Mormonism: Questions from /Atheism/ General (February)
*** I think the exmormon site is a great resource of testimonies by people who have left the church, coupled with a forum where they try to support each other. Those who leave the church are apparently ostracized especially severely in rural Utah. There’s a story on the site about how some ex-Mormon as a kid had another Mormon visit her house, and she was criticized for drinking tea or something. If I remember right, the parents thought she was a bad influence and wouldn’t let the kid visit anymore. The overall impression being the religion is overly judgmental, and obsessed with encouraging dependency to control peoples’ lives.
The church also backtracks on things. Until the 1970’s (or 1990’s?) the church did not allow blacks to become Deacons. One of the letters on ex-Mormon was by a white person who was at church when a black member questioned if that was true. When the officials admitted it was, citing that sons of (whoever) were cursed in the Book of Mormon, he threw a fit and stormed out. She did research to try and justify this, and the research led to her finding more and more contradictions and things that didn’t add up, or things the church had covered up, and finally she left herself.
Some other things the church has flip-flopped on:
-celestial marriages for polygamy
-Coke is now allowed after decades of it as an implied taboo
-the manner in which Joseph Smith died
-the blood oaths have been phased out
Thoroughly reading about how Mormonism came about was one of the first things that gave me doubts about the holy origins of Christianity as a whole. I discovered Exmormon.org and had some laughs, but it bothered me enough that people could believe it that I tried to verify the site had a basis to it. I quickly concluded, (tentatively at the time) that it was at least mostly true. I’m now a better person for my knowledge, and the site is even more thorough and versed than I am on the subject matter. It’s because of reading about how a cult formed around Joesph Smith that I came to understand how easily a cult could form around any religious figure, including Jesus. The difference is that Joseph Smith was so recent that we have thorough documentation on his life, unlike with Jesus or Buddha. People can say whatever they want about earlier figures and we cannot easily disprove them, but it’s different with Joesph Smith. The church itself has historical records which they tightly guard.
> The church puts their money to good use on charities for the needy
Perhaps, but Mormonism is not the only group, secular or religious that does charities. Whatever they spend is also what is left over after they spend on the cathedrals, or on the nice offices for the upper-classes of the the church. One of the articles on exmormon is by someone who wanted to leave the church, but his wife convinced him to talk to one of those high officials first, in a vast office with marble tiles. The official could not answer his questions, and then turned to his wife and said something like, “If you follow him you will go to hell.” His words were so unpleasant that she also left the church.
Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to begin a Mormon thread for all of this, but I suspect it would have been deleted under the rules. Irregardless, I encourage people of any faith to visit exmormon.org for a better perspective on how religions effect communities, and how apostates are shunned or even divorced.
Note: this was copied from Atheist General to separate Mormon issues from Christian issues.
Ex-mormon forum claims range from 25 to 75 million, plus maintenance costs:
The temples are always nice. It’s obvious Mormons have money to spend on this, and the church-run businesses help.
See Utah’s largest shopping mall, which is owned by the Mormon church (pic related)
check out the dc church. it cost 15 milion.
Let’s start with about half of those topics for now.
I personally don’t like the idea of continuing revelations. Universal truths should be timeless and not require God to constantly phone in and steer us with a new prophet. According to the lds.org, all 16 presidents of the Mormon church have been prophets in the past 160 years. Each one issues edicts and it’s my understanding that each of these presidents (or prophets) has his word treated with the same word as scripture, as though it’s a revelation from God.
>Priesthood for Blacks
This is where other Christians usually jump in and accuse the religion of being a cult. I mean, if one prophet contradicted the revelations of earlier prophets how would you personally reconcile that difference of opinion? If a prophet of God maintained to you that it is forbidden to ordain black deacons, and then the next year another prophet told you that God had said it is okay now, wouldn’t you be suspicious? Why the sudden change? What makes one year more special than the last? Those outside the church have said the church was responding to accusations of racism, and reinterpreted the holy words to deflect those criticisms.
As a member, what outsiders think might be of less importance. Still, when the doctrine changes a devout member should ask questions, namely, “Why?” Why wouldn’t you expect a thoughtful and no-nonsense explanation from a leader on an important issue when he believed to have a direct phone line to God? If you’re not a black member, it might help to mentally place yourself in that position and place in time to understand the fuss. Try imagining yourself as a devout black Mormon in 1977, and then try to rationalize why a white prophet would say you were unworthy of advancement for over a century. What rational reason would God have to deny you based on your skin color? (I’ll give you a hint: Joseph Smith lived in Missouri before the civil war. I doubt he made any blacks into priests, and suspect that was a recent fabrication to deflect criticism of the church.)
