Monday, January 30, 2017

Why Mormons Leave the Church

                                                       (Salt lake Temple.  Photo by Entheta via Wikipedia)

I’ve heard just about every reason why I decided to leave the Mormon church.  I found out early on that it really didn’t matter to others what I say to them when explaining why I’ve left.  They’ve already assumed on their own, and nothing I could say would change their minds.  This is because the Mormon church teaches their members why others leave the church.  They are taught during sacrament meetings, Sunday school and priesthood classes.  They learn during semi annual general conference why members leave the church.  These people seem to know the hearts and minds of ex-mormons better than the ex-mormons themselves.

Men begin to apostatize by taking to themselves strength, by hearkening to the whisperings of the enemy who leads them astray little by little, until they gather to themselves that which they call the wisdom of man; then they begin to depart from God, and their minds become confused”. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 78–84)

You have known men who, while in the Church, were active, quick and full of intelligence; but after they have left the Church, they have become contracted in their understandings, they have become darkened in their minds and everything has become a mystery to them, and in regard to the things of God, they have become like the rest of the world, who think, hope and pray that such and such things may be so, but they do not know the least about it. This is precisely the position of those who leave this Church; they go into the dark, they are not able to judge, conceive or comprehend things as they are. They are like the drunken man—he thinks that everybody is the worse for liquor but himself, and he is the only sober man in the neighborhood. The apostates think that everybody is wrong but themselves”. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 78–84)

The above are straight out of the lesson plan the church publishes.  This is something the church harps on all the time.  Telling it’s members the church is true, and people leave because they’ve sinned or are angry.  Here below is taken from the teachers manual for the Doctrine and Covenants, notice what the teacher should expect from his/her class:

Ask questions such as the following: What conditions might lead members of the Church to lose their testimony and apostatize? (Answers might include failing to keep the commandments; finding fault with or not following the leaders of the Church; failing to pray, study the scriptures, and attend church.) In your judgment, why would great men like the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon and some members of the Quorum of the Twelve leave the Church?” (Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide, (2001), 30–32)

Notice the pattern here?  I’ve been in these classes.  I’ve heard the reasons for people leaving the church.  The answers were always the same.  It would be said people leave because they’ve sinned, or because they were offended by someone.  Mormons are really good to coming up with reasons for people leaving, but not good at actually understanding someone’s disbelief.  They are always right, and the person that leaves is always wrong.

Recently I discussed this with my sister and her response was right on par with what Mormons “want” to believe.  She said,

“I think, and again, 100% honesty here, that people who benefit from leaving, benefit from not feeling guilt about things they want to do, but feel restrained from doing, that go against church principles. Drinking, smoking, sex, etc. Socially, these are fine. And no, it doesn't make them terrible people. But, if the church is true, then indeed those things are sins. I don't care if you do them because it is YOUR life, not mine.  I would love to go out shopping on Sundays. I don't, out of respect for the Lord. I wouldn't feel guilty about it if I left the church.”

My sister seems to believe I’ve left the church because it’s just more convenient for me to not believe.  This is so unbelievably ludicrous.  To say I simply choose to not believe because it’s easier, is very offensive to me.  I’ve spent countless hours scrutinizing over foundational details of the Mormon church that have led to my disbelief.  It’s not something I sought, but rather it was something I was led to.  Before I left the church I was trying to get back into it full force, but I had questions.  I was trying to get past these concerns, but only found myself more concerned with the more I learned.  

By telling me I just waived off the church out of simplicity sake is to discredit my long, arduous and honest study of the matter.  Leaving the church wasn’t something I took lightly, and it certainly wasn’t something I did on a whim.  I actually find the matter of the utmost importance.  I feel that everyone should look into the existence of a God honestly.  To believe or not believe just because you can’t be bothered to look into it is a disservice to yourself.  

I know that others won’t care about the real reasons I left.  They will continue to believe what the church tells them to.  There seems to be nothing I can say and do to sway their minds.  A Mormon will never concede that another Mormon could leave the church without it being caused by anything other than the fault of the church.  It’s always the fault of the member who leaves.

No, I wasn’t deviant, offended, lazy or possessed by the devil.  I didn’t decide I was going to rebel against God one day.  I don’t hate God (I can’t hate something I don’t believe exists).  It wasn’t because I stopped praying, attending church or studying the materials the church tells me to study.  I didn’t leave because I wanted to have sex, drink coffee, tea and alcohol.  I didn’t leave because I wanted to sleep in on Sundays or because I don’t wan’t to give the church money.  I simply left the church because it isn’t true.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Mission, Episode II

   (Christchurch Priory, the longest Parish Church in the UK. Photo credit: Wikipedia by Bellminsterboy)

My first area I was assigned to on my mission was a town in southern England called Christchurch, Dorset.  I lived in a small apartment above a street side store.  I can’t recall now what the store actually was.  I was so excited to finally be out there serving, preaching and converting.  It was my first companion’s responsibility to train me proper.  Yes, I had just been in the MTC, but that’s more like classwork, and this was on the job training.  I was very “green”.  In fact, that is what they’d call fresh new missionaries, “greenies”.  

