Musings on Inactivity from Bishop Bill

by: Bishop Bill

November 19, 2011

Something a little different from Bishop Bill this week:

The other day I was thinking about all the “inactive” Mormons I’ve talked to over the past 30 years. In that time, I’ve been an Elders Quorum President twice, a bishop’s counselor twice, and a bishop. By inactive, I mean people that haven’t been to church in months or years. Many do not even consider themselves “Mormons” anymore. I figure that the number would be close to 200 people I’ve met with.

What stood out in those 200 people, is that only 2 of them (a married couple) were inactive because of “issues” with the church doctrine/policy/history.  They informed me they were not coming to church because of the Church’s stand against same sex marriage.  This was in California during the Prop 22 campaign (a predecessor to Prop 8). We were having stake speakers coming to sacrament meeting to give talks on same sex marriage, kind of a warm-up to Prop 8!

But outside this couple, none of the other people I spoke to ever gave any indication that they were inactive because of things they learned about church history that the church was covering up, or women and the priesthood, or the priesthood ban, or Joseph Smith’s polygamy. Basically, all the things that make for such great banter on the many LDS blogs and forums on the internet were not even known to these people, or if it was, was not the reason they were inactive.

So, why were they inactive?  A few were “offended” by a bishop, or other leader, but this was also a very small number. There was not one that went inactive so they could “sin.”  For most, they felt the church just didn’t offer them anything.  It didn’t provide anything in their lives that that couldn’t get other places.  They didn’t have the family ties, the friends, or the community that drive many to come to church each Sunday.

So, it comes as no surprise to me that the church is not too worried about all the uncorrelated history that is available on the internet.  The leaders have done a cost/benefit analysis on coming clean on their history and apologizing for past mistakes, and they know that for each person this would help, it would probably damage several others’ testimonies when they learn the truth. They know that very few people are going inactive because of what is on the internet.  They also know what I observed, that most people that are inactive just don’t care for church anymore.  Those who are inactive have done their own cost/benefit analysis, and in their view, it has nothing (or not enough) to offer them.

Is that what you would expect?  How can the church counter the lack of benefit perceived by some?  Should it try or just assume they are a lost cause and move on to those who are likely to find benefit?

Discuss.

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122 Responses to Musings on Inactivity from Bishop Bill

  1. Mormon Heretic on November 19, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    I totally agree. The internet is full of people who are interested in church history, but the world is full of people that don’t care about church history, and don’t care to search it out on the internet.

    I remember that Paul Toscano said that the church is in danger of “boring people to death.”

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  2. whizzbang on November 19, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    I would say that the overwhelming majority of inactives that I know and honestly I know more inactive Mormons then active. Our stake here in Winnipeg had the Patriarch go inactive recently. I have seen a few Bishops quit afterward, many High Councilors, 2 members of the Stake Presidency after they served, one got exed and came back and one quit but still attends but doesn’t believe much. Probably the biggest group of people is converts and singles quit. Granted things where I live in Canada could change but I doubt the stake “leadership” care much because they aren’t from here and will move when they are done and so they will never live with the consequences of their actions or inaction.

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  3. whizzbang on November 19, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    So, that first part of my sentence wasn’t finished! The overwhelming majority of inactives that I know are converts and singles and the smaller group is from lay people and leaderships roles

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  4. yeah on November 19, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    its interesting that you and church leaders frame it as a cost benefit with a goal of maximizing membership rather than looking at what is the right thing to do.

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  5. yeah on November 19, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    i am inactive. my issue would be that church activity demands so much from me, and gives little back. if i felt like the upper leadership was honest and forthcoming, maybe it would make me more interested in putting in the effort. but if a group asks so very much from me, and cant even be forthcoming with their history or finances, i’m not really interested in killing myself to belong.

    so i guess im a hybrid of your two categories.

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  6. abish on November 19, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    i’ve heard that some ex-rmormon did a poll recently and the two biggest reasons he found for people leaving were “truth-seekers” (historical issues) and “equalizers” (gender/gay rights issues). But in my experience, it seems to be a laziness/get out of the habit reason, or often a keep the peace in a marriage reason. Interesting perspective on the fulfillment/benefit explanation. Because if you don’t truly believe that the salvation/ordinances matter, it’s a big cost in time and money!

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  7. jmb275 on November 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    The only question I would have about your data is the long time span of analysis. That is, the internet, and problematic church history has really only exploded in the last 5-10 years. So I’m guessing if we were to take a sample right now of inactives it would be a higher percentage than 2%. But that’s just my guess.

    In any case, I do agree with you. I think most people just don’t get enough out of it to continue to do what it takes to be a full fledged member of the community.

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  8. E on November 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    I also have the same experience; I read a lot of angst about historical issues/doctrinal issues as areas of concern on the internet, but I don’t see it in real life. When I used to live in an area where most members are converts, I think most of the inactivity was for social/family reasons; it was just too hard for many people to remain active when the LDS lifestyle did not fit with their social group.

    Now that I live it Utah, I think most who are inactive are just not interested. They probably don’t stop attending so they can sin, but they just prefer to do other things on Sunday or they have sort of slipped into a lifestyle that would make them unable to participate in ordinances and are not (at the moment) motivated to change.

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  9. Jeff Spector on November 19, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    I think I addressed this same issue in a post or a comment just a while back and got creamed for it! Let’s face facts, you have to be committed to the Gospel to be able to sit through church week after week.

    If you are not committed to the Gospel and the Savior and trying to be more like him, what is the point of coming to Church.

    And once you get out of the habit, it becomes easier not to go. Uh-oh, this is where I got creamed the last time.

    Time to stop.

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  10. Andrew S on November 19, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    re 9

    Jeff,

    what you’re saying and what this post is saying are considerably different.

    You’re saying, “Inactive people are not committed to the Gospel and the Savior and trying to be like him, so there is no point of coming to the church”

    These people are saying, “The church doesn’t offer anything compelling for me, so there’s no point of coming to church.”

    Anyway, this seems to be a conclusion that chanson reached in the comments to an MSP discussion

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  11. Paul 2 on November 19, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    I remember a nice post on BCC (I think) about how church life used to basically overlap with community life (it did for me as a teenager in Utah) and now it doesn’t. Outside the Morridor, the ward doesn’t contain either your neighbors or your friends, just people with the same religion, and to make it even harder, it’s a religion that tries to tell us what we should say to each other when we are together in church.

    I think the church would need to try to recreate the sense of community that used to exist. The internet has of course greatly changed how people communicate. The fact that I am making a commment here means that I am not talking with someone in my ward. Something that would recreate that sense of community would require a very large investment in terms of resources. It is hard to do, but may be possible. Any ideas?

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  12. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 19, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Jeff, that is pretty much post-Christian western civilization.

    You and Andrew just are looking at the same thing from different sides.

    As to the whole “coming clean” thing, a huge issue is that people can not really agree on the alternate facts.

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  13. whizzbang on November 19, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    One thing I think the Church has lost pro and con is activities. Activities tie each other together on non spiritual ways but at the same time they take up so much time and can burn people out and stuff so you are left seeing each other for 3 hours each sunday with an occasional activity here and there. SO you really have to be spiritually strong to survive or create your own activities that aren’t church sanctioned

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  14. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 19, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Whizz bang you have hit on something that I have thought a lot about. And no, I do not have an answer.

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  15. jcc on November 19, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    I’ve heard what whizzbang echoed by others. The wards were tightly integrated 30-40 years ago with a number of regular socially oriented activities. The 3 hour block once a week type of exposure leaves us with weak social bonds. I don’t know what the answer is. Society has changed a lot in the same time period, along with family time constraints.

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  16. Michael on November 19, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    I think that what Bishop Bill and Jeff state are partially correct. It is said that there are three parts to a religion; 1) it’s doctrine / theology; 2) it’s manner of worship / services / liturgy; and 3) it’s sense of community / social acceptance.

    As concerns the first item our church has decided to forgo any significant or substantial theology in favor of a simplistic and correlated set of principles as originally articulated back in the ’60s by Harold B. Lee and Joseph F. Smith. Many more educated or spiritually inclined individuals find the simplistic approach unnourishing and lacking in depth therefore they see little reason to attend.

    As concerns the second item our church has codified a low church worship service which has evolved in a way that does little to allow for worship of the Saviour on a weekly basis. We, instead, tend to celebrate the ‘certainty’ of our testimonies and focus on works while shunning the more liturgical approach to adoration.

    Lastly, we have seen our sense of community become unravelled due to pressures on the family or because of the lack of inclusion or acceptance of different lifestyles or family structures.

    So, in conclusion, it can be said to be a cost – benefit equation. If the Church is not providing a benefit to its members in any of these three areas it is failing in it’s mission of delivering the Gospel. The cost of membership is too high when you are not having your needs fulfilled. Reliance upon the ‘authority’ claim rings hollow when product delivery is below par.

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  17. whizzbang on November 19, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    This thread reminded me of a conference talk from Elder Oaks from some years ago entitled, “the Gospel in our Lives”
    http://lds.org/ensign/2002/05/the-gospel-in-our-lives?lang=eng

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  18. Jeff Spector on November 19, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    I agree with Michael partially. I go to Church to worship the Savior through music, prayer, the partaking of the sacrament and to be taught. Since the main reason is the Worship and the Sacrament, I am willing to cut some slack to those speaking and try to gain something from it, even if it is simple the thought behind their talk.

