In the Shadow of the Temple by Guest

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Temple poster

A close friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous recently saw in the shadow of the temple his story follows:

In October, I was fortunate to attend the Portland, Oregon, screening of the movie, In the Shadow of the Temple. The screening was hosted by the producers, Karen Di Millia and Dennis Lavery. Prior to the screening Dennis and Karen spoke for 10 minutes and explained how they started this project. After the screening they took questions and answers for roughly 30 minutes.

Lavery and DeMillia, who are not–and never have been–LDS, originally planned to make a movie about people who had left the religion of their youth. They attended a meeting of the Portland Humanist Society, explained their project, and asked if anyone had such stories they would be willing to share. In the course of discussing the project with members of the society, they were told that who they really needed to talk to was Sue Emmett, who had left the LDS church. After talking with Sue and others with whom she put them in touch, they decided to re-focus their project on the experience of those who have left the LDS church.

They did hundreds of hours of interviews over two years and edited it down to a 55 minute film. The film is very moving–a tribute to those who shared their stories as well as DeMillia and Lavery’s videography and editing skills.

About two dozen people appear in interviews in the film. Each story is unique, but a common thread runs throughout them all. All faced a similar rejection by family, friends and community. Some of those interviewed have left the church. Others no longer believe, but remain active because of family or community pressure. The latter are filmed in shadows, to obscure their identity. The film refers to these people as “Shadow Mormons.” They define “Shadow Mormons” as those who privately do not accept the exacting doctrine of the Church, but publicly profess to be true believers. They are in shadow to protect their relationships with family, friends and employers.

Someone commented to me after the film, “That’s you. You’re a Shadow Mormon.”

Yes, I’m a Shadow Mormon. Maybe that’s why this film hit me so hard. I haven’t believed in over 20 years – most of my adult life. Yet, during that time I’ve paid my tithing, gone to the temple, served in bishoprics and high councils and done all the things that were expected of me. Why? Because I am tied to the church by family and community.

The story of “Grace” (not her real name) resonated with me because it was so similar to mine. Her pain, and anger, were born of all the energy she has given to a religion that she doesn’t believe in. Finding out that the Church was not true was like a death experience for her. Like me, she tried following the Church’s teachings to fast, pray, read the scriptures and yet never felt she received the “burning in her bosom” that is promised in the scriptures.

What of the families and communities of these people? What are their stories, their experiences with loved ones who go through a process of losing belief and leaving the church. Only one person who was a family or friend agreed to be interviewed for the film. The believing husband that was interviewed told how he still loved his wife, even though she has left the church. What about the others? Are they embarrassed to say that the Church was more important than their relationship with the person who left?

The saddest stories, to me, were of divorce caused by one spouse believing and the other not believing. Michelle (another woman interviewed in the film) said her heart was broken that her husband would choose the Church over her. He told their marriage therapist that if she had not been Mormon he never would have married her. “There was more to me than being a Mormon,” she said. “And I thought that there was more to him.”

The dictionary defines empathy as “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” We could all use a little more empathy for those around us. I have had several people tell me, “I can’t imagine how a person could leave the church.” Either they need a better imagination or they need more empathy. Maybe they just need to see this film.

One of the questions at the screening–one that Lavery could not answer–was, “How do we get the right people to see this film?” Sadly, many members of the church would not even consider it. (It screened in Salt Lake City in October and got almost no media coverage.) The film does not try to de-convert anyone or disparage the doctrine of the church. It doesn’t assert that someone is right because he or she believes, or that someone else is right because he or she leaves the church. This film is about accepting people regardless of what they believe, and about how we treat those who believe differently than we do. I wish every member of the church could see this film.

Watch Part 1 here.

 

Comments

comments

Comments 283

  1. Shadow Mormons are cowards. They can always, I don’t know, move to where there are few Mormons (just about anywhere in the world). Worst of all is those who stay in the Church and don’t believe. They are the most dirty liars of them all and often seek to make the Church into their unbelieving and secular image. The Catholic Church has a lot of those.

  2. Although I do feel for those who have these struggles I also think that we discuss less, and sympathise less, those who struggle with partners who either change or lose their faith. It is painful both sides, and my experience has shown me that it is just as painful for those who stay.

    ‘Are they embarrassed to say that the Church was more important than their relationship with the person who left?’

    This makes so many assumptions. As someone who has loved ones who have left the Church I would not want to participate in this film, or would feel hesistant to do so, because I would not want to talk about these things in public. Moreover, when peoples values systems changes I think it should be expected that relationships become stressed. This is not just the experience of those ‘intolerant’ people in the Church although I am sure that there are those people. I have seem families fall out over losing interest in sports, should we not expect more from something ‘life and death’ to those concerned.

    There can be just as little understanding and intolerance on the part of those who leave as on those who stay. Perhaps it would be good to see this film and understand this better, but I also think there is another film here and I wonder about why they failed to get people involved. In addition, I wonder if they could make a film where they had not already spoken to the person who had left whether they would have more success.

  3. #1 – Wow, Jettboy, reading your christlike comment I am flabbergasted that anyone would ever feel the need to hide their doubts about the church. Your hypocrisy is delicious.

  4. “Shadow Mormons” should at least have the integrity to turn down callings like Bishoprics and answer honestly in Temple recommend interviews. I don’t mind disbelieving people in Church, as long as they’re straight up about it, at least with their leaders.

    Otherwise, my feelings are much along the lines of Rico and (much as I hate to say it) Jettboy. And I have friends who have left the Church, so I’m speaking from at least a little experience.

  5. “Worst of all is those who stay in the Church and don’t believe. They are the most dirty liars of them all….”

    My home teacher, who never comes to see us (thankfully), is the ward clerk. He is a returned missionary, married in the temple, etc.,etc., etc.. By all accounts he is a TBM. He sleeps on the couch and his wife is planning on divorcing him as soon as she can financially make a go of it. She currently is in school. He is emotionally abusive. All the kids view mom as a saint, hubby as a jerk.

    I’m not sure who is “worst of all” and “the most dirty liars” but the home is where our true essence surfaces. Absurd to think the “worst of all” loves their family members enough to go through so much discontent in their personal spiritual life.

    I empathize with those who sacrifice for their family in this way. I have brought my unbelief out of the closet and it is very difficult.

  6. “Shadow Mormons are cowards.”

    Funny Jettboy, I feel the same way about a lot of neo-orthodox Mormons.

    Using a bold face and outward show of piety to hide their internal fundamentalist insecurities about their religion.

  7. #7 – I am familiar with White’s definition of neo-orthodoxy, but I am not sure you are using the same idea. What do you mean by neo-orthodox?

  8. I want to say up front that the film looks to be a somewhat one-sided examination of this phenomenon of “shadow Mormons.” Perhaps that is to be expected, such folks otherwise may not get a lot of time at the mic. At the same time, it overlooks many of the complexities involved in the relationships in question and seems to perpetuate the same black-and-white dichotomy that such “shadow Mormons” might feel the Church promulgates.

    Anyway, I also wanted to point out to Jettboy that there very well may be some “cowardly” folks who call themselves “shadow Mormons.” Just like there are some cowardly folks who consider themselves orthodox and “worthy,” for lack of a better term. It seems to me the quality can exist among people of different stripes and allegiances and for different reasons. Suggesting that such folks who feel alienated simply move elsewhere doesn’t help the problem in the least. In fact, it seems to further justify the hurt they evidently experience among family members or friends. I’ve been hurt in the past to see friends or family members become inactive or leave the Church. There is something inside that tells me to find fault with them. Sometimes it is very easy to find such fault! But at the same time I must recognize that I am far from spotless myself. There is more to this story.

    I suspect, Jettboy, that like me you try to consider the teachings of our current apostles and prophets. I suspect you try to listen to them and believe they have a measure of inspiration and a calling from God to deliver the messages they convey to Church membership. I invite you to consider the words of Elder Ballard from a few years ago. Though he is speaking to a related issue I believe the sentiment carries over:

    “…if neighbors become testy or frustrated because of some disagreement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or with some law we support for moral reasons, please don’t suggest to them—even in a humorous way—that they consider moving someplace else. I cannot comprehend how any member of our Church can even think such a thing! Our pioneer ancestors were driven from place to place by uninformed and intolerant neighbors. They experienced extraordinary hardship and persecution because they thought, acted, and believed differently from others. If our history teaches us nothing else, it should teach us to respect the rights of all people to peacefully coexist with one another.” M. Russell Ballard, “Doctrine of Inclusion,” Ensign Nov 2001.

  9. My wife and I went through a difficult year. Without going into details, things got to a point where I felt I had to choose her or the church, it didn’t seem like I could have both.

    I chose to keep my family together and let go of some church things, and just love my family for who they are. I found out I didn’t have to let go of it all, so I still believe somethings that help our family be better.

    I don’t care about the word of wisdom, I don’t care about tithing, or regular temple attendance…though I have nothing against these ideas, for me, I don’t feel God’s will is that I have to do these to be a happy person. When we did them together as a family, it helped us be happy…when I was doing it without my family, it wasn’t.

    Instead, I’ve chosen to love my family and my neighbors and not judge people for what experiences they go through. I want to feel God’s love, and have found it in more places than our ward chapel, though I find it there also.

    Call me a “Shadow Mormon” if you want…but I have grown to believe Mormonism is greater than whether or not I profess to believe ultimate truth in every doctrine the church teaches…and instead believe that Christ taught us to love, and without charity, we are nothing. I put my family first, I believe that doctrine is true. And sometimes that means keeping the family together even if it means I miss a priesthood meeting here or there.

    Prior to my problems, I would never have understood that concept. Now, I can have more empathy for those who go inactive or leave the church entirely, and certainly don’t see them as “weak” or less important than those I admire who serve in my ward Bishopric. I find Jettboy’s comments#1 as weak, but that is ok…we all have time to grow and learn about the real meaning behind Christ’s teachings.

    “There was more to me than being a Mormon,” she said. “And I thought that there was more to him.”

    We should all look at others as something more than just being “Mormon” or “Non-Mormon” – we’re all God’s children!

    Merry Christmas.

  10. My feelings? I have no problem when people choose to join the Church and no problem when the choose to leave the Church; it is up to them. I do have problems when people don’t live up to their professed beliefs or lack of beliefs. We have a word for that, and I know injudicious use of that word cuts deeply. This is why I use it sparingly.

    I see the issue of believing/non-believing spouses entirely differently, however. I have always viewed marriage as not just a covenant between two individuals (as society generally views it), but as a covenant between two individuals and God. I married someone because I wanted to take an eternal journey with that person. If the person later decides that the eternal journey is a farce or that God is no longer part of our marriage, what am I to make of such decisions? While the non-believing spouse may feel devalued or jettisoned by the believer, there is equal pain felt by the believing spouse that once-sacred matters–integral to the marriage–are no longer of worth or value. There is, usually, many feelings of betrayal on both sides of the marriage. And what caused the problems? The non-believer typically characterizes the cause as the Church while the believer characterizes it as the apostasy of the individual. There is little hope for the relationship once such feelings settle in.

    Leaving a “lifestyle” faith such as Mormonism, that requires much more than superficial religiosity, is a life-changing event for all involved. To view it as anything less is to not understand the religion itself.

    -Allen

  11. “If our history teaches us nothing else, it should teach us to respect the rights of all people to peacefully coexist with one another.”

    If they would co-exist with me then I can co-exist with them, but my experience is that they can’t. This isn’t to say that Mormons who treat the unbelievers badly are not part of the problem, but often I have noticed those who leave the Church thrive on the confrontation. They consider it a badge of honor how horrible they were treated by leaving or coming out. Some don’t. Some just drift away and live their lives. I very much respect those people. Too many in my experience, however, hold a grudge that often doesn’t help relationships. Then they blame the believing Mormons for those attitudes. Worst of all are those who stay and hold callings, go to the Temple, and then try to change the Church as if they were believers.

    Seth R., in what way am I a coward? Was Jesus Christ a coward for speaking out against hypocrites? Was he a coward by attacking the money changers in the Temple? Was Paul a coward by calling out the false Apostles? I say what I do because I am not afraid and know very well how my words will be criticized, even by some believers. I believe in repentance, but see very little of it going on. If more people would be honest and repentant then my words would be so much meaningless vitriol. Just for the record, your ward clerk disgusts me just as much and there might be a reasonable chance for a Church court to bring these facts out.

  12. I just ordered the video, but I must say that I suspect that what I will see when watching it is confirmational to the Ex-mormon point of view. While there is nothing wrong in this, it should be noted that such presentations are, by nature, just as “biased” as those presentations with which most Ex-mormons find fault.

    I found it interesting that the producers of the film state on their website that they “were required to do continual research and questioning to understand the nuances and challenges of the Mormon faith.” Their sources? Ex-mormon activists (such as Sue Emmett, noted in the blog post) and Ex-mormon websites. That doesn’t lead to a balanced look; it leads to a one-sided telling.

    Even so, I look forward to seeing the video.

    -Allen

  13. Allen, I like the way you explained the “journey” in post #12, which I also believe is important to remember both parties are committing to God, and one cannot dictate to the other what is right or wrong.

    It is a relationship where both parties need to work out differences and find hope for future.

    I think if the believer thinks that means the non-believer must change in order to make it work, that is part of the problem. There is not just “one way” that all must conform to.

    Giving a little on some insignificant church things is worth it for a higher resolve to maintain the relationship and keep moving closer to God. I think God would understand this of us…giving of ourselves to love our spouse.

  14. #14 – I agree with this, Allen, but I also think part of the problem is that, as discussed above, as a rule active mormons are not going to be willing to participate with such a project in any way. Thus, if the makers of this film are relatively ignorant about the religion and the culture, their only sources are going to be ex-mormons. It’s problematic. That said, I definitely think it needs to be considered by anyone watching the film.

    On another level, I think your comment highlights a problem that seems to exist in any kind of media related to the mormon church. Any media that is pro-church is likely not going to be willing to invovle ex or anti-mormons, and any media that is anti-church is likely not going to have any success in getting active members to participate. This is part of the reason why there is seemingly very little objective media about the church, at least any that is interactive. The only real hope of finding objective material is something that is produced through research of historical records and statistics and the like. Testimonials of any kind seem to be relatively useless.

  15. #12 – I don’t want to contradict you too much because your concern is very understandable, and in general you seem very reasonable and kind.

    However, I think what you have described is not so much a journey as it is a commute. I see all too often in the church (regarding religious issues) and in the broader society (regarding various issues) commuter style marriages. Two people realize that they seem to be going to the same place so they decide to carpool. When one deviates from the usual carpool route, the other (or perhaps both) decides the commuting relationship is not working and tries to find someone else who will go with them to the original destination.

    I think of a journey as something very different. My journey includes Mormonism not because I believe in the same way I did (or tried to) earlier in my life. My journey includes Mormonism because of the people around me, especially my spouse. Furthermore, I can’t possible know where my journey will lead, because my spouse and I keep learning new things, meeting new people, and analyzing past experiences and new information.

    I wish all of you the very best on all of your journeys.

  16. Jettboy says: “I believe in repentance, but see very little of it going on.”

    Perhaps it’s time to start doing more of it yourself, and doing less of trying to discover who else isn’t doing it. You’re no Jesus, Jett, and you’re no Paul. Just like me.

  17. “I do have problems when people don’t live up to their professed beliefs or lack of beliefs.”

    How does one live up (or not) to a “lack of beliefs”? Where is it written that one’s lack of belief must be shouted from the rooftops?

    If a person knows he has not received a Moroni 10:4 confirmation of the Church’s truth, and that he is unpersuaded of the credibility of the accounts of the Church’s origin, he does need to be faithful to that understanding. He can leave, and seek a better Church, although I doubt he’ll find one. (That the Church is not the one true church does not mean one exists elsewhere; the rest of the bunch could be feeling around in the dark just like we are.) Alternatively, he can remain associated with the Church, living out whatever light and knowledge he has received, and continue to hope for some spiritual evidence that will shift the balance.

    Or, if (after fruitlessly seeking a witness long enough to conclude none will be forthcoming) he finds the LDS Church as serviceable a myth as any, he can make it the framework for his spiritual life. Many if not most Mormons had no choice about becoming Mormons. They were born that way. The Church and their families actively induced them to order their affairs around the assumption that the Church is true. When some of them conclude otherwise, is it proper for the Church to insist they bear all the cost of the disruption that open profession of unbelief will cause them — loss of friends, loss of family, loss of livelihood?

    The only way that could be just, would be if there were truly something immoral about not believing in Mormonism. In which case Joseph taught false doctrine in the King Follett discourse, when he stated that there was nothing blameworthy in disbelieving his history. A person does not act inconsistent with integrity when he avoids answering a question the questioner has no moral right to ask.

    The basic problem here is that it still appears to be more-or-less official doctrine of the Church that people who disbelieve are bad people. From that assumption comes virtually everything destructive about Mormon culture, from the “lest a more fatal calamity befall you” death threats against Oliver Cowdery, to Mormon spouses defying 1 Cor. 7:14 and D&C 74:1. If enmity is what comprises pride, then religious enmity is sinful.

  18. re 13:

    Jettboy, but don’t you realize that these are people who are co-existing. These are people who are living right in your ward, and you wouldn’t know they were shadow Mormons. You wouldn’t be able to tell that they don’t believe because they *say* and *do* everything they are supposed to. Why do they do it? Because they know what YOU think about them…and how you’d react if they “came out.” They know what their families think and how they’d react if they “came out.” So instead, they decide that the community is entirely more valuable than that, and continue to live for family, friends, and community, even if they don’t live for the church.

    You’ve got the wrong people in mind. People who confront cannot be in the shadows. They are a different group. People who boil the pot cannot be in the shadows. They are a different sort of group. Shadow Mormons are devoiced by their decision to seem “normal” with respect to the church.

    But who knows. If you and others continue to act the way you do, then perhaps you will simply perpetuate the cycle. The shadow Mormons will, perhaps, realize that they do not have friends in their communities, but rather people who are willing to indict them at any moment. The shadow Mormons will, perhaps, realize that it’s not worth it to pander to this community; the price of loyalty outweighs the benefits. And what will happen when they leave? They will have their experiences as a “badge of honor”. Who will have given them this badge of honor? It will have been you and people like you.

  19. Adding to brjones and others, the very nature of things like this eliminate the possibility of any kind of external validity. Yes, the movie may very accurately show the experiences of 5, 50, or 100 etc. people who have left the church. Qualitative research, like this seems to be based on, cannot be generalized to any population greater than the specific people who were studied. The best result from something like this, imho, is to expand the complexity of the issue and open it up for new questions. If that happens to people who see it, then that’s great… I suppose what I am really interested in here is the research behind the movie itself… are there any links or more info available on the population that was studied?

  20. “The saddest stories, to me, were of divorce caused by one spouse believing and the other not believing. Michelle (another woman interviewed in the film) said her heart was broken that her husband would choose the Church over her. He told their marriage therapist that if she had not been Mormon he never would have married her. “There was more to me than being a Mormon,” she said. “And I thought that there was more to him.””

    When I read this I wonder several things. First, is the spouse giving up on the Mormon faith or God? To me, there is a big difference between not believing in doctrine and not believing in God at all. I believe in putting God first in everything I do. My family comes next, but God always comes first for me. I think there is a big difference between putting God first and putting religion first. I believe God will always try to keep families together, no matter the trial. I also believe that there are times when He will condone divorce, but it is usually after years of trying to make things work and exhausting all other options. I don’t think what the husband said was fair or appropriate. It sounds like he wasn’t in love with her from the start, but in love with the idea of her. If he wouldn’t have married her if she wasn’t a Mormon initially, he probably never really loved HER anyway. It is easy to fall in love with all different types of people, Mormon or not, but is it the commonalities, our values and goals, that help keep us together and make things work. If one person fundamentally changes those goals and values, they have to expect the unexpected. People respond diffrently when the rug in pulled out from under them.

    For me, it would be much more difficult to be with someone who gives up in their belief in God completely than with someone who just loses their belief in a particular religion. Our commonalities and life outlooks would differ dramatically and in all fairness it would be hard to talk about things with any depth in a relationship with such a different base. I think it is important to love people for who they are and not to try and force belief on them, but it is hard on both sides of this situation. I really believe in keeping families together when at all possible and I also believe in being honest with our feelings about our belief or non-belief. I think belief or non-belief shows through eventually over time and the seriousness at which one takes the call to be like the Savior comes through in their words, actions and daily living. I don’t think it does anyone any favors to pretend to be something that they aren’t. Are we really keeping family together by pretending to be something we aren’t or is it all going to come forward someday anyway and the basis of trust be destroyed when the truth comes out? I think something like this can be said ” I am struggling with some different things in the church, but I want to keep trying to go and see if those struggles change. If they don’t I may choose to not attend church any longer and I just want to make you aware of this.”

    These types of situations are never easy, but they are workable and sometimes they lead to divorce. It isn’t easy for the believer or non-believer. Because people are so different from one another we can’t blame “members” but we have to place accountability on the individual and their reponse to their own personal situation. All I know is I hope that I am not relying on counsel from those in authority who don’t even believe in what they are preaching. To hear that people are doing that just seems completely wrong to me. I don’t see any justification in pretending to be something they are not, especially in leaderships roles. There has to be some accountability for behaving as if one believes when they do not. I just can’t see keeping family together as a good enough justification. It affects too many other people and can do damage far beyond the family scope. These people need to see beyond themselves and their own family and see all the others that they may be affecting negatively.

  21. Jen, how can you blame him for saying he wouldn’t have married her if she weren’t mormon? Does the church not counsel members to date members? That is not rude at all. It is a fact. My dad would not have married my mom if she were not a member. My mom would not have married my dad if he were not a member. I bet the same is true of most LDS couples who married in the temple. Further, most couples would never have even met, let alone been married, if one of them was not LDS.

