The following article was one that was in the Washington Post, and as I am very interested in religion, and fascinated with the belief system, and those who are so buried in it, loose themselves and their own thought process. Interesting read....my thoughts to come after.
A Mormon Church in need of Reform
There has been much talk recently about whether America is ready for a Mormon president. This tolerance question should cut both ways.
Nearly a quarter of Americans told Gallup last summer that they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon president, which is unfortunate since former governor Mitt Romney and former candidate Jon Huntsman are both smart, capable men.
Meanwhile, though the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life recently found that 56 percent of Mormons think America is ready for a Mormon president, the church isn’t exactly welcoming of outsiders. Mormons account for 57 percent of Utah residents yet some 91 percent of Utah state legislators self-identify as Mormons. The state that’s home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has elected only two non-Mormon governors in nearly 116 years and has sent just one non-Mormon to Congress in the past five decades.
Some of this distrust of outsiders is understandable because the church has been persecuted by religious and secular foes since its inception. Many mainstream Christians consider Mormonism a cult — a fact thought to have given Romney trouble in South Carolina’s primary. To combat anti-Mormonism, last year church leaders expanded a multimillion-dollar image campaign begun in 2010 that is nearly identical to the “I Am A Scientologist” campaign from a year earlier: On airwaves, YouTube, billboards and more, smiling, family-oriented people declare, “I’m a Mormon.” It’s part of a series of efforts to buy public affection.
Yes, Mormons love families. But the family-values facade applies only if you stay in the fold. Former Mormons know the family estrangement and bigotry that often come with questioning or leaving the church.
The church I was raised in values unquestioning obedience over critical thinking. This caused trauma and cognitive dissonance when I questioned church doctrine and official history. In online forums and support groups, former and questioning Mormons gather and offer comfort. Some of us are prominent, such as Steve Benson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, or singer Tal Bachman. Most of us are quiet dissidents who wish to lead conscientious lives.
I was born into an multi-generational Mormon pioneer family. The mantle of those ancestors who made the ultimate sacrifice while crossing America’s plains to Utah weighed heavily on me as I grew up romanticizing the church’s worldwide missionary successes.
But I struggled after realizing that Mormonism’s claims about anthropology, history and other subjects contradict reason and science. While many faiths’ irrational claims are obscured by centuries of myth and rubble, the LDS church lacks the moderation and scholarship of its older peers. It also stifles efforts to openly question church pronouncements, labeling such behavior as satanic.
Critics of Mormonism include geneticists, Egyptologists and even the Smithsonian Institution, which stopped Mormon apologists from claiming the institute viewed the Book of Mormon as a factual document.
While studying at Brigham Young University, I spiritually imploded after learning these things and other facts outside official church curriculum. Disturbed, I met with a high-ranking Mormon leader who told me to quit reading historical and scientific materials because they were “worse than pornography.” BYU’s dean of religious education wouldn’t answer my growing list of questions. Other leaders told me that questioning is acceptable so long as it’s done secretly. I became distraught. For years my faith was an unshakable part of my identity, and if I openly voiced my concerns I risked rejection from the community I loved. Since Mormonism is highly centralized, without the local doctrinal flexibility that exists in Judaism and many Christian churches, I had no place to live a moderated, reformed existence.
Salt Lake City’s male gerontocracy told me to avoid books and marry, but I could not stomach all their teachings. For example, mainstream Mormons banned polygamy in 1890 to obtain Utah’s statehood, but they continue to perform temple ceremonies that “seal” one man to multiple women in the hereafter. My idea of heaven did not involve a husband whose love could be shared with many wives.
Staying in the church meant I would have my family, but I couldn’t pretend to believe. And it was difficult to live a fulfilling life without Mormonism. My parents shut me out of their home for nearly five years because of religion, and some former friends shunned me.
