Monday, September 19, 2011

We Have A Tendencey to Blame "The Church" For Lying To Us - By Thayne Andersen

Thoughts that bother me about myself and others who have cut or change the umbilical cord connection with the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints

Thought: We have a tendency to blame "The Church" for lying to us.

When we went to church and heard the lessons say that Noah was a great prophet we were lied to because there was no such prophet! He didn't exist. We were told a fairy tale and believed it (at least for a while). Do we blame Walt Disney for telling us about Santa Clause or Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer? No way! But we blame "The Church" for the anti-science claims right and left. But we tend to be irritated that the "Church" lied to us!

When we were told that Adam fell from grace after disobeying God, we were told a lie! What did we expect the church manuals to tell us? The same is true of Joseph Smith and other LDS prophets.

When we were told that Mary was a virgin, yet gave birth to a child who was part man and part God, we were lied to! Again, what did we expect them to say when we went to Sunday School? When you go to a carnival, you get carnival food -- not REAL food -- no way! When you pay a preacher (or a church or ward) to make you feel good (I call it a religious orgasm), you get what you pay for -- a story that makes you feel good inside -- and makes enough sense to help your continued activity. Never mind if it is "true" or "real". If you go to a fortune-teller, what do you want them to tell you? That they are all just entertainers and charlatans? No way! You are begging to be taken down the "feel good" road.

The LDS speakers know that you are NOT looking for truth, but for a way to feel good -- so they give you what you are seeking for and hoping to be true. What is wrong with that? I think one of the prophets even cautioned against telling the bare honest-to-goodness truth IF IT DOES NOT HELP A TESTIMONY AND INSPIRE MEMBERS.

Yet a lot of Ex-Mormons somehow "blame" the Corporation of the First Presidency of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints for repeating the things that a sane person would have to admit were pretty obvious misrepresentations of fact. Horses in America! Swords and bows of steel that were strong enough to behead an enemy -- before such technology was invented! The use of the wheel by Indians (lets call them Nephites) before the wheel was invented. The sun stopping in the sky. Etc. Etc.

I was an alcohol and drug abuse counselor most my professional life. I have heard a LOT of excuses for drunkenness and intoxication (literally thousands of excuses). But I have NEVER heard a man dying of liver failure complain that the bartender he went to to buy alcohol was actually to blame because he gave him what he went to the bar or store and paid to get -- ALCOHOL! He went to the bar to get alcohol and got it. The man seeking salvation did the same thing by going to a minister (bishop or missionary) to feel good about mortality, pain and suffering -- and where you are going after you die.

I was present a couple weeks ago when one LDS man (who I admire and respect to this day) gave the story of a man who disappeared in Vietnam during the war there. He obviously died during a military mission. The family was heart-broken and failed to find closure in their grief and sorrow. No body was to be found. No remains would ever go back home to America. They wanted and needed hope and an explanation that would help. So they went to their LDS leaders for help. He told them that no reason is more comforting than to tell them that "God needed their relative more than we did, so he was called home." They found comfort and satisfaction in this remark and left feeling better.

Now, if they had gone to me or other atheist, I would have had to tell them the truth -- that death is simply a part of life and that is that. They will never see their relative again. I consider my answer and explanation more accurate and truthful -- but less comforting to those who WANT comfort. When you pay the piper for music, you can't complain too much if you had really WANTED food instead of music. What slot do you drop your quarter into?

I think the same is true of most church teachings -- especially fundamentalist churches. I stayed in the LDS church for decades because what I WANTED was a feeling of community, a feeling of purpose and potential salvation. I only realized as I neared retirement that NOW I want the truth! It wasn't the fault of the LDS church leaders that they gave me what I wanted most my life -- and paid for.

When I finally got up the courage to make changes to my status with the church, I have to take the full responsibility for staying so long in the church and for all the religious stuff (crap) related to that fact. I can't properly blame the church if they try to ostracize me. It was my decision to stay so long. It was no one else's fault. They can't continue to provide hope and faith if they also accept the fact of earth's origins -- and eventual destiny as most likely being consumed by our dying sun.

So, I would advise others to stop blaming the (LDS) church for your bad experiences and get on with living your life. You can live a bitter, angry situation, or you can forgive yourself for being given what you paid for when you were active in the church.

Similarly, how can I argue "truth" with members of any fundamentalist church when there is a good chance that they "REALLY" don't want or are not ready for truth just yet. They just might very validly and badly NEED personal hope and inspiration that truth might make pretty difficult to obtain.

Thayne Andersen
http://www.skepticalthayne.com/

15 comments:

Mormon411 said...

Thayne,

Well said. I have blamed the church and been bitter for years. You are absolutely right.

My experience differs a bit from yours. I prayed, paid, and obeyed not because I wanted peace, but because I was afraid.

And the difference between Walt Disney and TSCC, is that WD never claimed that his stories were the literal truth whereas TSCC does.

Your thoughts remind me of a video produced by The Amazing Atheist where he compares religion to fast food. As soon as I find the link, I'll post it here.

I find myself still having negative feelings for the church. I know (Damn it, I sound like a Mormon on fast sunday!) that it would be for my own benefit to let it go. I have carried this bitterness around for quite a long time.

Thank you, Thayne. I will give your words some serious thought.

Mormon411 said...

