Of course, ExMormons trying to reason with TBMs is an exercise in futility (kind of like banging your head against a wall)... but then that applies to anyone voicing any type of opposing view.
Another Twilight Zone type of experience is the way in which TBMs view ExMormons. In looking at the Mormon History website (which was referenced in my last blog post, White-Washing of Mormon History), I came across their "definition" of an ExMormon, which is very interesting. This is what it says:
Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a person who has been a member in good standing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chooses to leave the Church and then hardens his or her heart against what they believed and practiced before. Termed “ex-Mormons,” or “ExMormons” by some, including themselves, the Church has but one view towards them: one of love and open arms if the individual repents and returns to full fellowship in the Church. Even if a member of the Church is excommunicated for behavior which opposes the Savior’s teachings, the attitude of Church leaders is one of love and support, encouraging that person to repent of his or her sins and seek a return of all the blessings that are offered to all faithful members.
However, it is not uncommon for ExMormons to harden their hearts against what they once knew to be the truth and to then try and find fault with former leaders, eventually attacking the Church as a whole. When the Church was restored, the Lord gave several revelations warning His people against the dangers of apostasy. In the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord says, “And the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:14–15).
In the days of Joseph Smith, there were several instances of people who had been in good standing, even holding high leadership positions in the Church, who apostatized and turned against the Church and became ExMormon. One of the most notable and tragic instances was that of Thomas B. Marsh, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife while they were living in Far West, Missouri. Marsh’s wife had an agreement with another woman by the name of Harris to share their milk, taking turns receiving both portions, so each woman could make more cheese than would be possible with the milk from her own cow(s). However, Sister Marsh broke the agreement by keeping all of her own cream and sending only the milk to the Sister Harris. When confronted, Sister Marsh took the matter to the bishop to be resolved. When he found in favor of Sister Harris, Thomas Marsh declared he would support his wife. They took the matter up the chain of command to the high council and then to the First Presidency. Each time Sister Marsh was found in error. Thomas Marsh left the Church with his wife, and Marsh went before a government official to falsely declare that the Saints were hostile towards the government of Missouri. His statement went far in encouraging Governor Boggs to issue his extermination order, which drove the Saints from the state of Missouri, with all of the terrible suffering and consequent death that followed (see Lesson 24: “Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 134).
Another instance of an ExMormon concerned a man by the name of Symonds Ryder, whose name was spelled incorrectly in a revelation Joseph Smith received to extend an assignment to him. Ryder became convinced that the Spirit of God, through which Joseph received revelation, would not have spelled his name wrong; thus, the Church could not be true. Ryder later led the mob that dragged Joseph and Sidney Rigdon from their homes in the middle of the night to tar and feather them.
Other ExMormons, those who left the Church, fought against the Church and testified falsely to the government that Joseph and the Saints had committed crimes and that they were hostile towards the government, neither of which was true. These accusations caused increased persecution towards the Saints, though, and culminated in their being driven unjustly from the state of Missouri. The accusations towards Joseph ended in his murder and the murder of his brother Hyrum.
Those who leave the Church and become ExMormon are seldom content to let things lie. Elder Bruce R. McConkie remarked, “If apostasy enters [a person's mind] and the spiritual light turns to darkness, ‘how great is that darkness!’” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p116). Those who have had the light of the gospel in their minds and then reject it are filled with anger and resentment. These people often find it easier to justify their actions and ease their consciences by finding fault in what they have left behind, whether in leaders or doctrines, and are not content until they openly fight against it. Link: http://historyofmormonism.com/index.php?s=exmormon
Interesting diatribe. I will agree with the statement, "Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a person who has been a member in good standing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chooses to leave the Church..." And that's about it. Oh, and as far as returning to the church goes, the chances of that for me are zero - nil, zilch, nada.
Painting ExMormons as angry and resentful, and calling them "Anti" or Evil is glossing over the situation (just as it glosses over a lot of historical events in Mormon History). Simply categorizing ExMormons as "Anti" or "Evil" and demonizing them, without looking any deeper at either their reasonings or motives, is not looking at the full picture. But since the leaders of the Mormon Church want all ExMormons to be viewed as "Anti," and all negative material toward the church to be termed as "Anti-Mormon Propaganda," they seemingly attempt to bolster that position with an evil twist, putting all ExMormons into the same pot. But it is also clear that categorizing all people who leave the church as "Anti," and all material that is negative toward the church as "Anti-Mormon Propaganda" is their attempt to brainwash the members into believing that characterization is true so they will not look at it, but rather discard it immediately. Fear Factor, personified. And it works.
