Drowning at church

Jun 30, 14 Drowning at church

This essay is a response to the First Presidency’s recent statements that encourage open discussion of hard questions at church. It is co-written by Jenn Kunz and Lori Burkman; two sisters who grew up as faithful Mormons in a literal-believing family. Upon reaching maturity and starting to teach the gospel and restoration to our own children, we realized that not everything added up as we had hoped. To solve these lapses in a cohesive restoration narrative and to better understand the evolution of LDS doctrine, we stepped out of the correlated teachings available to us in the Church Education System (CES) in the hope of further understanding the faith we are part of. What happened next was the most trying experience of our lives. Today we’re writing this essay on behalf of everyone else who has shared the same disappointment and isolation during a transition or crisis of faith, while simultaneously being told that the church is a safe place to ask questions.

On Saturday, the First Presidency directly responded to recent events with a statement that included the following:

“We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding.”

Based on the first paragraph of the statement from the First Presidency and the general timing of its release, the letter is geared mostly towards Mormon feminists and OW. The list of questions we are referring to in this post does not include “may women have the priesthood right now” (worthy question though that may be, this is a grand simplification of the actual conversation OW is hoping to have). The questions that a growing number of Mormons want answered concern a wide variety of issues on everything from separating doctrine from culture in modern policy, past doctrines that were since proven to not be doctrine at all, the true nature of the first vision, the historicity of the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, and pretty much all aspects of the restoration, the translation of scripture, and a great many others. The First Presidency is telling us that we are always welcome to ask questions and seek greater understanding. And where are these discussions about these questions to be had, we wonder? In a recent interview on RadioWest with church spokesperson Ally Isom, the following was stated:

Doug Fabrizio: How and where may a member express doubts or opinions in good faith? It seems like what you were saying before is ‘do it wherever you want, but use the right tone, use the right questions… What if you believe, as some women do, that it’s time for the church to give women the priesthood? Where do you express that?

Ally Isom: There are many avenues to express that and discuss that.

Doug Fabrizio: Where? In public?

Ally Isom: No one is questioning your ability to discuss it in a congregation, in a Sunday School class, or in a Relief Society class.

We mean this with all sincerity, without snark, and with the true hope that some future leader of the church might read it:

To whom? How is this to be facilitated in the current structure and CES of the church? And where does one ask these questions?

In which forum can we seek answers to questions that are not immediately faith-affirming and don’t have answers (or even get acknowledged) in correlated church material? If we have questions that have shaken us to the very core, that concern events that were previously withheld from our extensive, life-long education and that the church admits have a basis in factwhere are we “free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding?” Who is trained to answer these questions in our wards or stakes?

What manuals should we look in? What terms can we enter in LDS.org that will actually get results? Do the missionaries know the answers? Can we ask in Sunday School or Relief Society? If we ask there, what can we expect as a result? Can someone in the temple tell us? Can we ask our local Bishop or Stake President without fear of accusations or losing certain privileges as a member? Are they trained in these deep and difficult questions? If we write letters to General Authorities, will they write us back?

From our own experiences and the experiences of thousands of others who have been through the same thing:
There are no manuals printed by the LDS church that cover these issues. LDS.org has only just begun to acknowledge the most troubling issues by posting essays pages anonymously onto the “Gospel Topics” section of their official website, but even then they are making sure that these essays are not promoted at church or made readily available in the CES. I suppose we’re supposed to look at FAIR, but it is not an official church resource and often leads to even more questions than you had in the first place. If you ask the missionaries, they are just as likely to be hurt or confused by the questions as you are. Asking in church meetingsif you darewill likely cause you to lose friends, get a bad reputation in the ward (it rhymes with bobastate), be accused of reading anti-mormon literature (though you aren’t), and you’ll more than likely receive a special invitation to meet with the Bishop. Most of us looked to temple attendance, personal prayer, and deep scripture study for answers, but walked away with more confusion and questions than before. Local leadership may help if you are extremely lucky, but the more probable outcome of asking questions that call attention to the many dichotomies, discrepancies, and coverups in church history and doctrine would be that you’ll lose your recommend, or your calling, or your fellowship. At the very least, you will more than likely be asked not to speak about your issues in class or anywhere that others might be affected by your struggle. If you write to a General Authority, they either won’t respond or they will tell you that your questions aren’t important; you need to change your focus and have more faith.

This isn’t just our collective experience as two sisters who have gone through the heart ache of seeking truth while active members of wards who had no answers or place for us, but it is the experience of thousands of people (literally, whole stakes worth of people) asking sincere questions RIGHT NOW and being told to stop. Saints across the world are told that they are wrong, beguiled, misled, sinning, apostate, or seeking trouble. That they need to stop asking questions and instead just have faith that everything is as good as it seems. People who are in this place of seeking are not trying to destroy the churchif anything, they are desperate to find their place in it. They are not apathetic, luke-warm believers, but rather they are people who seek truth and simply want clarity and peace in the gospel and church they have devoted their lives to. They do not fear the price of studying and asking the hard questions because they know that they’ll never be able to have integrity in bearing their testimony of the restoration until these questions are satisfied.

So again, Church leaders: if we’re polite, respectful, and sincere enoughin which class on Sunday and to whom do we ask our questions?

Telling someone who is in or has been through a crisis of faith that they’re free to ask questions in the church is like telling a drowning person that they are free to grab onto the life preserver that no one is throwing to them. It is standing aside and watching someone drown all the while telling them that they should have seen the warning signs or turbulent water. Nevermind that the signs that were needed to avoid this crisis were long since buried in the sand of correlation.

It’s a slap in the face to people who would give anything for a safe place to ask questions, who have tried every route their broken, faithful hearts could find available, and found nothing but confusion, endless voids of gray, punishment, and accusation. People who have lost their communities and at time their families as the result of their need to ask questions that had no answers or even a safe forum for asking.

We as sisters are not asking for ourselves today, because we’ve found our peace. I’m asking for Jenn of February 2012, who was at the bottom of a deep, terrifying hole and couldn’t see the light, who wanted nothing more than to keep her happy little family safe in the community and gospel we had built our lives around. I’m asking for Lori of July 2013 who was asked to stop voicing her concerns in church settings and who literally lacked a single church leader or teacher who even know what she was talking about when she came to them with her quandaries. Because of Jenn of ’11 and Lori of ’13- and all the people we know who have experienced the exact same thingwe can’t read Saturday’s statement from the First Presidency and not have the wind knocked out of us. We can’t help but see it for what it is: a public statement that assures everyone that everything is fine and there are already channels in place for people like us. This only solves the problem for people who think Mormons only leave the church over pride, being offended, or wanting to sin. Unfortunately for the rest of us, our individual experiences prove otherwise.

Don’t tell someone who is currently drowning, unaided, about the abundance and safety of life preservers.

lifepreserver

 

 

 

 

—–
Jenn Kunz is a 30-year-old “retired Mormon” who has been watching the church with love from the outside since my faith crisis in the spring of 2012, after 27 years of stalwart membership. I have two delightful young children and work full-time from home as a web consultant while my husband is a stay-at-home-father. We attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Marietta, Georgia, and I blog occasionally at http://www.seekinggoodness.com.

*drowning picture found at : http://fwallpapers.com/view/drowning

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Lori Burkman

Lori grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She received a BA in English from Brigham Young University and also served a mission for the LDS church. She was married in the Portland temple in 2005 and has three young children. She was a web designer during college, then went on to be a technical writer and editor for 3 years until she went on hiatus to take care of her kids full-time. She loves photography, music, recreational sports, reading, and studying. She's incredibly passionate about Mormonism and is excited to share her story with others.

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293 Comments

  1. Getting answers re mormonism aren’t any more difficult than getting satisfactory answers regarding proof of authenticity of old and new testaments, whether Christ is the Son of God, whether God exists, etc. etc. etc. That’s why most ex-mormons of which I’m acquainted are now atheists or agnostics.

    When it comes to my faith in mormonism, I find it easier to focus on all the good, hard evidences we have (content of the BofM), focus on families, focus on service, no paid clergy, teachings unique to mormonism that make sense (Godhead, families, restoration, pre-existence, etc.). It’s way easier for me to allow the tangible, solid good of the gospel outweigh the endless lists of doubts and questions that can be found. I realize some people aren’t built this way and have to have every question answered. I just approach my faith from a different perspective and it’s been a wonderful blessing for me and my family. So many of the hard questions related to mormonism simply cannot be answered — and one has to decide whether they can hold onto their faith in light of these troubling questions or move onto a different belief system.

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    • The “good, hard evidences” you extol are the very things that raise questions once you scratch off the schmaltzy sheen of correlation and CES rhetoric.

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    • Pleiades /

      I think there’s a big difference between “questions that have no answer” and “questions that we don’t feel like answering”. There is a remarkable amount of change that could happen within the Church if we just bother to have the conversations, but it seems to me like most Mormons just want to stuff everything in the “questions with no answer” category” and be done with it. “Why don’t my daughters get the same amount of attention and funding as my sons?” is much more answerable than “What will we be doing in the afterlife?” but I guarantee I’ve heard more discussion on the second question than the first.

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    • Rehteah /

      You may want to research some of the things your faith is based on.

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    • Bob /

      Hard evidences?
      We have the papyri for the Book of Abraham. Egyptologists find it does not talk about Abraham. What do we make of that?
      We have court affidavits from faithful Mormon women stating they slept with Joseph as his plural wives even though Joseph publicly (and privately to Emma) denied this. He went so far as to send a man on a mission and then take that mans’s wife for his own plural wife. He also sent out missionaries with affidavits denying his participation in polygamy signed by the very women he was sleeping with. We have him married to 14 yr old Helen Mar Kimball.
      We have the family and friend dividing 1-yr waiting policy for temple marriage that was not applied in early days of church and today is not applied in all countries. So some families get to see their loved ones married, others don’t for what?
      Most offensive to me is the church discipline policy “to protect the good name of the church” in light of hard evidence that the leaders of the church have lied (or at best been purposefully misleading) in public statement and have actively and knowingly continued to hide this hard evidence from the general membership and new members.
      There is soooo much more.

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  2. Anarene Holt Yim /

    “They are not apathetic, luke-warm believers, but rather they are people who seek truth and simply want clarity and peace in the gospel and church they have devoted their lives to. ”

    This is exactly how I feel. If we didn’t care so much about both the gospel and the church, the whole thing would be easy, wouldn’t it? We could just leave and be quick and quiet about it, and let the church go whichever way inertia is taking it.

    It’s because we care, because we seek truth that we are having difficulties with some parts of the church as it currently stands, while also wanting to hold onto and help the church we have loved. It would break my heart to leave, but some days, it breaks my heart to stay.

    So yes, I would also love to be able to discuss real questions at church.

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  3. Joseph /

    The official statement would have been more reflective of my experience if that sentence read as follows (edits in caps): Members IN GOOD STANDING MAY ask such questions IN PRIVATE COUNSEL WITH LOCAL LEADERS and earnestly seek greater understanding, WHICH “GREATER UNDERSTANDING” WILL ALWAYS AFFIRM CURRENT CHURCH TEACHINGS OR PRACTICE.

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  4. Holly /

    The message seems to be, “You’re free to ask questions–you’re just not free to expect an honest answer.”

    The overwhelming evidence shows clearly that the Book of Mormon is a fiction. “Believing” that the Book of Mormon is “true” requires an active choice to imagine that black is white and white is black. “Believing” in it impairs one’s ability to ask questions, answer questions, and recognize the truth when one hears it.

    That of course is why people are told to bear testimony before they have one: so they will more easily believe falsehoods are truth.

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  5. Holly /

    Also: you are free to ask questions, and we are free to point out that you are evil for doing so. That’s how free agency works, you know. It’s your choice, just like Ally Isom said about Kate Kelly.

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  6. I respectfully disagree with Holly. I certainly see why Holly or others may not believe — there’s evidence that you can point to that would indicate that it’s fiction; but I also believe that there’s plenty of evidence that points to its authenticity. And, many highly intelligent people agree with me. If you go to ‘mormonscholarstestify.org’ you will find hundreds of scholars in the top of their fields of science, history, etc.; who discuss these evidences and believe. It’s not, as Holly describes, people bearing testimony before they have one. These are highly intelligent people who have weighed all of the evidences and believe.

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    • lana /

      With all due respect, http://www.mormonscholarstestify.org is a joke.
      So the church managed to find 360, over the age of 40, members of the church with degrees to post why they love the church.

      I am 100% sure that I find 360 people who can testify that aliens have performed experiments on them in a round spaceship. Just give me 24 hours.

      Because 360 ‘smart’ people, who you say know ‘all the issues’ (which I highly doubt) post their support for the church on a web page does by no means make the church ‘true’. There are 1.6 billion muslims in the world, and I can bet there are more than our entire membership, with PHD’s, who will testify in the same manner, that Muhammad was a prophet and there is no God but Allah.

      The church has lied. It continues to obfuscate by deception. The church historical issues are huge.

      What you are asking or telling people to do is to ignore the giant hole and rely on the few ‘smart’ people over the other side telling you to jump in it. Or in other words, you’re asking them to rely on the arm of flesh, rather than the brain and feelings which God has given them.

      Bravo to the sisters who wrote this article. You have given me a voice. The longer this double speak goes on, the more the church looks man made and fraudulent.

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  7. Holly /

    JTS: but I also believe that there’s plenty of evidence that points to its authenticity.

    No. There isn’t plenty of evidence that points to its authenticity. There’s very little, in fact.

    Dude. Your choice to believe–your word–the scant evidence supporting the authenticity of the BOM and to ignore the overwhelming evidence that it’s false is not something your fellow human beings should respect or condone. It’s a choice, and a foolish one.

    As for “people bearing testimony before they have one,” please read Boyd K. Packer’s talk “Candle of the Lord.” that’s exactly the approach he recommends.

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    • Holly, i deal with evidence all day long; it’s what I do for a living. I’ve read just about every argument that points to the BofM as being fiction. Some of it is compelling; I don’t disagree. But I also believe that there is just as much compelling evidence that points to its authenticity. It’s okay that we disagree; but just because I believe (and hundreds of other scholars) doesn’t make me or them ‘foolish’. I have many atheist friends that would call you foolish for believing Christ is the Son of God or that God exists.

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      • lana /

        “I deal with evidence all day long.”

        Again, with all due respect. you obviously have some ego issues. If the church makes you feel superior with your ability to see the clothes when their are none, then that’s fine.

        But it still doesn’t mean the emperor is dressed to the nines. It just means you choose to see it that way.

        Hell, even the church is beginning to admit that perhaps the emperor is not as fully dressed as they had previously implied.

        I feel bad for you. In 5 or more years, its people like you who will be hurt, because you believed the crap with all your heart, and stuck with the brethren, only for them to change the goalposts and throw everything you now believe under the bus, in order to protect themselves.

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        • justinbailey /

          And I feel bad for you. Because even though you and your ilk leave the Church, you can’t leave it alone. Don’t try to claim the moral high ground and accuse those within the Church of being “morally superior” when you probably don’t go a day without judging them.

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          • Holly /

            justinbailey: justin

            Dude, that’s because the church can’t leave us alone. It has to act like a crazy stalk ex, insisting that it wants us back, it really does! If we can just stop making it so mad, so it has to hurt us,, even though it doesn’t want to, and anyway, it only hurts us because it loves us, and it’s for our own good!

            If the church wants people to leave it alone after they leave it, it should quit sending home teachers and visiting teachers and encouraging people to give their inactive relatives gift certificates to the Ensign blah blah blah.

            The church behaves like an abuser, and you’re angry that people are smart enough to see that and honest enough to label it for what it is.

            So we don’t have to “claim” the moral high ground. We just own it. And from our superior view, we can see you for what you are.

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          • lana /

            Thanks Holly.

            For your information, I haven’t left the church. I’m stuck in it. They won’t let me leave – they have put themselves between my husband and I. They force me to stay, by emotionally manipulating my husband with fear rhetoric that he will lose his children and be damned in the eternities.

            They abuse those who doubt, who are emotionally vulnerable. They may not like it, but they deserve the label of cult.

            To leave, it looks like I must make myself a single mom. They would strip me of my dignity, my family, my structure, and my ability to feed my children, because I choose to follow my conscience and the answers which I feel God has provided me.

            They tell me to trust the arm of flesh and to not rely on my own feelings. They tell me to stop questioning and just be obedient to a handful of men I’ve never met in my life, and who have repeatedly lied to me. They expect trust when none is deserved.

            They deny me that access to my own relationship with Deity, and my own spiritual answers when they tell me anything I feel or think is wrong.

            The prefer me gone – but by myself. They wish to keep my husband and children. I will fight that to the end.

            The church is abusive. Its deceptive. There love is one-way. You must worship the institution and the brethren and submit your will to them, not God, certainly not your conscience.

            As Holly suggested, my children keep getting visits without my permission by home teachers – grown men, pushing prophets and false beliefs and teachings that even the church now admits are false. They send missioaries around. They hold secret meetings with my children’s father. They disregarding my right as a mother yet plead for me to give them the right to control me.

            They plead for the right to contexualise. They had their chance 40 years ago. Or 100 years ago, to contexualise and tell their story accurately.

            When they leave my family alone, then I can move on and leave them alone.

            They pick the fight, not us.

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  8. Holly /

    for example: horses, chariots and steel did not exist in the Americas before Columbus showed up. That right there should be enough to make any intelligent, thoughtful person refuse to affirm the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

    If it’s not enough for you, well, clearly you value something other than evidence, and you have the right to do so. But don’t expect others to respect you or take your ideas about evidence and belief seriously.

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    • Holly, there’s far more compelling evidence (than horses and steel) that the BofM is fiction; I’m not uneducated on these topics. Some people thought, since the glove didn’t fit O.J. Simpson, that he didn’t murder his wife and her boyfriend. It’s okay that you don’t believe the BofM, it’s okay if you think O.J. Simpson is innocent. We can disagree and it doesn’t make us foolish.

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      • Holly /

        JTS:
        Holly, there’s far more compelling evidence (than horses and steel) that the BofM is fiction; I’m not uneducated on these topics. Some people thought, since the glove didn’t fit O.J. Simpson, that he didn’t murder his wife and her boyfriend.It’s okay that you don’t believe the BofM, it’s okay if you think O.J. Simpson is innocent.We can disagree and it doesn’t make us foolish.

        I’m not going to mess with the OJ stuff. As for the BOM….

        Well, good. I’m glad you agree that there is far more compelling evidence than a host of anachronisms in the BOM that it’s a fiction. My point wasn’t that three particular anachronisms–horses, chariots, steel–were the most compelling of all the reasons to refuse to say, “Oh, sure! I totally believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon!” but that they were sufficient, whatever other reasons exist in addition to them.

        The problem isn’t, however, just that people say, “I believe in the historicity of the BOM.” They say, “I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the face of the earth” etc.

        And they don’t. They don’t know any such thing.

        You are totally welcome to believe that aliens are eavesdropping on your thoughts. You are totally welcome to believe that God and Jesus and a bunch of angels are eavesdropping on your thoughts. You are welcome to believe that your emotions serve as some sort of incontrovertible “proof” that your prejudices and guesses and hopes are God’s truth. I honestly don’t care if you don’t and I also don’t care if such beliefs make you foolish.

        But the thing is, you make all those things an issue. I really honestly would rather go my whole life without finding out a single thing about your relationship to supernatural beings who eavesdrop on your thoughts.

        But you make pronouncements about your faith. You make your beliefs a topic of concern.

        And then you get upset when people go, “Wow, that sounds like nonsense.”

        I haven’t bothered to tell you my beliefs because I honestly don’t care what you think of them. it is totally OK with me that other people don’t agree with me. That’s why I don’t belong to an organization that expects me to convert other people to the beliefs I hold now.

        But you? You do belong to an organization that expects you to try to convert others to your beliefs, and the condescending way you talk to Jenn about her change in beliefs makes it clear that it’s NOT really OK for you that she no longer has the same beliefs you do.

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  9. anonymous /

    This is one of the safest blogs; I appreciate the work that Lori and Jenn have put into this.

    I guess that experiences I had on my mission, etc. taught me to be very untrusting of leaders.

    And then later even worse experiences taught me that nobody cared.

    I always get too personal, and there is a reason I am ‘anonymous’ on here–

    but my journey has taken decades, and now, not by choice, but by necessity (not spiritual, but physical) I am no longer able to go to church at all. Ever. Possibly ever again. I’m not young.

    This has been interesting. It’s been interesting to see how people have reacted, and I have come to feel sorry for them. What I have learned is that I do have a Savior, and He’s probably giving me an incredible blessing to make me unable to go to church, even though it’s a pain in other ways (and I can’t go anywhere else either–LOL!)

    Pat answers don’t work. Maybe in the early stages, but not when someone has been devastated by bitter trials, etc.

    I learned that Jesus did care. Not the Jesus I was not taught about as a girl, a believing and trusting little LDS girl, oh, my!

    The Jesus who hung out with all sorts of sinners–

    The Jesus who knew hell, because He had been there–

    not the sanitized Jesus that is preached.

    The men I barely think of–

    I don’t have room for them. I have room for my family, and I am blessed that they not only understand but generally feel the same way–

    I also have learned some interesting things about the Book of Mormon, and I recommend Daymon Smith’s cultural history of the Book of Mormon. If you’ve already been around the history block, you can handle this.

    God bless you, sisters. My sister and I are on the same ‘wavelength’, too; it’s a real blessing.

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  10. Holly /

    JTS: I have many atheist friends that would call you foolish for believing Christ is the Son of God or that God exists.

    What evidence would you possibly have for imagining that I do believe those things?

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  11. Holly, you seem to feel that because someone believes something that you can’t understand, they must be stupid, and that society should not respect these people. That is ridiculous and completely disqualifies you from being part of a civil conversation about this topic.

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    • Thank you Jackie; you stated it far better than I did.

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    • For what it’s worth, I (a non-believer) do believe for some folks there IS evidence (which, to me, includes personal experiences) enough for belief in the BoM, and for them, I want it to be a healthy belief that leads them towards peaceful goals. Truly.
      But unfortunately there isn’t enough outward, empirical evidence to support belief on its own, and not everyone gets the witness promised in Moroni. I do think there is room for believers and non-believers to respect each other, though it becomes much more difficult if either side persists in preaching that there is only one truth, and it is universal and eternal, and those who belief differently are in some way inferior.

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  12. Corbin
    Corbin /

    Thank you for so clearly expressing the disingenuousness of these claims by the LDS Church that its members are “free to ask questions” and that there are “many avenues” in which to do so.

    Unfortunately, this is not true and I knew Ally Isom was being dishonest when she said so.

    The Church is not about “asking questions.”

    The Church is about controlling information.

