Friday, October 24, 2008

What reasons do mormons have for leaving their churches? —BabyBumblebee

My boy friend is a mormon. I'm a good christian girl and devout in my faith, but he seems intent on undermining it. Frankly his religion scares me and seems a bit cult like. I want to get him to see this, but don't know how. So I just wanted to know what reasons ex-mormons have for leaving their churches.
Hi BabyBumblebee, I'm an ex-Mormon and I'm an atheist, which means I'm an ex-Christian as well. If you and your boyfriend are both willing to investigate your beliefs objectively—if you're willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads—then chances are you'll BOTH end up dropping your religious faith.

If, however, he wants to undermine your faith and isn't willing to examine his own, your relationship is not on equal ground and is in serious trouble. You may each stick with your own beliefs, but he won't respect your beliefs and you clearly don't respect his. Better to move on in that case.

Personally I hope you both decide to investigate things, because I think life is just plain better without abdicating your time, talents, and decision making to a church based on false claims. But if you're afraid to do that with your own faith, you can bet your boyfriend is too.

Pinkadot wrote: "It's interesting to me that people who get 'no answer' think its a 'NO' answer... very interesting."

If that's not a "no" answer, Pinkadot, then the whole thing is a farce. Let's play a little game: I'm holding a piece of paper in one hand that says I'm right. There's nothing in my other hand. You pick a hand. If you pick the one with the paper, that proves I'm right. If not, pick again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Prop 8 Mormon support? —SMS

I am conflicted. I am gay, was raised mormon left the church when I was 27. I am close to my parents who strongly support Calif prop 8 (they even have a sign in their yard). My mother will be singing in the Orange County Mormon Choral Organization Christmas program performed at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Do I attend this program though I think the church is so off base and is one of the strongest supporter for Prop 8?
Your mom knows you're gay, right? She should be ashamed of herself and her stupid sign. Institutionalized bigotry is still bigotry, and you should not give her a free pass just because her church has done the thinking for her.

I think you have every right to tell her how offensive this is, and how much you wish she'd take the high road and stand up to her church. Someday her views will be seen for what they are: pure evil, in the same category as white supremacy and slavery.

But I think the Christmas program is a separate issue. As the other poster said, you're supporting your mom, not the organization.

Ender wrote: "Those who are fighting against Prop 8 are doing so because they are trying to force the homosexual agenda into homes, schools, and churches."

Want an inside view of the homosexual agenda? Here ya go:

Ender also wrote: "How long before someone sues the church and tries to remove the tax exempt status because of our 'hateful' policy of heterosexuality."

That, sir, is a very good question. And I suspect it won't be long after that the prophet receives a revelation that ends discrimination against gays. Don't you wish you belonged to an organization that would lead the way on moral issues? This battle is another embarrassing chapter in the modern legacy of Mormonism.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What are some good things to write to a boyfriend who is now a mormon missionary? —skitt

I was a Mormon missionary. Things it would have been helpful for people to say to me:

Be careful out there. Don't assume you're safe from injury or accident or illness because you're on the Lord's errand. Missionaries can and do get hurt, especially if they don't take care of themselves.

Be respectful of the people and culture. In Korea I saw missionaries take "funny" pictures at Buddhist temples, talk disparagingly in English about people right in front of them, etc. I'm not just talking about being a good example, but rather not carrying an attitude that everything about the local culture is stupid and inferior to our way of doing things. There's probably a reason they do things the way they do.

Live on your own terms. Mission life can be hard. The pressure to baptize is enormous. It's difficult work with little reward, and too often missionaries internalize the guilt trips put on them by companions and leaders when the numbers don't meet expectations. Tell him to give himself a break, he's a volunteer for heck's sake.

Oh, and send photos so he can show you off to the locals and other missionaries.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Was Joseph Smith so creative that he made up the Book of Mormon?—OBEY Sinner

This is near the top of the list when it comes to "Things Mormons don't understand about ex-Mormons." How can you not believe when the BoM is so clearly beyond the abilities of a young Joseph Smith? I'll take a stab at it, on the off chance someone's really interested in understanding us deluded apostates.

The first thing I should say is that I've read the book cover to cover at least six times, and of course read here and there throughout my 30+ years as a believer. This may surprise you, but the BoM doesn't seem especially miraculous or inspiring to me. I mean I always assumed that it was exactly what Joseph claimed it to be, but once it loses that luster it also loses its profundity. If that makes sense.

Next, your question is more an assertion than an inquiry. The implication is that an author would have to be remarkably creative to come up with this story. I would ask, compared to what? I'm no author, but I can walk into a library and find shelves stacked to the ceiling of stories I couldn't have come up with myself. If Joseph Smith wrote the book alone, he was certainly creative. So what? He also wrote the Book of Commandments, the Book of Abraham, and an Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar.

