Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Doubting Thomas

A conversation with a friend earlier today inspired me to write this post. We were talking about religion.

In the religious world, it's bad to be a doubting Thomas. Thomas was an apostle of Jesus who, according to the Bible, could not believe that Jesus had resurrected until he actually saw Jesus. What ever you do, don't be a doubter!

But is it really that bad to be a doubter? What is faith? It is a belief in something that has no evidence. That's just stupid!

It's okay to doubt. In fact, if you don't doubt, then you are stupid. Doubt is a normal human cognative function. If 'god' didn't want you to doubt, then he wouldn't have given you the ability to do so.

If 'god' didn't want you to think and reason, then he wouldn't have given you the ability to do so.

By not doubting, you are giving up your right as a human being to use your rational brain. By believing whatever 'they' tell you to believe, in spite of the lack of any evidence, you are betraying your own humanity. It is human nature to ask the question, "Why?" Don't give up your right to ask.

The non-doubter is viewed as a hero, a noble soul. A doubter is shameful. But in all reality, the exact opposite is true. Find your own truth. Don't let someone else dictate it for you.

Doubt is what leads to questioning. Questioning leads to searching. Searching leads to enlightenment.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Leaving the Saints - A Review

I was browsing at the local library and happened to find an audio book of Martha Beck's Leaving the Saints. I had to check it out as the description immediately had me hooked.

"...soon after Martha began teaching at BYU, she began to see firsthand the Church's ruthlessness as it silenced dissidents and masked truths that contradicted its published beliefs. Most troubling of all, she was forced to face her history of sexual abuse by one of the Church's most prominent authorities. This book chronicles her difficult decision to sever her relationship with the faith that had cradled her for so long and to confront and forgive the person who betrayed her so deeply."

Martha is the daughter of the famed Mormon apologist (professional excuse maker), Hugh Nibley. Although she makes an effort in the book to not mention his name, the famous Mormon defender turns out to be a child sexual predator. It's a sad story of how her own mother and siblings turn against her in order to preserve the church, her father's reputation, and the testimonies of all who relied on him.

As I listen to this story, it enrages me to hear her describe how, years later, her father denies the sexual abuse and taunts her with "you'll never prove it." Funny how proof is so important to him in that case, but any other type of proof can be tossed to the wind when it comes to maintaining and defending the faith. And even if she did prove it, we all know that Nibley was the master of twisting the truth to meet his own pre-determined outcome.

She also describes how she discovered that her father had published outright lies about the "sources" he quoted and how his 'fact checkers' were threatened with their jobs if they came out with the truth.

This book is a must-read for everyone, faithful and non-faithful alike.

Do You Know What Really Gets Me?

When you hear a believer state something to the effect of: "the evidence that Jesus was real is overwhelming."

Really? Where?

"The Bible."

That's overwhelming evidence? The Bible also has stories about talking snakes.

"The authors of the New Testament were eye-witnesses of Jesus."

Um, actually, no they weren't. The four gospels weren't written until nearly a century after the supposed fact.

"Ok, but I still believe."

Knock yourself out!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Book?

A good friend and supporter of Mormon411 suggested to me recently that I should cull all my posts into a book. It is actually something I have been thinking about doing for a while now. With over 250 posts, it should be a good read. If I decide to do it, it will take a lot of time, which I won't have much of for the next few years as I finish school.

Thoughts anyone?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Compassion? Not When It Comes To Tithing

Compassion? Not When It Comes To Tithing By IDTortfeasor

Just had a TBM friend call me for advice. For the last several years, he has worked two jobs to make ends meet. Due to the economy, he lost one of his jobs. The job he still has is as an employee at BYU-I.

So, funds are very tight. He doesn't have enough money to pay all his obligations. When he had two jobs, he could do it. But now, he's in the hole, big time.

One of the first things he stopped paying was tithing. I think he still pays a little, but in his TBM mind, he justifies that with his lack of income, he really doesn't have any "gains" right now to pay on. Of course, the church sees it differently. They don't care about your obligations, just your income.

To keep his job at BYU-I, he has to have an endorsement from his Bishop. He just received a certified letter from his Bishop, stating that if he doesn't start paying a full tithe, then he won't endorse him to stay employed at BYU-I. The bishop knows their financial circumstances, but it doesn't matter.

