Friday, June 29, 2012

Some Things the LDS Church Should Change For the Better

I am not posting any funny pictures to this post. I am in one of my moods right now. This is something that has been coming for a long time now, mulling over in my head as I listen to podcasts, as I wrote posts on here for over two years. Some of what I say here is not new by any means, but I feel like this list is 'acceptable.' That any member could read this and as a decent human being agree. I try to be reasonable with my suggestions, and I honestly believe that if the Church did these things it would help it as an institution and would garner more respect from me and others who left it behind. These by no means are the entirety of how I feel ... for the most part this is a list of compromises. Especially the Women's section. These are things I think the Church could ACTUALLY do within the next year and would not cause that much of a stir inside, but would help them to gain the support and respect from many outside.

So here it goes:

Own up to their racist past:
The Catholic Church comes out and apologizes for things. The LDS church tries to separate itself. I thought racism was discriminating against someone based on their skin color and/or ethnicity. Tell me how blacks not getting the priesthood or being able to go to the temple worship services is not racism? What exactly was stopping them except their skin color? How is this discrimination based on skin color NOT racism? If not, then how would you define Racism? Please, I would like to know.

This is one of the top reasons members LEAVE the church: the history of racism. If the church owned up to it, apologized to its members, all blacks, and those of the world who detest an evil discrimination such as this, then it would only do them good. As it is now, it is doing them harm. And if some members get upset about it ... then good, the Church SHOULDN'T want those type of people in their community.

I have met people who separated themselves from the Church because of this.

Stop using The Miracle of Forgiveness for those raped or molested:
I had heard of this before but never gave it much thought till a recent conversation with a former member who has worked with rape victims professionally and felt this was one of the most damaging things in her life. And who could disagree? For those who don't know TMoF is a book talking about all the types of sinning you can do and how Jesus is there to provide a path of forgiveness and love. Its central message is lost in the very judgmental and depressing statements made about sinners. Basically if you ever had a bad thought about a girl in a bikini then you will fear Hell-fire and run to your bishop for forgiveness if you read this book. If you're looking at porn and masturbating, well ... sucks to be you.

So why the Hell has this book been given (and still is?!) to girls and boys who have been molested and raped? How is it supposed to be helpful in any way? To make sure they didn't 'enjoy' being raped? To make sure that, because of being molested for years, they don't have any repenting to do? WTF!??! This is ass-backwards, this is just about the worst thing to do, clinically speaking, to rape and molestation victims. This is the equivalent of getting upset with someone who just told you they are suicidal!

The Church needs to own this too. They need to release a statement telling members to STOP using the book. They need to apologize to all the members over the years whose suffering was increased by their inept use of a book about condemnation and putting the victim in the hot seat. This is abhorrent.

I have met people who have been hurt directly by this type of action.

The Church needs to own up to how its members treat gays:
Okay, I've made enough posts about gay suicides in the church, the rates in Utah, the homeless youth rates in Utah, etc ... and if you don't know then do some minor research or follow my links on the panel to the right. I am NOT saying the Church needs to allow gay marriage. I am saying the Church needs to make a definitive and forthright declaration to parents to stop DISOWNING THEIR OWN FUCKING KIDS when they come out as gay or get caught. They need to tell their members to love their own kids. The Church has, in private with specific people, acknowledged that they don't know what to do exactly. Well, regardless, kids are dying and the Church so far feeds the culture that allows this to happen. A statement would remove them from personal responsibility and they won't make it. How it is all happening right now is atrocious.

They need to own up to the fact that members do these things BECAUSE of their particular beliefs in the Church. The Church can fix this and SAVE LIVES with one statement and it really is not much to ask.

I have friends who have been disowned by LDS parents for being gay.

The Church needs to remind women that being a mother is not ALL they are:
This is one area that is muddled by ALL the issues going on with women in the church. But the Church has one simple thing they could do that would help a lot of women: remind them that being a mother is not the only thing they are. I'm not saying the Church has to change it's doctrines two-fold, but so many women in the Church get stuck in the mindset of 'motherhood' and lose sense of themselves, lose sense of their own wants and needs, and are reinforced into this through statements about 'not being selfish' and 'motherhood is what you were made for.'

I'm not saying to give women the priesthood. I'm saying to tell women that they are MORE than being a mother. They are a person. They can have career goals. Not having kids right away is NOT a sin. Not having that many kids is NOT being selfish. How often have we heard of women in the Church who lose their identity because it is swallowed up in their kids and their callings in the Church? Just like gay teens killing themselves, for those women who can't separate their personalities from motherhood and suffer because of it, they are losing their lives.

The Church needs to switch gears and help women to be 'women,' not 'mothers.'

I know mothers who got so engrained that they forgot how to live for themselves and feel betrayed by the Church.

The Church needs to own its history:
On simple facts the Church could be more forthright and lose fewer members. Some people, such as myself, grew up till older teens believing polygamy was not true, it was all lies! Then we find out it was true and it shatters our world. The Church white-washes its history and this leads to members who are stalwart and want to seek truth to discover these 'darker parts' and end up leaving because the Church 'lied' to them. In regards to human history polygamy is not that big of a deal, it is not unique. If more open about their history the Church would not lose more people but retain people ... and not hundreds, but thousands over something like polygamy.

