest organization. And I can’t stand watching loved ones, friends and family, handing over their hard-earned pay under the same {false} assumption. I can’t stand watching them ask for MORE money to help Haiti when they have MORE than enough. I can’t stand the utter hypocrisy of a church that preaches one thing and practices another.
I just can’t stand it.
If YOU can’t stand it either please share this post and my last post {via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, whatever} with anyone you think needs to know about this travesty.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What Would Jesus Do?

The Mormon church teaches that Jesus Christ is at the head of the church. HE leads it. It is HIS church {and all the others are wannabes, presumably}. Most members believe that Jesus has appeared personally to the prophet {currently Thomas S. Monson} and his twelve apostles. Many believe he visits them regularly. Keep these things in mind as you read this post.
The LDS Church refuses to disclose its financial information except for in countries where it is legally required to do so, such as Great Britain {though most other churches have no issue opening their books so that their members, and the public, can see what they’re doing with their money}. But it is estimated that the LDS church is worth $80 to $100 billion {yes, that’s BILLION with a ‘B’}.
“It is the wealthiest per capita religion in the world with annual tax-free revenues estimated to be $6 Billion per year.  The LDS Church owns 928,000 acres in North America, is the largest ranch land owner in Wyoming, is the 2nd largest land owner in Nebraska (Ted Turner #1), has the largest  cattle ranch in 48 states (Adjacent to Disneyworld in Florida), is the largest foreign landowner in UK.  The LDS Church owns several businesses, numerous radio and television stations, its own insurance company, and is rumored to be the largest single producer of commercial beef in the USA .  They own enormous properties in Hawaii including a Marriott hotel franchise in Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center (which is the most visited tourist attraction in Hawaii)…” and more. {via MormonThink}
The Church is currently building a $3 billion {yes, again, that’s BILLION with a B} mall/office/condo building in Salt Lake City {a MALL in this economy? Geez, it doesn’t take a prophet to know THAT’S a horrible idea}.  They assure us no tithing money is being used. And since they refuse to let us see their books we’ll have to take their word for it. Of course, any money they make from their business ventures is money that was originally tithing {maybe from a hundred years ago}, and then invested. So really, it’s a bit moot, don’t you think?
The church coughed up at least $189,903 in non-monetary expenditures for Prop H8. And, after sending a letter to its wards {ward = congregation} throughout the US, it cajoled members into giving around $25 million.
This sad thread of comments {many from former ward clerks who are responsible for local money matters} indicates that a single ward may bring in $500K to $1  million each year but only receive a very small amount back to fund ward activities such as Christmas celebrations, children’s programs, etc. {in one case one ward sent $15k per WEEK to headquarters in SLC and was allotted just $7K {yes, there are NO zeroes on that number} for the entire YEAR}.
Members are expected to tithe, and unlike many churches that leave it up to the individual to determine what a tithe is, and if they can afford to pay one, the LDS church has a strict interpretation. A tithe is 10% of your income {and most “good Mormons” will insist it’s 10% BEFORE taxes}. It doesn’t matter how poor you are. If you want to be a member in good standing, if you want to be admitted into the Temple {for worship or family weddings} you must be paying tithing. In some wards if you need financial assistance, or food it won’t be given unless you’re paying your tithing {and even then, it’s not the Church’s job to help members who are struggling}. Every year you’ll be hauled in and asked if you’ve paid a full tithe that year. On top of tithes members are expected to donate extra money to help the poor {wait, extra money to help the poor, what the hell happened to all that tithing they paid?}, help pay for the missionary program, and more. And, since each ward is budgeted so little to pay for its programs, many members end up paying out of pocket for things like photocopying, food, etc. in relation to their callings {callings = assigned, unpaid positions}.
