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Kevin Graham

Can Mormons leave for legitimate reasons?

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This is a continuation with Beowulf from this thread:

http://www.fairboards.org/index.php?showtopic=6734&st=30

It had nothing to do with the topic of the thread so I decided to make a thread of its own.

== It is not "knowledge" in whatever form that turns a person away from the Church.

Of course it is. What other possible reason could it be other than knowledge of some form? Ask any exmormon their reasons. When they say it is because, for example, they found out horses didn't exist in the Americas, this is a sound reason based on knowledge unknown in the 19th century. Just because we might not find this reason compelling enough to abandon the faith, doesn't mean it isn't "knwoledge" of "whatever form."

== The person has some personal demons, or anguish, or whatever, and what he "discovers" (or thinks he discovers) merely propels the person on the way. But his "discoveries" is what he goes around telling everybody over why he has lost belief.

Do you have any earthly idea how arrogant this sounds? You're essentially declaring, with the utmost confidence, that anyone who decides to leave the Church, does so because of "personal demons, or anguish, or whatever." Is it really too difficult to fathom that some people just might be disturbed by what modern discoveries shed light upon? Not everything is faith promoting. In fact, very little of it is. Couldn't it just be possible that people leave the Church for the reasons they themselves give?

No, impossible! You know the real reasons for each and every one of them, better than they do. And if they insist you are wrong about their reasons, well, like you said, they must be lying.

== There is always something else besides scholarly knowledge.

But you just insisted scholarly knoweldge is NEVER the reason.

== Some of my best friends are in this category. Even one of my brothers.

But as you just said, EVERYONE is in that category since scholarly knowledge is NEVER the reason. It is just an issue of "personal demons" - whatever that means.

== I know them too well to accept their story that their departure from the Church was merely an intellectual thing. (But I am too polite to say so to their faces.)

Assuming we go ahead and take your superior mind-reading abilities for granted when dealing with your personal friends, why should we assume you have that kind of mysterious mental power over every single person who has ever left the Church? This is too much.

== I have lived long enough to see that every man and woman on this planet has emotional scars coloring their experiences. I am just stating a truism, not an accusation.

Sorry, but you said very clearly: "When they do leave, there is always a personal reason, despite what they say."

Thus, you accuse most, if not every ex-Mormon alive of lying about their reasons. Why? Is it because it threatens your own faith to entertain the possibility that someone could leave the Church for legitimate reasons?

Suppose tomorrow a historian uncovers incontrovertible proof that Joseph Smith had once pretended to have found golden plates when he was only twelve years old. As a result, some notable LDS apologist like Kevin Barney decided that was the straw to break the camel's back and he leaves the church. Would you accept his claim that scholarly evidence has compelled him to make this decision, or would you sit on your white horse and insist he is lying; that his real reason has to do with his inner "demons"?

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Great question Kevin.

Here's a very brief list of items which might cause a former believer to leave the church.

1- The book of Abraham papyri are common funerary texts which have nothing whatsoever to do with Abraham.

2- Joseph lied about polygamy (to his wife, no less), thus demonstrating a propensity for dishonesty.

3- Anachronisms in the BoM

4- Admission by Harris that his witness of the BoM was visionary

5- Over 3000 revisions made to the BoM since it's original publication

6- Endorsement of racism by banning blacks from the priesthood and temple ceremonies.

7- Similarities between temple ceremonies and freemason rituals

8- Lack of evidence demonstrating historicity of BoM

9- DNA evidence against the BoM claim that native americans are decendants of Lamanites

10- Smith's money digging escapades

11- Problems with the veracity of Christianity in general

12- Parallels between religious doctrine contained within the BoM and popular 19th century theological trends.

13- Contradictions within mormon doctrine (The BoM condemning polygamy while the D&C requires it, for example)

14- Inconsistencies with the "first vision"

15- The first presidency's lack of "discernment" demonstrated in purchasing Hofman's fraudulent documents.

16- Evasive answers to simple questions from modern prophets. (Was God once a man? "I don't know that we teach that")

17- Polygamy and the idea that God would command something that most people find morally reprehensible.

18- Prophets teaching tenets which are later discarded as "opinion".

19- Doctrinal silliness- God lives on a giant crystal ball near a star named Kolob? Come on.

20- Incompatibility between church doctrine and modern scientific knowledge.

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Have gone through this process of leaving the church, mainly "for intellectual reasons", back in the 80s, I think there are situations when people do have genuine reasons to leave - according to their intellectual understanding at the time.

