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Are Former Mormons Mirroring the Black & White mentality of the Mormonism they grew up in?

I recently came across an article where the author writes:

"I wish my fellow ex-Mormons (or former Mormons, or disaffected, or whatever) would realize that they are only mirroring the Mormonism they grew up with and lived with for so many years. The same black-and-white mentality unfolds, only as if we’ve suddenly been transported to bizarro world. Apologists go from heroes to villains, history goes from faith-promoting to faith-destructing, the Book of Mormon goes from proving the church is true to proving it’s false, Church leaders, both historic and modern, go from being the greatest men on earth to some of the most evil, the temple goes from beautiful to sinister, Joseph Smith goes from prophet to pedophile, the church goes from selfless charity to money-hoarding corporation, Mormons go from being the most enlightened people on earth to the most sheltered. On and on and on it goes. Instead of breaking out of the narrative the church wrote for us, we just flip the switch and black becomes white and up becomes down, but the story is identical."

The author here does have a point to a degree when he writes, “Church leaders, both historic and modern, go from being the greatest men on earth to some of the most evil, the temple goes from beautiful to sinister, Joseph Smith goes from prophet to pedophile.” I think in some cases the same projection of (what Carl Jung called) the Shadow is cast onto the outsider (the apostate) in Mormonism; then when the Mormon leaves they then project the Shadow onto the insiders (the leaders) in Mormonism. There is some truth to this. I personally see LDS leaders as some of them being mere victims and unknowing of what they do, while others are more cognizant of what they are doing and are unethical out of loyalty to the Mormon organization (a kind of tribal mentality thing). Hence it is not black and white, I agree. It depends on the leader in question, for example Joseph Smith was more aware of his "pious fraud" than say Martin Harris, etc. It depends on the leader. 

I think those who call Smith a pedophile after once praising him in the hymn Praise to the Man, may be a bit reactionary; yet Smith did marry a fourteen year old. Maybe the term pedophile is not the right word given the legal age of marriage at the time? I don't know. I am not an expert in that subject. But regardless, the author, a Mr. Hatch, fails to see just how much more nuanced this is than Mr. Hatch lets on. Smith did seduce young teenager girls, even the LDS church essay admits Smith married a fourteen year old. Mr. Hatch acknowledges this in his blog post but doesn’t seem too upset about it.

The rest of the paragraph above by Mr. Hatch, I disagree with. This is not black and white thinking, flipping a switch as Hatch puts it, but simply Dorothy realizing who Oz really is; it is Winston in the book 1984 realizing Big Brother is not what it claims to be; and our founding fathers (like Thomas Jefferson) breaking away from England in a very, not black and white, but ENLIGHTENED way which was expressed in The Declaration of Independence!

Mr. Hatch fails to decipher between enlightenment and seeking to reveal the truth and flipping from impassioned insider to a mirroring effect as an impassioned outsider. It is not mirroring but a re-direction of one's energies from one cause to another. For example, Jefferson used the scientific enlightenment to challenge the divine right of kings, seeking a separation of church and state in America. The Buddha was a devout Hindu, even starving himself according to the story until he changed his view and "woke up," and then devoted the rest of his life to the eight fold path and the middle way. The point is history is full of those who once had a distorted view and then woke up and sought to enlighten others. This is not mirroring their former zeal, but a redirection and a new found passion for truth and what they consider a better way!

If a woman dates a man and is emotionally enamored by him and falls victim to his lies but then later learns he is a sociopath and leaves him. Then afterward seeks to warn other women of his character and lies; did she flip and is now mirroring a black and white mentality? Or did she merely wake up and become enlightened and is now passionately seeking to warn others and get the truth out there? Did Jefferson flip from impassioned insider to impassioned outsider in a mirroring fashion or did he simply wake up? Did Winston mirror his devotion to Big Brother when he turned against it in the book 1984?

The author writes “…I’m not going to tag along with you [former Mormons seeking to reveal the truth of Mormonism] and it’d be cool if you could stop acting shocked when you find out I don’t feel the same level of outrage you do. My silence on the issues that animate you don’t equal my assent. I don’t think Joseph Smith marrying a fourteen-year-old girl was okay, I just don’t have the energy or the wherewithal to post about it twenty times a day.” 

