12 Reasons You Should Reject Mormonism
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17-01-2014, 08:18 PM
RE: 12 Reasons You Should Reject Mormonism
(17-01-2014 07:59 PM)Cathym112 Wrote:  So your point of bringing up his Nobel prize was...???

To show that he was a mainstream and prominent economist that advocated fictionalism.
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18-01-2014, 12:52 AM
Why I Think You Should Reject Mormonism
Considering the sweeping, inaccurate, and overgeneralizing form my original objections took, not to mention my ignorance of another perspective as presented by our friend Meklelan, I have written another set, which perhaps is more reasonable and accurate. Not only is further criticism allowed, it is welcome. Here it is, for what it may be worth.

1. You run the risk of being a part of what can at times be a distrusting and judgmental culture within the church. However moral or helpful the doctrines themselves may be, you will surely encounter those who wish to treat you poorly none the less, and who consider their behavior to be representative of the church and the gospel anyway. The church offers no more protection from hypocrites and fundamentalists than any other, or society on the whole for that matter. I personally find this unappealing. Perhaps I am expecting too much of a god, should he exist, when I expect his true doctrines to actually make a profound difference towards human beings behaving better and with more empathy than they would if they were ignorant of his principles. I find it much more compelling to throw out any concept of believing what one is told for the sake of it, or on faith, so that one might get on with the real business of making the world a better place directly. The people of the church are not morally superior, but are more likely to annoyingly and erroneously claim that they are.

In the case of families where only one or two people are members, especially if they are not adults, there can be tension and distrust which is harmful to the family. As in the case of my closest friend, a child can gain a second family, or set of parents, within the church to assist them with theological situations that the actual family cannot participate in. In her case, her "Mormon Mother" as she called her, became of greater influence in her life than her own mother, causing distance and distrust between them. This eventually led to all out conflict when she decided to marry a non-LDS young man. Her surrogate mother actually forbade her to do so, and told her that god did not approve. When her council was disobeyed, she cut all ties to my friend, telling her that she was an immoral and dishonest person. Obviously this is one incident only, and is not the church's policy. However, since I heard her story, I have read at least eleven other stories like it.

2. If you intend to be active, which I can safely say you will be encouraged to be, you will very busy. I personally found the theological responsibilities of prayer, scripture study, worship, other meetings, and callings to be overwhelming, but more than anything else, tedious. It is unavoidable to notice that after one reads The Book of Mormon thirty or so times, it has lost some of its charm. The same can be said of the many repeating classes which cycle through the doctrine year after year. They made it more difficult for me to balance the responsibilities of my life, as well as distressing me over the possibility of not completing, or at least not wanting to complete, tasks which were supposedly given to me by god. As a side effect, it was harder for me to feel included in the community outside of the church, since all or most of my activities were church related. This effectively isolated me, along with my close friends, from unbelievers.

3. It is at least possible, and at worst, commonplace, to be encouraged to speak to one's bishop about "impure sexual thoughts". Although there are some within the church who would claim otherwise, here we might easily include Meklelan, this is on the whole considered a theologically supported sin. At the very least it is a sign that one is not headed in the right ethical direction and one could benefit from discussion with one's bishop. I see this to be a very clear form of totalitarianism, in the form of thought crime. I see it as an abusive and intrusive idea that is fundamentally humiliating and demeaning to anyone who gives it credence. As a member, and especially as a male member, you run the risk, as I did, of being bullied in this manner.

4. The doctrines of the church are Dogmas. There is no theological ground within the church firm enough to stand on when making the argument that some doctrines are false, or immoral. Don't expect to be able to do this within the wards of the church without accepting the risk that your lack of conformity might put your church privileges at risk. Although professional scholars and theologians may say that these beliefs are optional, that some of them are not to be taken literally, there are still consequences for assuming that you as a lay member can do the same. When it comes to the local communities, I personally don't think that those progressive scholars have any sway at all on the individual members within the congregation. At least not by means of the church itself. If the church did not enforce their tenets, how could they possibly ensure that only worthy individuals were allowed to enter the temple and participate in temple ordinances? They simply could not do this without making it clear to the members what is acceptable to believe and to do, and what is not. Whether or not academics have spoken out against some doctrines, even within the church itself, does not mean the structure of the church will relax its discipline. God, whose nature is fundamental and inevitable within church doctrine, is in no way a moderate. He does not allow his children to pick and choose which of his many commandments they wish to obey. If the members decide to think for themselves, and to attempt to change the church, all power to them. Just don't be giving me any nonsense about those necessary changes being the heart of the true gospel after all. You might as well throw the whole business out as being man made at that point.