    If you don’t go for that, why would you go?

    I spent a part of my youth attending synagogue where I didn’t understand the liturgy, had no idea why they were saying certain prayers, reading long passages in Hebrew to myself and hearing them read from the scriptures in Hebrew, which I didn’t understand either. So it had no meaning to me and I stopped going in my mid teens.

    Andrew, What the Church “offers” is what you make it to be. It offers the sacrament to you each week. If one wishes to be in a worshipful frame of mind, it can have meaning. If it does not, then it is nothing but a boring meeting.

    I get concerned when some folks insist that the Church must do something FOR them.

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  19. Jeff Spector on November 19, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    Also, I completely agree that the Church blew it big time when they cut back on activities and lost the sense of community. People just substituted different things that were outside of the Church environment.

    Bad, bad call.

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  20. Andrew S on November 19, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    re 18,

    Jeff,

    Except, if you make it what you want and it doesn’t fit a certain mold, then expect to have disciplinary action taken against you. If “worship” to you doesn’t mean what the church says worship should be, then expect to be censured.

    I get concerned when some folks express incredulity that the Church must do something FOR people while not getting that when people realize that the church doesn’t do anything for them, then really, they can make the most of their lives ***without*** the church being at best a dead-space in their lives or at worst, a really painful, stifling presence.

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  21. Michael on November 19, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    whizzbang,

    In reading through Elder Oak’s talk I notice he conflates the Gospel with the Church. They are two different things and I got a little lost in the way he mixed and matched them.

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  22. SteveS on November 19, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    I agree that the church has certainly taken a cost-benefit analysis approach with regard to less actives and historical or doctrinal issues. I don’t think owning up to historical problems or past theological positions is so much a function of reaching out to these people as it is a question of integrity, though. After all, we’re expected to set a high priority on our personal integrity; doesn’t it follow that our religious organization embody the same principle?

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  23. Jeff Spector on November 19, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Andrew,

    “Except, if you make it what you want and it doesn’t fit a certain mold, then expect to have disciplinary action taken against you. If “worship” to you doesn’t mean what the church says worship should be, then expect to be censured.”

    We are talking about the confines of the LDS religion for which worship has a particular meaning given by God through the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors.

    If you do not wish to subscribe to that form of worship of the Savior, there are many other Churches to try out until one finds the one that provides that appropriate outlet or none may suffice.

    I am not sure how disciplinary action got into the conversation. That seems a bit far out of the topic here.

    I think you are stretching the point well out of its intended shape.

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  24. Andrew S on November 19, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    re 23:

    Jeff,

    The issue is this: when you talk about the “confines of the LDS religion for which worship has a particular meaning given by God through the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors,” you either purposefully or inadvertently miss that the church has changed substantially and radically over time. In today’s era, worship has been given particular meaning by Correlation. If you want to say that Correlation is what God intends, that’s your prerogative, but for many people, it’s clear that Mormonism can be a whole lot more than the sterile package that is presented.

    Now, that itself would not be problematic. The issue is, of course, that correlation itself stifles and de-legitimizes any other worship of the Savior in an LDS context than the kinds that are “pro-Correlation”. Additionally, it’s not a matter of going to a different church. The Community of Christ isn’t the same thing and doesn’t count. The polygamists aren’t the same thing and don’t count. If someone is going to come to the conclusion that they don’t have a valid outlet to explore Mormonism, then they are just going to drop it all.

    I’m just pointing out that when you say what the church offers is what you want to get out of this, you are either purposefully and coyly ignoring or blissfully unaware that the church has some extreme constraints on what you can get out of the church in an official capacity.

    That’s why we see the popularity of StayLDS, Mormon Matters, Mormon Stories, uncorrelated Mormonism, Sunstone, Dialogue, the Bloggernacle, etc., etc., etc., These are external ways for people to get out of the church what they want, because you can’t do that in church.

    And for many of these things, it just so happens that you may find yourself experiencing disciplinary action. That’s how that got into the conversation, and that’s how it’s topical.

    I’ll make the point for you even more clearly: we have this body of people who recognize they are culturally Mormon or ethnically Mormon, but a non-negligible percentage of them are inactive. They have recognized that the church institutionally is not satiating their Mormonism, but that they still have a Mormonism to be satiated. They just do it outside of the church because the church doesn’t support that kind of stuff.

    And of course, that doesn’t even describe another aspect of the entire discussion…because I think there are a lot of things that Bishop Bill is talking about. The correlated church can’t even engage people enough to embed them into a Mormon context, often enough. In this case, I think that inactive people will go to other churches. Why? Because those churches will engage them in ways that the LDS one will not. That’s ok, but then we shouldn’t be shocked that people drift away and say, “I didn’t feel included; I didn’t feel engaged.” Your answer to these people is, “Well, that’s really your fault; good luck in your new community” so you can’t actually address if there’s anything the church as an institution could improve upon in its fellowshipping efforts.

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  25. whizzbang on November 19, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    One thing I notice too in the Church is that there really isn’t anything you can do if you don’t like something or agree with it. If you don’t like someone being called to a calling then you have to have massive amounts of courage to oppose it and then face the gossip. If you don’t like bureacracy in getting someone called or having to confess to the Bishop or every week driving people to Church who you know know how to take the bus or whatever there really isn’t an outlet except bitterness or complaining to a higher up but it’s not like the Church would backtrack and admit to any wrong doing and it seems that assertiveness is interpreted as hardheartedness or disobedience

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  26. Andrew S on November 19, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    sorry everyone. i’m just going to bow out of the internet for a while.

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  27. yeah on November 19, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    it seems like this post is saying that the historical / doctrinal stuff is a non issue because its not what is causing inactivity. but consider this:

    A large number of people considered members are either dead, do not exist, or do not consider themselves members. Of the ones that Do exist, might participate, and consider themselves members, i believe doctrinal / historical issues are hurting them. also consider that this issue is only going to get bigger as more and more people are getting internet access at a younger age.

    just because it isn’t an issue your anecdotal experience, doesn’t mean it wont be a huge issue in the next ten years.

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  28. Jonathan M. on November 20, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    Have to say I wholeheartedly agree with ‘yeah’. The church is losing so many talented, formerly committed lifelong members because of ‘historical/doctrinal stuff’. I am quite convinced of this from personal experience. Indeed, I’m perplexed at Bishop Bill and others who fail to see this. It is little more than wishful thinking on their part, I believe.

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  29. hawkgrrrl on November 20, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    I do think Bishop Bill’s experience during Prop 8 probably pre-dated some of the internet boom of Mormon info. Just wait and we’ll see what gets leveled at us in the coming election years while Mormonism remains under the microscope. But I am frankly with Paul Toscano that boredom is a bigger factor. Our services are (often) not that good.

    On the history stuff, we don’t become converted because of history, but people become de-converted because of it. It’s a strange phenomenon. I do agree the church needs to be as forthright as possible (given the huge gaps in our knowledge of the past) without hiding or avoiding unpleasant information. I think we just have to be more open. I believe the current leadership is starting to conclude that.

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  30. seeking peace on November 20, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    I am afraid that Bishop Bill has not been mingling with the next generation–where transparency and integrity are important and the church’s lack of it, will not allow them to remain part of it. You can continue to pretend that historical issues are not important if that makes you feel better, but “inactivity” will continue to escalate while everyone keeps their heads in the sand.l

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  31. NewlyHousewife on November 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    I honestly have to agree with the OP. If the church holds such a key important aspect of a person’s life it doesn’t matter how many issues they have with it–the comfort of not attending isn’t worth the trouble.

    In my experience, friends who don’t attend church choose not to simply because the community there isn’t as fulfilling as the community found elsewhere. Which I have to agree. Finding a sense of community within the church is based on your attendance. Go on a trip one too many weekends, or get sick for a prolonged period of time and that community disappears whether you know it or not.

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  32. Seldom on November 20, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    It’s a lot easier for an inactive person to make some sort of superficial excuse than to get into issues like homosexuality, sexist and racist doctrines, or problems with Church history. It shouldn’t be any surprise that a Bishop or Elders Quorum President hasn’t heard these problems from inactive members. There isn’t a place within the Church to openly have those discussions.

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  33. Sherpa on November 20, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Funny, I can think of 30 or so friends of mine who are between 28-45 years of age who are non-participating LDS. All but maybe 2 have doctrinal issues. My generation has left the church in large numbers and there’s many non-participating members who have issues with doctrine. Not all have doctrinal issues, but there’s many.

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  34. Michael on November 20, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    I think Seldom hit it on the head-people who are inactive due to doctrine, policy, history or offenses will rarely, if ever, disclose the reason for heir inactivity to local leadership. There is just no place and no allowance for any such type of discussion in a church setting without the condescension of others or the questioning of one’s testimony concerning the basics of the Restored Gospel. Almost all active members are incapable of separating the Church ™ from the Restored Gospel. It is beyond their comprehension that there can be a misleading cadre of Authorities (sometimes with the best of intentions) such as was evident during the Saviour’s mortal incarnation.

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  35. Krimchik on November 20, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    I have not been active in the church for a couple of years, and I would have to second bishop Bill. I really dont see the relevance of church in my life. I was not offended or had any serious doctrinal disagreements. On the other hand, learning about the church history and just observing the church from a side (prop 8) has only reinforced my decision to stay away.

