Thursday, April 21, 2011

OFFENDED???

It never ceases to amaze me that so many Mormons think that the "primary reason" for people leaving the Mormon Church is because they have been "offended."  Of course, what they are talking about is someone hurting another person's feelings, as though that would cause a large number of people to toss off the promise of "eternal salvation" and create a mass apostasy.  Perhaps some people do leave because they were offended by something another member said or did, or something that a Bishop or Stake President said or did, but automatically lumping everyone into the same pile diminshes and minimizes the real reasons behind why people leave the Mormon Church.

Recently, I found a link to a very interesting website: http://www.exmormonchallenge.com

On the home page of this website, it says:

People leave the Mormon Church (and become ‘ExMormons’ or former Mormons) for lots of reasons:

  • Some get offended by the words or actions of other Mormon Church members
  • Some succumb to temptations and find themselves entangled in sin
  • Some have doctrinal or historical concerns or questions
  • And many other reasons
For each individual who has left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and become an ExMormon, there is an equally unique story.  Some join other Christian churches, some become agnostic, and many leave God and all religion completely behind.  While I certainly don’t claim to understand each of these paths, I know there is one who does–the Savior Jesus Christ.  The scriptures talk about how Jesus suffered each of our pains and afflictions, so that he could understood our personal situations, be filled with mercy and comfort us (Alma 7).  Through Him, we can learn to forgive those who may have offended us, we can seek and receive forgiveness of our sins, and find answers to even the most difficult questions of life.

And thus my invitation, my “challenge” if you will, to each and every ExMormon.  Take the path less traveled.  Come back.  We love you, we need you, we miss you.  There will be members of the Church there to welcome you back.  And more importantly, the Savior is waiting with open arms.

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I find it interesting that this website lists being "offended" as the first reason in its list of explanations for people leaving the Mormon Church.  This website goes so far as to say, "Through Him, we can learn to forgive those who may have offended us, we can seek and receive forgiveness of our sins, and find answers to even the most difficult questions of life."

I agree with what this says.  If someone has truly offended us, we can learn to forgive them.  But the fact is that when the offense comes from being lied to and deceived about the very origins of a religion, as well as its history and doctrine, there is no overcoming the "offense."  The "offended" explanation for apostasy simply seeks to whitewash and minimize the realities behind why people become ExMormons.



For instance, it offends me that as a Mormon, I could not voice an independent thought or opposing opinion without being worried that someone would ridicule or shun me - or worse yet that I would be accused of verging on APOSTASY, like when my very TBM father told me that my "liberal thinking was going to get me into trouble some day."

It offends me that I was basically taught to keep my opinions to myself (while being given the not-very-subtle message that they really didn't matter or mean that much).

It offends me that as a Mormon, I was told that "When the prophet speaks, the debate is over."  As if whatever thoughts and ideas I have are not important. Someone else more important needs to do my thinking for me.

It offends me that Boyd K. Packer thinks it's okay to say things like, "Some things that are true are not useful." Since when is truth not useful? In essence, he is telling everyone that lying is perfectly fine. But then, in essence that's what the Mormon Church tells everyone.

It offends me that I was relegated to a subservient role by a male-dominted, male-oriented religion that treats women as second class citizens and has a very definite double-standard.

It offends me that as a 22 year old girl, I went to the temple to receive my "endowments," and was subjected to such a ridiculous barage of Masonic images and rituals.

It offends me that I was told that the temple ceremonies were so "sacred" that they could not be discussed outside the walls of the temple, but when I tried to talk to anyone about them in the Celestial Room, I was shushed and rushed out by the temple workers.

It offends me when I read the Journal of Discourses and see what the early prophets in the church really thought of certain groups, like women and Blacks. 

It offends me that when I questioned as to why the Blacks were denied the priesthood, I was given such ridiculous explanations as their being "less valiant" in the pre-existent and/or that they were descendants of Cain who was cursed with a dark skin after killing Able (especially since that philosophy clearly contradicts the 2nd Article of Faith which says that men shall be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression).

It offends me that Blacks could not hold the priesthood until 1978 and that when they were finally given that right, it was said that the Lord had revealed this change, not that the Mormon Church had been threatened by the IRS with losing its tax-exempt status for discriminatory practices.

And I could go on and on...

Point-blank, Mormonism in its entirety offends me.

These are only a few of the things that offended me when I was a Mormon.  And I worked through them.  But I would have to be extremely shallow to leave the church over such a "personal offense."  And I'm a lot of things, but I'm not shallow.

IMO, the following post hits the nail on the head.

"You left because you were offended"
Post on ExMormon Forums by InsanaD, 1/20/2011


Oh how often we've heard this tired excuse. How often it's used to marginalize the one who finds credible fault with the inconsistencies and untruths in the LDS church and doctrine, and yet how far off the mark it often is. It's a low class tactic meant to suggest that the person that left just couldn't handle normal human relationships. It suggests that they misinterpret, are playing victim, and lack the courage to work things out in civil manners. It negates their core argument and turns the discussion to their personal weakness, percieved or real.

We hear these games taught from the pulpit from leaders at the very top of the LDS church. We hear the subsequent message given in a sort of whisper campaign like the ones Karl Rove instigated on Bush's rivals. The cumulative effect is to draw attention from the hard questions being asked and to zero in on the disaffected. A bandaid for a gushing head wound.

I've fallen prey to this game numerous times and I suspect my mother graduated Suma Cum Laude from the school of Passive Agressiveness. The twisted gyrations to turn attention away from the many difficult questions was frustrating and I always came out the bully, the loser, the negative nelly and nay sayer. But in the end regardless of how they saw me, I still had hard questions that weren't answered or were outright lied about.

