365 Reasons

Reason #202: Guest Post, “Deceived No More,” by Vicki Andersen

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Deceived No More

I thought I knew and understood Mormon doctrine.  After all, I’d been raised in a devout Mormon home and was a straight A Seminary student.  Then I went on to BYU and maintained that high grade in all my religion classes.  But when a friend introduced me to the Mormon Essays published by the church, my rock-solid testimony turned into a house of cards and came tumbling down.

 

The day had begun like any other day.  I was anchored in my testimony as a member of the “one true church.”  I had no questions…no doubts.  I carried my temple recommend with me at all times and faithfully served in the Relief Society organization. Then, in a single afternoon, my world imploded.

 

I was stunned as I read the multiple accounts of the First Vision.  My stomach rolled with nausea as I read about Joseph Smith’s polygamy.  And what was this about a seer stone?  I’d never heard such nonsense in all my years of faithful church attendance.  Whenever such stories would surface, I was reassured they were nothing more than “anti-Mormon” lies, and Satan’s attempt to destroy the Church.  Now those “lies” were posted on the official LDS website as historical truths.  I’d been deceived!

 

God removed my rose-colored LDS lenses and, in a matter of hours, I was completely stripped of all loyalty to the religion I once considered my greatest blessing.  I also lost my sense of self, and many friends and family.  I felt lost and alone.  The only trustworthy source of truth was God Himself.  I took His hand and He led me out of the religious rubble and through the tangled webs of deception into an intimate relationship with Him.  And I am forever grateful.

–Vicki Andersen

Reason #201: Guest Post– “At First Glance”

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At First Glance

The flowers adorning her pale cotton church dress shown through the clear water of the sacrament cup.  At first glance, one could not tell if the small plastic vessel was empty or full. It was empty.

The puffy white clouds moved by the wind’s hand above the tall, newly-built, brick ward. The steeple pointed to a heaven, but not to Christ. At first glance, one could not tell if the cross-less church was empty or full. It was empty.

The beautiful gold-bound journal sat upon the desk, its pages waiting for the dressing of words that would be strung together to give testimony.  At first glance, one could not tell if the journal was empty or full. It was empty.

The blue leather-bound holy scriptures looked down from the high shelf. Within their binding, a story existed of a god who once was a man. This man, gaining perfection through obedience, became deity so families could live together — forever.  At first glance, one could not tell if this plan of salvation was empty or full. It was empty.

The man, known as the son, came to point the way. He entered the world as a spirit-child. He the very brother of Satan, born in Jerusalem, and husband of three wives, died upon the cross to “atone” for (only) some sins. At first glance, one could not tell if this savior was empty or full. He was empty.

The imperfect girl yearned to know a god that would enable her to be more than she could ever be on her own: whole, purified, and accepted. As she sat in the cross-less church, holding her tiny sacrament cup of water, she became increasingly aware of her doubts.  So after years of attending, the young woman rose mid-service, walked away and never returned. At first glance, one could not tell if her life was empty or full. It was empty.

Years later a book was given to the empty girl. It was a little orange New Testament. Though reluctant, she read. She sat on park benches, and read. She sat on trains, and read. She curled up in every available nook and cranny and read, and when Jesus died upon the cross, she wept. When He rose from the grave, she rejoiced. She turned over every page of that book, and when she came to the story’s end, she closed its cover and felt complete.

Later, when the girl was asked, “why won’t you ever return to the empty church,” she replied, “Many years ago I partook in a watered-down sacrament, and now I am covered by the very blood of Christ. Many years ago I dwelt in a place where the cross was an avoided symbol now “it is the power for all who believe.” Many years ago I served a savior who was not God but a mere man, and now the One and Only True God lives within me. The salvation of my yesterday depended upon striving, not the complete sacrificial work of the Lamb.”

Today, when the world looks upon the heart of that girl, at first glance, they wonder if her heart is empty or full, let me reassure you; it is very full.

— Ann Margaret Zubyk

Reason #200: Guest Post –“Like Chewing Plastic”

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Research confirms that we return to toxic relationships an average of 4 times before we finally call it quits.  Why do many return when they know it’s unhealthy?  And why won’t I ever return to the LDS church?

Ten years ago I never would have dreamed that I would be writing about Mormonism as a cult.  We were the good guys, the well educated, happy, productive givers with shining faces in our proper places.  We had the truth while other struggled with fragments of it.  Yet…

Why was LDS culture so judgmental?  Why would the Bishop tell me God wanted me to volunteer when I didn’t feel God confirming this to me?   Why was the temple so weird, oddly creepy and my inner alarm bells wouldn’t stop ringing?

Two years before I left, I studied the influence tactics of cults to help a friend.  As a Bishopric member, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities.  Unaccountable leaders who denied their history and wouldn’t open their financial books, even to members seemed oddly familiar.  The constant drone of “follow the prophet” rang through the halls of primary and youth classes.  Child encouraged to testify to things they knew nothing about.  Why hadn’t I noticed this before?https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

When a personal crisis pushed me to study LDS truth claims to replant my feet firmly on gospel soil, I ended up in the opposite place: beyond the Zion curtain.  It was a lie.  I had been duped.  And I wouldn’t be part of the charade.

After dealing with my anger, forgiving the past and present leaders for the deceit, denial, diminishment, and deflection tactics, I did a 360 degree walk around the Mormon experience, and my awareness of its dark past and current theological problems.  I began feeding my spirituality with other practices I found much more nourishing.

Why do some return when they know better?  It feels familiar; it’s what they associate as normal.  New spiritual communities feel different as you would expect from the heavy indoctrination and socialization that creates a mental habit.  That’s why abuse victims return to the guy who “gets a little angry sometimes.”  Toxic feels normal unless you know how to reprogram your mind and emotions.

Why won’t I go back?  Mormonism for me is like chewing plastic; it’s a form of Godliness that misses the spiritual nutrients that meditation, authentic worship, connection with spiritual seekers, and sitting at the feet of real spiritual teachers gives.  Accept no substitutes.

–Quinn Price

Reason #199: Damning Documentation: LDS Clergy Abuse

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If you can read this document all the way to the end without becoming really, really angry, you have either mastered your emotions completely or you are dead.

Deb Diener has provided links and information from public documents. Wow, just wow.

(For more information, see The Mormon Mirage or other entries on 365 Reasons Why I Won’t Return to Mormonism

New Comment from a Reader

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Recently a reader was unable to post a comment here. I offer it on his behalf, below:

Latayne,
I really do appreciate the work you do in informing people on Mormonism.  I hope Mitt Romney gives an answer to this letter.  We have quite a choice in presidents this year.  Do we want four more years of a Islamic president who is destroying our country, or do we want someone who gives his allegiance to the Mormon church.  I look forward to hearing more from you in this area.   
–Johnny Moore