At this point in my mission, I wanted to serve passionately, and I was gonna be the most obedient missionary there ever was.  I had a huge side part, and I followed the rules to a T.  There was an old gentleman we would visit with in this area.  His name was John, or John of Southbourne as he referred to himself.  John was blind and he had no interest in the Mormon church, but we went over there quite often and helped him with getting around town.  John genuinely enjoyed our company, but we never tried to teach him the “discussion”.  So, being green as I was I objected to continuing this tradition since John had no desire to investigate the Mormon church.  I wasn’t there to chum it with people.  I was there to teach and baptized.  

I was mentally blind, and couldn’t see the good we were doing because the Mormon church had called me to serve, not socialize.  I was trained to teach, teach, teach, and this time spent with John was a waste.  Needless to say, my objection wasn’t noted and we continued to visit John because my companion was senior to me and that was all that mattered.  

I’m glad we continued to go back.  John was an absolute delight, and I wish I had taken more time to get to know him.  I began to loosen up after about 4 months into my mission.  I found a new desire to learn more about the deep principles of the Mormon faith.  Things the church would frown upon for young missionaries to study, but that made it even more intriguing.

In the church, there would be a separation between the “milk” and the “meat” of the gospel.  The milk consisted of those basic principles like Jesus died for us and Joseph Smith was a prophet.  They are the basics, the things we would teach to investigators.  Simple things.  The meat of the gospel were those things that only those with strong testimonies should seek out.  They are the great mysteries of God, of which he only rewards to those who put in the work to find.  I wanted to know more about those things, so I could be a spiritual giant, and have as many answers I could for naysayers on the street.

My Mission President had all the answers it seemed, and he really inspired me to study the meats of the gospel.  It was during my mission I shed my previous belief about dinosaurs.  Prior to this I believed the dinosaur bones were merely embedded into the remains of prior planets in which God used to put together and create the Earth.  I had asked my Mission President about this very thing and he told me that of course the dinosaurs lived on this Earth millions of years ago.

I was stunned.  Before this I didn’t even know it was possible to be a Mormon and believe something existed on this planet that long ago.  This introduced me to the world of less known Mormon theology.  I always found the basic beliefs to be very boring, but this new knowledge I had been exposed to really got me excited to study more about the mysteries of God.  So I began to relax a little more about following the mission rules.  I would “roughly” obey all the rules, and I would engage myself more into the deeper doctrines of the Mormon church.  

One of the first things I did in blatant disobedience was buying a book.  Not just any book, but Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and this movie was being released while I was on my mission, and I was totally bummed.  Missionaries are not permitted to watch movies or television, so I bought the book and read it.  I could just feel the Holy Ghost leave my presence.  However, I was still able to teach people effectively, and it didn’t seem to have any negative effect on my conversion rate.  I thought to myself, “God must not mind that I’m reading this book”.  And with this thought, I began to break more and more rules.  

I spent about 4.5 months in Christchurch, and made some very fond memories.  I recall the first time I visited the beach area was in Bournemouth.  I soon discovered that the good women of England were not so shy about being topless.  It was much of a common theme to walk down the public beach and find women sunbathing topless.  They were much more easy going about sexuality there.  It wasn’t a big deal to them, but for this naive and sheltered American, it was HUGE!  Obviously it wasn’t the first time I had seen naked boobies, but I hadn’t expected to see them in public.  Needless to say, when I was transferred from Christchurch, I would really miss my long walks on the beach.

My next area to serve was in Hastings.  “Remember remember, the 5th of November”!  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bigfoot, Aliens and Ghosts, Oh My!

                                                                                       (Claimed Bigfoot sighting.  Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During my childhood I was always a fan of the paranormal.  I enjoyed a good ghost hunt, watched for UFOs and imagined discovering Bigfoot.  These things fascinated me to a point I was scarred to go to the bathroom at night.  I was young, and had this thing with aliens.  You know the type, skinny grey bodies with large heads and large almond shaped black eyes.  Yeah, those freaky things.  I would always imagine when I had to get up and pee, there would be one just peeking around the wall at the end of the hallway.  I would run to and from the bathroom.  

The Mormon church is no stranger to the paranormal.  The basic Mormon teaching is that there are other worlds in our very own galaxy that harbor intelligent life.  In fact, Jesus’s sacrifice was not only for our Earth, but for all the worlds our Galactic God has created.

“And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof….  And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten…. And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many…  But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man.”

-The Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses, ch 1, vs 29-35

I thoroughly enjoyed these principles from my youth.  To look up at the stars and know there are worlds with intelligent life, and how special this Earth was to host the Savior.  I was told, to live on the same Earth as Jesus did was a very special thing indeed, and how lucky I was (or valiant in my pre-Earth life).  I still look up to the stars in wonder to this day, only in a different context.  I believe there is life out there, and intelligent life at that.  However, I don’t believe these “aliens” have visited our Earth, nor are the pictures of UFOs, alien spacecraft.  It doesn’t stop me from watching the shows about them though.

