Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Warning: EXMO Virus Alert

A number of Internet users have been struck by the EXMO virus. The EXMO virus can infect both PC and Mac users, leading to severe and lasting damage. The effects include the following:
  • Damage to memory, wiping out all data pertaining to spiritual experiences, and faith-promoting or testimony-building events.
  • Corruption of the hard drive, making it impossible to store data and facts that portray the Church in a positive light.
  • Alteration of logic processing, such that the writings of Ed Decker appear to be logically sound.
  • Damage to graphics drivers, such that kindly, good-looking old men like Gordon B. Hinckley appear as demonic beasts.
  • Large quantities of spam sent to everyone in the address book. The content of the messages varies in complex ways, but they typically contain sarcastic criticism of Mormons or scandalous rumors about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Automatic generation of spiteful contents in e-mail sent to LDS people, including frequent uncouth inquiries about the underwear being worn by the target.
  • Damage to the clock, such that the user's system remains stuck in the distant past, typically prior to 1978 and frequently focused on nineteenth century dates associated with the Mountain Meadow Massacre or polygamy.
  • Deteriorating performance of some software. Most notably, electronic versions of Jeopardy may no longer be enjoyable for those infected with the so-called SickofJennings variant of the EXMO virus. Word processors such as Microsoft Word may also become corrupted, resulting in automatic replacement of many names with silly abbreviations. For example, "Mormon" becomes "Mo", the Book of Mormon becomes BoMo, the Mormon Church becomes "the Morg", etc.
  • Automatic downloading of offensive images and other inappropriate material from unsavory Internet sites. The computers of infected users often have images of Mormon underwear and Temple garments in various folders, along with bizarre documents from "anticult" extremists.

If you or someone you know has been infected with the EXMO virus, don't panic. Their system can be cleaned and restored to a healthy state, if they are willing to take the proper steps. Infected people should carefully read the user manual. For further help, contact technical support - an entirely free service. Other online resources may also help. Former victims have been able to have their memory entirely restored, their logic processing returned to normal operation, their clock reset to the present, and their hard disk repaired. They have even been able to enjoy Jeopardy once again.


{end spoof}
Returning to the real world, those do leave the Church and become ex-Mormons often have very sincere and logical (from their perspective) reasons for doing so. My post above is meant as a tongue-in-cheek jab at some of the antics of antis who claim to be ex-Mormons or who are ex-Mormons (people who leave the Church but can't leave it alone). In fairness, we need to realize that a significant fraction of our brothers and sisters who leave the Church are not antagonistic and don't accept the silliness we see from some of the more virulent anti-Mormons.

Frankly, it's very easy to find reasons to leave the Church. Even among the disciples of Christ, John 6:61-69 (esp. vs. 66) indicates that many became offended and left Him. If early Christians were offended by Christ, how much easier is it for Christians to be offended by fallible mortals in Christ's church? I've known good, honest people who were deeply offended at comments or actions of fellow members, of Church leaders, of historical figures in Mormonism, or were offended at Church policies, biases among members, etc. Some have genuine trouble with doctrines, with gender roles, with moral issues, and so forth. I could choose to leave the Church for things that I struggle with as well. I wish to emphasize the word "choose." Leaving the Church is a choice. Regardless of the offense or the issue, it is a personal choice that must be made: do I accept the Restoration, do I choose to follow Christ in this divine but human-filled Church, or do I choose to let offenses or differences drive me out?

I believe we must each choose to cling to the iron rod, even when we can't see past momentary mists of darkness that come from our blindness, the deceptions of others, temptations of the adversary, or genuine flaws and stupidities of other members. Though we may find the sacrifices or offenses from others too painful at times, may we have the attitude of Peter, when asked if he also would leave, said to Christ, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." This is where testimony becomes important. When we know through the power of God that the Restoration is real, that the Church of Jesus Christ is upon the earth today, that the Book of Mormon is divine, then we can have strength to overlook the faults of men or to bear the challenges of sacrifice and choose to stay on that strait and narrow path that leads to life. Where else should we go?

39 comments:

dp said...

Entertaining as always. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

ROFL! I've now read two hilarious pieces in one day...and I'm going to go to pieces. Thanks!

Seriously though, I commented, sadly, on a related matter, i.e. hate & anti-MOs & my experience at the Cumora Pagean over the weekend.

Your post brought to mind that the Tree of Life vision has some textual support that both those who "follow" the ExMO or AntiMO virus _&_ those who fight it w/o Christian Charity in their hearts, usually go astray into the G&S bldg.

-lyle

Anonymous said...

"Leaving the Church is a choice. Regardless of the offense or the issue, it is a personal choice that must be made:"

As a child I believed in Santa Claus, every year he made an early appearance at my Grandparents home and gave the multitude of grandkids an early Christmas present. And on Christmas Eve he would leave presents for me around the Christmas tree. On the news they tracked his flight in from the North Pole. It was clear that Santa Claus existed and that he loved me, after all he made the trip all the way from the North Pole on a cold night to give my cousins and me presents. I knew that he existed, as a young boy I could have borne my testimony that there was a Santa.

