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An ex-Mormon explains how a church with mostly good values can promote hatred and intolerance.

Mormon Homophobia: Up Close and Personal
By Sheldon Rampton, Center for Media and Democracy. Posted December 3, 2008.

I recently wrote about the PR nightmare facing the Mormon Church as a result of the prominent role it played this year promoting Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage in California. At the urging of church leaders, Mormons spent about $20 million on the effort, which probably provided the margin that enabled the measure to pass.

There is some irony in the fact that Mormon pollster Gary Lawrence, who led the Proposition 8 grassroots campaign for the church in California, has a gay son, Matthew, who publicly resigned from the church to protest its anti-gay campaign. Matthew says that after his father’s participation in “two anti-gay initiatives in eight years, it’s impossible not to feel attacked.”

Adding to the irony, Gary Lawrence has a new book out, titled How Americans View Mormonism: Seven Steps to Improve Our Image. His advice to Mormons who want to be better liked is, “Simply be yourself” — advice that drew a sharp response from one blogger, who pointed out that being yourself “is a poor prescription for winning friends when ‘who you are’ is someone willing to lead a campaign to strip your own child of his civil rights.”

The anti-Mormon backlash continues, and some people who have Mormon friends are rising to their defense, including Kaliya Hamlin (also known as “Identity Woman” for her work on issues related to online identity). In a recent blog post, Hamlin complains that “Web mobs” are engaged in “blacklisting and subsequent public harassment and targeting of specific people and specific religious groups for their beliefs and support of ‘Yes on Prop. 8.’ ” She continues:

I take this personally, I have and do work with people who are Mormon — when I played water polo in university and in the Identity field). I respect the LDS church and the people in it — they have good values. …

I think what is going on with the blacklists that are directly targeting people in their private life is wrong. I think targeting specific religious institutions for protest is wrong.

These people and these religious institutions are not propagating HATE, they are just not agreeing that marriage can be between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. This is a cultural difference of opinion.

With all due respect, I think Hamlin fails to understand the intensity, seriousness, and yes, hatred underlying Mormon opposition to gay rights. I actually have more personal experience with Mormons than she does. I was raised in a Mormon family and even served a two-year Mormon mission in Japan, from 1976 to 1978. Although I no longer believe in or practice its teachings, my extended family includes many active members. It’s true that individual Mormons are mostly nice people — as generous, thoughtful, intelligent and considerate as people from any other religion or belief system. Unfortunately, it is actually possible to possess all of those positive attributes and still promote hatred and intolerance.

From my missionary days, I still own a copy of The Miracle of Forgiveness, a book by Spencer W. Kimball, who was president (and “prophet”) of the Mormon Church from 1973 until his death in 1985. The church still promotes Kimball’s book and supports its beliefs regarding homosexuality, which he outlined in a chapter titled “Crime Against Nature.” It states:

Homosexuality is an ugly sin, repugnant to those who find no temptation in it, as well as to many past offenders who are seeking a way out of its clutches. It is embarrassing and unpleasant as a subject for discussion, but because of its prevalence, the need to warn the uninitiated, and the desire to help those who may already be involved in it, it is discussed in this chapter. …
[P]erhaps as an extension of homosexual practices, men and women have sunk even to seeking sexual satisfaction from animals. …

All such deviations from normal, proper heterosexual relationships are not merely unnatural but wrong in the sight of God. Like adultery, incest and bestiality, they carried the death penalty under the Mosaic law. … The law is less severe now, and so regrettably is the community’s attitude to those grave sins — another evidence of the deterioration of society. In some countries the act per se is not even illegal. This “liberalizing” process is reflected in the United States by communities of homosexuals in our larger cities who sponsor demonstrations and draw up petitions to this end, who are formally organized, and who even print their own perverted journals. All this is done in the open, to the detriment alike of impressionable minds, susceptible urges and our national decency.

Mormon abhorrence of homosexuality is so strong that in the 1970s the church even experimented with aversion therapy at Brigham Young University, setting up a center where it tried to “cure” homosexuality. The so-called therapy consisted of taping electrodes to the groin, thigh, chest and armpits of gay men and subjecting them to painful electric shocks while showing them pornographic photographs of nude men. The treatments, which were overseen by the head of the university’s psychology department, were thought to be “effective in reducing homosexual responsiveness.” I happen to know someone who underwent this treatment — in his case voluntarily, because he was desperately trying to comply with Mormon teachings. However, some cases have been reported of people who were subjected to aversion therapy against their will or who were pressured into it with threats of expulsion from college. The experience left many with psychological and physical scars, and at least two men reportedly committed suicide shortly after undergoing treatment.

Hamlin says that Mormons have “good values.” However, Mormon values are precisely what are on display in Kimball’s writings and the actions of the aversion therapists at BYU. And they are core values of Mormonism today. These values are deeply felt and widely believed. They are the basis for Mormon political activism against Prop. 8 in California, and they will undoubtedly continue to drive Mormon political actions against gay rights in the future.