Some people look into it and find out that in regards to other religions and cultures it is not that big of a deal and go on about their normal lives. Some other people reach that point and then continue ... finding about the polyandry that occurred, like how Joseph Smith who had roughly 33 wives while alive, also had been marrying other men's wives, such as Orson Hyde. The Church can not avoid things like this in an internet age, where, as more and more members leave, the Post-Mormon culture has grown enough to support more mass publications of factual, informative critiques of the Church's history. For those who find out Joseph Smith married Hyde's wife WHILE Hyde was away on a mission for a year ... that blows their mind. The Church could attempt to explain this, show how Hyde actually DID mostly accept the marriage when he came back. They can give doctrinal explanations. So long as they remain silent and knowingly hide bits of history like this then members who stumble across it will fall away, feeling betrayed.

I know and have met literal thousands who have left the Church based on historical facts about the Church that the Church is not forthright about.

The Church needs to make the family first, not the church:
Bishops donate about 23 hours a week to their calling. Most have full-time jobs. Women are taught to marry in the Temple to BE SAVED and so a non-Temple marriage is that much more scary for them than men. If a spouse falls away often the believing spouse is advised about seeking a divorce to marry a worthy member. Every Sunday part-member families are reminded of how second-rate their home is compared to a full-active family with active children. Gay teens and rebellious teens are kicked out of their LDS homes, apprising roughly 72% of the homeless youth in Utah, though the number of LDS persons in Utah is less than 2/3s.

These things are the same types of actions you see in the slang-used 'cults' in America. This is cultish, us versus them, and the Church has taken great strides to be more inclusive but it has a far distance to travel still. The Church needs to change the rhetoric about non-members who are in part-member families or active families. These situations show that, at least to the members, the culture and doctrines say to put your family second if they don't put the Church first. If a kid is gay then he forfeits his family. If a wife stops believing, then she forfeits her marriage. If a husband stops believing he forfeits his rights as a father to his children with the right to see them and love them.

This is despicable.

Why is it that we can have Catholics married to Jews, atheists married to Hindus, Muslims married to Christians, but that Mormons have such a difficult time with sharing faiths? Having a different opinion, point of view on life, or different faith doesn't mean you can't love each other enough to have a family. The Church gives the impression of 'us versus them' and it means that for members, how the impression is expressed is that they need to separate themselves from those 'others.' This hurts many people, families, children, and non-members, especially those who have no other connection to the Church except to be told they are not welcomed. I recently ran into this myself with a believing Mormon who feels she has to marry in the Temple. Some people have truly wonderful relationships with bright futures, who will end it all based on the LDS beliefs. Regardless of how happy they and their future children could have been or how wonderful the person was to be with.

The Church has tried to be more accepting lately, even saying that some Apostles came from Less-Active or split homes. The horror stories former members and non-members hear, like ex-wives who run from state to state to keep her kids from her still Christian but now non-Mormon ex-husband are DAMAGING to the Church ... not helpful. I know these people. I know friends who were disowned for not believing. I have friends who are going through divorces or have to fight to see their kids because they left the LDS faith. I cannot think of anything worse then being a parent who has lost the love of their life and who has to fight to have the right to see their kids simply because they stopped believing in LDS theology.

 The Church needs to address these issues more directly and make official policies about HELPING families, not tearing them apart.


  1. Blogger, I could have written this myself - glad you did it for me, and so very well too.

    I have been discussing these very issues this week and it occurred to me that the church is like a big ocean liner full of passengers. Some of them, seeing the oncoming storm have been protesting at the direction the ship is heading and have been saying, "Turn around before it's too late." Others say, "Just put your faith in the crew and 'steady as we go.'"
    It takes a long time to turn such a large ship around and I believe that some of the crew are onside with turning it.

    It will take nothing less than complete honesty to put the church on a course that creates respect and forgiveness for the lies of the past. It is not those who are abandoning ship who are to blame but the captain and crew.

    Pass me a life-jacket.

  2. Considering your timeline, Jean, it was you who passed me a life-jacket :)

  3. The biggest issue (and impediment to change) is just the simple fact that members are not allowed to dissent. And the Church always has to be "perfect". And in the meantime, people get hurt in ways they can't even fathom.

    Keep this up, we need to remember these issues. And I hope you feel better.

  4. Fantastic article.

    I have made all these arguments myself and it never seemed people understood them at face-value. Someone either becomes completely outraged that I would dare speak out against the church and believes me to be a hateful individual, or I get "support" from hateful individuals that end my statements with "yeah! burn the church!" or other nonsense.

    I'm glad to know there are others out there who understand the need for change and free-thinking but don't fit the stereotype to rally for aggression and hate.

    I will stick around to read more for sure.

  5. Post-Mormon Girl - thanks. I wished to skip over 'basic' facts or things I've talked about before and present some ideas that I have not heard much of or wrote about yet.

    Sadly, things ended up a little worse later on. Help bring more women out of the Church!

    Kid - I certainly have become much more moderate in my views and opinions. I find that I often quite knowingly have tested my boundaries with beliefs, ethics, theology, etc... and so I feel like that, with Mormonism, I'm done with the embittered, angry extremes.

  6. The main reason Mormons only marry other Mormons is because they believe it is essential to their salvation to be married in the temple.