Mormons, as you are probably well aware of by now, have some crazy beliefs.  Whether they even know it, it’s there.  Another such belief is derived from the legend of Bigfoot.  We’ve all seen the pictures, and read the stories of Bigfoot encounters.  I’ve watched the shows and really found excitement regarding such.  I was excited because I knew exactly who Bigfoot was.  Can you keep a secret if I told you?  Ok, well because you’ve promised, I will tell you who Bigfoot is.  

Bigfoot is not an animal at all, but an ancient man instead.  This man had been cursed from the beginning of days, and walks the Earth today, unable to die.  It’s all in the Bible you see… and a chance run in by an early Mormon would confirm it.

“On the sad character Cain, an interesting story comes to us from Lycurgus A. Wilson's book on the life of David W. Patten. From the book I quote an extract from a letter by Abraham O. Smoot giving his recollection of David Patten's account of meeting "a very remarkable person who had represented himself as being Cain.

'As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me… His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the holy priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight…"

-Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, (1969) p 127

Yes, you read it right.  Cain, the son of Adam from the book of Genesis is Bigfoot.  I would say Bigfoot is not doing such a good job destroying the souls of men now days.  He’s a very hidden creature, so I don’t know how he plans to do all his destruction.  Mormon doctrine tells it’s members that Cain was cursed to live on the earth without dying, and to display his “off limit” status, God turned Cain’s skin black.  So now anyone that would mingle with Cain, would also have their skin turned black.  Which is actually were black people come from, but we can discuss that later.

But none the less, this was fantastic to know when I was a child and even during my older years.  You know that feeling you get when you know a great secret, but others don’t?  It was a fantastic secret to have.

The Mormon church does not have a stance on the Bigfoot thing.  They haven’t come out and said one way or the other, but it’s there.  It’s believed by many, and still is.  

Finally, lets discus Ghosts and demons.  The Mormon church officially believes that 1/3 of the spirit children of God were thrown down to our Earth from Heaven.  These spirits were punished for siding with Satan during the Pre-Earth war in Heaven.  They were cast down here, to never obtain a physical body through the birth process the way the rest of us have.  Instead, they go around with Satan himself and seek to destroy our souls.  They are the ones whispering into our ears the sweet temptations we fall for.  Mormons are told, “misery loves company”, and these Demons want us to be miserable like themselves.  Many Mormons actually believe these Demons possess people because of their incredible desire to have a physical body, of which they can never obtain.

The whole Ghost thing I find absolutely ridiculous.  I wish I could get a great deal on a house because it’s believed to be possessed, but I can’t.  Speaking of haunted houses, I made this observation with my Mormon sister one day.  Isn’t it strange how only people who believe in ghosts or God are the ones who have their homes haunted?  I’ve never heard of an atheist experiencing a ghost haunting.  Her response, 

“you also don't hear about MOST houses being haunted. And certainly, Christians outnumber atheists still. Furthermore, there have been MANY skeptics and non-supernatural believers that have had spirit encounters /haunting, that they can't explain otherwise.”

To that I would say, and the same goes for most paranormal experiences, that just because you can’t explain it, doesn’t mean it’s God, ghosts, aliens, etc.  I would love to live in a supposed haunted location, and would enjoy the chance to go ghost hunting, even though I feel it a frivolous venture.

When I finally told myself I was an atheist, I was totally bummed.  I love the paranormal, but now I can no longer believe irresponsibly like I used to.  Of course there’s still a lot of fascinating things with the universe, and I really hope we can learn more about those great mysteries in my lifetime.  But, for now, I will suspend my belief in little green men, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and Ghosts.  Anyone got a Ouija board?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


           (Daniel E. "Rudy" Ruettiger, left, and Randy "Rudy" Garn at Saturday's LDS Church baptismal service. Photo credit: Deseret News)

I woke up to a text the other day from my brother who informed me Rudy had become a Mormon.  We both rolled our eyes at the news and said to ourselves, “oh boy, here we go”!  If you’re not a Mormon, Ex-Mormon, or been closely affiliated with the Mormons, you may not quite understand why eyes would be rolled at such news.

Apparently, Ruettiger had just been to a BYU/Notre Dame game with a good friend, and after the game inquired into the Mormon faith.  As a result of this sincere friendship, and the love shown to him by his pal, Ruettiger converted.

Growing up and even still today, I’ve noticed the Mormon church loves to toot it’s own horn when it comes to celebrity conversions.  It’s like they can’t help themselves, to show the world, “see, we are not weird at all”!  I grew up hearing of all kinds of celebrity Mormons.  It became such a big deal to members of the church.  It got so bad that even celebrities that weren’t Mormon were being advertised as members.  I remember for the longest time, I believed Steve Martin was a Mormon.  It was said he was wearing a CTR ring on TV.

A CTR ring is a very popular piece of jewelry for Mormons.  It stands for Choose The Right, and it was all the craze well before the WWJD bracelets.  The Mormons are no strangers to fad jewelry.  I’ve even known some who wear these rings as their wedding bands.  Every child gets a cheap one in their primary class, but you can get them later (and most do) for a wide range of prices.  Yet Mormons are not to wear a cross necklace.

Mormons are good at putting their celebrities on a pedestal, but not so fond of sharing their celebs that leave the church.  Like Amy Adams, Paul Walker, Jewel, Aaron Eckhart and others.  Or, how about all the celebrities that don’t convert to Mormonism?  Mormons can be about as bad as Scientologists when it comes to bragging about their celebrity members.  Because nothing says, “our church is true” like a celebrity convert.