Fast Food Theology

russell jack said...

i want to rationalize my anger for the church so much (i mean, walt disney at least says his movies are fiction, so this is totally different). but as i read on, i have to admit you're probably right. had i wanted "truth" like the church claims to have, i would have investigated the things i now know.

can i be angry at my parents for "taking me to a bar and making me drink"? haha. or i guess just take responsibility for my own life.....

Thayne said...

Thanks for your comments, Russell Jack and Mormon411.
Those who have the most right to be "angry" at whatever church they have joined are those who don't get the "feeling good" vibes at all. For example, those who have needed comfort and solace only to find rejection, incompetence and BS.
The first "lie" is that feeling good is itself a confirmation of the Holy Ghost that they are in the "True Church".
But keeping plugging in quarters in a machine that doesn't play the music you need is probably your own problem, not the machine (church).

IonicPaul said...

My thoughts: This is partially right. While I agree that the church is meant as a way to feel good and people want that even if it's not true, I think it shifts some necessary blame away from the church. It still professes it as truth. And while I must concede that if people never turned the other cheek when it came to the truth, religion would be a lot less prominent today, I must, however, say that the churches of today play off of that flaw that many people have. Not giving them a large part of the blame is like not convicting obvious scam artists because the people who were scammed should have known better. Yes, they looked the other way on the alarmingly dubious parts of the plan because they wanted to believe they could get rich quickly and easily, but without the scam artist, they'd be much better off.

Same with the church. People hear what they want hear, but the church is not blameless for putting it forward as the literal and absolute truth concerning everything, everywhere, and at any time. I will agree with you to the extent that people should be blaming themselves as much as the church, not just the church, but you seem to be insinuating that the church is just a business that is harmless, even though it is purposefully manipulative. It has to have more strength than a business because virtually no parents raise their children to accept only one brand of toilet paper, whereas the vast majority of parents indoctrinate their children into the church.

Really, it's a cyclical three-way blame train. You've got the church, which picks from the weak-minded for initial converts. Then they, as parents indoctrinate their children very efficiently, and the church reinforces it. At any point, the church, the parents, or the children could go (respectively) "We were playing off your fears to gain influence and followers," "We've been manipulated and we won't bring you up that way," or "This is a hokey lie," but such instances are rare. It's an efficient system with plenty of blame to go around.

Exempting any of those groups is insane to me.

IonicPaul said...

Addendum: Again, I'm not saying you are saying what I responded to above, because I'm frankly a little tired and might've misread your intent as not blaming the church at all when you just meant to not blame it too much, in which case I agree.

Thayne said...

Iconic Paul:
Yes - You are right. I'm not holding the Church "blameless" at all.
I AM claiming, however, that in many cases, I (we) have tended to fault them for giving me what I asked for in the first place -- and over, and over and over again.

IonicPaul said...

Absolutely. It's a cycle. Plenty of blame to go around.

Andy said...

Most people have been brought up in the faith of their parents, and that means powerful emotional bonds were created between the faith and adherents. This bond can take years to break, because as I said they are irrational to begin with.

People feel angry at being sold a destructive productive, faith. But the peddlers of superstition are typically not like the tobacco industry who don't believe their own hype. Focus your anger on the destructive ideas of talking snakes and vengeful gods. Work towards the day where no one will be hurt by these fairy tales.

DrawingYou said...

Congratulations on getting out of the LDS. I was not raised Mormon but Pentecostal. I had to go to church three days a week and bible camp in the summers, in other words I got the full indoctrination. It took me years of study and thought to deprogram myself. I just wanted to give you my support for your breaking of the chains of mental bondage and for spreading the word. Peace and let the light of reason guide your path.

Markimedes said...

I'd say the situation is a little different if you actually grew up in the church. I didn't pay for or buy into the church so much as it was forced upon me.
I think being a little bitter about being lied to is completely justified. I left as soon as I could.

rsctt603 said...

Interesting..


http;//wayfarersquest-rsctt.blogspot.com

susan said...

it is so sad when we confuse 'the church' with God.
I agree with much of what you are saying and have questioned many such things myself...but I remind myself (constantly!) that many of these beliefs and rules and regulations are human made, and all humans are...well, human.
The INSTITUTION sure has a lot to answer for...bringing people up to fear the consequence of questioning, or worse, leaving, all they have been told to be true and safe is just downright wrong.

Unknown said...

I am fascinated by your train of thought, Thayne! I have to admit I agree with much of it. I have found that blaming a church for the mistakes of human beings is a foolish way to go.

I'm a university student studying psychology. I write research papers with (pay attention) endless citations. If there is no citation, I don't write it. So here's a couple questions:

What's your educational background? What are your sources? Do you investigate both sides of the issue? Do you realize that for every fairy tale you dismiss with an easy wave of your hand there are endless brilliant scholars on both sides who have been debating these stories for centuries?

You've put your foot down here like your opinion settles things. Like it is truly 'obvious'. What facts? Don't pretend that blogging carries weight. Share your opinion, it is valuable. Don't give me your facts. They're silly.

Mikayla Rosalie said...

Hi!

I'd like to say that yes, there is a good feeling when one is "right with God". I don't understand why you believe it is bad to "have a good feeling" when going to church. I do not understand what TSCC's exact view on Christianity is, because I grew up in a non-denominational church, and so I don't understand what the wrong is. Can you help me to understand your point of view? I want to hear about your experiences and the lies you briefly touched on that the church told you, because I want to understand your point of view. Thanks!