Friday, September 4, 2015

Why Ex-Mormons Won't Leave the Church Alone, Part 1

The question I am most often asked by believing Mormons is: "Why won't Ex-Mormons leave the church alone?"

I've never directly addressed that inquiry here on Ward Gossip. There's a reason for that, and it involves the preservation of my sanity. As many of my Gentle Readers probably know, engaging with Mormons on that issue can be a head-banging, mind-numbingly maddening experience.

I end up getting angry - like back when I was a Mormon. And since not being angry all of the time is one of the best things about no longer being a Mormon, I tend to opt for humor. In part for my own therapy.

However lately a decline in my blogging enthusiasm has made me see the end of Ward Gossip closing in on the horizon. And there are a few things I still want to share before I go, including my answer to the highly annoying question: "Why won't Ex-Mormons leave the church alone?"

Reason #1: Because the church doesn't leave us alone.
  • Mormon missionaries travel worldwide, knocking on doors and sharing their message. 
  • Members are encouraged to share the gospel with their neighbors and friends, also to reconvert "inactives," even when the so-called "inactive" has made it clear that he or she is no longer interested in attending. 
  • The church springs for in-your-face advertising: TV commercials, billboards, even a feature length film. 
  • Mormon temples and historical sites boast attractive, well-manned visitors' centers.
  • They have a big choir that regularly tours and records. 
  • High profile Mormons in business, politics and the entertainment industry publicly embrace the faith. In 2012 one even ran for president.
  • The Mormon Church has encouraged/pressured its members to vote for and donate money to political causes that impose its narrow values on society at large. For example, the extreme liquor laws in Utah, the successful opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment during the late 70's and early 80's, various gambling initiatives, and perhaps most notoriously, the successful passage of Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage in California back in 2008. 
Don't get me wrong. The LDS Church is well within its rights on all of the above. So long as they are obeying local laws, the Mormons are free to seek out new and reconvert old members - even if their tactics are annoying. Likewise, they can produce cheesy commercials and films, run for office, and otherwise participate in politics. 

In fact, there are outsiders who enjoy those cheesy ads, admire the Mormons' wholesome, clean-cut image, and appreciate their outspoken support of conservative social issues. We know this because the Deseret News, the Mormon Newsroom, and similar LDS outlets are quick to share any kind  words directed at the church in the mainstream media.

But the moment anyone publicly disagrees with, criticizes, protests, or (god forbid) pokes fun at the Mormons' very public image and/or mission, the members and leaders of the self-proclaimed one and only true church suddenly morph into the Amish: 
"Why are they persecuting us? We're a humble, private people who only want to practice our religion separately and in peace. Why can't they leave us alone?!"
Now comes the head-banging moment, when I need to be duct-taped to my chair to keep from grabbing one of them and screaming into his or her clueless face:
"WHY DON'T YOU GET IT? Humble my @$$. You belong to the one and only true church, for crying out loud. Your religion's headquarters has expanded into half of downtown Salt Lake City. And when your Utah-based church tries to dictate the marriage laws two states away - where roughly 1% of the population is LDS - people aren't going to leave it or you alone." 
Most members of mainstream churches do get this. Thank god for my progressive Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, and also my thoughtful LDS friends who can stand the heat and take a joke.

But there are a smattering of fundies out there who, like an unfortunate number of Mormons, mistake freedom of religion with the right to impose one's religion on all of society. Take, for example, Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, who, for the sake of obeying "God's law" broke federal law when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Now she's in jail, and, no doubt, feels persecuted.

I could attempt to explain to both her and her supporters why I believe the government won't and shouldn't "leave her alone." But it would likely be yet another head-banging moment. Then I'd end up getting angry - like back when I was a Mormon. Angry and bitter.

There's another common question I'd like to answer before I go: "Why are Ex-Mormons so angry and bitter?" One thing at time...

Coming soon: Why Ex-Mormons Won't Leave the Church Alone, Part 2! (Spoiler alert! Content to include seriously terrifying little-known facts about John Lennon and The Eagles. Also some disturbing examples of "LDS rock music.")