  22. If it comes down to it were all “Shadow Mormons” as those who privately do not accept the exacting doctrine of the Church.

    Brother Hollands interview in 2006 on the blacks and the preisthood.

    A “buffet Mormon” is someone who does not believe every doctrine the church might teach and does not do every task the church might ask of them, but chooses among what is offered and leaves the rest. The term “cafeteria Mormon” means the same thing.

    Spencer W. Kimball in 1960. Spencer W. Kimball

    “The day of the Lamanites in nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. […] The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.

    At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl- sixteen- sitting between the darker father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents- on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather. There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.”

  23. “Shame on anyone who would put an unseen god above his/her spouse.”

    It’s a good thing you’re not judgmental Dexter. There are plenty of people who love God first, maybe you should refer back to the ten commandments.

    Keep your shame to yourself, I don’t need you trying to push it off on me….thanks.

  24. 24. An unseen god who does not help with the kids, do the dishes, laundry, shopping, help with the budget, …I could go on.

  25. Jen

    Not trying to cause an argument here. But as an example if you were married to some one who lost his faith in the church but was still a great husband ie kind , giving , service oriented, living all the morals values of a christ like life but became atheist or agnostic would you divorce him.

    Is that putting God first in your opinion?

  26. #1: Jettboy

    Your quote: “Shadow Mormons are cowards. They can always, I don’t know, move to where there are few Mormons (just about anywhere in the world). Worst of all is those who stay in the Church and don’t believe. They are the most dirty liars of them all and often seek to make the Church into their unbelieving and secular image. The Catholic Church has a lot of those.”

    I would take offense at this quote, but mostly I just feel pity for you. I don’t know if you would call me a “shadow Mormon” or not. I served an honorable mission. I married in the temple. I follow the WofW. I have always paid tithing. I serve in callings. Etc. At the same time, I don’t know if I “believe”. As I have said here before, I have read the BofM 10-15 times at least. I have prayed about it hundreds of times. I have never received an answer that it is true.

    Where am I now? I believe the LDS Church has truth. I believe Islam has truth. I believe Buddhism has truth. I believe there are going to be many, many more people in heaven than the 0.05 percent of the world population that are active LDS. So, I stay in the Church, yet I don’t know if I believe it. And, in your eyes, I am the “most dirty liar of all”.

    So, why do I stay? 2 reasons: 1) My family is Mormon. Maybe I’m not strong enough to leave. But, most importantly, 2) I still have this hope, deep in my heart of hearts, that maybe my test in life is to see if I will remain faithful without an answer. Maybe, like Mother Theresa and her dark night of the soul, my test is to try to stay close to God even when I feel nothing there. I have a hope that at some point, God will say to me, well done. You passed. And that’s why I stay.

    So, if I’m pathetic to you – I’m sorry. I am glad that your attitude is the minority. And if you truly think your attitude is in the vein of Christ or Paul, I feel bad for you – you’re missing out on a chance to learn from and be edified by a great deal of people who you shun.

  27. #25: “Jen, how can you blame him for saying he wouldn’t have married her if she weren’t mormon? Does the church not counsel members to date members? That is not rude at all. It is a fact.”

    That something is true is not necessarily grounds for communicating it. Some things are true that are not very useful. Elder Packer reportedly thinks all the secretaries in the Church Office building are ugly and fat, but, being a gentleman, he would never tell them that.

    Likewise, even if it’s technically true that a good Mormon girl would never have married a non-member, that is simply not something a good WIFE ever tells her husband, any more than an honorable husband would ever tell his wife he’s second-guessing his choice in marrying her. You’re wearing a different hat now, missie. Man up and play the game.

  28. #31-

    James-

    The point I was trying to make was that when we have a relationship with God, He will help us know what to do and when we trust and believe Him, it will be what is best for everyone involved. So, my answer to your question is, I don’t believe God would tell me to leave my husband if he left the church. The only time I have seen spouses leave the their marriages and feel as though the Lord was telling them to do so, was in long, difficult, abusive relationships where everything else was tried to first to salvage the marriage. I don’t think God will tell most people to leave a non-believer unless they are abusive. That type of behavior is a very valid and real reason to leave a marriage and the Lord does condone it at times. In other words, it has much more to do with what the person is really like than what the person is saying they believe or don’t believe.

  29. What does “you’re wearing a different hat now, missie. Man up and play the game.” mean? What are you talking about?

    Am I judgmental for saying murder is wrong?

    How am I being judgmental for saying it is wrong to put an unseen god above your spouse? That is not a judgment. It is a statement of ethics, like, punching a child is wrong. How am I being judgmental?

    I stand by my statement.

    And there is nothing wrong with saying to your spouse, I would not have married you if you weren’t mormon. That is just plain truth. Obviously he would not have if he divorced her for leaving the church. I’d say leaving her because she left the church was wrong. But stating the fact that he would never have married a non-mormon is just an accurate statement that he only sought to marry mormons. Is it particularly useful? No. But it’s not a highly offensive comment. It’s common sense. He didn’t have to say it. If he left her bc she fell away from the church it goes without saying.

  30. AdamF-

    “Jen/Dexter – The shame to me is someone who thinks that God WANTS them to leave their spouse over the issue of belief.”

    I agree. The two people I know who felt like the Lord condoned their leaving had nothing to do with belief or unbelief, but abusive behaviors and long term work and sacrifice to make the marriage work without success.

  31. 34-

    People shoud think for themselves. I don’t think god, if he exists, wants to tell every spouse out there whether to leave their spouse or stay together. Can’t anyone make a decision on their own?

  32. “How am I being judgmental for saying it is wrong to put an unseen god above your spouse? That is not a judgment. It is a statement of ethics, like, punching a child is wrong. How am I being judgmental?”

    When you chose to assign shame to me, you were being judgmental. If you want to say what you believe, then state how you feel it is wrong to do this or that. Don’t start assigning shame to others for believing differently than you….that is being judgmental.

  33. Dexter-

    When people are in an abusive relationship with children involved it is a lot harder than you might realize. I don’t know if you are married or not, but marriage is a lot of work without abuse being a part of the equation. If you believe in God, He can see what we can’t see and that is why people trust in Him, because they want what is best for their family and children. You don’t have to believe or choose to trust in God, but don’t assume that people can’t think for themselves if they want God to be a part of the equation when they make life-changing decisions.

  34. Shame on murderers.

    Shame on child-abusers.

    Shame on people who put god above his/her spouse.

    Aren’t there enough issues out there that prevent people from having good marriages? Aren’t there enough things that couples need to see eye to eye on to make it? Do we really need to add religion to the list of things couples need to agree on? I simply pity anyone left by someone who claimed to love them bc they didn’t believe in the same story about the origin of the universe and what happened to Joseph Smith in 1805, etc., etc. I think it is wrong to only love someone if they believe what you believe. I think it is wrong to put so much stock in god and the after life to divorce someone who didn’t believe the same things that you do.

    But that is just my opinion. I realize that faithful believers think that happiness is based on putting god above all else. I realize that many think a succesful marriage is based on both spouses loving god more than each other. I used to believe that. But I disagree now, and I think it is wrong, and I think it is a myth perpetuated by religion. What could be better than loving your spouse (and being loved by your spouse) more than ANY being on any planet or any heaven in all the universe?

  35. I have a real problem with any person who’s decided he doesn’t believe and yet accepts a calling to a bishopric or a high council. It’s one thing when a person who decides his faith is weak, but that he’s willing to continue to participate in the church for the sake of relationships. It’s another for a person who’s struggling in his faith to decide to exercise what faith he has by accepting such a leadership calling, even if he loses it completely later. BUT, it’s yet another thing entirely for a person to decide he’s lost faith, go through the motions for the sake of relationships, and accept a leadership position in a bishopric or high council to maintain his “shadow” status. To me, the third smacks of bearing false witness, and I find it repugnant. If such people exist, I would agree with Jettboy that they’re among the worst of the liars.

  36. “I think it is wrong to put so much stock in god and the after life to divorce someone who didn’t believe the same things that you do.”

    As long as you aren’t directing these comments to me then great. If you have read anything I have said, I never said to divorce someone because of unbelief so I am assuming that at this point, you are just sharing your feelings for those who feel it is ok to do so.

  37. “The saddest stories, to me, were of divorce caused by one spouse believing and the other not believing. Michelle (another woman interviewed in the film) said her heart was broken that her husband would choose the Church over her.”

    “I simply pity anyone left by someone who claimed to love them bc they didn’t believe in the same story”

    I have never heard of anyone IRL who left their spouse because of unbelief. That is really simplistic, and I don’t believe it (no pun intended). Anyone who claims that, or who claims to be left SOLELY due to the issue of (un)belief, is someone I would like to talk to, because I just can’t believe it. There will be a HOST of other issues going on, many of which may be related to the belief issue, but people don’t end marriages because one of them doubts.

  38. They are directed at anyone who would do that.

    Jen, what would you do if your husband was still the same quality of person that he is now, but he decided or realized or just no longer felt that the church was true? Probably impossible to answer unless it happened. But if you have any thoughts, I’d be interested to hear them.

  39. 43- Doubting and no longer believing are different. People end marriages for all sorts of reasons. I think it is naive to think no marriage ever ended over the belief issue. In fact, I know of instances where it has occurred. Many would not marry someone who is not LDS. Why wouldn’t some divorce the person if he stopped believing? Of course it has happened.

  40. AdamF-

    Amen. There are always a lot more factors for divorce than just one.

    Dexter-

    I love my husband and wouldn’t even consider leaving the relationship unless he was doing something to harm me or our children. If he left the church, it wouldn’t change my commitment to the marriage. If he became an abusive jerk though, I would definately have to consider my options.

  41. “I think it is naive to think no marriage ever ended over the belief issue.”

    LOL! I think so too! That is why I would like to talk to some of these people who have apparently experienced this. You asserting to me that it has happened does not make me believe it. 😉

  42. Dexter-

    Deciding who to marry and whether or not you should divorce someone aren’t even comparable. Picking a partner does involve commitment. Divorce is severing a huge commitment and entails a lot more than when you are just dating and trying to find someone to marry.

  43. Martin, I don’t think agreeing with Jettboy is a good idea. Someone who takes a calling to serve, even though not believing, is the WORST liar? I think there are worse liars out there. I think it is an interesting issue. What if a man wants to participate in church with his family, and wants to help others, and knows that if he turns down a calling and expresses his deep secret (that he doesn’t believe), everyone will treat him very differently. If someone chooses to try and fulfill a calling and serve others and doesn’t want to tell his faithful friends that he doesn’t believe, isn’t that his prerogative? Someone in this siutation is at risk of being alienated by his closest friends and family, I wouldn’t blame him for keeping it to himself. But the higher the calling, the more tricky it becomes. I think it is an interesting issue that would require a lot of thought.

  44. I plan on watching this, but do not expect it to be in any way a balanced movie. But that’s fine, because I am not expecting it to be so.

    There sure do seem to be a lot of judgmental people on here this afternoon.

  45. Thanks, Jen. I am very aware that. That doesn’t change the fact that divorces have occurred base on belief. That is the point. That is the issue.

  46. “The saddest stories, to me, were of divorce caused by one spouse believing and the other not believing. Michelle (another woman interviewed in the film) said her heart was broken that her husband would choose the Church over her. He told their marriage therapist that if she had not been Mormon he never would have married her. “There was more to me than being a Mormon,” she said. “And I thought that there was more to him.””

    Say two upwardly-mobile urban professionals marry and live a fast-paced, exciting lifestyle together for several years. After a while, let’s say Spouse A becomes tired and decides she wants more from life, and tells Spouse B she wants to move to the country and live on a farm. But Spouse B is happy, loves his life, is accomplishing his life goals. He doesn’t want a boring life of dirt and drudgery. Unable to share a life without one or the other partner being unhappy, Spouse A and Spouse B divorce. So what caused the divorce? Ask any of Spouse A’s friends, and the answer is obvious: Spouse B just couldn’t give up his money.

    Moral? Beware of reductionist versions of divorce (and almost all versions are).

  47. Adam, what does it matter? We are speaking of the principle. If you choose to believe that no marriage ever ended based on a change in beliefs you can keep right on thinking that. But I think it is incredibly narrow minded. Marriages have ended over every issue-small and large-imaginable.

  48. Heh, it only matters to me because I’m curious… and I didn’t “choose” to believe that marriages don’t end SOLELY on the basis of belief. I absolutely welcome evidence to the contrary, and that was the point of my last comment. This whole idea that when someone has a great relationship, and ALL other things being equal, there is a change in religious beliefs and the marriage ends? NO WAY do I believe that the change in belief is the ONLY reason why the marriage ended. Granted, other issues may be related to it, but I think it’s naive to assume that belief/unbelief was the ONLY issue at play. Relationships are SO much more complex than that.

    All that being said, if you have anyone I could talk to whose marriage ended ONLY because one spouse stopped believing, and for NO OTHER reason, I am totally willing to modify my beliefs on this issue. It matters to me because this is the kind of stuff I think about pretty much 24/7 nowadays, and will probably be studying for the rest of my life.

  49. In principle, if someone left their spouse ONLY because they stopped believing, I feel bad for the spouse who was left, for ever being with such a tool in the first place. How’s that for judgmental, lol.

  50. Obviously, but by that rationale no one left because of money, or because of porn, or because of any singular reason. You are right that relationships are complex and there are always many reasons and each reason affects many other aspects of the relationship. But again, so what? By your rationale, one can never point to a cause of a divorce because it is too complex. You are trying to make a point but your point defeats the purpose of any discussion.

  51. Gotcha. I don’t mean to curtail the meaning of discussion… perhaps what I’m after is that I don’t agree saying things like, “people divorce because of (porn)(belief)(money) etc.” More accurately, those things contribute to it. I suppose I don’t agree with simplifying these complex issues just for the sake of making a point. It is a lot easier to criticize someone leaving a marriage “because their spouse stopped believing” then to say that the issue of their spouse no longer believing possibly contributed to it. Just because something is complex doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it. We just have to be careful to not say things like “A caused B.” We must be tentative.

    Or maybe I should take my marital science back to the library. 😀

  52. *Civ IV comment*

    yeah, guys, no one EVER goes to war over different religion alone. When you have an alliance with Isabella, and she backstabs you and send a stack of troops into your territory, there are *always* other factors involved than that -8 for “not sharing the same faith.”

    */Civ IV comment*

    I have a bit of a macabre and twisted thought. When people become disenchanted and disaffected, they often feel as if they were deceived. As if the truth was withheld from them. Or whatever else may be the case.

    But why, in this event, should they force everything else to come crashing down with it? Just because some details about the church turned out to be different than they had thought or from how they were taught, why should they be expected to reject their social community? The normativity of their culture, which YES, does include serving other through callings and even big callings.

    The macabre part is this: shouldn’t these people, as a result of living in a social community that had affected them in such a way, simply realize that that disaffection is part of that community and stay. It would not be hypocritical to stay in such a case. They would not be “the worst person” or “cowardly” in that case. Rather, they are simply living the community as it IS instead of he broken ideal they thought it was.

    It seems to me that if we want to get away from this macabre scenario, then we have to admit that what sickens us here is the same thing that haunts the disaffected in the first people. People are horrified by the idea that someone who wholly does not believe could lead people in a capacity as Bishop or whatever. But what is the heart of this? The heart of this is that people are horrified by people being misled to believe something that is wholly untrue. Some facade, some whitewashed image of a person.

    But isn’t this what disaffected members face? Isn’t that what contributes to the disaffected? But in this case, the faithful are not so understanding. They say, “Well, you shouldn’t have let those aspects of history bother you. The gospel is perfect; people are not. Well, Joseph Smith or BY or whoever else was still inspired though he, like any human, was flawed.”

    If people are willing to say this, then I think that shadow Mormons should use these arguments for their case. Dear faithful members: the gospel is perfect; the people are not. If a shadow Mormon, whatever his imperfection, wants to live the gospel, wants to go to church — which is a hospital for the sick, not the healthy — then perhaps you should deal with it.

  53. I wonder if shadow members make better members and leaders?

    They focus on what they know? Christs principles values and morals and being better individuals more patient kinder and loving. And much less focus on worrying all the time about finding reasons why its true.

  54. #41 — If the Lord sees fit to inspire His authorities to extend a leadership calling to a skeptic, isn’t that His business?

    You can’t have it both ways. Either callings are inspired, and there’s nothing wrong with a skeptic accepting one, or stake presidents are uninspired and can’t get callings right without extensive disclosures by the calling target.

    #35: “And there is nothing wrong with saying to your spouse, I would not have married you if you weren’t mormon. That is just plain truth.”

    It is also plain truth that the vast majority of Mormon men would not have married their wives (or given them a second look) if they were as heavy imprimis as they became after multiplying and replenishing the heck out of the earth. And yet that man would be a disgrace, not to mention possibly suicidal, who told his wife that plain truth.

    “What does “you’re wearing a different hat now, missie. Man up and play the game.” mean? What are you talking about?”

    It means that once a woman has married, she’s operating under different rules than she did when merely hunting for a mate. Once you catch a husband, you incur care-and-feeding obligations that you don’t have when you’re dating. One of those obligations is to not twist the knife in said husband when he goes through a wrenching spiritual crisis, and becomes less theologically attractive than he was when you married him. Another obligation is fidelity to him, for richer or poorer, etc. 1 Corinthians 7:14 places obligations on a married spouse to remain with an unbelieving spouse, that are not placed on people before they’re married. The game has changed, in other words, and pretending you’re back in Heritage Halls operating under those rules is foolish.

  55. I think Andrew S. makes an outstanding point. It seems pretty standard fare that both believers and non-believers who participate in Mormon Matters, share a more or less consistent understanding of specific “concerns” relating to early Mormon history. The dichotomy lies in how each group is able to reconcile the conflict. The unbelievers reject the probability that God would allow such imperfect leaders to guide his Church. Believers accept the human frailty of Prophets inherent in all of us. For example many believe that Joseph Smith was not inspired regarding Polygamy, even though he passed it off as the Celestial order of Marriage, etc. If you are willing to accept that about Joseph Smith, how can you in the same spirit not forgive and perhaps appreciate the perdicament of non-believers who participate in Church leadership as unbelievers, who yet at least hold “good” intentions. By good, I mean they ultimately seek to improve the well being of those whom work with.

    A second note worth considering. I believe there is a story told of Heber J. Grant, who expressed some reticence about accepting a stake calling, in his day. His concern was that, though he believed, he did not know the Church was true. After some peer pressure he accepted the calling and later recieved a witness that the Church was true. It was said about him by the leader encouraging his “leap” of faith, “Brother Grant always knew the Church was true, he just didn’t know that he knew it”. In a similar vein, Boyd K. Packer is notorious for encouraging a similar contridicatory behavior (Perhaps this makes him a liar as well jetboy), by suggesting that often time “a testimony is found in the bearing of it”. In essence, take the leap to bear a testimony that you don’t quite have, and perhaps you shall recieve it. Sort defies logic but very few LDS have any objection to this notion. With the preceeding sort of rhetoric so common in the Church, I would gather that so long as their are not hidden agenda’s (wolves in sheeps clothing), the notion of non-believers actively participating in Church callings is sort of supported in the Church. At the very least, they are not considered “liars”. To be short Jettboy, your false ethics are your own. I would further submit that a Church which encourages participation under the promise that truths will be made known for acting as the Church would have us act, has no position to criticize those who follow their counsel and yet still never come to belief. That goes for members of that Church who would self righteously presume to sit on judgement in such cases.

  56. #34 – I think these comments are very sensible, and grounded in logic and rationality. The problem is, there is potential for a major conflict in this with putting god above all else, including your spouse. If the scriptures are to be believed, there are myriad examples of god going against not only logic and common sense, but seemingly against all sense of morality, even as defined by him. God has, among other things, commanded murder to accomplish his purposes. Even if you accept that such instances were righteous, and were to fulfill a higher purpose, then you must acknowledge the possibility that god may ask you to do something that you don’t understand or that doesn’t make sense or seems to go against what you see as right or wrong. If you truly put god first, then you can’t say definitively that you would stay with your husband no matter what unless he was hurting you or your children. If god told you to do it for no reason that was apparent to you, you, by your own admission, would put his will above what you perceive as the good of your husband and children, and you would do it. I think this is the point that some find disturbing. If you truly put god first, then by definition you have ceded, to some degree, the right to think for yourself, because you’ve already said you’ll do whatever god tells you. You are putting the decision making power for your life in the hands of another. This becomes even more frightening when you continue to add additional layers of human beings to the class of those whom you grant the ability to tell you what god wants you to do.

  57. I agree completely with 65, and as scary as that situation is, it assumes that god is communicating clearly with the person making this decision. When you consider how easily those communications can be misinterpreted, it is even more alarming to me.

  58. Sorry, Dexter. I wish, as I’m sure you do, that you were able to more clearly articulate what you’re trying to say. Then you wouldn’t have to second a comment that comes after you’ve posted 15 comments trying to get it out.

  59. I’d say my problem in posting is anything but clarity. I think my tone could use some work. But you are good at summing up points a few hours later. Really good at it. Have you ever had an original thought of your own? Or are you just going to always piggy back of my hard work? It’s not easy to come up with stuff like SHAME ON YOU.

  60. In a hurry, so haven’t read through all the comments, but IMO marriages that fail ostensibly due to a difference in religious belief REALLY fail because one spouse wants to control the other – either a newly disbelieving spouse wants to force the still believing spouse into a situation that they don’t want, or (perhaps more often) the still believing spouse wants to impose continued limitations on the non-believing spouse based on their continued belief system. Change is a threat to marriage (to any relationship really), but change happens. Marriages fail due to lack of resilience, trying to control your spouse, and failing to love your spouse more than you love yourself. Obviously, there are very few divorces that are 100% attributable to one spouse alone, so these are issues that both face whenever change is introduced.