But we must distinguish between fact and perception. To leave the church "for intellectual reasons" is a mighty big supposition - it supposes that ALL the answers are known and that the person is justifiably leaving on concrete, solid grounds of fraud and deception. This is actually quite laughable, because no one has this final absolute knowledge. One makes such decisions on current knowledge, and often supposes that no other knowledge will come forth to confound that current understanding. That's why IMO it's always best to approach these problems agnostically and admit why you are really leaving. In my case my then knowledge, which has significantly broadened since then, was a contributing factor to many other factors, like getting tired of the LDS lifestyle, or just regimentation and ritualistic church attendance, or just wanting more freedom! (That beer tastes so darn good) Dishonesty sometimes enters our explanations and admission as to why we leave, and here's the funny thing - we, more than anyone else, convince ourselves that we're really leaving because the gospel is a fraud, or we've been "duped", when in fact it's a complex number of factors motivating us, some that even consciously elude us.

Now I've heard this tired old chestnut about "I am a fully active, commandment-keeping Mormon, but I still don't believe, and I have big problems with some things I've learned, so I'm leaving". All I can say is HeHeHeHeHe!! Pull the other leg! First, NO ONE can keep all the commandments, and he that says he does is a LIAR, and we deceive ourselves because the truth is not in us. Everyone breaks commandments, even the Prophet, so when I hear this self-righteous drone about "I keep the commandments yet I still can't believe" I think it's just load of BS. What some don't understand, probably because they have not read the BoM properly, is that we can sin and fall "even in our very thoughts", and the BoM warns us that should we be cut off in certain thoughts or attitudes we must go down to hell. You don;t have to swig on Johnny Walker and smoke a Cuban cigar to lose the Spirit, you can lose it by your very unbelief and lack of faith. (See Ether 4, whole chapter)

I think that's what, is it Beowulf (?), was alluding to. What we really need to do, those of us who have walked away from Mormonism, is to face up to the fact that we DO NOT know all the answers and that Mormonism might be true afer all. It might also be untrue, but who has the knowledge to categorically say this? Take the horse, for example, the one you gave. In the early days of my doubting I thought this was a significant problem, but now I think it's a storm in a teacup, if that bad, and nothing in the wide world will now convince me that the horse poses any threat whatsoever to the authenticity of the BoM. I have gone through this on this board until my keyboard was wearing out, but those who "lose faith" because of such things have lost their faith to the point that they do not or cannot fathom very reasonable answers to this "problem". I'm not going through it here again, heaven forbid! But let me tell you this - a little learning is a dangerous thing. DO NOT mock sacred things that you do not understand, and do not mock on superficial knowledge which you may think is ALL powerful, final knowledge. It isn't. And you could be dead wrong in your supposition that Mormonism is a "fraud", or whatever. That is why I think that the antis and exmos who come here to "enlighten" Mormons are themselves some of the most deluded people I've met.

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And, I might add, I have just gone through MS's 20 "devastating" reasons "which might cause a believer to leave" and I don't find a single one which does not have equally plausible answers. Take for example his 11th reason: "Problems with the veracity of Christianity in general"

That's why a Mormon should walk away from the church.

That's in fact why I have also scaled down participation in threads that go over and over these issues. It's fruitless because some believers don't accept that there are problems (none however I think fatal to Mormonism) and the unbelievers don't accept that someone with a brain can continue to believe Mormonism.

The only point I could see that has some veracity is the BoM historicity problem, and even that has become secondary to me now, for reasons I won't elaborate on at the moment. I am not defending the literalists because I think that even if the BoM is not historical I still accept that it's a divine revelation.

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All right, you asked for it. :P

Working from personal experience here...

These are all people that I know personally. If they are reading this and recognize themselves, I apologize for outing them.

One close friend told me that I would leave the church, just like he did, as soon as Bro. Benson became President. Why? Because Bro. Benson was too conservative for the both of us. (This was true, btw) I patiently explained to him that when Bro. Benson became President, he would not say anything that would offend me. (And he did not)

But what about my friend? He had been dabbling in drugs since he was 15, was woefully depressed for years, never married, grew bitter, etc. etc. And yet his withdrawal from the Church was intellectually based?

Or how about my brother-in-law, who taunted my sister for believing in the silly BofAbr, as he drifted away from the church. After their (inevitable) divorce, he was later jailed for child pornography, and last I heard took his son (my nephew) to a rally in Washington DC in favor of legalizing marijuana. Is his withdrawal intellectual?

Or my sister (the same, who no longer believes), she has been put upon by two nasty husbands, and just become bitter about life.

Or my brother, who blames everybody but himself for his viscissitudes in life, and wanders from one New Age idea to the next. Is he withdrawn for intellectual reasons?

I could go on and on, but... so far, in my nearly 50 years of life, I do not personally know a single person who has left the church without SOMETHING gnawing at him or her. It is not the truth or untruth of Mormon history, or of the Bible, that dissuades any of these people. That is just the reason they put forth.

I am sorry, Kevin, but you have struck a nerve.

BTW, thanks Curelom, for listing all the reasons that I hear from these above same people.

I especially liked your No.19. Well and truly distorted.

Thank you

Beowulf

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Thanks Ray, for your comments. Always very enlightening.