Although it could be argued that the consequences of noncompliance with church doctrine are negligible, I beg to differ. Literally, perhaps, but theologically they are severe. If I am a fundamentalist believer, as a great many within the church are, I believe that without a Temple Marriage as well as an Endowment ceremony, I will not enter the Celestial Kingdom. (The highest form of heaven) In effect, refusing to comply with church dogma is an eternal sentence barring me from heaven, and quite possibly from my family members who arrive there despite me. I most deplore this situation as it relates to tithing. In my opinion, it becomes, whether intentional or not, a form of extortion. Even after all of that, I personally could never understand why god required my money anyway. He supposedly gave me everything I had. He had all the money in the world as his property, as well as being omnipotent without one cent of it. If he wanted something to happen, my dollars wouldn't even remotely matter. It makes far more sense to me, that the church is a business designed to turn a profit. Since the church is not up front about it, I see it as fraud. I believe that if not for religion's tax free and politically immune status in this country, more people would see it that way too.

The only officially sanctioned changes will come in the form of modern revelation, through the current prophet, as the literal mouthpiece of god. I personally do not find these changes to be compelling because they raise more questions for me than they answer. Two examples of this were in 1890 when the church renounced polygamy, and in 1978 when non-white males were to be allowed the priesthood. Both of these "revelations" seemed very suspicious to me, since they took place rather just in time, politically and socially speaking. In the case of polygamy, I think the Mormons could very well have faced annihilation from the United States Government for refusing to stop a practice which was now illegal. In the case of the priesthood the changes took place immediately following the Civil Rights Movement which was so successful in the United States. Since socially it was no longer considered acceptable to deny privileges of any kind based on color, the church was forced to relent and change rather than destroy their own reputation for years to come. Considering the disdain, and boycotting, we see today of racist organizations, I think the church made the best choice they could have made. However, I do not believe that these changes had anything to do with an infallible and omniscient deity deciding that suddenly marriage was between one man and one woman, and black people were worthy of holding priesthood authority after all.

5. In my opinion the attitude within the church socially, as well as the doctrines of the church itself are sexually unhealthy. I feel safe in saying that it's doctrines encourage sexual repression, especially during the sexual developmental years, and are in fundamental denial of the human sexual nature. The sexual taboo within the church is pronounced, just as it is among fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims around the world. The ban against masturbation is disturbing in its lack of empathy with regards to the natural pressure which accumulates over time within everyone, but especially the young. Without means of relieving this pressure safely and in privacy, I think it is reasonable to assume that young people are more likely to engage in risky and addictive sexual behavior to relieve the stress of that repression. In my own experience, and that of many of my close friends of both genders, my use of pornography was, during those uncomfortable changing years, an addiction by definition since my compulsion to view it was strong enough to keep me from my minimum responsibilities. It was odd, given what I was told about pornography being an addiction upon the first viewing regardless of moderation, that my need for it left me completely upon my decision to accept masturbation as normal and healthy. As opposed to actual addicts who suffer daily and often life long compulsions to view pornography, (The same could be said of using alcohol and drugs.) I have never once since that time felt the uncontrollable desire that I experienced during those years of sexual repression. My acceptance of myself set me free. I was no addict, merely human. I can know this for sure, since addiction is now classified as a disease which can be genetically traced, thus true addicts are predisposed to have little or no control, although this may not, and ought not, to stop them from trying to recover. I can be certain that it is not mainly the substance, in the case of pornography, which is corrosive and addictive by nature, rather it is the viewer and his health which determine addiction.