    On the flip-side of the point you raise, all Church teachers are provided a manual written by the Church Correlation Committee. The questions are provided in the manual.

    These correlated questions are the only questions one is “free to ask” in Church.

    The manuals encourage teachers to use the manual, only the manual, and nothing but the manual.

    If the teacher feels they still need to go beyond the correlated manual, they may do so, but only if they restrict their outside sources to other “correlated” material.

    When I was a Gospel Doctrine teacher (released four years ago), I did not restrict myself to correlated material. I found out a couple of years later that I had been prohibited from teaching in any other classes in church.

    A zealous bishop had written up a list of approved substitutes; only people on the list were approved to be called upon to teach when the regular teacher was not available.

    I was not on the list.

    A few months ago, my wife taught in Relief Society about the fact that women in the early days of the Church performed many ordinances that are today exclusively associated with the male-only priesthood.

    A dutiful member of Relief Society made a bee-line to the bishop’s office to report this breach of correlated conformity.

    The bishop took no action.

    Not long after, the bishop’s wife taught a lesson in Relief Society that covered some of the same issues.

    What happened?

    The Stake Relief Society “somehow” got wind of it and called the bishop’s wife into a meeting where she was told that her teaching was inappropriate and that she needed to stick to the manual.

    I had a phone conversation with a dear friend in Utah who is the Sunday School President of his ward. There is a brother there who teaches in Gospel Doctrine class once a month.

    “Somehow” the Stake Sunday School President found out about it and contacted my friend within the past several days to suggest strongly to him that the non-correlated Gospel Doctrine teacher be released from his calling.

    Those who have been members of the LDS Church for any length of time are familiar with these types of actions that are done for one purpose, and one purpose, only–to make sure that there is nothing discussed at church that is not pre-approved and predigested by the Correlation Committee.

    Those who diverge will be corrected.

    Those who do not conform will be released.

    Those who questions will be silenced.

    Those who ask questions too loudly will be disciplined; even excommunicated.

    That is the truth about how free members are to “earnestly seek greater understanding” in the LDS Church.

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    • I think there’s a lot of truth in Corbin’s post; yet I disagree with his conclusions (i.e, “those who diverge will be corrected, those who do not conform will be released, those who question will be silenced, etc.”). So much depends on how those controversial things are taught and how they are presented. My experience has been completely different from Corbin’s. I always question, I always enjoy discussing the hard issues and I’ve never been silenced or released — quite the opposite. If you teach these things from a position of faith — it’s typically well-received (at least in my experience).

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      • Michael /

        But JTS, is it enough to know that you feel you may be a questioner in your ward, if others cannot be questioners in theirs? Just because your ward is accepting of you, does that mean that people who feel they cannot behave that way in their own ward are just misunderstood? Just looking at the negative? I feel like to the extent that members DO raise questions and correct the correlated manuals and folklore many members believe, only to get negative responses, is a serious problem that stems to the foundation of how the church operates. Just because your ward is a place that is comfortable for you doesn’t make it better for everyone else.

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        • Lori Burkman
          Lori Burkman /

          1,000 amens to Michael here. I’m very glad some people have receptive wards for questioners or “out of the box” mormons; many writers here at rational faiths have wards like that. It is not my personal experience though.

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    • George Moran /

      “Resistance is futile….you will be assimilated.”

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    • This is so true. I was released from several callings in the past for teaching what I felt to be the truth. I gave up and finally left the church. I realized I don’t want to be controlled anymore. I am so much happier this way.

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  13. Holly /

    Jackie Bailey:
    you seem to feel that because someone believes something that you can’t understand, they must be stupid, and that society should not respect these people.That is ridiculous and completely disqualifies you from being part of a civil conversation about this topic.

    No, Jackie Bailey. It’s precisely because I do understand LDS belief that I think society is not obligated to respect the beliefs of people, intelligent or otherwise, that fly in the face of logic and evidence.

    Society is not obligated to respect people who think NASA faked the Moon landings. Society is not obligated to respect people who think one race is truly superior to another. Society is not obligated to respect people who think that a badly written 19-century novel is a translation produced by a guy looking at a rock in a hat in order to access ancient writings carved into gold plates.

    Your failure to understand that respect for ideas is contingent on their viability is ridiculous and completely disqualifies you from being part of a rational conversation about this or any other topic.

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    • Corbin
      Corbin /

      Society is obligated to respect the religious beliefs of all persons.

      Civilized society, at any rate.

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    • Mark /

      So, in other words Jackie is correct and you aren’t a reliable source to go to for civilized conversation. Justify it all you want but the “I know Mormons are stupid BECAUSE I USED TO BE ONE!” is a tired argument and a poor one to boot. It also isn’t a logical reason to act like a complete ass.

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  14. Corbin
    Corbin /

    Or perhaps I should amend that last statement to say that this has been “my experience” as to how free members are to ask questions and seek greater understanding in the LDS Church.

    I understand there are some wards where more freedom in this regard is to be found.

    I believe they are generally located in the northeastern United States, and frequently appended to institutions of higher learning.

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  15. Lori, I can appreciate the desire to get answers about gospel topics you don’t understand. I believe the first presidency when they say that questions are welcome for those who earnestly seek answers.
    That being said, I have been in Sunday School and or Relief Society lessons with you when you’ve “asked questions”. My recollection is that instead of asking, you stated that the information being taught by the teacher was wrong. There is a difference in asking and telling.
    Some questions will not be answered in this life. FAITH is required. FAITH in JESUS CHRIST. Asking your questions to Heavenly Father requires faith that you’ll get an answer in His timeframe. I’ve never heard the church leaders tell us not to ask – in fact the leaders mentioned in their statement that the LDS church was restored because of a question.
    Kate Kelly was not asking questions. She had a particular belief, and she wanted the church to give her what she wanted. That is not going to happen. She can claim that she was asking a question, but that is not true. She was whining to get something she wanted. That is not even close to the example that Jesus Christ has given us for finding truth.
    You seem to be going about your search in much the same way. you’ve told me that you will come back to the church when they admit certain things or apologize for certain things. That is not asking questions. Again, that is demanding something that you don’t deserve to have based on your behavior.
    If one of your children came to you and kept repeating, “I want a cookie, I want a cookie, I want a cookie”. Would you give them a cookie? I wouldn’t think so.
    The fact that you have stopped coming to church, that you have left church standards of dress behind you, and that you keep harping on the unfairness of treatment that you didn’t deserve leads me to believe that your crises of faith is not that at all. It is a crises of not getting what you want.
    I wish you luck in finding a way to have the truth, the ordinances, the authority and the gospel in any other church on the earth. You won’t find it. Someday you’ll realize that you turned your back on the truth because you selfishly wanted something that wasn’t important in the eternal scheme of things.
    Talking smack about the church will only make it harder to come back.
    I love you, but I WILL NOT sit back and let you paint the church in a light that is simply INCORRECT. You are being deceived if you believe that the church is trying to manipulate, confuse or oppress anyone. You know better. You know better.

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    • But Jackie, what do you do when the information the teachers are teaching- the information in the manual- is in fact wrong (demonstrably so), in a way that is only faith-inspiring for as long as people don’t find out the full story? How is staying silent on such a ticking time-bomb the “faithful” action?
      The reason so many people are hurting is because no one dared to ask those questions in the sunday school classes of their youth. No one knew to tell them about the true nature of the first vision or the translation of the BoM, so when they do learn, it is faith-destroying, rather than faith-affirming, when it doesn’t need to be destructive?
      Faith does not mean silently letting people tell a part of the story- a part you know will hurt people eventually when the full story comes out. Integrity and faith, some might argue, would demand that you DO ask the questions, that you seek out truth. It took FAITH for me to put everything on the line, potentially lose everything I had built my life around, hoping all along that my integrity of love of truth would lead me to answers and peace. It did.

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      • I agree with you Jenn and I think the church (and many of its teachers) are doing a better job of openly discussing and tackling these hard issues. The difficult job of teaching different versions of things like the first vision, how the BofM was translated, etc., is that some of these evidences are based on hearsay and are not completely reliable. You have people (on both sides of the fence) presenting their versions of the evidence in an exaggerated light. That’s why I love Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling — he tackles most of the most difficult issues and puts them in an accurate light. It’s a great book that has brought many ex-mormons back to the fold.

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        • Whereas it is the book that started my trip OUT of the fold- I read it hoping to strengthen my testimony in a weak area, and ended up finding out that I was woefully ignorant and felt deeply betrayed.
          Though I do agree it is a great book and appreciate the move towards more transparency and honesty. But I think the church can expect to see a chunk of people leave now as they become more transparency- it will come as a shock to many- but hopefully in the long run it will be a healthier, more honest place for those who stay (and.or come back to it).

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          • I agree with you Jenn — I think the transparency will lead to more people leaving; especially since the ones who most vocally disseminate this information put it in the most negative light possible. There’s plenty of highly educated, highly informed LDS folk, they just aren’t the blogging in-your-face types so you rarely hear from them. Most of the bloggers are disgruntled ex-mormons anxious to get more into their fold. (at least it seems that way.)

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      • Jenn, how can you conclude that the manuals are wrong? You are likely reading words from people who had disagreements with the church or leaders of the church, and you seem to easily believe that anything that contradicts what you learned growing up is the falsehood. Why not believe the other way? Why so easily doubt?
        The ONLY way to know what is true is to ask God. That is done by asking specific questions to Him in faith, believing that the answer will come.
        You cannot learn truth by getting angry or assuming that you have been lied to or deceived. The reason why you want to know truth is important. If you’re trying to prove the church wrong, you’ll always find those who will provide evidence for your argument.
        The same applies on the other side. If you give the church the benefit of the doubt, and want to believe the teachings of the church are true, AND you ask people who have had great experiences in the church the necessary questions, then you’ll find proof to support that argument.
        It really depends on what you want. You’ll find evidence to rationalize what you want. We all do.

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        • lana /

          The church had the benefit of doubt for 40 years. It betrayed it by not being honest.

          Sick of hearing that argument – the church HAD the unwavering trust of people like me. It failed us.

          I’ll throw this right back at you:

          “You’ll find evidence to rationalize what you want. We all do.”

          I spent an entire year, every day, attempting to find evidence to rationalize staying in the church.

          In the end, you have to face the truth, that everything you’ve ever known was at the very most, a pleasant, reassuring myth.

          From your tone, I’m guessing you believe that anyone who leaves the church does so because they want to ‘sin’. As more and more people leave, I hope that is one myth that you will dispel.

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        • Holly /

          Jackie Bailey:
          Jenn, how can you conclude that the manuals are wrong?

          If you read not just the manuals but the material they are actually supposed to illustrate, you really can’t conclude anything else.

          http://godlessdoctrine.blogspot.com/

          Jackie Bailey:It really depends on what you want.You’ll find evidence to rationalize what you want.We all do.

          You are certainly proof of that, Jackie Bailey. You want to rationalize your belief that things that are self-evidently false are actually worth putting your faith in, and somehow, you do.

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        • seasickyetstilldocked /

          Jackie, the manuals are a joke. The fact that you seem to be unaware of this is nobodies fault but your own. Every major aspect of the restoration from the cornerstone to the capstone has been sanitized in the most faith promoting way possible and now it is blowing up in the face of the church. You don’t get to act like all the available information in the Church curriculum surrounding the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, polyandry, polygamy and everything else is remotely close to fair disclosure.

          The facts surrounding the truth claims matter. How else are you really supposed to know what you are praying about? If the facts surrounding things like the first vision, translation of the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith’s behavior surrounding polygamy and polyandry don’t matter when praying to God, then why tell any facts at all? If the facts do matter, then why not tell the full story?

          Do you know what we do as missionaries? We tell our investigators the “facts” surrounding the restoration. We tell them the facts that support the truth claims and then we ask them to pray about the truth claims. How do you think it would go if we told them the facts like Joseph charging money by representing he could find buried treasure using a rock and a hat and that by the same method (the process for which he was found guilty of fraud) he produced the Book of Mormon…….and then told them to pray if the Book of Mormon is true. Why don’t we do that? How do you think that would work out? I can give countless examples and yet you want to act like making a decision about the church is some sort of 50/50 proposition and God just tips the scales toward the truth.

          You either don’t know how lopsided the facts are in favor of the church being made up or you are ignorant of all the facts or you are just engaging in magical thinking. The fact that you think anyone on this site is assuming anything about the church is insulting. The people on this site have been just as active as you have ever been, including me. Don’t mistake anger for ignorance.

          Why don’t you read Mormon Enigma and get back to us.

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        • Jelph /

          Jackie Bailey stated: “Jenn, how can you conclude that the manuals are wrong? You are likely reading words from people who had disagreements with the church or leaders of the church, and you seem to easily believe that anything that contradicts what you learned growing up is the falsehood. Why not believe the other way? Why so easily doubt?”

          Sister Bailey, I can’t say I know you or know what you’ve read, but if you haven’t already done so I highly recommend you read Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling (available through Deseret). I’d also recommend reading through some of the Church’s essays on it’s website regarding certain controversial topics as well as the various essays available through FAIR. All of these are sources I believe you will find palatable.

          In short order, you will discover the correlated versions taught in our manuals are not complete, in any sense of the word. In short, Jenn is correct in her criticisms; the correlated materials are woefully inadequate in providing the average member an accurate picture of the history of our Church.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      Jackie, I wanted a church that acted with integrity, that allowed me to be informed about what I was part of before making eternal commitments in it, before serving a mission at my own expense. I want accountability, yes. I want a church I can be proud of, yes.
      Yes, I absolutely spoke up in class when the lesson manual was saying things that the church records themselves show not to be true. You know nothing about the questions I asked the bishop in private. You have NO idea my experiences in other wards or on my mission. You know nothing of my sister’s story who cowrote this. Stop accusing me of things you know nothing about!!! The fact that you bring up my dress standards and call me a kid wanting a cookie shows just how thoroughly you don’t have empathy for me and are more excited to judge than to allow me to express my true story.

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      • The only one who seems judgmental and angry is you Lori. You’re the one throwing some pretty hefty stones.

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        • Who has she judged?

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        • Lori Burkman
          Lori Burkman /

          For those who don’t know–Jackie was in my ward and RS presidency during the biggest fallout of my faith crisis.
          JTS, I don’t see how Jackie’s comment at me is fine but my response is judgmental and angry. I don’t like being accused or labeled, plain and simple. Jackie has no idea what I’ve been through so her comment is nothing but an attempt to discredit my essay. This isn’t solely based on my experience in her ward. It is about my life, and also that of my sister, and the many many many people who we have talked to since who have had similar experiences. I don’t like being told that I’m not deserving of answers or fair treatment. Jackie didn’t ever reach out or even ask me what I was going through before telling me to leave the church in FB comments. She again and again accuses my motives and refuses to allow the fact that my experience is completely different than her own or what she knows of me. Now she is calling me out for my dress standards (which also are none of her business). It is treatment like this by ward members that makes wards an unwelcoming environment and caused me to no longer attend. Thanks for the life preserver Jackie!

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          • justinbailey /

            “I don’t like being accused or labeled, plain and simple.” Guess what? No one does. I hate to burst your bubble, Lori, but the vast VAST majority of the articles on this blog are judgmental of “regular” Mormons and it, yes, accuses and labels them. In these very comments, you’ve accused the Church of being deceitful, lacking integrity, withholding information, and lying in its manuals. Are these not accusations? Is this not labeling? And why are YOUR accusations and labels okay? Because they’re coming from you? If you don’t realize this is a two way street, you’re going to have a very tough time in post-membership, indeed.

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          • I have tried to throw you a life preserver, but you have chosen to hang on instead to the crap that others are throwing you. How is that my fault? How is that about me being judgmental?
            It seems that I must be totally supportive of your views, yet my views are just mean and judgmental. You don’t want a life preserver anymore. You seem to be enjoying being a victim too much.

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      • Lori, again you say, “I want….”, “I want…..”, “I want…” Thank you for making my point. I didn’t hear ONE question, just demands and desires for something that you want.
        Answers do not come by making demands. And I’m beginning to think that you don’t want answers, but compliance by the church. That’s what OW wants too. They are going to be disappointed.
        If you sincerely want to KNOW, then you have to ASK Heavenly Father.
        History can be rewritten based on the information you choose to believe. I am surprised that you have chosen to believe men and not inspired prophets of God.

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        • John /

          You want questions Jackie? Here you go?

          Why did Joseph Smith claim the Book of Abraham was translated from ancient papyri when modern Egyptoligists have concluded that the same papyri are nothing but common funerary texts? And why does the Church continue to support Joseph’s claims even though they have the evidence in front of them?

          In regards to the Book of Mormon translation, why has the Church advanced the story that Joseph translated the gold plates as he read them or as he used the Urim and Thummim, when in reality the real method is that he placed a stone in a hat and then placed his head in the same hat? So we are clear, the question is not about the method of using a stone in a hat. The question is why the Church would willfully tell its members one story when they knew it wasn’t true. That is the definition of being deceitful.

          Would you like some more questions? There are plenty. I’ll let you wrestle with those ones.

          And in case you think I am making these things up, I encourage you to check out the latest essays put out by the Church. They admit that Joseph used a stone in the hat. Nevertheless, missionaries continue to teach the untrue version.

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          • Lori Burkman
            Lori Burkman /

            For me as well, I have found the fact that the church and missionaries continue to teach the restoration narrative in a way that is NOT representative of what actually happened as proof that there is good cause for cover up. The historical evidence overwhelmingly shows a very different version of the translation than anything the church has ever taught in its classes. If it were stand alone truth, then why the need to make sure members never hear about it?

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        • Garrett /

          Jackie….can you please give me an example of how the prophets are inspired? Was Joseph smith inspired when he threatened women that their families would be damned if they didn’t marry him? Was Joseph smith inspired when he married a 14 yr old? Was Joseph smith inspired when he lied to Emma about his polygamy? Was Joseph smith inspired when he burned the printing press? Was Brigham young inspired when he placed the ban on blacks from receiving the priesthood or going to the temple? Were the subsequent 130+ years of prophets inspired when they continued on with the same racism? Were the leaders of the church duri g those 130+ years inspired to make numerous racist comments that if read with out knowing it was from Mormon apostles and prophets could have been taken as kkk verbiage?was Brigham young inspired with his blood atonement doctrine? Was he also inspired with his Adam/god doctrine? On that note, what have modern day prophets actually done other than give nice little sound bites at conference that can be turned into memes? These men are called as prophets , seers, and revelators….give me one thing other than policy changes that these men have prophesied, revealed, or foreseen….the fact of the matter is there is nothing. Everything “inspired” that these men are the equivalent of policy changes and anything that any good corporation would do. Before you start attacking Lori, who obviously has gone through a lot on her journey, do some research. You are so caught up in he church being the answer for everyone and everything. Before you claim that the church isn’t whitewashing it’s history, covering things up, etc, do some research. Maybe, just maybe you’ll discover that the church has been anything but honest with you. As a temple recommend holder you are asked if you are honest in all your dealings with your fellow man. The organization of LDSinc cannot truthfully state that they are honest in all their dealings. I love that you flip the table and talk about how history can be written on what you choose to believe. This shows me that you don’t understand how the LDS church has rewritten their own history multiple times over so that it is faith promoting and whitewashed. Do some research and get real facts before you tell people that they are choosing to believe an incorrect, rewritten history.

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        • Holly /

          Jackie: what the heck is wrong with wanting a church with integrity?

          It’s something any decent person should want.

          Are you saying that you DON’T want a church with integrity?

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        • lana /

          Jackie – you are a horrible person.

          You are the typical judgmental Mormon that is doing more damage to the church than any anti-mormon website or ‘essay’ ever could.

          You cannot claim to have the spirit of Christ and be so unbelievably mean and rude to someone.

          Walk away. Turn off the computer. Lori didn’t ask you to read her blog. You are choosing to be offended. Return to your insular community if you wish groupthink rather than free think not to distrupt your mental health.

          Unfortunately, the world does not bow to your opinion.

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          • JTS /

            Lana – I believe that everyone on this site would have to agree that calling Jackie “a horrible person” is one of the most judgmental statements one could ever make. It’s so ironic to me that you are upset at Jackie for being judgmental when you make statements like that.

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          • Holly /

            Lana – I believe that everyone on this site would have to agree that calling Jackie “a horrible person” is one of the most judgmental statements one could ever make. It’s so ironic to me that you are upset at Jackie for being judgmental when you make statements like that.

            Jackie IS a horrible person. I’m glad Lana pointed it out.

            For the record: I’m not upset that Jackie is judgmental. I’m indignant that she is so arrogant as to imagine that God shares her judgments, and that rather than admit that she’s a mean, judgmental witch, she instead uses a classic tactic of abusers and insists that her cruelty is “love.”

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        • Lori Burkman
          Lori Burkman /

          Jackie, I have discussed questions with you that night we talked on the phone and you simply told me I was misled by the books I was reading. I have discussed my questions with the bishop extensively. I even printed them all out and complied them into a 150 page notebook. I have mountains of questions and I asked them sincerely. You can’t just say I have demands because you honestly don’t know me or my story. And calling me spoiled and asking for a cookie is totally a low blow. Why shouldn’t I require something I’ve dedicated my life and time to to be honest and forthcoming? Why is that a “cookie” demand? Shouldn’t we all seek such a thing from the communities or religions we are part of?

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      • lana /

        I would ignore her. She clearly has no clue about the restoration or the early foundational history of the church she belongs to. Its clear from what she says – she has NO idea of the issues, which are not from hearsay by exmormons on the web – another lie from the pulpit.

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    • lana /

      “My recollection is that instead of asking, you stated that the information being taught by the teacher was wrong. There is a difference in asking and telling.”

      There are several things that are taught in church that are clearly wrong. You can deny that till the cows come home, but its the truth.

      “Some questions will not be answered in this life. FAITH is required. FAITH in JESUS CHRIST.”

      We are not being asked to have faith in Jesus Christ. We are being asked to have faith in Joseph Smith. And by all accounts, his character and behaviour makes him suspect.

      “Again, that is demanding something that you don’t deserve to have based on your behavior.”

      What an abusive, disgusting thing to say to someone. Passive aggressive statements that somehow, some people are not entitled to know the truthfulness of the church eliminates YOU from any meaningful discourse.

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      • Lori Burkman
        Lori Burkman /

        “We are not being asked to have faith in Jesus Christ. We are being asked to have faith in Joseph Smith. And by all accounts, his character and behaviour makes him suspect.”

        That’s really it. My faith in Christ or God is completely separate from Joseph Smith and his suspect/creepy behavior and some of his doctrines.

