Marriage Wasn’t Hijacked, It Was Given Away

Since the supreme court’s decision that marriage is a civil liberty there have been countless posts on Facebook about how the courts have unlawfully redefined marriage and that God’s definition of marriage needs to be defended.  Today I’m not going to talk about the myriad problems encountered when trying to use a secular government to enforce religious laws, but something else, namely that marriage hasn’t been stolen from conservatives, the conservatives gave it away.  It’s their own fault that marriage has been changed (again).

How is it their fault?  Because they willingly accepted (and still accept) legal benefits associated with being married.  As long as there are non religious benefits to marriage, there cannot be religious constraints put on it.  I know some of you say “great, get the government out of marriage altogether!!” I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to the many that like the legal benefits of marriage, don’t want to give them up, but still want to deny them to gays.

Our government is not a theocracy.  We are a nation of (many) Christians, not a Christian nation.  Our founding fathers specifically wanted the government to not fall under the power of religious tyranny.  The government was specifically designed as a secular government both to keep the government from the corruption of religion and more importantly to protect the religious liberty of every individual by allowing no laws bound to any particular faith or creed or the prohibition of the free exercise thereof.

Because the government is not a theocracy and is therefore not bound to honor any particular religion’s definition of what is right and wrong, it CANNOT be biased against individuals whose beliefs run contrary to someone else’s no matter how many claim either side of the belief.  For this reason, the government of the United States cannot both provide legal benefits to married individuals AND limit the definition of marriage based on religious preference.

It’s really as simple as that.  If you want to take marriage “back”, you need to be willing to give up any and all benefits of marriage that are not strictly religious.  I know some people try to claim there are purely secular reasons to deny gay marriage, but I have personally yet to hear a convincing or supported argument.  It all comes down to “it’s icky” and/or “my God said so.”

Marriage wasn’t taken from religion and conservatives, religion and conservatives gave it up.

Advertisements

Religious Freedom

“Religious freedom”, it’s the current popular buzz-phrase and movement by the Mormon church and other religions.  They cry out for it as though it is something deserved and something denied them.  But what IS religious freedom?  What do the religions actually want and do they deserve it?

Many try to portray “religious freedom” as the ability to worship as they will without interference.  But this doesn’t feel like what it means in action.  It feels more like they want the ability to say what they want when they want without any criticism.  If feels like they want a government that officially supports their beliefs while suppressing others.  You see this when they openly denigrate anyone with opposing beliefs and ideals and then complain when those others accuse them of bigotry.  You see this when states like Idaho try to declare their state to be officially christian.  It is seen when Christians are all about having the ten commandments posted on government property, but freak out if any other religion wants to also put up idols sacred to them.

Religions already have “religious freedom”.  They are able to worship how, where, and what they may so long as it does not endanger others.  So what more do they seek exactly?  Do they want the ability to say what they want without reprisal or contradiction?  Do they want their religious beliefs to be enshrined in law?  Whatever it is they want, they don’t seem to want all religions to be afforded the same latitude.  Imagine how many Christians and particularly the right-wing extremists would react if we had an openly practicing Muslim president, let alone a president they currently lambaste as a Muslim sympathizer.  Look at how Idaho lawmakers acted when a guest Hindu chaplain offered a prayer in session, they actually refused to attend.  These don’t look like the actions of people who want religious freedom.  They look like the actions of people who want a theocracy.

The question really is however, does religion deserve any protection at all?  I would submit to you that religion deserves no protection that is not afforded to any other group or individual.  In fact, from a non-religious point of view they’re lucky they’re given any leeway at all. As a society we have no problem incarcerating people who are mentally unsound, we have no problem holding people back in school who aren’t learning enough, we have no problem attacking other parties and organizations for things we don’t agree with, but for some reason we still protect religious thought, even the most crazy or blatantly wrong ones.  From a non-religious perspective, there really is no reason to respect religions any more than any other organization.

Why are states making laws to protect the exercise of religion specifically?  Why is it that the government can’t put any undue burden upon the exercise of religion, instead of the government can’t put any undue burden upon the exercise of free will.  Specific acts and lines of thought should be criticized on their own merit, not whether someone claims they have religious reasons.