Would Mr. Hatch disparage a father -- who is a member of the FLDS church whose young daughter was pressured into marrying an older man (like Joseph Smith did) -- if the father, now a former FLDS member, writes about such an injustice twenty times a day? What if this father actively sought to reveal the immorality of this leader in the FLDS church? Would Mr. Hatch say this father is merely mirroring his former devotion as an FLDS member and just needs to get over it and move on? 

I get that Mr. Hatch has gone through his own recovery process after leaving Mormonism and is frustrated that his (in my view) apathy bothers some of the more outspoken former Mormons. He should be allowed to be apathetic in peace. But in my view, the author is condemning the empathy of others. For it is empathy that drives us more out spoken former Mormons to empathize with these young girls Smith took advantage of and seek to reveal Smith's true character. If this enhanced empathy is at odds with Mr. Hatch's recovery and now what I see as apathy, it is what it is. Note that I am not questioning Mr. Hatch's empathy, I don't know the man. I am merely responding to his article. To each his own I say. But whether apathetic or not, facts are facts. 

Even though Smith's actions occurred long ago, some people feel empathy and then outrage over injustice, whether it occurs yesterday or today, in 1840 or this morning.

If someone was raped in 1703 and the rapist was venerated by a religion, I would protest. My empathy for the victim in 1703 would be no less than my empathy for a woman raped today that I might hear about in the news. A human suffering deserves my empathy, for that suffering and injustice transcends time. And just as I would seek justice against a rapist today, I seek justice for what Smith did to those young girls by saying on this blog that praising a man that coerced and manipulated young girls as he did is wrong. To my knowledge, Smith did not rape these girls but his tactics were manipulative and predatory (see below).

Mr. Hatch argues in his post:

"We all pick our moral hill to die on. Somewhere right now, someone is complaining that the church wasted its money on a mall while they’re wearing clothes sewn by a kid in Bangladesh for .31 cents a day. Someone else is screaming that the church is a bully while they support Donald Trump. Your outrage at Mormonism doesn’t make you cleaner than the rest of us."

Mr. Hatch does have a point to a degree but only with the narrow example he gives of a stereotype image of some disgruntled exMormons that are inconsistent in their views. But what he fails to take into account is that former Mormons are not all alike and former Mormons are in a unique position to change things, for we know Mormonism. We know the facts, we are knowledgeable of such things. Thus, we, more than most are able to make a case for change due to our extensive experience and knowledge. That does not mean that the kid in Bangladesh should be ignored. It is a false dichotomy and a red herring to say its either or, that you can't complain about the church's finances and can't also help a kid in Bangaldesh have a better life. 

The fact is that it was those Mormons (inside and outside) who were willing to take a stand on the issues, that played a large part in the church changing the policy of blacks and the priesthood in 1978, and the recent disavowal of the LDS teaching that blacks are the seed of Cain (in the recent Race and the Priesthood essay at lds.org).  I would argue that former Mormons played a large part in these actions. D&C 132 is still official church doctrine and I believe it is former Mormons that will eventually get this misogynistic document removed from the LDS canon.

I think Mr. Hatch should be championing such an action himself, but again, to each his own. Mr. Hatch has the right to not care and not be upset so much, but then he should not criticize those of us who do care and are outraged, especially since history shows that it is only those who care and are passionate that ultimately affect change. 

Here is what Sandra Tanner has to say about such an attitude. Sandra Tanner has provided extensive historical research on the life of Joseph Smith. So she was baffled during a friendly meeting with a liberal Mormon historian who made excuses for Smith’s sexual activities. She says in a speech given in 2009, available on YouTube, that her response to him was:

How can you avoid the conclusion that Joseph Smith was a sexual predator? … for instance in the newsletter [Sacred Marriage or Secret Affair?] I tell about the case of Lucy Walker. Now here is a young girl where she is in a family of ten children, the family converts to Mormonism, they end up moving to Nauvoo. But the mother gets malaria in Nauvoo and dies and then one of the children dies. … and Joseph Smith’s solution to this family’s situation is to send the father on a two year mission to the east coast, divide up the children into different homes, and take the teenagers into his home. So now he [Smith] has this sixteen year old girl living in the home with her brother that’s a year or so older than her. He [Smith] starts privately going to the sister to try to convince her to become his plural wife. She’s praying about the whole thing, she doesn’t know what to make out of it.