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    • Holly /

      Jackie, you’ve shown repeatedly that you are immune to reason and logic and utterly lacking in compassion and empathy and cannot even begin to imagine how your statements sounds to anyone who isn’t, like you, a caricature of abusive religious intolerance and coercion trying to depict itself as love–

      but seriously, lady: you make the church look worse than a disgruntled exmo ever could. A host of bloggers arguing that Mormons are narrow-minded, self-deceived abusers couldn’t make the point nearly as well as your hectoring insistence that Lori is a naughty child asking for a cookie and you’re only being a complete witch to her out of “love.”

      You, Jackie Bailey, of Emerald City Consulting, Speaker ~ Coach ~ Practice Development Specialist, you do more to impede successful missionary work than the rest of us ever could. Given how nasty and disingenuous and self-deceived you are, why would anyone ever join your church or hire your company?

      Huh?

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    • Leah Marie Silverman /

      “I love you, but I WILL NOT sit back and let you paint the church in a light that is simply INCORRECT.”

      Both parts of this sentence are wrong. You *clearly* do not love Lori. You comments here would be SO DIFFERENT if you did. You have placed principle above person, being right above being kind, and so have shown you don’t really understand the gospel you seem so eager to protect.

      Also, saying information is incorrect because it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t actually affect whether or not it is incorrect. I mean, you can argue against historical facts all you want… but that doesn’t make them less factual, no matter how many times you say it. And the fact that they are true isn’t Lori’s fault. You are shooting the messenger.

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      • Thank you, Leah. So well said.

        Leah Marie Silverman: You *clearly* do not love Lori. You comments here would be SO DIFFERENT if you did. You have placed principle above person, being right above being kind, and so have shown you don’t really understand the gospel you seem so eager to protect.

        So well said. Thank you.

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      • Lori Burkman
        Lori Burkman /

        Oh Leah, thank you so much! That’s really it. This is not remotely what love sounds like. It’s mischaracterizations, assumptions, and a complete lack of empathy.

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    • Seriously lady,

      It’s because of people like you that people like me who really do have questions will never go back to church. You judge you don’t love, and you obviously don’t understand how she is feeling or care. If you did you would never post such a rude response.

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  16. Brandi Monster /

    I think that we can ask our questions. The problem is that in their ignorance the leadership doesn’t respond with the appropriate anwser of I don’t know, let’s wait for the next revelation. We are talking about a church of revelation. They can’t print manuals until they are given the materials to print. I am the least patient person on Earth, but sadly the only thing anyone can do is wait upon The Lord and his timing. Scripture tells us that we won’t get the sign until the trial of our faith. And sadly that is happening right now.

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  17. Well said Jackie Bailey.

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  18. Holly /

    Corbin:
    Society is obligated to respect the religious beliefs of all persons.

    Civilized society, at any rate.

    No, it’s not. It’s only required to respect individuals’ rights to hold whatever beliefs they choose. It is in no way required to respect the beliefs themselves. If we were required to respect the beliefs, we would have to respect the belief that the earth rests on stack of giant turtles or that if you kill a bunch of infidels, you’ll be greeted in paradise by 72 virgins who will spend eternity pleasuring you.

    Society is under no obligation to respect those beliefs. Society is free to roll its collective eyes at and mock those ideas. Same goes for any number of crazy Mormon beliefs: no one is under any obligation to respect them, which is good, because they don’t actually deserve to be respected.

    Society only has to respect the right of people to believe truly wacky things.

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  19. Holly /

    Jackie Bailey: If one of your children came to you and kept repeating, “I want a cookie, I want a cookie, I want a cookie”. Would you give them a cookie? I wouldn’t think so.

    Oh, Jackie Bailey! That’s not what Jesus would do. Jesus said a good parent gives a child what s/he asks for. Don’t you believe in Jesus?

    See Matthew 7:

    7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

    8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

    9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

    10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

    11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

    Jackie Bailey: I WILL NOT sit back and let you paint the church in a light that is simply INCORRECT.

    Good thing, then, Jackie, that Lori is completely accurate in her depiction of the church. Your work here is done!

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    • justinbailey /

      Please ask your Doctor to double your Prozac. You are an angry, angry person.

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      • Holly /

        Dude. Prozac doesn’t treat anger. It treats depression. They’re different emotional states.

        Thanks for helping to prove a central claim I make about Mormons: that many of them are so emotionally illiterate that they think any strong emotion must be anger.

        Please, read some books, see a therapist, and talk to a trained professional about how psychoactive meds might help you. These actions help you get in touch with your own rage and grief, which will make it easier for you to understand and respond appropriately to the diverse emotions others express.

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      • Holly /

        But I do have to agree, Justin, that Jackie is a really angry person. Any chance you’re related and can see that she gets the help she so obviously needs?

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        • Mark /

          Is your job to patrol this blog? You’re acting desperate and pathetic.

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          • Holly /

            Mark: patro

            Well, according to Jesus, it’s my job to watch out for and take care of my neighbor.

            Lori is my neighbor.

            I’m trying to help establish the cruelty and dishonesty of those who attack Lori–and then have the arrogance to claim that they do so in the name of “love.”

            It’s pretty telling that you consider an attempt to follow Christian ideals “desperate and pathetic.” It’s pretty telling that you think it’s “desperate and pathetic” to point out the hypocrisy of people who tell those they’re being horribly mean to that they’re doing it because they “love” them.

            You would probably call it “desperate and pathetic” when a man told a Levite that if he refused to touch an injured man on the road, he was failing to live his religion. After all, everyone knew 2,000 years ago that it was more important to be clean and obedient than to be kind. Only someone “desperate and pathetic” would challenge that accepted belief.

            And yeah, I’m mean to Jackie. But at least I don’t call my meanness “love.” I’m not so stupid as to imagine that it is, and I’m not so stupid as to imagine that anyone else would believe such crap too.

            So I’ll consider the source regarding the charge of pathetic desperation, and take it as a compliment.

            Thanks!

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          • Lori Burkman
            Lori Burkman /

            Holly is my friend and I’m proud to know her. I can’t agree with her tone always, but I absolutely appreciate her showing unsolicited support. It’s awesome to see a friend come and defend you simply because she cares about you and knows you better than what’s being represented by someone else.

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  20. Holly /

    JTS:
    The only one who seems judgmental and angry is you Lori.You’re the one throwing some pretty hefty stones.

    So interesting, how outraged the self-righteous get when someone picks up the “stones” they’ve thrown about and tosses them back. If Lori has “pretty hefty stones” to throw, it’s because people like Jackie have been digging them up precisely so she can throw them at her fellow human beings. You can just stand back and wait for them to fall at your feet.

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  21. JTS:
    Her entire rant was an indictment of Jackie.

    You mean her response to Jackie’s indictment of her? It’s seemed much more like a defense than a judgement of what Jackie does in her own life.

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    • Holly /

      that’s a problem with every conversation about involving attitudes about the church: defending unorthodox opinions are always perceived as an attack, and everyone feels justified in attacking you. Ultimately, every argument the church makes in response to questions is an ad hominem attack: you’re apostate, because you think your questions deserve to be widely discussed. Shame on you!

      And then the church and its members are all surprised when people attack their beliefs and say they don’t deserve respect. Go figure.

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    • Point well taken Ms. Kunz; though it’s more the tone of Lori’s response that is off-putting to me. Her conclusions that the church “lacks integrity” and accusing another of lacking empathy and being judgmental came off angry and uncivil — at least to me.

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      • Holly /

        You might want to keep all that in mind and think about how members sound when they start making accusations about others’ behaviors and belief.

        there are many reasons that somewhere around two-thirds of all members are inactive. One is how judgmental people are, that honest questions proceeding from genuine confusion are met with unhinged tirades like the one Jackie Bailey dumped on Lori. Shame on her, and shame on your for chastising Lori for objecting to it.

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      • Well, I am willing to say that IS an indictment, based on personal experience.
        You know, when I first went to my bishop, in tears, because Rough Stone Rolling had shown me that my beliefs needed a shift at the very least, you know what he told me? To go read the story of Korihor and stop acting like an anti-Christ. He told me I had been beguiled by satan to believe lies (lies I had read in the church-distributed RSR).
        This was at the beginning of my faith crisis, when the only person I had told was my husband, and I was TRYING to stay in the church, and I was utterly broken.
        I will happily “indict” behavior like that, especially when I see happening to others over and over, like an epidemic in the church. I’m not angry that it happened to me, I’m hurt to see it still happening to other people I love. The tone doesn’t seem to matter, the question hardly even seems to matter- it is merely “are you willing to toe the line or not?”

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        • I’m sorry you rec’d that type of advice from your Bishop. Uncool. Maybe one day you’ll re-ignite the spark you’ve lost Jenn. We need good souls like the type you seem to be. For the most part, the church raises incredibly happy, well-adjusted families. Some people are active in the church their whole lives yet never really grasp the true meaning of Christ’s gospel; even some bishops I suppose. But hopefully we aren’t judged too harshly based on some of the bad apples. Most of us are a pretty good lot.

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          • I don’t want to get too personal Jenn: but think of the life that you had (BYU, missions, FHE, WoW, callings on Sundays b/c we’re all unpaid clergy, etc. etc.) that your children won’t have. If my children didn’t have these things, it would be heart-wrenching for me. Absolutely heart-wrenching.

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          • Holly /

            If you don’t want to get too personal, JTS, why do you keep using Jenn’s last name and mentioning personal information? Hard to believe that you don’t want to get too personal when you keep doing it over and over, and clearly know what you’re doing.

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          • Garrett /

            Incredibly happy….yup….that’s why Utah has one of the highest consumptions of porn and antidepressants and gay teen suicides…..sounds like a recipe for incredible happiness.

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          • Garrett /

            I’m a little confused at the statement…think of the life you had….and then followed with things like FHE, WoW, callings on Sunday, etc….and that children were going to miss out on all this. It’s almost laughable…think about the life you could have had, paying 10% of your income to a church that builds malls and prefers investments over taking care of people. Think of the life that you could have spending 20-30 or possibly even more hours a week on church responsibilities when you could have spent it with family. Think of how miserable everyone is that wakes up in the morning and drinks a cup of coffee….or how Unrighteous we all feel when we have a drink of beer or wine like all the prophets did through the early 20th century. Think of how you might be able to actually spend a Sunday with your children doing something that isn’t 3-4 hours in a stuffy church building….maybe you might be able to go and observe nature, or go fishing together, or play sports, or just lounge around and enjoy each other’s company. Think how heart wrenching it will be to be able to seek out truth in whatever form it may come and not be judged by all your peers. Think of how heart wrenching it will be to be able to not have to tell your daughter that she needs to cover up her shoulders or knees because she is responsible for men’s thoughts. Think of how heart wrenching it will be when you don’t have church leaders constantly invading your private bedroom time with their questions about your intimacy with your spouse. Think how heart wrenching it is that your teen daughter will never have to sit by herself in a room, alone with a grown man, who will ask her questions about her sexuality. Man….the more i think about this the more I think how heart wrenching it is that I spent the greater portion of 32 years involved in this religion.

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        • seasickyetstilldocked /

          Jenn’s story is THE story. This is exactly what is happening over and over again in the church. Good, sincere and faithful members are finding out all the facts and they realize that the church is not what it claims to be. This is not a story of being offended, its not a story of being lazy or wanting to sin and it is not a story being fooled by anti mormon information. This the is story of coming to terms with reality and faithful members of the church would do well to acknowledge what is really going on. If you want to keep believing the church is true, then knock yourself out, but it is well past time to think that the members choosing not to believe are doing so for anything other than simple common sense.

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          • Thank you. I wish at the time I had understood how NOT alone I was. But you’re right- it’s happening everywhere, and it hurts to watch almost as much as it hurt to go through it.

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      • Lori Burkman
        Lori Burkman /

        A white-washing of history and demonizing of those who share aspects of history that are not faith promoting is lacking integrity in my opinion. I’m not trying to be slanderous here, but that fits the definition in my book.

        I do think this was done to help the gospel spread far and wide and be the most understandable. I understand why and how it happened–but I still do not think that what was left out of my mormon education and what exists in church manuals is a work of integrity. That is my personal experience though.

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  22. Holly /

    Mark:
    So, in other words Jackie is correct and you aren’t a reliable source to go to for civilized conversation.Justify it all you want but the “I know Mormons are stupid BECAUSE I USED TO BE ONE!” is a tired argument and a poor one to boot.It also isn’t a logical reason to act like a complete ass.

    Nope. It’s a pretty good argument, and a lot of people find it really convincing.

    And you know what really isn’t a logical reason to act like a complete ass? “I believe some old men who say that they’re in charge of God’s church, and I do and think what they tell me.” But the rest of the world has to put up with it from Mormons OVER and OVER and OVER.

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  23. Benjamin /

    AMEN!

    Jenn:
    I do think there is room for believers and non-believers to respect each other, though it becomes much more difficult if either side persists in preaching that there is only one truth, and it is universal and eternal, and those who belief differently are in some way inferior.

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  24. Holly, why are you so angry? It’s okay that we disagree. Take a chill pill.

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    • Holly /

      dude, I’m not angry. You’re right: it’s fine that we disagree. I don’t expect you to see the light or recognize the truth.

      I’m sorry you can’t tell the difference between anger and a knowledge that you. JTS, are completely wrong. You should learn to recognize them, though. It could be useful.

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      • Holly, i’m not the smartest guy out there by any means but I’m quite well-read and well-educated. I’ve weighed all of these things on the daily. I appreciate how you, Ms. Kunz and Lori may no longer have a testimony. I understand why (at least to some extent) you don’t believe. I have a hunch if you put that same doubting zeal into other things: existence of God; Christ literal Son of God, etc., you may likewise lose all of your faith. The Joseph Smith story is just as much of a leap of faith.

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        • Holly /

          JTS:
          I have a hunch if you put that same doubting zeal into other things:existence of God; Christ literal Son of God, etc., you may likewise lose all of your faith.The Joseph Smith story is just as much of a leap of faith.

          What are you talking about? Just as much a leap of faith as… what?

          Anyway, I’ll ask again something I asked before: what evidence would you have for imagining that I believe any of the things you mention?

          In any event, dude, here’s the thing: I have “put that same doubting zeal into” every belief I possibly could. And guess what! Some beliefs hold up under the most intense scrutiny I could bring to bear.

          For instance: the belief that women deserve to be treated as ethical, intellectual, and political equals in all institutions, including churches–that belief did just fine when I focused my “doubting zeal” on it.

          There are things I know and things I believe, and I don’t feel the need to trot them out for you. I accept that my beliefs are only guesses, not knowledge, and will not appeal to everyone, and so I don’t make them an issue.

          I realize that I have higher standards for knowledge, belief and faith than you do, and that’s OK–you’re allowed to have low standards. I don’t expect you to understand anything about a genuine quest for truth.

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        • Garrett /

          The same doubting zeal….really JTS? You honestly think that people who doubt or ask questions have a zeal for doubting? This is quite honestly one of the most ridiculous comments I have read in a long time. People that find out the many untruths, cover ups, whitewashing, etc within Mormonism do so as they are seeking knowledge and truth.there are very few people that you could ever find that have left Mormonism that set out in the beginning to prove it false….an no one does it with a doubting zeal. That some of the problems with the church and the things the leaders are teaching right now. They do not allow for asking questions. They throw clever language in teaching that you can ask questions but not question. They tell you to doubt your doubts. What the hell does that mean anyway? If the leaders were so prophetic and full of inspiration they would have long foreseen this great questioning of the church. They would have foreseen the invent of google that would later expose the whitewashing. They would have seen the waves of people leaving in droves, upset that they have been lied to their whole lives. They would step out of the darkness, out of the closed rooms in which they hide…and they would declare the truth boldly. Instead, they send out their PR machine to answer questions for which they have no answers and hope that the PR spin will be sufficient to squash the discovery of truth. The leaders are not interested in truth. They are interested in protecting their brand of whitewashed Mormonism

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          • Holly /

            You honestly think that people who doubt or ask questions have a zeal for doubting? This is quite honestly one of the most ridiculous comments I have read in a long time.

            It is ridiculous, and more proof that JTS doesn’t really like it’s OK or think well of people who don’t believe like he does. In his heart, he thinks they’re spiritually deficient in some way, but oh, how pissed he gets if you make explicit what he wants to be innuendo!

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    • lana /

      Its really interesting to see that members of the church react exactly the same way over and over.

      Firstly, they testify with passion.

      Then when the response is not what has been taught from the pulpit, they patronise in an attempt to counteract the cognitive dissonance.

      Then when this doesn’t work, the passive aggressive stone throwing begins, in this case about dress standards and implications of ‘sin’- a natural panic reaction when the mind attempts to counteract the cognitive dissonance.

      As members of the church, the narcissistic tendancies are developed because we are taught we are right about everything, that we have all the answers, and that we are better than everyone else.

      After the stone throwing, the member goes back to self agrandizing, patting each other on the back about how righteous they are, that they alone are able to see what others can’t see.

      As a member of the church, you are unable to see this.

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      • Holly /

        lana:
        As members of the church, the narcissistic tendancies are developed because we are taught we are right about everything, that we have all the answers, and that we are better than everyone else.

        Yep. And they get so mad when anyone points this out, or when you do back to them what they do.

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      • Lori Burkman
        Lori Burkman /

        I also find this to be the case. I was told several times by leaders that I could always be comfortable as a mormon in hard discussions because as long as I side with the church then I know I’m right.

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  25. JTS:
    I agree with you Jenn — I think the transparency will lead to more people leaving; especially since the ones who most vocally disseminate this information put it in the most negative light possible.There’s plenty of highly educated, highly informed LDS folk, they just aren’t the blogging in-your-face types so you rarely hear from them. Most of the bloggers are disgruntled ex-mormons anxious to get more into their fold.(at least it seems that way.)

    That’s certainly the narrative the church tries to paint, and that is the way I used to view all apostates. But I’ve learned that “Most of the bloggers are disgruntled ex-mormons anxious to get more into their fold” is a VERY unfair description. I certainly am not eager to turn anyone else’s life upside down the way mine was. I am a firm believer that truth is personal and I have no business messing with someone else’s truth.
    Even if I did seek to destroy the church, I also don’t think any amount of throwing out “non-faith-affirming facts” about church history will sway anyone to my side- people must be asking questions on their own, and finding answers on their own. I think the most destructive thing that can happen to the church isn’t coming from anti-mormon blogs, it’s coming from within, and it’s a shame because it doesn’t need to be that way.

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    • I’m glad your experience is different and I’m glad you approach it the way you do. There’s other very high profile sites (MormonThink, etc.) that are highly, highly aggressive on the anti-mormon peddling — all under the guise of being ‘objective’.

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  26. Holly /

    JTS:
    I don’t want to get too personal Jenn:but think of the life that you had (BYU, missions, FHE, WoW, callings on Sundays b/c we’re all unpaid clergy, etc. etc.) that your children won’t have. If my children didn’t have these things, it would be heart-wrenching for me.Absolutely heart-wrenching.

    Why?

    Many of us wouldn’t be Mormon if our ancestors hadn’t been willing to give up all sorts of experiences and relationships in order to acquire something better.

    My ancestors left their homes and walked across the US in the snow. Why should I expect any less of myself? Why shouldn’t I be willing to do what they did and discard ideas I clearly see are inadequate when something better comes along? Forcing your kids to do something just because you did it–that’s bad parenting and a way to really mess your kids and yourself up.

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  27. JTS:
    I don’t want to get too personal Jenn:but think of the life that you had (BYU, missions, FHE, WoW, callings on Sundays b/c we’re all unpaid clergy, etc. etc.) that your children won’t have. If my children didn’t have these things, it would be heart-wrenching for me.Absolutely heart-wrenching.

    It absolutely was. I sobbed to my husband about it. I had NO IDEA how to raise kids outside of the church. And I loved my childhood and my BYU education. But I also could not knowingly raise them on untruths or set them up for the cognitive dissonance I inherited when I learned the full story. I agonized over this for weeks.

    Since then, I’ve leaned a marvelous thing: the church does not have a monopoly on those things I so loved about it. I can still raise my children with love, and principals, and community. I can teach them about consequences and compassion just like my parents did- the tools I may use are different but the message is the same. (AND I no longer have to worry about potentially harming messages my children would learn as teens in the YM/YW program.)
    I can take the good and leave the bad.

    Better yet, I’ve seen others who have gone down this path- yes, indeed, there ARE “apostate” families that are happy, with well-rounded children who lead responsible happy lives. I could never have imagined such things before. And now I’m living it.

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    • That’s good Jenn (and I don’t say that sarcastically) that you’ve found happiness in your new path; but I’m guessing your kids are still young and I have a hunch you may feel differently one day (perhaps not). All I can ask is that you keep an open mind. Many people in your circumstance have come back in the fold. I’m curious, are your parents still active?

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      • They are. I think they have some questions but overall have firm roots and find peace in the gospel.
        They have been amazingly supportive even though I know it is breaking my mother’s heart. And that’s really my only regret about the whole thing- that there is no way to live authentically the way God seems to want me to be without hurting my mom who has a very specific set of beliefs about the only way to be an eternal family.
        I can’t alter those beliefs, but I also can’t base my decisions on them. But we remain very close, even if things go better when we stay away from the topic of religion. I think the blow has softened a lot over time as she sees that being not-a-member isn’t so miserable and irresponsible as we thought it might be.

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  28. Michael /

    JTS,

    I went to BYU, and oddly enough, I don’t want my kids to go there. I would have said the same thing five years ago when I was still a very active believer.

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    • I’ll admit, though, I am TERRIFIED of the wide-open college options (and expenses!) we’ll have to wade through when the time comes (some 12 years from now). It was so much easier when my decisions were basically made for me.
      Then I remind myself, the church schools were cheaper, but only while I paid ten percent of my income…

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  29. Michael /

    JTS,

    Because no one ever regrets being Mormon. This is the subtle manipulation that says in essence “someday you will be sorry and I kind of hope you are someday, because then I can be the one to say ‘I told you so’ when you come back.’l

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  30. Eljamaki /

    I think this was an excellent post. I’ve been a lifelong member, served in multiple presidencies on both the stake and ward level. I’ve taught early morning seminary. I feel the same drowning that the OP speaks of. I don’t want to be drowning, who does? The fact of the matter is that I AM drowning. I had been taught that polygamy began with Brigham Young as a means to help multiply the church and to help the poor widows make it across the plains. When I came across a woman in my own family history who was one of Joseph Smith’s polygamous wives, I was floored! Not just because he had polygamous wives, but because she was already married to someone else when Joseph approached her. I’ve read her history, there was coercion, threats and curses involved if she didn’t marry him. As I’ve come to learn more about Joseph’s other wives, I learned that of the 34 that he had, 11 of them were married already. So he practiced not just polygamy but polyandry as well. In one instance he sent one of his apostles on a mission to Palestine and married his wife while he was gone. Two of his wives were just 14 years old at the time.