I have never heard an argument for putting special protections around religion that doesn’t fall in to one of two categories.  First, some reason that assumes their religion is true.  Second, “it’s tradition”.  On the first, just because you believe your religion is true, does not mean it is.  You have no more right to the protection of your thoughts than the guy down in the mental institution who insists he was abducted by aliens.  You have no more proof of your version of god than the mental patient has of being abducted.  You simply cannot base laws on “because my version of god said so”.  On the second point, tradition is a terrible reason to ensure that ANYTHING keeps going.  Tradition boils down to “because it has been, it should be”.  This is simply not true and as seen through history is not sufficient reason to continue anything.  Two of the best examples would be slavery and women and blacks as property.  These things have both gone on for thousands of years and were rightly abandoned in any civilized countries.  So no, just because something has been, doesn’t mean it should be.  Religion should survive on its own merit, not because it’s religion.

The only area that I haven’t been able to wholly make up my mind on with the whole topic of “religious freedom” regards the providing of services.  I don’t think a company should be forced to cater for a gay wedding if they are opposed to gay weddings, I don’t think a person should be forced to bake a cake espousing ideals they are absolutely against.  However I don’t think any doctor should ever be allowed to refuse medical services to any group of people that they would provide to anyone else.  So somewhere in between lies a line.  Where that line is I don’t know exactly but I think we will come to find where that line is as we go forward as a society.  What I am sure on, is that the line should have absolutely nothing to do with whether religion wants it there or not, it should be drawn at the place that is best for society.

Each act should be judged on its own merit and context, not whether it is religious in origin or not.  To give religion any special protection that is not given to any organization means that we are in fact endorsing religion.  Endorse charity, love, kindness, morality, and all good things, but endorse them because they are good, not because they are religious.  Shun evil, hate, meanness, immorality and all bad things, but shun them because they are bad, not because they aren’t religious.

Edit:  Clarified a couple things and changed some of the more charged wording.

You Might Be a Cafeteria Mormon If…

What is a cafeteria Mormon?

It might mean different things to different people but to me it has always meant that a member does not believe every teaching and/or scripture of the LDS church.  They pick and choose what they believe as if they were in a cafeteria line picking and choosing what they want to eat.  Many believing members would never admit to being a cafeteria Mormon because it implies they are less than a “true believer”.  I think they might be surprised at what qualifies them for this esteemed category so I’ve provided some examples to help people to get a quick idea about whether they or someone they know is a cafeteria Mormon.

Without further ado…

You might be a cafeteria Mormon if…

1.  You don’t believe remarrying after divorce makes you an adulterer.

I know right?  But it actually gets even better.  Anyone who marries a divorced person is also an adulterer.

Luke 16:18 : “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”

3 Nephi 12:32 : “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whoso shall marry her who is divorced committeth adultery.”

Some try to justify these verses by saying “put away” means a divorce that isn’t fully legal.  These verses make a clear connection between “putting away” and “divorce”.  And even if one did believe the first half doesn’t mean divorce it clearly states that if you marry a divorced woman, you are committing adultery.

2.  You believe that David having wives and concubines was a sin.

D&C 132:39 : “David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.”

Perhaps you simply aren’t versed well enough in modern revelations if you don’t understand that God gave David his wives and concubines.  He only screwed up with Uriah.  Glad to have this cleared up.

3.  You believe that David having wives and concubines wasn’t a sin.

Jacob 2:24 : “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.”

Perhaps you simply aren’t versed well enough in the Book of Mormon if you don’t understand that David’s wives and concubines were abominable before the Lord.  He didn’t just screw up with Uriah.  Glad to have this cleared up.

4.  You think it was somehow okay that Joseph continually lied to Emma about his polygamy.

D&C 132:61 : “And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.”  [emphasis added]

Not only was it expected that Emma know about his plural marriages, she was supposed to agree to them.  Joseph’s continued deceptions with Emma had no justification.