As a kid we had many opportunities to hear from such celebs.  Steve Young addressed the youth, and I thought to myself then, “how could anyone not believe in my church” when the likes of Steve Young was a faithful Mormon.  I can remember listening to Ray Combs one day also.  Ray Combs was the host of The Family Feud back in the 90’s.  He was a Mormon, but then in 1996, he killed himself.  The church no longer boasted about him.

So, this is the way of the Mormons.  A famous, or even quasi famous person joins the ranks, and all of a sudden it’s headline news.  It’s very frustrating as an Exmo, especially when my entire family is Mormon and I just know it’s going to be brought up every chance they get.  But if I bring up the plethora of Atheist celebrities, then I’m just a dick and it doesn’t mean anything.

Mormons look for anything to make them feel normal.  They are anything but though.  By virtue of their deeply held theological beliefs, Mormons are not normal Christians, as much as they want to be.  So, when the the conversion of a famous person comes along, they use it to feel normal again.  I wonder if “Rudy” has any clue what it really means to be a Mormon.  I’ll be curious to see how long it takes before he realizes he made a “HUGE” mistake.  Of course he is older so his conversion has a better chance to survive, given his desire for social engagement.  The story clearly shows his conversion was based on emotions, and not so much any evidence based reason.  

Sound the alarms and stock up on supplies my fellow Exmo’s and non Mormon friends.  A storm is brewing and will be hitting us over and over for at least the next year.  Please excuse me while I go fortify myself from the winds of Mormon celebration.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Mission, Episode I

                                                                                                            (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Mormon missionaries do not get paid to go into the mission field.  They must pay their own way.  It costs approximately $10,000 to send your kid on a mission.  The church then takes this money, and distributes it accordingly.  Because some mission locations are extremely cheap (South America for example), and some more expensive (Western Europe), every missionary paid the same amount and what was not used in some areas, were used others.  Each mission in the church is led by a “Mission President”.  I didn’t know it during my mission, but the Mission President is actually subsidized by the church.  He is reimbursed all money required of him to spend on his mission, see my blog post about that here.

Before any Mormon missionary goes out into the mission field, they must first attend training at the Missionary Training Center (MTC).  There they receive the training to make them formidable servants to God.  You’ll learn all the key scriptures and key teaching points.  You’ll learn to work with a companion 24/7 and how to “sell” the Mormon church.   

For me, it meant flying out to Preston, England for a few weeks to learn what I needed to be a missionary.  This experience was really cool for me, and even though I have since left the Mormon church, I really enjoyed being able to go to England.  Before that, I had rarely left the state of Indiana.  I had never flown in an airplane before, so my first flight was to a foreign country.  Lucky me.  What made matters worse though was I had already been set apart as a missionary, which meant I couldn’t even watch the in flight entertainment.  I wasn’t going to start my mission off on a bad note.

Mormon missionaries have very strict rules to follow, or else the Holy Spirit may not dwell with us, and subsequently, we would find it difficult to convert souls to Jesus.  So I was not allowed to watch TV, Movies, read non church books, call home, call friends, call anyone not related to missionary work or otherwise entertain myself in any way.  A missionary is expected to be in eyesight of his companion 24/7.  Mormon missionaries live with another missionary of the same sex for the entire two years.  The only time you’re away from your companion is when in the bathroom (some even left the door open for that) and when with another member of the church.  I would NEVER be alone.  If left alone, who knows what we may do.  We wouldn't spend the whole time with the same person.  There were changes made every six weeks, which were called "transfers".  A missionary could typically expect to stay in the same area for at least two six week cycles.  The longest I had been assigned the same companion was 3 months.  By changing these things around, it helped with complacency. 

I had to live by a strict schedule as well.  It went something like this:

6 AM: Wake up, pray and begin personal study
7 AM: Pray and have companion study
8 AM: Breakfast, shower and get ready for the day.
9 AM: Leave your residence and do missionary work.
12 PM:  Eat lunch
12:30 PM: Return to doing missionary work
5 PM: Dinner
6 PM: Return to doing missionary work
9 PM: Return to your residence
10 PM: Bedtime

This schedule would be repeated every single day, with the exception of one day per week in which we would be given a “day off”.  Even that day we would only get to be off from 9 AM - 6 PM.  So, day in and day out I would be inundated with missionary work.  Typically, our morning would be spent out on what was called the “High Street”.  This was a pedestrianized roadway for shopping.  Imagine an outdoor shopping mall, and you’ll get the idea.  I would stand out on these streets and stop people as they walked around, using high pressure sales techniques popular in the business word.  I never knew until after I was on the way out of Mormonism, that this was what I was doing.  I was a high pressure sales person.

I would use tactics like placing myself directly in front of the person, shaking their hand and immediately engaging them in conversation.  I would ask them some prep questions to capture their attention, then when I knew they weren’t going anywhere, I’d hit them with the “story”.   In fact, when I was a missionary, we had a set of six standard discussions we would teach to “investigators”.  We would literally memorize these lesson plans, because they were formulated with particular “selling points”. 