At their heart I see sexual issues as human rights issues, which must be resolved if we are to be getting on with our dignity and happiness. It is my personal view that sex between consenting adults, of any kind, is normal, natural, healthy, and ought to be protected not condemned. Until the church is on the side of those who wish to stop the judging of other's sexual practices as immoral, I will continue to criticize their attitude. I consider morality to be an issue of happiness and suffering, and since sexual freedom without repression or discrimination is fundamentally happy, and no one is being harmed, let it continue. We all might feel a little less harassed if society stopped demanding that we be ashamed of acts which are not immoral in any sense.

6. In my opinion, the dogma of the church regarding homosexuality is immoral. Furthermore, the church's financially generous campaign against gay marriage in the United States is immoral and irresponsible. Be assured, my issue is not with the church's right to preach and believe whatever they wish without interference from any government. No church ought to be compelled to perform gay marriages, which they view as sinful and immoral, by the government. This is what is known as religious freedom, and it is fundamental to the United States as stated in The Bill of Rights. Although I deplore their opinions and beliefs on the subject, I support their freedom from government intervention. I would be a fool not to, since this is the same provision that protects me from being forced to practice religion by the state. If I intend to be free, why shouldn't they be as well?

What concerns me is that the church has spent so much money and worked so hard not to protect themselves from government intervention, but to ensure that the government will not recognize gay marriages for purposes of taxation and status. The church is not under attack, rather it is spending millions of dollars attempting to make a political and supposedly ethical statement to the rest of the country. It believes that religion has the only say when it comes to defining what a marriage is and what it means to the couple wed, and that by allowing just anyone to be married the nation profanes the concept of marriage itself. Since the church already recognizes the validity of non-temple marriages, I do not understand why they cannot simply view gay marriages in the same light. Do they have a right to believe that such marriages are not as moral, valid before god, or happy? Absolutely. Do they have the right to therefore prevent those marriages? Absolutely not. I do not accept it as being moral or correct. The church is clearly reaching far out of its bounds.

I also consider the church's condemnation of homosexuality in general to be immoral. Only a brief internet search will find you viewing and reading the stories of many gay Mormons who have suffered the injustice and humiliation of having one's inner self condemned as sinful before god. You may even find some of them living the lying half life of a marriage to a person of their opposite gender. I recommend that you search out those stories before you consider associating yourself with an organization who would encourage such behavior. Ask yourself if you can honestly call it moral. Ask yourself, if the roles were reversed and your sexuality was the one condemned, would you accept such an alternative? Ask yourself if you would be happy.

Although you will still find the ignorant and uninformed saying otherwise, homosexuality is innate to our species, as well as many others besides. It has been observed and documented all throughout history. Our fundamental nature on this point is no longer the question. The question is how do we treat our fellow humans who are homosexual? I say that until their sex, love, and marriages are considered just as good, moral, and equal as any heterosexual's, we are not finished with this cause. Legal status is only the beginning and I hope to witness a great moral shift in my lifetime.

7. While I was a member, we were encouraged to give testimony in what is called "Fast and Testimony Meeting". On this once a month Sunday, the congregation volunteers to give testimony rather than to listen to a sermon. Anyone can do so, although it is not mandatory. However, I would be dishonest if I claimed that there is no social pressure to do so. It is not an exaggeration to say that not doing so at least once in a while is viewed as a sign that something is wrong. Many times all around the world I heard the issue addressed of what one ought to say if they do not yet believe. What if they do not have a testimony to offer yet? The answer from the leadership was always the same, "Do it anyway. Even though you do not believe what you are testifying yet, saying it will help you to gain a testimony." All over the world I have watched people say the same things over and over again. "I know this church is true." "I know the Book of Mormon is literally the word of god." "I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of god." As members, we were always encouraged to say, "I know" rather than "I believe". This was explicit, and was repeated to us many times. It is important to note that there is no age limit or minimum on bearing testimony. It is commonplace all throughout the church for tiny children to make their way up to the podium, often with a parent to assist them, to say the exact same phrases, often word for word, as the adults. Most of the time with the tiny children the parent would whisper the words to say directly into their ear, so that they could repeat the testimony of the parent. More than once, even as a member I thought to myself that a child who is five has not even read the Book of Mormon. He or she literally does not know if it is true. He shouldn't be saying so, even if it's mildly cute. How is any person supposed to be objective if they are indoctrinated to say they know things, that they obviously do not, when they are too young to know how irresponsible that is. I find it very telling that such obviously suggestive phrases are being mindlessly funneled into the minds of children before they grow up enough to think and decide on their own. Couple this with the aforementioned spirit of isolated information, and you have got yourself a fully indoctrinated Mormon with no real testimony. Faith alone sustains him or her, as well as the song and dance act of his or her youth. No wonder Mormons are so often inoculated against criticism, even if it is compelling.