    According to Bushman in Rough Stone Rolling “Richard Bushman, said “There is evidence that Joseph was a polygamist by 1835” (Rough Stone Rolling, p.323). Plural marriages are rooted in the notion of “sealing” for both time and eternity. The “sealing” power was not restored until April 3, 1836 when Elijah appeared to Joseph in the Kirtland Temple and conferred the sealing keys upon him. So, Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1833 was illegal under both the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority; it was adultery.”

    This was the beginning of my questioning. It wasn’t a matter of not having enough faith, it was a matter of trying to find out the truth. I needed to learn more about that time in church history so I could determine for myself the character of Joseph Smith. There are multiple sworn affidavits where he denies practicing polygamy. If he lied about that, what else could he have lied about?
    Yes, I’m hurt, I’m angry, I’m panicking wondering what just happened and what could be the very real implications for me and my family. Who can explain the lies? If it were just polygamy he lied about, perhaps there was a reason, I tell myself. But then I come to learn about how he translated the BOM, the four different versions of the first vision etc. etc. etc. I’m not accessing anti-Mormon material, this is all available at FairMormon and LDS.org. Yes, I’m drowning.

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    • This breaks my heart to hear. I remember being RIGHT THERE. Hang in there, it does get better. And there are a lot of online communities (thanks, Mormon Stories and New Order Mormons) full of people who can help you stay, or help you leave with as little damage possible. *hugs*

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      Thanks for sharing your story here. I SO feel for you and I get it. Solidarity to you my friend. Make use of mormon stories and exploring sainthood groups on FB–they are fabulous supports.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      All very worthy points Lana. I never heard/knew that fanny was 14 (you mention elsewhere). I never paid attention to her age. I don’t doubt it, but do you know where you learned her age? The only 14 year old I was aware of was helen mar kimball.

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  31. Lori Burkman
    Lori Burkman /

    I very much feared the prospect of raising my kids outside of the church, but it is because it is all I have ever known and there is plenty of stories told at church of how people’s lives fall apart when they leave. I haven’t attended church in 9 months as I’ve sorted all of this out and have been shocked at the happiness and peace I’ve found, the solidarity in my family, and the amount of love that I have for people I never would have before. That isn’t to say that all members would experience the same for stepping away; but I most certainly have.

    I have kind feelings for my upbringing and what mormonism added to my life. It will always be part of my life as a result. I call the institution out for lack of accountability or integrity solely for the fact that so much of my extensive education at church white-washed or wholly excluded so many things that, to me, are imperative to know about before making big commitments to the religion (temple, missions). Then I was treated like an untrustworthy anti-mormon for even talking about the issues. This is my experience and I have found that it is shared/mirrored in that of many others.

    JTS, I totally get that you believe and find substantial reason to continue belief. I personally do not at this point–but that doesn’t make me like you or trust you any less.

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  32. Zara /

    Wonderful essay! Today’s correlated church is nothing like the Mormon church of my youth. When I was a kid, I remember adults arguing doctrine and cosmology, discussing the more expansive parts of belief and what it meant. Correlation stamped the individuality out of church and made it nearly impossible to have open conversations in a church setting. We’ve become a people of rules and exclusion, of boundary-drawing and judgment. Jackie’s judgment of Lori under the guise of “defending the gospel” is an example of just how welcoming Mormons are to people with honest questions. Until that climate changes, with encouragement from the leadership and no fear of being hauled into a “court of love,” questioners will be regarded suspiciously by members and bishops, and they will gravitate towards more welcoming environments. The fact that Jackie’s go-to example was that of a child asking for a cookie shows that the modern day church sees its membership as children, and treats them as such. “We said no, because we said so. Now fall in line or go away.” Well, don’t worry–we’re getting that message, loud and clear.

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  33. Anonymous /

    Thank you so much for this post. I am Jenn2011/Lori2013.

    I feel like I am going to throw up from anxiety every single day. JTS’ and Jackie’s comments haunt my dreams. ” You will never REALLY be happy. You won’t get to be with your family in the eternities. You will live to regret this” It is like a tormenting record on repeat in my head. I feel so alone. And scared. I wish people could understand how incredibly unhelpful those comments are. Fear doesn’t create faith. It just creates more fear.

    I have young children but I how can I teach them things I don’t believe? My leaders have more or less given up on me and I don’t blame them. I want to give up too. They are now just making sure I don’t drag my husband down with me. I only wish I knew where I was trying to drag him down too. Hell, I suppose would be most of ward’s answer. I wish I knew they were wrong.

    Jackie, JTS and company: Please understand that we are REAL people struggling. Your words can hurt.

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    • lana /

      Thanks for this.

      This is my fear.

      I am being coherced into allowing my children to be taught things that are not true.

      Examples:

      False: Showing primary children a picture of Joseph translating from plates

      Truth: Joseph Smith received the book of mormon by sticking his head in a hat.

      False: Joseph Smith was well regarded, and was honest. Joseph only used a seer stone because it was a well, known pastime that everyone else also participated in.

      Truth: Joseph Smith and his family were regarded by Christians as occultists. They had a poor reputation and were widely regarded as dishonest, always trying to find buried treasure. His own mother practiced magic circles by drawing circles in the sand and using drops of blood. Joseph Smith belonged to an organised group of scryers. Joseph was eventually convicted in a court of law because scrying with a stone in a hat, was, even back then, considered a fraudulant, conning activity. Joseph Smith admitted in court the charges and vowed to stop doing it. A year later, he was still doing it, this time in order to write the Book of Mormon.

      False: Anthon transcript story.

      True: Anthon wrote and declared the entire story as a falsehood. He claimed he told Martin Harris that he was being conned.

      False: Polyagamy was about widows, whose husband had been killed, and about building up the kingdom.

      True: Very young girls were traded as possessions. Several early apostles are quoted in their own diaries stating such things including Heber C Kimball and Brigham Young. Young men were sent away or denied marriage in favour of the prophet, older apostles and brethren. One young man was even castrated by his bishop because he refused to give up his fiance.

      False: The 3 witnesses never denied their testimony.

      True: The 3 witnesses all denied their testimony.

      False: Most of the dates as to when key aspects of the restoration took place ie: the first vision, the priesthood restoration, Elijah’s visit etc.

      False: The Kirkland temple experience in which many of the brethren saw angels and Christ.

      True: Oliver Cowdrey denied this happened and reaffirmed that the brethren, in the temple, consumed a barrel of wine, and were all drunk. According to him, it was a particularly disappointing experience.

      I could go on and on. You name a significant piece of the restoration and I can give you an alternative, officially documented in church history, version of it. The above scenarios are taken directly from official church historical records.

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      • Dusty /

        Is there somewhere I can read about the 3 witnesses and their denying/not denying their testimony? I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, but haven’t found out much about it. Thank you in advance.

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        • lana /

          Dusty – there is a lot of documents which cite this. You can find some original citations for this in the CES letter http://www.cesletter.com

          There’s a really good summary of the entire picture of their witnessing and then denying their testimonies here: http://exmormon.org/d6/drupal/file9

          Here are some quick references that the church does not tell you, because it clearly complicates the reliability and character of the three witnesses:

          Also Brigham Young said, “Some of the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol 7, page 164, 1859, Brigham Young.)

          MARTIN HARRIS
          Phineas Young wrote to his older brother Brigham Young on December 31, 1841, from Kirtland, Ohio: “There are in this place all kinds of teaching; Martin Harris is a firm believer in Shakerism, says his testimony is greater than it was for the Book of Mormon” (Martin Harris – Witness and Benefactor of the Book of Mormon, 1955, p. 52)

          Martin Harris testified that his testimony for Shakerism was greater than it was for Mormonism. The Shaker’s “Sacred Roll and Book” was also delivered by an angel. (Case Against Mormonism, Tanner, Vol. 2, pp. 50-58; Martin Harris-Witness & Benefactor, BYU 1955 Thesis, Wayne C. Gunnell, p.52.)

          DAVID WHITMER
          David Whitmer said in 1887: “If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to ‘separate myself from among the Latter-day Saints…'” Address to all believers in Christ, p27, 1887 — In Address to All believers, David Whitmer states that he rejects Joseph Smith as a prophet, and deny’s the church has any authority from God. Its available in full online, just do a google search.

          David Whitmer later testified that he did not see the plates literally with his fleshly eyes: He said he saw the plates “by the eye of faith” handled by an angel.(Palmyra Reflector, March 19, 1831)

          David Whitmer then changed his story about seeing the plates and later told of finding them lying in a field and later still, told Orson Pratt that they were on a table with all sorts of brass plates, gold plates, the Sword of Laban, the ‘Director’ and the Urim and Thumim. (Millennial Star, vol. XL, pp. 771-772)

          During the summer of 1837, while in Kirtland, David Whitmer pledged his new loyalty to a prophetess (as did Martin and Oliver) who used a black seer stone and danced herself into ‘trances.'(Biographical Sketches, Lucy Smith, pp. 211-213)

          In 1847 Whitmer declared himself a Prophet of God and proclaimed Oliver Cowdrey was to be his counsellor.(Letter to Oliver Cowdery, by David Whitmer, Sept. 8, 1847, printed in the “Ensign of Liberty,” 5/1848, p. 93; also see ‘Ensign of Liberty,’ 8/1849, pp. 101-104)

          OLIVER COWDREY
          In 1841 the Mormons published a poem which stated “Or Book of Mormon not his word, because denied by Oliver”. Seasons and Times, Vol 2, p482

          Joseph Smith denied this and charged Cowdery with being a liar.(History of the Church, vol. 3 pp. 16-18 and Elder’s Journal, Joseph Smith, July 1838.)

          Church records now show Miss Alger was Smith’s first “spiritual wife.” Oliver was telling the truth!(Historical Record, 1886, vol. 5, p. 233)
          Cowdery was excommunicated for this and other “crimes.”(History of the Church, vol. 3, pp. 16-18) Later, as a Methodist, he denied the Book of Mormon (Times and Seasons, vol. 2, p. 482 and Improvement Era, Jan. 1969, p 56 and “Oliver Cowdery-The Man Outstanding,” Joseph Greehalgh, 1965, p. 28)

          Cowdery publicly confessed his sorrow and shame for his connection with Mormonism.(The True Origin of The Book of Mormon, Charles Shook, 1914, pp. 58-59)

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          • lana /

            *edit: the thing that Joseph Smith denied is missing.

            Oliver found out that Joseph was sleeping with 14 year old Fanny Alger behind Emma’s back.

            Joseph was not happy and called Oliver to a disciplinary council where Joseph denied he was sleeping with Fanny, even though Emma had caught them at it.

            Joseph called Oliver a liar and then had him ex’d.

            Of course, Joseph went on to marry Fanny…

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    • I honestly feel tears well up on each of these comments from people who are currently right there, thrown into the middle of a battlefield. All I can say is: we understand. We’ve been there. It will get better. The truth is ALWAYS worth it.
      I can also say from the other side: it took me a long while to accept it, but I’m not going to be struck by lightning for apostasy. As a matter of fact, in many practical ways, my family’s circumstances have improved drastically. Perhaps by coincidence, sure- I’m not saying leaving the church leads to fortune and happiness- but I certainly didn’t get the regrets and sorrow I thought were built-in to being an apostate. Quite the opposite. Once I finally accepted there was no going back, I felt freer and lighter than I had at any point in my life. And not “free” in a “yay, I can do what I want and sin freely” way, because I understand that consequences still exist and I still love the principals of my youth that have gotten me this far. No, “free” in that I love myself, and feel hope, and can now see the good in the world I had never really seen before.

      The part I can’t help or advise on in any way is how to deal with family members who still believe and may put their beliefs before their relationship with you. I wish I had the answer to that problem, but it is the single most damaging thing that can happen to someone in a faith crisis.

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      • Holly /

        Jenn:
        I certainly didn’t get the regrets and sorrow I thought were built-in to being an apostate. Quite the opposite. Once I finally accepted there was no going back, I felt freer and lighter than I had at any point in my life. And not “free” in a “yay, I can do what I want and sin freely” way, because I understand that consequences still exist and I still love the principals of my youth that have gotten me this far. No, “free” in that I love myself, and feel hope, and can now see the good in the world I had never really seen before.

        this is something people in the church who haven’t gone through a faith crisis–JTS, for instance–don’t understand: those of us who have gone through them sometimes emerge with a new appreciation of the very real, very basic truths in holy writ.

        Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” It’s true, in a way that transcends Christianity and Mormonism. You don’t have to believe that Jesus is the son of god to know that that statement accurately describes an important part of being human.

        Those of us who have been set free through moving from error to truth know, in a fundamental way, what that really means. It’s not just that we say, “Oh, I have a testimony of this idea” and think that it says something about what we value. It’s that some of us KNOW IT because we learned it.

        Same goes with “he who will lose his life shall save it, and he shall save his life shall lose it.”

        By making the heart-wrenching decision to lose all these things you mentioned it would be so heart-wrenching to lose, JTS–“(BYU, missions, FHE, WoW, callings on Sundays”–elements that constitute a life–some of us discover that we have saved our lives.

        While you, JTS, you’re so busy trying to save your life that you don’t see that you’ve already lost it. Same goes for Jackie Bailey.

        Seriously, dude: Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. JTS, get over your fear. You don’t learn and grow until you leave the garden. Taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and let your eyes be opened.

        There is so much more to the world than you, JTS, with your incredibly limited view, can imagine.

        We’re here to tell you, if you have ears to hear, that it’s worth discovering.

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      • Lori Burkman
        Lori Burkman /

        Awe, great post jen. I can definitely say that I’ve NEVER IN MY LIFE seen jen so happy or with so much self-confidence. It is inspiring on many levels.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I’m so sorry you’ve struggled in comparable ways. I’m glad the post resonated with you. For me it has only gotten easier with time and I hope the same for you. Just remember that no one else can define your happiness for you.

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  34. John /

    What a wonderful essay! I am currently facing my own crisis of faith and have found my experience to be much like that of Jenn and Lori. Thank you for sharing.

    I think we can all agree that JTS is trolling these comments. I wonder if he is a Church employee or missionary assigned to blog duty. Please know that you aren’t very good at being subtle. Too many comments and too pro-Church. But please don’t change your methods. You make it easy to spot your true identity.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      JTS has found what works for him and that’s fine. I just hope to always be given room to share my authentic experience as well. I’m glad that you liked the post and it resonated with you. Thanks for your comment.

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  35. Al Anon /

    I have been a member for 6 years, and of course I still harbor some doubts about things. When I have asked questions I have been shut down, told to have greater faith, etc. I have also seen members ostracized or at least dismissed as kooks for asking legitimate questions. There is no doubt the church maintains tight control of information and doesn’t like hard questions. I will look upon the First Presidency’s recent edict as just so much smoke and mirrors unless or until it is backed up with tangible action. I am a believer in many of the teachings of this church, and they bring peace to me, but I am skeptical of much of the doctrine and I don’t know if I ever won’t be. Maybe the most bothersome thing is the concept of “church dress.” It’s one thing to have respect enough to dress appropriately and another to look down one’s nose at people who don’t.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I very much agree about the dress code. I really loved it on my mission in argentina where people didn’t have much so they wore whatever they could (rarely dress clothes). It made for such a humble, beautiful service for me. No pretenses, just honest hearts ready to love and learn.

      I’m sorry you’ve had a rough go of it and I wish you the best in your journey.

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  36. Mr. Black /

    Faith promoting or painting something in a “good” light. Is that good ethical or right? Kind of like saying if I cuss you out in a positive friendly manner…then all is well…

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  37. Eljamaki /

    Anonymous – don’t let ANYONE ever tell you that you will never be happy or that you will not be with your family in the eternities. Think of all the people who have existed since time began. Now think of the number who have belonged to the church. Now think of the number of those people that would actually qualify according to the criteria dictated by the church. I can’t imagine a loving God would offer those blessings to so few of His children. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Jesus’ message to us was about love, not fear. I’ve come to learn for myself that neither blessings or fear are good motivaters for me. Love certainly is. I still feel God’s love for me. He will always love me.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I think this is important to remember. There really isn’t any person, exed ordinance, or lack of community that can sever a personal tie with Christ or God. I know that even if I’m wrong at the end of all things, I’ll still be loved and accepted at the judgement seat for following my heart, seeking out God, and using critical reasoning hand in hand with prayer to find my truth. I don’t think there is fault in that, even if you’re ultimately wrong.

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  38. Holly: ence shows clearly that the Book of Mormon is a fi

    John:
    What a wonderful essay! I am currently facing my own crisis of faith and have found my experience to be much like that of Jenn and Lori. Thank you for sharing.

    I think we can all agree that JTS is trolling these comments. I wonder if he is a Church employee or missionary assigned to blog duty. Please know that you aren’t very good at being subtle. Too many comments and too pro-Church. But please don’t change your methods. You make it easy to spot your true identity.

    You sir are a douche nozzle…and couldn’t be more “I’m smart” but not….good day dee head.

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  39. Crystal /

    Jackie Bailey,

    Seriously judgmental Jackie.

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  40. MarkinPNW /

    Jenn – I find what your Bishop told you, “…go read the story of Korihor and stop acting like an anti-Christ” to illustrate what I find both amusing and disturbing about church culture.

    In the modern correlated church, we claim to believe the Book of Mormon, and to be true followers of Christ. Yet this same culture very much follows the philosophies of the “Anti-Christs” that are condemned so vigorously in that book. “Follow your leaders, and follow the Brethren” is straight up the philosophy of “Nehor the Anti-Christ”.

    “We are the only true church, and everyone else will, at best, inherit a lesser kingdom” is exactly the philosophy of the apostate Zoramites.

    And “you become a better person, more prosperous, and move up in society based on your own performance” (sometimes true in the world, but not true in spiritual things) is the philosophy of Korihor.

    Of course, contemporary Mormon culture takes these teachings of “the philosophies of men” and mingles them with scripture (wait a minute, where have we heard that phrase?), to make them sound so right. Except, according to the Book of Mormon, they are NOT right. In that book, each of these people at least had the integrity to admit that their respective philosophies did not support a belief in Christ and his grace that the Book of Mormon actually teaches. Our own special book, The Book of Mormon, condemns our own contemporary correlated Mormon culture as anti-Christ.

    This just reinforces what you said a few posts later, “I think the most destructive thing that can happen to the church isn’t coming from anti-mormon blogs, it’s coming from within, and it’s a shame because it doesn’t need to be that way.” True, true, true, I could not agree more!

    My own belief is that if we really took to heart and lived what our own scriptures teach us in the Book of Mormon, and the D&C (especially Section 121), many of the complaints and concerns of people such as you, your sister, Holly, Kate, Corbin, etc. would be answered, or at least mitigated.

    Regarding teaching your children “out of the Church”; when my wife would have a crises of faith over some of these issues, especially the “follow your leaders” philosophy of Nehor, my daughter reacted by gaining her own testimony, and becoming a very strong correlated TBM, to the point that my biggest fear is that she may be setting herself up for an even bigger crises of faith of her own some day.

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    • It’s funny, because I thought much the same thing as I read what my bishop asked me to read, which included Alma 32:32- “Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.”
      My seed had every chance to grow, and it did for a time, but it stopped growing, it sopped being good. In which case, I need to cast it away. I’m gonna keep looking for seeds that bear better fruit for me.

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  41. Jonathan Cannon

    It is often possible to bring up hard topics–when you aren’t personally struggling with them, and when you can provide “faith-promoting” answers. No one in my classes minded when I brought up additional aspects of Joseph Smith’s polygamy, or corrected the stories of Thomas Marsh’s excommunication, but they either weren’t paying attention or didn’t have a problem with my rather superficial “answers” to the issues. I think there are substantial answers to many of the problems in church history and doctrine, but they are rarely simple because they involve an entire way of thinking. Once you share that they are simple. But I can’t prove my way of thinking is right. No one can.

    So those with the most need to discuss hard issues–those currently struggling to understand them, not those of us who are comfortable with what we know and don’t know–have no place safe to go. I’ve been fortunate to have my family, good books, and some knowledgeable, faithful friends. I don’t always agree with what they taught me, but I could always ask and never had to have the “right” answer right now.

    I love how the internet has provided communities for questioning and seeking, and I love the examples of people who resist the urge to polarize and correct and give people space to undertake their own journeys. We need these stories. Thanks you, Lori and Jenn.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      Thanks Jonathan. I think it totally depends on the class as to how you are treated for being the one to point out the discrepancies in the Marsh story. No matter what, the full spectrum of mormon experience needs to be represented–and posts like these are meant to help give voice to those who have experienced this aspect of mormonism and correlation.

      Thanks so much for your comment and support. I’ve always loved the type of mormon you are and what you share.

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  42. Holly /

    JTS: I don’t want to get too personal Jenn: but think of the life that you had (BYU, missions, FHE, WoW, callings on Sundays b/c we’re all unpaid clergy, etc. etc.) that your children won’t have. If my children didn’t have these things, it would be heart-wrenching for me. Absolutely heart-wrenching.

    JTS claims it’s OK that people disagree with him. And then he leaves comments like this one, which show that he think it’s “heart-wrenching” if other people’s children don’t have all these things. He clearly doesn’t think it’s OK that other people disagree with him; he thinks it’s “heart-wrenching” that their kids don’t live just like his.

    He lies. The question is, is he aware that he’s lying, or is he so ingrained to say what’s expedient in any given situation that his dishonesty no longer registers for him?

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  43. Corbin
    Corbin /

    It is always gratifying when the comments to a post corroborate the substance of the post itself.

    The post claims there is not a safe place at church to ask questions.

    Many of the comments inadvertently prove this to be true.

    Congratulations!

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    • Leah Marie Silverman /

      These were exactly my thoughts Corbin!

      Jackie and Justin Bailey, JTS, Mark… all these people have responded to this beautiful post with angry, dismissiveness, judgement, and personal attacks. They and people like them are exactly the reason many of us never speak up in church.

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      • Corbin
        Corbin /

        Here’s another illustrative experience.

        About seven years ago, I was attending Sunday school.

        I don’t remember what the subject of the lesson was.

        What I do remember is that, at one point, a distinguished mature sister (and published author!) raised her hand and began to say how she feels church meetings are boring.

        At this, every head in the class turned and every eye was on her.

        The sister immediately modified her statement to something else more acceptable.

        The ways in which Mormons silence dissenting opinions are myriad.

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        • JTS /

          Corbin – that’s a great story. I think in our ward, we all would’ve laughed (knowing that church often is boring!). When you have a lay clergy it’s always a bit hit and miss. Some Sundays are awesome others days are snoozers, no doubt.

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        • Michael /

          You are exactly right, Corbin. The perfect example of Mormons silencing mormons is when they say “it’s fine to question! Doubts are no big deal. Just keep it to your bishop or your relief society.” Because it is okay to ask questions, just not on the Internet.