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  36. Bishop'sdaughter on November 20, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    I have only recently discovered the issues with our church’s history. Frankly, it makes me sick. Now, when I attend church I feel frustrated, confused, and lied to. I do not agree with this post, church history IS a big deal. The church needs to come clean with several aspects of it’s past. A real explanation and or apology about polygamy, Cain, Joseph, Brigham, and prop 8 would help me a lot.

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  37. Glass Ceiling on November 20, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    I think we lost something when road shows became cursory and stake musicals disappeared. There was real unity then.

    We need to bring back Know Your Religion and we need to expand Institute. People have problems with Church history because they learn it from anti-Mormon web sites. Mormonism can answer for most if not all of the strangeness. But Mormons cannot answer those questions uf they never come up. By tge time a new convert is on line looking for strange history, we have lost them. Instead, we should start the conversation early.

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  38. LovelyLauren on November 20, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Church is just so boring most of the time.

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  39. mh on November 20, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    I think bishop bill is right on the mark. my next door neighbor was recently released as bishop. I asked him in 5 years how many people came to him about church history issues. he said only 1 person in 5 years. I was surprised to hear that because I wanted to volunteer to help these people.

    I have asked a few times over the years how many people have heard

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  40. mh on November 20, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    (oops)

    in my ward, nobody knows what the bloggernacle is. nobody knows much about church history. most are happy with sunday school answers (pray, go to church, read scripturess, home teach, etc.) nobody seems to care about looking deeply.

    yes, the bloggernacle loves to talk about church history, but most people just are not that interested. if you don’t feel a social draw, and are not spiritually inclined, there is no reason to go to church.

    as for the 20 something crowd, I think religion is cyclical, and we are in a low cycle now. in another decade or 2, the cycle will change upward.

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  41. Glass Ceiling on November 20, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    mh,

    The history of the Church is fascinating,as is the doctrine. So are the prophecies of the future. Trust me. There is nothing better on earth. What you are getting in the Gospel Doctrine and Priesthood manuals are not even what I am talking about. You’d think it was a different religion.

    In the meantime before you cancel your membership, do a favor for yourself and purchase the book “Thr Cleaning of America” by Skousen. Then read it while you are young.

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  42. Jeff Spector on November 20, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    If folks become disinterested in Church for whatever reason, they ought to just say so. There is no reason to justify it. If it is of no use to them, it’s OK.

    And for anyone to make correlation a reason forty years after the fact seems odd to me.

    Chances are it had no effect on them whatsoever.

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  43. Glass Ceiling on November 20, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Mh,

    Sorry. I misreading your blog entry . I read it again, and I no longer fear you leaving the Church. Good book though ….

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  44. Steve on November 20, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    Glass Ceiling —

    “Cleansing of America” is probably the goofiest of all the Skousen books.

    For those who haven’t had a chance to encounter this gem, it predicts that an enormous plague is about to break out in the U.S. — killing 90% of the population.

    In this post-apocalyptic world, the survivors will be those who do the wacky survivalist bit and those who decide to follow the LDS prophet.

    I know folks in my local community who have sold their businesses, built bunkers and armed themselves to repulse the neighbors — all based on this silly book.

    Skousen was an embarrassment to Mormonism. This is book that would have been best left unprinted.

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  45. Steve on November 20, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    Ugh.

    “This is the book which would have been best left unprinted.”

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  46. Jenkins on November 20, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    42 Jeff –
    “And for anyone to make correlation a reason forty years after the fact seems odd to me.”

    My entire LDS experience has been correlated. However, as hard as they tried I was still taught to think for myself. I was taught that just like Joseph Smith I can go to the woods, pray, and receive an answer to my prayers. I was taught it was okay for Nephi to chop off Laban’s head. I was also taught that the prophet will never lead us astray. I was taught that it’s more important to be obedient than anything else. I was taught to always sustain my leaders.

    Some may not see the contradiction of ideas that have been taught to me, but I do. I believe in Joseph Smith. I believe he was a prophet. I also believe that for the church to lower itself to correlating what is taught is blatantly undoing the good that Joseph Smith did. Joseph Smith’s story teaches me to think for myself. Correlation tells me the thinking has been done.

    For me I’m not sure there would have been a problem if my life fit the tidy Mormon mold. For better or worse my life didn’t fit and the Mormon church’s correlated answers didn’t help me and my eyes were open to the fact that a discrepancy exists that I hadn’t seen before. However, that doesn’t give anyone the right to tell me to leave the church. I love what Joseph Smith restored and I want to see it return to what it was.

    I want to question the Sunday School lesson and not feel like I shouldn’t. Joseph Smith questioned everything, why can’t I? Why do I have to resign myself to the way it is and either fall in step or leave? Especially when I think I am living what this church was meant to be.

    The church needs to stop correlating, stop trying to be ‘Christian’ and fit in with all the other Christian denominations. Let us embrace the full potential of our doctrine, let us question everything! Let us hop onto the Buddhist bandwagon and emphasize our similarities to eastern thought. Let us take the revelations Joseph Smith received and take them out to their potential!

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  47. Glass Ceiling on November 21, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    Jenkins,

    I mean no offense, but maybe it’s because Joseph Smith was designated to bring in the ancient truths into the latter days, and you are not. Nor is anyone else. That had already happened in Christianity: lots of folks feeling like they had the truth, starting a sect, then fighting with others about who was right. The Restored Church means nothing if it means that people get to change the doctrine and rules at will. I honestly feel you have an original, yet somewhat warped view of Joseph Smith and his divine mission. Wasn’t Oliver Cowdery exed for being at loggerheads with doctrine?

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  48. hawkgrrrl on November 21, 2011 at 1:04 AM

    “For those who haven’t had a chance to encounter this gem, it predicts that an enormous plague is about to break out in the U.S. — killing 90% of the population.” Wait, that was Skousen? I thought this was Stephen King’s The Stand!

    Correlation is a problem precisely because it’s been in place for 40 years. Every year more and more homogeneity. Every year more restriction on teachers, less thought-provoking, engaging material. I am literally teaching 12-13 YO SS the EXACT SAME LESSONS I was taught when I was 12-13! They weren’t great then, and they aren’t now. These lessons are extremely weak on content.

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  49. Glass Ceiling on November 21, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    Steve,

    Since you are an authority on the content of this scandalous book, how do you account for John Taylor’s prophetic dream?

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  50. Jeff Spector on November 21, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    Hawk,

    “Every year more restriction on teachers, less thought-provoking, engaging material. I am literally teaching 12-13 YO SS the EXACT SAME LESSONS I was taught when I was 12-13! They weren’t great then, and they aren’t now. These lessons are extremely weak on content.”

    I would agree that the lessons need a dramatic overhaul. But, I also subscribe to the idea that the lessons are what the teachers makes them to be. If someone is sitting in sacrament preparing the lesson, chances are, it’s not going to be that good.

    I try to spend between 3 and 4 hours preparing for mine.

    To blame that on coorleation is a bit of a stretch for me.

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  51. Jeff Spector on November 21, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    Jenkins,

    “Correlation tells me the thinking has been done. ”

    If this is the case, you’ve heard the wrong message.

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  52. Jenkins on November 21, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    Glass Ceiling –
    “The Restored Church means nothing if it means that people get to change the doctrine and rules at will.”

    Then how do you account for changes in doctrine and rules that have been made?

    I honestly don’t see how my ” original, yet somewhat warped view of Joseph Smith and his divine mission” is different from what he actually said and did. I don’t believe he ever intended for anyone to do something just because he said so. If it came from the Lord they should find out and do it. He was merely a mouthpiece. There was not a stigma surrounding questioning what he said. In fact, some of the doctrine we now hold as revealed truth was first conceptualized by others. Parley P. Pratt taught Theosis six years before King Follet. If Parley didn’t have the ability to question and fill in the holes with his own musings we may not have that doctrine. The same goes for eternal families. I’m not saying that I’m the new Joseph Smith. What I am saying is I believe that extremely conservative people have changed the direction the church is headed and one of the major changes is correlation. I don’t like the change in direction and I won’t quietly let it happen without saying something. That is why I stay a member. And no one has the right to tell me that doesn’t make me every bit as good a Mormon as anyone else.

    I honestly can see the draw of correlated lessons. However, it’s time for the church to move on and do something better. As Bishop Bill said, “For most, they felt the church just didn’t offer them anything. It didn’t provide anything in their lives that that couldn’t get other places.” It’s time to start offering something more. I doubt getting rid of correlation will provide people with something more right away. However, a teacher coming to church excited about a new idea he/she might have about the gospel and allowing everyone to hear it and discuss it sounds a whole lot more interesting than the exact same lesson I had 4 years ago. Finally, who wrote the correlated lesson manuals? I would say they may have more to say about where the doctrine of the church has headed than anyone else in the church today.

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  53. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Before Seldom’s comment I wanted to decry the obvious bias in the post, but I think he/she nailed it.

    Bishops often hold a very strange view of themselves, as they believe it is their right to pry into the activities of Ward members. Granted they are given this perspective from a Church culture where many members willingly divulge personal information about themselves (finances, family/marital issues, sexual indiscretions, etc). So, perhaps Bishop Bill is under the impression that when he asks questions he always gets a forthright response.

    I don’t just say this hypothetically, but rather I am a living example of this very issue. My wife and I stopped attending Church just about a year ago. There is a lot I could say about our motivations for this, but suffice it to say that our main concern was imposing a Mormon world-view along with Mormon expectations upon our children. But this concerns us because we no longer believe the Church is true, or that Joseph Smith was a prophet, after an exhaustive consideration of the “doctrine/policy/history” issues alluded to in the post.

