Reform Mormonism a Poll

James Charity, church, diversity, doctrine, doubt, faith, families, feminism, LDS, liberal, Mormon, mormon, religion, testimony, theology, thought, Utah 59 Comments

I have recently come across a group called Reform Mormonisim. I thought their views were interesting and as I mentally answered some of their questions here I was surprised how much of it resonated with me.

What I did feel in the end after reading much of their thoughts and material is why bother!! Why not become a nontheist Unitarian. Is it worth all the effort when there must be other religions very close to the same theology? Hopefully we can get someone from their church to answer that question

I have added a poll to this and must apologize to those at Reform Mormonism and to the readers at Mormon Matters in that they are totally paraphrased and maybe (unintentionally )taken out of context. So please go here to see them on their web page.

What they believe here

Reform Mormonism is a home-based, personal philosophy. A day of rest is held wherever one is at; there are no church services. Reform Mormonism does have special temple ordinances, that are designed to aide a person throughout their life, that are conducted in dedicated temple spaces. Unlike the LDS, they do not perform any temple ordinance for the deceased.

Reformed Mormonism are  individuals who have moved away from organized religion and have found peace and satisfaction in concentrating on the important things in life. We’re just like you – parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends and partners. We’ve settled on a personal philosophy that makes sense in the 21st century. It’s personal, important, and best of all, it isn’t scary like so many churches these days.

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Comments

comments

Comments 59

  1. Interesting post. Just a comment on the polls — some of the questions (in particular the last two) seem too large for a simple yes or no answer. I consider myself an intellectual, yet have no fear of being excommunicated. So I disagree with the statement that the Church excommunicates intellectuals (as a whole class — obviously some have been, but so have many non-intellectuals for their ideals too), but agree with the latter statements. And, what aspect of the fact that women can no longer give blessings is strange — the fact that they did in the past, or that they no longer do now?

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    Author

    Thanks Andrew I don’t know if this will make a differenc in your views but this is how its worded on their web paged
    “I don’t understand why the Church excommunicates intellectuals. Doesn’t every Church have intellectuals? (Maybe I should take a look at other Church’s approach to these things and find out…) Isn’t there room for everyone? Do we all have to have the same exact opinions or view of history? Wouldn’t this diversity make things more interesting, present more to be learned? We don’t have anything to be afraid of, do we?”

  3. “Evolution seems to make so much sense to me; but the creation story is beautiful and is so satisfying in many ways. Certainly there must be an explanation between the two.”

    Disagree. Perhaps they are both true: one allegorically and the other literally. And perhaps the allegorical truth is the more important truth, eternally-speaking.

    “I don’t understand why the Church excommunicates intellectuals. Do we all have to have the same exact opinions or view of history? We don’t have anything to be afraid of, do we?”
    Disagree, agree, disagree = disagree.

    I do understand why the Church excommunicates intellectuals. Apostasy or preaching against the Brethren.
    And we do have much to be afraid of. Very afraid…(insert evil laughter here)

    “God only gives the Priesthood to males.Knowing that women used to be allowed to give blessings in the Church but aren’t really allowed to now also seems strange.”
    Agree, disagree.

    It is true that God only gives the Priesthood to males (at this time…?) But knowing that some women (I have no idea how many) may have given blessings in the past (were they Priesthood blessings? I don’t know) isn’t strange. If they weren’t Priesthood blessings, women could still give them today. It’s called a prayer of faith, or praying in the name of Christ. Most don’t pray in the form of a laying-on-of-hands blessing, but that’s more likely cultural than anything. If they were Priesthood blessings in the past, the evolution of our understanding of who bears the Priesthood and how it is used would explain why women don’t give Priesthood blessings today.

    In summary, I’m not a Reform Mormon.

  4. I’m having a difficult time believing that there are 7 people in the Church (who are also capable of using the internet) who said ‘disagree’ on the third question. This poll is rigged.

  5. I can understand not agreeing with the church 100% and wishing to reform it. But leaving the church and joining a Facebook group?

    Seriously, that’s their solution to an imperfect church? A Facebook group?

    I admit there’s a lot of things I would like to see the church improve on, but the idea that people would be better off leaving the church and joining a Facebook group is laughable.

  6. Seems to me that some NOM/DAMU Universalists are already doing and believing this stuff without leaving the Church. One has to wonder what leaving the Church for some other new denomination would accomplish.

  7. Oh yeah, and the Community of Christ also believes this stuff, so why not just join them if you don’t like LDS teachings? Why create a new denomination?