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        • Corbin,

          Do you think the church has changed significantly in this area over the last decade or two? Was there a time when there was more openness in the church to frank discussions of difficult topics? I joined the church at the age of 21. I was in the University Ward in Austin, Texas. That ward was filled with really smart people, and no topic of gospel discussion seemed off limits. I foolishly believed it was representative of the way the church was everywhere. I learned over the years that that ward may have been an anomaly. But even my family ward in Denton, Texas in the early 90s seemed open to discussion of speculative topics. It seems like maybe the church has been getting more and more correlated and restrictive over the years. Has that been your experience? That the free thinkers, intellectuals, questioners have been marginalized, silenced, or driven out by the oppressiveness of the culture? Was 1993 the watershed moment?

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          • JTS /

            Eric,

            Most of my wards (all outside Utah) have been as you’ve described in your Austin, TX ward — intellectual people discussing the issues openly — nothing was off limits. Just several weeks ago we had a lesson on blacks and the priesthood and we talked about ALL of the history (good and bad) — it was one of the best lessons we’ve ever had. Again, maybe this isn’t normal but I’ve always been in wards with highly intelligent folks who don’t push anything under the rug.

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          • Then JTS, you are a lucky fellow. I’ve been in wards in Washington, Utah, France, Texas and Georgia. Not one of them had a class where such things could be discussed. Of course, I was in RS not Elder’s Quorum, and I understand that sometimes Elder’s Quorum has a little more space for discussion. I hear certain wards in Utah, California, and Massachusetts, where there are more academics and heterodox thinkers, have wonderful forums. I envy them.

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      • Garrett /

        ….or are a large part of why many of us will never return to church….

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      • JTS /

        That seems a little ironic Leah — you’re claiming to be non-judgmental all the while calling certain people “angry, dismissive, etc. etc.”. If you can point to anything I’ve said that’s been angry or dismissive, I’ll happily apologize.

        For whatever reasons, religion and politics can bring out the worst in people; this entire post is a small proof of that fact. We should move on to a more productive topic.

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        • Corbin
          Corbin /

          “We should move on to a more productive topic” is yet another way of silencing those with alternative viewpoints.

          Thanks for one more example, JTS.

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        • Holly /

          If you can point to anything I’ve said that’s been angry or dismissive, I’ll happily apologize….

          We should move on to a more productive topic.

          “We should move on to a more productive topic” is dismissive.

          Really impressive, JTS, that immediately after protesting that you’re not making dismissive statements, you go and make another.

          Here’s a another dismissive comment from you:

          For example, no matter how often I try to convince you that Rush Limbaugh is a quack, you’re still going to listen to him everyday Garrett.

          You will probably be unable to acknowledge this, but your very first comment was pretty dismissive.

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      • Lori Burkman
        Lori Burkman /

        Yes and yes Leah. Thanks for commenting.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I totally agree Corbin! I couldn’t have set some up to better illustrate EXACTLY my point in how people treat you for voicing doubt or discussing history that contradicts the manuals or common Mormon knowledge.

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  44. JTS /

    And in the process, you provide another perfect example Corbin.

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    • Garrett /

      Please….can you stop with is JTS. This is the equivalent of you plugging your ears and yelling at the top of your lungs “I can’t hear you I can’t hear you I can’t hear you I can’t hear you”…and then following it up with an “I told you so” and then yelling “I know you are but what am I.” We’ve had this conversation with you on other threads on hear before. At some point you need to cut the flicking insults out of your approach and learned to have a respectful discussion without turning your arguments into a condescending attempt to beat someone into submission that doesn’t agree with your viewpoints. You come on and attack every singe point that doesn’t align itself perfectly with yours. You talk above people as though your opinion is the authority on everything. If you “know” it’s true then it must be true. The fact of the matter is that it’s time to grow up and stop being the thought police. We could take a page out of the book from what has been said by so many Mormons and say if you don’t like it here then go elsewhere…start your own blog. However, that would be counterintuitive. If you want to have a discussion then have a discussion but respect the fact that you are not the authority or the all knowing power of every subject that you discuss

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      • JTS /

        Garrett – I have no idea what you’re talking about. i fully agree with you that I’m not the ultimate authority on these subjects and probably many of you are better equipped to discuss them than I. Also, I don’t care at all if anyone agrees with me — I’m not trying to convince anyone; just stating an opinion. Lastly, I feel bad that I haven’t addressed some of the questions directed at me in the post but this post quickly became out of control (some 150 comments) and I don’t have the time to answer questions — especially when we’ve all heard the questions and answers a hundred times. For example, no matter how often I try to convince you that Rush Limbaugh is a quack, you’re still going to listen to him everyday Garrett.

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    • Corbin
      Corbin /

      I know you are but what am I?

      Infinity!

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  45. Noel /

    Many LDS cite Mormonscholarstestify to argue that smart peoplle have seen all the problem evidence and still believe. One thing I noticed about the members of that site is that most of them were born in the LDS faith. Few are converts from outside. So social pressures could also be a factor for these people remaining in the faith.

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    • Corbin
      Corbin /

      It’s also good to note that many who post there are heterodox believers in Mormonism.

      Case in point–Joanna Brooks has a profile there.

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  46. Corbin
    Corbin /

    Eric S.: Corbin,Do you think the church has changed significantly in this area over the last decade or two? Was there a time when there was more openness in the church to frank discussions of difficult topics? I joined the church at the age of 21. I was in the University Ward in Austin, Texas.

    Hi, Eric!

    I do think the Church has changed significantly, and it started with the institution of the Correlation program in 1961, but which did not really start firing on all cylinders until about 20-years later.

    You were in the University Ward at UT?

    So was I.

    I was there pretty much continuously from 1981 to 1989.

    Any chance we know each other?

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    • Yes, Corbin, I remember you well. You were one of my favorite people in that ward. I attended that ward from the fall of 1988, got baptized in March 1989, and moved in January of 1990 up to Denton, so I was not there long but it had a big impact on me. Other bright lights from that ward I remember were Kurt and Dayle Elieson, Larry Smith, Gib Condie, the Sidwells, and several others. I loved the church then and for several years thereafter. I know that I changed over the years but it feels to me like the church changed even more. Like Reagan used to say about his political affiliation: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me. To some degree, that’s how I feel about the LDS church.

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      • Corbin Volluz
        Corbin Volluz /

        I guess it’s old home week, then. Larry Smith went on to become a professor at Snow College. I haven’t heard from him in years, though. I remember Gib Condie, too. He was a good guy.

        I think it is common for converts (like me) to look back on their first few years as a member with nostalgia. For me, everything was new, and I was like a sponge soaking everything up as fast as I could.

        For those who seriously study their religion, though, the initial luster of Mormonism can rub off pretty rapidly in the correlated world.

        It makes all the difference to be surrounded by people who are as keen on learning more about the gospel as you are. When that happens, the sky’s the limit.

        But more and more, what it seems to me Mormonism is becoming is a rigid and confining box of orthodoxy that one must fit inside or be kicked out of.

        The trick, I think, is in realizing that the real magic happens outside the box. That’s where the learning and the growth happen, too.

        Trying to grow while remaining inside the orthodox box is like a tree trying to grow with its roots in a planter.

        The roots just keep circling in on themselves until eventually the tree sickens and dies.

        Joseph Smith came to knock down the walls of orthodox Christianity in his day and plant a tree of life in the unrestricted soil of revelation.

        Unfortunately, it appears that subsequent leaders of the religion Joseph founded have taken his revelations and used them as the raw materials to build a box of their own.

        Take care, ya’ll!

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  47. Eljamaki /

    The very definition of privilege is the fact that YOU haven’t experienced something, must mean that others haven’t either. JTS – the point of the post is that there are people in very real pain because they have no safe place to ask their questions. When you say “…all MY wards have been very open, I never experienced that”, you are negating and denying the pain of the thousands of people who HAVE. You aren’t being helpful, just proving the point of the original OP. Check your privilege at the door, listen and learn, or STAND DOWN!

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  48. Dusty /

    The best way to tell somebody you love them is to show it. The best way to tell somebody you value them is to show it. Why are we getting statements, and not actions? Why must we constantly be told we are loved and valued, but not shown?

    Why are we so eager to defend the church, when the way we so often do lacks some of the very teachings we are supposed to follow? Where is the compassion, the charity? After all “charity never faileth.” Are we so eager to be right, and prove others wrong that we forget that we aren’t commanded to be right, but we are commanded to love one another? That doesn’t mean we have to agree with others, or their views, but we do need to show them love. Not tell them we love them, show them. Perhaps through actually listening to them with the intent to hear, rather than respond. Perhaps through initiating a conversation to get to know them outside of the disagreement, or outside of one single outlet of their life (such as just through seeing them in a church class.)

    It has been so frustrating to see the action and reaction throughout difficult issues, questions, and topics like the article mentions. (Not that I am any better, I extend the frustration toward myself.) It is frustrating to see somebody mention that they feel like they are drowning, and illustrate the very things that make them feel that way, then see people still be unwilling to actually throw out the life preserver, still desiring to explain it and its intended use.

    Do we believe ourselves to be so right, that we cannot attempt to see through another persons eyes? We don’t want the church painted in an incorrect light, but there is an entire spectrum of light and we don’t see all the colors. Could somebody else be seeing a color we aren’t at the moment? Should we not extend them a friendly hand, or ear, in the interest of love even if we never see the light the same way they do?

    If we have faith, shouldn’t we also have faith in the teaching that God loves every one of us? And if he loves every one of us, then shouldn’t we also believe he will show every one of us? Don’t we also have faith in and believe that God works through us, his children at times? So isn’t it a reasonable conclusion to believe that you could be the way God is trying to show love to a person that feels like they are drowning. Perhaps we just need to humble ourselves, so we can show love rather be what we want to be… right.

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  49. garrett /

    JTS,

    You seriously have some issues.
    For the record I haven’t watched or.read anything political in 2 years…so quit the stupid comments anout rush Limbaugh. It just shows your true colors and how immature you can be

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  50. Elizabeth /

    Jackie Bailey,

    I might have thought the authors were exaggerating until Jackie chimed in.

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  51. It’s interesting to me that I’m the horrible one on this thread. I’m mean and I’m judgmental, and I’m the kind of person who makes people leave the church.
    Yet, I’m the only one who mentioned Heavenly Father. I’m the ONLY one who mentioned Jesus Christ – no less than three times. I’m the only one who seems to be suggesting that prayer is necessary to apply during a faith crises.
    You all seem very angry and unhappy. I’m sorry for you. I’m very sorry that you don’t welcome the viewpoints of others.
    Are you seeking for truth, or you are trying to be right?
    If you were to be given a private interview with President Monson, and you could ask him any questions you wanted to. Would you go into that interview with an open mind, and with excitement that you might finally be able to get you questions answered?
    Or would you relish the opportunity to tell him how the church is wrong, and to spit in his face for all the horrible atrocities that the LDS church has perpetrated on you?
    Based on your silent, inward answer – if you were to be truly honest with yourself – you may actually determine what your true motives are here.
    I don’t know what your motives are, but it certainly seems that you’re all very defensive and unhappy.
    I wish you luck in your personal journey, but I hope you fail if your goal is to demean and/or belittle the LDS church.
    Have a nice life. Lori, enjoy your new friends.

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    • Holly /

      Jackie Bailey: Yet, I’m the only one who mentioned Heavenly Father. I’m the ONLY one who mentioned Jesus Christ – no less than three times. I’m the only one who seems to be suggesting that prayer is necessary to apply during a faith crises.

      Wow.

      Jackie Bailey, Speaker ~ Coach ~ Practice Development Specialist of Emerald City Consulting, wow.

      Are you really Jackie Bailey? Or are you someone who hates her and is out to trash her reputation?

      If you are really truly commenting under your own name and linking to your business and imagining that the way you conduct yourself here makes you seem like a serious professional people should hire….

      Like I said, you make the church AND YOURSELF look worse than the rest of us ever could. This latest comment is one more example of how.

      You are so unbelievably full of crap, Jackie. You don’t even try to be right. You just spew hatred and error and pat yourself on the back for being wrong.

      (Unless, as I say, you’re using Jackie’s name and business website to embarrass her and show how she doesn’t pay any attention to facts or details…. It seems really possible. In that case, you’re BRILLIANT and doing an amazing job!)

      Anyway. Assuming that it’s really Jackie….

      Lana mentions God. I mention God. Anonymous mentions God. Seasickyetstilldocked mentions God. Garrett mentions God. Jenn mentions God. Eljamaki mentions God. Dusty mentions God.

      OK, that’s another name for Heavenly Father. It’s the most common name. You should at least know who “God” refers to, even if you prefer to call him “Heavenly Father.”

      Eljamaki mentions Jesus. I mention Jesus. Lana mentions Jesus. Anonymous mentions Jesus.

      HOW did you manage to be so incredibly wrong about something that was so very easy to fact-check?

      And given that you’re wrong about that, it’s pretty likely that you’re wrong about other things too.

      I’m sorry for you. I’m very sorry that you don’t welcome the viewpoints of others. You not only don’t welcome the viewpoints of others, you accuse them of unrighteousness, you berate and abuse them and tell them they should be grateful that you’re so nasty and mean because it’s proof that you “love” them.

      You don’t understand that prayer is one of the things that brings people to faith crises.

      Wow. The more I analyze your behavior, the more I confront the sad fact that you are probably the least Christ-like person I have ever met. Thank God that few people in the church are as truly horrible as you.

      You are a horrible, mean, angry person, who delights in making others as angry and mean as you are.

      If I were given an interview with Thomas Monson, assuming that he’s lucid and knew who and where he was, I would ask him to provide an account of stewardship over the church and explain how he has done his best to make it easier for all human beings–including women, including people with questions–to feel the love and acceptance that the gospel of Jesus Christ is supposed to provide.

      I think it’s a reasonable question.

      I don’t know what your motives are, but it is absolutely obvious that you’re extremely defensive and unhappy.

      Maybe if you can figure out what your motives are, you can 1) stop being so mean and 2) be less defensive and 3) experience more happiness and 4) not be so freaking wrong about EVERYTHING.

      I wish you luck in your personal journey. Given that you seem intent on behaving in ways that demean and/or belittle the LDS church, you might want to reconsider both the destination you’ve given yourself and how you travel.

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    • Dusty /

      I can only speak for myself, but I’m not unhappy or angry. Anger just isn’t a big part of my psychological makeup. I love life, and think it is an amazing journey. I love all the good times, and honestly the horrible times, and times I have been wrong about things that have taught me so much, and helped me grow. It just saddens me greatly to see anybody tossed aside, or what they feel invalidated by another as if there is no value to it. Lori’s articles, and talking with her has helped me personally transition back into the church. Not away from it. It only took one earnest conversation with her to see she was a good person, with honest questions and a strong desire for the truth. A desire for a better environment for all within the church, not just those that adhere to the status quo.

      We have so many opportunities to serve ourselves and what we believe in. I just feel that perhaps it would be better for us to start stepping out of what we are comfortable with, and start stepping down the path a little ways in another persons shoes so to speak. The size of their shoes, and the rocks that litter their path may bring us discomfort at first, but it will also bring us something far greater. Understanding.

      Wasn’t it Jesus that taught the parable to leave the 99 to go after the 1? Perhaps we should leave the comfort of being with the 99 on the boat, and jump in those waters to go get the one if the life preserver just isn’t enough.

      You seem to have a firm belief, and an unshakable faith. I respect that. It makes me think that you could be a very good life preserver for somebody drowning to hold onto, if only your tone would soften. Then again, in fairness I have not met you and do not know your heart, so my own judgments and perceptions could be off about your tone and the way you have come across in your responses here.

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    • Leah Marie Silverman /

      WOW. Your moral superiority is… WOW.

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    • “Yet, I’m the only one who mentioned Heavenly Father. I’m the ONLY one who mentioned Jesus Christ – no less than three times. I’m the only one who seems to be suggesting that prayer is necessary to apply during a faith crises.”

      Jackie, you are the only one who would make the assumption about us that we didn’t try prayer- the only one who would assume that we are so unreasonable and far-fallen that we wouldn’t think to go to God. Of course we prayed. As a matter of fact, I doubt a single one of us didn’t spend hours pleading on our knees with tears in our eyes.
      But thanks for showing the exact kind of assumptions and condescension that this post was meant to point out.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      Jackie I prayed SOOOOOOOOOO much. So very much. To assume I lacked prayer or faith in Christ is your assumption. Faith in Christ is completely different than faith in Joseph Smith’s polyandry or any number of things.

      If I were to meet president monson, I’d give him a hug. Plain and simple.

      The people in this thread are angry at how you’ve treated me and how you paint people in our position. You’ve been pretty hurtful. That isn’t to say that I think that responses not written by me aren’t equally hurtful in retaliation– emotions have run high for many involved.

      But I don’t see my friends as divided groups. I love my mormon friends and I love my non-mormon friends–so yes I’m quite happy with my friends! And I am glad that people stand by my side when someone demeans me. I don’t see that I could consider you a friend after what you’ve said here though. I see nothing friendly about it.

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    • lana /

      Wow.

      Okay then. I wrote to the prophet with questions. He never wrote back. I wrote to the apostles too. They never wrote back.

      My friend wrote Elder Uchtdorf a letter – he wrote back and told him he couldn’t answer his questions.

      Many MANY Latter-day saints are ASKING for an audience with the general authorities and they are getting rejected, or silenced.

      What are we supposed to do then, huh?

      I was told specifically in counsel from my bishop to stop asking God for answers and just be obedient. Nice huh?

      You presume we haven’t prayed? I’ve been praying for five years. My prayers are leading me out of the church.

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  52. Kevin /

    As a first-hand witness of my sisters leaving the church, I want to publicly offer another viewpoint to the content of this article. To insinuate that no life preservers were offered during cries of help is false. They might not have liked the color, size, or smell of the preservers, but they were offered and ignored…allowed to float by until one of their liking might float by. The life preservers offered work: for me, for other family members, and thousands many more who patiently seek them. Do not fault the church nor its leaders and members because you did not spend the time or energy to use the life preservers. It is a “slap in the face” to those who offered them over and over and received little to no air time to talk further about them. We spent hours listening to frustration and anger and were given seconds to explain why these specific life preservers save lives…

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    • Holly /

      Kevin:
      As a first-hand witness of my sisters leaving the church, I want to publicly offer another viewpoint to the content of this article. To insinuate that no life preservers were offered during cries of help is false. They might not have liked the color, size, or smell of the preservers, but they were offered and ignored…allowed to float by until one of their liking might float by.The life preservers offered work: for me, for other family members, and thousands many more who patiently seek them.Do not fault the church nor its leaders and members because you did not spend the time or energy to use the life preservers.It is a “slap in the face” to those who offered them over and over and received little to no air time to talk further about them.We spent hours listening to frustration and anger and were given seconds to explain why these specific life preservers save lives…

      It’s not that there is an “insinuation” that “no life preservers were offered during cries of help.” Many of us say it explicitly. When we asked for life a preserver, we were given an extra bucket of water–and told it was a life preserver. Or we were given a set of platitudes and told to make a life preserver out of it.

      Desperate people seize at anything they think can help them. If you can say that people who are drowning reject life preservers, then you’ve never seen a drowning person. You have no idea what a faith crisis involves, you have no compassion for it, and you probably did more harm than good with whatever piece of nothing you told your sisters would save them.

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      • Lori Burkman
        Lori Burkman /

        Thanks for your response Holly and your support- but it isn’t needed in response to my brother. Kevin was wonderful. He continues to be. The problem is that there simply isn’t a way to convince me that polyandry is of God, anachronisms are okay to exist in a historic text, the nature of the papyri used for the book of abraham, or the 100 other actions made by JS and BYoung. Nor is there any “answer” as to the changing nature of doctrine and claims to authority/priesthood at instances of JS losing his grip on the saints. There aren’t faith-promoting answers to these questions. So in that respect, I didn’t like the “smell” because I do not see God in those actions. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t listen or love me. Or that he wasnt a help. He’s the best.

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        • Holly /

          I’m really glad to know that your brother loved you and listened to you, Lori.

          My mom was pretty great at some points and not so great at others.

          I guess the thing I would say to someone like my mom, or someone like your brother now that I understand more of the situation, is that a life preserver that helps someone desperate actually keep their head above water is not always going to be enough to preserve their life in the church.

          My mom gave me a life preserver in that she told me she wouldn’t kick me out of the family even after I could no longer bear to attend meetings or wear garments or even pretend that I believed. That was enough of a life preserver that I could find a life that was rewarding and happy, and figure out what I really do believe about some of the big questions. I honestly did worry that my family would reject me if I left the church, and if they had…. Well, I don’t know what I would have done. Staying was killing me, but giving up my family would have been really terrible too.

          But the life preserver my mom gave me didn’t mean that I regained a testimony in the LDS church.

          I think that’s one thing people sometimes don’t understand: it’s not that a faith crisis is just a matter of going, “Huh, do I still want to go to church? Is Joseph Smith maybe kind of a jerk? Now that I think of it, the BOM is maybe kind of hard to accept.”

          No. It’s something that attacks the very foundation of your life. You don’t grapple with something so monumental over an “offense” at church.

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          • Lori Burkman
            Lori Burkman /

            He preserved our relationship and I am grateful for his love. As for answers to my questions and quandaries though, there simply aren’t answers other than “have faith that it’s better than it seems” and a very beautiful bearing of a personal testimony. I love that he has had those experiences, but they do not match my own spiritual answers or journey. As for the history, I simply cannot see God’s hand there. Others still can though and that works for them.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I see what you’re saying here, but the point of this post is a response to being told that we can talk openly about our doubts, struggles, and questions at church and that the reality is that 1) no one knew what we were talking about because it has been left out of church education and 2) the only life preservers given were “pray and have more faith” or being told that we were misled. My brother reached out to me, listened extensively, and still loves me despite our differences and i thoroughly appreciate it. I just cannot attest that if you are open at church and ask your questions or discuss your qualms *at church* in sunday school or RS–that any positive resolution comes from that. If that’s the case for you personally–then hooray for your ward! It sucks for the thousands of others who were not as lucky.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      Okay, this is me realizing that this IS my brother Kevin writing. What I wrote before was in response to an unknown person talking about their unknown to me sisters.

      But yes, what I said stands. To tell anyone that they can openly discuss their problems at church simply isn’t true in my experience or most anyone else I know, with very few exceptions. I do value the love and time you’ve put into talking with me personally however.