And that, of course, leads to another point: no one knows the whole story of the book's provenance, and no one ever will. Believers sometimes content themselves with the fact that we critics don't have a cohesive story to tell that counters the miraculous version Joseph purports to be true. It's an interesting mystery, I suppose, and I wish I could put it to rest, but all the witnesses are long dead. So speculating is all we can do.

That said, virtually any of the hypothesized versions of events are more believable to me than the official version. I don't know if Joseph wrote it alone, used other sources, received it chapter by chapter from the angel Sidney ... but I'm pretty sure he didn't get it from disappearing gold plates engraved in Reformed Egyptian. That's just not credible. Sorry.

And the last point I would add is that, authorship aside, the book itself is its own biggest detriment. It simply cannot be a real history of ancient Hebrews living in America. Jeff Lindsay can explain away each of the apparent anachronisms, but the list is a mile long. And meanwhile no one outside of believing Mormons or enterprising Central American tour guides has found a shred of evidence supporting its claim. This is not a case of God allowing some evidence for and some against; it's not a 50:50 by any stretch. To be a believing Mormon in these latter days requires either trusting ignorance or willing delusion. Google will be the end of Mormonism as we know it.

Edit: For slcbtf and his 23-point challenge for someone to write a similar book, I hope you realize the gigantic assumption you're making here. Who says the test of true Scripture is that it come out just exactly like the Book of Mormon? That's circular reasoning. The odds of someone's genome coming out exactly like yours are infinitesimally small, and yet you exist, don't you?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Do you think there could be a connection between Ken Jennings intelligence and his religion? —Alissa

He's Mormon. I was just watching him on "are you smarter than a 5th grader" and decided to post a question. He won a butt load of money on Jeopardy for those of you who don't know who he is.
Sure they're connected, in the sense that his intelligence and his religious beliefs share space in the same noggin. But no, I don't think being religious makes you smart, or being smart makes you religious. I think a person's proclivity toward spirituality or religious involvement has far more to do with personality types than IQ.

Smart people may be better at articulating why they either believe or disbelieve, but smarts isn't what got them there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mormons, do you really believe that the book of Mormon is historically accurate? —Katie C

If so, then how do you explain the many inconsistencies in geographical places and cultures that never existed?
I agree with the Mormon responders that your question isn't helpful since it doesn't offer any evidence of the inconsistencies you're referring to. But I guess it really doesn't matter anyway. Religion is like a card trick, where the "magic" has already happened before the sleight of hand even begins. It's not about what "answer" you got to your prayer; the trick is in convincing someone that prayer works in the first place, and that it's a valid way of discerning truth.

Once someone buys into that premise, it's a foregone conclusion they'll end up convinced. Joshsybs offers a good example in his answer: "Is it a history book? To answer your question - I'm not sure, and I don't really care." He then asks, "Out of curiosity, what inconsistencies do you refer to?" but is there any point in answering? Your question is a valid one, Katie C, but it just won't reach the believing mind. Evidence isn't what got them there.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Can you provide me with one reason why the Mormon Church is false?—Madison

What's the point? Are you willing to entertain the possibility of it being untrue? Not to burst your bubble, but when you're honestly ready to deal with that possibility you may even find that it's ... obvious, Rosskopf's link notwithstanding.

If you're truly at that stage where you've decided you want to know the truth at all costs, the easiest topic to start with is probably the Book of Abraham.

For a modern translation of the recovered papyri fragments, including facsimiles, see Robert K. Ritner, "The 'Breathing Permit of Hor' Thirty-four Years Later," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 33 (Winter 2000):101,

Robert Ritner: "Smith's hopeless translation also turns the goddess Maat into a male prince, the papyrus owner into a waiter, and the black jackal Anubis into a Negro slave."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How much does the current mormon church have in common with the 'original version' of Joseph and Brigham? —Tik

Or to put it another way, if you are a mormon and you could be transplanted back to Salt Lake in the 1850's and lived next to Brigham et. al, how much do you think you would have in common with him?
Let's see, did anyone speak in tongues at your last Relief Society meeting? Do men and women sit on the same side of the chapel? Does your patriarchal blessing say that you will live to see the Second Coming? And does it really seem like a small thing to you that Mormons then practiced polygamy? Not to mention Brigham Young believed Adam was God, so you arguably don't even worship the same being.

I think I get where the LDS responders are coming from, since it's widely taught that doctrines do not change and truth is everlasting. But that's problematic when you consider that people in 1850 did believe it was *doctrine* that a man needed to embrace polygamy to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. Then Gordon Hinckley says, "It's behind us." We believed that God was once a man, then Gordon Hinckley says, "It's more of a couplet."

Brigham Young taught that black people were less valiant in the preexistence and could only go to heaven as slaves. Is this still taught? Of course not. Joseph F. Smith insisted that the earth was 6,000 years old. Joseph Smith taught that the sun borrows its light from Kolob. It isn't just practices that have changed, things that were specifically taught as revealed doctrine also change. If you can't see that, you're uninformed or in serious denial.