My advice: As soon as you can, find a new job where the church can't blackmail you. If that's impossible, hopefully BYU-I will have more compassion than the Bishop, and keep him on because he's a good employee. Doubtful, but you never know.

I did ask him: "So, have you found that in the past when you paid tithing on your gross income, you received gross blessings?" He muttered "No, not even close".

Mormon411's comment: I personally know someone in this exact same position. When you are employed by the church, you must be temple worthy. This means that, on demand, you must show a temple recommend. If you don't have one, you're out. Naturally, in order to have a temple recommend, one must be a full tithe payer. And because you work for them, they know how much you are making and therefore how much you should be paying.

This is wrong and unconstitutional. An employer is prohibited, by law, from hiring or firing based on many things, including religion. However, if you are a church employee and not in good standing, then the church can fire your ass. It absolutely makes my blood boil!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Free Will or Slavery?

The LDS church claims that god allows all men to have their free agency. What they choose to do with that agency will determine the outcome of their souls for the eternities.

Let's analyze their concept of "free agency" and see if they really believe in it.

You are a member of the LDS church. You are taught and believe that only by choosing to obey and follow all the commandments, you will be rewarded with eternal life. If you choose to not obey, you will be rewarded with eternal damnation. As you choose to obey, you are "free" from damnation.

Now, let's say that I have a slave. I tell that slave that they are free to choose. If they choose to obey every order I give them without question, then I will treat them well. If they choose to not obey my every order, I will beat them within an inch of their life.

As the master, I have given my slave their "freedom" to choose. They are free to choose, BUT do they really have their freedom? They are a slave and their only choice is to obey or be punished. Is that really freedom? Of course not. My slave "chooses" to obey me and I am true to my word. Therefore, the slave is free of punishment, but is still not free.

Why does the slave "choose" to obey me? Is it because he loves me so much that he wants to please me, or is it because he wants to avoid his punishment?

In the LDS church, you're free of punishment, but you're not free. Do you really love the lord, or do you obey to avoid being damned? Does any slave really love his master or does he obey to avoid being punished?

Simply because you are given a choice does not mean that you are free. As long as you are a member of the church, you are their slave and they tell you what your choices are. That's not freedom.

By blindly obeying the prophet you are free? I don't think so.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Object Lesson

On my mission, we attended a church function that was designed to be a testimony builder. It was one of those object lessons where everyone is on a plane and suddenly the plane crashes. Everyone is dead and is now facing judgement. Naturally, those who are strong in the church get to go to the Celestial Kingdom. Everyone else goes somewhere else.

I probably wouldn't have even remembered this event if it wasn't for one of the young women in the branch. Afterwards, she was in tears.

She was the only active member in her whole family. Her parents would allow us to visit her and were friendly, but they weren't interested in the church at all.

When we asked her what was wrong, she told us through the sobs that she was afraid for her family. She really feared that they were all going to go to hell. I don't remember what we said to console her.

But isn't that just funny? Not laughing funny, but ironic funny. The one and only true church that is supposed to be the only true source of happiness is actually making people sad and miserable.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sugar Beets and the Worth of a Soul

Thomas S. Monson, “Sugar Beets and the Worth of a Soul,” Liahona, Jul 2009, 2–5

Many years ago, Bishop Marvin O. Ashton (1883–1946), who served as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, gave an illustration I’d like to share with you. Picture with me, if you will, a farmer driving a large open-bed truck filled with sugar beets en route to the sugar refinery. As the farmer drives along a bumpy dirt road, some of the sugar beets bounce from the truck and are strewn along the roadside. When he realizes he has lost some of the beets, he instructs his helpers, “There’s just as much sugar in those which have slipped off. Let’s go back and get them!”

In my application of this illustration, the sugar beets represent the members of this Church for whom we who are called as leaders have responsibility; and those that have fallen out of the truck represent men and women, youth and children who, for whatever reason, have fallen from the path of activity. Paraphrasing the farmer’s comments concerning the sugar beets, I say of these souls, precious to our Father and our Master: “There’s just as much value in those who have slipped off. Let’s go back and get them!”

Right now, today, some of them are caught in the current of popular opinion. Others are torn by the tide of turbulent times. Yet others are drawn down and drowned in the whirlpool of sin. This need not be. We have the doctrines of truth. We have the programs. We have the people. We have the power. Our mission is more than meetings. Our service is to save souls.