  61. I was just kidding, Dexter. I didn’t mean for my ribbing to come across as quite so biting. I actually do agree with your previous comments on this issue.

  62. I realize this is totally OT, but I wonder if Jettboy is really attempting to satirize what many people think TBMs believe. Just a hunch, but when I read his/her comments that way, they actually make some sense.

  63. re jettboy 1,

    You may see them as cowards but they probably see themselves as doing what is necessary to survive in their environment. By the way I’ve come across many “shadow mormons” in church employment.

  64. Two things.

    First, do you think my bishop would rather have me dutifully do my callings, including 100% home teaching, even though I don’t believe or just leave and never show up? (I know, black-and-white, but given the choice.)

    Second, it might be easier to stay if there wasn’t so much “it must be true” mentality.

  65. re hawkgrrrl 71,

    Obviously, there are very few divorces that are 100% attributable to one spouse alone,

    Do you have evidence for that or is it just an assumption or life experience or what? I obviously disagree because I’ve found, in my experience, that adulterers have an eerie ability to blame their sin on the innocent spouse. However the David and Uriah story shows its different.

    Marriages fail due to lack of resilience, trying to control your spouse, and failing to love your spouse more than you love yourself

    Would you include here cases where someone is abandoned by their spouse? Does the person left behind “lack resilience” or didn’t they control their spouse enough by letting them run?

    Again I ask because I disagree with these statements and only hope that you can explain these further. Obviously if the spouse left behind is innocent, then we have marriages that fail due to the actions of only one spouse.

    re Dexter 74,

    Where was god on this one I wonder?

    Probably waiting to receive her on the other side. D&C 58:2 may apply here, assuming that she is indeed deceased:

    “blessed is [she] that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and [she] that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. “

  66. #78 Goose
    re Dexter 74,

    Where was god on this one I wonder?

    Probably waiting to receive her on the other side. D&C 58:2 may apply here, assuming that she is indeed deceased:

    “blessed is [she] that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and [she] that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. “
    ——————————————————
    I don’t believe in a god that would let someone be brutally killed just so she could gain a reward in heaven.

    I went to the funeral of a 37 year old father of 5 (including a 1 year old) and every speaker said, “K was called home for a more important mission.” WTH? What’s more important than providing for and raising that family.

    Christians believe in life after death. Humanists believe in life before death. (Greg Epstein)

  67. re Cowardly Liar,

    I don’t believe in a god that would let someone be brutally killed just so she could gain a reward in heaven

    Its the otherway round, those who are brutally killed due to someone using their God given free agency to murder, then they are then rewarding to compensate that death. The killer also gets his ‘reward’.

    Its a God life-compensation plan, for lack of a better term!

    But I don’t agree with that speaker. He was probably an ametuer who didn’t know what else to say.

  68. “I think this is the point that some find disturbing. If you truly put god first, then by definition you have ceded, to some degree, the right to think for yourself, because you’ve already said you’ll do whatever god tells you. You are putting the decision making power for your life in the hands of another. This becomes even more frightening when you continue to add additional layers of human beings to the class of those whom you grant the ability to tell you what god wants you to do.”

    I honestly don’t really care if some find it disturbing that I put God first or work to align my will to His. If my trusting in a Being who sees all and knows all disturbs people, oh well, guess they’ll have to get over it. I trust God and believe that He loves me and will care for me and my family. Does God ask hard things of people….OF COURSE….welcome to mortality.

    You use the words disturbing and frightening. Interestingly, what I find curious is the idea of denying God’s existence altogether is ok, but those who follow, believe and trust in Him are seen as not thinking for themselves. How interesting that denying the very Being who created us and gives us daily breath is so easily dismissed as One who has no idea how to help us. If you got a new job and there was an expert working there who knew all the things you needed to know, would you so easily dismiss this person because you want to think for yourself rather than relying on one who has a lot more experience and can help you? To me that just seems more about arrogance and pride than anything else.

  69. #80 Goose: Its the otherway round, those who are brutally killed due to someone using their God given free agency to murder, then they are then rewarding to compensate that death. The killer also gets his ‘reward’.

    The disturbing part is that she fasted and prayed and felt that god told her to stay. So, god wanted her to stay so he could punish the killer? Sure, free will for the killer, but “harms way” for the wife.

  70. So, god wanted her to stay so he could punish the killer?

    No.

    He doesn’t work that way. He probably, I guess, imho, wanted her to stay to try and help Gods son ie her husband, to not become a killer. But everything is pointing to him not coming round (up to now at least). Both the killer (we assume he is) and the wife had ‘free will’ to use. Ultimately she asked what to do, she was then given advice on what to do and decided to follow that advice. I doubt she would have anything to explain or pay for during all of eternity -which is after all a very long time. He, though, seems that he will have some explaining to do.

    But all we know here is that God wanted her to stay. We don’t actually know exactly the WHY he wanted her to stay but we do know that God’s viewpoint comes from an eternal perspective. And then we know from other scripture what would happen in these cases were people suffer greatly from another human beings’ actions.

  71. Honestly, my problem is the claim that the producers of the film intended to interview people of ALL backgrounds and then decided to focus on Mormons only. This absolutely is an issue that needs to be addressed, but it needs to be addressed in every cross-section of society – not just within the LDS Church. The question simply must be asked:

    “Why did they decide to focus on the LDS Church?”

    I have not seen the film, but I suspect the answer was political and financial at its root.

    As to the question about leaving a spouse solely because of a change in religious beliefs, there are two legitimate answers – and it’s narrow-minded and arrogant to deny the validity of either one, especially for those who try to quote Jesus or LDS Church leaders in doing so. BOTH sources have said or are claimed to have said that God should come before family, and BOTH sources have said or claimed to have said that marriage is a sacred responsibility that should be first no matter the beliefs (not actions) of the individual spouses.

    For one, I wouldn’t leave my spouse over a change in beliefs. The thought never would cross my mind, since I literally view her as part of me and me as part of her. We are one, and I’m not about to split myself in two over beliefs.

  72. Jettboy and others,

    I have been a member of the Mormon church my whole life (formally since I was eight, of course). That’s decades of membership. I have been in multiple leadership positions, so I know of which I speak.

    The Mormon church’s policies towards people who find they do not believe are never “just leave the church” or “move away” or “get divorced.” Instead, the church counsels those people to stay in the church, keep coming every Sunday, serve where they are called, and pay tithing. To suggest that other action is better, as Jettboy did, is the height of arrogance and anti-mormonism. He is clearly not a good mormon.

  73. I say we should let people believe what they want to believe. If someone believes in God, let them believe. If someone doesn’t believe in God, so be it.

    Belief or unbelief isn’t the problem. The problem emerges when a believer or non-believer starts trying to control the other.

    Another problem emerges when someone decides to lie. As a believer I am offended deeply by someone who is in a church leadership position, a position of trust, but is there because they have chosen to lie about their “faith” for reasons that are purely selfish.

    Controlling and lying leads to no good thing, whether we’re a believer or non believer.

    I respect those on this blog who make it clear who they are and how they believe. I would much rather associate with a honest non-believer than a lying believer.

  74. As the director and co-producer of IN THE SHADOW OF THE TEMPLE, I find it very enjoyable that the film causes so much discussion…but I am tired of those self-righteous who have opinions about our intentions and have not even seen the film. If you don’t see it, then you can ascribe any intention to it to answer your already defined point of view. We do not care what Mormons believe, we do care that they do not allow others to have the freedom to worship or not worship as they please.

  75. People with the faith to stay and serve rather then leave because of doubt should be commended and not disparaged and have every right to be held up as an example.
    The family is the backbone of the church and society and the family should be held together regardless of church belief or non belief. It is up to both parties to work out problems between active and nonactice/nonmember spouses. I have seen many people straddle that void very successfully.

  76. Why is it that any opinion that does not conform to the LDS party line earns the rebuke of the TBMs? Who is being “disparsged” here. I’m pleased people of faith stay and people who doubt,leave….that is the classic freedom of choice….is that anti-Mormon?

  77. Dennis Lavery–

    I’m not sure why you chose to film those who’ve left the LDS church. Was it to confirm your ” faith” as humanist?

    If you have a profit motive you might find more success in filming a movie about faithful LDS reasons for believing.

  78. *grabs more popcorn*

    I have NO idea what just happened here.

    re 88:

    Jared, I would imagine that you would think differently. After all, these people are acting in accordance with the Gospel. They are trying to live the callings that they have been ordained to — which, apparently, someone was inspired to consider them for.

    Wouldn’t it really be selfish if an individual refused a calling because it was “too hard” or they weren’t willing to be obedient or sacrifice for it? So, I don’t see why this is any different.

    Heck, maybe the person continues to serve and go to church precisely because he desires to believe. Precisely because he believes that through obedience, he can gain a testimony.

    Why would you cut a person down like this, Jared? Do you really want to drive people out of the church for their doubts?

  79. Dennis, I’m glad you’re here. It’s nice to have someone associated with the film join the conversation.

    An aside question – Is there any way to find out more about the interviews and research that the film is based on? Perhaps the interview transcripts themselves are not available, but I’m interested.

  80. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. When people doubt and stay put in the shadow; they get criticized, when they leave they have no endurance. Why can’t we all just get along? Why don’t people have a choice in the LDS church? There is always someone watching over, interviewing etc. to find out how you live your lives, what commandments you are breaking and how often you hold family home evening and family prayer.

    Few mainstream Christian religions do that to their members; they just love them and leave the judging to God. Good plan doncha think?

  81. #95 Andrew S–

    I guess I wasn’t clear. Let me correct myself. I have no problem with a person who has doubt. I don’t consider a person to be lying if they accept a calling and have some doubt.

    When I wrote #88 I was referring to those few, very few, who accept callings where a firm testimony is expected, but lie in the interviews to obtain the calling, or temple recommend.

    I have come across a few like that in the ‘nacle. The few I’ve blogged with who admit this behavior appear to be involved in the church out of habit, but have absolutely no faith, but are willing to practice this deception because they don’t want to disappointment a spouse, children, or other family members.

    I have a very hard time understanding this attitude. I find it offensive.

  82. Jared, it seems like what you are saying is that there is a difference between someone who has doubts–even serious doubts–yet still has some amount of belief in the church or its values, and accepts a calling, and someone who CLAIMS to have a beyond-shadow-of-a-doubt testimony of the Restored Gospel, even though they do not, and accepts a calling where they will undoubtedly have to lie to those they serve about their testimony… While I definitely can empathize with people who find themselves in those predicaments, I agree, it is deceitful to profess one thing and do another. This issue, just like that of marriage, is more complex then we are making it out to be.

  83. Jared: If you had seen the film you would have had to deal with the fact that we asked 24 interviewees if we could interview their practicing LDS family members for the film. Twenty-three family members said, NO. And we didn’t set out to make a film about the Mormons, if you could take a step away from your ironclad beliefs you would see that the film is a metaphor for any religion, social construct or political system that does not allow freedom of thought, choice and worship. And as for a profit motive…I think you are the one with the PROPHET motive. Let me repeat, we do not care what Mormons believe as long as it does not restrict the belief of others.

  84. Adamf: Thanks for the question. Transcripts do exist, but for the same reason we had to film people in shadow because of retaliation, the transcripts are private. Though we did extensive research on the Church, the film focused on the lives of people, not the LDS theology…

  85. re 98:

    Jared,

    What if the people don’t feel they are lying, but recognize that the temple recommend interview questions are open enough that they can still be answered — honestly — while allowing the answerer to have a wide range of beliefs? In this case, they are very heterodox, but the things they believe in, they do have a firm faith in.

    I think you would’ve come across people like this in the ‘Nacle, so I hope you know what I’m saying…what do you think about these people (because it seems to me like there are probably the people who best fit “Shadow Mormon” status). These are the people who “StayLDS” and so on.

  86. Dennis–

    I’ve been an active Mormon for over forty years. The focus of your film appears to be limited to a small percentage of members, x-members.

    I can’t think of anyone I personally know who fits the description of having their beliefs restricted. You make it sound like they are being held against their will in some way. I don’t know anyone like that.

    I need to leave until tomorrow. I appreciate the exchange.

  87. All this discussion has reminded me of something that I have long wished for in the wards I have been in – to somehow know who is a “shadow Mormon” or whatever they may call themselves, and to be able to let them know that I’m glad they are there, and I would love to be able to talk to them openly, about whatever, with no strings or agenda attached… to help them know that there ARE “TBMs” who will not just tolerate but love and accept them and their doubts or unbelief.

  88. Andrew S.–

    I am only referring to those few who know they are lying.

    In every ward there are members who enjoy the church culture, but have many doubts. They don’t hide it, they don’t accept callings that require strong faith. They make wonderful contribution to the ward in ways that don’t require a testimony. My own mother was like that for most of her life.

    By the way, nice to have an exchange with you.

  89. (((Adam))) I’m grateful that people like you **do** exist – my bishop and RSP are two of the most understanding people I know in this regard. They know my issues, and helped me to find a calling that suits me and my family. They welcome my involvement at any level I feel comfortable. They accept that I see church as community rather than a doctrinal Truth.

    Unfortunately, folks like Jettboy are also out there, as my VTing companion reminded me recently ::rolls eyes:: The hard part is that these people are often louder than the quiet, accepting ones. They are the ones circling the wagons and drawing the Stakes tighter and closer, propelling doubters and Shadow Mormons back into the shadows so that they won’t be cast out – cast of their families, cast out of their jobs, cast out of their communities.

    Someone on NOM recently posted several messages that they received from an “anonymous” TBM neighbor asking that they and their family move, so they wouldn’t have to deal with their liberal political viewpopints. How kind. How Christ-like. Is it any wonder people hide out in the shadows when they doubt?

    I prefer “Big Tent” Mormonism, although I can see where the tension comes into play. The hardest part is for people who live “in the shadow of the temple” – where everyone they know and see everyday is Mormon. I don’t have to live in that fear of exposure, and so its much easier for me to be “out” about my disaffection. Some people simply don’t have that choice, and I feel deeply for them.

  90. re 106:

    Jared, so you think that it can be ok to reject callings based on a personal evaluation of not having enough faith? Interesting. I think there are interesting places this conversation could go (based on previous things you’ve written tonight), but I dunno.

    I guess the issue is I don’t think the “shadow Mormons” “know” they are lying. I think this is a much different kind of person. I take a similar issue with the kind of person Jettboy describes (people who stay to try to make the church into their own “unbelieving or secular image”.) While I don’t doubt that these people exist, I don’t think the “shadow Mormons” are these people. I think “shadow Mormons” are much less…uhh…threatening? They aren’t perpetrators. They are unwitting strugglers trying to hold on to their culture, their religion, their community, etc.,

    re 105:

    Adam, I think the issue is that if someone is in the position of being a shadow Mormon, they cannot safely let *anyone* know about their nature…to do so would be to expose themselves in a terrible way. How can they be so sure that you wouldn’t let them down? How can they be so sure that you wouldn’t look down upon them?

    Of course you would not. But someone can’t necessarily tell that from just dealing with each other in church. Instead of playing roulette, it’s best to keep up the facade. The better they keep up the facade, the more “TBM” they look. This actually becomes a conundrum. The more “TBM” that shadow Mormons look, the more alienated shadow Mormons think they are. What if there was a ward with a sizeable population of shadow Mormons “fitting in”? Then, each of these individuals, even though they are not alone, would not be able to recognize each other! Even though there’d be a sizeable population of these people with similar struggles, they wouldn’t know it!

    That’s kinda tragic, when I think about it.

  91. I am married to a non-believer. He remains somewhat active in order to provide our children with stability and to support me. I have made a decision to put my marriage and family above all else. In this, I do not believe that I can offend God. I believe God wants me to be happy. I cannot be happy without DH, regardless of what he believes. He is a wonderful husband and father and I would consider it blasphemy to throw away or degrade this marriage, which I consider to be God’s greatest gift to me.

  92. Andrew, I get that it is too dangerous, and I agree, it is a bit tragic. I think they can indeed eventually talk about it in person, but ONLY after a secure relationship has been developed, and for some people that is very difficult if not impossible due to their being burned by others so many times.

    While I don’t consider myself a “shadow Mormon” I can relate in the sense that I don’t tell every member I meet about some of my opinions or beliefs, e.g. gay marriage. Once I feel I can trust someone, I don’t mind being open. Perhaps “shadow Mormons” are on a spectrum as well… it even seems like almost everyone who doesn’t feel safe in sharing their doubts or heterodoxy is a shadow Mormon to some extent.

  93. Jared #104: “I’ve been an active Mormon for over forty years. The focus of your film appears to be limited to a small percentage of members, x-members.”

    Jared, my friend. You must know that there are far more “inactive” or “ex-” or “post-” or “shadow” Mormons than there are active, tithe–paying, Sacrament-attending, true-believing Mormons. While it’s true that the hoop-jumping the LDS church imposes on members to actually get their names removed from the membership rolls depresses the numbers of technical ex-members, it is also true that in wards and branches across the globe there are far more “members of record” on the rolls who rarely or never show up for Sacrament meeting, callings, and temple excursions than there are members who are regular participants. Surely you know this, right? If you are unaware of this fact, simply check the latest Ensign, in which the Church publishes the numbers of Sacrament attendees, the amounts paid in tithing last quarter, and the number of current temple recommends currently in issue. Oh, wait, they don’t publicize those stats, do they? I wonder why.

    Dennis, thanks for making this film and giving a voice to the often voiceless, and for shining a light on the lives of those who are left living life in the shadows of the temple. Thank you for showing the dark underside of Mormonism; the side that affects real people living real lives and suffering real trauma at the hands of the self-righteous, the pious, and the sanctimonious who draw near unto Christ with their lips but whose hearts are far from Him.

  94. #81 – Jen, I’m not sure what your point is. Those who put god’s will unequivocally first absolutely do cede the right to think for themselves, at least in some situations. If you retain the right to disobey god if you don’t understand or agree with what he asks, then you don’t truly put him first. I’m not sure what the confusion is here. By definition you aren’t thinking for yourself at least some of the time, or you’re at least conceding that you are willing not to if the situation requires it. On the contrary, I don’t care whether someone disbelieves in god or not, but I do think it is absolutely a virtue to base decisions in this life on reality and logic and common sense, and not on feelings that are highly subjective and unprovable. I can reason out every single action I plan on taking, and can determine for myself whether or not I think something is a good idea, and I can take the responsibility for those decisions if they succeed or fail. Those who place god first are letting someone else decide their fate (that’s if there is even someone there making those decisions) and then putting the responsibility for those decisions on his head, be it good or bad. I simply disagree with this philosophy. That doesn’t mean I think you or anyone else are bad people, I just disagree with that mindset. And as to your implication that I’m arrogant and ungrateful for not appreciating the person who created me and gave me dailiy breath, I’m not failing to appreciate anyone. I was not created by anyone and no one gave me my breath or anything else. (I only use such declarative language to match yours – I want to be sure to make at least as strong assumptions as your comment makes). I am grateful to those who are deserving of my gratitude, and that is my fellow human beings. I know what it feels like to play second (or third, or fourth…) fiddle to an absentee god and a church that requires all things, and frankly I wouldn’t consider doing that to my children even if I did think the church was true. Ultimately on this we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  95. #83: “Ultimately she asked what to do, she was then given advice on what to do and decided to follow that advice.”

    Alternatively, God had nothing to do with any of this, and what the poor woman had been negligently conditioned to perceive as “inspiration” was unwarranted guilt over the impending failure of her marriage, or some other emotion originating from within her.

    Why do people feel a need to defend virtually every asserted “inspiration”?

    Re: the “skeptics who accept callings that require strong faith are liars,” may God judge between the genuineness of the faith of the accuser and the accused. I know plenty of people who would be thusly condemned as “liars” by our resident two-bit ultramontanists, who have truer faith than their accusers — because it’s unclouded by self-deception and enmity, as is theirs.

  96. Brjones-

    Just as you state that those who put God’s will first cede the right to think for themselves, those who do not put God’s will also cede the right to think for themselves as there are many influences constantly affecting what a person decides to do. I just choose my main influence to be God. Your main influence may be your wife, your children, a friend or a parent, etc. Because we are all interdependent, none of us really are thinking for ourselves. We do get to choose what influences our decision making though and I don’t see a difference between you and me except my main choice of influence is God and yours is not.

    As far as you not being created by anyone or no one giving you breath or anything else, well, as ASIA sang it so well….ONLY TIME WILL TELL…..

  97. Dear Jettboy,

    Forgive me for writing this comment on this particular post. I am not particularly clever when it comes to computers but I read your comment regarding shadow mormons (and couldn’t figure how to comment there doh!) EDIT: FIGURED IT OUT NOW!!

    Your comment : Shadow Mormons are cowards. They can always, I don’t know, move to where there are few Mormons (just about anywhere in the world). Worst of all is those who stay in the Church and don’t believe. They are the most dirty liars of them all and often seek to make the Church into their unbelieving and secular image.

    As a long time convert to the LDS faith who holds her membership in the church in high regard and whilst I struggle to understand some aspects of the temple, find the church to be good and worthy and a great blessing in my life. My testimony of the Saviour is my stability in life and I always think of Him when faced with difficult decisions and choices. At the risk of sounding like a total plonker, I ask myself, What would Jesus do?

    From reading your comment above, I wonder how much of a testimony of the Saviour you have? A genuine question. I am sure you cannot love Him or take upon yourself His name with an attitude like that. I have a very good friend, from a solid gospel background, who attends church to keep his family together. He has serious doubts about the church and has spoken to the bishop about some of these issues. He is not a dirty liar, he does not lie to obtain a temple recommend. He is a good and decent person and does not want to share his disaffection with his wife who firmly believes in the gospel and the church but who has said will leave him and take their children if she stops attending church. So he keeps coming because he loves his wife and children. How can you think that is wrong?