  8. They do come across as a Universalist group, one that just happens to have stronger ties to ones specific ideology. I like the idea of spirituality and communion being more personal, but I’m not a big fan of doctrinal cherry picking. This is probably just my way of thinking, but once you dismiss the authority of religion including the guarantees of the absolutes, all your left with is a meaningless philosophy. “Joseph Smith was wrong about a lot of things, but hey, I like the idea of a pre-existence…so I’ll believe that”. On the one hand aggressive claims about truth and absolutes are what get religions into trouble, because they open the door for critical inquiry. On the other hand, at the very least a religion that is willing to that has some ‘balls’. Cutting through the thick of their philosophy, really what they are is a club for people with Mormon heritage who for whatever reason don’t mesh with the mainstream culture. So reformmormonism attempts to fill the void by presenting themselves as a progressive moral authority for those folks. Why bother, I’d be a Mormon long before I’d ever be a reform mormon.

  9. If any of you can see an email address to reformmormonism please let me know. I would like to invite them to respond to some of your comments.

  10. I’m curious how they can say: “We believe that whatever is waiting for us after this life does not include judgement or condemnation.” … and then immediately under it, say: “We believe in leading moral lives, and in building a healthy moral construct throughout our lives. We believe in being accountable for our decisions.”

    How can you be “accountable for your decisions” without judgment or condemnation? How do you define “moral” lives and constructs without defining what counts as “immoral” lives and constructs at the same time? Isn’t defining “moral” and “immoral” in the first place inherently “judgmental”?

  11. NEw squishy, fuzzy, feel-y denominations are usually created by people who think no one else has had these thoughts/ideas/questions before. Joining an existing UUt or CoC denomination would admit that *other people* have asked these things and dealt with them (either by answering them to their satisfaction, or leaving for another sect).

    There’s no romance in being the 130,00th person to believe something. When you’re one of the “first few reformers” you get to feel superior too.
    IMO, sans proof.

  12. I don’t love the smug tone of the site either (or the smug looks on the faces of the couple above). Most lay members feel similarly to these things without forming a new religion, I mean Facebook group. To paint with such a broad brush seems unfair and strawman-esque. If you follow the logic here, the majority of Mormons (not just the vocal minority) are sort of idiotic, and never get bored by repetitive content and are bigoted and are anti-science. Yet, various members of the 12 decry those same things. I’m fine with picking and choosing our interpretations and which leaders we find most compelling. This just seems to ignore the voices within the church that already agree with these points, and IMO, there are many people they are overlooking or rather, looking down their nose at.

  13. I’m curious how they can say: “We believe that whatever is waiting for us after this life does not include judgement or condemnation.” … and then immediately under it, say: “We believe in leading moral lives, and in building a healthy moral construct throughout our lives. We believe in being accountable for our decisions.”

    How can you be “accountable for your decisions” without judgment or condemnation? How do you define “moral” lives and constructs without defining what counts as “immoral” lives and constructs at the same time? Isn’t defining “moral” and “immoral” in the first place inherently “judgmental”?”

    13 KMB Thanks for your reply. Are you saying that you find it hard to believe that you can be good unless their is some sort of judgement in place or that its hard to be good without knowing their is a reward or a punishment.

    I guess every culture has to define moral or immoral or their societies would be chaos. But you can choose to have a moral compass with out being christian or religous. I live over in the UK land of the agnostic and still many people here choose to be honest give to charities and service to others without the carrot or the stick involved

  14. Starting a new religion stopped being cool the minute heresy stopped carrying the risk of being burned at the stake.

    I’m with the Dalai Lama on this one: Unless the religion of your birth isn’t actually blocking the development of your faith, or you are led to a tradition that is clearly more ennobling to you than where you are, grow where you’re planted. While you are ultimately accountable to the truth as you are given to understand it, and must be true to your properly-informed conscience even if it conflicts with your received tradition, at the same time, there has to be at least something to help keep you from the too-easy temptation to create a god in your own image — a god who conveniently never disagrees with you. Otherwise, you end up making an idol of yourself.

  15. Re Cowboy

    I like the idea of spirituality and communion being more personal, but I’m not a big fan of doctrinal cherry picking.

    Ummm, isn’t this what we do all the time in modern Mormonism? Surely we need not rehash the various contradicting statements by various church leaders, nor recount the numerous “doctrinal” changes in Mormonism since the days of Joseph Smith. Besides that, what exactly is considered “doctrine” in Mormonism anyway? The WoW? An anthropomorphic God? God was once a man? Man may become a god? The lines are terribly blurry AT BEST! I would say that every member is a cherry picker. That’s what our lack of strict doctrinal creeds allows for.