As the years passed evidence was presented to me that convinced me that the whole Santa Claus thing was a game. Was I hurt? Offended? No, Santa served his purpose. I had glimpsed the truth and now know that there is in fact no Santa Claus.

Was this a CHOICE? When overwhelming evidence was provided me that contradicted the existence of Santa Claus, was it then my choice to disbelieve? I contend that there was no choice, more specifically to choose to believe something that is known by the believer to be false is the quintessential component of mental illness. To overlook the obvious once it has been made know to the individual and choose to believe a lie is quite simple delusional.

There is no choice, once a mind has been exposed to enough facts to overcome the powerful effects of cognitive dissonance, or rather the desire to believe in Santa Claus. The choice is between truth and insanity. As for me I’ll take truth.

Anonymous said...

As an ex-mormon, your spoof was interesting, and even a little humorous to me. I still recognize much good in that church, and certainly among the members. I do not agree with Ed Decker logic nor many other anti's. I also agree that faith is an important tool to have--it gives one hope. There is much good to come from faith, hope and charity.

Do I get frustrated with the church? Absolutley and I enjoy a good rant among other ex-mormons. In general I would prefer to just get along though. I cannot just forget about the church because #1 I still have many friends in it and #2 I was raised in it. Much of my personality was shaped by that church. I am ever glad to have served a mission even if I don't believe in all that I once preached.

Remember, ex-mormons, just like Mormons, are people. I feel no need to just leave the church alone, but I do feel the need to be civil, kind, and tolerant. I hope for the same from Mormons. We don't need to antogonize each other all the time. I can laugh at myself and I hope you can as well.

Where else should we go? That is a question each must decide for himself/herself. We each take responsibility for our own choices. I am happier without Mormonism, but with compassion towards my fellow man. And no, I am not a Christian although I try to act according to many of those values--values found in many religions.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, you said: "I wish to emphasize the word "choose." Leaving the Church is a choice. Regardless of the offense or the issue, it is a personal choice that must be made: do I accept the Restoration, do I choose to follow Christ in this divine but human-filled Church, or do I choose to let offenses or differences drive me out?"

I beg to differ. Once I pulled back the curtain and saw the Church for what it really is, from that point on I suppose I had a choice, yes, but my choice was to choose to stay regardless of what I'd found out (not one thing, many things) or choose to be true to my self and my conscience. To me it was a no-brainer; the choice was obvious. Get out!

Brian-the-Christ said...

Very funny stuff.

I found a couple of your tongue-in-cheek comments to have an "appearance of truthliness" but deny "my experiences thereof."

Your first point that "Damage to memory, wiping out all data pertaining to spiritual experiences, and faith-promoting or testimony-building events."

For me it was a re-evaluating of what "spiritual experiences" meant and whether the church could accurately tell me that a "spiritual experience" was something from God or just a "funny feeling."

As a person born, raised, missionaried and bishoped in the church, I never allowed myself to question, doubt or consider there might be some inaccuracies. That was the proverbial "forbidden fruit" to me as a Latter-day Saint. "And by the power of the Holy Ghost, yea may know the truth of all things."

And yet, it was a peculiar thing to ask the Holy Ghost nutty things, such as "Should doctrines in the church never change?" and get that "good feeling" or "Should I leave the church?" and get the "good feeling" or "Is the church false?" and, once again, get that "good feeling." I found that I could get that "good feeling" for almost anything I would ask.

Well, if that was true, then how could I trust that "good feeling?"

The second point you made was that exmormons had a "Corruption of the hard drive, making it impossible to store data and facts that portray the Church in a positive light."

Although that is how it might seem, I don't think that we can't "portray the church in a positive light" but we realize that it's a little like Professor Marvel's comments to Dorothy. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

Certainly, there are positive things about the church, but some within it seem all to eager to discount the bad and incapable of realizing that there are problems that go beyond "the church is perfect even if the people aren't." In fact, the church has a lot more flaws theologically and historically than "rights" and that's what's being glossed over by directing people away from "the man behind the curtain."

I left because I realized that the people who founded and lead the church are just uninspired humans. Seeking people to follow what they hold dear and having no more spiritual insight than the rest of us. There are lots of glaring examples of their lack of inspiration. But you must be willing to "look behind the curtain."

Anonymous said...

Well, Mormanity rather hinges on Joseph Smith, doesn't it? Who a person thinks he is? Right?

I rather think Joseph was genuinely a religious person. From my perspective, he found the effect of his imagined experiences on others an intoxicating, irresistible motive in his life. Nevertheless, I think he also felt a responsibility to effect peoples' lives for the positive.

Was he cognizant of his perpetrating a fraud? The answer is a "yes, but" scenario. I am certain he felt that God talked to him thru his imagination, and that his "visions" were vehicles with which he conveyed as best as he could the genuine spiritual principles as he discovered them. These "visions" were essentially literary devices, much like a novelist would use to share his important truths through works of fiction.