    I talked to my own husband about this (he is the bishop) and he said that Jesus taught we are not to judge others but to love all. This man is an honourable man who despite no longer having a testimony of the church, loves his family and wants to keep them together at all costs.

    I hope and pray that the Saviour will forgive you for your attitude and me for judging you like this. I feel bad for writing this post but I wanted you to know that the Saviour does love you the same as he loves my NOM/SHADOW friend’s husband and for your own salvation, I hope you can drop the un Christian, un charitable attitude.

    MormonGirl28

  98. Jen, I agree with you about the ASIA version. By the way, if I said anything to offend you, it was just THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT.

  99. I think we are forgetting the other people in the Shadow of the Temple — those on the shadow of the outside, not the inside. Our guest post-er is one of those on the inside looking out, but there also those that are on the outside looking in — both are in the shadows.

    If you are on the outside, the shadow is quite literal if a family member is marrying. You sit outside in the shadow of the temple while the “forever family” congregates inside.

    Most of this discussion is playing out like Suess’s Sneetches and their star bellies or lack thereof. We have yet to progress beyond a grade school children’s book. If you are going to exclude people either by fiat or emotionally, then you will have shadow dwellers. The scriptures can come fast and furious to defend both brands of Sneetches — judge not that ye be not judged and “I, the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive” versus Christ expelling money changers and Paul chastizing false apostles or Joseph Smith and the Lord going after Sidney Rigdon. Bottom line — we are all Sneetches, regardless of where the shadow falls.

  100. It is quite interesting to read this post and the discussion that follows.

    For me, my personal relationship with the Savior/Heavenly Father is more important than my wife. If my wife demanded me to do something that I felt would destroy that relationship, I would not do it, even if she presented that as a take it or leave me -decision that would mean that if I didn’t go along, she would leave me. (That way of presenting it like if you don’t do this, I’ll leave you, I would probably start doubting my position in her priorities.)

    But if my bishop told me to do something that would destroy my relationship with my wife (like tell me to leave her if she left the Church or committed adultery or whatever — I would not leave her just because of adultery), I would not do that, either. Unless I really got a strong spiritual testimony of it, when I would be really between the rock and the hard place, and as for me, I don’t really know what would be right then. Unless it would be to go along with my strong spiritual testimony. It has guided me right for 30 years, in very difficult situations, so it has proven very reliable.

    The presented situation is very hypothetical, but still. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best… 😉

  101. Our “apostate” (not really apostate!) family and the ones too young to be eligible in the sealing room, were inside the temple in a waiting room, where they park youth groups and visitors. It’s definitely inside the temple.

    I realize someone could still feel excluded, and many would not approach temple doors, if they had deliberately broken covenants that they had made there.

  102. The continuing discussion about Shadow Mormons and their shadow world needs to be provided some context. Regardless of the compassion those of you who are TBMs say you have, your environment does not. You are aware of why these people are hidden and you want to save their souls. Why not change the environment that causes the fear, anguish, and in some cases, suicide? Since we are NEVER MORMONS,, those who spoke to us did not have to go through the “trust me” factor. They were open, honest, forthcoming, sad, funny and most of all…wanting to be understood…because all they had known was rebuke, shunning and loss of loved ones. I suggested you who condemn them… try sitting home alone on the 25th. Why don’t all of you who quote scripture so readily in these judgmental postings, put down the BOM and look at what is in front of you. It is your wife, husband, son, daughter, mother, father…AKA…fragile human beings…hurting people…your once loved ones who are continually demeaned because they do not accept what you do as faith. Get off your selfish need for a higher place in the Celestial Kingdom and reach out, embrace, love and cherish what is in front of you right now… rather than groping for that very special “hereafter,” cause think about how sickening it will be if there is a hereafter filled with self-righteous, smug, finger-pointing, tattle tails. Ugh!

  103. Dennis-

    “I suggested you who condemn them… try sitting home alone on the 25th. Why don’t all of you who quote scripture so readily in these judgmental postings, put down the BOM and look at what is in front of you. It is your wife, husband, son, daughter, mother, father…AKA…fragile human beings…hurting people…your once loved ones who are continually demeaned because they do not accept what you do as faith. Get off your selfish need for a higher place in the Celestial Kingdom and reach out, embrace, love and cherish what is in front of you right now… rather than groping for that very special “hereafter,” cause think about how sickening it will be if there is a hereafter filled with self-righteous, smug, finger-pointing, tattle tails. Ugh!”

    Speaking of UGH! I am a member of the church and you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to me and my actions towards others. You don’t have to be a shadow mormon to know what it is like to be lonely, demeaned or not accepted. And the last thing that I am is selfish, thank you very much. I am raising 7 children, several which are not my own because their parents likes drugs better than their kids. It is one thing to express concern and try to help others see what other are going through, but to sit and call people self-righteous, smug, etc. is no better than the behaviors you are condemning. Neither one is right and maybe the best thing to do is realize that many Mormons truly do love their families regardless of their choices and are showing them and caring for them with much compassion.

  104. From 122: “self-righteous, smug, finger-pointing, tattle tails. Ugh!”

    Denis, this attitude sounds just the same to a TBM as their attitude can be to Shadow mormons. It is indeed sad that all of us tend to do these things at anyone outside our own group. Everything you have said on this board has been broad sweeping generalizations about TBM’s, which while may in general be correct, still comes across as “self-righteous, smug, finger-pointing, tattle tail[ing]”. It is hard to affect change with this tone.

    This whole discussion has made me once again glad that I grew up outside of Utah, and live out east. I think there is a lot more variety of thought and views on many points of Mormon doctrine and action, from my very straight-laced bishop who is still a very nice man, to myself and my wife, who openly rejected calls from our fellow ward members to get involved in the anti-gay marriage issues here in CT. No one in our ward has shunned us, even though most of them know what I believe and feel about many church doctrines. I bring in *shudder* gospel music to the whole stake (I was raised in the south 🙂 ), and ideas like, lets skip the manual’s official lesson and actually talk about something useful in YM/SS/RS. There is hope in (and for) our Church — there is always Hope. Each of us just has to be a better person, and a more Christlike person.

  105. I not really a big fan of the idea that one group one way or another “cedes” the right to think for themselves. There are no doubt examples of Mormons who do what the Prophet say’s just because he said it, and yes I would agree that does smack of a forfeiture of self thought. I don’t believe however that it must necessarily be so. Jen claims to put God first in her marriage. I have to wonder what that means exactly, as we really don’t have concensus on what God’s will is. While I’m sure it means something to Jen, and I respect that, it is not as simple as Choosing to obey the clearly understood voice of the Lord. I must assume therefore that what Jen places first, is her expectations and beliefs surrounding who God is, what she believes he is communicating to her, and what she believes he would have her be doing. All of this bespeaks self-thought. The easy quip will be then to say, but the Prophet claims to speak for God. If Jen had said that she places the Prophet first I would agree the criticizm about her position. I think Mormon Matters is ample evidence to show however, that even though someone may be a “TBM”, does not mean that they ascribe to all things orthodox in Mormonism. That by very nature demonstrates that putting “God” first (as I think many TBM’s would claim to do) is not = to forfeiting self thought.

  106. Going allll the way back to #64- Boyd K. Packer is notorious for encouraging a similar contridicatory behavior (Perhaps this makes him a liar as well jetboy), by suggesting that often time “a testimony is found in the bearing of it”. In essence, take the leap to bear a testimony that you don’t quite have, and perhaps you shall recieve it. Sort defies logic but very few LDS have any objection to this notion. With the preceeding sort of rhetoric so common in the Church, I would gather that so long as their are not hidden agenda’s (wolves in sheeps clothing), the notion of non-believers actively participating in Church callings is sort of supported in the Church. At the very least, they are not considered “liars”.

    I actually do consider that lying. It’s something that’s bothered me about the church for 30 years. You’re supposed to get up in front of hundreds of people and say “I know that xyz” when in fact you know no such thing and may not even believe it, but if you keep saying it you may discover that you do believe it.

    After several years of praying to know the truth and receiving no answer, I talked to an RM who told me had gone on his mission for the sole purpose of tearing down the church. He hated it, wanted to sabotage it, didn’t believe a word of it. But he went, and went along, and after several months of pretending that he was one of “them” and testifying the church was true… Miracle of miracles, he suddenly realized that he believed it! Of course it was true! His dishonesty was rewarded with an unshakeable testimony which persists to this day, while I have still never received an answer to my prayers.

    I did have to wonder if it was my unwillingness to lie about what I “knew” that prevented me from every receiving a testimony.

  107. What about scrubbing toilets with a toothbrush, when others go to church for a Christmas service?

    You’re not a member, and the thing is you cannot go (who knows why?) even if you wanted, despite your different faith, because you celebrate Christmas, too, and not so differently than the majority (85% at the time).

    That was real life to me, in 1980 in Lutheran Finland, when I was doing my citizen duty in the Finnish army. All majorities tend to not see the minorities’ position, because they never run into situations, where people walk all over you, because you don’t exist.

    Yes, I guess it’s possible that in Utah, it could happen to a non-Mormon that s/he could be just overlooked or assumed to be Mormon, and then even punished when discovered to not be. And that may hurt, especially, if you have made a point of leaving the Church. Many just are inactive and let their membership just lay there, carrying dust…

    I would say, that we should not be quick to judge either way, but I also feel that minorities should be considered and have rights.

  108. God’s will is a different thing in everyone’s mind. Because it is in each person’s mind, and not some external force communicating with the mind.

  109. Goose, you act like Susan Powell’s murder (if she was murdered) was a blessing in disguise. I could not disagree more. She prayed and asked if she should stay in the marriage. She stayed in the marriage. By all accounts, she is now dead. Whether or not life is somehow “better” on the other side. She would not have stayed in the marriage if she knew this result was waiting. She has every right to be furious that what she thought was god telling her to stay for her own good or the good of her children turned out like this. She would have been better off if she thought for herself what was best instead of praying about it in the first place.

  110. Ray said: (and others said similar things)

    “Honestly, my problem is the claim that the producers of the film intended to interview people of ALL backgrounds and then decided to focus on Mormons only. This absolutely is an issue that needs to be addressed, but it needs to be addressed in every cross-section of society – not just within the LDS Church. The question simply must be asked: Why did they decide to focus on the LDS Church? I have not seen the film, but I suspect the answer was political and financial at its root.”

    I find this comment to be extremely arrogant and offensive and reflects an attitude of “us poor mormons” that is simply ridiculous. The filmmakers have no responsibility to evaluate a topic among every-cross section of society. They can make a film about whatever they want. I cannot believe many of you are criticizing the filmmakers for only interviewing mormons. IT IS A FILM! THEY CAN CHOOSE TO PORTRAY THEIR ART BY INTERVIEWING ONLY JEWS OR ONLY MORMONS OR ONLY CATHOLICS OR SOME OF EVERY RELIGION. So what if they intended to follow many religious couples but then changed their minds and focused on mormons? If they find the mormon couples were more compelling, why wouldn’t they make that the focus of the film. Should we criticize the makers of Glory for ONLY focusing on the civil war and mostly focusing on a black regiment of soldiers? HOW DARE THEY? What about all the other regiments and other poor souls who perished in that war? Should we criticize Saving Private Ryan for only focusing on a few american soldiers? What about the 20 million soviet union soldiers who lost their lives? Why didn’t the film focus on them?

    And how is it wrong to make a film for political or financial reasons? First, dealing with the financial reasons, what films aren’t made for financial reasons? Should they serve society by not seeking to make a profit? This is their livelihood. Regarding the onerous politial reasons, I commend them for trying to make a point, even if I don’t agree with their point, as opposed to many filmmakers who throw brainless drivel on the screen to please the masses.

    Why does it seem that many mormons feel that they can only be portrayed in a positive light? Be grateful the religion has grown enough to receive this kind of attention. Be grateful our nation allows artists to choose whatever topic they wish. I find many of the criticisms of this film to be baseless, ignorant, arrogant, and insulting to the filmmakers and the freedom of speech.

  111. Dennis,

    Glad to have you here. Your comments seem to reflect a view that most, if not all, Mormons are judgmental, harsh, strict, and uncaring. If my understanding of your feelings in this regard are incorrect, please forgive my conclusions (and correct me). If my understanding is correct, then I’d be curious to know how you came to that conclusion. Did you hold that understanding before doing the interviews for this documentary? Or did you come to it based entirely on the interviews?

    I’ve ordered your video and I look forward to seeing it. I may even do a review on it. But I can tell you (even without having seen it) that if I have understood your feelings correctly, they do not reflect my experiences in the Church. I have not been a member all my life; I was raised Methodist. People do have a right to believe what they want and, if desired, “convert” to any religion they want. Our basic articles of faith state as much.

    But what you seem to disparage in Mormons (based on your comments here) is not so much a “Mormon” condition as a human one. I have personally known individuals who were disowned by their families because they converted to Mormonism. Does that make the disowning family bad, evil, or unloving? Chances are it simply makes them angry, hurt, betrayed, and human. Is it sad? Yes, it is. Is it wrong? Probably. Is it understandable? If one chooses to be understanding, it is.

    Again, I look forward to seeing your video. I hope you won’t continue to stereotype the Church based upon the reports of those who have chosen to separate themselves from the community.

    -Allen

  112. Many mormons are wonderful people. But some aren’t, like any other large group of people. The issue, to me, is not about the anecdotes of members, because if you want to find examples of wonderful people and wonderful marriages and wondeful acts of service, you can easily find examples of all of these among the membership of the church. However, if you want to find some bad apples, some abusive marriages, you can easily find that too. But that is true among any large group of people. The issue then, is whether or not the doctrines of the church, with all their externalities, have a positive influence on its members and the world or a negative influence. This is obviously extremely difficult to measure. If this film focuses on marriages where the doctrines (of the failure of one spouse to believe the doctrines) leads to marital strife and unhappiness, one could easily make a film to counteract it by focusing on how the church has made marriage (or any other aspect of life) better. Therefore, although anecdotal evidence won’t rule the day in the ultimate question of whether the church’s impact on the world is positive or negative, it can open some people’s eyes to ways in which the church, directly or indirectly, can be an influence in ways one had not previously explored or appreciated. This is why I commend the filmmakers for trying to shed some light on ways the church has affected marriages. Similarly though, I would appreciate the efforts of filmmakers who do the same but in a positive light. Would it hurt to see how other people have had negative experiences from some aspect of doctrine or church culture, even if the audience feels that that same doctrine or cultural issue gave them positive experiences?

  113. Just to conclude my point, anecdotal evidence can and should be appreciated, but for what it is, anecdotal evidence. If we keep this in mind, that the experience of one or ten couples does not define all mormon marriages, what is the harm in portraying their experiences? I doubt the filmmakers believe, or would want the audience to believe, that ALL mormons are _____, ______, or _______. (fill those in with whatever descriptions you like, positive or negative).

  114. Allen (your DVD is in the mail)and all the rest who have chimed in this morning”: All this conversation can only be validate by action. I can not say it enough…tell me by your actions what kind of person you are, not by quoting scripture and piety. Allen, do you see what you just did in your last line.? “I hope you won’t stereotype the Church based upon the reports of those who have chosen to separate themselves from the Church.” What did you just do…you “stereotype them BECAUSE they left the Church. We have more than 80 hours of “stereotyping” according to that concept… I have been amazed at how thin the Mormon skin is when it comes to questions and criticism…and Allen…you are right,it is a “human condition” exacerbated by a belief that there is only one way to get through this challenge called life…and that way is the LDS way.
    And for all those who have contacted us via other means about the film, it is available for purchase at http://www.intheshadowofthetemple.com.
    It is a great stocking stuffer for those who believe they have everything!

  115. Responding to #131 and extending the thoughts in #134:

    I’m a little surprised at the lack of discussion regarding child rearing. I see this as one of the main issues here. Do adults have freedom of religion in this country? Of course. Can they leave the church? Sure.

    However, when one is taught a specific path to happiness in childhood, the concientious youth tries to follow this path. When you are told that you will find spiritual guidance through supernatural experiences (for lack of a better term) and that a socially conservative lifestyle is the right way, again, those attempting to be good boys and girls try very hard to make that work.

    The real question is, are Mormon parents equipped to deal with children for whom this does not work? Do Mormon youth who do not have supernatural experiences and who see a more fulfilling life outside of the socially conservative norm have the enabling tools to follow the path that seems more natural and fulfilling to them?

    Specifically, can those choices be made before taking on marriage and family commitments that would make change all the more difficult?

    Certainly, and parent wants what is best for their children. Naturally, parents look to what has helped them as a guide for what will help their children. That is a universal tendency. What I see as common in Mormonism (and in the broader society with things other than religion) is the tendency to force their youth into a specific lifestyle that may not work for all of them. This is done both officially through lessons and conference talks (as recent as Christofferson in last GC) and unofficially in the culture.

    Those who only in their 30s finally have the confidence to realize that the church doesn’t work for them often have negative feelings toward the church. It is unfortunate and should be restrained, but it is understandable.

  116. Bottom line, Mormons come to church to fellowship each other to embrace one another and to grow. We are not perfect. If we were we wouldn’t need to go to church. There are those of who are dishonest and those who don’t follow the church by the book. Wait, in fact that’s most of us. If we weren’t like that we would have exalted to heaven by now. What we are dealing with here is the extremes. Forget the extremes. If someone is willing to come to church, that holds reservations or disbelief it should be considered a miracle that they are willing to still come. To be counted among the fold. Because that is how we grow. Comments like Jettboy’s are judgemental and busybodyish. It is none of our business what someone’s testimony and it doesn’t have to be the same as yours. So do not cast stones at Shadow Mormons who stay, but rather turn over a new leaf and love them for there willingness to attend church above all there doubt.

  117. Unplugged…”What we are dealing with is extremes.” Yes, it would be wonderful to eliminate the extremes, but for outsiders…it seems the extremes are the norms…such as the policy of not letting exMormon parents attend their child’s wedding…such as keeping me, a non-Mormon out of your Temple because I have no TEMPLE RECOMMEND…such as having boys on bikes knock on my door and ask to come in so they can gegt me to Celestial Kingdom. I would like to institute a new extreme…missionaries are not allowed in any home unless they have a HOME RECOMMEND from me.
    Also, you miss the point about people coming to church in disbelief. They do not do it “willingly.” It is simply a practical matter of survival in the “extreme” world of righteousness.

  118. #126–“I did have to wonder if it was my unwillingness to lie about what I “knew” that prevented me from every receiving a testimony.” My favorite comment of the day.

  119. Dennis —
    Speaking from experience. For me it is done willingly. There are other options. We all have free will. I say this because I myself attend the Mormon Church but no longer believe in it. But I do enjoy going. And it is better going to the Mormon Church than another denomination cause I understand what is taught (regardless of whether I believe it or not). Is there some deep down pcychological reason why I must stay. For many perhaps yes. Perhaps I am the exception. I go to church when it is my choice to go. When I would rather go to the park with my family I do that instead. I was inactive for about 3 years. My whole families knows of my testimony and my doubts. I came back to church cause I feel good while I’m there. I feel the “spirit” there. I don’t have to believe the church 100% to feel the “spirit” or to want the feel the “spirit”. And I do feel the “spirit” at the Mormon Church. It would take God standing next to Joseph Smith coming to me face to face to get me to believe in the LDS church again. But I know why I go.

    My previous post was that to make it known why those who do believe the Church shouldn’t judge people like me. Granted I got into why we come to church. And your right many are forced to come with disbelief cause they don’t want the Church to come down upon them. My purpose was to say there is no reason to come down upon them. It matters not at all what they believe. And if we all felt that way and made it known there would be more and more people like me who no for a certainty the LDS church is not true but go because they choose to.

  120. That’s a great question. What made me a better person over the two years of production was being in the company of the people we interviewed for the film….in other words…the people the Church has lost for all time and eternity. They are humble, honest, courageous, straightforward, guileless, lonesome and longing. We have heard from man., many Never Mormons about the pathos brought to the screen by these people. And, we have also heard from those who know best, the Shadow and ExMormons who see themselves represented by these men and women.

  121. #142 Dennis–

    If that is the best answer you can provide to my question (#139) I’m afraid your comprehension of the Mormon church, its members, doctrine, culture, and contribution to America, and to the world is almost none existent.

    Please don’t consider my words to be a put down. I am being forth right as would a film critic.

    I don’t see any objective, comprehensive effort on your part; based on the discussion here, to acquire an understanding of the subject of Mormonism. You’ve focused on a very narrow sphere that represents, perhaps, .005% of the subject at hand. The sliver of research you’ve made can only contribute a sliver of useful information about the phenomenon of Mormonism.

    Of course, you’re free to do as you like when it comes to research, be it nil or much, but I hope you don’t consider yourself worthy of a PhD, when you really have only done the work of a 1st grader.

    I’m still interesting in seeing what you’ve done. Please don’t consider me harsh, or mean spirited by what I’ve written. That isn’t my intent. I am trying to create a perspective of what your work really contributes. From what I’ve seen here your audience is almost exclusively those who are ex, anti, and etc. I wish you could do something that would appeal to TBM, but you’ve characterized them, on this board, as being unreachable, insincere, and religious zealots.

  122. Dennis,

    Re #134…

    Actually I was not stereotyping in my last comment. I simply said I hope that you don’t form your impressions totally from those who have left the Church. That isn’t stereotyping; it is expressing a desire that you get a more rounded “data set” (if you will) before you come to conclusions. The fact still remains that what you are expressing as indicative of an entire faith (Mormons) does not match my experience within the community that shares that faith.

    Such a statement is not made by LDS alone. There have been independent, scholarly studies (by non-LDS sociologists) that indicate that apostates (their word, not mine) are the worst source for information about whatever group they leave. If you are interested in those studies, let me know and I will provide them.

    My best to you.