OK. Now, stop. Let it all sink in, particularly the $3 BILLION mall. What else could $3 billion buy?
Well, if a mission costs each missionary {yes, those guys in suits are PAYING for the privilege of knocking on your door} $400 USD p/month {that is, each young man or woman pays the church $400 then the Church gives them money back based on the expected expense of where they’re serving, much like it treats its wards – missionaries often struggle to have good meals, toilet paper, etc. and end up spending extra of their own money – Adam knew missionaries on his mission that depleted their life savings picking up the slack}, and If a mission is 2 years {18 months for the women}, that’s about $9,600. For $3 billion the church could pay for 312,500 missionaries instead of insisting these young men and women VOLUNTEERS and their families be the ones struggling to foot the bill.
Or, better yet, instead of paying for people to go harass us door to door the church could do a lot, and I mean A LOT of good in Haiti.
But wait! “The Church IS helping Haiti!” some would protest.
You’re right, let’s take a look at what they’ve done.
Within 24 hours of Tuesday's quake, the LDS Church joined forces with one of its major partners of late in providing humanitarian aid, Islamic Relief USA, the nation's largest Muslim relief organization.
Islamic Relief USA officials announced Wednesday they were flying aid to Haiti in cooperation with the LDS Church.
Two planes, one departing from Denver as early as Thursday and another leaving from Miami later this week, each will transport to Haiti more than 80,000 pounds of food and emergency resources such as tents, tarps, water filtration bottles and medical supplies donated by the LDS Church, spokesman Scott Trotter said. {via Deseret News, the newspaper owned by the LDS church}
Unfortunately, MONEY not supplies is what is needed right now. And, as of yet, I have heard nothing about the church sending money {though they seem to have plenty to spare}. Even Brad and Angelina have pledged $1 million already. But, it is still fairly early I guess? Maybe it’s too soon to judge. So let’s take a look at how the church helped in an emergency in the past…
As I mentioned before, we don’t know what the church does with its money in the US. But we do have insight to their behavior in the UK. And here is the disturbing summary of what happened after the 2005 tsunami:
The church asked UK members to donate money to help the tsunami victims. Guess how much of the UK members donations went to tsunami victims?
No, really, guess.
OK, you ready for the answer?
Nothing went to the tsunami victims. {For the full story click here and scroll down to “The Tsunami.”}
Personally, I think charity fraud is vile. It’s the worst kind of people taking advantage of the best kind of people. And, in my opinion, what happened in the UK is charity fraud. It makes you wonder what is happening in the US where the church isn’t required to open their books.
Some estimates place the church as donating LESS THAN 1% of its income to help the poor.
In Jan. 2006, from the Church PR department, (Deseret News Publishing Company): Edgley said, “that since 1984, the LDS Church has donated nearly $750 million in cash and goods to people in need in more than 150 countries.” That averages to 37.5 million per year or about $3-$4 per Mormon member went to the poor. The total of $750 million in 22 years spent in cash in goods to people in need is less than HALF what the church is spending on these malls.  Less than half!! The Mormon church is spending less than 1% of its income to help the poor. {via}
They could prove us wrong. They could be as upfront as other churches, say the Catholic church about their charitable work. They could let us see just where their members contributions are going. But I suspect we wouldn’t like what we’d see.