While on the streets, I would be recite a portion of the first of the six discussions, and tweaked it for optimum results.  It went as follows:

“There is a God, and there is only one God.  Other people may call him by different names, but he is the same God.  You are literally God’s children, and he loves you so much.  He wants to live with you again and has designed a plan to ensure that happens.  You see God has always spoken to his children through the mouths of Prophets.  Can you tell me about any Prophets you know”?

“Great, absolutely, yes he was one such Prophet, and God told him this plan.  Well, some time after the death of Jesus Christ, this plan got lost and forgotten.  But God in his infinite wisdom, has ensured his plan would not be lost forever.  When the time was right, and his children ready to receive his plan again, he selected another Prophet to deliver it to us.  This Prophet was Joseph Smith.  Now when Joseph was just a boy of about 14 years of age, he simply wanted to know the truth, and which of all these churches were true.  So, one day he would walk out to the grove of trees near his home and got on his knees and prayed. What happened next would change the world forever, for Joseph got an answer, he recorded, 

‘I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!’” (Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17).

“Jospeh saw God and Jesus Christ, and under their direction restored his church to the earth, and gave us his plan.  I want to share with you all about this plan God gave to us.  When’s a good time to meet with you to share this wonderful message”?

That was it.  Sometimes the street discussion would last longer depending on the individual, but the goal was to hook them and reel them in.  I was taught to not ask IF we can share this with them, but instead WHEN.  Very subtle, but very effective.

This was how I spent the majority of my mornings and afternoons before dinner.  It was very invasive, but necessary for my business, and business was good.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cruising for Jesus

Last year my wife and I went on a cruise for our birthdays.  Another couple joined us and we set sail to enjoy a week long getaway. My wife and I enjoy cruising. We've been on a handful but this was our first experience with Royal Caribbean. We were excited because we've heard great things about RCI and we had even upgraded to a junior suite.  It was set to be a fabulous voyage, not to mention I purchased the premium beverage package!

It all started off with a bit of a letdown when we got to our cabin. It smelled of mildew and the floors were soggy wet. However, this isn't a post to complain or recommend Royal Caribbean. It's about what happened to me while on this vacation.  I believe it was the 2nd day of our cruise and I was enjoying the buffet lunch when this elderly chap with a walker stopped at my table with the biggest shit eating grin and held out a card to give to me. 

I took the card, looked at what it said and immediately handed it back to him saying, "thanks but I don't want the card".  The card was a simple make. It was yellow with a smiley face on it, and it said, "smile, Jesus loves you"!  The man looked puzzled as to why I did not want his card. I imagine everyone else just takes it without question, but that's not me.  He tried to give it back to me, so I politely informed him I did not believe in God, and do not want his card. He then started to tell me how he was going to pray for me and told me how old he was, which was proof positive for a God. 

I didn't wanna be a dick here, and just wanted to enjoy my fucking vacation. So I just told him he looked very good for his age, and I'm happy that he is happy with his beliefs. He didn't want to end the conversation though. He went on about God and how he's allowed him to live this long (I think he was in his 90's).  If I really wanted to be an ass I would have told him my mother was a devout Christian and she died when I was 5, but I didn't (she didn't). Instead I reiterated that I do not want the card and I'm happy with my life. By this time, my non confrontational wife sat down and he saw his out. He handed his little card to her and she gladly accepted. He turned towards me again with that smile and said God bless and he'll pray for me and see me around. 

I was livid, and this set me in a bad mood. Later our friends joined us and I told them what happened. They shrugged it off and said they would have just taken it, said thank you and thrown it away later.  So I had to put this into perspective from an atheist standpoint (they are Christians but not devout). I asked how they'd feel if, instead of a Jesus card, it was a Satan card. Instead of "Jesus loves you", it was "Lucifer loves your soul". I asked if they'd be so polite and accept his card then. They said they would not and hinted at understanding my complaint. 

After this confrontation I seemed to not be able to avoid this old man!  He was everywhere, and so were his damn cards!  He would place them on every table and even in the restrooms on the toilets and sinks.  No employee seemed to clean them up and instead left them to be seen by all. I was beyond frustrated at this,  because I felt Christianity always gets a pass.  This is the same everywhere, as I've experienced. Nobody seems to bat an eye when a person publicly makes Christian statements; but when the statement has something to do with an opposing viewpoint, especially regarding atheism, these same people will say to keep your opinions to yourself. 

It's such a gross double standard it makes me sick. It makes me wanna lash out even louder and tell everyone their beliefs are nothing more than a fairy tale!  But I don't, because I'm better than that.  No, I stay mostly silent about my beliefs now. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I just can't help myself.  I also proudly tell folks I'm an atheist if asked or brought up, but I don't wear it on my sleeve.    I used to be a lot more vocal about my disbeliefs.  My parents can't seem to understand this concept, and the same goes for much of my family.  They'll say things along the lines of, "you can believe whatever you want, but why do you have to be so negative towards other people's beliefs"?  And, "why can't you just keep it to yourself"?  

