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.