    To the point, our Bishopric and other ward began taking an interest a few months ago. Most of the pressure came to my wife from the Relief Society that was just certain that she had somehow been insulted by someone in the Ward. They made phone calls, visits, even a personal letter requesting that my Wife explain who she was upset with in the Ward, and why, so that they could get us back. She has done her best to politely explain that nobody has insulted her, and that we’re just not interested in coming. Finally she was politely chided by the RS president for taking the lazy path which “could” yield eternal consequences for our children. What is interesting is that she had no idea that that was the idea.

    Finally the Bishop requested to meet with me last August. He and I have never really had much to do with one another, and so he had assumed that he had done something that offended me. I politely explained to him that I had no axe’s to grind with him or anyone else in the Ward, and that in fact my only concern was that our innactivity my create too much distance between my family and our neighbors. When he pressed and asked if I was “struggling” with testimony, I said that perhaps a little, but we were just “busy” and so not attending Church was easier.

    Never once in any of these conversations did anybody ever consider the possibility that perhaps we had issues with the Church’s history, doctrine, or policies. Instead they think we’re just lazy and a little foolish. I am confident that if Bishop Bill had been my Bishop, I would have been counted among the 200 that just stopped getting value from the Church.

    A couple of other thoughts worth thinking about. First, “Church history” is either all important, or not important at all. In the case of the latter, someone should inform the Church missionary department to rewrite Preach My Gospel. In the First Discussion, the whole point was to convert people to a Church history point, that Joseph Smith really had the First Vision. Borrowing a little from Joseph Smith’s “neutral ground” comments, once a person hears that story and the subsequent claims of the restoration of the Priesthood and saving ordinances, I think they have left neutral ground. They either believe it, or they don’t. There may be some nuance as to how they interpret it, but they either believe there is some divine substance to these claims or not. If a person believes in any fashion that the Church is true, I cannot wrap my mind around how they could leave because they feel they “simply get nothing out of Church”. I would argue that this a wall of defense, for “I don’t really want to discuss it”. Still, rather than exploring the issue deeper, Bishop Bill would like to see this argument as a total cause. I can simply say that I get nothing out of Church, because I don’t believe there is anything in the Church to be gained. Not because correlation has dumbed down the lessons (which they have), but because I think it’s all hogwash anyway. To put it another way, if there was no correlation, and lessons were able to delve into the eccentric Mormon teachings of yesterday, while lessons would more “interesting” I would still be here decrying the absurdity of those weird beliefs.

    A Bishop’s anecdotes on member testimonies cannot help but be biased, I’m afraid.

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  54. Jeff Spector on November 21, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Cowboy,

    “I would argue that this a wall of defense, for “I don’t really want to discuss it”.”

    If I read you story right, that is exactly what you did when the Bishop asked you about your testimony?

    So, you seem to critize others because they didn’t ask but when the Bishop asked you, you didn’t answer truthfully.

    Or am I missing something?

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  55. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    Your missing something.

    I’m not criticizing people for not asking. I really don’t want to discuss it because I don’t think it would be helpful to maintain healthy relationships.

    I am criticizing the conclusions of the OP that despite what happens on the bloggernacle, people really aren’t leaving the Church because of Church history/doctrine/practice. I am arguing that many are leaving for those reasons, but see no need to disclose that to a Bishop. So his perspective and methods are biased.

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  56. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    “If I read you story right, that is exactly what you did when the Bishop asked you about your testimony?”

    That’s my whole point, I’m a case study of the scenarior that Seldom pointed out. I doubt I’m the only one.

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  57. anon on November 21, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    My husband, a former bishop, left the church just about 2 years ago. While he was at it, he left our marriage as well.

    While it’s true he started an affair with someone from work, it’s not the reason he quit church. And when asked, by our current Bishop why he was leaving church (and our marriage), his reply was that he was just going through a difficult time and he didn’t really want to discuss it much further because he didn’t think it would be a productive conversation. He had a lot of stress in his life, he knew what the Bishop would say as advice and he’d rather not have the discussion. The Bishop, recognized he was talking to his OWN former Bishop, and becomming perplexed and uncomfortable with the whole conversation, decided to focus on helping me get through this tough period of time.

    Ultimately, I think my Bishop thought his leaving partly had to do with our marriage having problems and partly had to do with my husband being weary of the massive time commitment the church requires. (it was one of the only things he actually did mention in regards to church that he had a gripe with).

    The truth? My former husband no longer believes in God period. He now views himself as an athiest. And this happened after a long period of being troubled with some of church history. Beginning with Joseph Smith’s wives and continuing on from there. Though he was aware of JS’s polygamy, he had not studied the particulars, and what he found, even just in Bushman’s book, really disturbed him. It started a long road out of the church for him. And though I think our marriage had been very happy for very many years, this started to cause such a chism for him, he sought retreat.

    He is still in the clost about his athiesism. Most people believe he doesn’t go to church because of the girlfriend he now has. But actually, she has very little to do with it. She is a symptom of a much bigger problem.

    I think this would be another occasion where the actual problem (church history, etc.) is not the problem that most people think it is – including our Bishop. I have kept quiet about his atheism because I don’t feel it’s my place to discuss with others what he didn’t feel he could even tell me until right before he left.

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  58. Steve on November 21, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Glass Ceiling —

    There is a reason the John Taylor dream is not taught today (for those who unfamiliar with this, it purports to be an account of John Taylor viewing a massive plague covering the U.S.).

    In particular, there is no direct evidence he ever had it. It is contained in Wilford Woodruff’s journal but the source is unclear.

    One has to remember the time period. This was during the polygamy persecutions. Many leaders saw the attacks by the U.S. government on the Church as ushering in the end of days.

    After the manifesto, this kind of talk faded away.

    As to the Skousen book (it is the first of a three part series), it was one he wrote years before his death and instructed his family to release one the time was ripe. Obviously, they perceive the end of days as unfolding now (probably because of the advent of the anti-christ, ie. President Obama).

    It truly is (nod to above) like something from a Stephen King novel — and just as odd.

    Yet, there are folks all over the Church treating it as a prophetic work.

    I consider that pretty silly given Skousen’s track record on Communism, Jewish bankers, the Founding Fathers, U.S. History, etc.

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  59. dpc on November 21, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    @anon

    I think you’re confusing cause and effect there. I mean, it’s awfully convenient that your husband comes out as an atheist after he breaks his marriage vows and his family.

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  60. Jeff Spector on November 21, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Cowboy,

    “I really don’t want to discuss it because I don’t think it would be helpful to maintain healthy relationships. ”

    I am truly perplexed. And this is not pointed at you in particular but this generalized idea that no one wants to tell their leaders the truth about why they are leaving or not attending.

    so, we have all these folks on the Bloggernacle, under the cover of anonymity, railing against the Church for one thing or another, but when it comes time to own up to a local leader, they don’t want to do it.

    I find that really odd and somewhat disingenuous.

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  61. dpc on November 21, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    If I look on the friends of mine who have left the church, almost all involve divorce. More than doctrine, more than boring church meetings, I think personal relationships with family members has a bigger impact on church attendance and participation than any other factor.

    The reason I don’t buy “the church lied about its history” idea is that most people aren’t historians and they don’t know anything about historical methodologies or critiquing other’s historical work. The “bad history so I’ll leave the church” idea is confirmation bias posing as scholarly detachment. A lot of sites posing as “uncorrelated” church history have some of the most egregiously bad scholarship I have ever seen. And it’s not because the authors are being dishonest. It’s because they are amateurs with no idea what they are doing. And the worst part is that the Mormon historical society or the John Whitmer historical society will give you awards for such bad, bad scholarship.

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  62. Martin on November 21, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    I think there are a lot more instances like Cowboy’s. Once you’ve concluded the church really isn’t what it claims to be, you’re really beyond the point of wanting to hash through it with your bishop.

    On the other hand, I also think there’s a considerable portion of the population that simply isn’t religious. It’s not that they have some deep religious reservations or unmet needs, they just don’t seem to have any deep religious or spiritual needs. I used to think they were just in denial or lazy or resisting the Spirit or something, but the more I’ve interacted with them, the less I’m convinced that’s true. Kind of blows my mind, actually, because I feel so differently. Maybe there’s a “spirituality” gene or something.

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  63. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    A simple response Jeff:

    When I decided to leave Church leaders ceased to become MY leaders. Instead they are just leaders in the local congregations and hold absolutely no position of authority over me. I am not obligated to respond “truthfully” to their inquiries because it is none of their business in the first place. I attended the meeting only because I wanted to communicate that I really have no problems with him personally, and that I don’t have anything against people in the Ward. I figured it was my best efforts at remaining neighborly.

    In other words, why do I have to own up to the local Bishop? His only real influence is over my membership, but he has no means of owning up for the failures in the Church. He can’t own up for Joseph Smith, or President Monson, can he? If he tried, he would simply be removed as Bishop. So, to my ears, the insistence that I or anyone should engage a Bishop ecclesiastically is like suggesting that I have some obligation to the Church, or that I am failing to meet some expectation. There are no pretenses here. I don’t attend Church any longer, I don’t act as though I do, so what am I missing?

