Tuesday, March 22, 2011

He's Still Ex-Mormon -- And Loving It

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: He's another year older, and another year happier.

Since its beginning in September of 2009, Ward Gossip has poked fun at practically all aspects of Mormon culture, practice, and doctrine, including:

In all, I've posted 85 times, received over 450 comments, and dozens of personal emails. Most people who write are kind and encouraging. Some respectfully disagree. But so far, I have only been flamed once. It was exactly one year ago, on Mark's birthday.

Less than ten minutes after I posted "At 53, He's Still Happy, Healthy, and Ex-Mormon -- Don't You Hate That?" I received a private e-mail from an old "friend" from my childhood ward who told me I was "condescending," "hurtful," "narrow-minded," "uneducated," and "bitter." Then she called me a liar and suggested that I "just go on with my life" and keep my opinions to myself.

She closed her thoughts with, "I hope Mark enjoys his birthday and wish you the best with your family."

This bizarre missive confirmed a theory I have long believed.

Nothing pisses off a Mormon more than the existence of an openly happy Ex-Mormon.

In that spirit, I will again pay tribute to my husband of 30 years, and brace myself for the response.

Mark Steven Banta was born on March 22, 1957, in San Jose, California. He was raised a Mormon in a loving home. He enjoyed participating in church as a child, but grew weary of the faith as an adult, and eventually abandoned it.

Mormons are taught that those who leave are lazy, sinful, and doomed to a life of misery and suffering.

It hasn't exactly turned out that way for Mark, at least not over the past year. Consider the following common assumptions.

Ex-Mormons are bitter, angry, and miserable.
Not my sweetheart. Anyone who saw him at the 2010 Ex-Mormon Conference can tell you that, or at the Hotel Utah Saloon, or facing off Steve in a break-neck bowling competition, or at a certain restaurant in Berlin, Germany during the wee morning hours.

People who leave the church face financial ruin.
Well, he's not exactly rolling in it. But Mark continues to live on a quiet street in San Francisco, affords visits to Texas and Germany to see his children and granddaughter, and continues to hold a job in a bad economy. Believe it or not, eliminating tithing actually improved his bank balance!

People who leave the church like to look at porn.
Actually Mark's tastes are for the most part G-rated, except for church history books.

If a man leaves the church, his children will become drug addicts, runaways, and felons.
If appearances are any guide . . .
Our daughter, Emily, and Daniel

Our son, Marky, Meera, and baby

People leave Mormonism because they want to violate the Word of Wisdom, break the Sabbath and associate with bad influences.
Um, well that's true actually.
Mark has decided not to spend this life preparing for the next, and has been blessed accordingly.

As always, I am serving his requested dinner, this year stuffed bell peppers, baked potatoes, green beans, homemade apple pie, and a good bottle of wine. So there is no need, Abbottsville Fourth, to drop by with cakes, casseroles and a birthday message from The Ensign. Understand that if you do come over, you will see some very happy Ex-Mormons. -- And it will probably make you really really mad.
Happy birthday, honey.

NorCal Ex-Mormons Were In the News Again!

These ran on Sunday, March 20, 2011:
See Mark's picture in the paper! Along with Steve, Sarah, Ali, and me. Unfortunately this was taken on Easter Sunday of last year, so our turnout was relatively small. (We were six in total at the San Francisco Ferry Building, one declined to be photoed.)
This is an interview with former NorCal Ex-Mormon, Kerry Rutz, whom we miss.
Another interview with a fantastic NorCal Ex-Mormon.
They quoted me in this one, but got my age wrong -- I'm now 52 (sigh)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Temple President Explains "Incident"

To: Abbottsville Temple District
From: Gordon Skousen, President of the Abbottsville Temple
Subject: The Unfortunate Incident.

On behalf of the Abbottsville Temple Presidency, I wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the victims of the Abbottsville Temple Tragedy.

As many of you now know, early this morning temple worker Wilbur Simmons stood at the altar to officiate a routine endowment session. It started out as planned. But when it came time for Adam to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, Brother Simmons, who was unaccustomed to his new bifocals, sent the room into chaos when he accidentally hit the fast forward button.

Panic ensued as obedient temple patrons scrambled to robe, disrobe, then re-robe in the Holy Priesthood. -- A break-neck frenzy resulting in strangulation, indecent exposure, heart attack, excitement induced incontinence, and one near casualty by a brother who accidentally slit his own throat.
"The prayer circle got nasty," said Sister Lee Ann Hargen of the Abbottsville First Ward. "There was a lot of rough and tumble Patriarchal Gripping. Also, some obscene gesturing with the Sign of the Nail."
Only the best of feelings should exist within the Prayer Circle.

When played backwards
the temple film is an
episode of South Park.

Perhaps the most far-reaching damage occurred when Brother Simmons, in a desperate attempt to stop the video, hit the rewind key instead. Fortunately, he righted his mistake quickly, but not before a few Satanic messages escaped.

Only three of the session attendees emerged without injury. A thirty-two year old Pilates instructor, and two brethren in the back row who managed to sleep through the entire ordeal.