    Re KMB

    I’m curious how they can say: “We believe that whatever is waiting for us after this life does not include judgement or condemnation.” … and then immediately under it, say: “We believe in leading moral lives, and in building a healthy moral construct throughout our lives. We believe in being accountable for our decisions.”

    Simple, we’re accountable in this life. Not everyone leads a moral life because they fear some penalty (or seek some reward) in the next life! In fact, I daresay most people (including most Mormons) live moral lives because they “love God” or just feel it’s the right thing to do.

  16. KMB:

    “We believe that whatever is waiting for us after this life does not include judgement or condemnation.”

    I think a better question is why do they believe this? Is it because either rational thought, or coherent spiritual experience has led them to this conclusion, or is it just wishful thinking? My guess is that it is the latter, given that their quest for knowledge, as per their website, really has no epistemological basis – just what we can learn from experience. That works fine on an individual basis I think, but it doesn’t really give much oomph to an organization with an institutional belief structure. In other words, their message seems to be about advocating the individual by breaking down institutional barriers, but they have created an institution to do that. Doesn’t really make sense to me.

  17. Hawkgrrrl:

    It is a bit off-putting to have a couple of smug looking teenagers (or early twenty-somethings) staring at you from the marketing ads, as though their inexperience has led them to the truth we are all groping for.

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    Author

    NEw squishy, fuzzy, feel-y denominations are usually created by people who think no one else has had these thoughts/ideas/questions before. Joining an existing UUt or CoC denomination would admit that *other people* have asked these things and dealt with them (either by answering them to their satisfaction, or leaving for another sect).

    14 N Thats what the evangelical faith is all about.If you don’t like your minister move on. Their is absolutly no shame in it at all. Maybe it shows our church is coming of age.

  19. Cowboy #19: Isn’t the opposite wishful thinking, too? What makes belief in a judgement (and by extension a condemnation) any less wishful than someone who believes/hopes that there won’t be one? How do we know which is correct and which is not? Perhaps neither one are correct? I agree, however that the website for the Reform Mormons is a bit unclear about the nature of its organization: it is a “home-based personal philosophy”, “the newest denomination of Mormonism”, a “movement”, and a “home-based spiritual path”. If it combats doctrinal orthodoxy, it does so by setting up its own points of doctrine, essentially re-creating an alternate orthodoxy. Its a tension, to be sure, but I’m guessing the Reform Mormons who have organized this “movement” see the tension in postmodern, rather than modern terms. These tensions can be acknowledge and coexist without threatening the integrity of the movement as a whole. Or is it that the movement acknowledges its own inherent inconsistencies, but moves forward nonetheless? In any case, the focus isn’t doctrinal correctness as much as personal integrity and (perhaps) social action.

    Cowboy #20: lets not forget that Joseph Smith was a smug teenager when he claimed God spoke with him, and a young, young adult when he produced the Book of Mormon. His inexperience has led plenty to the truth they were groping for.

  20. — “Are you saying that you find it hard to believe that you can be good unless their is some sort of judgement in place or that its hard to be good without knowing their is a reward or a punishment.”

    You don’t need the fear of a judgment in the afterlife to be “good” (however that’s defined), but what does “accountable for your decisions” mean, then? Accountable to whom, and how?

    It’s perfectly fine to believe there is no “final judgment” in the afterlife, but if there is no difference in the afterlife regardless of what you choose, then how are you “accountable” for your actions? Good, evil, it makes no difference what you choose then, doesn’t it?

    — “Simple, we’re accountable in this life. Not everyone leads a moral life because they fear some penalty (or seek some reward) in the next life! In fact, I daresay most people (including most Mormons) live moral lives because they “love God” or just feel it’s the right thing to do.”

    How (and to whom) are we “accountable” in this life, according to this definition? “Accountability” refers to accepting the results of one’s own actions and decisions. There’s two ways to look at it:

    Natural accountability, where the results are inherent in the action itself — gaining weight if you eat too much and don’t exercise, for example, or going broke due to gambling or drug habits.

    Outside accountability, where society decides on “correct” and “incorrect” actions, and either rewards “correct” behavior, or imposes punishments on “incorrect” behavior, even in cases where the offender personally believes their actions or decisions were not “incorrect” at all.