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  64. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    And yes Martin articulated it well. I don’t know what I should expect by trying to “hash it out” with the Bishop. I have a clear expectation that if I did, he will simply disagree with me. If he is a decent guy, he will try and persuade me to pray more, to study the scriptures, and then he’ll insist that I’m wrong because he knows.

    If he’s a jerk he’ll try and find gaps in my “worthiness” and try to have me punished or disciplined.

    Either way, nothing gained on either side.

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  65. Will on November 21, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Cowboy,

    “I am not obligated to respond “truthfully” to their inquiries…”

    I totally respect your decisions to leave the church and not recognize Bishops as divinely inspired leaders; however, I do take issue with the above statement. Whether a Bishop or not, he deserves a truthful answer even if that truthful answer is “none of your damn business”.

    I don’t think you meant to say or imply you would willfully deceive him as I have gleaned from our conversations that you are a straight up guy. If you are trying to deceive him or anyone else for that matter than you are part of the plague of dishonestly ruining our nation.

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  66. Will on November 21, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Cowboy,

    I would add, along with Thomas (where has he gone by the way), I find your comments to be the most insightful even though I don’t always agree.

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  67. Glass Ceiling on November 21, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Steven,

    I cannot make an argument for or against it at this moment. Yet I am not willing to impulsively pooh-pooh a book so widely endorsed by Deseret Book. I know they have alot of subjective material…but the subject matter seems to be a bit explosive for DB to so cavalierly endorse if it is complete rubbish .

    Furthermore, I am reading it with a friend who is telling me he learned alot of the stuff in the book 30 years ago at BYU.

    What is your opinion of what is meant in the BOM by the term “the end of the times of the gentiles ?”

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  68. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Not a problem Will –

    Incidentally I enjoy your willingness to shoot straight and not beat around the bush. It adds a fresh dynamic to the conversation.

    As for your comment 65, your clarification is correct. To be honest I hate to feel like I’m always trying to pile on Jeff, but I worded the comment that way because of the way I bristled against his wording. Even though his comment was technically correct, I think it misrepresented the way I feel about things. I don’t feel I jeaopardized my personal integrity by not being forthright with the Bishop. To respond with “it’s none of your damn business” would have been too strong for the purposes I had hoped to gain from our meeting.

    Do I have an obligation to be honest with my Bishop? I would argue that I have no more or less of an obligation to be honest with him, then what I am obligated to be with any other person. My response was that we were just “busy”. Is that entirely correct? Well, no, but it wasn’t intended to be a deceitful attempt at getting advantage over somebody. Instead it was my best way of dodging the question by offering a placating response. I felt no obligation to go into the details with him, but wanted to leave the conversation on a friendly tone.

    This is not to say however that I believe that I have no obligation to honesty and full disclosure with the Bishop. Were I to find myself in a position where I was seeking Church aid, I would not approve of this approach.

    That’s my take Will, I hope that doesn’t make me a contributor to the ruination of our country.

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  69. alice on November 21, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Will-

    Am I understanding correctly that one former member who simply evades a no-win discussion represents a “plague of dishonesty ruining our nation” that a church — an institution ordained by Heavenly Father to be a moral beacon unto the world — is exempt from when it consciously hides, distorts and lies about its history to the community of saints that uphold it?

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  70. dpc on November 21, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    @alice

    If you’re going to make bold accusations of “conscious” hiding, distorting or lies, you have the facts to back it up? You must have access to a smoking gun that the rest of us don’t have. Or are you going to rely on the poor scholarship that masquerades for history and that I criticized in my comment above?

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  71. Heber13 on November 21, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    The stuff on the Internet can drive some people away from the church or some people can defend the church vehemently in spite of it.

    I would say it is more important what our intent is as we go look at church history that determines what it does to our testimonies or questions.

    The Church is more concerned with forward thinking and what the gospel has to offer people now, rather than what it said back in the 1800s and what should be corrected.

    For a while, the family message was the main thing for people seeking something to help in life’s problems. Maybe that is still the main message.

    However, the Church is ineffective in preaching the importance of the family, yet forcing families to sacrifice and often attending to callings and meetings away from families…which double message is the kind of thing that drives people away. It can just be exhausting.

    Doing a cost/benefit analysis on subjective things like faith and belief is biased to the person doing the analysis, so you get out of it what you go into it seeking to affirm. I can make church work for me if I want to, or I can make church not worth my time if I wish to go that way…the analysis can be done either way. It is just hard for people who have chosen the church to realize their analyses doesn’t translate objectively to others. Just my opinion.

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  72. Steve on November 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Glass Ceiling —

    Deseret Book also has pushed the Twilight series and Glen Beck’s books. I’ve never assumed that meant that the Prophet embraced either.

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  73. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    DPC –

    The Brigham Young manual for Priesthood and Relief Society.

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  74. dpc on November 21, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Cowboy

    That’s the smoking gun??!! I don’t recall that particular manual being a history book. Because it didn’t talk about his polygamy? Brigham Young has got to be one of the world’s most famous polygamists. Can you in good faith say that you were deceived because you thought Brigham Young was a monogamist and it wasn’t until you found out the “true” history of the church, you found that out. Just because a book doesn’t emphasis it, it’s a stretch to say that it was “conscious” truth-hiding.

    I want evidence of “conscious” truth-hiding, not some weak circumstantial evidence. Where are the emails, the letters, the eye witnesses who were there when decisions were being made about what to teach? As a skeptic I need more than bare assertions and tepid inferences to be convinced. If someone is going to allege a conspiracy, let’s see evidence of the conspiracy. Where’s the solicitation? Where’s the agreement?

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  75. Will on November 21, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    “is exempt from when it consciously hides, distorts and lies about its history to the community of saints that uphold it”

    Does it? Please explain!

    I am just saying Honesty is the best policy. It always has been and it always will be.

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  76. Jeff Spector on November 21, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Cowboy,

    “When I decided to leave Church leaders ceased to become MY leaders. Instead they are just leaders in the local congregations and hold absolutely no position of authority over me. I am not obligated to respond “truthfully” to their inquiries because it is none of their business in the first place. I attended the meeting only because I wanted to communicate that I really have no problems with him personally, and that I don’t have anything against people in the Ward. I figured it was my best efforts at remaining neighborly.”

    Let me see if I get this:

    1. You didn’t want to say anything because you didn’t want to disrupt relationships and remain neighborly.
    2. But, since you have disenfranchised yourself from the Church, they are no longer your leaders and you owe them nothing.
    3. But you went to the meeting anyway, even though you did not have to.
    4. But when you are asked a direct question, you don’t exactly tell the truth because you are not obligated to tell the truth to someone you are trying to maintain a relationship with at some level.
    5. You criticize the Church for withholding the truth, sugar coating it’s history and other crimes.
    6. You assume they are going to try to talk you out of what you now believe and tell you you are wrong.

    And this is something you want to pass along to your children now that they are free from the clutches of the Church?

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  77. hawkgrrrl on November 21, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    anon 57. It is a terrible situation you describe. Yet I’m troubled that anyone would consider it worse to be an atheist than to be an adulterer. An atheist doesn’t believe in God, but an adulterer has lied and broken marital covenants and the hearts of family members. Give me a faithful atheist over an adulterous believer any day of the week!

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  78. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Jeff:

    I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt far too many times in the past.

    What is so hard to understand – I simply avoided the Bishops question by giving him a patronizing answer. You are trying to insinuate that I am a liar because I didn’t answer a question to you or my Bishops satisfaction. That is a far cry from not being truthful. My only reason for entertaining your point was to say that just because a person fancy’s themself as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, doesn’t mean I need to feel a personal obligation to reveal any and every detail about myself that they request. This is true even if I agree to meet with them.

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  79. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    DPC – You must amuse your amuse yourself. It doesn’t matter whether I knew about polygamy or not. All that matters is the Church changed the polygamy references to reflect monogomous ideals, and edited his statements without explanation. That is a smoking gun because it’s evidence. Anything else I point will likely also fail to impress you, as the only thing I can do is show you how the Church has represented history in some instances, and how that history doesn’t jive with what we actually know about that history. I’m all out of idea’s for you, Mr. Scholar.

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  80. Glass Ceiling on November 21, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    Steve,

    Twilight and Glenn Beck do not proclaim the Gospel! Or even discuss it. Is that the best answer you can give me? If so, I’m gonna finish reading the book and probably going to refer it to friends.

    Have you even read it?

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  81. Jeff Spector on November 21, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Cowboy,

    You are very much entitled to behave in any manner you choose. And reveal nothing if you like. As you said, you are not obligated.

    I just find it odd that people who are so hyper-critical of the Church and it’s leaders about truth claims seem to be less forthcoming about themselves when asked directly.

    As someone said, “it’s none of your business,” I would rather not get into it,” or some answer like that seemed like a better option to me.

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  82. hawkgrrrl on November 21, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Cowboy: Jeff has a point about one thing, and I’m doing a post on it coming up. Whenever you misrepresent your views to someone or allow them to believe they are something other than what they are, you are eroding the relationship. We lie to enemies. Not answering someone’s questions honestly is refusing to cooperate. When we do this, we are refusing to have a relationship with them because we don’t trust them or want to relate with them. I read Sam Harris’ book Lying; it’s more of an essay. I highly recommend it.

    I’m not faulting your decision to not answer their questions, but just pointing out that in so doing, you also created the following consequences:
    1 – less trust between both you and them (which has nothing to do with church hierarchy, only personal relationships)
    2 – you withheld the truth about why you left which might have helped them be better in the future. You denied them the ability to change, grow and progress.
    3 – you created the gulf between you. Had you been forthright, maybe they would have created the gulf – the outcome might have been the same – but it would have been their doing, not yours.