{ETA: The death toll in Haiti is expected to possibly be as high as 200,000 people. That's well over the population of Salt Lake City! And yet the church has only helped send a measly $1 million worth of supplies? We, as a family, have given a little over three quarters of 1% of our yearly income to help Haiti. So, percentage-wise we've given more to help Haiti than the church gives in humanitarian aid TOTAL.}

So, remember the first paragraph to this post? You know, the bit about Jesus Christ himself directing this church?

What would Jesus do?

Build a mall, apparently.

Addendum: The church says it is continuing to send aid {though, still no word on whether they have contributed any of there vast monetary resources} and that it is using local church buildings to provide shelter. So that's definitely better than a kick in the face. But the overall concerns I voice in the post {such as the less than 1% in aid} still stand. And I will continue to distrust LDS charity until they OPEN THEIR BOOKS TO SCRUTINY.


Remember when I told you about the new Young Women’s program and how Mormon girls are being taught that they are pink?

Not long after I found this:  They say their aim is to:

   * Inspire, motivate and enthuse girls about the possibilities and opportunities open to them
    * Improve girls’ self esteem and confidence, raise their ambitions and ultimately improve their life chances
    * To challenge  the 'culture of pink' which is based on beauty over brains and to provide an alternative

Now that is an idea I can get behind.

And no, the irony of ranting against this “girls are pink thing” while having pink in my blog color scheme is not lost on me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just Sayin’

You know, maybe instead of spending 3 billion {and more?} on a shopping mall LDS Inc. could have set aside that money for an emergency just like the earthquake in Haiti.

Just sayin’.

Here’s what I had to say about this tragicle.*

Here’s what Jerkface McJerkison Pat Robertson had to say. {SPOILER ALERT: they brought it upon themselves for making a pact with the devil.}

For a list of organizations seeking your donations visit my post.

Please, don’t pray. Pay.

*tragicle: video explanation

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Comment Response

When I get a sincere comment from a member of the church I like to put a little effort into responding. So, for reference, here is a comment I got {in its entirety}, followed by my thoughts.

I have written & re-written a comment 4 times now, because I'm so unsure of how to phrase what I wanted to say, in a way that doesn't sound offensive to you.  
I came across your blog & was curious as to 'why' you left the church. I'm sorry for the trials you went through, & your feelings now about the church. I am glad you are, at least, happy.  
I am an active LDS member, I was converted in New Zealand & now live in Utah with my husband & adorable kids.  
I felt that in your description of when you left & why, you were very one-sided. I felt you weren't pointing out the 'happy' members. As in, the ones who don't 'look down at worldly people', or feel 'inadaquate most of the time'. I try not to judge people, I try to be more loving & understanding & do consider myself a good person. Not brainwashed, & not stupid. I'm following my heart, spirit & head. And it lead my to where I am - I asked a billion questions, got my answers (& some of them weren't easy to get!) But I made sure I knew what I was doing as I lost all my friends and most of my family joining the church.  
But there are members (I meet them everyday) who are "sunday" members. Thinking that because they're baptized, they have a free ticket into heaven. There are those who judge daily, are mean, cuss, cheat & steal.  
BUT - there are those who don't. That have a great feeling about them, that have a testimony, & stick to their covenants. That go in knowing what's what, & understanding and loving everyone. Even those who hate them (not indicating you, I just mean there's alot of people who dislike 'mormons,' for being 'mormons') And I feel like I'm one of those people. I am sorry for what you went through, but I wish you had of been more ... level? Thanks for your post though, & having the courage to post it!

First, I appreciate that you put so much effort into your comment. And I will try to be gentle in my response. But past doing our best to speak respectively we cannot control those we are speaking to. Ultimately you may or may not be offended by what I have to say. But know that I do not intend to offend, and that I will be writing with more care than usual {when I write to a general audience I don’t hold back so much with the snark, but when I’m talking to an individual I try to treat them as I would like to be treated}.

Firstly, it is not my job to be a PR machine for the church and it’s “happy members.” The church spends quite a lot of time and money trying to convince the world that Mormonism makes them, and will make everyone else, happier than anything else. I feel it is my job to point out that that is not always the case, and often is not. If Mormonism is God’s one true church, and Jesus’ yoke is indeed light then that raises some serious questions about the depression rates of members, particularly women.

And of course there are good people in the church. There are good people outside of the church. Good people do not mean that something is true. And while yes, there are good people, there are plenty of bad people too. They say the church is perfect, the people are not. But one has to wonder why “God’s perfect church” produces so many problems in its people. And Mormons, particularly lifelong members, don’t understand that outside Mormonism people are very different {in a good way}. If Mormonism is all you know you might not recognize that people can be, and are, kinder, happier, more helpful, and any number of things.