    Natural accountability is…natural. It makes no sense for a church to take a position that “mankind should (or shouldn’t) be [naturally] accountable for our actions” if the results and consequences are inherent in the choice. They’ll happen regardless of whether we “support” them or not.

    But if you reject ‘outside accountability’ in the afterlife — the idea that God will reward “good” people and punish “bad” according to His own definition of good and bad — how can you be “accountable” in *this* life without someone doing exactly the same thing: deciding general standards of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and punishing/rewarding people appropriately? If it’s bad that God “judges” based on behavior, isn’t it worse to have other humans “judge” based on behavior? But without someone “judging” right and wrong, how are you accountable for anything in this life?

    I’m sticking to my original question: how can you have “accountability” without “judgement” and “condemnation”? I submit you can’t. No “judgement” in this life or the next means no accountability, period.

  21. Re: the pictures, our Church uses pictures of young, happy, pretty people too. Our PR department spends millions on videos, commercials, etc. So that, in and of itself, doesn’t really bother me. It’s advertising.

    Whether this particular group garners much attention or not, I do think the principle is very telling. I think the Church is approaching an inflection point. I know many members who have very similar thoughts to those expressed here, yet who stay within the official LDS version of Mormonism for a variety of reasons. I think people are more universalist in their feelings towards their fellowman. I think general philosophies are changing. I think this is reflected in our numbers. The growth rate of the Church has decreased significantly. The number of missionaries is dropping. The activity rate among the young single adults along the Wasatch front (supposedly strong core of the Church) is around 20%. The retention rate is dropping.

    I don’t claim to receive any revelation for the Church, but it seems that something needs to give. Either our Church is going to change some practices (within the bounds of doctrine) to appeal to people, or it’s going to remain rigid and people are going to continue their drift away to groups like NOM / Reform Mormonism / CofC / et. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

  22. #17 Thomas said: I’m with the Dalai Lama on this one: Unless the religion of your birth isn’t actually blocking the development of your faith, or you are led to a tradition that is clearly more ennobling to you than where you are, grow where you’re planted.

    Well said, Thomas. I like that a lot.

    My guess is that if I were to reform, there might be some things I like…but then some things that their organization (if you can call it that) would really bother me and not sit right with me. It is run by people. It will have its flaws too.

    I think I’ll keep trying to grow where I’m planted rather than pull up my roots and start over with no clear compelling reason I would grow faster there.

  23. …however, on second thought…according to their website, they all seem to be very good-looking people. If I want to be good-looking…maybe I should join them?

  24. KMB: I’ll take a quick stab. I’m no expert on accountability, but I think that when atheists, agnostics, existentialists, universalists, etc. talk about accountability, they mean personal accountability. In other words, you are responsible to yourself for acting in a way that brings you peace of conscience, and you take responsibility for your actions when they do not meet your personal ideals. Whether your own interpretation of ethics is inborn or acculturated is immaterial in this context, and it will certainly result in one person’s ethics conflicting with another person’s. The point is that for these people, there isn’t a universal moral imperative.

    In a societal context, where organizations and governments impose moral obligations (don’t kill, don’t steal, etc.) upon individuals that are part of those groups, I believe many people who ascribe to the philosophies listed above would consider it a point of accountability to own up to any disobedience to civil law, and to accept the consequences of their actions. What these people, and what I believe the Reform Mormons reject, is framing accountability in terms of divine law with eternal rewards or punishments. At no point do I think they are advocating hedonism or anarchy.

  25. jmb275 & SteveS:

    I think I failed to articulate my objections adequately. Simply put, I’m not interested in another contrived philosophy, particularly one that openly admits to being such, ie, a system of personal growth and discovery. What I meant by cherry-picking the doctrines is, if you more or less reject the well (I know they accept Joseph Smith as a Prophet, but all bets are off as to the truth) from which beliefs are drawn, then it doesn’t serve any purpose to then choose to believe the doctrines that make you feel good about yourself. On what basis do they accecpt the pre-existence, for example, if not revelation? If they have no generally accepted procedure for establishing absolute truth, then what good does establishing speculative belief serve? I am not saying that I believe that the Mormon Church is true – in fact I don’t, but I don’t feel the need to create a list beliefs for which I have no reason to accept beyond wishful thinking. According to that standard I believe in Superman – and even better I’m him! Why not, right?