    -Allen

  123. 143 was especially insulting. And you wonder why Dennis, or anyone else, has had a bad impression of mormons. This was my favorite line: “Of course, you’re free to do as you like when it comes to research, be it nil or much, but I hope you don’t consider yourself worthy of a PhD, when you really have only done the work of a 1st grader.”

    Jared, what is wrong with you?

  124. Jared, as a rhetorical technique, prefacing insulting, mean or harsh statements with “please don’t consider me harsh or mean spirited” isn’t really very effective. If you don’t want people to think you’re putting them down, then the thing to do would be not to put them down. You have no call to tell someone that they’ve “done the work of a 1st grader.” You’ve already admitted that you don’t know the extent to which Dennis has gone in his research. Furthermore, considering that every single active mormon except one that Dennis and his team approached about participating in this project refused, I’d say it’s more than a little insulting to criticize him for not having looked at all the angles to this issue. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to know the perspective of a large number of active mormons on this topic. Unfortunately, no one wants to talk to him. That makes it all the more cheap to fire shots at him for only having half the story. That is incredibly convenient. These comments are far beneath you, Jared.

  125. First post on this forum (but somewhat a regular on other LDS forums). Quick background: I am a disaffected Mormon (former bishop) that has half a family still active, half “out.” Divorced 10 years ago after “coming out” about my disaffection — wife wanted TBM husband. I met Dennis last year, and saw most of the film then.

    I think I understand most of the comments here…and the emotions behind them. I appreciate the film, and hope it is a tool for many LDS to see the pain many go through and help them develop empathy.

    I also think I understand why there IS so much emotion behind the TBM’s comments and their defensiveness shown here. Religion, and Mormonism probably more than most, teaches a total foundation to live by. It teaches the reason we are here, what we should think, do, say…and even eat. Any attack to that paradigm is perceived as an attack on the person individually. So anger is very understandable…for both sides.

    The problem is that we all tend to stereotype people into one group. Exmos do that to TBMs, etc; and the truth is there is a wide spectrum of both. Church-going Mormons are not universally judgmental, condescending jerks like some claim. Exmos are not all angry, hate-filled anti-mormons like many TBMs think. There are shadow Mormons, New Order Mormons, Iron-rod Mormons…and the whole spectrum in between. There are disaffected Mormons that are on missions to reveal all the warts of the church and its history…and there are those that quietly leave without any hoopla whatsoever.

    My point is that a mature, helpful approach to all this, IMO, is to listen to each other, without moral judgment, with compassion, and without feeling the need to disbelieve or change the other. Their experience is what it is. They may perceive things differently than “you” do, but it is inherently accurate. It is only when we do that that we can begin to break down walls and see each other as we truly are — doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. To the religious person, we are ALL children of God…and most religions — certainly Christianity — teach us to love each other, without judgment. That is the core of the religion, and I think anything less than that is against our “religion,” whatever it is.

    Thank you Dennis for shedding some light on the experiences of many hurt souls.

    ~Rix

  126. #145 Dexter–

    You’re welcome to your point of view, please allow me mine.

    Dennis brought his ideas to this forum for all of us to comment on. I did so.

    I said nothing that was insulting. I gave my evaluation, sincerely and thoughtfully based on what he said, and how he answered questions. Maybe I’ll give his film a standing ovation when I see it. But from what I experienced here, I’ll let my comment stand as written.

  127. Jared, you claim to know the secrets of the universe and to know the nature of god but you don’t know what an insult is. Hilarious.

  128. #146 brjones–

    I’m not trying to be a hard a–. I just can’t imagine anyone spending time around the LDS community and not finding something worthwhile to say other than what he said here.

    In my opinion, one doesn’t produce a story about a group of people and produce a finished product without being balanced in the presentation. I’m not buying into the idea he couldn’t find any TBM to work with. That doesn’t make sense. I think he should have been more persistent so he could have a balanced product.

  129. #150 – Jared, I have no problem with this comment whatsoever. It is reasonable and civil, and much different from casting aspersions like I think you did in your previous comment. That said, I think it’s difficult for you to come to an educated conclusion about the amount of work that went into presenting both sides of the story without having more information from Dennis. Additionally, I think it’s somewhat of an unfair criticism, since this movie really is focused on the feelings and experiences of those who have left or have considered leaving the church. The feelings of those who are believers is not the primary focus of the film, so I don’t know why Dennis is being criticized for not giving equal time to strong believers in the church. The feelings of those “shadow mormons” are the issue, and their feelings are what they are, regardless of what those in the church think or say or do. I agree that getting the perspective of active members would help to add context, but I don’t think it would change the focus of the film. And anyway, Dennis doesn’t appear to have been interested in interviewing random, disinterested mormons for their perspective. He wanted the perspectives of the loved ones of the shadow mormons being spotlighted in the film. Those people all refused to participate. Again, I think it’s unfair to somehow pin the absence of their voice in the film on the filmmakers.

  130. #149 Dexter,

    Please brother, I don’t know the secrets of the universe, and I’m doing what I can to know God, but I am just another traveler in this veil of tears known as mortality. Imperfect, but happy with what the Lord has shown me.

    I’m off to the gym. I enjoyed the exchange. I respect everyone here, but I don’t always agree. I try not to be disagreeable, but apparently I haven’t mastered that art–yet.

    I wish everyone a merry Christmas, and I hope the new year brings each of us increased joy, happiness, and success.

    I’ll leave off by saying thanks to Dennis for showing up and telling his story. I hope his current view of Mormonism will enlarge so that his understanding of TBM is experienced and weighted equally with “shadow Mormons”.

  131. 143: Jared…thanks for the insult…I’ll add it to the other cheeky comments that have been lobbed my way by people who have been self-anointed.
    So here is the deal. On behalf of all the people who have been taking part in this commentary, I’ll make you an offer. Send me your address via (shadowoftemple@gmail.com) and I’ll send you a FREE copy of the film and then let me know when you have dissected it…and come back to Mormon Matters and tell all of us what you, your bishop, the Quorom of Twelve and the Nephites think is “of the Devil”. What would be even better would be if we could do it face to face…are you up to it? And finally, can you hear yourself dismissing the people I said were the best thing I encountered in my brush with LDSism…..don’t you get it? It is about PEOPLE…flesh and blood, hearts, minds, feelings…..NOT “the Mormon church, its members, doctrine, culture, and contribution to America, and to the world.”

  132. Jared:

    A suggestion for you. I think Brjones point was right on that you don’t begin an insult with “no offense, but”. What do the scriptures say about a double minded man? However, you should be aware that my criticizm here is only in regards to how you are vascilating on the subject. You should just stand your ground and call it like you see it in this case? I too am becoming wary of the author, given his highly subjective comments. I was actually beginning to wonder if there is some sort of connection between this group and the temple wedding petition group. However, I will at least say that Mr. Lavery has been forthright about his intentions. But I have a hard time seeing this as an objective independent work, given the stated vitriol harbored by the films producer. I think the subject is fascinating, and pertinent, but appears one sided from what has been said here. While I share the antipathy over group treatment of non-conformists, I am highly discouraged by the way the Producer has shrugged off the consideration of how this tendency is much more part of the human condition, as opposed to being particular to Mormonism. I hope that the Producer has just represented himself here poorly, and that his actual production is more objective than it appears from his comments.

  133. I doubt any documentary about Mormonism will ever be “balanced.” Even one that gets close will be “one-sided” to the militants on the extreme sides. This is a film that shows a certain group of people that have had an experience. That’s all. Why should that need to be “balanced?!”

  134. 155.

    I guess I did represent myself poorly…I was kinder than the situation of humiliating people who want freedom of choice deserves…and thanks for connecting me with all those wedding petition crazies…

  135. FYI:

    Just got off of the “In the Shadow of the Temple” website and noticed that Michelle Spencer (I suspect the same Michelle who I had an exchange with on the Temple Wedding Petition post) is at least associated with both groups. Jean (I assume Jean Bodie) also contributed comment #97 on this post. It is as I suspected I think, that there is some kind of overlapp between these two groups. It also seems that there is infact more at play with the Temple Wedding Petition than just a simple request for policy change, but rather an attempt to shame the Church.

  136. @158

    No, the church has shamed itself by keeping families apart during weddings. This is to help the church lose some of its self-induced shame.

  137. Rix:

    Fair enough, I can agree with the first part of that. The purpose of the petition was to call attention to that fact as opposed to mending bridges. The relationship here with the shadow Mormons leads me to believe that even further.

  138. Holden….Quick, pull the pickup around to the garage, I’ll throw in all the provisions we stashed for the Armageddon…hurry they are already on the next block…

  139. Conspiracy?

    Even if the same people who formed the petition paid for this film to be made, so what? They are trying to show the harm caused by temple marriages through the personal experiences of some people. What is wrong with that? Like the church doesn’t use emotional films to try and persuade people to pursue a temple marriage? I have no problem with making a film to make a point.

  140. Lol. I think the “point” is well known by all those affected by the current policy. And I think it is the ultimate irony that the LDS church, with its self-proclaimed “family orientation,” keeps families apart during one of the most important events in a person’s life — when what the petition is suggesting completely allows the church to keep its sealing ordinace sacred and allow the family to celebrate a wedding together.

    It all seems so logical to me. What am I missing?

  141. I’ve said all that needs to be said regarding the Temple Wedding Petition. What this video shows is that both the video are just parts of a concerted negative public relations effort. I just prefer my skepticism to be less about choosing a team, and more about engaging the issues. As you have noted Dexter, a serious objection I have with the Church is an appeal to what I call “emotionally charged media”, or a tendency to whitewash and distort history. I also object to the Church’s tendency to defame it’s opponents with the overused pejorative “anti-Mormon”, etc. I don’t appreciate these tactics from the Church’s critics either.

  142. And I…. totally missed the boat.

    Did I miss something? When did this movie become part of an orchestrated plan to bring down the Church? And, no offense to Dennis – but I just don’t see this movie garnering the kind of publicity that would be necessary to accomplish such a thing. I mean, I don’t know a whole lot of people other than those affected by Mormons or Mormon culture who even know of the film. Furthermore, most TBMs I know are running as far from the film as possible, calling it ex-Mormon propaganda. So, it will fill a niche and appeal to a segment of society, but it will be a very small one. Hardly what would be necessary to turn the tide of public opinion or anything like that.

    I’m guessing the next conspiracy claim will be that Mormon Matters is somehow working to get John Dehlin to be the next prophet (insert rolling eyes here)….

  143. @ Cowboy, 166

    I agree with everything you said…but unfortunately, history shows that it is the “emotionally charged media” that often affects change. I wish it were otherwise. So the tactics are used by both sides.

    For those of us old enough to remember, there was the ultimate “emotionally charged media” event back in the 60s/70s…and I submit that it was a significant factor in the “blacks” receiving the priesthood.

    So I don’t fault either side for using a tool that works to affect positive change. Personally, I would love to see the church particularly work on two divisive policies — the wedding issue, and their push to restrict gay rights. Both positions have given the church much negative PR…and I don’t think either one, if changed, would be a problem with true doctrine.

  144. Kudos to Madam Curie spoken just like a brilliant Nobel Laureate …and Madam…no offense taken…but if this hubbub keeps up…who knows what impact this film will have.

  145. @ MC…167

    “I’m guessing the next conspiracy claim will be that Mormon Matters is somehow working to get John Dehlin to be the next prophet (insert rolling eyes here)….”

    Love it! All in favor, raise…!

  146. Dennis, from #89, you said: “We do not care what Mormons believe, we do care that they do not allow others to have the freedom to worship or not worship as they please.”

    Even if I granted that Mormons are taught to vilify folks who leave the faith, or that Mormons generally emotionally harm those who do not remain in the Church, it seems to me your high standard of respecting all opinions is not being met by you. That is to say, if you really believed that people should “allow others to have the freedom to worship or not worship as they please” you would not have made this film at all. Instead, you would have made a film on why people should apparently have the freedom to worship “as they please.”

  147. Welcome, Rix!

    Goose: “Obviously, there are very few divorces that are 100% attributable to one spouse alone,” “Do you have evidence for that or is it just an assumption or life experience or what? I obviously disagree because I’ve found, in my experience, that adulterers have an eerie ability to blame their sin on the innocent spouse. However the David and Uriah story shows its different.” I think most psychologists and marriage therapists would agree that divorce is seldom 100% the fault of one spouse, even when one spouse is an adulterer or abusive (both of which offenses may merit divorce). Even if a spouse has committed adultery, the non-adulterous spouse sometimes made choices along the way that contributed to the failure of the marriage: to look the other way (sometimes), to withhold sex (sometimes), to emotionally withdraw, and even just to marry the person in the first place. Those don’t justify the other spouse’s actions, but it does mean that there’s more than one fail point.

    “Marriages fail due to lack of resilience, trying to control your spouse, and failing to love your spouse more than you love yourself” “Would you include here cases where someone is abandoned by their spouse? Does the person left behind “lack resilience” or didn’t they control their spouse enough by letting them run?” Again, see my first answer. Poor choices on the part of one spouse don’t justify poor choices on the part of the other spouse, but both have likely been imperfect in their relationship. We can always love more, serve better, be more invested, be more mature and flexible.

    “Again I ask because I disagree with these statements and only hope that you can explain these further. Obviously if the spouse left behind is innocent, then we have marriages that fail due to the actions of only one spouse.” I already stated that ‘very few’ marriages fail due 100% to one spouse – that allows that it could be 100% the fault of one spouse in a few cases. Abandonment, radical personality changes, adultery, abuse – these COULD constitute such a scenario, but I would bet that in the majority of cases, it’s still not 100% the fault of one spouse.

  148. hawkgrrl-

    #175-

    I agree with most things you say, but on this one I have to disagree. I believe it takes two to make a marriage work but one can destroy it. I have been closely involved with a friend who worked extremely hard to save their marriage while the other person worked against it daily by choosing to be irresponsible and abusive. When trust in lost in a relationship it forces the other person to have to change the way they deal with the person or continue to be manipulated or lied too. I know of another friend who wanted to make their marriage work, but the spouse had found someone else at work and didn’t want to make their marriage work any longer. They wanted to be with the other person and that was that. That is one spouses fault completely, especially when the faithful spouse is trying to make it work and wants to save the marriage. I realize that people are imperfect, but I truly believe that one spouse can be fully responsible for destroying a marriage. I’ve seen it too closely to believe otherwise.

  149. Jen – I don’t think we really disagree on that point. The only thing I would add is that in such cases, too often the “not at fault” spouse goes out and chooses someone else with more or less the same issues. While that obviously doesn’t justify the bad behavior of the wayward spouses, it is interesting that people tend to make serial mistakes. Life presents us with the same lessons over and over until we learn them and change our behavior, even the spouses who are not the most at fault in the failure of a marriage.

  150. Sure. You said: “We do not care what Mormons believe, we do care that they do not allow others to have the freedom to worship or not worship as they please.”

    Let’s assume you are correct in asserting that “Mormons” do not “allow others to have the freedom to worship or not worship as they please.”

    Let’s assume Mormons believe they should not “allow others to have the freedom to worship or not worship as they please.”

    You assert you do not care what Mormons believe. But evidently you do.

  151. Who said anything about a plot to “bring down” the Church?

    Rix:

    I think we can both agree on this. There is no question about the influence of emotionally charged media, the Church has been using it as fundemental missionary tool for years. It is powerful because it elicits decision making and opinion forming through an appeal to emotion rather than reason. Emotion can be one of the most powerful motivators, but as I think many would agree, it is not always the best, and in my opinion it is easier to manipulate. This does not it right, simply put. I am usually the one on the Church offensive, so my objection is clearly not partisan. But if we are willing to object to the Church’s conduct in how it presents its message, in order to have a backbone we must expect the same of those with whom we ultimately agree. A few years ago I was impressed to read of two instances surrounding the Tanners, popular Church critics. Apparently there was a journal floating around in the 1990’s purported to have belonged to Oliver Cowdrey, in which he allegedly admitted to being party to fraud surrounding key restoration events in which Mormons broadly accept Cowdrey as a participant. Naturally for those in the know this journal was making the rounds and was suitable fuel for the anti-Mormon fire. Fortunately the Tanners were among the first to suggest that the journal was likely a fake, in spite of the fact that it was serving their cause. As I understand it, they were also among the first to express doubt regarding the legitimacy of the well known Hoffman forgeries.

  152. BHodges (#179) – But… as Mormons we DO believe that others should be allowed the freedom to worship or not worship as they please. Isn’t that what the 11th Article of Faith says? “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.“?

  153. #179…BHodges…..Let’s quote me correctly and fully…Here is what I said in #89. “We do not care what Mormons believe, WE DO CARE THAT THEY DO NOT ALLOW OTHERS TO HAVE THE FREEDOM TO WORSHIP OR NOT WORSHIP AS THEY PLEASE. OK, do yo want to try your logic one more time with the full text?

  154. TBMs pay lip service to the 11th article of faith…until somebody leaves to join a different church (like I did about a year ago). All of a sudden I went from being in the shadows to being a doubleplusungood crimethinker. The people in my former ward dropped me like a hot potato. Since my exodus not one of my so called “friends” has made any attempt to get in touch with me.

  155. Dennis, I’d prefer not trying my logic one more time. I don’t need the all caps and I could do without the tone. You have convinced me sufficiently that you don’t understand my religion. You have made many blanket statements here on the board. Your black and white approach is not appealing to me.

    Phouchg: I don’t know who you are and it’s rather difficult to extend the hand of fellowship to an anonymous commenter on a blog. Have you tried to contact your former friends? How, and what was the result?

  156. What about scrubbing toilets with a toothbrush, when others go to church for a Christmas service? made me think of someone who was scrubbing toilets with other people’s toothbrushes 😉

    From statistics I learned anecdotal evidence = wrong.

    At least 9 out of ten times …

    Phouchg, what attempts have you made to get in touch with them? I know people with vastly different experiences, I’m sorry yours has been so unhappy.

  157. #184….”black & white approach”…..hmmm…that does ring a bell….where have I experienced that before? Where ever it was, it wasn’t appealing to me, either…..so I guess we agree…..

  158. While I agree that it is highly distasteful when members of the church treat poorly those who leave, I’m not sure the 11th AoF is implicated. Most Mormons probably do believe that you have the RIGHT to worship as you please. That doesn’t mean they have to like it, or even respect it. And it certainly doesn’t mean they have to continue to associate with someone who has rejected their beliefs and values. I think it is very sad and small that people act that way, but it doesn’t mean they think you should be compelled to worship as they do.

  159. Is it possible to get past the whole “they won’t let me in the temple” bit? There was a thread dedicated to this topic already, and to now learn that this thread may be the same cause in disguise is a little disappointing. So the mormon church won’t let you in their temple. I suggest you don’t join the mormon church if you find their policies objectionable. Frankly, to compare this policy to the church’s position on gay marriage is outrageous. The policy on temple marriages is one that controls its members, and anyone outside the membership is affected peripherally, and as a direct result of a member’s decision. If you can’t attend your loved one’s wedding in the temple, take it up with your loved one. The church’s position on gay marriage is an attempt to force the church’s values onto society at large, including those who have absolutely no connection to the church. The situations bear little, if any, similarities. The rant is growing a little tiresome.

  160. Well said 188 brjones. I totally agree.

    Only because I want to get in my two cents here, and didn’t on the earlier post, I think part of the problem exists because of the issue of a religious ordinance being tied up with a state issue. I say, keep the state out of my temple sealing. Non-members and those without recommends want to see the “wedding” because it’s such a big part of culture. I don’t think there is any objection to participating in esoteric religious rights.

    Back to the topic at hand, I’m not quite understanding the “THEY DO NOT ALLOW OTHERS TO HAVE THE FREEDOM TO WORSHIP OR NOT WORSHIP AS THEY PLEASE” issue. Not saying I agree or disagree with this, only that I don’t get it, yet. How am I (or any other individual member or leader) not allowing others to worship as they please? Perhaps, Dennis, you are referring to more of a systemic problem, i.e that these “shadow Mormons” do not really have the freedom to worship as they please because of societal/systemic pressures? If it is a larger, systemic problem, how do we go about changing it? Also, if that’s the case, you should rephrase your sentence as “THE MORMON SYSTEM DOES NOT ALLOW OTHERS…”

    177 Hawk, and Jen – I see Jen’s point, that there are some cases where one spouse is a complete scumbag, or even a psycho (see the Utah news!), it is OFTEN the case that the other spouse contributes to the problem in ways that will repeat itself in future relationships. We all have ways of being in relationships that have taken root since childhood, and these patterns are very difficult to change without some very powerful corrective experiences in better relationships, and/or really good therapy. That being said, obviously I cannot speak for any individual experience.

  161. Dear Jettboy,

    Forgive me for writing this comment on this particular post [Straight and Narrow Blog]. I am not particularly clever when it comes to computers but I read your comment regarding shadow mormons (and couldn’t figure how to comment there doh!)

    Your comment : Shadow Mormons are cowards. They can always, I don’t know, move to where there are few Mormons (just about anywhere in the world). Worst of all is those who stay in the Church and don’t believe. They are the most dirty liars of them all and often seek to make the Church into their unbelieving and secular image.

    As a long time convert to the LDS faith who holds her membership in the church in high regard and whilst I struggle to understand some aspects of the temple, find the church to be good and worthy and a great blessing in my life. My testimony of the Saviour is my stability in life and I always think of Him when faced with difficult decisions and choices. At the risk of sounding like a total plonker, I ask myself, What would Jesus do?

    From reading your comment above, I wonder how much of a testimony of the Saviour you have? A genuine question. I am sure you cannot love Him or take upon yourself His name with an attitude like that. I have a very good friend, from a solid gospel background, who attends church to keep his family together. He has serious doubts about the church and has spoken to the bishop about some of these issues. He is not a dirty liar, he does not lie to obtain a temple recommend. He is a good and decent person and does not want to share his disaffection with his wife who firmly believes in the gospel and the church but who has said will leave him and take their children if she stops attending church. So he keeps coming because he loves his wife and children. How can you think that is wrong?