But people aside, the gospel isn’t true. The church is built upon the lies of a charlatan, a man who used religion to manipulate people for money and for sex. And if Mormons were the nicest people in the world it wouldn’t change the history and truthfulness {or lack thereof} of the church, nor the fact that these things are hidden. And you may choose to look further into these issues or not. Despite the church discouraging personal research I would recommend that you do. Read “In Sacred Loneliness” or visit even this member-run website. Visit some of the sites in my sidebar. If, as Gordon B. Hinckley said, the church is either true or it is a fraud, wouldn’t you want to be sure? If it is true, what does it have to fear by having the full history known by its members? And if it is a fraud, can’t you think of better ways to spend 10% of your income? ;)

This next bit won’t be pleasant to read, I’m sure. I’d probably not like to have read it a year ago, but I want to be honest in my response to you. Just know that I don’t say this in an attitude of condescension, but one of sincerity:

“I try to be more loving & understanding & do consider myself a good person. Not brainwashed, & not stupid.”

Would you expect a brainwashed person to think they are brainwashed?

I would encourage you to read Lyndon Lamborn’s excellent book on the topic of mind control as it relates to Mormonism. But if you don’t have the time, or the money for his book, watching his presentation or reading this overview would be second best. Whether intentional or not, Mormonism in practice, changes the way people think. It “brainwashes” people {a crude term but it will do}.

I do not think you are stupid, by the way. Plenty of VERY smart people believe some very strange things. Breaking free from Mormonism is very seldom about intelligence. It’s usually about courage, a honest desire to know the truth no matter what, and sometimes, luck.

“…as I lost all my friends and most of my family joining the church. “

In the same comment in which you tell me how happy you are, and that you are not “brainwashed” you tell me you lost all your friends and family to join the church {an experience I’m somewhat familiar with, as a convert myself}. What sort of church causes such rifts? What kind of loving father in heaven would want to drive wedges between his children because he insists one church is better than another? I suppose you could argue that it’s the fault of all your friends and all your family that the rift exists. But are you sure? Are you sure you sacrificed those relationships for a good reason, and not because you were influenced to believe it was a good reason? I would want to be sure.

I felt sure at the time that I damaged my own family relationships and friendships. I thought feelings were proof of truth, because that’s what I had been told. And I liked the people telling me, so I believed them. I believed my emotions {or “the spirit”} could testify of truth. I didn’t stop to think how easily feelings can be manipulated {aka “brainwashing”}. I didn’t stop to think that “the spirit” felt just like I feel when I watch a moving film, or read a touching story. I didn’t stop to think that other people’s feelings about Islam, or Zenu, or any other number of gods/religions are just as convincing to them. Many things did lead to my eventual “deconversion” but ultimately, the one thing that started Adam and I on our exit path was facing this question: How is my “knowing” the church is “true” any different than the Pentecostal who “knows” the rapture is about to happen or the suicide bomber who “knows” he will receive 72 virgins in heaven?

After honestly asking ourselves that question everything started to unravel. After we answered that question and made the decision to resign our membership came many “revelations” about the true history of the church, the changes to temple ceremonies, etc. It took us many, many months to undo the thought training we never thought we had. Now I’m not saying the church maliciously plans how it can manipulate people. But people are being manipulated.

“There are those who judge daily, are mean, cuss, cheat & steal.”

As a side note, it’s troubling to me that you placed cussing alongside stealing in your list of reprehensible sins. That you would place them in that manner as if cussing is as an indicator of what makes a person “bad,” makes me wonder.

All that said, if you are happy, then be happy. But consider this, I thought I was happy too. I told anyone who would listen how happy I was. But I came to realize that I thought I was happy because I was told that I was happy.

Thank you for YOUR courage to post your comment here. I can imagine, especially if you’ve read some of my snarkier posts, or earlier, angrier posts, I might come across as pretty scary. I’m really not. I’m outspoken, but I’m honest. I guess you think of me as a “missionary” for freethinking and truth. Take care.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Thinking Has Been Done