  26. I’ve just read the Reform Mormonism page, and suddenly, it’s so clear to me: I have been bound down all these years under a foolish and vain hope, the effect of a frenzied mind, which comes because of the traditions of my fathers! Of course, no one can be a prophet and have “more authority to speak for god than anyone else”, for no man can know anything which is to come. It now seems so obvious that “whatever is waiting for us after this life does not include judgement or condemnation” because every man fares in this life according to his genius, according to his strength, and whatsoever a guy does is not truly bad, particularly if we’ve developed a “healthy, moral construct”. I mean, really, what evidence do you have that there is a God, or that Christ came, since “all scripture is man-made”? Wow, I feel so enlightened.

  27. Personally I am not a fan of creating an epistomology that is really just a statement of what it is not. It’s not creating something new. And while the PR of the Mormon Church fails to appeal to me on another level (the Stepford-like naivete), these smug 20 somethings really say it all. Equally unappealing, but in a whole different way!

  28. Well said, Hawkgrrrl.

    For me, I’d rather join the Jedi church before the reform mormon church.
    http://www.jedi-church.com/

    It also teaches you can believe whatever faith you believe, and you can read from whatever scriptures you want…but you get to go through training and BECOME A JEDI! How cool is that!

    I mean, the Jedi church has testimonials like this:
    Gail Porter: – “The Jedi Church is So Fun”

    How can you argue with that?

  29. The second best question I was asked in 2009 was asked of me by Rabbi Allen Freehling of the L.A. Human Relations Commission. He asked: “Can one be a reform Mormon?” I thought that was a brilliant question and I am still thinking about it a year later.

    Be that as it may, I don’t think the website you linked to really poses an answer to such a question.

    The web site points to the nearly universal Mormon characteristic of not putting that much effort into theology. The idea that they are picking up on specific teachings of Joseph Smith from the Nauvoo period is interesting and also problematic. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see how this plays out as theology and what specific links they are drawing.

    After reading some of their library and the comparison page I would say that there are many “reform” Mormons in the LDS church. Certainly I appreciate a number of their ideas but what should that mean for me, if anything?

  30. 18 — We all pick, but that doesn’t mean we all cherry-pick. And the standards we use for picking are not all the same, and say a lot about us. Do we pick things because we want them to be true? Because we really believe them to be true? Because they are easy and comfortable? Because they are hard and challenging? Because experience has taught us that they work? Because they let us do what we want to do? Because they tell us not to do what we are drawn to do?

    I will accept that we are all Cafeteria Mormons. But I will not accept that it makes no difference if we fill our plates from the dessert table, or from the greasy-cheesy table, or if we make healthier and more balanced choices. Choosing the Easy always isn’t something I’m going to respect as much as Choosing the Right, even when it’s challenging.

  31. “We Reform Jews are heirs to a vast body of beliefs and practices embodied in TORAH and the other Jewish sacred writings. We differ from more ritually observant Jews because we recognize that our sacred heritage has evolved and adapted over the centuries and that it must continue to do so. And we also recognize that if Judaism were not capable of evolution, of REFORM, it could not survive.

    Reform Judaism accepts and encourages pluralism. Judaism has never demanded uniformity of belief or practice. But we must never forget that whether we are Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, or Orthodox, we are all an essential part of K’lal Yisrael-the worldwide community of Jewry.

    Just as many in Reform Judaism don’t take their religon literally. I think many mormons are buffet mormons. Many don’t look at our history and jettison much of that which seems biggoted or sexist. ”

    I think reformmormonism maybe a little ahead of their time but many mormons may resonate with what they say even if they don’t see our past and scripture as history. It’s their culture and tribe but they have to live it in a way that causes less disonance.

  32. Ok, It’s a joke right. South Parks guys again? Seems like they took standard Mormon Doctrine and just created an opposing view to almost everything.

    James,

    “But we must never forget that whether we are Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, or Orthodox, we are all an essential part of K’lal Yisrael-the worldwide community of Jewry.”

    Reform Jews may feel this way, but they same cannot be said of all sects of Judaism.

    Also, I am in agreement that totally orthodox, all-believing, unequivocating LDS members are the exception, not the rule.

  33. Heber13, this Jedi Church thing makes me bust up laughing. Although I have to say that George Lucas has lost his mind, and now I need to start a classic Battlestar Galactica Church with Adama as the high priest of the Lords of Kobol, and excommunicate anybody that is loyal to the Ron Moore version.

  34. To further Jeff’s point: “totally orthodox, all-believing, unequivocating LDS members are the exception, not the rule,” basing an entire creed (or whatever you call it) as a refutation of the same is the definition of a straw-man argument.