Of course, not all Mormons share this homophobia. There is even a Web site,

MormonsForMarriage.com, devoted to letting “the world know that not all Mormons (LDS church members) oppose gay marriage.” However, this view is in the minority and is strongly at odds with the church’s official position and numerous pronouncements from church leaders over a period of decades. Matthew Lawrence is only one of hundreds of Mormons who have felt compelled to resign their memberships in protest against the church’s opposition to gay rights.

The question remains, of course, whether Hamlin is right that supporters of gay rights should refrain from “directly targeting people in their private life” by protesting and arguing with individual Mormons who have participated in the church’s anti-gay campaigns. Certainly, protesters should refrain from belligerence, threats and intimidation. However, the only way Mormon attitudes are going to change on this issue is through confrontation. (And even then, attitudes will not change easily or quickly.)

On this point, I remember my own experience as a teenager in the 1970s, a time when Mormons continued to cling to another discriminatory value — the so-called Negro doctrine, which excluded people of African descent from the Mormon priesthood. As justification for the priesthood ban, a number of pernicious theories were popular in Mormon culture. I own a book from that era,

Mormonism and the Negro (co-authored by a vice president at BYU), which patiently explains that blacks are “descendants of Cain” and therefore subject to “Cain’s curse” because their spirits were “less valiant” than the spirits of white people. (Although I didn’t know it at the time, even these ideas were an improvement over the statements of Brigham Young in the 19th century, when he declared as a “law of God” that “If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot.”)

As a high school student in 1974, I felt privately uncomfortable with the Negro doctrine, but like many members of the church, I didn’t think about it very much. It didn’t become a personal thing for me until one day in gym class, when a black kid came up to me and angrily said he had heard that Mormons didn’t think blacks like him should go to heaven. What did I think of that? He wanted to know.

Technically, he was wrong about the theological details. Mormons actually believed that blacks could go to heaven. They just couldn’t have the priesthood. I tried to make that distinction the basis for a joke to defuse the situation. “No, we think you can go to heaven,” I replied. “We just think you don’t deserve to.” The kid glared at me for a minute, and that was the end of the conversation.

Today, more than 30 years later, I don’t remember his name, but I remember the moment very clearly. I imagine he walked away thinking he had wasted his breath by even talking to me. He certainly didn’t get a satisfactory reply. But the conversation had an effect on me. It left me feeling profoundly shaken and uncomfortable about a church practice that until then had seemed like a theoretical abstraction of no particular relevance to my own life. Over time, that discomfort helped inform my thinking and changed my attitudes.

There were Mormons and non-Mormons who challenged the Negro doctrine long before I ever heard about it. For most of them, challenging the status quo was unpleasant and sometimes was met with hostility — all the more so because on that issue, as with the issue of gay rights, Mormons simply did not believe that they were guilty of promoting hatred or discrimination. It took years for attitudes to change on the Negro doctrine, but in 1978 the Mormon Church officially announced a revelation — from none other than Spencer W. Kimball — which gave black Mormons the same priesthood rights as everyone else. I remember when it happened. (I was in Japan at the time, knocking on doors and trying to get people to read the Book of Mormon.) Most members of the church were palpably relieved when the Negro doctrine was finally abandoned, but nevertheless it took pressure and personal confrontations to make this change happen.

On an issue like this one, where there are entrenched attitudes and strongly held beliefs, change comes one conversation at a time, haltingly, with discomfort and difficulty. Some Mormons are having those conversations as they discover that members of their own family are gay. Others are now having the conversation thrust upon them as people “target them in their private life” to challenge their political activities. However discomfiting these conversations may be, they need to happen if attitudes are ever to change.

http://www.alternet.org/rights/109586/mormon_homophobia:_up_close_and_personal/

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20 TRUTHS ABOUT MORMONISM
@
http://trialsofascension.net/mormon.html

Because my uncle is a Mormon Bishop, I have visited hundreds of sites that he would call “ANTI-MORMON” to study Mormonism. I was buying books and video on Mormonism before I had a computer. But this site has to be one of the top 20 sites on Mormonism.

The site is owned my a former Mormon. Mormons will say he is just a disgruntled ex-member who has an axe to bear. But even though he was born to Mormon parents. He was NOT born disgruntled with Mormonism. Obviously it was his experience with Mormonism that disgruntled him.

BECAUSE IT WOULD BE BEST FOR YOU TO SEE THE WHOLE SITE. And it is way to big to do even a series of post on. He has a page for each 20 truths about Mormonism. At a later date I may consider posting each page one at a time in a very long series. But if you interested in good material on Mormonism, I highly recommend this site.

Below is the Index, Introduction page and The owners testimony page.

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Introduction
1. Book of Abraham
2. Kinderhook Plates
3. Plagiarism
4. Polygamy
5. Emotionality
6. Changing Doctrine
7. False Prophecies
8. Lying for the Lord
9. Treasure Hunt
10. Blood Atonement
11. Vain Ambitions
12. Defections
13. BOM Changes
14. BOM Population
15. Lamanite DNA
16. Critics Squelched
17. Black Prejudice
18. Nephi or Moroni?
19. Archeology
20. First Vision

Observations
My Story
Resources

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Introduction

“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

“Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize To which mortals or Gods can aspire; Go search in the depths where it glittering lies Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies. ‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.” – John Jacques (LDS convert in 1845)

“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth, more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man” – Bertrand Russell

“Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.” – T. H. Huxley

The desire for truth has been my only motivation in creating this website. I have compiled this information in a sincere effort to explore the validity of the claim that the LDS church is the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased.” (D&C 1:30) In so doing, I’ve tried to be objective and fair by including both my concerns and what I consider to be the strongest responses to those concerns by church apologists.