    I talked to my own husband about this (he is the bishop) and he said that Jesus taught we are not to judge others but to love all. This man is an honourable man who despite no longer having a testimony of the church, loves his family and wants to keep them together at all costs.

    I hope and pray that the Saviour will forgive you for your attitude and me for judging you like this. I feel bad for writing this post but I wanted you to know that the Saviour does love you the same as he loves my NOM/SHADOW friend’s husband and for your own salvation, I hope you can drop the un Christian, un charitable attitude.

    MormonGirl28

    [This is so that her words can be where she intended them to be]

    And my response is, I’ll let the Lord decide how un-Chistian are my views or how much faith I have in the Savior. There are some good points, but I hold to my convictions.

  162. Dennis, thank you for validating my assumption about your motives and personal perspective. I have no desire whatsoever to respond.

    Dexter, I hope you understand now why I asked what I asked – and that arrogance has nothing to do with it. I don’t like it when people mis-represent themselves, especially this blatantly, and that is saying it as charitably as I can.

    Everyone, I will not be contributing further to this thread. I hope you understand why – and I really couldn’t care less that a handful of people (particularly those who don’t comment here regularly and don’t know anything about me) won’t understand why or will assume an incorrect reason. I won’t change their minds no matter what I say, so I’m not going to try.

  163. Howdy,
    there appears to be a preponderence of ignorance from those who have been groomed to tow the party line no matter how many casualties they cause in their path. This would all go away if people were loyal to values instead of to organisations or things outside of themselves that they have no control over.
    If my values are honesty, integrity, family unity, harmony, peace, goodwill etc, then I will support those things that promote these for myself and others, and challenge those things that seek to usurp them.
    If however I am a loyalist, then I will defend to the death of reason, the things my superiors tells me I should defend, no matter how immoral those actions are.
    the moral of the story, decide what your values are and be loyal to them, then and only then will you be free to act for yourself and according to the dictates of your “own” conscience.

  164. cowboy wrote,

    At the very least, they are not considered “liars”. To be short Jettboy, your false ethics are your own.

    I would further submit that a Church which encourages participation under the promise that truths will be made known for acting as the Church would have us act, has no position to criticize those who follow their counsel and yet still never come to belief. That goes for members of that Church who would self righteously presume to sit on judgement in such cases.

    “what do the scriptures say about a double minded man”

    cowboy, just a sampling of what you have been saying. proves my point made previously. You wouldn’t have to do this if you would just pick some values, stick to those and forget about the shifting and contradictory positions the church wants you to take.

    now on with it..

    Yes I do think that shadow mormons know that they are lying, but it is the price that they are willing to pay to maintain their status within the group that controlls their identity. They have also figured out that the church has done them a huge injustice by lying to them and they feel trapped by their situation. So they figure that what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Where this is destructive is in those who are not comfortable lying and are suppressed in so many ways, from revealing their true selves for fear of loss of community, spouses, family, jobs etc.

  165. Michelle:

    Welcome back. You misunderstand me if you see my comments as loyalty to the Church, as many of the regular commenters here will clearly tell you, I have none. Your participation here is infact evidence that my initial assertion, ie, your agenda goes far beyond reconciling an exclusionary wedding policy, is/was correct. Unfortunately, we have just recently been on this merry-go-round of reiteration, and I have little desire to get back on. So, unless you have a new or fresh direction to take the converstation I will consider this statement final. I am confident in my argument, you have made your defense, if you need a jury verdict then seek it. Again, you may have the last word.

  166. I noticed something interesting in some comments on this thread. (I’d noticed it before, in other venues, but it appeared again here.)

    Dennis (a never-Mormon) and several Ex-Mormons have, in their comments, complained that Mormons ‘never let you go; they won’t let you worship as you want.’ I am, of course, paraphrasing.

    In #184 Phouchg says that he/she was dropped like a “hot potato” and that “not one of my so called ‘friends’ has made any attempt to get in touch with me.”

    This presents, for Mormons, a conundrum. If we reach out after someone who wants to leave then we are seen as “never letting them go.” If we don’t reach out after someone who wants to leave then we are seen as “dropping them like a hot potato.” Images of a rock and a hard place spring to mind here.

    I can tell you that in my ward (and many wards in which I’ve lived), if I run across people who want nothing to do with the Church, I do make one last attempt to talk to them. I explain to them that while I may go away (as they want), there will be others who, sooner or later, will come knocking on their door to seek them out. If they don’t want to be bothered by others, then they need to follow a process to have their names removed from the records. I offer to help them with that process, if that is their desire–it is totally up to them. Most thank me and indicate that they don’t want their names removed; some have taken me up on it and I help them out.

    People need to lighten up a bit. Mormons aren’t out to torment them. People can (and should) worship how, where, or what they may. But once you are baptized into the LDS Church, you are a member for life–until you go through the process to have your name removed. It is a simple procedure these days, almost as simple as getting baptized.

    -Allen

  167. #196 – Allen, this is a great comment. As one who has recently left the LDS church, I agree with your perceptions 100%. It’s easy as a disaffected or ex-member to be overly sensitive, and see ulterior motives in every thing that members do. I find myself constantly self-analyzing to try to make sure I am not doing this. Even then, it’s kind of a lose-lose situation for members, as you described above. I have some member friends/family who have been what I perceive as a little pushy or judgmental. I also have some who seem to be ambivalent, and I wonder if they even care. Obviously a lot of this is my own interpretation of the situation. The reality is that although there are those who are just being pushy or judgmental, the majority of people are probably genuinely struggling and dealing with the situation the best they know how, as am I. My overriding philosophy throughout this process has been that as long as I can tell that the reaction is coming from a place of genuine love and concern, I’m generally ok with it, even if it’s not how I think I would respond in a similar situation. Furthermore, I think members are in somewhat of a difficult position vis-a-vis those who leave the church. When we made the decision to pull back, we were concerned that some of our family members would be hesitant to have us involved with their children in a significant way, because our values have obviously changed and are no longer completely in harmony with theirs. Would they let their children stay the night at our house? Would they worry that we’re going to, in some way, share our beliefs or feelings about the church with their children? We discussed all these things with family and assured them we would never be anything but supportive of their values, and to my family’s credit, they have been wonderfully supportive and accepting of us. I realize that this is not everyone’s experience, and I know that many people suffer greatly in this situation. I just think that those of us on this side of the fence need to appreciate that for many members, there are difficult issues involved as well, and there needs to be understanding on everyone’s part.

  168. re 196:

    Allen, I think the dynamic here is more complicated. The first is that ex-Mormons are not a monolithic group. It is entirely conceivable that some could be “smothered” and “love bombed” and some could be “dropped like potatoes.” It is also conceivable that SOME could want to be reached out to (but not receive any support), while others could want to be left alone (and not be able to).

    It is also possible that both dynamics can be present in the same individual at the same time. For example, there often is a timeline…when people are struggling, they WANT to be consoled…they WANT to be brought in close to the community, reassured, helped through their doubts. After all, disaffected Mormons don’t *want* to be disaffected, usually. They don’t *want* to disturb all they have known.

    But what happens often is that in this crucial vulnerable period, this is when people are *not* helped. Their doubt is seen as contagious, so they are quarantined.

    As a result, the doubts leave scars. The people enter a new stage where they don’t want anything to do with the church…but they realize it is an encompassing culture…they still have family, friends, etc., They still see the impact the church has on the greater society. And often, AFTER the damage has been done, only then will people come by with ineffective and insensitive solutions. (Consider what happens when some people do try to resign officially through letter — and again, not everyone will want to do this. Some people have their letters caught in the chain, remanded back to their bishop, and then the bishop tries to make them into some project.)

    That being said, I would iterate again that one size does not fit all. So, the real issue is a psychic game…how can one tell if someone needs or wants to be alone or if someone needs *not* to be left alone? Most people aren’t all that good at being psychic when it comes to this. This isn’t something that is unique to the church…it’s a human thing.

  169. Maybe it is the Holiday spirit speaking, but the comments above are exactly what the point has always been…it is how people treat people…it is the human kindness that will always win the day…not pontificating, quoting scripture or preaching…just talking to those you love in a compassionate, caring, loving way…Happy Holidays.

  170. Brjones, thanks for the kind comments (#197) and I wish you well in whatever path you choose. I also find myself agreeing with the subsequent remarks (#198 and #199). It is a complicated thing–changing your paradigm of life, the universe, and everything always is. And, it becomes messy.

    Kindness and love (as Dennis says in #200) is always the best approach. But human nature being what it is, examples that don’t measure up to the best approach are always plentiful.

    -Allen

  171. Dear Allen,

    You mentioned upthread that you are a convert. Those of us born to, uh, pioneer-style Mormon families have a very different experience than you. When we leave, (not all of us, but it sure isn’t rare) we lose our families who no longer treat us as individuals worthy of respect, but rather, as the other, as someone to “fellowship,” not someone to hang out with, not someone to be friends with,and maybe not even someone to let the kids around, no matter our personal qualities. It happens. It’s painful. Such an attitude is well-represented by Jared. We–those of us that left the church and found that our families had left us–actually exist.

  172. Agnes, I feel for you and others who have had to live through that, as well as the families who have such anxiety that they can’t just continue to love and respect the family member who leaves. We all have a lot of growing to do, and often family members leaving the church is a tremendous–yet sadly unseen–opportunity to grow for those who stay.

  173. This place seems more like an Anti-Mormon site than anything. That’s why I hardly come by.

    It’s a site where Mormons actually talk with doubting Mormons, non-Mormons, ex-Mormons, and yes, maybe even some anti-Mormons, instead of reflexively driving them away. I guess I can see how that would make some devout Mormons uncomfortable.

  174. Re: Kuri – “Mormons actually talk with doubting Mormons, non-Mormons, ex-Mormons”

    That is one of the reasons why I participate here. Despite the occasional difficulty communicating across these groups, I have a hard time with places where these groups CANNOT talk with each other.

  175. I feel sad that this conversation has degraded to the point of name calling. As mormons, we need to understand that if someone is angry at SOME mormons who have acted poorly, it does not mean that they are mad at ALL of us. Also, if we belong to Christ’s church, and have taken upon ourselves His name, then we are obligated to do what He would do. If our disaffected, exmo, nevermo, and NOM brothers and sisters tell us they are in pain, then it is our task to nurture them and try to help their hearts to be healed. This does not mean that we have to deny our own faith, on the contrary; it means that we must finally live up to it. Jesus turned his back on no one. Why, then, do we?

    Dennis Lavery made a film about disaffected mormons. He did not make a film about what a wonderful people we are. Can we not allow his film to stand or fall based solely upon the intended subject matter? Our church allows itself the right to present only its side of the story. Why do we criticize others for doing the same?

  176. Agreed, pinkpatent, but re: “Why do we criticize others” — people often criticize others when they feel defensive. They may be defensive because they feel hurt or protective about something important to them. The key is to recognize this defensiveness/protectiveness, and then choose to react in a Christ-like way… unfortunately, for many of us, myself definitely included, this can be difficult. We all have a lot of growing to do.

  177. Adamf, I can relate to the feelings of defensiveness. I understand this all too well. When my DH came out to me with his disaffection I was not as Christlike as I should have been. I was defensive and afraid. I allowed those feelings to rule my thoughts and actions for a time. But I did not want to lose my marriage, so I had to learn to accept DH’s change of belief and allow him to travel his own path….That’s what people who love each other are supposed to do.

  178. hawkgrrrl 176 & 178,

    After reading your comment I really disagree with both more strongly now. The R Reagan’s and Dr Phil’s and others of this world show a different outcome (both divorced and then remarried happily). The Liz Taylors of this world are different but their motivation is surely a different one. Plus as I mentioned most if not all adulterers I’ve seen excommunicated blamed their spouse in some way or another until they finally repented and realized that while they were working to destroy a marriage and family their spouse was fighting alone to keep it together and working. In all those situation there was one party responsible for the breakdown and one innocent party abused and left behind. The word “cheat” fits perfectly in those cases.

    Plus think about “and even just to marry the person in the first place” and the Susan Powell case discussed in the other post here. If she would’ve divorced and taken the kids as DeseretNews claims, you would say that she married “the wrong man” and in a way has some blame in the breakdown? Yet she married an active member in a Temple etc who no one would have guessed that he could or would change the way he apparently has. God simply didn’t tell her that because its her decision to make (to marry or not). If you blame Mrs Powell for a divorce, in anyway when clearly the husband has changed from what he was when they married, you’d only be blaming the victim and making recovery from all this much harder -whether its recovery here on earth or in the spirit world.

  179. Re: 108 – 110

    Pinkpatent, you are so right on! For many of us today, we might not feel that one needs to be active LDS, or even Christian, to be moral, ethical, compassionate people. WE might feel it is inherent in each of us, and we need to treat each other equally and with empathy for their beliefs.

    More and more “we” are becoming more diverse in our religions, or lack thereof, but we should approach one another as if they are just as valid and worthy as a person with the same beliefs we have. That is the true measure of our own morality.

  180. To #208 Pinkpatent…your observation about the film being about a segment of disaffect Mormons is almost correct…”disaffected” is an LDS euphemism for “them…the apostates.” Let’s drop that label. We made a film about people who were hurting, sad, and lonely and longing for their loved ones…that is hardly being disaffected. But it must be added that the film became what is because the practicing (the dis-unaffected) Mormons we invited to participate said, “No” and accused us of being “of the Devil.” But we tried. And even with that one practicing LDS participant we were able to show that LOVE, RESPECT, HONESTY between Jean and Jim Bodie is so much stronger than their differences about the Church…As we will always say, “Love should be your first response…don’t stand back and look at them through some man-made filter of faith…go from you heart…go from your feelings, go from how you would want them to treat you. And if anyone chooses to watch this documentary, they should pay particularly attention to last line of the film, spoken by the only practicing Mormon who participated…Jim says, “I have always thought that when we stand the judgment bar, we will find out that we were all wrong!” Spoken like a true student of the human condition…

  181. Rix wrote:
    “More and more “we” are becoming more diverse in our religions, or lack thereof, but we should approach one another as if they are just as valid and worthy as a person with the same beliefs we have. That is the true measure of our own morality.”

    very wise and perceptive. If everyone came to the realization that the next persons beliefs are just as valid/invalid as their own, then and only then will we be able to see our place/role in the universe and recognize that we are all one. Our world view will shift from making sense of our role through the tiny biased cultural niche we’ve carved out for ourselves, to a more universal outlook on humanity not based on labelling and using superlatives to one up each other. Cooperation comes to mind.

    Blacks and whites for the most part can coexist because the shift took place and the superlatives were abandoned, women and men have equal rights because the shift took place. Think of what would happen if the shift took place in places like the middle east, and in organized religions. The concept that as humans we place and value ourselves and our belief system above another humans’ is intended to divide and represents an elitist mentality. A mentality which does nothing to foster peace and goodwill, and just causes frustration on the part of those who recognize that they are just as worthwhile as the other man/woman.

    Merry Christmas all

  182. #5 Ben said: “Shadow Mormons” should at least have the integrity to turn down callings like Bishoprics and answer honestly in Temple recommend interviews. I don’t mind disbelieving people in Church, as long as they’re straight up about it, at least with their leaders.

    Agreed. I say this as an active member whose entire immediate family (6 total) has left the church, with the exception of my mother. I have plenty of experience with the difficulty with leaving the church, and I blanch when it is insinuated that active members don’t know the anguish experienced by those who leave.

  183. “I don’t mind disbelieving people in Church, as long as they’re straight up about it, at least with their leaders.”

    I can somewhat sympathize with the idea that someone who does not believe in the Church, ought to turn down callings that place them in a position of spiritual leadership. It seems unethical because the person in such a position will have to undermine the Church’s trust by counselling members in a manner that does not align with the Church’s teachings, or they will counsel members to take actions that they themselves are not certain of. So in this regard I believe that the proper thing to do is to turn down such a calling. There are two challenges I see however

    1) Where do we draw the line? Turning down a position in the Bishopric is pretty obvious, but what about Ward Clerk, or Sunday School Teacher, or a calling with the youth, etc? Must a person turn down all of these callings too, and if so is there really a place in the Church for these members. It should also be noted, as I have already mentioned, that the Church advocates a “step into the dark” approach with callings and faith via Boyd K. Packers “a testimony is often found in the bearing of it”.

    2) If you don’t believe in the Church, then you probably don’t believe in the reigns of Church leadership either. Hence, I see no reason that a person should feel obligated to be “honest/forthcoming” with “their” leaders, in these matters. They may turn down a calling without volunteering their personal feelings of faith with with the local Mormon leadership. In short, I can recognize and respect the Bishop of my ward as the local Church authority, and he is not MY leader. As far as Ward business goes, I respect his authority (somewhat), but when it comes to me personally he has no business prying into my personal affairs whatsoever. I have also determined that I will not be a party to Ward gossip by disclosing private information about my neighbors that I feel is none of his business.

  184. I want to share an experience that I think gets to the heart of what Dennis has been saying, in indicating that the film can be applied to many people of different religions.

    I joined the Mormon church 10 years ago, when I was 20 and a single adult in college. I hadn’t intended to tell my extended family of my religious conversion, but my sister accidentally let it slip at Christmas dinner. When my mom (a devout, Irish Catholic) found out that I had rejected the religion of my youth, I was disowned by her, my maternal grandmother, and my maternal aunts and uncles. Let me explain what “disowning” looks like. For 10 years, at every family function, no one from that family spoke a word to me. My mom and her family boycotted my college graduation. My mom softened and attended my wedding reception and ring ceremony, but all of her extended family boycotted it. They refused to even introduce themselves to my faithful LDS husband. When we had a baby 3 years ago, none of them visited us in the hospital, even though we live in the same town and even though it was the first grandchild/niece/nephew on that side of the family. No one sent cards or emails. None of them attended our son’s baby blessing, even though they were invited. None of them attended my son’s first or second birthday party, or recognized it.

    The only time I have spoken with anyone on my mom’s side of the family in the past decade was at my mom’s funeral 4 years ago.

    Recently, I became disaffected from the LDS church, for reasons that are unrelated to this post. Three days ago, on Christmas Eve, my husband, son and I attended a Christmas function at my mom’s brother’s house. All of my mom’s family was there. During the course of the evening, I accepted a glass of wine from my aunt and admitted to one of them that I was no longer an “orthodox” Mormon and that I had attended Catholic Mass several times in the past year. I intimated that I was considering at least becoming culturally Catholic again. Suddenly, for the first time in a decade, my family included me in the circle of conversation. Several relatives introduced themselves to my husband. It literally felt as though I had been dead to them, and had come back from the dead.

    My aunt explained to me (in her words) that she has been a “cafeteria Catholic for 40 years,” and asked if perhaps there was a way I could be “cafeteria Mormon”.

    Yes, people of other faith traditions understand the ostracism that can come from leaving the religion of one’s youth. If I had known 10 years ago that this was the price I would have had to pay for my conversion to the Mormon church, I would have seriously considered being a “shadow Catholic” for 10 years. If not for my sake, and for my son’s or husband’s. The pain of lost family relationships is horrible.

  185. Allen wrote:

    “Such a statement is not made by LDS alone. There have been independent, scholarly studies (by non-LDS sociologists) that indicate that apostates (their word, not mine) are the worst source for information about whatever group they leave. If you are interested in those studies, let me know and I will provide them.”

    Lets see the studies.

    There is a reason why law enforcement agencies rely so heavily on informants testimony to get an accurate picture of what is happening within a closed group. The non transparency that is so typical of such groups and is kept that way by adherents to the groups philosophy is often hard to break through. It is only when someone has the courage to step outside of the influence of the group and start opening up about their experiences that the outsiders are able to get a better picture and a map to decode what their eyes and ears were not privy to. To think that most people who have left mormonism, of their own free will and choice, are out there giving misinformation about the church, it’s doctrines and teachings is extremely naive.

  186. Michelle–

    You’re mixing apples and oranges and trying to say there is no difference between them because there both fruit.

    Those who gather evidence for any purpose where the truth is trying to be determined evaluate and weigh evidence. Consider the following example from the field of law:

    Prejudicial Evidence

    Evidence that is generally admissible will often be suppressed if the court determines that it is so prejudicial to the defendant that the outcome of the trial will be improperly influenced. Of course, any relevant evidence tending to show the defendant is guilty is inherently prejudicial. However, in a criminal trial, the meaning of “prejudicial evidence” goes to whether a jury will be so swayed that it will convict on emotion rather than proof.

    http://www.smartlegalforms.com/guide.asp?level=3&id=155

  187. Interesting post. My heart goes out to those who have lost their faith and had to struggle with their course and choices as to what serves their lives best. There was a time when I was far more “liberal” in my belief than my wife and I know that she felt threatened. We worked it out by being open, honest and loving with each other. Heck, I’m still way more accepting of other religious traditions, evolution, cognitive sciences and views that diverge from the general belief-system of other believers. However, I consider it paramount to my integrity to speak the truth of my heart and beliefs.

    I guess that I am one of those “lucky” ones because, for whatever reason, my heart has burned with knowledge (and still does) in confirmation of the restoration. If another chooses to leave, then I support that choice. However, I will always seek to persuade and gently influence to see a larger point of view if I can. If they don’t find what I present to be persuasive, then so be it. But I’ll never give up.

    However, it seems to me that accepting leadership callings such a call to the bishopric is improper for one who merely pretends to believe. I guess I agree with Cowboy in that regard.

