So, I recently had a fun escapade in the comments at a post at Feminist Mormon Housewives. It was a post from a guestposter, Jon, on whether or not the church might be a hostile place. Who ever could have thought of that?!
…I’m still freshly reeling about the “hostile” horror stories thanks to the church that I’ve read recently here at MSP. The one joy I can find from so much pain in Jill’s story is that fortunately, she was able to leave and move on with her life. Yet, some aren’t able…
Well, back to FMH…I guess I didn’t know what to expect from Jon, but he came out early on with the punches swinging. (CAVEAT: It certainly seems that the Jon who wrote the post is different than the Jon who has written the comments…but I can’t check IPs at FMH.) A particular comment he had made, likening atheists to murders, piqued my interest:
Hereâ€™s a very interesting article I read last night about â€œthe worst missionary apostasy in the history of the Church.â€ In short, a group of nine missionaries chose excommunication because their personal beliefs didnâ€™t match up to the modern Church and its modern leadership.
Were they better off after severing ties to the Church? No. The ringleader (once a very spiritual person) became an avowed atheist within 20 years, one of their number became a murderer, but luckily several of them chose to be rebaptized later on. Iâ€™ve heard a statistic that more divorcees are more unhappy a year after their divorce than they were while married, and I think this is true for the Church that weâ€™re also â€œmarriedâ€ to. Instead of trying to change the Church, we should try to improve our relationship with it, because weâ€™d be more unhappy after weâ€™re cut off.
I made an off-hand parenthetical comment, vocally suggesting that I wished I hadn’t seen such a comparison (off-hand comments always start messes though, of course). And after a chance which I thought Jon might redeem his position, he actually continued further into what I suspected: I guess he thinks that atheism is just as “tragic a turn” as becoming a murderer is.
While I was glad to see that many of the commenters at FMH thought Jon’s position was extreme…and they noted that atheists could be good people (something that John at mind on fire wrote about recently as well…), Jon continued in his position:
Lots of assumptions are being made about the virtues of atheism. Atheists can of course be great people, and Christians can be horrible people, but LDSaints reverting to atheism is a step backwards. It is certainly tragic when a man who once believed in and prayed to God severs that tie. To paraphrase Brigham Young: the Church is like a ship in a stormy sea, and people want to jump off because they donâ€™t believe that thereâ€™s a storm. Generally speaking, people who distance themselves from the Church seem to be worse off later down the road.
Interestingly enough here, he starts with just a general idea that atheism alone is a step backwards, but by the end of this message, he takes a stab at all ex-mormons. So, for all of you readers at MSP who aren’t necessarily atheist, watch out, because you’re going to be “worse off” too!
Later on, he reasoned that his ideas were based on evidence of his apostate family members:
In my family, those that have distanced themselves from the Church have universally developed harmful addictions, never raised families, or even committed suicide. When members of my family started to apostasize in the 40s through the 80s, it ruined their lives. Itâ€™s not arrogance, but sad fact.
When he brough up his own anecdotal evidence, I alluded to evidence of when the church goes wrong against its members — cases like those of Jill’s which affect me greatly. And all he could say was:
Any kind of abuse is horrible and has no place in the Church, so anyone practicing it is doing so in opposition to the Church. How is that a valid argument?
I don’t even. In the end, his final position remained that it would be impossible to genuinely be an exmormon and have joy and happiness in life. You would either 1) quickly be on the path to repentance and reconciliation with the church or 2) would be on the path to addiction, suicide, or “family-less-ness” (it’s amusing that he places this at the same end of the other two.)
This was such a perplexing series of comments that I had to make a few posts about it. How is it that this person cannot see the many exmembers who are much happier with their decisions to leave? I mean, even if I grant that the church is a good fit for some, I’m not going to suggest that one size fits all — and for the members it doesn’t fit, they most certainly should try on something else.