Somebody shared this article with me. Here it is, in its entirety, with my own off the cuff comments {in blue italics}.
A woman sat at her dining room table, buried in dozens of books and magazines. She looked discouraged. Her daughter asked if she could help. This little story strikes me as made up. There’s nothing wrong with made up examples…when they’re clearly labelled such. This just irks me.
The woman said she was preparing a Relief Society lesson. She told her daughter she didn't know how she could possibly "boil down all the information" she had collected for the lesson. The process, the woman acknowledged, was both time consuming and frustrating.
The daughter looked surprised.
"Why," she asked, "are you trying to boil down information? An inspired Church-writing committee has already done that for you." Oh yes, the thinking has been done. No need to do it yourself. Thinking is what? Too hard? Too dangerous?
The committee's work, the daughter continued, has been approved by the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. It has been translated into dozens of languages and sent around the world. It corresponds with the lessons and information taught at the same time to other auxiliaries and quorums in the Church.
Now the woman looked confused.
"Everything you need — and more — is in your manual," the daughter said.
As Church members, we are asked to prayerfully prepare Church lessons and activities. We are to seek personal revelation from the Lord and study Church materials and instructions. We can counsel with our presidencies or committees and seek advice from priesthood leaders as we strive to meet the needs of those we serve. The scriptures are an invaluable resource.
But we may be tempted to do more, to turn to unofficial lesson plans, resources and information found in books and on the Internet. DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! OMG! THE INTERNET, BEWARE! “Don’t read anything not from the Church! It’s anti-Mormon!” They’ve been playing that card for years. But I love that they’re tightening their grip and, as illustrated in this article, saying to not consult anything EXCEPT the manual {the recently dumbed down manual for 2010}, not even books from Deseret Books! Not even the history of the Church or the Journal of Discourses! HAH! I can bet why, too! BECAUSE THERE IS SOME REALLY MESSED UP STUFF. You read the real history of the church {and I mean, from Mormons, not just non and ex-members} and you learn stuff they won’t teach you in Sunday school. It’s true, what they say about “studying your way out of the church,” it happens quite a lot. What does it say about an organization that discourages people learning about its history? What does it say that there are people who set out to seek knowledge {often so they can affirm their testimonies} and the knowledge they gain sends them running? Many TBMs would say they have something wrong with them, that their testimony isn’t strong enough, that they need to have faith…when what they need to be asking is this “what did they learn?” The problem isn’t with the people, it’s in the knowledge they gained.
Sometimes, the material might seem like an easy solution to meet the time-consuming demands of Church service. Other times it might feel like a way to spice up a lesson or activity.
But leaders and teachers in the Church do themselves and the people they serve a disservice when they turn to unofficial — not correlated — materials in the planning of lessons and activities. Translation: Leaders and teachers in the Church do THE CHURCH a disservice when they turn to unofficial—not correlated—materials in the planning of lessons and activities.
Correlation is an inspired effort overseen by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to simplify the programs of the Church and unify Latter-day Saints in faith and doctrine.
Since the early 1960s, Church members have seen the results of more than four decades of correlation efforts, established to:
Maintain purity of doctrine. Translation: Bury the stuff the Church would rather we not know about.
Emphasize the importance of the family and the home. Translation: Appear more mainstream and focus on milk, not meat.
Place all the work of the Church under priesthood direction. Translation: CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL.
Establish proper relationships among the organizations of the Church.
Achieve unity and order in the Church. Translation: Squash dissent. Silence questions.
Ensure simplicity of Church programs and materials. Translation: BORE THE MEMBERS TO TEARS.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve said that correlation is a process "in which we take all the programs of the Church, bring them to one focal point, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, involve all members of the Church in the operation — and do it all under priesthood direction" ("Lesson 42: Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets," Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, 243).