Many other dissident Mormons find themselves discouraged from voicing doubts and ostracized if they do. Those whose spouses leave the church are sometimes encouraged to get divorced and remarry a faithful Latter-day Saint. Non-Mormons are not allowed to attend family members’ weddings in Mormon temples. Many gay Mormons have been driven to suicide, deeply conflicted about whether acting on their sexuality is, as the church teaches, a sin.
With public interest in Mormonism so high, I hope the scrutiny will help break down the church’s fundamentalist trappings: secrecy about its finances, anti-women doctrine and homophobia, to start. Perhaps someday the church will not excommunicate, fire and demote people who want honest, church-wide dialogue about Mormon history and doctrine.
Some Mormons compare Joseph Smith, the church’s founder, to Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer who exposed Catholic power abuses and doctrinal inconsistencies. Mormonism needs a Luther of its own.
What followed was a furious array of comments. Those who agree with the article, mostly those that were actually raised Mormon, and then left the church for their own reasons. Then of course, the carefully worded, so gentle as to not offend the Bishops or God, responses that are transparent, clear, and obviously burned into the brains of the followers.
I love learning about all religions, as I have said many times, and I find it all interesting. The issue that I run into time and time again is that most of the followers have absolutely NO idea what it is that they are following, only that they must do so, without question. They are told over and over to question is to wrong God, to blaspheme, to sin against a vengeful God and they will suffer the wrath. This is the biggest contradiction and pile of (as my son would say...) "dookie" I have ever heard. God is mercy, God is good, but don't you DARE question God, or you shall be struck down. God is jealous, a petty emotion that even Man can overcome, but not God. No other Gods before me. How is this taught in a church that believes that in their idea of Heaven, a man shall be sealed to multiple wives. ??? Men can have multiple women, but not Gods? Um....what?
....and they are homophobic. Really? You can have all the women you want, but no...uh huh, bitch...you will NOT have another man. Kind of explains a lot actually....
Truth is often found in the words of the young. Here, is an example of a brilliant young woman who has courage, knowledge, and intelligence.
Michelle Fowler · Salt Lake City, UtahClearly this is a hot topic, so I know this comment will not be viewed by many as the comments range in the hundreds. However, I feel the need to comment on a serious issue that is being argued in previous comments, but not really addressed (unless it was addressed after the first 100 comments).
I am not commenting on the validity of the LDS church. Each of us are able to make that decision on our own.
The issue that I wish to address is the "homophobia" among the LDS church. Some of you have wisely pointed out that the official church stance is that homosexuality is a sin, not that we should fear or hate those who identify as such. While this is true, when the top church leaders harshly call homosexuality an abomination, it does little for the self esteem of those young men and young women who are questioning their sexuality (or have identified as homosexual).
You can see the effect it has on their self esteem by looking at the extremely high gay teen suicide rate in Utah. Obviously it's not only because of the church's stance, but also because of members who take the judgement of "sin" and use it as justification for their hateful attitudes toward the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community (there will also be other contributing factors, but I'm focusing on what separates Utah from the rest of the nation). The problem I have is this: I haven't personally (and yes, I know it's just my personal experience) seen any backlash to those members who are hateful toward these poor teens.
Beyond the suicide rate, Utah has one of the highest rates of homelessness among our LGBT youth. In the fiscal year of 2008-2009, it was estimated that 43% of our homeless youth identify as either Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (or "other than straight"). This number is drastically different throughout the US. For the rest of our nation, that estimate ranges from 20%-40%, depending upon the state.
Well, seeing as the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about 3% of the US population identifies in the same category, clearly there's a huge disconnect. Now I'm not saying that the only problem is the church in this problem Utah faces, but they certainly aren't helping the cause. We need to be aware of this gigantic issue. Can we really allow our youth to be kicked out on the streets just because they came out of the closet?
I see this as an opportunity to open dialogue and find solutions for our problems. What can we do to fix this injustice? And not only us, but the biggest influential religion in Utah... what can the LDS church do to curb this saddening epidemic we face?