19 comments:

  1. This post got me to wondering about the similarities to Scientology, which seems like a more modern, upscale, version of the craziness.
    I can see why a person would get angry and frustrated. Can't wait for part 2!

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    1. There are similarities, Jono. Although, out of the 2 I'd rather be a Mormon. And you know I don't say that lightly.

      Among other things, they both have heavy PR machines. I've even wondered if they've used the same firm. Those "and I'm a Mormon" ads are dead ringers for the Scientology ads that preceded them.

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    2. Both groups are insular, demand money from adherents, and exert an unhealthy level of control over adherents' day to day lives. It's fair to say that they're similar, but the LDS doesn't seem to be as ruthless as the other guys.

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    3. Mitt totally took a page out of the Scientology playbook during his run. He couldn't deny he was a Mormon, but he sure didn't bother to explain what that meant. I noticed Sen. Jeff Flake did the same on a recent taping of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!"

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  2. Fabulous! You hit the nail right on the head!

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  3. Okay the part that jumped out at me was the part about you winding things up and not blogging!! This will be a sad day for me. :'(

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  4. Thanks KMW and knotty! Now if only we could get a TBM to listen to our argument.

    JJ - thanks for being such a loyal reader! I still have more to say, it's just that after almost 6 years it's beginning to look like time to move on. That being said, I'd love to read some more Thoughts per Coffee!

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  5. You might be ending the blog? Sad news/happy news. Sad because it's so good and I'll miss it-- happy because... more novels?

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    1. I hope so, Marion. Blogging is fun but it's also time consuming and when I've finished a post I'm usually done writing for the day. But then, you know all about this!

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  6. My take on this;

    Remember the phrase, "Every member a missionary" Because Mormons have, "The Truth" right? In fact, Mormons "KNOW" it is true right? So its really important to get your non-lds friends and family in on this "truth" right? (The importance of this task is drilled into our heads at an early age) Furthermore I dedicated two years of my life trying to spread this "truth" out in the real world to non-Mormons. However when you learn about "the issues" (Adam-god, polyandry, BofA, Kinderhook plates, etc) the "truth" becomes a massive "lie". Since the missionary mindset has been drilled into you since birth, you are still a missionary, but now you spread your new "truth" that Mormonism is a scam.

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    1. Good point. Old habits don't die easily.

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  7. AMEN! I would love to leave them alone.

    Truly great post.

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  8. Donna, if you stop writing her I hope you will still be writing something for an audience. I loved Ward Goppip and your books--actually. I have been on a Mormon mystery binge after discovering Moroni Traveler audiobooks on Hoopla ( my first introduction to the LDS circa 1990, when I thought "no, there can't be a crazy cult out in UT running the whole state...") and that Mettie Ives Harrison book, and you are a worthy addition to that reading list.

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    1. Thanks so much Kerry! I'm working on a couple of projects right now and hope to find a publisher. I read Mettie Ives Harrison's book and liked it. :) Thanks for the comparison.

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  9. It's the total self-absorption and lack of self-insight (aka conditioned narcissism) that makes that question so annoying.

    It is analogous to an experience I recently had while traveling. My plane landed in Denver where many passengers (including myself) had a short period of time to make a connecting flight. The airline attendant request passengers who did not need to make a quick connection to please stay seated so other passengers could leave quickly. As most of the passengers stood immediately to disembark, a few got angry and verbally belligerent at the rudeness of it all, assuming (wrongly) that no one else but them had to make a quick connection. I should also mention here (in the interest of full disclosure) that several of the belligerent passengers were on my flight to SLC. : )

    Happy and sad for you to be moving on, Donna. I second what Marion said. Great post!

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    1. Thanks AT! Yes, naturally priority should be given to those sacrificing all their time talent and resources to ... well you get it.

      I'm kind of sad about it too, but as you like to say, when it stops being fun, it's time to move on. It's been 6 years of fun up until recently and that's longer than I'd expected!

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  10. So sad to hear you may be done blogging- but I understand. =) Funny thing about leaving the church- usually exmormons know more about the religion than tbm mormons do- its because we can't leave it alone. =)

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    1. Ha! No kidding. We've studied our way out of our testimonies. lol

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