Today, the correlation process helps ensure that materials published in the name of the Church — carrying the Church logo — are scripture-based, doctrinally accurate and appropriate for the intended audience. “Appropriate for the intended audience?” Am I the only one who finds that kinda creepy? That’s the kind of thing most people use to describe making sure a movie or book is OK for a child to enjoy…it is certainly not the kind of thing I’d expect in reference to mature adults who should be capable of thinking for themselves. All Church publications are planned, prepared, reviewed and implemented under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.
Following the advice of her daughter, the woman above turned off her computer, shut the dozens of books open on her dining room table and picked up her manual and scriptures. The frustration she had previously experienced disappeared. She knew the material was doctrinally accurate. She knew its source was valid. She knew it had been approved by the men called to lead the Lord's work on the earth today and that it was what they wanted her to teach. Following the advice of her daughter, the woman above turned off her brain. The frustration she had previously experienced disappeared. She didn’t have to face the prospect of learning unpleasant things and struggling to make sense of them without losing her testimony. Besides, it would be less time consuming to just teach what the men wanted her to teach.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his October 1999 general conference address that as he traveled the Church he had been pleased and impressed with how Relief Society and priesthood lessons were presented and received.
"However," he added, "I have sometimes observed teachers who gave the designated chapter no more than a casual mention and then presented a lesson and invited discussion on other materials of the teacher's choice. That is not acceptable.
"A gospel teacher is not called to choose the subject of the lesson but to teach and discuss what has been specified. Gospel teachers should also be scrupulous to avoid hobby topics, personal speculations, and controversial subjects. The Lord's revelations and the directions of His servants are clear on this point."
Elder Oaks asked Church members to be mindful of President Spencer W. Kimball's great instruction that a teacher in the Church is a "guest."
Quoting President Kimball, Elder Oaks said a gospel teacher "'has been given an authoritative position and a stamp of approval is placed upon him, and those whom he teaches are justified in assuming that, having been chosen and sustained in the proper order, he represents the Church and the things which he teaches are approved by the Church. No matter how brilliant he may be and how many new truths he may think he has found, he has no right to go beyond the program of the Church'" (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Gospel Teaching," Ensign, November 1999, 78). STOP. READ THAT AGAIN. If that quote came from a South Korean government official, or a radical Muslim, or any number of people would anyone hesitate to take issue with it?
President Thomas S. Monson said there is peace that comes from teaching with the spirit of obedience. Oh, yes! Just like a dog, who when obedient to his master, is rewarded with food, and shelter, and the occasional game of fetch. Yes, let’s be like animals. Let’s not use the brains we’ve been given to think for ourselves. Pray, pay, and obey. Because, don’t you know, the rest of the world has no peace? We atheists, especially, are miserable.
"As we teach others, may we follow the example of the perfect teacher, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," he said. "He left His footprints in the sands of the seashore but left His teaching principles in the hearts and in the lives of all whom He taught." (Thomas S. Monson, "Examples of Great Teachers," Ensign, June 2007.)
The Church — through its inspired correlation program — has given us official sources of information to help us prepare lessons and plan activities. Instead of turning to unofficial books and Web sites, let's use those sources.
It’s amazing how the same organization that gives us the song and dance about the glory of god being intelligence is the one working SO hard to keep its membership from USING intelligence. The thinking has been done. Not all truths are useful. OBEY! Teach what we tell you to say. Turn of the internet. Put down the book. Only gain the knowledge we WANT you to gain.
But, mostly, I just feel bad for the members who have to sit through these dumbed down, repetitive lessons. I’ve certainly got better things to do on Sunday morning.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Women Who Need Gods, Handsome Princes, Paramedics, and Vampires