My dearest, and extremely adorable, friend Lukela, wrote and posted this note in 2010. I cried when I read this, and I felt his anguish and pain in his decision. When Lukela and I first talked about his faith, I was shocked. Lukela, the Hawaiian, Gay Mormon. I found it fascinating, confusing and hilarious at the same time. He stood by his faith at the time, was still attending Church..and then:
And Good shall be called Evil...Thoughts on a General conference, for those who think in Generalities.
YEsterday I watched a talk given by Boyd.K Packer at the last Mormon General Conference. In this "TALK" (read off a teleprompter) He snarkishly calls out not only people who "SYMPATHIZE" with a gay person, but people who vote for equal rights. He condemns homosexuality at a socially sensitive time and encourages ignorance with the beguiling tongue of a 97 year old serpent, wait 94 year old. THEN labels the speech with LOVE and wraps the whole thing up in the name of JESUS CHRIST!.
Now, my GHANDI answer to all of this is "listen, this guy hasn't seen god, this guy doesnt strike me as a homosexual, so why would I listen to a thing he has to say about GOD, or whats more, Gods view on Homosexuality. And I forgive his comments and ignorance" my UN- GHANDI answer is "someone EVIL is posing as someone GOOD".
If I were to come up to you, say, a stranger in a grocery store and yell at the top of my lungs "I KNOW YOU ! I SAW YOU I saw you murder a small child! QUICK QUICK CALL THE POLICE!" I actually wouldnt look too crazy. I garauntee YOU would though, especially as you scream "I didnt, I dont even know this guy! what CHILD!?!? HELP HELP!!!!!HELP!" while the police tuck your little head into a crown victoria.
Now, I wouldnt do that of course, I have a conscience. But egotistical, sociopathic power hungry men who actually believe they talk to GOD for all men? THEY DONT have a conscience, and they will throw out lies for thier own purpose. PERIOD. With no recoil or remorse. And they know the bigger the lie they sugar coat the more it will frustrate those who know better, and this they do so others will think the enlightened are crazy, the beautiful are ugly- "THE GOOD EVIL"
Socrates taught a young student (was it Socrates? I dont know for sure) that indeed because the student was willing to admit that he did not know much, that he was the wisest in the land. I'm not good at Math, but if you are, try and count how many "I' knows" you can hear in a mormon General Conference. And about the craziest things.
Hate, FEAR and ignorance are not small. Emotionally and in metaphor they are very big. They can be hidden though in big pretty Temples and even bigger prettier bodies of people. For if everyone took a pebble piece, we could hide the Himalayas.
I will forever oppose a religion that supports men killing each other for ancient reasons and preaches that two men loving out of love is a sin. I will oppose any religion that thinks they know what God wants for all man while asking man for his money. Like god would need such a thing to bring to pass a purpose. Question it all.
I do not know much, and to a reader, a writer is worth only what he knows. But I have seen the great Mormon OZ, behind his curtain he is small and angry. Because of his fear you can tell his disciples for they are full of fear too. Do not listen to him. Tin man, you've a heart, Lion you've the nerve, scarecrow you've a brain and my Dear Dorothy's? you can find your way home without him. I love you, I am you. Now go be careful, wise and happy!
I will always love Lukela. His lust for life, slurpee's, cigarettes, and visions of becoming a beautiful 6'2" singer with the biggest silver dollar nipples in history. (Don't ask..or do, ask him. It's hilarious...) His honesty is a trait that few bare, and I commend him for bearing it all for the world to see.
Hate of any kind, is wrong. Excommunicating a person for simply having questions is ridiculous. We were given a brain to use...not to wash.
My point is proven by the fact that a someone very close had this article listed as "read by..." on their Webpage, yet, it is obvious that they saw the title, but not the content. This sums up what I have been trying to say all along. Books are meant for reading, education, knowledge, and some for entertainment, escape, fantasy. Don't just be drawn in by a fancy title, and a pretty cover, then loan it out, recommending it as "great reading" unless you have gone cover to cover, word for word, and know what you are passing along. You might think you put your name behind a great lesson in history when in fact, you just fluffed a fantasy.