They are missing the point, and show their ignorance when they ask such silly questions, or make such silly remarks.  They don't understand how the pro religious statements made by the majority of people are actually negative towards my personal beliefs.   I don't ask anyone to to keep their religious opinions to themselves, but I do ask they respect my right to express my beliefs equally.  If I have to shut up, then so do you!  Christians do not want that however.  They want to be able to express their beliefs openly, while suppressing mine at the same time.  They think their God favors their county, but they seem to forget the issues that forced many to flee their mother countries to found the United States.  

This "I can do/say this, but you should be silent" attitude has gone on long enough.  I'm so over it.  I don't want special privileges here.  If I make a post that you disagree with, then I don't expect to get a pass.  I expect you to to voice your disagreement, and respectfully request you expect the same from me.  We need to have this openness.  I want you to know why I feel your beliefs are unreasonable, and I want to know why you feel mine are.  But what I don't want, IS TO BE BOTHERED WHILE I'M ON MY FUCKING CRUISE!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Logically Illogical

On occasion I find myself in a long drawn out conversation over a facebook post.  I’m sure we’ve all been there.  One of the most recent ones revolved around the recently leaked documents about the top leaders of the Mormon church receiving a pay increase.  This got drawn out way too long in my opinion, and I feel as though my point was lost with all the nonsense that was being said. 

During our conversation we undoubtedly veered off track and began to go back and forth about God in general.  The last thing that was asked of me on the facebook post was, "what would make you believe and convert"?  This person continued to ask, "do you need to see God"?  And finally said many people saw God (the Jews) and they still did not believe.   His point I guess to this line was, is seeing God even good enough?  That we still should be relying on faith to even confirm God to our hearts.

I answered this question by basically saying I don't know.  I say to anyone who asks me this question, that if their God is omnipotent, then he should know what it would take to convert me.  Growing up Mormon, we believed God was all knowing.  We believed God knew us perfectly from the very creation of our spirit bodies in the Pre-Existence (Mormons believe God and his wives physically begat our spirt bodies though some method of reproduction in the Pre-Existence).  As such, any all knowing God such as this would know what evidence I would accept or reject.

One user, I’ll call her Susie, was quick to respond in saying, "Agency... God lets you choose for yourself. I see little things all over the place, and, because I'm OPEN to them, see them as proof of a God. It's a mind set. If you were open to it, you would probably see it, too."

This of course doesn't solve the issue.  God still knows my mind set, and knows what I'll accept or reject.  I responded to her saying I'm open to God, but I'm not going to accept unsupported evidence.  I actually would love for their to be a life after death.  I've seen some pretty cool afterlife's out there in the world of TV and movies.  It would be a very welcome discovery in my mind.  Then we could just get around to figuring out which God.  

So I then simply asked Susie what it would take for her to believe in Allah.  She said she wouldn't because she’s pretty set.  Come on, Seriously?!  How are you going to give me that bull shit answer, but if I said that, I’d be accused of not being honest with myself.  What a double standard this is.  How do you expect somebody else to open their hearts to your God, but you won’t open yours to theirs?  Hence why I withhold belief in all of them.

Susie continued to tell me she has seen, felt, and heard spirits, and that's been enough for her. Also, she didn't want those experiences, which is probably why she got them. She added God gives more miracles to those who aren't looking, than to those seeking such, for their own protection.  This was an absolute ridiculous statement to make.  At some point an omnipotent God must be held accountable for his actions and decisions.  Too many times God is praised for good, but not blamed for bad.  So when someone doesn’t get better from a deadly illness, they don’t blame God.  Instead they say it’s all part of his plan, or just bad things happen sometimes.  

If there is a God, and this God is all knowing and all good, then how can it be reconciled to not provide sufficient evidence for his existence?  Knowing what I will accept or reject, yet refusing to give that which I will accept is not loving behavior, and either your God is immoral, or your God simply does not exist.  Saying God has given sufficient evidence, but I’m just not open to receive it, is ignoring the logical conundrum.  This doesn’t even scrape the surface of the logical arguments against a God’s existence.

At the end of the day, it’s not my problem.  I am not out there making any claims that a particular God exists.  Instead, I simply withhold my belief in any Gods due to a lack of supporting evidence for such.  The same can be said for other paranormal type of belief.  I happily follow the evidence, and at this time, it just simply has not amounted to anything worthy of my belief or devotion.  As for Susie, she has admitted to some paranormal personal experience.  She has also admitted to me she takes medication for depression among other things.  This of course makes it easier for me to simply dismiss her experiences as that of mind tricks, but that may very well be a fallacy in and of itself.

She has also said numerous times to me that if it weren’t for her belief in God, particularly Mormonism, she probably would have killed herself a while ago.  This is a real shame.   It’s a shame because she’s not giving herself any credit.  Instead she’s giving all credit to some God, in which there’s no evidence he even exists.  So she, without even knowing it, thinks very low of herself, and that is so dangerous.  She’s stronger than she thinks, because it’s been her the entire time, winning the battle.  Not some invisible deity, but her.  Her strength, and her willpower.  One of the most damaging things the Mormon church (probably most churches) does to it’s believers, is make them feel powerless without their faith.  It makes people feel they must believe, attend, pay, pray, serve, devote and give their lives over to the church so they, as helpless beings, can be happy and overcome adversity.  