There is more to the article but I didn't even bother reading it. This much is plenty deserving of some "constructive criticism".

What are Monson's stated reasons for the wayward sugar beets?
  • Popular opinion
  • Turbulent times
  • Whirlpool of sin
What is the most important aspect that this dishonest man failed to share?
  • Knowledge
No one leaves the church because they discover that its history is shrouded in secrecty and cover-ups, do they? Just like they are so good at doing, they are actively engaged in misleading the members into believing that the apostate is the one at fault.

The lies of LDS, Inc. are alive and well.

Secondly, what is with all the pickles and sugar beets? Only in Mormon Land can someone call you a pickle and it is a huge compliment. Now the members are sugar beets, which are being hauled to the refinery where their precious "sugar" can be extracted.

Thanks for making it so clear, Monson.

I Am Offended

Popular church propaganda about those who "fall away" is that they sinned and were too proud to repent, or that someone offended them. No one offended me; however, I am offended.

I am offended that I was born into an organization that seeks to suck the life out of its unsuspecting members. From infancy, you are indoctrinated into their club, being told that it's the only way to live, the only way to be happy. They demand your unquestioning obedience and threaten your eternal soul if you even think about doubting or questioning.

I am offended that this group of supposed "men of god" do not display any of the characteristics that they pretend to employ. If Jesus was the ultimate example, why do they demand your money and build shoppings malls, businesses, hotels, ranches, and real estate? These hypocrites fly around in luxury while Jesus walked dusty trails in his sandals. He didn't even have a pillow to lay his head on. How dare they call themselves his representatives!

I am offended that they have attempted to shut down my brain. "God" gave me my brain and I assume that since that is the case, I am supposed to use it. However, these hypocritical liars make statements such as, "When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done." How offensive that they think that I am supposed to become a robot and blindly follow their every command without even giving it a second thought. I read only what they say I can read. I watch only what they say I can watch. I date and marry only who they say I can date and marry.

I am offended that they worship and praise a man who was nothing but a horny, cheating, con-artist. They raise up this pervert to be a prophet of god when the reality is that he was never faithful to his wife, made up all the "revelations", had sexual relations with young girls (stating to their families that god wanted it to be and that they would all be saved for allowing it, or damned for not allowing it), and quite possibly was involved with murder (attempted murder for sure).

I am offended that such a vile organization passes itself off as a church, all the while threatening your eternal soul if you don't shut up, sit down, and pull out your check book. The gospel is free according to both the Bible and the Book of Mormon but the LDS church will damn you to hell if you don't pay up. They do nothing but grind upon the faces of the poor and ignorant.

I am offended that the LDS church makes regular, normal people feel guilty and ashamed for having normal human emotions and desires, especially those of a sexual nature. Their statements like, "the natural man is an enemy to god" has made people hate themselves and has even driven some to suicide.

I am offended because they claim to be all about freedom of choice. Yet, as a young child, did you have a choice? No, you went to church whether you wanted to or not. At eight, you "chose" to be baptized but did you really have a choice? At 19, you "chose" to serve a mission but did you really have a choice? As a member, you "chose" to accept all the callings given to you, but did you really have a choice? Sure, choose to obey, OR go to hell. Those are your options. Mission and BYU life are anything but free will. They take it all away if you let them.

I am offended that entire human lives are wasted in this filthy organization. The naive and innocent are being exploited and they go along with it because they think they are saving their souls. They give their entire lives to the church and then at the first sign of an economic hardship, the church announces that it "is not here to help you." They demand everything from their members and then refuse to give anything back.

I am offended that they claim to be family oriented and then separate the worthy and non-worthy family members at their precious temple when someone gets married. Would Jesus separate and exclude "non-worthy" family members? Hell no! Would Jesus condone the shunning of those family members who exercise their rights to not be LDS? Hell no!

I am offended that this "kingdom of the only true god" has a strong history of being racist. I thought god loves everyone equally. Blacks were only given the priesthood in 1978 because the federal government threatened to remove the churches "non-profit" status. Otherwise, blacks to this day would still be denied the priesthood. Now, they are doing it to their gay members. Will this "inspired" church ever get it right?

I am offended because this church downplays women and will only accept you if you are white, straight, male, and Mormon. Look at a chart of the higher up church leadership. How many are non-white?

I am offended... because it's an offensive organization.