 {This was posted by a regular at one of the forums for ExMormons that I frequent. I thought it was fantastic and got permission from the original poster to repost it here. Enjoy!}

When I was a little girl, my sister ("Mary") and I would often play make-believe together. Mary was obsessed with a certain TV actor (Johnny) who played the part of a paramedic in a weekly series. So was I. Mine and Mary's playtime usually involved pretending we were injured so Johnny could come and rescue us. It was quite hilarious but we were quite infatuated. Especially Mary.

I remember one specific occasion when Mary wanted me to break her leg so paramedics could be called to her rescue. No, I'm not kidding. Of course I would not even try to comply with her demands and even at that young age (5ish?) her obsession struck me as not a good thing. Not emotionally healthy. Where did it come from? Make-believe was one thing, but hurting oneself to get attention took playtime to a whole new level.

Mary and I were raised in a very patriarchal home and had several other siblings. We read lots of fairy tales about the beautiful princess who was always saved -- not by herself -- but by a handsome prince. So we dreamt about handsome princes who would someday come to save us.

Our mother and older sisters devoured Harlequin Romances that were all pretty much the same: Some perfect chiseled and ruggedly handsome brilliant man who possessed a bottomless fortune, who was named something like "Roarke" or "Thor" or "Rex" somehow fell madly in love with insipid female idiots with "honey brown hair" or "silvery blonde hair that framed her elf-like face just so."

I started reading those "books" when I was in junior high school. At first I devoured them too. But after about a year, I learned to hate them. I hated the women. I hated the men. The men were all about rugged and authoritative anger and passion while the women were boring and weak and helpless and unbelievably stupid. And somehow it was supposed to be a turn-on when the perfect man roughly grabbed the blank woman in his painful and passionate grasp because he could no longer contain his inexplicable passion as his lips crushed hers in their bruising and mobile moist exploration while his manhood made his desire for insipidly boring femininity painfully apparent. Ahhh. Romance.

I moved on to a different genre where the women were more intelligent and interesting and the men were more human and interesting and frankly, attractive. My sisters and my mother thought I was weird. Thank God, I was breaking the mold. Well, sort of. There was still that God I was still thanking.

Our father was a well-respected and perhaps even idolized church leader who also had a prestigious job. People in our ward and stake loved him and told us how brilliant and amazing and spiritual he was. Because he was our Dad, that made us feel special and important too. We basked in his priesthood and patriarchal glory. So did my Mom.

The boys in our family were treated with more respect than the girls. My older brother "needed" a car so he could drive to high school. I "needed" to take the bus. My mother expected me to clean my brothers' messy rooms and it raised all kinds of hell when I refused. I never thought it was fair that "housework is for girls and boys do yard work." What was so special about having a penis?

Then there was Jesus, The Perfect Man, who was also a god. Only he could save me. My puny efforts fell far short of sufficient. I couldn't escape my need for a male savior even in my faith.

In our patriarchal world where men were the idols of our idle thoughts, where the idea that women were nothing without men was the reality, Mary and I both married young. Of course we did.

While I had no visible talents, Mary was a talented and naturally gifted artist. She was an excellent student and only a class or two away from graduating with a degree in art when she casually discarded her gift upon realizing her one true dream of becoming Mrs. Johnny Doe. Now, several years after her divorce, she draws cutesy signs and posters and disposable handouts for her calling in the Young Women's program. She feels her lack of a man like a chronic pain. She knows she is nothing without one.

Mary found her "one and only" for the umpteenth time several months ago. She fell head over heels and said things to me like "he hangs the moon and the stars in my heart." Mary is still a little girl pretending, waiting and hoping to be rescued by the love of a fantasy man who will finally prove her value. He's an exmo and she's still hopeful. An unworkable combination. He persuaded her into his bed, and she persuaded him to attend church, all the while clinging to her temple recommend so she could show up all "righteous" to my TBM daughter's temple wedding -- from which I was excluded. I don't hold it against Mary. I feel sorry for her. Mary's exmo boyfriend recently dumped her. Poor Mary is again sitting at home alone feeling like she is worth nothing because no man appears to want her.

Her efforts to find her "one-and-only" have become increasingly more desperate as she expands her search to the internet, where she is advertising her availability like some package deal on overpriced ink cartridges for an outdated printer.

Mary loves the Twilight series about obsessively controlling and stalking vampires who step out of a magical world into the reality of young women who, like Mary, are not that special either ... and inexplicably fall madly "in love" with someone who has no special talents, no dreams or ambitions of her own to speak of. She's happy and fulfilled just being loved by some fantasy version of perfection.

What Mary does not realize is she does not need a god, a handsome prince, a cute paramedic, or a vampire. She is a beautiful woman with an inner strength she refuses to realize. Every week when she attends her church meetings her status as a second-class citizen is systematically confirmed. Her reliance on men for any sense of her self-worth is carefully reinforced. Her female role-models of true beauty, intelligence, strength and independence are silently absent. Instead, she gets bombarded with examples of bitchiness, jealousy, submissiveness, and obedient resignation to the patriarchal status quo.

Ahhh. Romance.