Then it turns out that Joseph’s wife Emma and the brother go on a shopping trip to St. Luis and while they’re gone Joseph gets the girl to marry him. And she, just the day before, turned seventeen when she marries him in polygamy behind Emma’s back. She later wrote in her own story of her life [and how] what a devastating thing [it was], and how hard this was for her to do. She says, here I was without mother or father to consult, no one around to go to too talk to, and yet being presented with this great issue. Of course she prays and finally feels God spoke to her and told her to do this and she goes into plural marriage. …

This shows a deliberate effort of isolating this girl from her family, from everyone around her, from any support system, in a time of grief and loneliness; to put that kind of pressure on her is signs of a spiritual predator. I don’t see how we can excuse this kind of behavior and say ‘well he was sincere.’ You wouldn’t give that kind of leeway to someone who approached your sixteen year old daughter. …

Why does Joseph [Smith] get a pass on these things? I don’t understand how they [Mormon apologists] keep saying ‘it’s OK.’ And if you read the [stories] of the different wives [of Smith] they all are horrible; going to teenage girls and saying God sent an angel with a drawn sword that was going to kill Joseph Smith if he didn’t go into polygamy; if she didn’t marry him God was going to kill him. … The weight of responsibility this would put on a teenage girl, ‘I’m gonna be responsible for the prophets death!’ Then he would also put the responsibility on these young girls: that if you consent to this it will insure your parent’s eternal salvation. … How can a girl say, ‘no, I’m not gonna help my parents have eternal life,’ and so she finally submits to this.  … to me [this] clearly is the pattern of a sexual predator. …

… the lies of Joseph Smith do affect people, they aren’t just innocent things that don’t touch other people; because of Joseph Smith’s polygamy we have all the polygamists today. Mormons will say to me, ‘but look at the fruits of Mormonism,’ yea the fruits of Mormonism is sixty thousand people living in polygamy today, that’s the fruit of Joseph Smith. Those people wouldn’t be in those situations had it not been for him [Smith] privately going to teenage girls and coercing them into plural marriage. 

Source: Why Mormons Leave, by Sandra Tanner, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGWvhhPpetg. Also see the article she mentions in her talk: Sacred Marriage or Secret Affair? Joseph Smith and the Beginning of Mormon Polygamy Salt Lake City Messsenger, No. 112, May 2009 at http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/no112.htm. Also see http://community.beliefnet.com/debate_christian_theology/go/thread/view/35859/18036159/.

Overall, I felt that Mr. Hatch sounds a bit elitist in his tone, as if to say I got over my angry and passionate phase, so why don't you, as it irritates me that you are still stuck in that phase.

In a way I sympathize with his encouragement to move on from Mormonism; which I agree should be the goal for the sake of the person’s own well-being. I am becoming less impassioned myself as the years go by. I get that. This blog has been my attempt to do right and reveal the truth. Mr. Hatch has a right to be less impassioned too. Yet I don’t think a former Mormon openly revealing the truth should be disparaged either. To each their own. We all deserve to transition at our own pace. 

From here I wish to further protest his first paragraph quoted at the start of this blog post.

First, it is Mormonism that presents a Horns verses Halos set up. See my essay just linked for details.

It is the Mormon leaders who are making it so moderate or liberal Mormons are not welcome. Palmer’s book An Insider’s View was written in a friendly pro-Mormon manner that just argued facts. He was disfellowshiped for simply being a good historian and trying to encourage LDS leaders to be honest in their history. Which they eventually started to do a little bit just a few years later with the essays coming out around 2014 on lds.org. Yet Palmer was punished for being an honest historian. 

John Dehlin was also forced out despite his friendly tone toward Mormonism. 

The LDS church has drawn a line in the sand with their recent excommunications. The trend is, you can stay in the church with doubts just don’t voice those doubts in any way publicly. This makes Mormon leaders a kind of modern day Big Brother and excommunicating people for social thought crime

Is Truman in the Truman Show being black and white and mirroring his former life when he chooses to leave the Truman Show?

Mormon leaders repeatedly make black and white statements that it is either the work of God or a fraud. 

The Mormon Church is not a normal meet up group at meetup.com. Where you show up, make friends, belong to a group that has a hobby or focus and then leave the group when you want without hassle.  I have joined and left many meet up groups over the years for various reasons. My leaving Mormonism was different. 