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    • Kevin, (since apparently we’re going to address this in a public forum, here goes:)
      You offered your love and friendship throughout my faith crisis, and I’m grateful. I never doubted your love for me or your desire to see me be happy.
      But what you offered wasn’t a life preserver for me, it was a life preserver for YOU. Which is good, I’m glad you have a life preserver. But you can’t answer my questions, you can only testify that the church is true despite any questions I have. And that’s not an answer, that is your personal opinion, and it is valid and good for you, but not for me. I’m sorry.

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  53. Wow. Lots of angry people here. Sad.

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  54. Lori
    Lori /

    I’m doing my best to read through the comments. I really want to thank those who stood up for me. I’d also like to thank Jackie for being a case in point for how people are treated when they are open at church about their doubt or if they openly discuss and question the material being taught in lessons. What she’s done here is a pretty loud demonstration of exactly what I was talking about.

    For her sake and that of many others who feel comparable to her, I no longer attend. It was clear to me that what I bring to the table is sincerely unwelcome. Yes, I absolutely have requirements for a church I belong to and believe in, she is right on that. I require accountability, transparency, and accuracy in what they teach– however close as possible to the historic records and accounts can show. I also require the ability to not be looked at as an apostate for showing deep concern over troubling issues. I don’t see these as being selfish demands. They are demands that are integral to being an institution of integrity and love.

    After reading Rough Stone Rolling last year, it was clear to me that 51% of every story of the restoration had been with held or altered in my church education. For me, this was pivotal information that should have been covered in at least SOME POINT in 3 hours a week on sunday, 4 years of seminary, extensive religion classes at BYU, the MTC, my mission, temple attendance, and also institute. I continued reading biographies, actual church records, the journals and discourses, journals of the times, and anything else that the RLDS church and LDS church has of its actual accounts. These are not problems with my testimony of Christ or God. These are issues surrounding the character and means of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. My faith and understanding of those men and the restoration is independent of my feelings for Christ–so to say I need more faith in Christ is irrelevant.

    Yes, I have studied tons, but my true answers came through prayer. The answers that galvanized me to make the choices that brought me to where I am now. I will say beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life is the happier for it, I am closer with God that I have been ever before, and I am at peace. What detracts from that peace is when I see the damage that the church does to so many families. This is unnecessary damage if things were handled differently both in the CES and culturally. And it also hurts so badly every time someone implies that the only reason people leave is because they were offended, are spoiled and throwing hissy fits, that they didn’t study or pray enough, or that they were reading anti-mormon literature and were beguiled. This is so, so, so not the case for the vast majority of people. I take no issue with you if you have read what I have read and know what I know and choose to believe. But if you undermine my personal experience and answers, that is simply unfriendly and hurtful.

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  55. garrett /

    Jackie Bailey,

    Jackie….this is really easy. Quit assuming that one who leaves the church is unhappy and angry. Just because we hold a view different than yours in no way makes us angry. Why did I not mention Jesus or heavenly father? Because at this point believing in his is the equivalent to me of a child having an imaginary friend. I’m grateful the concept works for you. I’m more than happy to explain my experiences that I have had and they are equally as valid as why you believe what you believe.dont ever make the assumption that we haven’t prayed, haven’t studied, havent wrestled with the lord, haven’t struggled mightily to arrive at the conclusions we have arrived at. Do not assume that your level of spirituality or righteousness exceeds that of others because you somehow have been able to justify and rationalize in your head why these things work. You know what makes me mad….true blue Mormons who make assumptions about someone like myself leaves the church. I have a simple idea. Why don’t you ask why we left and then stop talking and actually listen….and then, at that point, don’t judge our decision and don’t assume that out conclusion is s wrong. Get off your spiritual rameumptum and show a little willingness to truly love. Quit saying you love and then turn around and go on the attack. If there is a god….he certainly doesn’t condone your behavior nor your judgemental attitude.

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  56. MarkinPNW /

    This talk about “life preservers” reminds me of a true story of a certain, well educated convert, who seeing the issues and concerns of people like Jenn, Lori, Holly, etc. wondered if there could be a faith-promoting answer to these concerns. Well, he did his research, wrote a book, and published it as a “life preserver” to answer these concerns.

    This had two results:
    1)Many people who had these concerns and had faith crises over them reported that this book really did help them, and was the main thing that allowed them to remain faithful members of the church;

    and 2), this man got exed because someone or somebody at Church Headquarters decided his book wasn’t correlated enough.

    The paradox is that in keeping many people with faith crises about these questions and concerns active and believing in the church that he believed in and had a testimony of, he had to sacrifice his own membership for not sticking strictly to the correlated narrative.

    Perhaps there really aren’t any good answers from the correlated perspective of people like Jackie, but only by recognizing and acknowledging the human foibles and weaknesses of leaders throughout the history of the church, including even Joseph Smith, and people who have these concerns will continue to have faith crises, until the church stops being so rigid with correlation and “faith-promoting” (which can readily become faith destroying when raw truth becomes known) stories, and allows a little more honesty in the telling of its story and history.

    Oh, the man’s name? Denver Snuffer; his book? Passing the Heavenly Gift.

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    • Dusty /

      I enjoyed your comment, but really only wanted to respond to say that Denver Snuffer is one of the greatest names of all time. It’s just fun to say.

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    • Holly /

      MarkinPNW: this man got exed because someone or somebody at Church Headquarters decided his book wasn’t correlated enough.

      You mean because someone in the guy’s local ward decided his book wasn’t correlated enough, right? We’ve been told often enough that none of the excommunications in the past year or so have been instigated by anyone anywhere near Temple Square. Everything is a local matter, we’re assured. Even though these disciplinary actions create a PR nightmare for the church at home and abroad, the most powerful leaders are content to let local bishops take whatever actions they want, knowing that the brethren will stay completely out of it.

      I don’t know why the brethren can’t see that it’s not exactly reassuring to be told that they’re happy to let local leaders play fast and loose with the church’s international reputation.

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  57. Jammy /

    Thank you for this blog post. This is exactly how I feel.

    Once you know something (not just believe as fiercely as you can), you can’t un-know it. My home teacher brushed aside my concerns as if they were nothing, saying he doesn’t care whether the basic “truth” claims of the church are really true; he just likes the social aspect and it works for him. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor! What? REALLY??? This guy is in the bishopric, a golden-shiny person who sits on the stand as an example of LDS virtue and happiness, and this is the depth of his religious conviction?

    I don’t like to say I’ve had a faith crisis, because I really, really wanted to believe; instead, I think the church is having a truth crisis. That seems to describe it more accurately.

    It really hurt to learn the truth, but truth is important to me. I cannot “choose to believe” something I understand to be untrue.

    I cannot have faith in a man who lied and backdated “revelations” and took advantage of those who believed in him, invoking the name of God and angels, to the point of demanding and taking their wives and young daughters to bed behind his wife’s back.

    I cannot believe that the BOM was translated with a God-given power by a man who also solemnly claimed he “translated” the Book of Abraham, which is an undeniable fraud.

    Faith is the belief of things we hope to be true. These are not matters of faith because they’re demonstrably false. I do not believe God would charge me to grow, learn, and improve, but simultaneously require me to insist on the veracity of certain selective stories against all evidence and sensibility. I must believe God to be rational, and this demand is irrational.

    I am BIC, pioneer-heritaged, temple-sealed; I was a tithe paying, lifelong active member until about a year ago. I raised my kids in the church and they are grown and active. I am now disaffected, and it hurts. I still hope for some kind of explanation, something I’ve missed that could justify it all; until such an explanation is offered, however, I don’t really have a choice.

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  58. Lilly /

    Jackie Bailey,

    It seems apparent that there is some bad history between you and Lori. Without taking sides on the issue of the church, I do have to say that there was nothing Christian about your posts regardless of how many times you mentioned Him. Publicly voicing your anger and disgust of Lori’s actions reflected poorly on you, the Relief Society presidency, and the church itself. Lori has not been demanding a cookie, as you say, but rather has been demanding to know why the cookie she was fed tastes so bitter. Perhaps she just got a bad cookie and perhaps you just got one that was extra sweet. In either case, she has been left with a bad taste in her mouth by no fault of her own, and telling her to just be quiet and smile past it is not going to make the taste subside.

    My ancestry includes general authorities and the cousin of Joseph Smith, Jr.. My parents are avid researchers and passed the love of learning on to me. I cherish my pioneer routes and was eager to learn everything I could about church history. I too read Rough Stone Rolling, it gave me questions which I directed to my bishop. He directed me to “Fair”, which only opened my eyes to even more complex issues and questions I hadn’t even begun to know existed within the church teachings. I struggled, but found immense support an unconditional love from my bishop and the relief society presidency. Unfortunately, as you have so proven today, not everyone is as blessed as I was. As others have already stated, there was zero love in any of the posts you directed towards Lori. I don’t know her and I won’t pretend to you know you or the true nature of your heart. I do know that responding to seekers, or those with questions, with anger, judgment, and superiority does nothing to bring them back to the fold. Christ has taught us that we should leave the 99 to bring back the one. I think in your case, Lori just might be that one and if you want to bring her back you are going to have to put down your stone.

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    • JTS /

      Standing ovation for Lilly. This entire post has been a bash session (mine included) and Lilly’s comment above was much needed. Thank you Lilly.

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      • Holly /

        Where’s your apology, JTS? You wrote above:

        If you can point to anything I’ve said that’s been angry or dismissive, I’ll happily apologize.

        You were given some examples of dismissive statements you made, but you’ve yet to apologize for them. Was that offer yet another insincere statement from you? Are you willing and able to keep your word?

        Actually following through on an apology you claimed you would “happily” make might do something to lessening the severity of the “bash session” you claim this whole thread has been.

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        • JTS /

          Sorry Holly – I didn’t know there were examples of my dismissiveness, etc. I’ve only been reading a few of the posts as they come in (because there’s been so many). So yes, whatever I stated that was dismissive, rude, unChristlike in any way, I certainly apologize for those statements!

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          • Holly /

            Thanks, JTS.

            You might want to do a search for your commenting handle and see the remarks that have been directed to you, given that you asked for things like examples of your dismissive comments. I did it before I left my last comment to you, so I would know whether you had indeed offered the apology you claimed you were willing to make.

            At least reading all the comments directed to you would demonstrate good faith and a willingness to take the questions and concerns of others seriously. Given that this threat is about the unwillingness of members to do exactly that, your acknowledgment that you aren’t willing to listen, consider and respond to the questions and comments you say you welcome is troubling, to say the very least.

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          • Lori Burkman
            Lori Burkman /

            That’s cool of you to own up and apologize like that. Internet high five.

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      • Holly /

        This entire post has been a bash session

        You acknowledge, JTS, that you haven’t read a great many of the comments on this thread. How do you know that the “entire post has been a bash session”? Why does it not trouble you at all to make sweeping generalizations about things you readily admit you haven’t even bothered to read?

        And how does that action on your part not undermine every claim you make about your supposed respect for evidence and its role in your beliefs and opinions?

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  59. LaF /

    Lori Burkman:
    He preserved our relationship and I am grateful for his love. As for answers to my questions and quandaries though, there simply aren’t answers other than “have faith that it’s better than it seems” and a very beautiful bearing of a personal testimony. I love that he has had those experiences, but they do not match my own spiritual answers or journey. As for the history, I simply cannot see God’s hand there. Others still can though and that works for them.

    This is an issue for people that remain within the church as well as those that have left it. Many insist that given the same set of evidence, everyone should arrive at the same conclusion. But each has travelled a different road, each stands at a different point in life, each person has a unique lens fabricated and tempered through all of life’s experiences. If more people would simply accept this, accept that there is not just one road to happiness, that each person is a unique individual with unique experiences, needs, and perspectives, then the church would be a much healthier, happier place. If members could feel free to leave the church if it is not their path without the fear of losing family and friends as ransom, their would not be such anger and bitterness. For me, my happiness lies within the church. I have come to accept this is not the case for everyone. The teaching that true, eternal happiness can only be found within the confines of the church (or any other narrowly defined circumstance) is among the most toxic of teachings.

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    • JTS /

      LAF = voice of reason. Good post.

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    • Holly /

      LaF: The teaching that true, eternal happiness can only be found within the confines of the church (or any other narrowly defined circumstance) is among the most toxic of teachings.

      You are right: that is a deeply toxic teaching. And it is also one of the most fundamental tenets of the LDS church, one of the things missionaries are expected to tell investigators. According to LDS doctrine, LDS scripture, the temple, and any number of lessons, the LDS church offers the only path to true, eternal happiness. It’s summed up in a standard line from the standard testimony: “I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the face of the earth.”

      In other words, one of the main claims of the church is deeply toxic–but people regularly say that they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this deeply toxic claim is true.

      It’s not healthy, it’s not ethical, it’s not sustainable. And no one should be surprised that people find the whole business morally repugnant.

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      • I like what LAF is saying here. But I agree with Holly. The church’s foundation is based upon “one and only true church” and I do not want to be a part of an organization that feels it has to make those sweeping claims. It does me more harm than good. I don’t want my children growing up with the attitude I had in the “one and only true church,” either.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I definitely think this is pertinent for everyone to understand. I totally get that someone could read and researched the same things I have and come to different conclusions. I respect that. I mean, I don’t really understand HOW they come to those conclusions based on what’s there–but I dont take issue with them for doing so. I’m glad that the church really works so well for so many people and I wouldn’t alter that. I just wish that everyone was given the chance to have encountered these issues IN the CES. But yes, if people are making informed decisions to stay, then I whole-heartedly support that.

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  60. JTS /

    Holly, I simply don’t have time for that. There’s like 200 posts on this thread. Further, who likes to engage in an exercise of futility? It doesn’t matter what I say regarding people’s exaggerated and misleading posts regarding Joseph Smith, translation of the BofM, the three witnesses, Book of Abraham, etc. etc., minds won’t be changed.

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    • Holly /

      JTS:
      Holly, I simply don’t have time for that.There’s like 200 posts on this thread.Further, who likes to engage in an exercise of futility?It doesn’t matter what I say regarding people’s exaggerated and misleading posts regarding Joseph Smith, translation of the BofM, the three witnesses, Book of Abraham, etc. etc., minds won’t be changed.

      Oh! OK, I see.

      Your excuse for why you can’t take seriously the concerns of doubts of those who have them or offer meaningful answers to troubling questions is that you doubt have time, plus you consider doing so “an exercise in futility.”

      Yeah. Got it. Not surprised. Figured, to be honest.

      If you don’t have time to participate fully in a discussion of doubts about church teachings and problems with the way the church and its members handle them, and if you consider the endeavor itself “an exercise in futility,” perhaps you should reconsider your decision to comment in the first place, and then confront the fact that not just Jackie Bailey but YOU are a huge part of the problem, because you don’t care enough to take the time and do the work to hear people and respond with compassion and interest to what they say.

      And fyi: calling the conversation “an exercise in futility” is pretty damn dismissive. You don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with your being dismissive of doubts and concerns in conversations like this, do you. You think it’s the right way to respond. You just aren’t used to people calling you on it.

      Yeah. Got it. Not surprised. Figured, to be honest.

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  61. JTS /

    My original post on this website had nothing to do with arguing over specifics of church doctrine or church history Holly. Most rational people realize that arguing politics and religion is a waste of time. This thread is proof of that fact. Emotions run too high and people can’t objectively weigh facts and information. No matter how much I prove to some of my friends that Rush Limbaugh is a total buffoon, they don’t believe it. No matter how much I prove with specific information that what some ex-mormons believe is exaggerated, not reliable and based on hearsay evidence, they dismiss it. Knowing this, why on earth would I take hours out of my day to explain something you’re not going to listen to or believe? You may think that’s a good use of time, but i don’t. As I previously posted, it doesn’t bother you and others no longer believe. It’s okay — you can believe whatever you’d like. It’s the latter-days; prophets have foretold that even the very elect would lose their faith. You can take great comfort Holly in knowing that you are a partial fulfillment of modern-day prophecy!

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    • Holly /

      JTS:It’s the latter-days; prophets have foretold that even the very elect would lose their faith. You can take great comfort Holly in knowing that you are a partial fulfillment of modern-day prophecy!

      Oh, good grief, JTS! Can’t you even TRY to keep up?

      As I already explained: I didn’t lose my faith. I found it.

      That’s why I can’t be content with the horrible counterfeit for spirituality that satisfies you.

      Even if you’re too lazy to read all the comments directed to you, at least read this one: http://rationalfaiths.com/drowning-church/#comment-135583

      JTSMy original post on this website had nothing to do with arguing over specifics of church doctrine or church history. Most rational people realize that arguing politics and religion is a waste of time.

      But many of your subsequent comments did.

      I’m glad you realize you engage in behavior that most rational people realize is a waste of time.

      Perhaps you can someday acknowledge what it says about you that you believe that a con man discovered the word of God by looking at a rock at the bottom of a hat, which is something else most rational people think is a waste of time.

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      • Holly /

        crap. blockquote fail. Trying again:

        JTS:
        My original post on this website had nothing to do with arguing over specifics of church doctrine or church history. Most rational people realize that arguing politics and religion is a waste of time.

        But many of your subsequent comments did.

        I’m glad you realize you engage in behavior that most rational people realize is a waste of time.

        Perhaps you can someday acknowledge what it says about you that you believe that a con man discovered the word of God by looking at a rock at the bottom of a hat, which is something else most rational people think is a waste of time.

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    • Michael /

      You make me laugh, JTS. For someone who believes arguing is futile, you sure spend a lot of time doing it. I am not going to go back through, but you have more posts in response to this blog post than anyone else, except maybe Holly. I would hate to see what it might be like if you actually “had time” to argue on blogs. LOL.

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    • seasickyetstilldocked /

      Ah yes,l the latter days! No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing! Persecutions may rage! Mobs may combine! Armies may assemble! But the “truth” shall go forth eh JTS? Look, I don’t want to rain on your self aggrandizing latter day paradigm where you and other toms are at the very center of the most important thing happening today and in the history of the world but………but bro, there are pretty much only 4.5 million active members in the entire world, including kids. The truth about the restoration and support for questioning members has only been online in an organized fashion for not even 10 years yet and look at what is happening. You have generational members from very faithful families either leaving the church, trying to leave and get their spouse and kids out or staying in and doing their way because they know enough to at least do it their own way and not the Brethren’s way.

      What exactly is the Lord hastening? People have always left the church but not like this, not like what is happening now. Now, the church is losing faithful members from the inside and they are losing a lot of them. If it were the 80s, the women on this thread never get close to leaving the church and more importantly, their kids stay in and become faithful members. It is not the 80s or even the 90s anymore. Do you see what is happening? Are you aware of the problems the church is having retaining their youth? The two biggest things they have done recently (besides exing Kelly) are lowering the age of missionaries and reorganizing the singles programs. Why do you think they made a move to have boys called on missions while they are still minors and reorganize the singles so they can try to get more of them married? Are you aware of the problems the church is having retaining RMs? My parents, who could not be more true believing, worked in a singles ward in American Fork for 3 years and constantly talked about the problems the church is having with the youth today.

      The church entered a new reality about 10 years ago and probably won’t figure it out for another 25 years. Thank heavens my kids are pretty much out a this point and so is my wife.

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      • Holly /

        seasickyetstilldocked: The two biggest things they have done recently (besides exing Kelly) are lowering the age of missionaries and reorganizing the singles programs. Why do you think they made a move to have boys called on missions while they are still minors and reorganize the singles so they can try to get more of them married? Are you aware of the problems the church is having retaining RMs? My parents, who could not be more true believing, worked in a singles ward in American Fork for 3 years and constantly talked about the problems the church is having with the youth today.

        Thanks for pointing this out. It makes such obvious sense, but I had not made that connection.

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    • Dusty /

      If you believe in the prophecy that even the very elect will be deceived, then do you at least see the big picture of it? Do you see yourself as one of the very elect, and therefor possibly whom the prophecy is trying to warn? Or perhaps even the brethren as the very elect, couldn’t they be deceived as the prophecy states? There’s an entire mountain to see here, not just one side of it. Taking comfort and pride in being unquestionably right would be a wonderful tool to use if I were the deceiver.

      You have also only stated claims, and stated how much you’ve personally researched truths, and reassured us that this huge mountain of evidence is out there and we just aren’t seeing it. You haven’t listed any specific, irrefutable evidences to squash any “hearsay” or “exaggerations”

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  62. Holly /

    fyi, JTS: saying that a change in others’ beliefs constitutes a loss of faith that is the fulfillment of some goofy prophesy you believe and they don’t? It’s deeply dismissive and unkind.

    I realize that it’s also a core Mormon doctrine. But that’s part of the whole point: core Mormon doctrines are fundamentally dismissive and unkind.

    Given that this is conventional Mormon rhetoric, I don’t expect you to give it up–I don’t think you have the self-control or self-awareness to do so. But if you really want to apologize for being rude and dismissive, you’ll have to apologize for your entire existence.

    So either get busy apologizing, or stop claiming that being dismissive and unkind is something you try to avoid.

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  63. JTS /

    Holly, I don’t care if he looked at a frosted corn flakes at the bottom of his hat — whatever he looked at or whatever he did provided him the inspiration to translate (or as you believe, write) the BofM; either way it’s an incredible body of work — even most true haters will admit that.

    I have a new question (one that was asked of me by one of my law partners who is catholic); He recently saw an ex-mormon’s Facebook post referencing the Church’s position on the Kate Kelly matter and then asked me the following question: Why do so many ex-believers in your faith publicly criticize your church when they know their parents hold those beliefs sacred? He explained that people in other religions may stop believing and stop attending church but they would never fathom publicly criticizing something that their family and/or friends consider sacred. He went on to explain that he really thought it was odd because we are talking about religion (matters of faith) that can never be proven or disproven and Americans pride themselves on allowing others to believe what they want w/out fear of reprisal — let alone from a family member. He chalked it up to ‘misery loves company’ . . . . . what do you chalk it up to Holly?

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    • Holly /

      JTS: I don’t care if he looked at a frosted corn flakes at the bottom of his hat — whatever he looked at or whatever he did provided him the inspiration to translate (or as you believe, write) the BofM; either way it’s an incredible body of work — even most true haters will admit that.

      No, JTS. Plenty of people think the BOM is a downright crappy book. It’s contrived, unbelievable, and the prose is absolute crap. As Mark Twain so famously declared, it’s chloroform in print.

      I suggest you read this terrific article, discussing the ways in which some of the BOM stories are actually just lousy fairy tales. https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/ancient-fairy-tales-written-for-this-generation/

      JTS: Why do so many ex-believers in your faith publicly criticize your church when they know their parents hold those beliefs sacred? He explained that people in other religions may stop believing and stop attending church but they would never fathom publicly criticizing something that their family and/or friends consider sacred. He went on to explain that he really thought it was odd because we are talking about religion (matters of faith) that can never be proven or disproven and Americans pride themselves on allowing others to believe what they want w/out fear of reprisal — let alone from a family member. He chalked it up to ‘misery loves company’ . . . . . what do you chalk it up to Holly?

