To each their own

33607_106740_fhe_whatis_st.jpgI’ve really sort of skirted around my own attitude towards mormonism in this blog. Many of you know (as I mention in my description or IRL) that I was raised mormon. My parents remain active mormons. My extended family (grandparents) also remain mormon. The rest of my cousins remain mixed, some active, some no longer mormon. Some it’s difficult to tell if they’re mormon or not, and in the end, I find I don’t care and don’t feel like pressuring anyone to find out for sure.

I tend to agree with chanson’s stance on mormonism “standing up for your former beliefs“, for the most part I feel culturally mormon and I remain fascinated with mormon history and cover up. I suspect it’s a little like people raised catholic or another faith who no longer practice the faith they were raised in.

It might sound like I’m being overly positive about the LDS religion and its adherents. I think there are many issues with ra_cism, se_xism, strict gender roles, discrimination and ho_mophobia. I won’t get into any of my claims with these, I may write at some other point about some of these issues. I will just note that many other current religious and other organizations have a past which they are not proud of. The difference between the Utah LDS mormonism and these organizations is that many of these organizations admit to this discrimination, apologize for past wrongs and work towards change.

So, with that said, I have a laissez-faire approach to mormonism.

Obviously, I disagree with many tenets of mormonism. I do not feel that the LDS church is everything it claims to be (for example, family first). But I disagree with many of the tenets of other faiths and belief systems. I believe mormonism (and some other belief systems) can be incredibly harmful. But just because we disagree, doesn’t mean we can’t have a relationship or conversation. And how can anyone ever grow if we refuse to air our differences – to attempt to understand things from someone else’s point of view?

I am not an evangelical exmormon. I know people who are evangelical (i.e., actively trying to convert people away from mormonism). And that is their choice. I am not personally one of them. While I might confront LDS missionaries who knock on my door (they are bothering me, after all), I see no reason to tell someone they can’t believe something.

I know there are many people who leave mormonism and who are very angry. For the most part, I think their anger is justified. Specifically people who were in abusive relationships and counseled to stay in them, people who struggled with mental illness and were encouraged not to seek help, people whose families basically disowned them for leaving mormonism. There are many other reasons for anger that I won’t go into at the moment.

And that’s what bothers me about mormonism and some belief systems in general. That there is a corner on truth. It seems to me that truth is in the eye of the beholder – that what might be true or right for one person is not necessarily true or right for someone else. And the whole nature of right vs. wrong is difficult to define either – entire philosophical textbooks and essays are devoted to the subject. And even for me, I don’t feel comfortable saying that my way (without mormonism) is the right way for everyone.

My former seminary teacher (who I believe is still an active NOM, a.k.a. a new order mormon) joked that a new angel was walking through heaven with another angel (possibly st. Peter, I don’t remember the exact nature of the joke) and noting everyone there. The presbyterians, methodists, baptists, jews (I don’t think the atheists were there, but we’ll add them for flavor). When they walked past a group the mormons, the angel turns and says “Shh! They think they’re the only ones here”.

I don’t believe in complete utilitarianism either. There are some parts of mormonism that I think are harmful in a free society and I will continue to speak up about them (not researching anything for oneself, not questioning, not disobeying leadership/men, etc.) I will continue to note my disagreements aboutLDS Inc., here and elsewhere.

My dad seems to think that I should have remained mormon to work from within for change. I look at it as only having a certain amount of energy. I know for a fact I do not have the energy to spend even three hours a week inmormon services – as a woman, there is little to nothing I could change anyway. Obviously there are women who could stay and make changes (Think Margaret

I guess what I’m saying is, I know/knew a lot of really good people who happen(ed) to be mormon. I used to be mormon myself. I am related to lots of them. We disagree on many subjects, and in some cases, the nature of reality. But it seems to me that we are all on a different path – trying to make sense of life, and for the most part, trying to be good people.

It does bother me that mormonism is such an authoritarian religion. I am familiar with the definitions of a cult, and it’s true that the Utah LDS variety meets many of them. And yes, there are many people who I personally feel would be happier if they were not active mormon.