Nevertheless, Joseph could see that identifying his visions as fiction depleted them of their power. Thus he sacrificed some of his virtues for the sake of others. "Lying for the Lord" was, in fact for him, no vice at all. That, in essence, was the literary device that guided his life, that ramrodded itself thru the very core of his being.

Joseph was neither the holy prophet of his followers nor the nefarious, self-absorbed villain of his critics. But rather than trimming his extremes into a neat, compressed, comprehensible package, we must allow him to have his incomprehensible breadth. He was a complex, multi-faceted being comprised of the extremely good and the extremely bad. He presents himself as the true paradox, the extremes of which are virtually incomprehensible.

The depth and breadth of this complexity cannot be viewed from either side of the fence. Even his disaffected converts lose sight of the good when they finally grasp the magnitude of the bad. His dyed-in-the-wool critics are loathe to acknowledge any good at all when they consider the magnitude of his deceit.

The faithful see someone who rivals Christ himself for the very definition of all that is holy. Some may grudgingly admit he does have a few faults, and will certainly justify them. But in their cowardice they will leave these faults nameless, acknowledging that these faults are really no more than so much adornment to give him human form.

It takes a special person to truly appreciate Joseph Smith, and perhaps there is none alive that can do so. For he that truly understands Smith would seem a lunatic, retching convulsively from the stench of his villainy to experiencing the tearful, sobbing ecstatic inspiration of the bonding love of the community he inspired.

But what do we find at the core of his core? We find that which we find at the center of ourselves. We just want to be loved.

Mormon or Exmormon, apologist or critic, we just want to be loved. Each likes to view the other as having some kind of "sickness" as your satire suggests. However, when all the junk is brushed off the desk, in the end the same vulnerable surface is exposed.

Anonymous said...

Well, Mormanity rather hinges on Joseph Smith, doesn't it? Who a person thinks he is? Right?

I rather think Joseph was genuinely a religious person. From my perspective, he found the effect of his imagined experiences on others an intoxicating, irresistible motive in his life. Nevertheless, I think he also felt a responsibility to effect peoples' lives for the positive.

Was he cognizant of his perpetrating a fraud? The answer is a "yes, but" scenario. I am certain he felt that God talked to him thru his imagination, and that his "visions" were vehicles with which he conveyed as best as he could the genuine spiritual principles as he discovered them. These "visions" were essentially literary devices, much like a novelist would use to share his important truths through works of fiction.

Nevertheless, Joseph could see that identifying his visions as fiction depleted them of their power. Thus he sacrificed some of his virtues for the sake of others. "Lying for the Lord" was, in fact for him, no vice at all. That, in essence, was the literary device that guided his life, that ramrodded itself thru the very core of his being.

Joseph was neither the holy prophet of his followers nor the nefarious, self-absorbed villain of his critics. But rather than trimming his extremes into a neat, compressed, comprehensible package, we must allow him to have his incomprehensible breadth. He was a complex, multi-faceted being comprised of the extremely good and the extremely bad. He presents himself as the true paradox, the extremes of which are virtually incomprehensible.

The depth and breadth of this complexity cannot be viewed from either side of the fence. Even his disaffected converts lose sight of the good when they finally grasp the magnitude of the bad. His dyed-in-the-wool critics are loathe to acknowledge any good at all when they consider the magnitude of his deceit.

The faithful see someone who rivals Christ himself for the very definition of all that is holy. Some may grudgingly admit he does have a few faults, and will certainly justify them. But in their cowardice they will leave these faults nameless, acknowledging that these faults are really no more than so much adornment to give him human form.

It takes a special person to truly appreciate Joseph Smith, and perhaps there is none alive that can do so. For he that truly understands Smith would seem a lunatic, retching convulsively from the stench of his villainy to experiencing the tearful, sobbing ecstatic inspiration of the bonding love of the community he inspired.

But what do we find at the core of his core? We find that which we find at the center of ourselves. We just want to be loved.

Mormon or Exmormon, apologist or critic, we just want to be loved. Each likes to view the other as having some kind of "sickness" as your satire suggests. However, when all the junk is brushed off the desk, in the end the same vulnerable surface is exposed.

Steve Lowther

Gunner said...

The main problem with a post like this is that is seems belittling to exmo's and simply reinforces the belief that members have a "better then thou" attitude.

Members would find this humorous, non-members would find it self serving.

Gunner (No Quarters Blog)

bornamormon said...

If you can't leave the Church and then "leave it alone" then maybe you should re-think your moves and repent and come back. I've read the stuff the Tanner's put out. I have read the Decker stuff. Got the videos too. The DNA guys also say the DNA proves the Bible wrong too. Of course they can't prove what DNA Lehi really had so they can't prove nothing. They can't prove what DNA the Jaredites had, so they can't prove nothing. There is nothing the anti's can share with us that can actually "prove" the Church wrong. So you are left to "kick against the pricks" or follow Jesus on the only path that has been established on the earth for us. I for one will follow Jesus and not go down the other way of destruction. I see that ex-Mo's have a conference coming up. YES, they will have alcohol served there. If that is the path you choose...go for it and quit complaining as you drink it up. Get yourself a real life.