Now imagine that next year (1987) someone had a vision from God and said it was okay. Why? God is so great he does what he wants. He shouldn’t care that the civil rights movement had made segregation unacceptable in America, right?
Some here scoff at scriptura sola, but the LDS sits on the other end of the spectrum. In Mormonism any politician who rises to the top of that massive bureaucracy will be called a prophet.
“Although the church has previously stated that it will end its nine-decade-long affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) if homosexual conduct is permitted,[it now supports the BSA’s 2013 policy change that permits membership to youth regardless of sexual orientation” -translation: the church has flip-flopped on political issues, after gay rights became more popular in America.
For those who don’t know, the Mormon church was famous for polygamy and celestrial marriage, but outlawed them and renounced them after Utah became a state. The other Christian states where horrified by it at the time and would not have allowed it.
>As the Law of Abraham is no longer active (since the 1890 revelation by Wilford Woodruff) it is correct to say that polygamy is not necessary for exaltation, although it may be required of some specific individuals in the Celestial Kingdom.
Putting aside this divine reversal, why did we ever need polygamy in the first place? You should have a good answer for this one because most of the Christians here are very opposed to adultery, and Joseph Smith is known to have had sexual affairs with many women, including a 14, 16, and 17 year old. Even if I don’t respond to this, a crusading Christian might jump in and call him a pedophile who took advantage of girls while he sent their husbands away on missions, and then threatened to destroy them if they told their husbands or anyone else about what happened.
I think it’s amusing karma that when the husbands discovered Joseph Smith had been secretly cheating with all their wives, they formed a posse and murdered him while he was in the jailhouse.
And since you’re not Mormon now, you can enjoy the videos that point out contradictions that Mormons believe:
David Fitzgerald – The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion: Mormonism ACSJ:
His story also resembles that article on exmormon where someone deconverted after trying to write an article to debunk the documentary that was the source of the “Mormon Jesus” video.
Yes, most Apostates believe in always finding primary sources, and checking our sources is how most of us left religions unlike with our parents. You can safely watch any video attacking anything, or read a letter or book on the subject, but then you still need to pick up the scriptures and verify everything. Don’t accept what someone on a website tells you unless you can verify it yourself. Hold yourself to the standards of a professor writing a thesis.
Doing this leads people away from the religions we know can’t be false. However when you leave you’re at a vulnerable moment and must make a decision between favoring emotions and rationality. If you prioritize your desire to believe there is life after death, then you will be likely to let let yourself become absorbed by another Christian branch, or an identical religion, such as Islam or Buddhism.
A lot of people leave a religion because they realize there isn’t evidence it is true, but then relax their clear-thinking to switch to a cousin of that religion. They do this because people desire things first (like an afterlife, or community), and then think of justifications (read: excuses) later.
I was never Mormon, but I can relate to the exmormons and respect them because of my own experience of deconverting. I was Baptist for years until I read some things that bothered me in the bible, and did some religious studies, and constructed some hypotheticals in my mind that convinced me that Christianity’s origins were too similar to other religions to be special. I then tried to find any evidence Christianity was the true religion and found I could not.
(Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Cargo Cults all began when people followed a charistmatic leader. When he died, the successors would change the religion to suit their needs, and the times, resulting in a totally different beliefs than what the founder said. Mormonism is only unique in that it started in the Modern age when we were able to document all the sudden changes to doctrine.)
Reading about Mormonism has helped me because it was a distant enough religion that I could be objective with it, until I realized I needed to be fair and apply that objectivity to my own beliefs.
I also wanted to believe Christianity was true for a long time. I read the bible a lot, prayed, and waited for a sign. I stayed Agnostic for a few years and asked God to reveal himself to me, but obviously nothing happened, or else I wouldn’t call myself an Atheist now. Well to be precise I’m still Agnostic, but I don’t belief in a God that meddles with our everyday lives, or there’s evidence one has promised to grant life after death. I am an therefore an Atheist from the standpoint of a Christian priest.
You’re clearly more questioning and open-minded than most Mormons. I gave up on that other thread because 1) you had answered my questions satisfactory 2) if you already knew all these things but still believed, bringing out more contradictions would be futile. It’s good to know you were capable of seeing the light on your own, in time.
So congratulations on doing the research, and then breaking yourself out of the cult. A lot of people can’t do that, and it’s hard letting go of our most treasured beliefs.
However, now you can set your own path, and decide what really matters. From now on you can always be proud that in the year of 2015 you prioritized acquiring knowledge over remaining in blissful happiness.