8. The church does not teach their own history with a spirit of disclosure, honesty, and a willingness to be criticized. They omit massacres and other violent criminal actions from the history, rather than show fallibility. Issues such as the crimes of saints traveling across America, the questionable character of Joseph Smith, and the racist and immoral doctrines of the past are discussed only in biased self interested terms that affirm the doctrine. It merely compounds the error when the historians, scholars, and theologians at the head of the church are fully aware of all this. They take no issue with it themselves because they maintain a nebulous belief, lacking in literal truth but abounding in metaphor, while the individuals in the congregation are left to deal with the theological implications of history. The fact that I never even encountered a Mormon apologist, even if I had known what that was, during my years as a member, shows just how isolated I was. I never even encountered a single major historical event blackening the church's character, until I broke the taboo and decided to read several books that were considered to be "Anti-Mormon Literature". After that shocking discovery I spent many hours on Mormon apologist websites reading their defenses of events that I never knew even took place. I am sure you can imagine the feelings of betrayal and doubt that filled me. It was a major blow to my faith, and yet another contributing factor to my eventual deconversion.

9. In my opinion, women are certainly not equal to men in any real sense within the church. The first, and certainly the most public, example of this is the denial of priesthood authority to women. By extension, women may not hold any calling which necessitates priesthood authority. This prevents women from participating in the majority of ordinances, and places them in a dependent position to their husbands (or if she has no husband, a designated pair of male members known as "Home Teachers"). Single mothers in particular feel the difficulty of this situation. For example, when their child is sick or injured, they cannot administer a priesthood blessing to heal their child. Instead, they have to notify someone else to come and perform the blessing, as their child continues to suffer. Mormons believe, and will sometimes claim to have witnessed, that this priesthood blessing can heal injuries and diseases instantly through the power of god. You can imagine why, if this was your belief, that you would not want to wait even a few minutes before administering the blessing. This inequality has real consequences.

This inequality is far deeper than just priesthood authority. It is rooted in a doctrinal belief that gender is an eternal characteristic that necessitates an eternal and natural set of distinct roles. The male is naturally more dominant and therefore holds the authority, as well as the responsibility for protection and provision of his family. He is encouraged to "preside" over his family in righteousness. The female was designed for the bearing and rearing of children, therefore that is their primary responsibility. Nurturing their children, and teaching them the gospel, is their first and most important charge. The theological explanation for these natural roles is the painless explanation for the years of resistance towards social change on the subject of gender equality. It is also the painless explanation of the denial by the church of even the existence of the transvestite. Since gender is a predetermined eternal characteristic, those confused with their gender are just that. I find this deeply troubling.

It is important to note that despite some social pressure to ignore this, there are obvious differences between men and woman which do not make them perfectly equal in every respect. I would never claim that one is better or superior to the other, but I would also never claim that a man is able to bear a child. In that respect he is distinctly incapable and unequal. I am not in favor of promoting sexual blindness, or sexlessness as a social cause. I would much rather see people embracing their gender and it's associate natural characteristics, than see them trying to suppress them in order to be accepted in modern society. There is still a place for the aggressive and dominant male, as well as the caring childbearing female. (Yes, I know they're tired stereotypes.) In my opinion, it's more about who you want to be and what makes you happy than what society tells you is right.