Anonymous said...
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Mormanity said...

I appreciate some of the comments from ex-members, several of which confirm that there are sincere people who leave the Church without becoming virulent anti-Mormons and most important, without losing their sense of humor. We all need to be able to see ourselves as fallible and perhaps even silly mortals, struggling to do our best. With that attitude, we can be respectful of each other's viewpoints and even mistakes.

My comments about choice were primarily aimed at those who leave due to being offended or for other common reasons. Much less common is leaving because because one concludes that the Book of Mormon is false or because of fundamental doctrinal differences (e.g., concluding that human deification really is not a legitimate Christian doctrine, or that keeping the commandments is not required by the scriptures, or that the LDS view of the Godhead is inferior to the Hellenized view from post-biblical committees of arguing philosophers). In the latter cases, when the issue really is intellectual and one believes they have found a fundamental and logical reason for leaving the Church, then my comments about choosing a response is less fitting. But the most common reasons why people leave, based upon my experience, have little to do with the pure intellectual realm and have much more to do with emotions (a "cooling in the bosom" if you will, or severe frustration or anger), peer pressure, and other factors outside the realm of logic. As for those who leave because of logic, there is still a choice involved. Part of the choice is choosing what to consider and what to overlook. But I can understand that if one feels that the Restoration has become nothing more than a myth, then it wouldn't make sense to stay. That's why the Book of Mormon is so important to me, by the way. If it's true, at least something about the Restoration was real and divine.

My post on the EXMO virus was not meant to say that all ex-Mormons have been infected. The virus, as described, is one that turns people into virulent anti-Mormons. Those who still appreciate the good in the Church and can engage in reasonable, civil discourse might not have the infection. But hope that they will one day be able to reconsider and come back.

As for the comment that my views on the flood make me an apostate, I think that writer could have the virus. LDS members who don't require that the Flood covered the entire earth are not necessarily aposate. Those who entertain the possibility of a local flood such as John A. Widstoe or Hugh Nibley, can do so without abandoning the scriptures or without opposing official LDS doctrine. See my LDSFAQ article, "Questions about Science and Mormon Views."

Anonymous said...

Jeff I am a faithful Mormon. I know you are just trying to be cute and clever with your virus analogy. While I found the humor weak I appreciate younger minds will find it funny. My concern isn't over the quality of writing rather it is over your obvious departure from Christ like behavior. We have taken an oath to emulate Jesus Christ; do you really believe Jesus would write something like this? The whole tone is condescending and betrays your pride and arrogance. Pride goes before the fall and I fear that unless you identify your prideful heart you are in danger of committing greater sin. From one loving brother to another, confess your pride and repent before it is too late. With love in Christ, Brother Higgins (NY, NY).

woody woodruff said...

Jeff-

I have read your internet writings for years now, but this will be my first response directly to you about them.

Jeff wrote:
"Alteration of logic processing, such that the writings of Ed Decker appear to be logically sound."

My question is why bring Ed Decker into this when a majority if not nearly all exmormons actually despise Decker? Methinks that you are trying to use scare tactics by erroroneously comparing exmormon beliefs to those of Ed Decker's. Most exmormons will tell you that Ed Decker has zero credibility. Decker obviously skews the facts, which really isn't neccessary for rational and logical individuals as many 'exmos' are.


Jeff wrote:
"My post above is meant as a tongue-in-cheek jab at some of the antics of antis who claim to be ex-Mormons or who are ex-Mormons (people who leave the Church but can't leave it alone)."

The usage in which you use the word 'Anti' and 'exmormon' does not fit with who these people are. First off you use 'Anti' such that it gives the impression that anyone who rationally explores the truth is evil and cannot be trusted. Applying your use and tone of the word then we may as well call scientists anti-'pick your topic' for whatever field they are working in. This is ridiculous, they don't set out to distort truth but rather to study and disseminate it. Exmormons are not anti-mormon, our goal is not to twist facts so they appear to be in our favor, but rather to uncover the facts that are hidden.

This brings me to your definition of 'exmormon.' I find it ironic that the LDS church and apologists feels it is only their right to preach the 'word' to the world. Then when others disagree or attempt to teach something contrary, they are labelled with being unable to leave the past alone. Exmormons are a wide variety of individuals, each in their own stage and with their own agenda. To lump exmormons into one category with a poor definition as you did is not well thought out.

Jeff wrote:
"Much less common is leaving because because one concludes that the Book of Mormon is false or because of fundamental doctrinal differences..."

Sorry have you done a scientific randomized poll of exmormons that allowed you to come to that conclusion? While my reasons for leaving were due to doctrine and the attempts to rewrite history by the church and many exmormons I know had similar reasons, I would not conclude that nearly all exmos left for the same reason. Why wouldn't I do that even though I suspect it to be true? Because it would be an unqualified statement that I could not back up with statistics since I have not done a study.

Jeff you do an excellent job defending your beliefs and that of the LDS church. However, when you resort to the distortion of truth, making propaganda like definitions of people, and making unqualified statements you become no better than Ed Decker...the very man you and I both detest. See you around online.