But who am I to judge what would make one person happy or unhappy? I say, to each their own. Putting information or opinion out there is great, but it’s up to the person themselves to choose what they want to believe.

Cross posted here

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6 Responses

  1. chanson says:

    Great insights!!! I particularly liked you NOM seminary teacher’s heaven story. 😉

    I’ve just posted my latest on why I don’t evangelize here.

  2. exmoron says:

    I generally agree with this post, but I also want to urge caution. I’m fine with tolerant religions that basically recognize that other people may, in fact, be good people even if they don’t belong to the same religion. But religions that run around condemning everyone who is not part of their religion are a different beast. Many religions are extremely intolerant of different beliefs and have no qualms trying to legislate their views on others.

    For instance, in my annual hike with two high school buddies (both still Mormon), we got on the topic at one point of same-sex marriage. One became absolutely incensed at the idea that I would allow homosexuals to marry. When I pressed him on how it could possibly harm him, all he could say is that “they would be a threat to my family.” He couldn’t explain anything else, he just insisted that it was wrong and should never be allowed. Flabbergasted, I gave up. For all intents and purposes I was talking to a wall.

    Religious fundamentalism would like to do away with your right to be a questioning seeker. Religious fundamentalism is unwilling to compromise. Religious fundamentalism is intolerant. I do say “live and let live” with other religions that are tolerant of me and my beliefs, but not of intolerant ones. Mormonism is sometimes on the edge between tolerant and intolerant, but more often than not I find that it is an intolerant megalith that loves pushing its weight around. For that reason, I’m not a fan.

  3. Hellmut says:

    That’s the dilemma, isn’t it? How much tolerance can one afford to extend to intolerance? Or at what point does it become a matter of self-preservation to confront intolerance?

    The northern Europeans are trying to figure that out with Islam. After failing to engage and integrate large segments of their immigrant populations, people are now realizing that Muslim fundamentalists are challenging liberty.

    In the United States, the federal government has challenged Mormonism repeatedly. Only last year, when the IRS announced that churches will be investigated for partisan politics, the brethren immediately responded that it is just dandy for Mormons to be Democrats.

    I think the best way to respond to Mormon authoritarian behavior is to speak out. Legacy Mormons value nothing more than their reputation. Telling that their leaders are out of bounds does make a difference.

  4. aerin says:

    Thanks chanson! Have you seen the South park where they determine which religiion actually got to heaven? It’s a classic.

    exmormon – I hear what you’re saying. It’s difficult to know where the line is between religious fundamentalism and just faith. And – I’ve also found the actions speak louder than words. The majority of mormons I interacted with would pay lip-service to tolerance of other beliefs, but there were only a handful who were really able to live and let live.

    On the other hand, I found a wide variety of opinions within my community (growing up mormon). Some people were not in favor of questioning ever or talking to non mormons. Others were much more open to questions and were successful in navigating the non mormon community. Some might have problems with gay marriage – but they fought to promote tolerance of different races. I guess what I’m saying is, there is a big difference between the governing organization and the individual members – and the individual members have differences as well.

    Hellmut – it is a very difficult dilemna. I guess all I’m saying is that we need to proceed with caution when labeling belief systems as fundamentalist or intolerant. We have to be sure of exactly where the line is when someone is just faithful, or when they start promoting violence in the name of religion. I would just hate to alienate the moderate members of a religion.

  5. chanson says:

    I agree — that scene is hilarious!!!

  6. Floating in the Milk says:

    I liked this entry. As I was sitting in church yesterday, I realized there are all sorts of snippets of things I think are “true”, things that are worthwhile, mixed in with the stuff I think is garbage at church. I remember feeling sad for a high school boyfriend I had, that his Baptist religion had so many pieces of the truth – just enough to keep him from realizing that the LDS church was the right one. It was funny to suddenly see the LDS church in that light. I no longer believe there’s one big TRUTH anyway, but I can see the parts of the LDS church that attract its adherents.

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