    Skeptic – I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to excommunicate me. I can’t imagine how anyone who has watched both series could not prefer the Ron Moore version. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Ron Moore’s version is true, or at least a heckuva lot better.

  35. Hawkgrrrl, I’d like to call you in to the High Council room on that one right now. LOL

    Just wait for the new Glen Larson/Brian Singer version coming out next year or so as a real movie, and you will see Galactica as it should have been for a re-imagination. Now we can finally undo the damage that Galactica 1980 and Ron Moore has done to the truth of the Lords of Kobol.

  36. That’s right, Ken. Paid preachers are not among Reformed Mormons. The paid preachers are in the LDS Church, though not at the local level where we expect them to be volunteers, but at the general level, i.e., the highest level of leadership. Perish the thought of reforming that.

  37. James,
    Thanks for the blog entry on Reform Mormonism. The reason I prefer Reform Mormonism to Unitarianism is that I accept the basic theology/cosmology that Joseph Smith laid out in his King Follett Doctrine. Joseph envisoned a new religious paradigm–what we Reform Mormons call “The Mormon Paradigm” which is clearlyt at odds with tradiitonal monothiesm. The Mormon Paradigm rejects creationism, is predicated on the conept that the elements are etrenal and uncreated, that there is no such thing as immaterial matter; it embarces polytheism; envisions each individual as an UN-created entity who is not dependent on a God for existence, but who must learn to become a God him or herself. Also Reform Mormonism embrace a concept of God that Jospeh Smith embraced at the end of his life but which the LDS Church and other Mormon denominations have rejected or explained away: that a God is a LIMITED being–limited with regard to time and space in the same way as any thing else which exists. Reform Mormons envision Gods as human beings who are exalted through acquiring knowledge, cultivating virtue, etc.–and Reform Mormon meditate on such a vision of Deity not as a source of supernatural help or divine salvation–not as objects of worship–but as inspiration for pursuing a course of eternal progression, learning and betterment.

    A few things to point out to your readers who have posted comments here:

    Reform Mormonism is NOT a church. We are individuals who embrace the Mormon Paradigm of Eternal Progress, and who socialize through Masonic-like Endowment ordinaces–in much the same way that Joseph Smith founded Endowment Quorums and Annointing Quorum in Nauvoo which were separate form the church. (Most modern LDS have no idea that some membebs of these Endowment Quorums were not even members of the church.)

    Reform Mormons are NOT Latter-day Saints. The followers of Joseph Smith were originally called Mormons or Mormonites; it was Sydney Rigdon who convinced Joseph and the Mormons in Kirtland to begin calling themselves “Latter Day Saints.”

    Many Reform Mormons come from Mormon dneominations OTHER than the LDS Church. For instance some come from the RLDS Church (Community of Christ), some come from the Stangite LDS Church. A surprising number have no previous connection with any Mormon denomination; they have come across Joseph Smith and Mormonism through their personal studies of comparative religions or through the study of American history; they were astounded and inspired by the later teachings of Joseph Smith, and were in truth converted to central concepts of his Nauvoo-era theology, but upon investigating the LDS Church or other Mormon denominations were disappointed to find that Joseph’s most unique doctrines have either been watered dow or rejected. In Reform Mormonism they have found what they are looking for.

    From among other things, Reform Mormonism also grew out of the “New Mormon History” movement. In the late 1990’s, Mike Richan (the founder of the movement) of Seattle rediscovered a love of Mormonism when he began reading the many works by various “New Mormon History” historians. Mike had been raised in a devout Utah LDS home, had served a mission to the Palmyra, NY area in the early 1980’s, but had–upon returning hom from his mission–left the LDS Church, renouncing his LDS Church membership. Mke experienced the entire cycle of resentment, anger, depression, and finally relief that so many experience when they either are excommunicated or leave the LDS Church of their own freewill and choice after years of devotion. Years passed, and Mike was perfectly happy having left his Mormon past behind him. Then he began reading the works of “New Mormon History” historians, and he discovered a religious and cultural legacy that is far more colorful, dynamic,profound, contadictory,confusing and exhiliierating than the watered-down Sunday Shcool fable that the LDS Church puts forth. Eventually Mike re-embraced Mormonism–but not the LDS Church.

    I will assume that some who have posted here known only the version of the Mormon story that the LDS Church offers. They probably can’t concieve of one being a Mormon apart from being LDS. In short, they are like the devout old-school Catholic who truly believes that no Protestant can be a Christian; that to be Catholic is to be Christian, and that to be Christian means to be Catholic.