Cheers,
Woody Woodruff

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Jeff,

I thoroughly enjoyed the EXMO Virus Alert! I too am an ExMO.

"My comments about choice were primarily aimed at those who leave due to being offended or for other common reasons. Much less common is leaving because. . ."

I wish to respectfully bring to your attention another classification of ExMO's (which I belong to). Those who leave because they have discovered something that seems wrong to them, yet refuse to tell it lest they challenge the testimony of others. People only guess at the reason for their leaving. My best friend asked me directly for my reason for leaving and I refused to tell her. Nor did I contradict her when she guessed it to be due to being offended. I certainly could have found reason to be offended, but I did not join the Church for social reasons and neither did I leave it for social reasons.

I will tell you that I tried to find answers. My delima did not come from anti-Mormon propaganda, but directly from the Church Offices -- by accident during the course of fulfilling my Calling. I will be generous and say that it 'could' be a case of meat before milk (I'd been a member for less than 2 years). I can understand why the answers are not available because it IS hard to accept. . . but gosh, where is the support/counseling for the person that stumbles across it??

I will tell you too that I have a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, and of Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God. I want so badly for the Church to be true too, which is why I continue to search for answers.

Valerie J. Davis,
Erroneously labeled as one who left due to being offended. Maybe there are more of us than you realize.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Jeff;
You said, "My comments about choice were primarily aimed at those who leave due to being offended or for other common reasons. Much less common is leaving because because one concludes that the Book of Mormon is false or because of fundamental doctrinal differences..."

If you've ever looked at the "exmormon bulletin board" postings, there have been several threads asking people why they left the church. No one, to my knowledge, has ever left because they were "offended." At least, no one has posted that as their reason. (We all know, it's the famous LDS excuse--"Sister Blah-blah left the church because she was offended...")

Some people--for example, gays, women, singles--get fed up with being treated in a way that denies them "personhood." I would not call that "offended."

Others get tired of trying to live up to the expectations of perfection. Again, not offended.

Still others have conflicts with points of doctrine, church history, or with official church positions on social/political issues---again, not "offended."

And, for the record, many (most?) of the people who have left the church have not read any of the materials by the "anti-mormon" authors/publishers you mention. Why should we? We were the RS presidents, the Single Adult reps, the Sunday School teachers; we ran the Primary, led the music, prepared the Ward dinners, served the missions--we don't need to learn about the church from smarmy publishers of hate doctrine! No one needs to tell us why we should no longer believe.

What you did get right is that this is a choice we make for ourselves.

the dreaded single adult

Mormanity said...

Responding first to the request from Brother Higgins, let me publicly confess that I am a prideful SOB in need of serious repentance. And I'm not kidding when I say that.

Let me also suggest that we replace Ed Decker's name with Dr. Dr. Dr. John Ankerberg. He has more "credibilty" than Ed Decker, but still has logical gaps that I think we can chuckle at.

Let me also point out that my attempt at "cute" humor has really fallen flat for many of you, and I'm sorry about that. "EXMO" was a better sounding name for the virus than something more accurate and politically correct like the "Rare Former Mormon Who Becomes a Raving Anti-Mormon Unlike Most Ex-Mormons Who Are Really Quite Nice People" virus. Yes, of course most ex-Mormons are logical, nice, respectful people who leave the Church with sorrow and don't need some fool like me poking fun at them. But they also don't display the symptoms of the "EXMO" virus and should not assume that they are all being painted as "infected." However, a few of the most outspoken and vocal enemies of the Church do seem to fit the EXMO virus symptoms to some degree, and that's what the joke is about, sort of.

I guess it takes dozens of footnotes to explain all the issues and avoid offending people. Sorry about that. But please, don't leave my blog just because you were offended! (Footnote: no, of course I didn't mean that as some sort of reference to people leaving the Church because they were offended. Yes, I recognize that there are many other reasons for leaving. See footnote 325 for further clarifications.)

And no, I have not done a statistical survey. But I have worked with quite a few people over the past 25 years who have left the Church for one reason or other, (e.g., as a friend, missionary, Bishop, High Council member, etc.). I use the word "offend" in a broad sense that includes being offended at doctrines, as we read in John 6, as well as being angry at something a leader does or that others do. It certainly doesn't cover all the reasons why people leave, but it's a big one, in my view. Maybe the ex-Mormons I have known are uncharacteristic - it's certainly possible.

Anonymous said...
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woody woodruff said...

LOL, no I will not be leaving your blog Jeff. I can take it just as well as I can dish it out. And I do get your style of humor.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post but I just read it and found the conversation it ignited was great. I applaud your humility in taking the rebukes and also applaud the fact that you left these comments available for others to view and empathize with ex-mormons and the situations they go through. I am currently going throught this process of "figuring things out" for myself. It's a tough process. There is a lot of evidence against the Church that in the very least merits consideration. That's all- a piece of evidence doesn't have to be a "smoking gun", but some of these things really do merit consideration (Book of Abraham as a good example) and if these evidences start to make a big pile on your desk and that pile ends up tipping over, we are forced to make a choice (like you said) however, one might feel that it's simply against their integrity to accept the LDS' claims at face value given all the evidence at hand.