I know how it feels, because I was there once upon a time.  I felt this way in my life.  Not only was I a spokesperson, but I was also a member.  Little did I know, the power to be happy, fulfilled and worthwhile was in me the entire time.  It only took shaking off dogmatic beliefs and ancient superstitions to discover it.  I didn't find peace with Jesus.  I found it without him.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Called (Expected) to Serve

"I hope they call me on a mission, when I have grown a foot or two.  I hope by then I will be ready, to teach and preach and work as missionaries do".

-LDS Children's Songbook, p169.

I remember singing this song as a kid, over and over again.  We'd watch videos and give talks and have activities centered around serving a Mormon mission.  It was expected of us at a very young age to work towards this day in which we could serve the church.  To go on a two year mission (for males) or a 1.5 year mission (for females).  Being raised in the Mormon church, I was expected to serve when I turned 19.  Notice I said expected.  The church does not necessarily command it's young men and women to serve missions, but it does expect it.

If someone decides a mission is not for them, then you can expect a lot of questions and concerns coming from the remaining members of your particular ward, which is the congregation you attend designated by geographical boundaries.  Every person who attends the same ward as you are well aware of happenings and they know when someone should be going on a mission, but isn't.  You would be looked down upon and many will just assume you are some sexual deviant that has greatly sinned against the Galactic God's rules.

It's no surprise that when I turned 19, everyone was scrutinizing what I was doing.  In fact, I wasn't able to go on my mission once I turned 19, because I had to wait to be forgiven for some sexual escapades I had participated in (you know, just the tip sort of things).  To make matters worse, I had to spill the beans to my own father because he was my Bishop! YAY ME!  What an awkward conversation that was.  I was a good looking young man, and very desirable.  I'm not just blowing up my own head here, but just disclosing this information with integrity.

I remember I was dating this girl while I was in the forgiveness process, and she was bisexual and wanted me to join her in some fun with a friend (a female friend)!  Every man's dream correct?  Well, dutiful Kyle I was, and preparing for my mission, I declined the offer and said, "let's just make out".  Now I can barely get my own wife interested in a one on one session.  To be a teenager again....

So I waited until my dad, er..I mean God, was done forgiving me.  I say my dad because he's the one to get the notice from God on my behalf, since he was the Bishop.  It took approximately 7 months.  During this limbo period of forgiveness, I had to forgo partaking the sacrament, praying in church and giving talks.  Again, EVERYBODY notices these subtle changes.  Mormons are so nosey.

I wasn't really sure I wanted to go on a mission, but knew if I didn't, then my life would be very uncomfortable staying at home.  So, I accepted my fate and submitted my paperwork to serve a Mormon mission.  Fortunately for me, I got to leave the country and flew to London England to serve for two years as an Elder for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

I was in the thick of it now, and there was no turning back.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What the Fudge!?

I think it's human nature to try and find ways around the rules.  Growing up I did everything I could, without disobeying the church rules or my parents.  One of the most popular thingsas a kid was swearing.  

At around the age of 11, I remember my Mom had this sweet word processor in her bedroom.  This was before computers became the norm, and this word processor was state of the art.  I got the itch to write a story on it.  It was about Batman.  I needed to make it good though, and not any ol' language would suffice.  At 11 years old, I could think of only one word that would make my story great.  So, what seemed like in the middle of nowhere, I wrote the word "FUCK" into my story.

All was well until my Dad saw what I had written.  Needless to say, I was in big trouble.  I was no longer permitted to use the word processor without supervision.  So long Pulitzer.  From there on out I would come up with other ways of expressing myself while obeying all the rules.  I was a fudging clever young man for this one.  I soon noticed it became a popular thing to skirt the rules.  Of course, this wasn’t exclusive to Mormonism, nor was it exclusive to swearing.

A friend of mine from childhood had been dating the same girl for sometime in high school.  I quickly found out they had been intimate with each other.  They weren’t Mormons, but his girlfriend was highly religious in her own Christian church.  When I asked him, cause there was a used condom in his room, he said they would only do it in the butt because she was saving her virginity for marriage.  What the fruck right?  I mean come on, how the heck are you gonna sit there and be like, “as long as I do it in the butt, it’s not sex”?

I’m not one to talk though.  I did many things to excuse myself from committing that big sin of SEX.  Something popular amongst my fellow Mormons was the concept of dry humping.  Sure we were probably guilty of sin, but at least it’s not as bad as having sex.  So, I would go on my merry way and dry hump the fudge out of my girlfriends.  I figured, I wasn’t touching myself, she wasn’t touching me, so therefore when my "Little Factory" was working full force I wasn’t to blame.  

As I got older, I got more creative.  It got to the point where I would reason, “well I’ve done this, so  I’m already guilty of X.  I might as well do more of X”.   I remember one of my girlfriends and I would get fairly hot and heavy with each other.  We got naked!  Holy shiz is right.  Whilst rolling around naked, we felt it would not be “sex” if I just put the tip in.  After all, there was no thrusting, and it wasn’t in all the way.  So I was good.  I didn’t have sex.  