      There are a few obvious causes.

      One is the many, many nasty reprisals taken against Mormons who stop believing and attending and paying tithing. For starters, you have to stand outside while your loved ones get married. For another, unless you have your name removed, you’re still subjected to home teachers and visiting teachers. Often, your children will be contacted even if you don’t want them to be. I know of people who have come home to find three adult Mormons having a private conversation with a child in his/her living room, without any notification for the parents that someone from the church planned to come talk to their kid.

      For another, there are all the Jackie Baileys of the world, who tell you that “abuse” is love.

      All of these things are not mere irritants. They are deeply harmful, cruel, dismissive ways of conveying contempt for anyone who is not an active Latter-day Saint.

      That sort of contempt tends to make people feel they have a right to criticize the organization dishing it out.

      And fyi: if this guy really thinks that Catholics would never fathom publicly criticizing something that their family and/or friends consider sacred, he should take a look at some of the statements by ex-Catholics about the behavior of Catholic priests. He’s absolutely oblivious to a whole range of conversations.

      Anyway, so nice to get another comment from you! I see that Michael is right, and although you don’t have time to read comments and make any attempt understand anyone else’s point of view, you’ve got plenty of time to argue for the rightness of your own utterly misguided position. Like he said, it would be interesting to see what it might be like if you actually “had time” to argue on blogs.

      You’re quite a piece of work.

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    • Corbin
      Corbin /

      Evidence.

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    • Brian K /

      This is a common occurrence inside high control religions. When people feel they have been deceived and used after a lifetime of sacrifice and dedication, it is normal to be angry and want to expose those whom they feel to be their abusers. The same thing happened with the Worldwide Church of God, it happens now with Jehovah’s Witnesses and many high control Christian or Islamic groups. People who leave these groups are painted as evil apostates, and want to clear their names and integrity. For an endless supply of great examples of this phenomenon, check out the thousands of posts on http://www.jehovahswitnessrecovery.com/forum/index.php. I’ve found the ex-Jehovah’s Witness experience directly parallels my own.

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    • Garrett /

      JTS….this is a simple question. You ask why so many ex members continue to speak up about the church….and why it doesn’t happen in other faiths. It’s because in other faiths the members don’t continue to send HT/VT. They don’t discuss the “inactives/apostates” in ward meetings Sunday after Sunday. They don’t organize service projects that will be intended for deactivation efforts. They don’t send missionaries over trying to reconvert via a 5/5/5 program. They don’t put your names on the rolls in the temples and pray daily for your salvation. They don’t tell you constantly that you are lazy, deceived by satan, unrighteous, etc. You want to know why exmormons can’t leave the church alone??? It’s because the church can’t leave us alone. The day that the church stops is the day exmormons will stop.

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  64. Holly /

    here’s another reason Mormons who have stopped attending and believing will publicly criticize the church.
    http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/college-age-mormons-sexual-violence-religious-problem-84637/

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  65. Max Powers /

    Commenter #1-I am smarter than you!
    Commenter #2-No, I am smarter than you!
    Commenter #1-Wait now, I Am smarter than you!
    Commenter #2-You stand corrected, I am smarter than you!
    Commenter #1-Hey bub, we all know I am smarter than you!

    Round and Round the Mulberry bush we go….

    I get why this generated so much angst among people as it is highly personal and emotional but the level of vitriol from both sides was frankly disturbing and difficult to read. I am still hesitant to even comment on this post as I write this but hopefully I can humbly enter the fray.

    I understand why people doubt and leave the LDS church. It doesn’t make them bad people or evil or damned. It reminds me of a comment Joseph Smith made after he read Fox’s Book of the Martyrs. He said “These are good people and God has a salvation prepared for them.” There are a lot of good people in this world, in and out of the LDS church and I believe God has a salvation prepared for them.

    I am active in the LDS church and a believer. It just so happens my best friends in life are not. One is agnostic and the other a Catholic. They are great people and I don’t look at them as eternally damned and don’t ever push my beliefs on them.

    I have a a good friend who served a mission etc but has left the church and I recently hung out with him while we had dinner and he drank a beer. He’s a great guy, beer or no beer and I feel no need to address that with him. I would feel pretty ridiculous doing so.

    The general teachings of the LDS church help me and make me a better person. Whether they will make you or another person better or help is a very personal choice and one I respect. I feel a connection with God and Jesus Christ. Whether you feel that connection or even need that connection is for you, not me or anyone else to decide for you or force on you.

    I wish the person who wrote this nothing but the best in life and happiness in whatever forum she finds it.

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    • JTS /

      Amen Max Powers, Amen.

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    • Holly /

      Max Powers:
      I understand why people doubt and leave the LDS church.It doesn’t make them bad people or evil or damned.It reminds me of a comment Joseph Smith made after he read Fox’s Book of the Martyrs.He said “These are good people and God has a salvation prepared for them.”There are a lot of good people in this world, in and out of the LDS church and I believe God has a salvation prepared for them.

      Do you not realize or do you not care how condescending this is, to be proud to find some minor comment from the founder of one religion announcing that the martyrs for another religion are good enough that God will manage to prepare “a salvation” for them?

      Max Powers:
      I have a a good friend who served a mission etc but has left the church and I recently hung out with him while we had dinner and he drank a beer.He’s a great guy, beer or no beer and I feel no need to address that with him.I would feel pretty ridiculous doing so.

      And yet, you feel the need to address it with everyone here. It’s an attempt to prove how tolerant you are, that wouldn’t dream of discussing with someone the fact that he drinks beverages you know he really shouldn’t drink.

      Whereas if you were tolerant and could refrain from judging, you not only wouldn’t “need to address” the matter of his dinner beverages, it wouldn’t even occur to you to comment on it to others.

      Just sayin’.

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    • Dusty /

      You handle things in a respectful manner, and seem like a good person. As a good person you seem to be filling in the blanks in a good way though. Not that I fault you for that, I can respect that and think I often do the same.

      The LDS church doesn’t teach that people that leave are bad or evil you are right, but it does teach that if you leave the church or aren’t part of the church that you are damned. Damned as in literally stopped, halted. Your eternal progress is halted. You will receive a lesser kingdom (which as taught is still heavenly in nature and a degree of salvation), and that is it. To reach the highest kingdom and have your eternal progress continue and be with your family forever (highest degree of celestial kingdom, and eternal families being a beautiful concept), you must be an active, faithful, dutiful member of this one church. This is where a lot of anguish comes for people that doubt, leave, or are in the process of leaving. It is very gut wrenching to believe you may be harming your family, or losing that eternal timeframe with them. It’s what makes some angry, and makes them feel like their family is being held ransom against them.

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      • JTS /

        Dusty, that’s definitely not what the church teaches.

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        • Holly /

          Dude. You of course realize that saying, “No, that’s definitely not what the church teaches” is 1) flat-out arguing over religion, which you say most rational people realize is a waste of time and which you claim you don’t have time for and 2) not likely to convince those of us who are honest enough to admit that we have heard exactly what Dusty describes taught at church.

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        • Dusty /

          May I ask from your point of view, what does the church teach then?

          I was taught all throughout growing up from Sunday School, to Seminary, the MTC etc. that this is the one and only true church with all the keys and authority, and to reach the highest degree of glory and continue to progress eternally you have to be married in the temple, and remain faithful to the covenants made there. To get to the temple requires you to have a recommend, and thus being a faithful and active member. That’s not saying the other degrees of glory are a bad thing, and not a form of salvation. They are taught as being really good places, far better than we can even imagine.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I concur with max here and I think his was a great comment. That is how I viewed nonmormons or exmormons as well. However, I was taught at church several times that the only true happiness lies in the gospel and I have had several people intimate to me that I no longer have any claim on that happiness since I no longer attend church. I think the church supports and teaches that to a certain extent? But in no way do all members feel that.

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  66. wendover /

    Good article, but there’s a lot of pain on this thread. I’m sorry so many of you are going through it. I’ve been there too. I left the church 6 years ago (still a member, just inactive; family is still active).

    A few observations and suggestions regarding all of this:

    To those who have left, leaving, or are hurting:

    1. Stop asking the church for things it cannot provide. It is a leopard that cannot change its spots. It clearly doesn’t want to change even if it could. So let it go. It cannot give you what you require. Maybe in the future it might, but not now. More time is needed. I know it is easier said than done but you need to stop forcing your will on it. Stop trying to make it be something other than what it is.

    2. After studying it out, if you believe the church and JS are a fraud then leave it as best you can. The General Authorities or leaders have no special revelation or authority, so stop giving them power over you. Do what you have to do to keep sane. I know that is hard, but you need to do it. Make space. Don’t expect church leaders, other members, family, or GAs to change. They won’t. Set low expectations; be realistic.

    3. Every member stays in the church for their own reasons. Most people will fight to keep their beliefs regardless of how much evidence you place in front of them. You cannot force their shelf to crack. Stop arguing but let your views be known when asked. Hold your ground, but let it go.

    4. The church or other members (including family) only have as much power as you give them. You are in control if you want it. Getting mad when you already know what to expect means they are in control.

    To those who are happy in the church and viewing the people who are hurting:

    1. You do not know what you believe until you have a faith crisis and your worldview falls completely apart. You will not understand those who are hurting until you do. Don’t council those who are going through this with “faith-promoting” answers; you’ll only piss them off (as you’ve already seen).

    2. Stop trying to reconvert members who have faith issues. Don’t talk down to them. They have real issues with things like church history, women and the priesthood, the culture, etc. that some of you will not understand. They are not you. They really do hurt! Most “faith-promoting” answers are worse than the questions. For example, don’t try to make things like JS’s polyandry understandable or better; it only makes it worse.

    3. It is better to listen instead of trying to council. Comments like “pray harder,” “where’s your faith?” and “remember how happy you were when…?” and the like, are really very simplistic notions and do not answer the questions a doubter has. If you really care, just listen and try not to judge.

    4. If a person decides to leave the church then don’t look at them as flawed. They are not. They have come to a different decision and you need to respect that.

    The above has helped me and my family. I hope some of it is useful to you.

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  67. JTS /

    It is a waste of time but I wanted to clear up what was an obvious false teaching by Dusty. Here’s what Dusty said:

    1. if you leave the church or aren’t part of the church, the church teaches that you are damned. Damned as in literally stopped, halted. Your eternal progress is halted.
    2. If you are not a member of this one true church, you will receive a lesser kingdom; and
    3. Only dutiful, obedient members of this one true church will go to the highest kingdom.

    For the record, I strongly dissent on each and every one of those points. You may have interpreted church doctrine to teach those things; but that’s not what is taught. Please read one of my all-time favorite conference talks “Converted To HIs Gospel” by Donald Hallstrom. He explains so well how it’s living Christ’s gospel that gets us to the highest kingdom — not our activity or membership in the church. Just because I go to church each week certainly doesn’t make me a better person than any of you or put me in a position to get to the highest kingdom. I go to church to learn things that will help me put into practice Christ’s teachings — that perhaps some of you ex-mormons do far better than we do.

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    • Dusty /

      I will look up and read that talk, thank you. For the record, I’m not an ex-mormon. I am currently attending, and seeking faith and truth both. I’m willing to see where I could be wrong, and admit much of what I believe may be wrong. I don’t want to be shackled by pride.

      Wouldn’t living Christ’s gospel require temple attendance and work though? Making and keeping those covenants? I just wanted to ask that before I go read the talk you suggested.

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      • JTS /

        Thank you Dusty. Sorry for being defensive — posting, e-mailing, etc., is the worst form of communicating. If we were in the same room talking about these issues it would be so much easier. I just think those vehicles (church attendance, temple attendance) are very important but they are a vehicle to make us more Christlike. Non-church members or non-believers may live the Gospel far better than a temple goer (sad but true). I believe the Celestial Kingdom will be filled with non-members of the church!! There are certain ordinances that are necessary (baptism, endowment, etc.) but that can be done later — which is one of the uniquely beautiful teachings of our church in my opinion. In the next life, there will be no Mormon church — it won’t exist. We probably emphasize procedure over substance in our church and I think it can become confusing.

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        • Dusty /

          For the record, I happen to like the interpretation you provide here and to be quite frank agree with much of it. Some of it just isn’t what is taught by the Church.

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    • Holly /

      JTS: Please read one of my all-time favorite conference talks “Converted To HIs Gospel” by Donald Hallstrom.

      wth? Do you really expect anyone to believe that one talk by some guy in the presidency of the 70 trumps almost two centuries of canonized, correlated LDS doctrine?

      Everything Dusty mentions is stuff I heard repeatedly in seminary and Sunday School and Institute. Everything she said is stuff I was expected to teach to my investigators when I was a missionary.

      You’re the one guilty of spreading false teachings, dude.

      If you don’t actually believe the official doctrines of the church, why are you still a member? Why don’t you go find a church that more closely fits what you really do believe?

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      • Dusty /

        *He. He said :) I’m a dude, but I don’t take offense or find it insulting to be called a woman. In fact I take it as a compliment, so thank you!

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        • JTS /

          Holly, nothing I could ever say or do would satisfy you.

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          • Holly /

            Don’t be obtuse. Of course you could do or say something that would satisfy me. You could very easily say, “It pains me to admit it, but yeah, Dusty’s comment is an accurate account of Mormon doctrine.” You could read through the comments you say you’re too busy for (though you’re sure finding time to read and comment now) and acknowledge the valid points they contain.

            In short, it is within the realm of possibility that you could do or say something that would satisfy me.

            It’s jut not in the realm of probability, because your doing so would require you to muster some integrity, and we all know that ain’t gonna happen.

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        • Holly /

          Oops! Sorry, Dusty. Been listening to Dusty Springfield. As I was typing “she,” I thought, “I wonder if maybe Dusty is male….”

          I’ll remember. And yeah, you didn’t seem patriarchal. :-)

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          • Dusty /

            I’m not very patriarchal. And I was also named after a woman, my great aunt.

            I just listened to the talk by Donald Hallstrom. Early in his talk he says “We often use the words gospel and church interchangeably, but they are not the same. They are, however, exquisitely interconnected and we need both.” He repeats this sentiment again later in his talk. He closes the talk by saying “The Lord wants the members of His church to be fully converted to His gospel. This is the only sure way to have spiritual safety now, and happiness forever.” He also states as one of his 3 ways to build a foundation on the gospel, rather than church is to focus on the ordinances and covenants, or be preparing to receive them. Wouldn’t those be the same ordinances about the temple I mentioned? And his 3rd way, “Unite the gospel with the church.” Taken as a whole, he would seem to be saying that the gospel is different, and the most vital, but that you need both this church, and the gospel of Christ.

            Perhaps I am guilty of just looking for confirmation of what I had been taught, but I am trying to keep an open mind about what he said throughout the talk. It seems more to backup what I was saying, rather than refute it though. Or did I get the wrong talk? (linked below)

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I think a huge problem here is that what is considered “doctrine” or what’s needed to achieve celestial glory varies greatly depending on which apostle or prophet is being cited, or which era of the church is being referenced. So if Hallstrom has a great talk on it, I’m glad it resonates with you–but it in no way is a definitive answer.

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      • lana /

        Elder Holland stated in general conference that this church is the only way to salvation, and membership in it is the only way to obtain saving ordinances. I think this is quite clear, from a current senior apostle.

        “I testify that the true and living gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth and you are members of His true and living Church, trying to share it. I bear witness of that gospel and that Church, with a particular witness of restored priesthood keys which unlock the power and efficacy of saving ordinances. I am more certain that those keys have been restored and that those ordinances are once again available through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than I am certain I stand before you at this pulpit and you sit before me in this conference.”

        https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-cost-and-blessings-of-discipleship?lang=eng

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        • Holly /

          lana: unlock the power and efficacy of saving ordinances.

          Lana is right. Mormons wouldn’t call them “saving ordinances” if they weren’t actually intended to save people, and Mormons wouldn’t perform those ordinances for everyone who ever lived and died if they weren’t necessary to salvation.

          Mormon theology teaches that you have to be baptized in the LDS church and sealed in an LDS temple to go to the celestial kingdom. LAF points out that this idea is toxic. It is toxic, but it is also really truly what Mormons teach and have taught since the church was established.

          I totally see how someone can reject that belief–after all, I’ve rejected it myself. I don’t see how an honest person can claim it’s not what Mormon doctrine proclaims.

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    • Garrett /

      Um…..Donald halls from is not the prophet nor has he been the prophet. So regardless of what he wrote it doesn’t do anything for clearing up doctrine. Wherein are those three points wrong! I have denied the Holy Ghost and therefore am damned. That’s pretty simple. Baptism is required to be in the celestial kingdom so yes they’ll receive a lesser glory. And the third point….yup….gotta be a baptized Mormon and received all the ordinances. So the fact of the matter is that it isn’t wrong and you have provided no prophetic doctrinal clarification on the matter

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    • seasickyetstilldocked /

      JTS, are you saying that you do not need to be baptized a member of the LDS Church by the restored authority of the Melchizedek priesthood to get to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom? Are you saying that you do not need to be sealed to a spouse in the temple of the LDS church in order to get to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom? Don’t both of these events either cause or require church membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

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  68. JTS /

    Holly, I can’t be offended by your rudeness because it’s so over-the-top that it’s hilarious. So, I can only gain my integrity by stating that what Dusty expressed is mormon doctrine even though I don’t believe it’s mormon doctrine? That’s funny.

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    • Holly /

      JTS: So, I can only gain my integrity by stating that what Dusty expressed is mormon doctrine even though I don’t believe it’s mormon doctrine? That’s funny.

      Nope! Studying church doctrine and teachings so that you are finally able to recognize the accuracy of Dusty’s statement is by no means the only way you can gain your integrity.

      There are all sorts of other ways you could gain at least some integrity. For instance, you could stop declaring that you aren’t willing to argue about religion when you obviously spend so much of your time doing it.

      That would help.

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  69. Lori Burkman
    Lori Burkman /

    Jackie Bailey:
    I have tried to throw you a life preserver, but you have chosen to hang on instead to the crap that others are throwing you.How is that my fault?How is that about me being judgmental?
    It seems that I must be totally supportive of your views, yet my views are just mean and judgmental.You don’t want a life preserver anymore.You seem to be enjoying being a victim too much.

    You never once, in any way, threw me a life preserver. Let’s be honest here. You were more than happy to tell me to leave the church if I don’t like it when I was advocating for feminism on FB. I PMed you and asked to talk on the phone. You listened to me, but told me I was misled. You did exactly what I listed here. You never once answered any questions, tried to find or verify sources, or continued any form of contact or friendship aside from continuing to berate and combat me on my posts. I’m not hanging on to crap. I have thoroughly studied and compared original texts to come to conclusions. Plain and simple.

    I’m not a martyr. I’m simply sharing my story and writing posts that represent what has happened to thousands of mormons when they have started to be open about their doubt.

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  70. ADAM /

    Does this post win the most-epic-comment-thread-ever-on-rational-faiths award?

    I think it does!

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I gotta admit that I was so busy during the days that I didn’t look at the comments until night time and was quite surprised! I usually like to respond to each comment on my posts but there simply isn’t a way to comprehensively do that here, lol.

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      • ADAM /

        And I check in today and it’s grown even bigger. I think it’s a testament to your post and how relevant it is.

        For what it’s worth I love what you and Jenn have done here, and as a struggling yet active member of the church I can 100% empathise with your message.

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  71. Lori Burkman
    Lori Burkman /

    Jackie Bailey:
    Jenn, how can you conclude that the manuals are wrong?You are likely reading words from people who had disagreements with the church or leaders of the church, and you seem to easily believe that anything that contradicts what you learned growing up is the falsehood.Why not believe the other way?Why so easily doubt?
    The ONLY way to know what is true is to ask God.That is done by asking specific questions to Him in faith, believing that the answer will come.
    You cannot learn truth by getting angry or assuming that you have been lied to or deceived.The reason why you want to know truth is important.If you’re trying to prove the church wrong, you’ll always find those who will provide evidence for your argument.
    The same applies on the other side.If you give the church the benefit of the doubt, and want to believe the teachings of the church are true, AND you ask people who have had great experiences in the church the necessary questions, then you’ll find proof to support that argument.
    It really depends on what you want.You’ll find evidence to rationalize what you want.We all do.

    This is assuming that Jen or I were seeking to disprove the church or that doubt came easily or was our go-to response. You also are implying that doubt came easily here. Or perhaps that we were instantly flipping out over anything that didn’t match correlation and taking the side of the new informant. That gives us NO credit. That is what sucks the most. People assuming that the only way you’d ever leave the church is if you were more keen on doubting than on faith. Or that you just willy nilly believe the sources that don’t support the church’s line. Again—TOTALLY not the case and it’s so insulting to have people think that you’d treat your faith that way. No. You can know the manuals are wrong by checking the sources that were used to write the manuals. You can look at the history of correlation and see when stories were changed to a better-looking version.
    Coming to realizations that countered my entire belief system and upbringing was a HORRIBLE experience. I would have been so much easier to just stay in the church and ignore it. This was a wrestle that lasted months and months. There were tears, there was endless searching, there was source checking, there were hours of prayer. And believe it or not, the most damning things of the church’s truth claims come from the church’s own records and the journals and writings of the key people of the restoration and the following prophets. I never ever sought to prove the church wrong, my goal was the opposite. I studied further and more so I could feel better about teaching it to my kids and I’d know how to answer hard questions. Yes, other people have come to other conclusions based off the same evidences and that’s fine–but that in no way means that anyone who doesnt continue belief in the truth claims chose to doubt. For me it means that I studied all I could, brought it before the Lord, and received an answer. Plain and simple. But I continue to study and learn. I am open to further answers.

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  72. John /

    Holly,

    Holly I see your frustration. The church has played the silent role in this broken relationship. It doesn’t make for great communication.
    But it is also wise to make statements that are meaningful. You assume that there was no steel imported to america. You assume there were no horses in america before the Spanish. You assume there were no wheeled chariots. But these are just assumptions. The basis is that we know everthing in the past about the americas, which we do not.
    Meaningful communication is key. We need to set aside any communication that demeans and instead listen with respect and try to understand one another to gain a greater understanding.

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    • Holly /

      John: You assume that there was no steel imported to america. You assume there were no horses in america before the Spanish. You assume there were no wheeled chariots.

      I’m not “assuming” this. The best research humanity has indicates that there steel, horses and the wheel did not exist in the Americas until Europeans imported them.

      Your failure to understand that and to deal accordingly with the FACT–not assumption–of overwhelming evidence that horses, steel and the wheel were unknown on either American continent until Europeans arrived demeans that fact and makes meaningful communication about history and the BOM impossible.