I many times think to myself, "why would God lay out (or allow to be laid out) all of this incriminitory evidence" and then ask us to just turn off our critical thinking skills and "just have faith". That's not logical to me and even if the LDS Church is true, I at least feel very sure that God will know these people's hearts, their situation, and the heaps of evidence that has been presented to them- that realistically merits consideration.

Mary Ann said...

Hi Jeff, I am a Mormon but I have a question that has been bothering me for a long time and I was hoping you could answer. In D&C 19:6-12 God explains that endless punishment does not actually mean that there will be no end to the punishment. I have several problems with this; first, why is God not being completely honest in the scriptures? Surely He realizes that it is misleading. How can we trust that the rest of the scriptures are not similarly misleading? I mean, maybe the word "command" really just means "recommend" and we just haven't received that revelation yet. In verse 7 it says that it is "more express" so that it will "work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name's glory". I don't see how scaring people into obedience works for God's glory. I always thought God respected our free agency more than that.

Them Mormons said...

Mary Ann,

D&C 19:6-12

6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end ot this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name's glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for endless is my name. Wherefore -
11 Eternal punishment is god's punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God's punishment.

I fail to see where it says that eternal punishment is not endless.

Eternal damnation is expressed more in scripture because it is the price to pay for disobedience to Heavenly Father. Remember why we are here, to return to be with Him. Heavenly Father loves us, and He wishes for us to return to Him. It is not meant to scare, but serve as a reminder. We still have free agency to choose whether or not we are eternally damned or not.

Anonymous said...

Jeff wrote: "But the most common reasons why people leave, based upon my experience, have little to do with the pure intellectual realm and have much more to do with emotions (a "cooling in the bosom" if you will, or severe frustration or anger), peer pressure, and other factors outside the realm of logic."

Just to add to the previous posts. I left for "logical" reasons. At the time I thought I was unique. I didn't break any commandments. I wasn't offended. And after getting to know other former mormons, I was amazed that they had pretty much the same story as me. They realized the church wasn't true. It was hard to leave because of social and family reasons. But TRUTH is the top priority. You may be scared to leave. But let me tell you life outside of mormonism is so much better.

Dave T. said...

I think what you meant to say is that life outside of the “Mormon” Church is "easier" not better. Having dangled from that vine, I can tell you that I prefer the Church. Peace can be found in or out of the church. One peace is eternal.

Why is it that people who leave the church try to enlighten those who have not? Is it your new found happiness that you are trying to share? Possibly a need to still do missionary work?

In a training maneuver for Blackhawk pilots and crew, during flight the key is removed and passed from crewmember to crewmember. Upon holding the key in my hand I looked at it before passing it on. As warning alarms sounded and lights flashed, jagged mountain peaks were quickly rising up to greet us. 15,000 pounds and 13 million dollars of helicopter along with life or death for four people were held briefly in my hand. As the key was passed on and finally replaced where it belonged, 3200 horse power came back on-line. The warning lights extinguished and the alarms quieted while normal flight was restored.

I had possession of a key that if mishandled, would have permanently affected the lives of others while destroying millions of dollars of property. Like this tangible key, I have the key through my faith to be an example of good for my kids and make eternal commitments that can be made nowhere else on this planet. Understanding the plain and simple truths of this religion is the key. These truths were never intended to be accepted by anything other than faith. Faith is the key.

Anonymous said...

Mormanity,
Very interesting piece. Although many of the statements are true, we must be wary of the critisism we give towards others that have left or are not of the church. We must not allow ourselves to display feelings of betterment and resentment towards those. We should show love, compassion, sadness and forgivness. Although we may have been blessed with a strong testimony of the church, they possibly may not have searched for themselves for their own testimony. To belittle and make fun of "ex-members" or "non-members" does not make us any better than their statments. It will keep the ongoing cycle of resentment and hatred continuing.
Best Regards,
A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Anonymous said...

Jeff I am a faithful Mormon. I know you are just trying to be cute and clever with your virus analogy. While I found the humor weak I appreciate younger minds will find it funny. My concern isn't over the quality of writing rather it is over your obvious departure from Christ like behavior. We have taken an oath to emulate Jesus Christ; do you really believe Jesus would write something like this? The whole tone is condescending and betrays your pride and arrogance. Pride goes before the fall and I fear that unless you identify your prideful heart you are in danger of committing greater sin. From one loving brother to another, confess your pride and repent before it is too late. With love in Christ, Brother Higgins (NY, NY).


Jesus did say it...
("Scribes Pharisees hypocrits!!!")

kittywaymo said...

Jeff, you are really getting under the exmo/antimo skin of many of it's adherents!

You sure got them going on the exmo virus piece.. I love it!! It is so very true. It's sad to see many people who are otherwise reasonably intelligent loose their ability to evaluate their past spiritual experiences in the Gospel. All of a sudden they say, the whole Church was this "traumatic, abusive experience".. I love how abused the word "abuse" is. It's like the "mother of all" back when I worked for CNN Headline News.. Man I hated that the first time I heard it! :) love kittywaymo..