    The truth about WORLD WIDE Mormonism is so much broader than the claims of the LDS Church. There are dozens upon dozen of Mormon denominations–many of who never accepted Brigahm Young’s claims, or the theology that he, Heber C. Kimball and Orson Pratt created in the late 1840’s and early 1850’s to justify things such as plural marriage, Patriarchal rule, theocracy, the doctine that our spirits were sexually begotten by a Heavenly Father and literally born to a Heavenly Mother, etc. SO MANY doctrines and church policies that most LDS assume originated with Joseph Smith, were in fact created years (even decades or a century) after his untimely death. Not only does the modern LDS Church bear little resemblence to the Mormonism of Joseph Smith’s day–but the LDS Church of Brigham Young’s day also bore little resemblence to the Mormonism of Joseph Smith’s day.
    Most LDS don’t even know that according to US law the RLDS Church (the Community of Christ) is recognized as the original church organized according to the laws of New York State by Joseph Smith,Oliver Cowdery and others in 1830. This is why the LDS Church doesn’t own the such important Mormon history sites as the Kirtland Temple, the Temple Lot in Independence, the Joseph Smith Nauvoo home, the Joseph Smith Red Brick Store in Nauvoo (the only place Joseph Smith ever performed the Endowment ceremonies), or the Joseph Smith cememtary in Nauvoo.

    Someone wrote above that we Reform Mormons had left the LDS Church and merely created a Facebook page. In fact, Reform Mormonism is a legally recognized religious denomination founded according to the laws of Washington state. Reform Mormons use numerous internet social networks, and sponsor several blogs and websites.

  38. Rob,

    I find your story similar to most apostates, they can leave the church, but they can’t leave it alone.

  39. Ken, what a complete joke that is, “they can’t leave it alone.” What, are these people bothering you? Are they attacking the church? Are they infringing on your copyrighted beliefs?

  40. Thanks for sharing, Rob. I think it helps us all to understand that there are many Mormon denominations, and that it is appropriate and proper to grant each other legitimacy in the use of that term. I’m an LDS Mormon, but I don’t support the LDS Church’s efforts to claim exclusive right to the term Mormon (see this link for an example). I also do not believe it helpful or loving to categorize all Mormons who are not part of the LDS Church as apostates who “can’t leave [the church] alone”. Best wishes to you and all the Reform Mormons out there seeking to follow their best understanding of the spiritual principles and promptings that have come to them in their lives.

  41. You’re welcome, Steve.

    Dear KEN S.:

    I’m not sure what you mean about my not “leaving the church alone”…since that is exactly what I HAVE done.
    If membership in the LDS Church brings meaning to one’s life; if it gives them sounds spiritual, moral or intellectual guidance; if they honestly believe its claims, then they should by all means embrace it.
    I DO disagree with many of the LDS Church’s claims, its theology and its version of Mormon history. I don’t attack the Church for these things; I simply ignore it.
    Understand that the “Reform” in Reform Mormonism does not mean that we are attempting to reform the LDS Church (or the RLDS, FLDS or any other LDS church, sect or group.)
    Rather we embrace a different (reformed) approach to Mormonism generally. We embrace the unfinished reformation of Mormonism that Joseph Smith began in Nauvoo during the last few years of his life–a reformation that included new doctrines (many explained in the King Follet discourse), new Masonic-like ordinances (Endowments, Sealings and Adoptions), more positive and liberal attitudes regarding human sexuality (evidenced in Joseph’s private letter to Nancy Rigdon, in which he gave his reasons for proposing that she become one of his plural wives; also evidenced in Parley P.Pratt’s classic missionary tract, “Intelligence & Affection”) and his Four Fundamental Grand Principles of Mormonism (principles that are virtually unknown to LDS Mormons). As part of Joseph’s unfinished reformation he even went so far as to try and step down as Prophet and President of the church because, as he said, he no longer had any desire to be known as a prophet.

    If any of the above is new to you, I suggest you read an excellent essay on this little known chapter in Mormon history by linking on to the following:

    http://www.reformmormonism.org/lib/index.htm

    I must admit, KEN, that I had to laugh to myself when you called me an “apostate.” Espcially since the LDS Church itself does not give me that label. I resigned my membership from the LDS Church years ago–without a trial, without excommunication and with no condemnation from the Church or its leadership. In fact, the official letter from the LDS Church wished me well, and stated that if I ever wanted to be rebaptized into the LDS Church, I need only contact a local bishop.