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  73. Corbin
    Corbin /

    JTS: Please read one of my all-time favorite conference talks “Converted To HIs Gospel” by Donald Hallstrom. He explains so well how it’s living Christ’s gospel that gets us to the highest kingdom — not our activity or membership in the church.

    That is the exact opposite message I get from Hallstrom’s talk.

    Even when I heard him giving it in real time, it was apparent to me that Elder Hallstrom was giving the talk he thought Elder Poelman should have given in General Conference back in 1984.

    . . . and a mirror image of the one Elder Poelman did give . . .

    . . . after it was corrected for him by anonymous persons and Elder Poelman was sent back to the tabernacle to re-record it.

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  74. JTS /

    Dusty – hopefully you’re still looking at this thread; Corbin is right — I thought I was giving you the Poelman talk when I gave you the Hallstrom talk. I disagree with Corbin that they give opposite messages — whenever I teach this subject I quote from both talks. Both are excellent.

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    • Corbin
      Corbin /

      You are aware that there are TWO Poelman talks, and that they both say opposite things about the relationship between the gospel and the church?

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      • JTS /

        Yes, I am aware; one given at conference and the ‘sanitized’ version in print after conference. I prefer the pre-santitized version. I disagree (respectfully) with you that they are opposite in their meaning (pre and post sanitizing) — I think the meaning is the same; I just think the message is stronger and clearer pre-santiized.

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        • Michael /

          I guess when I read them say one has to “live the gospel,” I don’t interpret it as something broad like love your neighbor or help the poor. I am pretty sure to live the gospel, you have to have faith, repent, get baptized by the proper authority, receive the holy ghost by proper authority, and so on. That is how one lives the gospel in the LDS faith, no? How can one be saved even if he/she is a good person, but has not done the temple, etc, based on these doctrines? Anyway, that’s how I usually interpret “live the Gospel.”

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    • Dusty /

      That’s fine, but the talk you did give me, as well as many other general conference talks including the sanitized version of the one you meant to give me all seem to disprove the assertion that I presented an “obviously false teaching.” as they in essence support, and give the same message I did.

      I am glad you got a different meaning out of it, one that is more charitable in a belief that there is room for exaltation for good people of all walks of life. I won’t fault you for that belief, as I think that is much more well meaning and ‘good’ in nature.

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  75. JTS /

    I’m just looking over the new D&C church manuals — they openly discuss all the different versions of the First Vision (and the surrounding circumstances of each); it delves into the Book of Abraham and what detractors say about it; it addresses (an entire chapter) the Mountain Meadows experience; there’s another chapter on Joseph Smith’s plural wives. It’s all great stuff. I love how the church is so willing to put all its history and information out there for everyone to see and encourages people to draw their own conclusions. We are fortunate to have brilliant scholars like Richard L. Bushman lending his talents to all of these publications.

    Holly – I’m sure you’re especially touched by all of this.

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    • Holly /

      JTS:
      I’m just looking over the new D&C church manuals — they openly discuss all the different versions of the First Vision (and the surrounding circumstances of each); it delves into the Book of Abraham and what detractors say about it; it addresses (an entire chapter) the Mountain Meadows experience; there’s another chapter on Joseph Smith’s plural wives.It’s all great stuff.I love how the church is so willing to put all its history and information out there for everyone to see and encourages people to draw their own conclusions.We are fortunate to have brilliant scholars like Richard L. Bushman lending his talents to all of these publications.

      Holly – I’m sure you’re especially touched by all of this.

      If the church were actually doing that, that would be great.

      It posts extra information about a few select topics.

      It won’t honestly address the question of whether righteous Mormons will get their own planet, for instance. The essay on that topic hedges and tries to pretend that’s not really a doctrine that has been taught.

      It won’t honestly address the roots and fruits of its misogyny.

      But you know what I am really touched by, JTS? Your continued arguing about religion, and your inability to stop engaging in something you denounce as a waste of time.

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  76. CCA /

    I haven’t read all the comments on this post but it is obvious that cooler heads need to prevail on both sides as these issues are discussed. I’m reminded of these words of Jesus:

    3 Ne. 11:
    29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
     30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

    Now, having said that, I wouldn’t be looking for any life preservers to thrown to anyone at church because they aren’t equipped to be throwing them. They don’t have the answers. They don’t understand that the church is in apostasy and has been for some time. I have come to this realization and knowledge over the last few years and the more I study and pray the deeper the apostasy becomes. I am grateful that I have studied the Book of Mormon and other scriptures very intently over 30 years. I have a strong testimony of this book both by the spirit that it carries and also by its prophetic content and the doctrine it teaches. Having also studied the Old Testament prophets I know that this book carries the same consistent prophetic message that they do. There is no way that one man could have written this book, especially not Joseph Smith. This has been an anchor to me as I have become aware of problems with the church during Joseph’s time and subsequently, including how the church has become really a corporate church during modern times. The leaders of the church are not prophets, seers, and revelators and are not exhibiting any of the fruits of the same (see Matt. 7:15-27; 3 Ne. 27:10-11). I am observing how many people are becoming aware of problems with the history and doctrine of the church and then they decide to throw everything out, including, in many cases, a belief in the Book of Mormon or even God himself. This is concerning to me.

    It is very interesting to me that I recently stumbled upon some very powerful words that David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, wrote in 1887. It comes from the document titled “An Address to All Believers in Christ.” He saw firsthand the problems that occurred during Joseph’s time but he knew by divine first-hand experiences that the Book of Mormon was true. Here is one excerpt:

    “We do not indorse the teachings of any of the so-called Mormons or Latter Day Saints, which are in conflict with the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. They have departed in a great measure from the faith of the CHURCH OF CHRIST as it was first established, by heeding revelations given through Joseph Smith, who, after being called of God to translate his sacred word — the Book of Mormon — drifted into many errors and gave many revelations to introduce doctrines, ordinances and offices in the church, which are in conflict with Christ’s teachings. They also changed the name of the church. Their departure from the faith is also according to prophecy. “Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in THE LATTER TIMES some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” (1 Tim. iv:1). On account of God giving to Joseph Smith the gift to translate the plates on which was engraven the Nephite scriptures, the people of the church put too much trust in him — in the man — and believed his words as if they were from God’s own mouth. They have trusted in an arm of flesh. (Jeremiah xvii:5) “Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusted in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” They looked to Joseph Smith as lawgiver; we look to Christ alone, and believe only in the religion of Jesus Christ and not in the religion of any man.
    The doctrine of polygamy was not introduced until about fourteen years after the church was established; but other doctrines of error were introduced earlier than this. I left the body in June, 1838, being five years before polygamy was introduced.
    Joseph Smith drifting into errors after translating the Book of Mormon, is a stumbling-block to many, but only those of very weak faith would stumble on this account.”

    There is much more that could be said about this. The amazing thing is the Book of Mormon itself testifies of the apostasy of the church. For a few examples prayerfully read 2 Nephi 28; Mormon 8; 3 Nephi 16; 20; 21 but also many types and shadows such as the Zoramites (Alma 31) and the people of King Noah (Mosiah 11-17). I have come to learn over the last few years that the great and marvelous work prophesied of in Isaiah, other OT prophets, the Book of Mormon itself, and the early revelations given to Joseph Smith before the church was organized is a FUTURE EVENT. This was not fulfilled with Joseph Smith. It was amazing to discover that Whitmer realized this also. Here is part of what he said:

    “In Isaiah xi:11-12, it is prophesied as follows: “and it shall come to pass in that day (dispensation) that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people …. and he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah (the Jews) from the four corners of the earth.” The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is only a preparatory work for the great and “marvelous work” of God which is yet to come in gathering scattered Israel, which is spoken of so often through the prophets. The Book of Mormon contains many prophecies which are now and have been during my life, under course of fulfillment. It says that more records are yet to come forth from the “book that is sealed,” which book is the sacred scriptures or records of the people who inhabited this land of America.
    The children of Israel are to be gathered by the record of Judah (the Bible); and the record of Joseph; of which record the Book of Mormon is only a part.”

    Here is a link to the entire document for those interested:
    http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/address1.htm

    Whitmer knew, as I do, that the choice seer spoken of in 2 Nephi 3 is NOT Joseph Smith but a future servant who would translate sealed records which would have convincing power to perform the gathering and establish Zion. One of the main messages of Isaiah is to testify of this servant and this great and marvelous work. So we have members of the church, many of whom are decent people, but they are in a deep sleep with covered prophets and seers (see 2 Ne. 27:5). This is all part of God’s plan. Joseph and other prophets have introduced the “strong delusion” (see 2 Thes. 2:11-12) so that we are in a similar situation to the Jews of Jesus’ time where we rely on blind guides (see Hel. 13:27-29; Isa. 56:10-12; Matt. 15:14; 23:16, 24) who tell us all is well in Zion (see 2 Ne. 28:21-24). There will be a work similar to when Jesus or Moses was here that will test them. But on the other hand we have many people who have become disillusioned and who are throwing a belief in the Book of Mormon and even a belief in God out the window. My message is that God lives and he still does his work. The Book of Mormon is true. All of the prophecies of the holy prophets will be fulfilled (see 3 Ne. 15:6-10; 23:1-5). The great and marvelous work will soon be upon us and God will fulfill his covenants to the house of Israel and will establish Zion (see 3 Nephi 20 & 21 as examples). There is a purpose for being here. There is a purpose for the apostasy of the church. Hang in there. Now having said that I am not going to respond to any comments that are contentious. I have learned that debate and bashing get you nowhere. I don’t care that Joseph translated the Book of Mormon out of a hat nor do I care about horses etc. I love you all. Search deeper to know God and to know yourselves (see Ether 12:41; D&C 88:63; 1 Ne. 10:17-19; Jer. 29:13).

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  77. JTS /

    Holly, your incessant whining is unbearable. The reason we don’t argue (on this site) over points of church history like the Book of Abraham, horses, steel, polygamy, etc. etc., is that all of those points have been discussed ad nauseam on other websites dedicated to those issues. Your favorite site is probably MormonThink which is completely anti-mormon and one sided. The Maxwell Institute was too apologetic in its approach. The best (in my opinion) is FairMormon.org — though it’s a little hit and miss sometimes. What I have addressed are issues that you won’t find on other sites (issues raised for example by Dusty). SO, stop harping on that silly theme that I don’t like to address arguments. I address the ones that haven’t been answered elsewhere.

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    • Holly /

      If you can’t bear it, JTS, STOP READING. You’ve said you don’t bother to read all the comments, so why read ones that upset you?

      SO, stop harping on that silly theme that I don’t like to address arguments.

      Oh you poor thing. No wonder you get so frustrated–you can’t even remember what YOU write, and you have problems with basic reading comprehension!

      YOU, JTS, YOU wrote:

      Most rational people realize that arguing politics and religion is a waste of time…. You may think that’s a good use of time, but i don’t.

      So I’m not “harping on that silly theme that you don’t like to address arguments.” I’m mocking you for arguing about religion, wasting your time positing what website is my favorite, and trying to convince people that they should actually visit the utterly lame websites of the Maxwell Institute or FairMormon.org (as if).

      fyi: I don’t spend any time on Mormonthink. My favorite website is facebook, which is where I met Lori, and I’m here because she linked there to this post.

      I address the ones that haven’t been answered elsewhere.

      Oh! So that’s what you call recommending a talk you say is one of your all-time favorites when you actually meant some other talk! Good to know. (also fyi: Difficulty remembering what your all-time favorites actually are does not inspire confidence in your judgment in general.)

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  78. Seasickyetstilldocked /

    JTS,

    JTS, so glad your here to point out which post are good and which posts are bad. As you believe that Nephi and Lehi were real people, I consider your opinion to be trustworthy and beyond question.

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  79. Seasickyetstilldocked /

    Seasickyetstilldocked,

    I meant to say credible instead of trustworthy. Credible in the same way as those 3 Nephite stories where they come out of nowhere and change true believing members tires during snowstorms around Filmore.

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  80. Corbin
    Corbin /

    JTS: I’m just looking over the new D&C church manuals — they openly discuss all the different versions of the First Vision (and the surrounding circumstances of each); it delves into the Book of Abraham and what detractors say about it; it addresses (an entire chapter) the Mountain Meadows experience; there’s another chapter on Joseph Smith’s plural wives. It’s all great stuff. I love how the church is so willing to put all its history and information out there for everyone to see and encourages people to draw their own conclusions. We are fortunate to have brilliant scholars like Richard L. Bushman lending his talents to all of these publications. .

    Some have greatness thrust upon them.

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  81. seasickyetstilldocked /

    The reason I bring this up is because JTS, in his first post on this thread, talks about how he focuses on the good evidences for things like the BofM etc. TBMs like JTS don’t want to own the crazy that is believing in Mormonism. They want to somehow talk to people like Lori and Jenn in a way where their belief in the church is equally rational as someone’s non belief. You never hear a TBM say, “I know its crazy but I still want to believe in it” etc. Of course, you can hardly blame the believing member for thinking that their religion is completely rational because that has been an obvious byproduct of correlation. The truth is however that true believing members believe in healings and cursings and coming back from the dead and invisible people and feelings helping them do everything from finding lost car keys to helping their child with their homework on the internet (a recent fast and testimony gem). This does not even address all of the things in Mormonism you have to believe in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary (flood, tower of babel, floating footballs ((jaradite barges)).

    So what you get is the incredible irony that people like Jackie wind up thinking people like Lori and Jenn are the crazy ones and people like JTS think that they are just as rational in their belief in Mormonism as someone’s non belief. This is not an honest place to start a productive discussion with members who have lost their testimony. True believing members, by the very nature of their testimony are not able to respect any reasons for leaving the church. This is because there is only one true way, one best way to live your life and that is within the one true church. The church has set up this exclusive and exclusionary dynamic among their members. There is no middle ground or middle way because it does not exist. How is Jackie in any way equipped to respect and appreciate what Jenn and Lori are doing? Ever wonder why true believing members, even spouses and family members are unable to empathize with the non believer? Why is Jackie unable to effectively put herself in Lori’s shoes?

    People drown at church because their ideas and beliefs and lifestyle, if it does not conform, is not only not validated, it is judged and discredited. Non conformity is a threat to the church when it is done inside the church. When your ideas or beliefs or activity level does not conform to the specific standards of the church, you are then labeled and marginalized. Who wants to live like that? Why would Lori and Jenn want to spend every Sunday with people who simply know they are wrong, lost, deceived? How can Lori and Jenn feel like they are respected contributors in a group like this? Jackie is exactly the kind of member the church wants to produce and I speak from experience personally and with many friends who have left. The church survives because it produces members who not only think, but know that they are living the one true and best way. Their beliefs are the best beliefs, supported by no less than literal prophets, seers and revelators representing no less than God Himself. How exactly is Jackie going to empathize and respect Lori when compared to Prophets and God and the one true church?

    Better to let one member drown than a whole ward dwindle in unbelief.

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    • Holly /

      seasickyetstilldocked: Jackie wind up thinking people like Lori and Jenn are the crazy ones and people like JTS think that they are just as rational in their belief in Mormonism as someone’s non belief. This is not an honest place to start a productive discussion with members who have lost their testimony. True believing members, by the very nature of their testimony are not able to respect any reasons for leaving the church. This is because there is only one true way, one best way to live your life and that is within the one true church.

      Thank you. I agree that conversations that proceed from a sincere belief in the tenets of Mormonism make a genuinely respectful conversation impossible. But it’s also impossible to get TBM’s to understand this. They believe simultaneously that theirs is the only true church and that it’s not at all disrespectful to believe that others’ beliefs are fundamentally inferior to theirs.

      You would wonder how they could fail to see something so obvious were it not for all the other even more ridiculous things they believe.

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      • seasickyetstilldocked /

        Indeed. For believing members, they have both the truth and morality on their side. It is this combination that makes mutually respectful dialogue impossible. It is why the Brethren can put out a statement saying they welcome questioning etc because they know full well the culture and system they have created at the ward level. How can you have an open discussion when everybody in the room is only allowed to come to the “right” conclusion?

        So the Brethren get to put out a statement that makes their church sound like it is a safe place to discuss issues, while at the same time the OW supporters are having their TRs withheld unless they keep quiet. It is scary but TBMs don’t bat an eye at it because as you say, they can’t begin to understand it.

        Jackie may not be, but I think JTS is smart enough to know that the church is worse off without members like Lori and Jenn and their families. However, the church system, programs, policies and culture to manage non literal believing members are as outdated as the Brethren themselves. This system is useful to cut out and marginalize non believing members that existed pre internet, in isolation. Today however, people like you and me and many on this thread are slowly but surely creating a weight on the church. Say you have a ward of 500 members of record and 200 attend (40% activity). Of that 200, including kids, lets say you have around 25 2 parent households averaging 3 kids each and then say 50 members that don’t fit that bucket. Now of those 25 active couples (remember, you are counted as active if you show up like once a quarter) how many are actual literal believers? How many don’t believe anymore but still go? My point is that I believe the number of “active” members in a ward that are really true believers is only going to decrease over time imho. People may still want to go to church but not because they literally believe in the restoration. What happens at the ward level when these people become the majority? Free and open discussion will only create more of these kinds of members.

        The Brethren may release a statement that makes you think they want to have the conversation but their actions speak otherwise. The fact is, the church needs members like Jackie to survive. She gives them all of her time, talents, 10% and children. She gives them her life. The church gets a lot of benefit to keeping her TBM. What kind of rate of return should the church expect from an NOM? It would not be nearly as high as a TBM. Nobody on this thread should be surprised at why the church does not actually create safe spaces for non literal/conforming members at the local level. From the perspective of the Church, the members exist for the church. TBMS are ok with this as for them, the church comes first. For normal people however, people come first and the church second or maybe 4th etc.

        However, in the coming decades, the church may have be forced, by the natural shifting of their membership base to a more non literal belief, to actually make sure that members like Lori and Jenn don’t drown. That day can’t some soon enough but I fear the day won’t come until the church sees it as the most economically advantageos option. For now, their money is on Jackie.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      Killer comment. I loved all of it and agree.

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  82. Lola /

    Jackie Bailey,

    Amen!!!!

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    • Holly /

      Well. As if to underscore all of seasickyetstilldocked’s excellent analysis, Lola comes along to offer nothing but a religious statement of agreement to the nasty, ignorant, ill-informed vitriol Jackie unleashed. The church isn’t so foolish to put its money on the Jackies and Lolas of the world, given how completely they will agree that they are right and anyone who disagrees is a whiny child demanding a cookie.

      Over the weekend I saw “Saturday’s Warrior” for the very first time. I grew up listening to the soundtrack, but I had never before seen the show. I was appalled. OK, so much of it is stuff Mormons now consider “uncorrelated,” but it sure infects so many attitudes. The idea that if you’re truly valiant, you’ll be born in the last twentieth century in a Mormon home, and anyone who thinks limiting family size or caring about oil consumption is evil? Pretty repellent.

      The most effective anti-Mormon tool anyone could come up with is “Saturday’s Warrior,” performed for non-Mormons so they can see what Mormons tell each other about how the world works. It’s not lies that make Mormonism look bad, but the truth.

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  83. Max Powers /

    Holly: Max

    Even when people are nice you come after them? I am sorry I offended you. It was not an attempt “to show how tolerant” I am. It just is who I am. I am sorry that bothers you in such a way.

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    • Holly /

      It’s good to know, Max Powers, that when someone calmly points out problems in statements you’ve made, you react with anger, call it “coming after you,” and assume they have been “offended.”

      When really I just wanted to point out that saying, “I can be friends with someone and not even say anything when he drinks a beer!” is about as effective as saying “Some of my best friends are black” in proving tolerance. The fact that you are so aware of the difference undercuts the claim that the difference doesn’t matter to you.

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      • Max Powers /

        There is no anger in me toward you and I am sorry you take it that way. I understand that you may find my way of explaining myself clumsy. There will always be differences in the way I view alcohol and the way my dear friends view alcohol. It is not the same thing as saying “I have a black friend.”

        I really don’t know you at all and you don’t know me. You don’t know my heart and my soul and I don’t know yours. I wanted to simply make the point that I live my faith and truly allow others to live theirs or none at all if they so choose.

        I hope the next time you read sincere comments from someone who isn’t trying to throw gasoline on a fire you might worry less about the “problems” as you perceive them in what they are saying. Maybe they are speaking from their heart and soul and the internet is a clumsy tool with which to do it.

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        • Holly /

          Max Powers: There will always be differences in the way I view alcohol and the way my dear friends view alcohol.

          There might NOT always be differences in the way you view alcohol and the way your friends view it–after all, you could leave the church and realize also that a mild beer buzz is pretty awesome.

          Max Powers: It is not the same thing as saying “I have a black friend.”

          Only to you, and only because you’re not honest enough to admit the profound similarities between “I”m Mormon and I have a friend who drinks” and “I’m white and I have a friend who’s black.”

          Max Powers: I hope the next time you read sincere comments from someone who isn’t trying to throw gasoline on a fire you might worry less about the “problems” as you perceive them in what they are saying. Maybe they are speaking from their heart and soul and the internet is a clumsy tool with which to do it.

          Back at you, dude. You could have responded very differently. You didn’t have to start out your second comment with this accusation–“Even when people are nice you come after them?”–or apologize for “offending” me, which required you to assume that you HAD offended me, when the fact is, all your comment really elicited was an eye roll. You could have said, ‘Huh. Interesting. I’ll have to think more about that.”

          But you didn’t. Instead, you chose to respond with a reaction that looked a lot like being offended. You might think really carefully about why.

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          • Max Powers /

            You are absolutely right in everything. I bow to your superior intelligence and retire from the internet.

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          • Max Powers /

            You are absolutely right in everything. You are obviously burdened superior intelligence and I will now retire from the internet.

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          • Holly /

            Wow. Your pique was so intense, you had to express it twice. Nice.

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  84. Max Powers /

    Lori Burkman: Max

    I am sure you have happiness in your life and will continue to find it. That is my hope…

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  85. Nony Mouse /

    Dear Lori,
    I have known you by many names…Lori Ball, Lori Burkman, Hermana Pelota. You are a talented woman and a fiercely loyal friend. If I had known you were drowning, I would have thrown you every life preserver I could find! Hell, I would have jumped in the water after you! I am deeply sorry for the pain and the struggle you’ve gone through. The only thing I wanted to say is that it’s not easy for us, you know? To watch you drown. As I write this, I am crying all over again. There is more I wish I could say, more I wish I could do. I hope someday I will get that chance.

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    • Lori Burkman
      Lori Burkman /

      I thank you for the comment and sentiment–but why an anonymous name?! I can’t tell who wrote this comment :( Call me, email me, message me on FB. I’d love to catch up and touch bases at the very least.

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  86. Lori Burkman
    Lori Burkman /

    Corbin: Some have greatness thrust upon them.

    Corbin ftw

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