Mormanity said...

Thanks - but I don't mean to irritate with this tongue-in-cheek post. Well, not too much.

drogen said...

I hope for the same from Mormons. We don't need to antogonize each other all the time. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The post I refer to is old but could use scrutiny. originally posted by Dave T.

"I think what you meant to say is that life outside of the 'Mormon' Church is "easier" not better. Having dangled from that vine, I can tell you that I prefer the Church. Peace can be found in or out of the church. One peace is eternal."

Life is NOT easier outside the church, if only life were that simple. We exmo's still go through the same ups and downs and we're all just mortals, and it's often miserable to deal with bitter, judgmental active LDS, but like they say "it's not easy but it's worth it." It would be the easy, enjoyable thing to be celebrated as the returning prodigal son, but it would be wrong because I would be lying to myself. But it's inaccurate to say that all who leave the church will be happier, although many are.

If you were at the beach just to sit an relax, would you mind it if there was a rule of no surfing? No, you only came to relax in the sun. But those who enjoy surfing would not be happy, and would be better off (happier) finding a different beach. Same goes for religion, it's all just preference.

"Why is it that people who leave the church try to enlighten those who have not? Is it your new found happiness that you are trying to share? Possibly a need to still do missionary work?"

Why is it that those in the church try to enlighten non-mo's? It's really the same as trying to convince the surfers to join you on the sand. Due to the blurred lines between doctrine and family/culture that prevails in the church, the people we try to enlighten are our family, it's not missionary zeal. The church just does too good a job at homogenizing family with religion. You may say "wouldn't it be easier just to return to the fold?" and that is exactly how the church leaders want the choices to appear: stay in the organization or lose normal r'ships with your family.


"In a training maneuver for Blackhawk pilots and crew, during flight the key is removed and passed from crewmember to crewmember. Upon holding the key in my hand I looked at it before passing it on. As warning alarms sounded and lights flashed, jagged mountain peaks were quickly rising up to greet us. 15,000 pounds and 13 million dollars of helicopter along with life or death for four people were held briefly in my hand. As the key was passed on and finally replaced where it belonged, 3200 horse power came back on-line. The warning lights extinguished and the alarms quieted while normal flight was restored.

I had possession of a key that if mishandled, would have permanently affected the lives of others while destroying millions of dollars of property. Like this tangible key, I have the key through my faith to be an example of good for my kids and make eternal commitments that can be made nowhere else on this planet. Understanding the plain and simple truths of this religion is the key. These truths were never intended to be accepted by anything other than faith. Faith is the key."

Wow you really take yourself seriously. Of course the church requires faith but unlike other belief systems, LDS faith is not exercised in absence of evidence, it's exercised in spite of conflicting evidence. If that's what you call faith, what do you call denial or gullibility? Having to rationalize and re-explain facts to accomodate existing beliefs is not a healthy psychological habit.

Best of luck in your crusade to ensure that your posterity knows that the sand is good and the water is bad. They are more likely to follow you if you stick to basic humanistic values that everyone has and leave the authoritarianism out of it.

We exmo's are often hungry for knowledge and just as I would share an interesting fact about the moon, etc. I also want to share little known facts about the church with active LDS. It is after all a big part of their lives wouldn't they want as much info as possible? Wouldn't knowing more about the church strenghten a testimony? (i'm not talking about anything in anti-lit, but issues found in the church's own writings like History of the Church and Journal of Discourses). Almost invariably the more complete a picture the person has about the church the harder it is to have faith in it. God's just testing our faith I guess.

Don't mean to offend; I tried to type this reponse in the same spirit in which Dave T. wrote. My apologies if I went over the line. Consider me a satan-inspired apostate if I did.

Thanks to the anonymous poster putting forth the angle that J Smith at his core, only wanted to be loved. So true for all of us and I hope we can all keep that simple notion in mind in our dealings with each other. Kudos to Brother Jeff for keeping a site where all opinions are valid. Thanks for the bytes and Namaste!

Anonymous said...

I have a very important question.
What about an exmormons relationship with Christ now outside the church and it's ordinanaces? Forget everything except that. What about spiritual growth....ANSWERS to the deep and vital questions that we as humans / mortals go through, have to have?
I've heard hundreds of comments and NO one yet has addressed the part about...getting closer to God now, really being led day by day from the Holy Ghost, personal revelations NOW increasing after leaving the misery and misdirection of the LDS church?
Where is the great NEW personal positive flow of KEY ways of becoming like Christ and a one-on-one relationship with God the Father?
NITTY gritty?

Valerie said...

You CAN leave the church and leave it alone. In fact, TONS of us exmos DO, and if you read many exmo blogs, you'll find that MOST of us see a lot of good in the church, do not harbor hatred towards our former brothers and sisters for simply perpetuating what they sincerely believed to be truth (as we did), and believe even the leaders of the church are not purposely or consciously spreading falsehoods.