    Now I’m not saying it would have been pleasant. I’m reading another book that says you can measure your success in life by the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have. This is certainly one of them.

    I truly believe Cowboy is correct, that people won’t disclose the whole truth to a bishop once they’ve made up their minds because many who’ve left never had a relationship with those individuals anyway, and don’t desire one now. People in the church are contacting them based on hierarchy and stewardship, but may not have even had an authentic relationship with them before. At any point, we can choose to relate to someone, so that’s not a static state, but for the person who doesn’t intend to return to church I think they disengage from these relationships for these reasons:
    1 – they perceive people to be inauthentic in their interest. Cast not your pearls before swine.
    2 – they desire “boundaries” because they themselves had a view of their role as subordinate to those individuals (when they were an insider) and want to reclaim power.

    I think this second one is unnecessary. If you are authentic, someone else’s “authority” just bounces right off of you. Consider this analogy. If you secretly know you have a new job, and your boss at your current job get in your face over something, how much do you care? Not that much. You may even find it amusing. You have completely disengaged from the relationship.

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  83. Glass Ceiling on November 21, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Steve,

    I was jerky there. I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve that.

    Still though, would take a seriously good reason for me to not take the book so seriously. And if such a reason existed, I’d be inclined to give ear. Until then, I am under the (idiotic? gullible? easily led? ) assumption that the Church probably takes books quoting prophets, prophecy, and Scripture a heap more seriously than the likes of teen fiction or political rants.

    In other words, if you, or anyone else (within rhe sound of my voice ) knows anything about this book that makes it suspect , I am really all ears. Truly.

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  84. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    “I just find it odd that people who are so hyper-critical of the Church and it’s leaders about truth claims seem to be less forthcoming about themselves when asked directly.”

    There’s nothing odd about it. It’s simply just you straining at a gnat. If I was representing myself as a mortal emissary of Christ holding the key’s of salvation, then it might be odd. Seeing as how that’s not the case, it’s not odd at all.

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  85. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    Hawkgrrrl:

    I acknowledge the social implications, but at the same time let’s not forge that Sam Harris is hand in hand with Richard Dawkins on promoting militant atheism, with much less to lose.

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  86. Jeff Spector on November 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    “There’s nothing odd about it. It’s simply just you straining at a gnat.’

    Hardly. It just seems to me that not being forthcoming will mean that someone will think that that can work you back into activity. When, according to you, they cannot.

    Being upfront and honest is just a nice thing to do for people you say you want to be neighborly with.

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  87. Cowboy on November 21, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Jeff:

    I could continue arguing with you, but I don’t think we are at a point of trying to come to an understanding. I am not leading anybody on, so this argument is absurd.

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  88. Jeff Spector on November 21, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    Cowboy,

    I don’t think I am arguing with you. I am just trying to understand your rationale in not being upfront with those folks since you took the trouble to go visit with the Bishop.

    Especially in light of the fact, that they will keep contacting you in hopes of assist you in returning to activity.

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  89. LovelyLauren on November 21, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    Cowboy, I understand not wanting to hash it out with the Bishop. I’ve told Bishops that I would rather not talk about my doctrinal concerns, because I’ve heard the same answers so many times and it’s an emotional experience that puts me in a vulnerable position I don’t like to be in.

    However, i think Jeff makes a good point when he asks why you wouldn’t be forthcoming with the Bishop if you went to see him in the first place. If you weren’t going to say anything of significance, couldn’t you just have emailed him and said, “Church isn’t really my thing anymore, kthnxbai”?

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  90. Jon on November 21, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    I solved the problem to correlation. I stopped teaching from the manual. Instead I taught from the manuals called, The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. I was recently released from that calling, now for teaching from those books to others!

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  91. Jon on November 21, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    Steve, Glass,

    I enjoy Skousen’s books. I do think he is off basis sometimes and disagree with him on things but, he is well read, and even if you disagree with him he has a wealth of knowledge that will make you think and do your own research on subjects.

    As for Skousen being crazy. Well, here’s something that sounds pretty crazy to me. You have to be dunked in a pool of water in order to be saved and live with a God that lives on a planet far from here that will miraculously come back and cleanse the earth of all the wicked.

    Call me crazy but I still believe.

    BTW, calling people crazy etc is a logical fallacy called an ad hominen attack and is used by those of lesser intelligence to make an illogical argument, oh wait, that was an ad hominen attack :)

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  92. Justin on November 21, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Well, I just read all these — and I noticed Paul 2 asked:

    I think the church would need to try to recreate the sense of community that used to exist. The internet has of course greatly changed how people communicate. The fact that I am making a commment here means that I am not talking with someone in my ward. Something that would recreate that sense of community would require a very large investment in terms of resources. It is hard to do, but may be possible. Any ideas?

    And then I didn’t see an answer. I know a group of people who’ve come across an idea to re-foster community among LDS — and it would be to begin to form gospel-based, egalitarian, mutlihusband-multiwife, anarchic tribes.

    I heard there’s even a book being worked on — maybe it’ll be even better than Skousen when it’s all finished.

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  93. Steve on November 21, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    Jon —

    I don’t believe I ever said Skousen was crazy.

    The book in question . . . is another story.

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  94. Jon on November 21, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    Yes, you are right Steve, the closest you came was “Skousen was an embarrassment to Mormonism.” But you did use a lot of name calling/rhetoric in your rebuttal rather than logical claims.

    Yes, I agree, that many of his presumptions are fantastical but many of the claims of mormons over the years have been also. So I have a hard time discounting it just for those reason. And there are gems in the book that require further reading.

    I don’t think there will be aliens, but I don’t also count that out. As mormons we accept “aliens” in the core theology, believing God lives on another planet. So, put in perspective of the religion that Skousen and I and I’m assuming you espouse, turns out to not be that far fetched after all. Just not stuff we’re used to hearing I suppose.

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  95. Steve on November 21, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Jon,

    So, am I to take that you support — or at least give credence to — the premise that 90% of Americans are about to die in a plague?

    And, does the weight of Mr. Skousen’s opinion justify folks building bunkers and preparing to hold off the neighbors (That’s what I’m seeking locally from folks who have embraced this book)?

    As Mr. Skousen’s past claims and actions, I’m going to tick off just a few.

    One, in his books about U.S. Constitution/U.S. History, he claims that slaves were better off than freemen, that they were happy and virtually ignores the most traumatic event in U.S. History, the Civil War.

    Two, he proclaimed that the Founders had strong family values, citing a quote from famous letter by Benjamin Franklin to his son. The point he neglects to make is that the purpose of Franklin’s letter was to provide advice on picking a mistress (older, therefore less demanding).

    Third, the Naked Capitalist is built around the idea that a wide-ranging conspiracy secretly runs the world. The supporting documentation is a book by a professor about British elites — which, by the way, says no such thing. Of note, the conspiracy happens to consist of financiers, almost exclusively Jewish.

    Fourth, Skousen used to speak in front of all kinds of nutty far-right groups, John Birchers and such. He was one of their heros. Of note, President Kimball had to issue a letter forbidden his Freemen Institute from holding meetings in LDS ward houses (which happened all over the country).

    Those are the items that come to mind without much effort. There are many, many more.

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  96. hawkgrrrl on November 22, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    I don’t know why people would say an atheist has less to lose in an argument about honesty. There’s certainly no “lying for the Lord.” It’s all on you!

    Either way, I just wanted to point out that the essay was excellent and didn’t have a hint of religion or atheism in it.

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  97. Jon on November 22, 2011 at 6:57 AM

    Steve,

    I think you can say that I believe the words or the bible and Book of Mormon. In 3 Ne. 16 Christ talks of the sinfulness of this nation and the saints and talks about how the house of Israel will come through and slaughter us like a young lion slaughtering lambs. I believe the revelations given in Revelations that talk about all sorts of horrible things happening. When they happen I know not, whether it be soon or a long time from now I know not. Neither do I think Skousen knew. But the saints, from the beginning of the church have believed these things would happen soon, so I would not fault saints for believing that now.

    As for the bunkers and stuff, I think they are wasting their time and money and I don’t think the conclusions reached in “The Cleansing of America” justifies it either. I do believe, though, that it is important to prepare for things in the future and if the spirit tells a man to do something, who am I to say that he is is a fool, as long as he does not harm anyone else in his endeavors.

    As for holding off the neighbors I think the people miss the whole reason for these preparations for the scriptures tell us that he who fights with his neighbors will be damned. But those who don’t will have to flee to New Jerusalem.

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  98. Jon on November 22, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    As for you claims about some of the ideas Skousen had. I’m not familiar with the claim that the slaves were better off. Which book was that in? I’ve read and own “The 5000 Year Leap” and his US Constitution book. I don’t recall reading anything like that.

    Of course, there are those on this very blog that claim slavery is good when they claim that involuntary taxes are good, which is contradictory to the ideas of freedom and liberty as set forth in the scriptures and by common sense. So are they crazy too?

    As for your other claims, I agree. Skousen was a flawed man, but does that discount all his work? No.