I find the Mormon perspective on gender to be suspect because, yet again, it suspiciously coincides with cultural change. When Joseph Smith founded Mormonism, women did not have even what equality they have gained today. They had little or no say in public life. They could not vote. They did not have access to effective contraception, which, as societies around the world have learned the hard way, greatly retards the success of civilization especially when it comes to poverty. They were dependent upon men to provide, since the majority of careers were available to them alone. Their primary role was the bearing and rearing of children. The values of Mormonism are perfectly in line with the time period in which they were first invented. Although we sometimes forget this, the emancipation of woman from these dependencies is a very recent business. There are plenty of woman alive today who can still remember a time when they were not able to pursue a career, but instead were forced to accept the only other available option, marriage to a providing man. The Women's Rights Movement has given women a say in public life, freedom to vote, access to regular contraception, equal pay and treatment under the law in the workplace, and thus the ability to provide entirely for themselves.

The recent concessions of the church, such as admitting that other options than motherhood are reasonable for a woman to pursue, are a result of cultural change, not ideological fairness. As with previously mentioned issues, fairness was extended to women only to avoid the unpopularity and loss of members that would have resulted in continuing without change. Of course, even today the church affirms that motherhood is the most worthy pursuit a woman can engage in, and the one most endorsed by god, but they no longer openly tell women that they must do so. The idea survives as social encouragement, not church policy. It is satisfying to notice that for once the church is in the position of being damned if they do or don't rather than me. If they maintained their former positions, I would criticize them for being immoral. Since they have not, I have criticized them for conceding cultural morality, rather than maintaining their dogma. It is nice to have them in a vice grip for once.

10. The church maintains standards of physical modesty for their members, although they mostly apply to women. A basic standard is the temple garments worn underneath the clothing. Cover the garment and you are modest. Especially in the case of women, the garment covers far more than is socially acceptable to uncover in public. It is a conservative standard. Yet again, I feel compelled to criticize the church's many changes of the garments over the years. Garments which at one time covered from the base of a woman's neck all the way to her ankles, now fit more modern standards. God, it seems, has changing tastes of what is acceptable as the years go by. All that aside, I also do not care for the moral attitude conveyed towards women on this subject.

There is a reason woman are covered more conservatively than men. There is a reason woman are more likely to violate the standards of modesty. There is a reason that men are not criticized as harshly, or sometimes at all, when they do the same. The reason is that the modesty standards are based off of the antiquated idea that women are responsible for the visual arousal, and thus sexual sin, of men. As a woman, you are a walking, talking, temptation. I once made a close friend deeply angry when I pointed out this similarity in thinking between conservative Christians in America, and equally anti-woman Muslims in Asia. It cannot be ignored that arousal for men is so often and more naturally derived from visual stimulation than women, who would much prefer a good romance novel with a context for the lovemaking. There is a greater desire to prohibit immodest dress among woman, since immodestly dressed men are not as much, although still some, of a temptation. I think the whole business is also derived from a long tradition of revulsion and distrust for the human body, especially the sexual organs. It is not the responsibility of women when men lust after them. It is the responsibility of the man looking to still behave in a gentlemanly and ethical fashion. I think that women are fair game to be admired and lusted after, but they are certainly not to be considered less of a person as a result, nor are they to be taken advantage of or abused. Beauty alone does not reduce a human to a mere object. You can sometimes hear rapists and abusers use this concept as an justification when they say things like "You should have seen the way she was dressed. She was asking for it!".

That being said, I think it would be wise for women to note that a little goes a long way in terms of sex appeal, and that they don't always have to be so heavy handed. Men need very little encouragement as it is. Also, reducing the effect a little might help in avoiding the kind of immoral, thuggish, drunkards, who have the worst of intentions. As much as the world would be nice without immoral men with no respect for women, we have to be honest with ourselves. I recommend being subtle and classy, not always crudely obvious. It might have a side effect of expressing your personality along with your beauty, which is infinitely more attractive to me.

As a side note, when commenting or quoting this post, I would recommend using only one paragraph or phrase per post. A complete and systematic response post is tedious to read. Plus, discussing one issue at a time allows the conversation to involve more people.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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