  188. I actually agree with Michelle on this one (sorry to make your head spin). The argument that apostates are the “worst” sources, implying that they are tainted by an emotional bias, is itself an attempt to taint and prejudice the group on irrelevant grounds. How often do we discredit someone with the thought terminating pejorative “anti-Mormon”. If you are Mormon and a source citing negative aspects of Church history turns out to be “anti-Mormon”, the bar of credibility is almost instictively raised (exceptions exist of course, but I think this is the norm). For those on the critical side of the Church, the thought terminating cliche’ is TBM. “Oh, their just a TBM. They don’t think for themselves, they just do what Church leaders tell them”. The label effectively stigmatizes them against the group. In the case of this quote, the label is apostate, which notwithstanding the parenthetical in the quote, still holds a strong stigmatism in general Mormon thought. A second item to consider is that I would bet Allen is using this quote in an apples and oranges context. I am aware of quotes like this being said about “extrem” (for lack of a better word) cult apostates. These would be cults of the likes of Jim Jones, David Koresh, Heavens Gate, the Manson group, etc. Not exactly a fitting parallel to Mormonism, or mainstream religion in general.

  189. Michelle: Comparing those who believe with participants in a criminal conspiracy and those who disbelieve with informants has got to be the most prejudicial comparison I have ever seen. If that is how those who are not believers view us, then they have already made up their minds and the film is totally superfluous. Just tell them that we are all liars and none of us are willing to spill the beans about our crimes. On the other hand, maybe we have a case of selection bias where those telling the story have a predetermined bias that blinds them to any other possiblity.

  190. I remember as a child hearing radio sales offers for items that would be sent to you in a plain brown wrapper so the mailman would not know your personal business. Today, I am fascinated by who purchases DVDs of our film from our website or Amazon.com because we do not have a plain brown wrapper available. Sixty percent of sales are in Utah, Idaho and Arizona. Almost 40% do not use their real name and/or have the purchase shipped to a business address. One asked for it to be sent to “Resident” at his home address. Another 10% have asked that we send the DVD to someone else, anonymously. So, help me out here. Ex-Mormons are already out of the shadows and have no reason to hide. So, are these purchases being made ONLY by the next wave of Shadow Mormons who want more information OR could it be that closet TBMs who don’t admit to themselves their creeping discomfort about the Church are plunking down their credit cards in secret acts of potential apostasy? Just wondering if any of my DVD sales evidence is “prejudicial” because I am mixing up EXMos & TBMs (#219) or is it just common sense? Looking forward to your responses.

  191. wow Blake, you have completely managed to obscure the point of my comparison in your haste to defend before carefully considering what is being said.
    Have you seen this so called “superfluous” film to determine for yourself what it is the participants are saying. I am yet to meet or talk to someone who has watched the documentary whose comment was “boy that was a bunch of BS” My life long pentecostal friend who now lives in Indiana and watched me grow up in the church and thought I’d never leave (as I was a staunch and convincing defender of the faith) saw the film about a month ago. She watch me be cocooned into the mormon mold and sensed from afar the repercussions of my dissaffection. Her comment was that she “wanted more” details about the church itself. I let her know that the film is not an expose about the mormon church, it’s doctrines, or history, it’s not advocating any issue, it’s just telling the story of a cross section of people who have left the mormon church and the high price that they have had to pay for this freedom.
    My comparison is very useful. Perhaps you would like it if I had used North Korean defectors instead.

  192. Michelle: FYI I wasn’t reflecting on the film but on your comment — which was exactly the comparison I think is so inappropriate. Also FYI I have seen the film. Those who go through heart-wrenching loss of faith have genuine challenges and even to tell their story as they experience it. But it is just one side of the story of Mormons and the other side never gets addressed or even acknowledged as a possibility — those like me who searched and found great joy and satisfaction.

  193. Blake: In reference to your ” But it is just one side of the story of Mormons and the other side never gets addressed or even acknowledged as a possibility.” It is one side of the story, it is the side of the people willing to talk to the filmmakers. The other side is conspicuous with their absence. If you don’t participate in the dialogue, you have nothing to complain about.

  194. Dennis and Michelle, may I make one suggestion to both of you – with the sincere request that you read what I am about to say slowly and carefully and introspectively?

    **Please realize who your audience is here.**

    I say that for one reason:

    In your comments, you are casting dispersions against people who have been WAY MORE involved in many things like what your film depicts than you have. Some of us have spent DECADES on the front lines, BOTH helping people find peace and reconciliation by staying in the LDS Church AND helping people find peace and reconciliation in leaving the LDS Church. You are throwing stones at the people who might understand and help the most if your tone wasn’t so sweepingly condemning.

    In two threads here, for example, I have been deeply troubled by the rancor and sarcasm and disdain and judgmentalism you have shown toward anyone who is a believing LDS member – even those about whom you know NOTHING. Also, I have read comments from both of you on other sites that make those here look tame.

    Again, please try to understand who we are here and what commonalities we share before lumping all Mormons (and especially believing Mormons) into one broad stereotype. As I’ve said in an earlier comment, I appreciate the issue the film raises and believe it needs to be addressed openly and head-on in ALL religious congregations. I have a problem with the apparent (and I say “apparent” carefully) obsession with the LDS Church, but I have no problem with the general message of the film. It is a real issue. However . . .

    The original post included this statement:

    This film is about accepting people regardless of what they believe, and about how we treat those who believe differently than we do.

    Can you say honestly that you “accept people regardless of what they believe”?

    How do your comments here “treat those who believe differently than (you) do”?

    By coming to this forum guns blazing and appearing to condemn all who take any exception to your focus or film, you are alienating people who might be the very people who are best able to address the central issue of your film (and, in some cases, even people who have been fighting the fight for many years) – and if you alienate those who would tend to be sympathetic to the general issue of your film, how in the world can you expect to reach those who are not so inclined? Your comments here seem to say that you want others to understand those who leave the LDS Church (a VERY worthwhile goal) and treat them better (absolutely a Christian goal, imo), but that you have absolutely no desire to reciprocate and understand those who don’t leave the LDS Church and treat those whose beliefs keep them solidly within the LDS Church (differently than you) the same way you want your film subjects treated.

    Thus, I am left to wonder if there is a deeper motivation behind the exclusive focus on Mormonism in your film – when it would have been incredibly easy to make the exact same film using people from diverse religious and societal sub-cultures and then come here and discuss the central issue without immediately launching into sweeping, condemnatory generalities. That would have been FAR more powerful a film and approach that could have had a MUCH wider impact, since a film only about Mormons is easy to ignore and not cause deep introspection and change in the lives of those who are not Mormon and their institutions. It’s easy for others to see such a film and say, “Yep, those nasty, non-Christian Mormons are evil” – never realizing how much of this happens all around them in their own religions and other social institutions.

    The post also asked how your film can reach the right audience.

    Please understand that it’s the broadly attacking and condemning tone of your comments that is the central issue for some of us here – in a group that naturally would be quite sympathetic to your concern. It’s not defensiveness and denial that are causing the problem for some of us; it’s the sledgehammer you are wielding that strikes ALL Mormons without any apparent recognition that we aren’t all robots and sheep who have yielded our agency to others. (as Michelle made crystal clear in the other thread) It’s the plea for understanding and love in the post, followed by the misunderstanding and condemnation in the comments. Iow, if you can’t make your argument in a civil way that rallies support here at MM, you have no chance at all in more orthodox groups.

    If you want support, please stop swinging the sledgehammer and start speaking to us as intelligent adults.

  195. Sorry to have not answered in a few days; I was dealing with a minor diversion called “Christmas.”

    Agnes said, in post #203, that I mentioned that I am a convert. This is true; I am. She then mentioned that for “those of us born to, uh, pioneer-style Mormon families have a very different experience than you.” I wanted to comment on this for a moment.

    I feel for your situation, but you need to fight the urge to stereotype. Just because it is different for your pioneer-style Mormon family doesn’t mean that it is that way for all such families. My wife comes from (as they say) “pioneer stock.” Heck, one of her ancestors walked across the plains in the Martin handcart company. Yet, in her family there is quite a bit of apostasy (for lack of a better word) and all without repercussion among family members. Some remain in the Church and aren’t in the shadows about their disbelief at all. Their experience (which I have lived with and observed for over 30 years) is quite different from the one you describe.

    The point is that the pivotal issue here revolves around being human, not around being Mormon. Lots of people act like jerks, or are perceived as jerks, and being Mormon doesn’t increase (or decrease) the “jerk quotient” one iota.

    -Allen

  196. Michelle (#218) asked to see the studies that I mentioned earlier in this thread. I obviously cannot provide the full studies here; it would be much too long and tedious to read. I can provided, however, references to the studies and then you can go look them up if you are interested int he topic.

    It should be noted that sociologists who study religious conversions use the term “apostate” to describe those who disaffect or leave from religious movements. This term appears throughout the studies not as a pejorative but as a descriptive. In other words, some who are disaffected (or shine light on those who are disaffected, such as Dennis and Michelle) may not like the term, but it really is the term that sociologists are using. (It should go without saying that these not *NOT* LDS sociologists.)

    See, for instance, The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movements, edited by David G. Bromley (Westport, CT: Praegers Publishers, 1998). In fact, you may want to pay attention to the entire book, as it contains quite a variety of studies with titles such as (for example) “The Role of Apostates in the North American Anticult Movement” (Anson Shupe), “Carriers of Tales: On Assessing Credibility of apostate and Other Outsider Accounts of Religious Practices” (Lewis F. Carter), and “Apostates Who Never Were: The Social Construction of Absque Facto Apostate Narratives” (Daniel Carson Johnson).

    There are other such books and studies, as well. See, for instance, Bryan Wilson, The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism: Sects and New Religious Movements in Contemporary Society (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990). On page 19 of the book he states essentially what Jared states (in #219) and what Cowboy rejects (in #221) and several others commented on. In the words of Wilson (on page 19 of his book), “The disaffected and the apostate are in particular informants whose evidence has to be used with circumspection. The apostate is generally in need of self-justification. He seeks to reconstruct his own past, to excuse his former affiliations, and to blame those who were formally his closest associates. Not uncommonly the apostate learns to rehearse an ‘atrocity story’ to explain how, by manipulation, trickery, coercion, or deceit, he was induced to join or to remain within an organization that he now forswears and condemns.”

    Please don’t get the wrong impression here; I am not trying to say that those who leave Mormonism or “live in the shadows” should be marginalized in any way. I am just trying to point out that Dennis, as a never-Mormon, should not use the stories of the disaffected as basis for judging the religion as a whole. I would say the same thing if he had created his documentary on the experiences of disaffected Catholics, Baptists, or Methodists. In the view of sociologists, the stories of those who choose to disaffect must “be used with circumspection.” From Dennis’ statements here, on this thread, I didn’t see such circumspection.

    Michelle, I hope this helps answer your request to see the studies. You may also want to refer to a presentation done by Seth Payne (who is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “true blue Mormon”) here:

    http://www.sethpayne.com/?p=369

    My best.

    -Allen

  197. “Seth Payne (who is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “true blue Mormon”)”

    and yet who is still a good man. Hi Seth!

  198. Allen:

    With all due respect, the “apostasy” stories of many who participate here in Mormon Matters serves as evidence against this. I acknowledge that there are instances, and probably plenty of them, where Wilson’s description play’s out. I am still however skeptical as to how much of a norm this situation is, particularly so that an apostates claims should taken circumspectly strictly on the basis of their apostate status. I think a better approach is to listen to what they are saying and try to detect the bias, usually easily noticed by the overt subjectivity.

    The other potential problem I have with this idea is that it seems to imply “therefore” group members are betters sources of information. It doesn’t take a sociologist to see that the convert “…is in need of self justification. He seeks to reconstruct his path in order to show a progression that led him to where he is now, and to explain how deity strategically placed people in his life to get him to the ultimate destination. Not uncommonly the convert learns to rehearse a ‘converstion story’ whereby divine intervention, good example, and dilligence of loved ones, he was led to join the organization which he is now committed to and sworn to defend.” My point should be obvious, this is just the old “we all have bias” paradigm. While this is true, bias notwithstanding most of us are capable of being obejective enough to count as reliable witnesses in most circumstances. There are exceptions sure, but I think it can often be easy to ferret out who is telling an objective tale, and who is being one-sided. Now, a possibility that I will briefly entertain is that the idea being presented here is that the only objective critique would come from a disinterested third party (Dennis note the word disinterested). I could go along with this if such a third party were to come to their position without having to rely so heavily on the direct testimony of the so-called biased believer/unbeliever. If this is not possible, then I think the third party argument is subject still to the bias constraints of those who they interviewed.

  199. Cowboy (#231):

    You may be right that the stories of many who participate here serve as evidence, but your argument would be with the sociologists, not with me. Michelle asked for sources, which I provided. I suggest you read those sources, understand what they are saying, and then contact the authors if you feel they are, indeed, wrong. I should point out, as well, that the authors were not speaking solely of those who take leave of the LDS faith, but those who leave any religious tradition.

    As to your point regarding the potential problem (the implication of what should be accepted as a better source of information), I tend to agree with you and I am sorry if I gave the impression that converts always make better sources; they may not. The point here, however, is that *anyone* who goes through a paradigm shift (into or out of a religion) may not be a good source. The Baptist who converts to Catholicism and seeks to self-justify is no better of a source for information about the Baptist faith than is the Catholic who converts to a Baptist a good source for info about Catholicism. Both generally seek to self-justify their shift, and for one to say “I can see clearer now and am less brainwashed than before” should be viewed with skepticism.

    -Allen

  200. My sort-of former neighbor and LA Times religion correspondent, William Lobdell, wrote a memoir of his finding and then losing faith, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace. I disagree with some of his reasoning, but overall, it’s an honest and decently-written book.

    Mormonism features significantly in the book. In what might have been a good model for the film we’re discussing, Lobdell did present “both sides of the story” — the undeniable happiness that Mormonism can bring, as well as the pain caused by the Church’s continued inability to deal with conscientious disillusionment.

    Both are real. Moreover, they are related, such that you can’t truly understand the one without the other. Mormonism inspires such deep faith precisely because its members see themselves as special — having access to a gnostic knowledge the rest of the world lacks. We constantly compare ourselves (favorably, of course) to other traditions, and so build up our perception that we have something critically unique. (When everybody’s special, nobody’s special; therefore, we can’t be too inclusive if we want to keep people spiritually excited.) From this has followed the need to paint “apostates” as bad people, so as to more sharply define the line between the elect and the reserve army of the damned. (If members = “the honest in heart,” then what must disbelievers be?)

  201. “Both generally seek to self-justify their shift, and for one to say “I can see clearer now and am less brainwashed than before” should be viewed with skepticism.”

    I entirely agree with the above statement, and was in fact the basis of my disagreement with Michelle on the Temple Petition Post. Of course I’m not going to contact the authors, so we will just have to allow this disagreement to suffice. While certainly the person experiencing a paradigm shift may be compelled to see things from a one sided perspective, it must not be necessarilly so. I suspect that this would be particularly true of those who made such a shift of immense deliberation. In order to give full consideration to the issue, I think we may have overlooked one other item. Assuming for a moment that it is true, someone who recently experiences a paradigm shift may be an unreliable witness. What about over time, as their new paradigm settles in. It is common for example, for someone who leaves the Churh to experience more emotion initially, only in time to have that aspect of the experience diminish drastically. In other words I may be able to bite (somewhat) if the position allows a time for reason to enter back into the equation. I don’t accept the notion that once a person apostatizes, they are generally unreliable witnesses for life.

  202. One of the core issues whichs bears heavily on human behavior is destructive mind control and innate human biases. The fallout from those victimized by mind control tactics often result in humans being inhumane. Some of this inhumanity is evident in the film. Believing Mormons who can successfully block out the destructive mind control techniques employed by the church and suppress biases tend to be tolerant, loving, understanding, and remain open-minded toward all points of view. I had dinner last night with a couple in this category. He is a returned missionary, in the bishopbric in his LDS ward, but he and his wife are completely open-minded, respectful and understanding of those who leave, and even laugh at the Mormon culture which they have embraced. Those who fall victim to mind control tactics become close-minded, intolerant, and even vicious at times, preferring to clamp their eyes shut, putting family second and their cherished dogma first. Like most natural phenomena, the response and reaction of individuals falls into a bell curve. I have seen the full spectrum of the bell curve first hand from my family and friends as I have made a public departure from the LDS church. I realize that the ones that react badly are still doing the best they can with their mind control handicap, and have learned to take nothing personally.

    World renowned cult therapist Steven Hassan has found that the best antidote for destructive mind control (cult) victims is contact with a former cult member who has recovered. No two ways about it. I do not think that using criminal law and testimony from a former criminal is a valid parallel for the topic at hand, and have to respectfully disagree with Ray. Anson Shupe is an interesting author reference, by the way. I assume this is the same Anson Shupe that co-authored “Corporate Mormon Empire”, which exposed Hinckley’s deception as to the financial holdings of the LDS church and wound up the basis for a cover article in Time magazine.

    The tendency of some members to villify or somehow discredit ‘apostates’ reveals the workings of mind control and human biases, and also tips their hand. The truth has nothing to fear from anything or anybody. There would be no reason to villify or shun or find fault with an apostate if the church represented real truth. Only error fears examination and differing points of view.

    Note: I would prefer to avoid launching into a debate on whether Mormonism is a ‘cult’ or not. The definition of the term is way too loose to pin down so debate is pointless. I do however adamantly assert that the LDS church employs destructive mind control techniques, as do most Christian religions. Religions also exhibit a bell curve in the distribution of mind control tactics they employ. Some use many and extreme tactics (Moonies) and some use few to none (liberal Jewish). Mormonism falls somewhere near the middle of the pack, IMO.

  203. Thomas (233) and others have mention happiness, for both the all-in faithful member and the ex-member. I have experienced both varieties, and agree that both exist. But the types of happiness can be vastly different and must be viewed in context. Deeply religious people invariably feel a suppression of self, some a replacement of self, which is often characterized by such terms as ‘taking upon ourselves the name of Christ’, ’emulating Christ’, ‘being a disciple’, ‘putting on the armor of God’, ‘putting off the natural man’, etc. Part of destructive mind control is to suppress the authentic self and foster a new, revised identity, which I will call the ‘cult’ self for lack of a better term. Interestingly, giving cult members a new name is a typical strategy.

    When a cult member describes himself as being happy, it is generally the cult identity who is happy, and the cult member experiences happiness in the context provided to him by the cult. For example, Steven Hassan describes his bliss as a Moonie. As the cult activity drove him to exhaustion and absorbed his every waking moment, he felt extreme euphoria and joy. You see, Moonies are taught that suffering is joy, and the more suffering they feel, the closer they are to experiencing Christ, and the more happy they become. Therefore, the cult identity of Steven was completely happy. After leaving the Moonies, he realized that what he was really feeling was pure pain and exhaustion.

    Now that I have seen both sides of the happiness equation, I can identify with Steven’s experience. I felt happy going to church, going to the temple, doing my home teaching, etc. I often told my friends how happy the LDS Church made me, and I loved to serve in the church. These feelings were real and undeniable. But now I realize that a large portion of that perceived happiness was my Mormon identity talking and not my authentic self. Going to the temple for example was really boring and pointless, but I was convinced by my environment that I would feel peace and joy – therefore, my Mormon identity DID feel peace and joy. If I did not feel these things, I would be deficient, and I could not stand that.

    Of course, some activities, like genuine family and genuine friend interactions, will make both the cult identity and the authentic self happy too. I wish all on this thread much genuine happiness with the coming New Year.

  204. “Interestingly, giving cult members a new name is a typical strategy.”

    Because Mormons do not share their new names with others, and therefore are not identified by the group through the new name, I doubt that it contributes to the forging of a new Mormon identity. That being said, from observation I think there is some merit to the idea that religious adherents develop a “group self” (you called it ‘cult self’, a term which serves more as a pejorative than an instructive identifier), though I would not be as bold to suggest that this occurence is as universal as you imply. I believe there are those in Mormonism who are truly happy with their true selves. This may be because they were raised in Mormonism, and so did not develop diverging “self’s”, but whatever the case may be there are those who are truly happy through temple attendance, etc. I think I probably observed this competing “self’s” phenomenom the most on my mission. I entered the MTC with some Elders who would tell filthy jokes, sleep in, who for all intents and purposes did not appear to take their missions seriously. Then they were placed into leadership positions in the mission, and all of the sudden tracting was fun. They loved every minute of their mission, they cried during zone conference (as they gave the presentations), they petitioned to extende their missions, they found joy through the gospel. I wasn’t convinced, their excitement wasn’t authentic. Mission leaders insisted that what happened was true conversion for these Elders, but again I wasn’t convinced. We all returned home from our missions, and within six months these elders were inactive, and “disobedient” to the main Mormon proscriptions. Two that come into mind had pregnant girlfriends pregnant very shortly. Another one “got his life back in order” and married his girlfriend in the Temple. They are now divorced, I learned it was because he had an affair literally within two weeks of his marriage. I also learned he had been sexually active with both his ex-wife and this other woman immediately prior to his marriage. Another Elder who went home with me was engaged to a sister from our mission, who was also going home with us, before we actually got home. They were divorced for the same reasons within about 18 months. At the time I concluded this was all result of these Elders having one foot in Babylon, and another in Zion. It may all be semantics, but today I think it is probably more because of your analysis of the competing “self’s”. I think anyone who has served a mission would agree that their is probably no other aspect of the Church, except perhaps Church employment, where the group influence is as strong. The tendency for Elders to change is largely through group manipulation, by my observation.

  205. It’s insulting to call the LDS Church a “cult.”

    The missionary corps, on the other hand…well, no, it’s not really a cult, either, any more than the Marine Corps is.

  206. How about a change of pace? On our Facebook page I asked the following question of those who have left the faith. The first responses are listed below. To be fair and balanced, I am asking the faithful to select the ONE New Year’s Resolution they would like the Ex-Mormons to live by in 2010.

    “If you had your way, what would be the ONE New Year’s Resolution you would like to see put into action by the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve that would have the greatest impact on creating a better world?”

    Chris Nelson: I would like them to embrace the Gay community!