5.  You think Joseph marrying already married women was okay.

D&C 132:61 : “And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.”  [emphasis added]

Pretty sure women married to other men have made vows with those men, even if we ignore the whole virgin requirement.  Joseph’s polyandry was not acceptable under the laws of God or man.

6.  You believe the black priesthood/temple/exaltation ban was a commandment from God.

When Brigham young introduced the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood, which had the unfortunate side effect of denying blacks the exalting ordinances of the temple, it was purely a policy, not doctrine or revelation.  The Church denounces Brigham’s and the following church leaders’ racism altogether.  Good on them.

“In two speeches delivered before the Utah territorial legislature in January and February 1852, Brigham Young announced a policy restricting men of black African descent from priesthood ordination.”

“Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

Race and the Priesthood

Good thing we have prophets today to clear stuff like this up, right?  Would have been nice if someone had put out a clear statement about this in the past.

7.  You believe the black priesthood/temple/exaltation ban was not a commandment from God.

The First Presidency of the church stated unequivocally and without any ambiguity that the blacks not receiving the priesthood was a direct commandment of God and was not a matter of policy.

“The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.” [emphasis added]

First Presidency Statement (President George Albert Smith)

Good thing prophets can’t lead us astray, right?  Not like anyone is going to completely contradict this and throw President Smith and a bunch of other prophets under the bus a half century or so later, right?

8.  You believe that black/dark skin is a curse or sign of disfavor with God.

The church has completely disavowed any of the racist theories that dark skin is a curse from God.  It’s good to see the Church acknowledging these blatantly racist theories of the past for what they are.

“Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.”

Race and the Priesthood

9.  You believe that black/dark skin is not a curse or sign of disfavor with God.

The Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses both show that the Lord has used dark skin as a curse in the past.

2 Nephi 5:21 : “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

Moses 7:8 : “For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.”

In the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses shall every word be established, eh?  This must be pretty solid if it’s in two modern revealed scriptures.

10.  You believe in human evolution.

I’m not going to get in to how much evidence there is or isn’t for evolution, because that really isn’t the point here.  Many members of the Mormon church in light of all the evidence supporting evolution have tried to reconcile human evolution with a literal interpretation of the story of Adam and eve.  Unfortunately, these two ideas are mutually exclusive.  If Adam and Eve were the first humans on Earth, then human evolution has to be a complete fraud.  If evolution is accurate, then a literal interpretation of Adam and Eve is impossible.  The main reason for this is that there was no death before Adam.  None…at all.  And by most interpretations of the scriptures, no death on Earth PERIOD before Adam and eve.

2 Nephi 2:22 : “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.”

Fairmormon gives a decent treatment to the topic.  Admittedly, death for all the world is not a rock solid interpretation of the scriptures, but by all accounts including apologists, Adam and Eve were not mortal before the fall and were the first man and woman on the face of the earth.  With how evolution works, they cannot have been immortal and the first man and woman AND have been created through evolution.  Their parents would have had to have been human…they would have had to have had parents period at that.  Human evolution and a literal Adam and Eve are completely exclusive events.

Conclusion

It’s not actually possible to NOT be a cafeteria Mormon.  No Mormon believes all of Mormonism.  As evidenced in just these few examples, it’s not even actually possible TO believe all of Mormonism, because the teachings of the church/scriptures contradict far too often.  To those who would say “we receive further light and knowledge from modern prophets!”, I say that there is a difference between further light and knowledge and completely snuffing out the light given in the past and replacing it with new light.  Truth cannot contradict truth.

God Wouldn’t Do That Now

When talking to believers about various problems with church history or biblical incidences, sometimes the conversations turn to things that God is reported to have said or done that make him look rather vindictive or just plain cruel.  In LDS theology, God is supposed to be a kind, loving, and charitable God.  However, if you bring up things like the test of Abraham, God commanding his people to murder innocent women and children, or more recently forcing Joseph Smith to marry multiple women, one of the most common defenses that I’ve heard is “Well, God wouldn’t do that anymore.”