The Abbottsville Temple will remain closed until the Brethren devise a way to ensure this horrific tragedy never happens again. Among the measures under consideration are safety locks on the fast forward and rewind buttons; speed limit signs; and pressurized session rooms where, in the event of an emergency, the oxygen can be shut off and the occupants pass out.

A special fast in honor of the victims will be held this Sunday. 

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails we'll assume you're incapable of making a sound decision.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

NorCal Ex-Mormon Testimony Meeting

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: We would indeed be remiss if  . . .

My dear friends from the Abbottsville Fourth Ward,

Just because we're ex-Mormons doesn't mean we don't have testimonies. After all, it takes a village/ward to raise an ex-Mormon. In that spirit, we gather every first Sunday to express our gratitude for the people and circumstances that helped us to see the light.

This month our thanks went out to:

The San Francisco Ferry Building and its myriad venues for breaking the fast, the Sabbath, and the Word of Wisdom.

Brigham Young University, and its penchant for humiliating its students.

Our individual and collective role models such as:
  1. The highly respected and well educated Southern California attorney who spends his free time computing the diameter of the planet Kolob.
  2. The older sibling who was expected to be President of the United States, but ended up becoming a polygamist who makes his living filling gumball machines.
  3. The TBM dad who told his inactive daughter that he would receive her in his home if she promised not to criticize or question the church, voice an opinion, or discuss her life in general.
  4. The TBM ex-wife who tried to convince a Virginia judge that her children's father is unfit because he only spends one hour in church on Sunday.
  5. A certain "Apostle of the Lord" who is terrified of feminists, gays, intellectuals, kittens, and little factories that produce too much product.
  6. The balding Seattle Stake President who referred to himself as a Solar Powered Sex Machine during a Stake High Council Meeting.
Oxymora such as Young Women's Personal Progress, BYU Education Week, Relief Society Personal Enrichment, and Court of Love.  

The Book of Abraham

Thank god for anti-Mormon

Wedding receptions where both the bride and the mother of the bride are pregnant.

Greg Dodge


The countless Sacrament Meeting talks about tithing, temple work, and moral ambiguities such as hot chocolate and coffee cake.


The shear joy of saying FUCK.

The spirit was sooo strong!

If we have offended any of you -- or have forgotten to thank someone, kindly share your testimony in the comment field.

Also read about NorCal exmos in the news here!

Friday, March 4, 2011

For Doubting Mormons

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Bishop Paul Zimmerman
Subject: For those who doubt

Over the past year, some have shared their doubts with me about the church and its leaders. A few have even confided that they might leave the faith. This would be a disastrous decision. Imagine Sundays without pantyhose and neck ties, Easter without General Conference, Christmas without tithing settlement. Not to mention an eternity spent as a lonely eunuch in one of the lower kingdoms. Not a pretty picture is it? Instead, I suggest the following strategies for remaining in the one and only true church.

Become a Cafeteria Mormon
After all, nobody can eat everything on the menu. So partake of what you can, and ignore the rest. Perhaps you don't use Amway products, hate scrapbooking, enjoy an occasional Mountain Dew, and don't behave as though sex is the sin next to murder. No worries. So long as:

1. You don't enjoy it.

2. You feel really really guilty about it.
Brandon should have known that
"some truths are not useful."

3. You're not on the BYU Basketball Team.

4. Your omissions do not include tithing, fast offering, church meetings, visiting teaching, home teaching, church callings, temple attendance, talk assignments, the word of wisdom, gay marriage protests, more than one ear piercing, splits with the missionaries, church magazine subscriptions, wearing your garments day and night, General Conference, the Glenn Beck show, food storage, and jell-o molds.

Dramatically lower your expectations.
I can't help but be surprised when ward members ask why their tithes and offerings aren't used for beautiful places of worship, qualified teachers, good speakers, inspiring music, and thoroughly vetted youth leaders.

Excuse me? Hello? We're Mormons, for crying out loud! 

Face it. If the ward toilets aren't clogged, the nursery leader makes an appearance, Brother Pukahi brings his ukulele, and you're lucky enough to fall asleep during Sacrament Meeting, consider yourself spiritually fed for the week.

Avoid anti-Mormon literature
Focus on the positive, tune out the rest.
Stop being such a grouch. Sure there are some negative aspects to Mormonism, but what's the point of dwelling on them? After all, there are so many positive things about living the Gospel.

Save yourself the aggravation by tuning out the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, the Ensign, official church statements, the General Authorities, the temple ceremony, and any products or publications by Deseret Book.

Focus instead on happy things like the Primary Children's Songbook, Relief Society center pieces, and Sister Renfro's super-yummy cinnamon buns.

If after implementing the following suggestions you are still thinking of leaving the fold, remember that "inactives" are shunned by their friends, estranged by their families, and go on to lead warped, bitter, frustrating lives that end prematurely from a combination of alcohol poisoning and venereal disease.

See you all in church on Sunday! :-)

Bishop Z

If you would like to stop receiving these e-mails, click here to improve your religious experience.