    Jason Lutes: Full disclosure and adoption (ownership — to set itself morally straight) of _all_ its eyebrow-raising history.

    Caroline Udall: Apologize for Mountain Meadows, the priesthood ban, polygamy, the ERA…

    Susana Perez Borda: Let anyone attend temple weddings (friends & family).

    John Baker: Stay outta politics.

    Sam Mikel: Tell the truth

    Kathleen Phair Jones: stop wasting money onTemples, and feed and clothe ALL the poor, not just the Mormon poor.

    Jason Lutes: Awesome Kathleen! That speaks to something that is fundamentally askew with Mormonism. At its core, the “good” things this organization puts forward are calculated to (only) feed back into itself.

  207. Dennis-

    Just to clarify in relation to Kathleen’s comment and Jason’s that follows. The church does feed all the poor, not just the Mormon poor. Check out LDS.org and all the humanitarian service the church does all over the world. I am surprised that people who have left the church aren’t aware of all goods the church distributes throughout the world. I hope you clarify this on your Facebook page. Educate, educate, educate!!!

  208. ‘Charity’ that leaves the church is accompanied by a press release. That which helps members does so with strings attached.

    The church exists as a power structure first and formost, not a charitable institution. The sum of charitable giving is a pitance compared to the wealth it controls.

    I’m sorry Jen, but the charity you see is so that members like yourself can feel good about the church you belong to, not to eliviate the suffering in the world.

    Now just imagine if the countless hours mormons spent in the temple were spent in service to the living. THAT would be an organization I could be proud of.

    As you say, Educate, Educate, Educate.

  209. Here are a few more New Year’s wishes/

    Lyndon Lamborn: Announce that ALL church revenue henceforth and forever would be donated to the Salvation Army. No more buying ranch land in Nebraska or insurance companies or shopping malls. The world would be a much nicer place

    Alex Dean Gunter: Eliminate patriarchy. Give women the preisthood, and an equal place at the table.

  210. “I’m sorry Jen, but the charity you see is so that members like yourself can feel good about the church you belong to, not to eliviate the suffering in the world.”

    Call it like you want, but I don’t need my church to do things to make me feel good about myself. And the church is doing things to alleviate hunger, disease, etc. Anyone who is familiar with the humanitarian service they perform knows that. Don’t let your bitterness towards the church cloud your ability to see things clearly.

    As far as going to the temple, people choose to do that INSTEAD of doing what most other people are doing, things like watching TV for hours, surfing the net, or playing video games. And FYI, temple attendance does serve the living, it is a place to commune with God and does a lot more for a person that sitting around watching TV for hours on end.

  211. Sorry I missed one:

    Marsha Louise Jamison: Come out. Announce that Mormonism is a fraud. It’ll never happen, but I can wish, can’t I?

  212. Jen, I went to the LDS.org website, searched on “charitable,” and while there were a number of articles on donating money to the church and articles talking about the importance of charity, I didn’t find a single charitable work to alleviate disease, hunger, etc., or any church-paid charitable works at all.

  213. Cowboy#246: It is a change of pace…no one is quoting scriptures and people are pointing out places to find information they want others to know about. But what hasn’t changed is the unwillingness of practicing Mormons to participate. When I listed these responses in #240 I invited practicing Mormons to share what New Year’s wish they would like Ex-Mormons to live by in 2010. And so far, just like the film, no one has made a statement…well, there is always next year!

  214. Fair enough Dennis, count me as one more who is unwilling to participate in your charade any further. Truly I’m sorry that I have come this far.

  215. …in #240 I invited practicing Mormons to share what New Year’s wish they would like Ex-Mormons to live by in 2010.

    I’m no practicing Mormon, but if I had a wish for ex-Mormons (those who don’t already do this), it would be that they look at the good as well as the bad in Mormons/the church.

  216. Cowboy: How can it be a charade if you are being asked for your opinion? Your comments are as valid as anyones. So walking away from that opportunity is counterproductive and just adds to the lack of understanding. So, I expect 2010 will continue to be the same old, same old. Happy Trails.

    Kuri: Perfect reply…thanks.

  217. “Fair enough Dennis, count me as one more who is unwilling to participate in your charade any further. Truly I’m sorry that I have come this far.”

    Ditto, cowboy. Not engaging is the only way they disappear.

    philomytha—I only checked this thread because I saw you had posted something. Talk about disappointment……

  218. Ha!…Holden and the boys…a typical response from the brethren…..LABEL IT AND DISMISS IT…nice going cowboys, follows the same faith-based pattern as your response to homosexuals, apostate parents, Catholics…well, let’s just say the entire world outside the LDS cocoon…LABEL IT & DISMISS IT…a wonderful New Year’s Resolution…..TALK ABOUT DISAPPOINTMENT!!!!!

  219. #156—

    I don’t expect you to know anything about me. It may enlighten you a to know I am a disaffected Mormon. I converted to the church 30 some years ago and no longer believe. I still remain interested in Mormon issues and therefore I frequently participate on this forum. Venomous input such as yours does nothing to further discussion here. If you began here with the desire to discuss things in a fair-minded manner, that was lost a long time ago. Interesting you talk about “homosexuals and apostate parents” since I have a homosexual LDS son and most would consider me an apostate.

  220. Holden…it isn’t that “most would consider you an apostate…” is it? It really is about what YOU consider yourself… in your heart….if you go back a few postings ago, I said, “Don’t let anyone tell you what to believe through the filter of their faith.” Perhaps in finding my comments problematic, you will find where your faith lies and where you comfort zone is….”fair-minded” does not require that we agree….and if we did agree all the time, one of us would be unnecessary to these postings. But “Venomous input such as yours”… I haven’t earned that level of respect, yet.

  221. Jen

    Regarding the church doing much good, which they do, some more information to help put the magnitude of their efforts in context is appropriate:

    It is estimated that the LDS church, with a membership of thirteen million [http://www.mormonhaven.com/stats07.htm] collects about six billion dollars a year, and in the period of 1984-1997 donated $30.7 million to non-Mormon charity, or an average of $2.2 million per year, which is a few dollars per member per year. While humanitarian aid efforts from the church have increased in recent years, and is laudable, the percentage of net revenue and net assets being given back to humanity is still less than most US businesses. Says Richard Ostling: “I don’t know of any religion that is so invested in stocks, bonds, cattle ranching, etc.,” Elaborating on the preoccupation of the LDS with wealth, Heinerman and Shupe add:
    “The much publicized “televangelists” of the “electronic church”, such as the Reverends Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, and Jim Baaker, are small time by comparison [to the LDS church]. Likewise the millions of dollars of self-appointed messiahs like Sun Myung Moon, much ballyhooed by the sensationalist press, are not even in the same league.”

    Extraction of as much money as possible from the members is a well-known tactic for mind control organizations.

    See also:
    Steven Hassan, Releasing the Bonds, Empowering People to Think for Themselves, Freedom of Mind Press, 2000
    Richard N. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise
    John Heinerman and Anson Shupe, The Mormon Corporate Empire, The Eye-Opening Report on the Church and Its Political and Financial Agenda, Beacon Press, 1985

  222. This site is dedicated to open and CIVIL conversation. However, it is NOT dedicated to juvenile screaming and ranting, nor is it dedicated to hatemongering and name-calling.

    Please, try to carry on a civil conversation without resorting to hyperbolic and ignorant attacks.

  223. Dennis,

    To answer your inquiry above, as I missed it the first go-round, re: “practicing Mormons to share what New Year’s wish they would like Ex-Mormons to live by in 2010.” – I wish Ex-Mormons to be free from suffering and to find happiness, in whatever they do… above all, to be true to themselves and their loved ones, above anyone else or any organization. I hope that they don’t all get grouped together in the singular “ex-mormon” category, because just like active members, atheists, and anyone else in or out of a religion, there are ALL kinds of people, and all kinds of post-Mormons. I hope they know that there ARE MANY people in the church–and out of it–who will love and respect them.

    May we all be a little kinder, a little less aggressive, and a little more empathic with our fellow human beings.

  224. Great comments in 237 Cowboy. I think we agree on all counts. And due apologies to any offended by the word ‘cult’, no offense was intended. I will follow Cowboy’s lead and use the term ‘groupthink’ from here on to refer to destructive mind control victims.

    The point here is that mind control victims are typically doing the best they can, given their diminished capacity. Many of us Ex-Mormons are horribly mistreated, and undeservedly so. My own mother thinks I am possessed by Satan, and told me that to my face. Two things are inviolate with parents; (1) the inherent righteousness of their children, and (2) their core belief system. The situation with my mother is difficult to resolve, because she has a child (me), denouncing the core belief system (Mormonism). So voila, enter a third party to take responsibility for this quandary. It is a beautiful solution that allows my mother to continue loving me and believing in my inherent goodness while retaining her core beliefs. She is doing the best she can, and I appreciate that and still love her dearly. So in essence, when she says she that I am possessed by Satan, the translation I substitute is “I know you are a good person, Lyndon, and would never intentionally disparage the LDS Church, which I know to be the only true church, so I have put the blame on a fictional character.”

    My case is a simple one and easily explained. Others are not so readily dismissed and/or translated into terms that might try to reveal the basic humanity, respect, and decency of the people involved. Temple Shadows shines a light on this inhumanity at last, and I hope that it will help all of us understand and contribute to an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance (including me!).

    To add a bit to the discussion of identity replacement mentioned in comment 236:
    While the new name given in the temple plays a negligible role, the LDS church does employ identity replacement techniques related to names and titles in other ways. Rather than issuing members unique groupthink names, members are expected to address each other as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’. [I even have witnessed married couples address each other as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ in non-church settings, and not as a joke.] The terms bring with them an expectation of groupthink conduct. Just as a parent scolds a child using their entire name, many of us have heard LDS use the ‘brother so-and-so’ or ‘sister so-and-so’ used in this same scolding fashion, which betrays the intended manipulation. Going beyond ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ terms, there is the use of ‘Elder’, ‘Bishop’, and ‘President’, which combines identity replacement strategies with elitism and language loading, also standard mind control techniques. The church also encourages the members to become as little children and yield to the enticement of the holy spirit. Becoming as a child, innocent and devoid of critical thinking skills, is the perfect regression technique to displace adult logical thinking skills.

  225. “My own mother thinks I am possessed by Satan”

    Lyndon, if my mother thought thought that, I would think she belonged to a “cult” as well. I am continually amazed at some of the experiences people have been through, and VERY grateful for my own. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in your position.

  226. Lyndon, I also feel badly for you (and I mean that sincerely), but please tell me that you don’t believe your mother’s case is unique to Mormonism or an example of the majority (or even a large percentage) of the LDS membership.

    Oh, and fwiw, the way you use “destructive mind control victims” would be much easier to translate if you just said “cultist robots” – especially when you add things like “diminished capacity”. Just saying.

  227. Actually, although I have a better relationship with the Church than Lyndon, I have experienced the EXACT same things. We had a Bishop who told my husband he was under the influence of Satan. (I tended to agree, since I was quite annoyed with him at the time, but I think that was an inappropriate thing for a Bishop to say while counseling with a struggling member.) I don’t know if this is typical of a large percentage of the LDS membership, but Lyndon, you aren’t alone. So I get your point. I have also seen ALL of the Brother/Sister/Bishop/President etc. examples you noted in your last paragraph. It is definitely a problem and I don’t think you are out of line to bring it to our attention.

  228. Ray said: …”please tell me that you don’t believe your mother’s case is unique to Mormonism or an example of the majority (or even a large percentage) of the LDS membership.”

    We are in agreement, Ray. This sort of inhumanity and intolerance is found across the religious spectrum. My daughter has an ex-Jehovah Witness friend that could tell you horror stories about being shunned and demonized by the JW congregation that makes my experience look tame. The point here is that there is a direct correlation between this type of intolerance/inhumane treatment and the degree to which the organization uses destructive mind control. Where there is smoke, there is fire.

  229. #261-

    Lyndon-

    I have friends who go on medical missions every year through the church. I’ve put humanitarian kits together numerous times, and worked at sort centers along side my children. The service being performed is changing lives in monumental ways. The difference that a measles shot makes to one person is the difference between living and dying. I care about lives being changed for the better. I care about the difference it makes in me to serve and to see outside myself and realize there are many out there who are less fortunate than me. I care about the difference that my friends are making by taking time from their very busy schedules to teach others in foreign countries life saving techniques. I’m very grateful to be a part of an organization that makes it much easier for me to serve by providing ample opportunities for me to do so and by making it easier than ever to make a difference in the lives of those I hear about, but have felt helpless in the past to know what to do about.

    I’m sorry you have so many negative feelings about the LDS church and that you feel your being treated badly by others, I don’t wish that upon anyone. Best of luck to you.

  230. #263 adamf: I had to edit it a bit but I have posted your New Year’s Resolution for ex-Mormons on the In the Shadow Facebook page. I liked your comments very much and I do believe the responses from those you wished well will be the same. Thank you.

  231. Disappointing thread.

    Dennis, as a “Shadow Mormon” in many respects myself, I wish you’d cut back on the vitriol. If you really seek understanding and acceptance for people like me, learn empathy and tolerance for the believers’ perspective. You’ll never get them to listen to you until you meet them where they are.

    I had planned on purchasing the film before I saw this thread, but I’ll have to think twice about it now.

  232. #271: Katie L. I appreciate you point of view an do relate to it in the film. We have hours of footage that we didn’t use because it would have driven families further apart. As a Never Mormon, though, I wonder when it is time to stop playing by someone else’s rules. “…until you meet them where they are…” seems to be a formula for never moving the ball down the field. Is there a time when “they meet you where you are?” The film was never meant to as a conversion piece, it was intended to question any religion, political system or social construct that does not allow people the freedom of choice and worship. Mormonism is the metaphor, but not the only suspect. You have to respond to your specific situation and I wish you well, but “vitrol” is simply not something you will find in the film…..

  233. Dennis, thanks for the reply.

    In response to your question — is there a time when they meet me where I am? The answer is an unqualified yes.

    I’ve been blessed with strong believing friends, family, and even a current bishop who have been kind and loving and understanding as I cautiously and trepidatiously decided to reveal my concerns. In fact, the love and acceptance I’ve felt from them has been overwhelming, especially because I was expecting the opposite.

    Now, I have to be selectively forthright. I can’t be “out” to many people in my congregation or even my family, because I know the reaction from the majority wouldn’t be as welcoming. I hope that, over time, this will change. I think films like yours could be beneficial in driving that change.

    But my point, and what I hope you can come to see, is that if you really want to be a part of that change, you must respect and understand your audience. You must show them you understand them and empathize with them, even that you love them and value the good in what they have to offer. That’s what I mean by meeting them halfway.

    What I’ve gotten from your comments here is that your perception is something of a caricature: the oppressed and victimized “shadow members” against the rigid fundamentalism of the institutional church. While there is some truth to that — all caricatures are grounded in some sense of reality, that’s why they’re recognizable — the reality is much more complex (as reality always is). I’d encourage you to get to know the mainstream Mormon community if you really feel your heart is drawn to this issue.

    I also want to make it clear that the “vitriol” of which I speak has less to do with tone of the film — which I haven’t seen, so I can’t make a judgment (though I truly take you at your word that it isn’t vitriolic) — but instead refer to the tone of some of your posts here on Mormon Matters.

  234. Jared: Find me some TBMs who are willing to talk. As I have pointed out many times here, we tried before we even filmed one second of the project to have TBMs participate. 23 said no! And now some comment that we are one sided…makes no sense, does it?

  235. Katie L: My posts might not be as ecumenical as some would like, but I am watching this from the sidelines and rooting for both sides to play fair but I don’t always see it. My “vitriol” is an empathetic shout to have some mutually beneficial dialogue happen…to move from A to B to C..perhaps I am not willing to see this be an Eternal Quest, but one that reaches a satisfying conclusion… but then, who am I to say?

  236. Thank you, Dennis, for your recent responses. As Katie said, there are LOTS of believing Mormons who would be willing to talk with you, but there are very few who will do so as part of something that they see as an attack on them and a religion they love.

    Please allow me to make my point by quoting a few things you posted here in previous comments and ask you to see them from the perspective of a believing member. I will try to illustrate what I mean:

    “stop wasting money onTemples, and feed and clothe ALL the poor, not just the Mormon poor.”

    To a believing member, that says, “Eliminate the single most sacred thing about Mormonism” – and it also badly misrepresents the aid that the LDS Church gives.

    “Announce that ALL church revenue henceforth and forever would be donated to the Salvation Army. No more buying ranch land in Nebraska or insurance companies or shopping malls. The world would be a much nicer place.”

    To a believing Mormon, that says, “Destroy the LDS Church and replace it with the Salvation Army, since the world would be a much better place without Mormons and the LDS Church.”

    “Come out. Announce that Mormonism is a fraud.”

    To a believing Mormon, that says – well, exactly what it says. OK, it also says, “You stupid fools are decieved and brainless imbeciles.”

    Honestly, I have no problem with people believing whatever they believe, including those who made the statements you posted. I just think it’s beyond credibility to post those statements and also say that you support and love Mormons and want everyone to be able to believe whatever they want to believe – and the message that you despise Mormons and the LDS Church simply screams at believing members who read statements like the ones I’ve quoted.

    I would love to talk with you passionately but civilly about the LDS Church and issues that I agree are very serious and important issues – but extreme statements that imply the world would be better off if Mormonism and the LDS Church were eliminated entirely aren’t going to get me talking with you. Those kinds of statements are a self-fulfiling prophecy, since they drive away the very people you say you want to include.

    There is bad that happens within Mormonism and the LDS Church (and, btw, there is a differece between those two). I have said that openly and regularly. However, there also is MUCH good – and the pure theology is wonderful and (almost) universal in its expansion of grace. Homosexuals face particular challenges, and I have no problem with those who simply must leave to find peace and joy (even as I strive to find ways to aleviate the need to leave) – but if you are going to reach “regular Mormons” it is going to take some Christ-like willingness to see them as real, good, caring, complex people at heart and their religion as a force for good in their lives every bit as much as a problem.

    There is a great lesson in “We love Him, because He first loved us” – and it’s brutally hard for those who have felt rejected to emulate. It’s still important to try, however, especially given the injunction to “do good to those who spitefully use you.”

    Do you understand what I’m trying to say?

  237. but I am watching this from the sidelines and rooting for both sides to play fair but I don’t always see it.

    Of course they don’t always play fair. That’s the nature of human interaction. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way it is. (In fairness, since we’re speaking of it, unfair play is present on both sides of the exchange.)

    My “vitriol” is an empathetic shout to have some mutually beneficial dialogue happen…

    I sympathize with you and share your desire to create mutually beneficial dialogue. I guess what I’m trying to tell you, Dennis, is that I fear you’re shooting yourself in the foot. On this thread anyway, you came across to me (and I am a “Shadow Mormon”) as more vitriolic than empathetic. I understand you might be comfortable with your approach, that you care deeply for the plight of the individuals in your film, and that you have strong feelings about the subject matter. I respect and appreciate it. But if mutually-beneficial dialogue is really your aim, not just awareness, or a way for marginalized members to fight back, or whatever, I’m simply suggesting you take another look at your tone and approach when engaging Mormons in conversation, because — as someone on “your side” — I’m telling you it’s going to have the exact opposite effect.

    In the end, I can’t change the way you engage in conversation and I can’t force to you understand or see what I’m trying to convey, but I hope you’ll think about what I’ve shared and consider at least experimenting with a different approach.

  238. Dennis–

    Suggestion for easy interviews with TBM:

    Contact the churches media center and ask for help. I think you will find them willing to provide you with what you are looking for.

    Put an ad in the newspaper asking for TBM and explain what you’re objectives are.

    I’ve never made a film so I can’t speak from experience.

    Ray–you did a great job responding to Dennis.

  239. Have faith. Soldier on until the end. Teach your children the principles of truth and righteousness. Follow the prophet. Don’t concern yourself with fools who call you gullible. Love and serve your neighbors.

  240. KATIE L. Thanks for the time you take in your responses trying to make me more aware of my lack of understanding. And I say that without tongue in cheek. I do accept your comments as bring intended to be constructive. I would like to talk to you via our e-mails so we are talking to each other rather than this world of he said, she said.

    JARE: Thanks for the advice, but I’d rather talk to “real people” rather than the “PR people” and that is who would turn up from the Church and the newspaper ads. We weren’t able to get the practicing man-on-the street LDS faithful because we were not on the approved and sanctioned list. Let’s just bring this to a finish by saying, one more time,…..yes, it would have been a different documentary IF we could have had voices from the Church chime it.(AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WE REALLY WANTED THEM FOR THEIR DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW) But, they chose to be mute, so the film is what is it, and calling it one-sided is an ill-informed comment.

    RAY: Per Jared’s kudos to you…you didn’t respond to me…you responded to former TBM brethren. I was the messenger and you know what happens to them

    And after almost three weeks of ducking and dodging the incoming righteous salvos….I have a film I want you to watch and it is not mine. Take a look at CITIZEN KANE and fast forward to the Hall of Mirrors scene where nothing is as it seems and it is impossible to tell when the truth is being reflected back to you…For this Never Mormon, it is the perfect metaphor for what has transpired since December 22… 281 postings ago.

  241. I have a wife going through the throws of spiritual identity- but she is the one who wants to leave me and the religion. Her’s is complicated (birth family, etc.) and I hope that the current therapy she (we) is attending will help her to confront this intensely frightening transition in her life. I hope with all my heart she decides to stay in the relationship with our family but growing up with a member mother and non-member father I’ve related that I am willing to create a healthy marriage regardless of her decision… though I believe she’ll throw the baby out with the bathwater and change her whole life around, as have everyone I’ve known that leave the church… that’s my experience.

    I think a recent talk in the church’s general conference is considerate of these people who are struggling with their faith and should help with their ability to stay in touch and connected with those they love –> http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng

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