    Over the years I’ve notived something about people who have spentt years in rather strict religious communities (of which the LDS Church is certainly one–and in writing this, I do NOT fault the LDS Church for being strict)–people who have never question that community’s beliefs, dogma or norms–people who have never been a vital part of any other religious community.
    That something is this: when someone converts to their particular community, they tend to assume that the convert has had no deep or profound experience of God prior to conversion. Likewise they assume that anyone leaving their particular religious community is turning their back on God–actively rebelling against God, goodness and virtue.
    They have a difficult time wrapping their minds around the reality that many people having had a deep and abiding relationship with Deity independent of their particular religious community, or any other religious community.

    In the face of this short-sightedness on the part of so many, I take comfort in the teachings of the American Prophet, Joseph Smith: while one segment of the human race is denouncing another as sinful, fallen and apostate, God Himself looks upon all of us with the love and tender regard of a parent.

    Knowing my own heart and my own relationship to my Heavenly Parents, to be called an apostate by you or anyone else is rather like being told by a biological brother or sister that I have alienated myself from our biological parents–when all the while I have an open, honest, profoundly close relationship with those parents.

  42. Rob,

    You have taken offence for no reason. You are a self described apostate as it is defined as “One who has abandoned one’s religious faith, a political party, one’s principles, or a cause.” Ronald Reagan, bless his soul, is an apostate. He left the Democratic Party and joined with Republicans.

    As for the remainder of my comment, I stick with my observation. Almost every critic I have meet is a former member determined to prove us wrong, as you did in the opening paragraphs of of comment #50. You rarely see this with other faiths. They just simply move on with their new faith and rarley mention thier old faith.

  43. Ken are you trolling?

    “Almost every critic I have meet [sic]”

    You’ve decided that Rob is a “critic”, have you? He was invited here to give his perspective on the topic of the post, which is Reform Mormonism. You are also a critic, and you and people like you have predictably attempted to discredit anybody who was a member in the past and who now disagrees with your religion with a pathetic cry of “you can’t just leave it alone, can you?”

    I don’t think I can ever get people like you to understand this but here it is: people who have left the church after living in it for their entire lives sometimes have opinions about the church afterwards (shocking!). Sometimes they express their thoughts about the church, especially when they are respectfully invited to. It’s simply ridiculous that a guy can spend his entire life, literally decades, growing up in the church and then after he decides to leave it, the very second he opens his mouth to talk about the organization that shaped his entire life and worldview from the beginning he is met by a smug repetition of that moronic “they can’t leave it alone” phrase.

  44. Carson:

    I don’t know what trolling is, so I can’t respond.

    As for your other rant, let me address it this way. There are people like my Dad or Sister that leave the Church and go on their marry way. They just don’t see a need for Church. For fear of offending anyone, I will simply say there are then those who “abandoned the teachings of the faith” for something else — dissenters, apostates, whatever terms you choose to use. It is simply not good enough to go and join something else. They have to make it their mission to prove the Mormons wrong. Groups such as Ex-Mormons for Jesus and Born Again Mormons. It is my opinion Reform Mormons fall into this category.

  45. Ken S

    I am an active member of the LDS Church. Your comments are appalling to me. If the Celestial Kingdom is solely going to be filled with people who have the same attitude towards other religious people as you do, then I don’t want to be there. But, at the end of the day, I think you’re going to be surprised.

  46. Mike S:

    Again, please read 1 Nephi 14 and the Lord’s response to Joesph’s question in the first vision. The Lord and his Prophet are pretty clear. As an active member I am just trying to heed thier teachings. I am sorry if that offends you.

  47. I answered the poll questions as best I could, but some are simply rhetorical questions displaying ignorance of the issues, sort of like politicians debating rather than students trying to understand. Most questions need to be rewritten to avoid being leading.

  48. Ken S:

    It doesn’t offend me. At one point in my life, I, too, saw the world as black and white, us vs them, etc. I see much more good and beauty in the world. I look forward to spending the eternities with the wonderful people who don’t belong into the 0.1% who may be active LDS. I know where you’re coming from, but see more now.

  49. I have a similar question. If “Reformed Mormons” say they aren’t Mormon then why do they use “Mormon” as part of the organization’s name? Very confusing. And, if they believe in Jesus Christ but have a different perspective on who he is/was, why do they say they’re not Christian? Again, its confusing.

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