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  99. Cowboy on November 22, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Hawkgrrrl:

    My comment should have been clarified. There is a Sam Harris youtube interview out there (and btw, I happen to enjoy Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins – though, I’m not sold on the militant atheism bit) where he indicates that he did not come from a particularly religious background. When he began taking his stance publicly it was a lot less socially controversial than it would have been had he been devotedly raised in some kind of faith tradition. So, for him honesty was no big deal.

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  100. Cowboy on November 22, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    Lovelylauren:

    I am not buying into this either or scenario where somehow agreeing to meet with the Bishop is disingenuous unless I am willing to spill my guts on any question he asks. What is so complicated about politely meeting with the Bishop and telling him that we are not interested in coming right now, shaking his hand, but reassuring him that it is not because we hold any animosity towards him or any other person in the Ward? We’d like to stay friends, we’d like you to feel comfortable calling us, or visiting our home, but we’re not interested in coming to Church. Then when he presses for a reason just stating that “we’re just really busy”?

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  101. anon on November 22, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    dpc,

    I’m not sure I know exactly what aspect of cause and effect you’re talking about. I’ve spent 2 full years in therapy trying to figure this thing out and I still don’t have all the answers. All I know is that it’s very complicated.

    The intent of my post was to say that my (former) husband did not want to discuss his issues with church history, etc. with our Bishop, but he did discuss them with me. Stake Leadership thinks based on their conversation with him, that he left the marriage because he just became discontent with his life – his description to them was that I am ‘collateral damage’ from a larger discontent with many aspects of his life – not my fault, but he needed to move on. Yes, it looks like a mid-life crisis, probably is, but still, he needed to explore a different way of living.

    Everyone is pretty perplexed by his behavior. I honestly can’t think of a single other divorced person I know who has had quite the same situation we have had. It’s very confusing.

    Even today he tells me that I was the perfect wife and he hopes I can find someone who will want a lifestyle in the church, but that the church was a huge part of him leaving. He now claims that he felt this way the entire time he was Bishop, and the fact that they would even make him Bishop, when in his heart he really didn’t even believe in God, confirmed to him that the church is not true or they never would have made him Bishop.

    He did not disclose these thoughts to our leadership – only to me. Later, I did tell our Bishop some of these things in private, but in an attempt to not further confuse my already very confused children, I have not repeated this information. My kids do not understand what happened. Mom and dad were always happy, had a good marriage, were best friends, and suddenly, dad left. They know he doesn’t go to church, but they think it’s because of the girlfriend. I think the girlfriend happened as part of a much more complicated process for him.

    People want these things to be simplistic. But they rarely are.

    He hides his inactivity in the church and the girlfriend from people at work (he works with a fair amount of LDS people, including a Bishop and a Stake President). The girlfriend works with him, but apparently they’ve been able to keep it very quiet, disclosing the relationship only to one person in charge in order to prevent a sexual harassment claim.

    I think he’s very confused in multiple ways.

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  102. anon on November 22, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    @hawkgrrl,

    Did I make it sound like I thought it was worse to be an athiest? I hope not, but maybe it came across that way.

    I think because the situation is so complex, it’s difficult to articulate in a short paragraph or two.

    My husband did not start the affair until after he had moved out. Emotionally, yes, but not physically. I knew of the emotional aspect of the affair a couple of weeks before he actually decided to leave. He did not want to try therapy or anything else that I thought made sense to try to repair the marriage. This really perplexed me because even just a month prior to him leaving he told me that we had a great marriage, he was very happy, I was great wife, etc. We went on a lovely trip for our 21st anniversary – in short, I had very little reason to think anything was wrong other than some occasional distraction his part. But since he has a stressful job, distraction was nothing new.

    The way he broke to me the idea that he wasn’t happy was by handing me a paper he wrote on why he considered himself a mormon and an athiest at the same time. My response to that paper was concern, but support. I told him I understood where he was coming from, and I felt this was something he could work out in time. I told him my feeling was that God expects us to question, to explore why we feel doubt, and that there was nothing wrong with that. Though at the time it did hurt my heart that he felt that way – for me, that was not any kind of deal-breaker in our marriage, nor a reason for huge alarm even. He’s a thinker – he’s a very smart guy, I just figured it was part of an intellectual probing on his part and I wasn’t particularly worried about it.

    But, he has maintained through-out this process of divorce, that I became part and parcel of what he viewed as constraints on him imposed by the church. That his leaving wasn’t directed at me per se, but on a general feeling that he made all these decisions as a young man – to marry, to have a family, to get married while still in school, to be an elder’s quorum president and a bishops counselor and a bishop – during a time in his life when he could have been doing many other things. He had devoted not only countless sundays in service but hundreds and hundreds of hours he could have been spending on leisure pursuits, work, client development or even just more travel and fun. He resented it. And he especially resented it when he was willing to concede to himself, which he said he resisted for a long time, that he really didn’t believe it anymore. And in light of that he realized he would not make those same choices again if he had to do it over. As much as he loved me and the kids, he never would have gotten married so young, would not have had children so young, probably would not have chosen the career he did, would have traveled a lot more, etc. etc. And now in his 40s he realized this was his last chance to go out and experience things he gave up for the church. And sorry, but you, my wife, are part of that system. And though I feel bad to do this for you, I hope you can see it in a similar way – this is a chance for you to have a new start too. And I still want to be great friends and I hope we can co-parent.

    Oh yeah, and I bought a new BMW.

    Needless to say this has been hell on me. I would have very happily stayed married to an athiest, regardless of whatever challenges that might have posed.

    But the weird thing is, he doesn’t want to be “out” about that aspect of this whole thing.

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  103. dpc on November 22, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    @anon

    I don’t really want to comment further on your unfortunate situation. My heart goes out to you and your kids. All I can say is that based on your husband’s actions, he has major credibility issues. The whole situation screams out “Post hoc rationalization!!” And that’s all I have to say about that.

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  104. Justin on November 22, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    I talked about Cowboy’s scenario with my wife — and came to the conclusion that given that accepted purpose of the bishop’s meeting being to determine if there are any personal issues Cowboy’s family has with him or with someone in the ward — that so long as Cowboy got that message across, he was being honest.

    By that I mean, to hash out his doctrinal/history/etc. concerns in that meeting would have only served to cause a headache for the bishop — it would have been beyond the scope of why he called the meeting.

    And I do agree that the church would be better served if everyone who’s left over those doctrinal/history/etc. issues didn’t leave, but rather expressed their concern. If leaders had an accurate picture of people’s concerns with approved LDS worship, maybe that “cost-benefit” analysis would add up differently.

    But at the same time — if the leaders do not provide a platform for open and honest discussion from members, then I don’t know how they can expect open and honest disclosure from people who are feeling on the outs.

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  105. Jeff Spector on November 22, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    I don’t think it was ever a question about being honest. It was about being open and upfront about the real reasons.

    “if the leaders do not provide a platform for open and honest discussion from members, then I don’t know how they can expect open and honest disclosure from people who are feeling on the outs.”

    Exactly how does this happen? Should the leaders go around and ask everyone in the ward if they have problems with Church history or doctrine?

    Should it be the person who has the issue to bring it up. If you are thinking about leaving the Church, what is the big deal about telling why?

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  106. anon on November 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    dpc,

    I hear you. Often people don’t always really understand the concept of cognitive dissonance, but how it really works is very interesting.

    We make choices that are in direct contradiction to our stated beliefs. Later, we realize the contradiction and we justify our actions by saying “I never believed that”. And it’s not just saying you never believed it, it’s truly heart felt FEELING you never believed that. Studies have shown over and over again that when you interview a person and ask them about beliefs, and interview them 10 years later and ask them about beliefs, if their beliefs have changed, and if those changes are a result of choices which contradicted those beliefs, they will claim that their former statements of belief were false. They really believe that they never had their original belief system in place because the mind cannot tolerate that contradiction.

    So certainly, yes, I believe there is a lot of that going on. There are too many things that I know he felt strongly about – spiritual experiences and stated beliefs that have suddenly changed. He claims it didn’t happen like that. But I know the kinds of ways that we can fool ourselves into a new thought system when the old one no longer matches our actions.

    But obviously, it’s still really complex.

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  107. dpc on November 22, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    @Cowboy

    Just let me see if I understand you correctly. In two instances in Chapter 3, the word “wives” was edited in to “wife” with the standard notation showing that wife was edited, i.e, [wife] becomes “the smoking gun” of a conscious truth-hiding. Obviously we have differences of opinion regarding the burden of proof needed to establish a proposition.

    I also stated what I need to be convinced. I want authenticated emails, letters, other written correspsondence and eye witness testimony of reliable sources showing that high levels in the church have undertaken a conspiracy whereby they will distort, hide or suppress “true” history. In other words, I want evidence of the conspiracy. A couple of edits in a church manual just doesn’t cut it for me. I’m sorry if you’re credulous.

    And what is wrong with having exacting standards when it comes to scholarly work? Work on Mormon history is pretty bad with the main problem being that there are only a handful of actual historians who do any work on it. Most of the history books, commentaries, etc, that are written are done by amateurs. And they do a lousy job. If I’ve learned anything from hanging out in the Bloggernacle for the past 6 or 7 years, it’s that you treat any history claims made by any Mormon (ex or active) with skepticism.

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  108. Justin on November 22, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Exactly how does this happen? Should the leaders go around and ask everyone in the ward if they have problems with Church history or doctrine?

    Jeff — you ask ridiculous questions. Andrew already walked you through this whole dynamic very early on, to quote:

    Except, if [your views don't] fit a certain mold, then expect to have disciplinary action taken against you. If “worship” to you doesn’t mean what the church says worship should be, then expect to be censured.