Here are some post-Mormon responses to the article by Mr. Hatch (taken from postmormon.org):

Leftasteen writes:

Simple:  The LDS Church's teachings are up or down, black or white, ALL true or ALL false.

 It's not our fault the leaders doubled down on every over-the-top, outlandish doctrine from polygamy to blessed underwear to the black curse to Kolab.

 It's not our fault they claimed to see and talk to God himself.
 It's not our fault they made up an entire book and called it "devine history".

 It's not our fault they claim to have the special Preisthood that gives them the authority to act in God's name.

All that's kinda "all-in".  Don't ya' think?

When they call ex-mormons "extreme" I suggest they look in the mirror.  The real LDS religion I was taught (not the smooth-edges media facade) is an ALL or NOTHING choice.  They made that choice, not us.

Strong Free & Thankful writes:

This TBM family pays collectively around $30,000 a year to the morg [Mormon Church].  I have noticed that they don't help family--unless it is their kids.  I think they are so busy and the church takes so much of their money--they no longer feel they need to help family.  Let the lawrd take care of them.  When you pay tithing, you don't have to help family, you pay the lawrd and wait for the trickle-down effect. 

There are a lot of reasons why some of us cannot pretend the church is not still hurting us.

A poster named finex writes:

Then they might go on asking: "Why do you then make noise about it? Why do you speak against the church? Why can't you leave it alone like someone else is doing?" in which my most common reply is something like this:

 "Well there are many people in the world that suffer from cancer. Some of those that recover become advocates for cancer organizations. The same goes for ex-mormons too, we've just been deceived rather than suffered potentially terminal illness. Some may accept their losses and walk away quietly, but others like me, when we see something wrong or injustice in the world, we like to try to change the world for the better. Ex-mormons come in many flavours, very much the same as cancer victims, we are all people after all. Does that make me a bad person if I try to make the world a better place according to what I believe is right even though it might mean that it would be against your beliefs? Wouldn't you want to know if you're being deceived? Where do you believe you could get the information that would reveal to you that you're being deceived? From the people that have already been there and found it out or from the deceiver itself?"

So no I won't just walk away and stay quiet on this subject. I will act and do what I believe is right …


I stopped posting the comments after the last one I quoted because the responses were just too good and numerous to keep quoting. So just visit the above link for further thoughts. Note however that I do not agree with or endorse every word or comment in the link above from postmormon.org. Just many of them. 

In the end Mr. Hatch is right in that many former Mormons, if they are obsessed in an unhealthy way and not living a balanced life, perhaps they would be better off transitioning to the phase of life-after-Mormonism in a healthy balanced way sooner than later. But such a process is deeply personal, even Mr. Hatch says it took years for him to get where he is. But for those who do live a balanced healthy life and yet continue to care about Mormon injustices, then I say carry on the fight for its not mirroring your former life as a Mormon, but waking up and helping others wake up: just as the character Morpheus does for Neo in the movie The Matrix.

Here's to the red pill

Comments

Anonymous said…
Mormons are fascinating. I've only known a few but I'm always surprised how isolated they seem from the rest of the world. They surely see the outside world and largely reject it, instead wanting to invite the masses into their tent, as it were.

I'm no Mormon but I've seen the good side and the shadow side of it. My concerns have always been the Mormons push a strict orthodoxy that frames the way in which they encounter reality, as if almost trying to bend reality to their will and belief alone. This, I have to wonder, is at the root of those who decide to bolt. The structure didn't provide any peace, only anxiety at reaching exalted status. Forgive me if I don't know all the terminology.

Mormons aren't the only faith that struggles with this. Adherence to rules dowant guarantee the Kingdom of Heaven, no matter how great the rulebook seems. I've known people who have left the folds and it's still very much a part of their DNA.I'm not sure it will ever go away, nor should it.

Religion is great for structure, but if you want to experience the whole of creation and the reality it presents to us, I believe there needs to be a push to transcend religion and truth as it is framed. A fish couldn't walk on water immediately. It had to evolve and push itself out of the water, while still being a prisoner of its wet confines. Eventually, the legs grew and it could adapt to its new life. I believe a similar thing happens in religion and spirituality. Touching and being with the Divine is far superior to just reading about it.

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