I got pretty good at manipulating myself to thinking I wasn’t committing the atrocities I was actually guilty of.  Sounds kind of familiar with my “conversion” to Mormonism itself.  Tell yourself something until you believe it.  Yup, sounds about right.  

I’ve noticed this isn’t limited to youth in the church.  Adults and even married adults are just as guilty.  I moved recently, and since I was leaving the church I didn’t inform them of my address change.  I wanted to hide away, since I had not yet planned on removing my name from the church records.  You see, as a Mormon, the church maintains a very precise membership record.  You can not just leave the church or ask your name removed.  You have to either be excommunicated from the church, or you have to write into church HQ and demand your name be removed.  Due to many horror stories about members trying to handle this themselves, I used an attorney to have my name removed from church records.  

Anyway, my wife and I moved and I thought I was free from the Mormons.  That is, until we met our neighbors that moved in right across the street from us.  Of course they were Mormons!  Fortunately, although they believe in the bat shit crazy Mormon shiz, they are actually pretty cool to hang out with, in fact we are all going on a cruise together in March.  

I bring this up only because this neighbor of mine is the best at using replacement swear words.  Of course now I see how silly it all really is.  It’s kind of like the Pascal’s wager fallacy.  You know, you should just believe because there’s nothing to lose if you do that.  Users of that argument and of silly replacement swear words don’t really get it.  Faking it doesn’t convince an all knowing God.  You can say any word you want, but an all knowing God would know what you meant by it.  As I would be taught later in my youth, it’s the spirit of the law, not the letter.

I know this really doesn’t have much to do with my journey from Mormonism, but as I pointed out when I began this blog, it won’t always be about that.  It was simply on my mind, so shut the front door and don’t be a son of biscuit, it’s my gosh dang blog and I’ll write whatever the shiznits I want!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Before and after Earth

When I was about 3 years of age, my Mother delivered my baby brother Matthew.  Matthew came into this world with a malfunctioning heart.  He would only live approximately 7 hrs before he passed away.  I was too young to remember any of this, but I can only imagine the amount of grief my parents went through during this time.  The teachings the church offered would have given some solace, but later on in life I would understand, just because something sounds nice, doesn't make that something real.

The Mormon church teaches that we as God's children lived with him before this Earth.  I waited my turn to come to earth and be with my family.  The church taught us how faithful we must have been in the pre-existence, to be born to faithful members of the church.  I was told it was my reward for being so valiant in my past life.  Oh lucky me!  

"There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we come here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less."

-Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, pp. 65-66

Not only was I born to a Mormon family, but I was also born white.  According to the Mormon church, I must have made some pretty good choices before earth life.  I never considered this teaching to be discriminatory, and now I cannot for the life of me, understand why any black person would be part of this church.  For some, they don't know this is what was taught.  The church simply hides this junk and no longer references these teachings.  There are still some though that know these things, and accept it like they really did do something wrong in their past life.  

"There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits."

-Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Juvenile Instructor, v. 26, p. 635

Mormons teach that before we began to populate this Earth, there was a war in Heaven.  It wasn't a war of swords, but a war of words.  So you've got God, and he's like, "I need a plan to get all you kids to return to me after that life on Earth".  And Lucifer (Satan) offered to come to the earth to save all mankind.  Lucifer's plan would ensure everyone would return to Heaven, by taking away our ability to choose.  Then Jesus stepped forward and told God he would go to Earth and save mankind, but his plan would allow us all to choose, and in doing so, some may not return to Heaven.  God apparently felt that idea was better and chose Jesus to be his "Savior".  After this, is when Lucifer decided he didn't like God's decision and began to recruit followers who agreed with his position.  Those that sided with Lucifer were cast out of Heaven with him (they are now demons here on Earth), and those that sided with Jesus remained, and would be rewarded for their decisions.  However, there were some that did not follow Jesus completely, and they were hesitant, but ultimately chose him.  Those people were born black or otherwise removed from the Mormon church's influence at birth.

It's really messed up to think about really.  But that's the Mormons for you.  They used to embrace their peculiar theology.  Now days, they just want to be part of the club and more mainstream.  So much for God never changing huh?

After we've lived on this Earth, which was a test all this time, we will be judged and if we've been good Mormons, can now live with God again.  We won't be alone though, because if you have gone to the temple and said all the magic words and done all the magic handshakes, you may join your family in Heaven.  It's this concept which undoubtedly assisted my Mother in coping after Matthew's death.  My Mother was taught she would have the opportunity to raise him in the next life if she remained faithful.

You will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.

-Joseph Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, (2011), 128–35

This teaching is also something the church uses as leverage when its members begin questioning.  Understandingly the Mormon church does not want to lose its members.  They are a great source of revenue after all.  So the church will make you fear the loss of your kids in the next life, as if it was a legitimate event, if you decided to walk away.  It's very difficult, but more about that down the road.

I always felt so proud of myself for being valiant in the life before this.  I could have chummed it with the likes of Moses or Noah.  I felt myself one of a kind, figuratively speaking of course.  If I could just make it through this life as valiant as I was before earth,  then I'd be set.

But like an oasis in the middle of a blistering desert, some things are just not what they seem.