As for basing our leaving on "logic" which we all know must come from Satan, and not relying on Spiritual experiences, which in no way could ever possibly come from our own wishful thinking, coincidences, or personal emotions....I'm sorry but when Joseph Smith and the church claim for years and years and years that the Book of Abraham was translated by Joseph Smith off of papyrus that is then discovered years later and proven not to say what Joseph said it did...I'm done swallowing lies. And yes, I know the church's arguments against this, and each is more ridiculous than the last...."Well, the actual papyrus HE translated off of isn't the same one, parts are missing!" Nope. Hieroglyphic characters in succession matching the pieces that are NOT missing were written down the margins of papers of Joseph's original writings with INCORRECT english "translations" next to them, AND the picture of Abraham being sacrificed in the Pearl of Great Price is ALSO on a piece of the surviving papyrus, and when translated is NOT a picture of Abraham, but part of something called The Book of Breathings about embaming the dead. So that theory falls flat. The next theory? Even worse than the first...."Well, ahyuck! Golly, maybe Joseph was staring at the papyrus and then....uh....yeah, like....God gave him a revelation of The Book of Abraham, which didn't NEED to be on the papyrus!" What? Seriously? Um. Right. I'm sorry, but Joesph himself NEVER perpetuated such a belief, and neither did the church until it was proven that his translations were incorrect. I'm sorry, but if those are the kind of outlandish excuses you have to tell yourself in order to keep believing, then I feel sorry for you.

One last thing....I'd rather go to hell than believe in a God who expects his daughters to accept and be happy with polygamy. That is not a God I would ever respect. Ever. And I feel sorry for those of you who have been conditioned to believe that this is ok. Because it's not.

I don't believe in a church who got their temple ordinances from the freemasons (who Joseph Smith joined 3 weeks prior to receiving the revelations), especially when the church claims the similarities come from the fact that the Masons got their original ceremonies from the true temple ordinances that were lost, because they still somehow passed them down through the generations. Wrong. The Masons clearly admit to making up their own ceremonies from sect to sect, and even change them periodically to keep them from being leaked. OUR temple ordinances are based on them as they were at Joseph Smith's time. They were not the same before, nor are they the same now, nor did they come from some "original temple ordinances".

Have fun basing your life off of "feelings" that cause you to stifle reason, ignore facts, and just keep telling yourself the world is flat and you'll fall off of it when you hit the edge...cause I've sailed around it for myself :)

Anonymous said...

One reason I am frustrated with Mormonism is the fact that I based my testimony on something that was taught to me in a white washed manner.

Please tell me as a child HOW the BOM translation really happened. So I don't have to find it out from some "evil anti site" in the future.

The church prints in official magazines and photo's that Joseph translated the BOM with no instruments. And his scribe was 2 feet foot from him with the plates in sight. Joseph is translating as if he's reading a book. No sheets, no hats or seer stones.

It may be an artists depiction, but don't publish it in official church magazines or show me in church, this is how it happened.

I want the truth!!! You can't handle the truth. This is how I feel the church deals when teaching it's members. Hence, no official church responses to critical issues regarding the church. I have to come here or FAIR to get answers.

sukiyhtaky said...

I found this piece much later than the rest. I too am an exmo having left the Church this year and have been looking at all the 'ex' sites to see others reasons for doing so. I found this very amusing and I'm not the least bit offended by it. I too can take as well as I dish. My only take on everyones dishing pro and con is that we all do it without fabrication, without silly inconsequentian nonsense and stick to real issues. Proxy baptisms s akin to a Muslim telling me they are praying for my enlightenment of Allah...if I don't believe why should I care what they do for me...if it rocks their world go for it. Ugly underwear? I don't get why all the fuss about this issue. My underwear would probably not pass someones scrutiny either so what? I don't hate you all or the Church. My bishop was great. He even printed my letter for me when my printer broke. You sure about this? Yup. OK. Or maybe he was trying to get rid of me. Hmmmm, I didn't consider that. :)

Pomeranian Catholic said...

"Where else should we go?"

You could try the Catholic Church, which believes in and practices the doctrine of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. That's what the departing disciples in John 6 objected to, after all.

But putting that aside, I really enjoyed your post. A professional psychologist might know more about why converts usually become jaded about their former faith traditions, but my personal opinion is that humans are primarily emotional, not rational, beings. We first decide on a course of action based on feelings and only later develop a solid rationale to support our choices. Animosity after conversion is thus a glimpse of that original, kernel of decisive feeling shining through all the post-hoc justifications.

Of course, the above is a generalization. It's not true in every case.

Ishmael said...

If belief is a choice, why do so many faithful Mormons choose not to believe in a global flood?

Burk said...

I tried contacting technical support. I never could reach anybody, all it did was ring and ring. It was as if nobody was there at all.

Becca Campbell said...

Do you know why we can't leave it alone? Give you a hint. Most of us spent several decades in something that encompassed every aspect of our lives. You cannot truly believe that we can just leave it all behind in the blink of an eye. Please get a better perspective on that. Thanks.