Another dissertation on the characteristics of ExMormons is at this link - http://www.mormonchurch.com/1059/exmormon. This website says that it was "created by average, everyday Mormons." This definition starts off by saying, "In the strictest sense, the word exmormon simply refers to someone who chose to end his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the Church are sometimes referred to informally as Mormons, and so an ex-mormon is a former Mormon. However, the term is more commonly used to refer not to people who simply left and moved on, but to those who then devote themselves to attacking the church." Of course, the key phrase from this is "those who... devote themselves to attacking the church." Ah yes, Mormons do so love to feel persecuted.
I was a member of the Mormon Church for 50 years before I began seriously questioning any of its doctrine, teachings or history. But in 2001, I went on a Mormon Church History Tour, and in preparation for that trip, I decided to do some reading and research about Mormon Church History so I would know more when visiting the key places. The more I read and researched, though, the more I began to uncover the very sordid details laced throughout Mormon History, and I began to realize that it is built on a stack of lies and was in most likelihood a hoax from the get-go.
Of course, coming to that conclusion and then doing something about it took me almost 3 years until I finally came to the ultimate impasse in which I realized that I could no longer associate myself with a religious organization that plays so fast and loose with the truth. When apostles like Boyd K. Packer say things like, "Some things that are true are not very useful," it is a red-flag to me and deserves further research and investigation. But apparently, under the Mormon mindset and the "Fear Factor" that they instill in everyone, it becomes a true statement.
And even after I left the church, I still didn't go on "those types of websites or discussion boards" because I had been brainwashed into thinking that the people who frequented "Anti" websites were angry and bitter, and that I would gain nothing from reading or contemplating what they had to say. So even as an ExMormon, I continued to be influenced by my Mormon roots and brainwashing. It wasn't until Thanksgiving 2008 when my brother showed me the genealogy that he had submitted to FamilySearch.org, the Mormon Church's own genealogical website, and I decided to look at the pedigree charts for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young that I discovered the rest of the truth behind Polygamy and that Polyandry had also been practiced, and I began to do some research on Polyandry, that I ever went on ExMormon.org - and that was because I had done a Google search about Polyandry which contained a link to an article about Polyandry written by Bob McCue. Boy, what an eye-opener that was!! While I was on that website, I decided to look at the discussion board - and I was pleasantly surprised that these people were just like me, not angry and bitter, and not "Anti," but rather simply dealing with the shocking conclusions they had arrived at (and the effect it had had on their lives) that the church they had devoted their lives to was not what it purported to be. In looking back, I really wish I had gone on that discussion board earlier because I could have used the support available there in realizing that I was not alone in my conclusions. In other ways, though, I can honestly say that I left after my own research and not because of any other influence.
ExMormons can be described in many ways - and their reasons for leaving are varied. I found an interesting article on the Religious Tolerance website that sets forth what their research uncovered. But regardless of their reasons for leaving the church, ExMormons are not demons nor are they evil or "Anti."
And how many ExMormons are there? No one knows for sure, but here is an interesting article written by Richard Packham from the Concerned Christians Website, which attempts to answer that question. Needless to say, the numbers of Mormons are not what they are held out to be by the Mormon church. Stands to reason since the Mormon Church is not what it holds itself out to be either.
The statement from the website mentioned above -- "Those who have had the light of the gospel in their minds and then reject it are filled with anger and resentment. These people often find it easier to justify their actions and ease their consciences by finding fault in what they have left behind, whether in leaders or doctrines, and are not content until they openly fight against it" -- does not describe me at all. I am not filled with anger and resentment but rather relief that I finally discovered the real truth. I do not feel the need to justify my actions or ease my conscience by finding fault in what I have left behind, but rather simply the desire to share what I have discovered with others so that they may hopefully feel the need to do their own research as well.
I view my role as an ExMormon to be in line with this quote by Christopher Miller: "Some of you are probably thinking, 'Why don't you just leave them (the Mormons) alone?' So I ask you, if you saw a thirsty man drinking water from a well you knew to be poisoned, would you let him continue to drink or would you guide him to a safe well?"