If someone asks me why I left the LDS church I now say "YES, I left because I was offended!"

I left because I was offended. Really, my feelings were hurt.

One thing that genuinely offends me is when some arrogant entitled LDS person thinks that by lumping all those who leave the church into the "Offended/Sinner" category it absolves them from having to examine the vast wasteland of horrific offenses that the church has done to so many and permeates the culture and history of the church. If they can marginalize those that leave with such a blanket accusation it may offer them some comfort for their own ignorance and naive perspective but it does nothing to help bridge the chasm that exists between the disaffected and the devout.

I left because I was offended. I was offended at the doctrine, the leadership, the history, the culture, the oppression, the lies, the lies, the lies and more lies. I was offended at the corruption, the graft, the good ol' boys games, the misogynist sexual discrimination, the cruel way the culture extorts silence from dissenters, the ostricization, the manipulation and backward indoctrination of children, the group think mindset that dominates any sort of honest intellectual integrity. I was offended by the grey dull tedious repressive leaders. I was offended by so much that it would take volumes to write it all out. I left because I was offended. Lies offend me. I must be a big baby.

I will continue to be offended at the lies the church continues to tell and forces their devotees to swallow. If it comforts those who give their loyalty to such a corrupt organization as the LDS church to think that folks like me left because we were offended, then by all means, placate the passive aggressive game with such silliness. They sure as hell won't win friends and influence people but they can sit comfortably in their little home teaching room and congratulate themselves that they stayed loyal to a corrupt lying organization and are among folks who think just like them. They belong there.


Comment to this post - by Rainfather, 1/22/2011

I'm free to study anything I want to, without someone commenting, "You shouldn't be reading that stuff." Life is suddenly an exciting mystery. It's so much happier now without the dogma of any religious organization. I study so many different faiths now. When you do that, it really highlights how many different beliefs there are out there and how many there have been throughout history.

You live in such a tiny box when you live within Mormonism. Unfortunately, you don't see that until you're on the outside, looking back. That's when you see the box and everyone running around in it. You feel sorry for them and wish you could rescue them all. But at some point, you finally realize that they're happy in their little box and that they don't want to be rescued.

You simply rejoice for those who have made their way out, and many will.  Some of them find their way here, where we try to help them to heal their wounds (for those who are wounded). I'm at the point where I feel no need to work through the issues of the church anymore. I don't care about debating the issues. I have healed and moved on. I remain only to help those who are at the beginning of their journey out or are struggling.


As for being offended? Sure there are those who offended me. I'm lucky. There were only a few. But I never would have left because of them. I simply put them down as jerks and went about my business. The only reason I left was because I'd made the discovery that the church wasn't what it claimed to be, and I knew that with a 100% surety after a lot of study and research.
_____________________________________________

Ditto to what both InsanaD and Rainfather said in the above post and comment.  And the bolded part above is exactly why I left.  But when it comes down to it, yes, I was offended, very offended.  Not by any one person per se, but by lies, deception, cover-ups and contradictions perpetuated by the Mormon Church that are laced throughout both its history and doctrine.


Joseph Smith lied.  Period.  End of story.  Subsequent leaders have perpetuated those lies, and in many ways have enhanced them.  Latching on to the explanation for Joseph Smith's behavior as touted in the book "Rough Stone Rolling" is also perpetuating those lies.  And those members who ignore what is blatantly clear about the Mormon Church's history and doctrine are continuing to perpetuate those lies.  Really, since when is lying okay?  That quote by Boyd K. Packer really irritates me - "Some things that are true are not very useful."  Just ridiculous.
 
can put up with a lot.  I'm a trooper, and I tend to "hang in there" until I'm holding on by nothing but a fingernail.  But one thing I can't tolerate is deceit and dishonesty.  Being lied to.  Especially by a religious organization that purports to value truth and honesty.  Just tell me the truth.  Is that too much to ask?

So when I am asked if the reason I left the Mormon Church was because I was offended, I will answer... "Yes, I was offended, and I am still offended by the lies, deceit, cover-ups and contradictions embodied within Mormonism and perpetuated by its 'prophet' and leaders.  Very offended."

6 comments:

Catherine Pillinger said...

*stands up and applauds*

Me too. I have often thought that... I WAS offended by the LDS church! You covered it all... very well written.

Leah said...

Me, too. I left because I was offended.

Only you covered it much more thoroughly than I did. :-)

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? This is the biggest load of crap.

Diane Tingen said...

It really irritates me when people come on my blog and post anonymous comments like this one: "Are you kidding me? This is the biggest load of crap." Really? In what way? Why doesn't this anonymous person (obvious TBM) elaborate? Why doesn't this anonymous person tell me what he/she thinks is a load of crap so we can have an actual exchange? Instead, this anonymous person has just hit and run... spouting the Mormon Party Line. How mature and intelligent.

Anonymous said...

You feel that others must think your opinions are important? Inferiority complex much?

Insana D said...

Well I'll be danged. I was looking for some old post of mine and this came up on a google search. I had forgotten about this rant. I'm glad it resonates with others. Fourteen years after leaving the church I'm not so angry any more, just irritated. Like when you get stung by a swarm of wasps and it hurts like hell and you go on a rampage and kill all the wasps in a 30 mile radius and make their babies watch while you spray poison on the parents, then kill the babies too. But then four hours later you are just a little mad and a day later you just have a bad memory and healthy aversion to wasps. That's how I feel about Mormonism now.