God is supposed to be the same yesterday, today, and forever.  So how can a person say that God is perfect and unchanging in one breath and then turn around and say that God wouldn’t do something today?  Just recently after the latest polygamy essay was released by the LDS church, I read about one woman who wanted the church to both apologize for Joseph’s actions and also alleviate member’s concerns by telling them that God would not command a woman to marry a man today.  Well, why in the world wouldn’t he?  There’s no reason why God would command someone to do something in the past but would never command them to do it today.  Especially if you subscribe to 1 Nephi 3:7.  The Lord always provides a way, right?

Members will talk about how God will give us each our “Abrahamic test” in this life, but I don’t know a single one who believes he would ever give any test quite so cruel.  They believe God commanded the slaughter of women and children, but he would never do that now.  They believe God forced Joseph Smith in to polygamous marriages, but believe that couldn’t happen in our day.

But, God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  It is simply not possible for God to have the attributes assigned to him by mormon (and generally Christian) beliefs and also be the God of the Old Testament.  He can’t be the same God who threw out a third of his children over free agency and yet took Joseph’s away wholesale when it came to polygamy.  The angel with the flaming sword is Satan’s plan, and I think deep down that even believers understand this.  I think they know that old God and new more touchy-feely God can’t be the same being, but they simply refuse to connect the dots.

I will admit, that this has been extremely frustrating for me personally.  But even if I don’t agree with them and even though it is super frustrating, I get why mormons have to defend all of God’s actions, even at the cost of reason.  Mormon morality is based entirely on God’s commandments.  If God says to do it or does it himself, it is morally right.  If God says not to do it, then it is morally wrong.  End of story.  But then there’s the rub, “God wouldn’t do that now” shows that inside, even some of the most devout LDS hold their morals separate from God.  Why wouldn’t God command us to kill our children today?  Because it’s morally reprehensible.  Why wouldn’t God force us in to polygamous marriage today?  Because it is morally reprehensible.  Deep down they understand that true morality is not derived by God.  But to consciously admit this, is to admit that God has done some terrible things and there might be no justification for it.

LDS are taught so strongly to anchor themselves to the foundation of Christ and to not fall prey to moral relativity.  What they don’t realize is that we are all subject to moral relativity, we just choose whose morals we will subject ourselves to, whether it be God’s, mankind’s, or our own.  I think this is really the heart of the matter. God is NOT the same yesterday, today, and forever.  His attitudes are subject to the will and mind of the people of the day.  This is documented clearly in the bible and in modern scripture and revelation.  Birth control was of the devil, but now it’s not.  Oral sex was of the devil, but now it’s not.  Homosexuality was a choice, but now it’s not.  It was doctrine revealed by God that blacks were to be denied exalting ordinances for over 100 years, but now it was just an unfortunate racist policy of the past.  All through the history of the world, God’s morals and commandments have been more indicative of the attitudes of the day than of any firm and unchanging moral compass.  But, when you cannot accept that this is true, the only recourse left is to say “Well…God wouldn’t do that today.”

Next time you are talking with a believer and you hear them bring up this point, please ask them “why”.  Why would God not do those things again in our day?  If you actually receive an answer that doesn’t boil down to the person finding it to be a morally reprehensible act, please come and comment and let me know.  Or if you are a believer yourself and feel you have a good answer then let me know.  I would honestly like to hear a good explanation for why God wouldn’t do these things today that doesn’t rely on God being changeable or subject to the moral whims of the day.

Thanksgiving

I’ve been having a fun thanksgiving vacation with my family and just want to express my gratitude for them.  I’m grateful for my wonderful wife who has stuck with me through everything and has made it possible to be post-mormon without judgement on her part.  Without her support this would have all been much harder.  I’m grateful for my children who are just wonderful little people and I hope that I can be a good role-model for them and teach them to be good people and to have upstanding morals throughout their lives.

I’m grateful to have a job I can support my family with and I’m grateful that we have everything we need.  No matter what frustrations I have, I know that I also have great friends and family who will be there for me when I need it and I hope I can always be there for them.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend!