    You’re being extreme with your whole, “Oh — so does the bishop have to go around probing everyone??” — when all most people are asking for is a way to be open and honest about Mormonism without worthiness interviews and witch-hunts.

    But, as I said, Andrew already walked through most of that already.

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  109. Cowboy on November 22, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Full quote found in Discourses of Brigham Young (DBY), 1977 edition, page 197, states:

    “There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty. To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can.

    This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth.”

    Altered quote in Teachings of the Prophets ? Brigham Young, 1997, page 164:

    “There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty. ? To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can.

    This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth.”

    I’ll admit this is just a copy and paste job, so take it as you like. You have a comment that was initially intended to be a justification for polygamy, being contorted to suit a contemporary monogomous position. The Church published The Family: A Proclomation to the World, supporting a monogomous ideal of marriage with no explanation whatsoever as to how polygamy fits into this ideal.

    Perhaps not enough to prove that there is a conspiracy, a claim that I never made – though admittedly Alice sort of implied it. Still the point has been about my willingness to be upfront about my faith with the local Bishop, and her point was that the Church is not upfront about its past.

    As for standards of exactness – overall I agree with you, there should be standards in history writing and analysis. The easiest way to address this however is on a case by case basis rather than through sweeping generalizations. There have certainly been instances where the Church history writing (either for or against) have been biased and invalid. On the other hand, this could also be used a technical argument simply used to nitpick. Without specific examples its hard to generalize.

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  110. Remlap on November 22, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Cowboy,
    I think maybe you pasted the same quote twice. The quote you meant from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young was:
    “There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? . . . It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can (DBY, 197)”

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  111. Justin on November 22, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    Oh yeah, and Jeff [#105] — I got focused on answering your first question [in my comment #108] that I didn’t notice you also said:

    Should it be the person who has the issue to bring it up. If you are thinking about leaving the Church, what is the big deal about telling why?

    I did say in #104 that, “I do agree that the church would be better served if everyone who’s left over doctrinal/history/etc. issues didn’t leave, but rather expressed their concern.” Because by most estimates, there are at least as many [if not more] of them than there are of the toe-the-line, mainstream Mormons. At this point, if they’d all stayed — they could potentially outnumber the rest.

    But like I said — there is no real platform for open and honest discussion from members without getting the “Well it’s the approved LDS way — so like it or leave it“-rhetoric I hear from you/Will/et al. And that’s why I wouldn’t expect any open and honest disclosure from people who are feeling put out [even though I admit it would be better if they all did speak-up].

    So, in the end, I think they are only “thinking about leaving the church” b/c the environment provided by leaders at church leaves them with no voice and no room to have non-mainstream opinions [at least in some honest capacity] — and so that’s the “big deal” that keeps them from telling why. Because they don’t see how it matters. They’ll just tell them:

    Hey look — “If you do not wish to subscribe to [our] form of worship of the Savior, [then] there are many other Churches to try out until one finds the one that provides that appropriate outlet or none may suffice.”

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  112. Justin on November 22, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    One more thing I just thought of:

    Imagine a marriage relationship in which every time the wife brings up a certain issue she has with her husband — he gets all defensive, belittles her, yells, etc. — and nothing ever changes.

    Now, the husband is doing that particular behavior one day and the wife has that look that women get when you know something’s wrong — she’s obviously bothered.

    So he asks, “Honey, what’s wrong?”

    And if you’re married, you know her answer is, “Nothing.”

    Now — it’s not nothing, it’s most definitely something. Why does the wife in this scenario say “nothing”?

    (A) Because she’s a liar who doesn’t care about getting the marital issue resolved.

    (B) Because of her experience with her husband, she knows that bringing the issue up will only result in a fight and nothing will be resolved.

    Is the marital problems between them her fault because she’s “lying” by saying nothing’s wrong when something is in fact wrong?

    Or are they his fault because he’s failed to provide an environment where his wife is comfortable talking about her issues in emotional-safety?

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  113. Steve on November 22, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Jon —

    If you have a copy of “The Making of America”, go to page 730 and read the next three or four pages. You’ll learn all kinds of things about how slaves were happy and that the true victims were the slaveowners. He also criticizes the abolitionist movement, claiming that slavery would have disappeared quicker without their efforts.

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  114. Jeff Spector on November 22, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Justin,

    “you ask ridiculous questions. Andrew already walked you through this whole dynamic very early on, to quote:

    Except, if [your views don't] fit a certain mold, then expect to have disciplinary action taken against you. If “worship” to you doesn’t mean what the church says worship should be, then expect to be censured.”

    First of all, there is little proof that “holding views that don’t fit a mold” get you a DC. I’ve been in a number of DCs, none have had anything to do with that.

    Second, You can’t always respond to a point just by changing it to an opposite view:

    I said, (not a quote) We as LDS worship is a particular manner,

    Andrew came back: What is you don’t want to worship that way?

    I said: there are other churches where you can find a way that you like or not go at all.

    Not sure I see what the big deal is? I really do not see “Church Thought Police” patroling the halls looking for non-orthodox views.

    The next thing you’l tell is a story about how someone spoke a personal view that was not orthodox and got kicked out of the Church?

    I’ve never seen it happen to someone with a personally held view that was not going around trying to teach it to others.

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  115. hawkgrrrl on November 22, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    Jeff, I think you’re being a bit disingenuous. I’ve certainly seen self-appointed protectors of the orthodoxy correcting other members’ views in classes and even reporting them to the bishop if they don’t like what they say. And to say people can’t share their personal opinions (going around trying to teach it to others), you have to caveat that you only can’t do that if you are not uber-orthodox (they certainly get free rein) or a leader (they can spout opinions all the live long day, even contradicting one another). So the cultural restriction on expressing opinions only goes one way in some wards.

    I’ve been lucky to be in many wards where this is not the case, and yet, I too have encountered this.

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  116. Jeff Spector on November 22, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    Hawk,

    Whether idiots and others report people to the Bishop (Yes, it happened to me in an SS class, not about me but one I was teaching) is one thing. To say that having a view that doesn’t fit the mold will get you into a DC is a bit much.

    I must have been in different wards than you folks because I don’t see this doctrinal police state that others seem to. I never go out there, but I am more than willing to offer my view which may be different than conventional wisdom.

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  117. hawkgrrrl on November 22, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    I agree it won’t normally get you into a DC, but between totally tolerant and intolerant of divergent opinions, there’s a wide gulf as you would agree. I suspect your experiences are actually very similar to mine.

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  118. Cowboy on November 23, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    I think it depends on what you mean by “orthodox”. Teach polygamy, or women holding the Priesthood, then let’s see what happens.

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  119. Jeff Spector on November 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    “Teach polygamy, or women holding the Priesthood, then let’s see what happens.”

    We do teach those things, but we do not advocate for them. That would be the problem.

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  120. Julie Bramwell on April 9, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    I have been inactive for 15 weeks. I do not want to be. But I am a single divorced mother with a chronic illness. I live hundreds of miles from family. I have been in my ward 14 yrs and have never been accepted. I suspected recently after my mistreatment came to a heed that I was correct in believing I was being discriminated against in that they witheld allowing me to give talks and calling from me. I have been verbally attacked over my compaints about how I have been treated in such away as yelling and shouting at me ( stake pres) and accused of nothing short of a pack of lies in the deformation of my character…I have been discriminated against, shunned and excluded, and intimidated to name but a few .As one with an illness it is affected by stress I have had to go inactive in order to maintain my job and keep a roof over my head. The leaders dont care…I feel unofficially excommunicated and they seem quite happy with that…but this year their goal is 150 bapstism and they cant look after the ones the have.

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  121. Debbie on April 21, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    I never talked to my bishop about what I was finding out, because I thought he would release me from my teaching calling in Primary, which was the only part of church I still enjoyed at that point. The first he knew of it was when I gave him my resignation letter. Even then I didn’t talk about the history much – just said that I had come to the conclusion that Joseph Smith was a fraud and that therefore the Church was not ‘true’ and didn’t have authority to speak or act for God, without laying out all of the reasons for that conclusion.

    I had spoken about it to one of his counsellors who, thankfully, kept the matter confidential. But then he’s also the person who warned me that if I talked to other members about my issues I could be excommunicated for it, and gave an example of someone in our stake who had been excommunicated for that reason.

    I think the internet is changing everything. When I was younger, none of my friends who stopped attending ever told me about problems with church history, etc. Those I know who’ve stopped attending in the last five years are all aware of it and feel very strongly about it.

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  122. Cora on April 21, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    “So, it comes as no surprise to me that the church is not too worried about all the uncorrelated history that is available on the internet.” Could you cite your source for this assertion? Because I can’t help thinking of the church’s “yes, we’re hemorrhaging members” confession.

    I’m an Ex-mormon (born, raised, temple married) and believed every single truth claim I heard; from Primary to Seminary/Mutual to Gospel Doctrine to RS (I taught all but seminary). I left when I could no longer cope with the burden of unanswerable questions. It’s not lack of interest or commitment that is causing the loss. Thanks to the information and the connections of the internet, the gaps between actual history and Mormon-history are just too big for thinking members to ignore.

    The internet will insure that, absent some major public shift and acknowledgment of the “manipulation”, the LDS church will continue to leech its brightest members and retain is dullest, most compliant members.

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