Based on this information, it is my conclusion that the LDS church is not the “only true church”. Having grown up and devoutly believed in the church for many years, I’ve decided to no longer be a part of it. I believe the truths cited herein clearly show that the church has misled its members as to the character of its founding leaders, the veracity of its doctrines, and the divinity of its origin.

Are illusions sometimes beneficial? I think so. I have no problem with my young children believing in Santa Claus right now; the belief fills them with hope and excitement. At the same time, as they mature I expect them to realize the myth for what it is and set it aside accordingly. I view the Mormon myth in the same light; it provides hope and direction for some people. However, like any myth it can also be a source of misinformation which leads to unhappiness.

If you are truly happy and fulfilled as a Mormon, perhaps there is no reason for you to read further. However, if you find your spiritual growth has stagnated and want to learn more about the origins of the Mormon church and what that implies for your own journey, read on.

Jim Day, Ph.D.

http://trialsofascension.net/mormon.html
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My Story

I grew up in the LDS church and have ancestors that go back to the early days of Mormonism. One of them was even a bodyguard for Joseph Smith 🙂 I was born and raised in Utah, but have lived in Texas for the past decade.

I served a mission in New South Wales, Australia from 1985-1987. In 1989 I graduated from BYU, and went on to graduate school in Texas. I have two small children that mean the world to me.

For most of my life, I had a strong testimony that the LDS church was “true” based on various spiritual experiences. I served in positions of responsibility, including being a counselor in a bishopric for 5 years. I believe the church was good for me in some ways, given the focus on principles such as family, service, integrity, and healthy living.

However, a couple of years ago I took a step back. At that point I had passed all the Mormon milestones and it only remained for me to “endure to the end” to ensure my exaltation. But I felt like my spiritual progress had stagnated. I was no longer growing, there was a general spiritual malaise, and I was bored with the pace of the Mormon hamster wheel. I was unsatisfied with the black and white lenses through which I saw the world, compared to the beautiful colors that I now appreciate. I found myself looking at other church members who seemed content, and realized that I didn’t want to stay in that rut for the rest of my life. The church was no longer meeting my needs.

This gave me some breathing room. Some Mormons may conclude that my motivation was due to a desire for sin, or because I was offended by someone. None of those things is true. My only motivation has been the desire to know the truth.

I wrote the following poem, which conveys the confusion, growth, and ultimate enlightenment resulting from my journey:

As a Child
As a child, it seemed so simple;
Every step was clearly marked.
Priesthood, mission, sweetheart, temple;
Bright with hope I soon embarked.
But now I have become a man,
And doubt the promise of the plan.

For the path is growing steeper,
And a slip could mean my death.
Plunging upward, ever deeper,
I can barely catch my breath.
Oh, where within this untamed wild
Is the star that led me as a child?

As I crest the shadowed mountain,
I embrace the endless sky;
The expanse of heaven’s fountain
Now unfolds before my eye.
A thousand stars shine on the land,
The chart drafted by my own hand.

I made a deliberate decision to open my eyes. I felt that the sincere pursuit of truth was more important to me than anything else. So I began to question everything. Were my spiritual experiences merely self-created emotional experiences, because I wanted to believe? Or were they perhaps genuine experiences from God that I had misconstrued as evidence for the authenticity of the LDS church? Is there really a God? Is there life after death? Was Jesus more than just a great teacher? And what about all the “Anti-Mormon” rhetoric I had encountered in the past? I had always brushed it off as the product of people with a personal agenda for converting me to their idea of truth. I had found it fairly easy to dismiss the points people had raised to me in the past. But now I really wanted to know if there was any substance to those concerns. I wanted to know if the LDS church was in fact the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased.” (D&C 1:30)

So I created this website. It covers what I consider to be pivotal questions regarding the church’s history, authority, and doctrine. I have tried to be objective in this process, and have collected information from all sources, both pro and con. I have given the Mormon church every opportunity to address these concerns. However, based on the strong evidence presented here, I ultimately decided to leave the church.

I have shared with my former church leaders that a “spiritual witness” is not sufficient to restore me to the church at this point. I have had many such witnesses in the past, and am no longer willing to trust them at the exclusion of my intellect. However, it’s not my intention to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Although I no longer “know” there is a God, I hope there is. I feel that I am following the pathway of truth, and am willing to go wherever it takes me. I can genuinely say that I am more integrated, more at peace, and happier in my life today than ever before.

Have you ever seen The Matrix? Like Neo, I have finally answered the phone and awakened to the real world. It’s not the utopia I thought it was, but at least my eyes are open. This is an exciting time. I feel like I’m growing again!

I hope that the information presented here is helpful to you in your own personal journey toward truth. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me.

http://trialsofascension.net/mormon/story.html

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