Blind Fear

Just tonight I read an article by a BYU student, Blake Oakey, called “What Tithing and Korihor Have To Do With Ex-Mormons Attending BYU“.  He takes a legitimate movement by BYU students to allow actual religious freedom at BYU and spins it to sound like an insidious plot to destroy the souls of men.

Right off the bat we get this:

The idea of Ex or disaffected members attending BYU makes me squirm.

Even the idea of being around someone who once shared his opinions but now has changed their mind makes him uncomfortable.  And not just being near them, even being in the same school as them.

He then goes on to talk about how students’ tuitions are subsidized by tithing and how it is a stewardship that he and other students take seriously.  This is good, I would hope that every student would appreciate the sacrifice others have made to contribute to their education.  However, the then proceeds to talk about students who “flagrantly disregard the honor code or doctrines of the church” and says that they are in no position to receive those funds.  There are two points here.  First, I would agree that those who flagrantly disregard the honor code which they agreed to should be subject to all the same disciplinary action as all the rest of the students.  Mormon or ex-mormon, it doesn’t matter.  Follow the rules you agreed to abide by.  On the second point however, students who are not LDS are under no obligation whatsoever to follow the doctrines of the LDS church above and beyond following the honor code and whatever is needed to obtain a non-member ecclesiastical endorsement.

The idea of Ex-Mormons attending BYU, who leave the church hoping to benefit from the institution funded by a church and prophets they don’t believe, in is offensive and problematic to many of us.

Someone who no longer believes in the church is “offensive and problematic”.  This is such a terrible attitude that I can barely stand to read his words.  This is an attitude that very much fosters an “us against them” mentality that is not just unhealthy but damaging to the church in the long run.  If you’re not for us, you’re against us.  Also, it’s not like what a person currently believes is always a matter of choice.  Some people when confronted with the truth, by their nature, must incorporate it in to their view.  Why should a person be punished for finding out the truth about the church and for no longer believing in it?

Blake would rather have them lie to everyone around them and pretend to be something they are not, instead of just becoming a non-member and paying non-member tuition and moving on with their lives, or get out of his presence!  He’s so afraid of someone who has decided that the church is not what it says it is, that he is completely in favor of just ejecting them entirely.

when anti or ex-Mormons come around, the wisest decision it to remove them before they can hurt other’s testimonies

Are their testimonies really so fragile and built upon a sandy foundation that even the very existence of an ex-mormon threatens their testimony?  I wish I could say that this mentality was rare and unique to this individual but unfortunately the way the church talks about “apostates” leaves little room for a fully indoctrinated young mormon to believe anything else.  They couldn’t possibly just want to finish out their education in peace, no, now that they’ve left the church, their entire existence is about destroying the church and the believers!  It’s a ridiculous notion, but it is one that many members, including myself while still an active member believe whole-heartedly because it is the narrative put forth by the LDS church.

While I am a firm supporter of religious freedom, and the right to live the beliefs of our own conscience, and support the Article of Faith #11, at a church run school like BYU, allowing those who know the truth of the gospel, who have become disaffected or have left, to remain is just asking for trouble.

“While I am a firm supporter of religious freedom…well I’m actually not.  You’re fine believing whatever you want to believe, just so long as you don’t believe I’m wrong.  If you believe I’m wrong, get out of my school!”  He has fallen for the all-ex-mormons-are-anti-christs rhetoric so fully that he actually believes it is better to get rid of them all then risk that one of them might, you know, change someone’s mind.

The answer to that question is quite apparent to anyone who has spent any amount of time within the Church. During my 22 year stint on Earth, one truth about this matter has become abundantly clear. When members leave the Church, they never leave it alone.

I used to buy in to this line when I was a member, because I’d never seen the other side of the fence.  I had no idea just how naive this statement is.  First of all, it’s not even remotely true.  There are many people who leave the LDS church or become inactive who simply fade away and have nothing to do with the church ever again.  Secondly, there is a reason that some people who leave the church “never leave it alone.”  Just as members believe it is their mission and duty to bring people to the knowledge of Christ and help them overcome the world, those who have seen the church for what it is often feel it is their mission and duty to help the people they love and care for come to see the spiritual and mental bondage that they are in.  If you knew that your loved ones are in the thrall of an organization that uses well established methods of mind control and behavioral manipulation to get them to devote their entire lives and a tenth of their income to their organization that is founded in lies, would you not do everything in your power to free them?  Would you not do everything you can to expose the truth?  With every essay the church releases it becomes clearer and clearer to those willing to open their eyes that “anti-mormon lies” are the actual truth and the sanitized correlated history and doctrines members have been fed over the years are the lies.

There is always the festering thorn of the gospel that they can never truly remove.

This is true, but not for the reasons Blake thinks.  It isn’t the spirit pestering them for their bad decisions.  It’s the church and/or its members constantly pestering them.  It’s the day-to-day lies and half-truths spun out by the church that drives them mad with frustration.  It’s the unwillingness of their loved ones to remove their blinders that makes them weep at night.

While it is truly heart wrenching to see our brothers and sisters lose their trial of faith and resign from the LDS Church, it is important to always show love and respect.

I’m sorry, but destroying someone’s life by stripping them of everything they’ve earned at BYU so far and their livelihood because they are no longer a source of tithing is not love or respect.

My friend has a family member who has completely left the Church. It is nigh impossible for their family to spend any time with this person because everything is always seeped in contentious arguments. They love their family member immensely, but there came a time when they needed to separate themselves for their own spiritual safety.

Did he ever stop to consider that maybe the family member isn’t the cause of the contentious arguments?  That maybe, just maybe the family member would love to just have a real conversation regarding the truthfulness of the gospel without members turning every single word in to an attack on the church and themselves.  Separating themselves for their own spiritual safety?  If your testimony is so fragile and your knowledge so thin and lacking that further light and knowledge might bring your opinion crashing down, then maybe your opinion should be brought crashing down.  Any opinion, even strong opinions called “testimonies”, that cannot stand the light of truth and knowledge needs to be changed.

While being Ex-Mormon is not always the same as being Anti-Mormon, when it comes to the safety of the soul, I think it’s best that the honor code allow that separation to continue unabashed.

“Instead of having to actually think, it’s better to just get rid of anyone who thinks differently.”  This person unabashedly spews fear mongering and hate rhetoric designed to make members fearful of encountering a dreaded ex-mormon.  I wish I could blame Blake wholly for his attitude, but I can’t.  I know that this article and his attitude in general are the product of years of indoctrination.  I was there myself, I understand being there.  In their mind there is absolutely no good reason to leave the church, so in order to protect themselves their mind puts up a barrier against acknowledging that ex-mormons might not be liars.  To acknowledge that an ex-mormon isn’t a liar and might have a valid reason to leave the church is to admit that the church might not be what it claims it is and their mind simply won’t allow them to even consider that possibility.  So Blake, and others like him continue to do what they have always done and blindly fear.

I am ashamed that I used to think this way.  That I saw everything so black and white with no room for anything in between.  I am ashamed that I blindly lumped all ex-mormons together as hateful and spiteful apostates.  I was what Blake is, and it frustrates me because I understand how impossible it is to reach out to someone like that.  Now that I’ve become a post-mormon, I have a much greater understanding of what it means to leave the church.  There are those who are bitter, yes, some probably longer than they should be.  For most, their anger is just a phase, their bitterness temporary.  They’ve suffered a great loss in their life and must grieve.  A very few of these feed on and fuel this anger and bitterness and unfortunately these, to the Church’s benefit, become easy poster children of apostasy and the church can paint them as the standard ex-mormon.

Each of us who have moved on can only do our best to not feed the narrative that the church would have its members believe and be kind, loving, patient, generous, and generally charitable people.  The more members who can see that we are still the same people we always were, just now not believing the same things we used to, the more we can help the Blake Oakeys of the world realize that maybe, just maybe, those ex-mormons might have a point or at the very least, that they deserve the same religious freedom that mormons want for themselves.