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All of the following rests upon on the assumption that the Church is indeed God's true church, and that Mormonism is, in its essence, God's unique saving truth. (Without that assumption, the question seems somewhat pointless.)

From the perspective of eternity, there can be no legitimate reason for leaving the Church of God or for turning one's back upon God's revealed truth and will. Such a decision is simply and always wrong.

However, our knowledge here is limited, fragmentary, imperfect, and distorted. So it's possible that one can leave the Church for reasons that, given the flawed nature of our knowledge in mortality, genuinely appear to be good and sufficient. It's a matter of our perceptions.

But our perceptions are always colored by our own individual personal history, character, knowledge, ignorance, desires, mental and emotional health, ambitions, etc. So no decision to accept the gospel or to reject it is likely to be purely rational, uncolored by "personal" factors.

We can trust that God knows this and appreciates it far better than we do, and that, in his mercy, he will take such factors into account. Those who have sincerely done their best will, I believe, be blessed for it, even if they took mistaken detours. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to tempt God. And those who have lived carelessly, heedlessly, and cynically, are also living recklessly.

Having said all of this, I add for the record that my experience with friends, relatives, and acquaintances who have left the Church has been very similar to Beowulf's. I'm not sure if I know of a single case of purely intellectual apostasy.

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I

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At the risk of being thought "arrogant" by the ever humble and open-minded Kevin Graham. My observations from personal experiences with siblings, other family members, and close friends, echoes that of Beowulf and Dr. Peterson and Ray A..

One need but take a stroll down "Reovery" lane to hear all the intellectual reasons cited for their having left the Church (see MC's list for starters), and yet not help being struck by the non-coincedental evidence of more deep-seated factors that may have contributed as much if not more to their departure--not that all, or even most, who leave the Church will suffer from the kinds of disfunction and anit-social tendancies rampant there.

Even still, in cases where matters of faith are supposedly decided solely on an intellectual basis, that is suggestive of an absence of the Spirit in the process, which significant factor must be factored into the equation. In other words, leaving the faith can't just be for intellectual reasons. It unavoidably has to do with the lack of the Spirit as key component (i.e. the "head" working at the exclusion of the "heart" and "soul").

I suppose the same, in principle, can be said of those who leave the Church for purely emotional reasons.

I hope this helps. Thanks, -Wade Enlgund-

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This idea--that there is no legitimate reason to leave the church and that those who leave do so because of personal shortcomings-- is one of the most cult-like aspects of the church. Implicit in this notion is a willful blindness to the undeniable problems which exist in Mormon history and doctrine; problems for which apologetic responses are often so weak as to be laughable.

But back to the cult parallel. A cult will never admit that there is a legitimate reason to leave. Those who excape the cult will be defamed; labeled sinners or weak willed. Part of this behavior is a defense mechanism which works to maintain group cohesiveness. Current members know that if they leave the cult, they will be subject to the same defamation that they inflicted on previous defectors, which makes escaping the cult even more difficult than it already is. Another reason for this behavior is to rationalize the fact that people do indeed, leave the cult. If former members actually have a legitimate reason to leave, that means that a legitimate reason to defect truly exists. This line of reasoning is unacceptable for believers. Therefore, in order to maintain and justify their belief, current members must come up with an alternative reason for apostacy; one that doesn't threaten the belief system of the cult.

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1- The book of Abraham papyri are common funerary texts which have nothing whatsoever to do with Abraham.

Certainly causes people to leave, but it shouldn't if they had all the information.

There is absolutely no evidence that the Papyri discovered in a museum, is the Book of Abraham Papyri. Why would it be even? Wouldn't Joseph and the Church likely have given away the Papyri that was useless like the above, and kept the REAL THING? What about the fact that there was more Papyri than that?

There are many many more points, as well as evidences.

Thus, those who leave because of this simply aren't educated enough.

2- Joseph lied about polygamy (to his wife, no less), thus demonstrating a propensity for dishonesty.

Actually, Emma was well aware of Plural Marriage. Of course he didn't share it immediately for obvious reasons, but she knew about it very early on, despite her later denials he ever practiced it. Of course, to be clear, Joseph's Marriages were "Sealings" not actual plural marriages as with Brigham and the Saints later. The Law was introduced in Joseph's time, and fullfilled in Brighams time.

So, hardly an example of a propensity to "lie". Thus, one doesn't need to leave. Even if he did hold back some teachings to the Saints at large for a time, not unpresidented for mystery's to be kept for a time.

3- Anachronisms in the BoM

Well, there is a ton of evidence which disagrees. Of course, one has to see enough of it, and put it all together realizing that such would have been impossible for little 'ol Joe to have created, or anyone of the time at that.

So, not a reason to leave if one studies enough.

4- Admission by Harris that his witness of the BoM was visionary

Well duh..... All Three Witnesses saw the Angel and the Book of Mormon in "Vision". How else are you going to see such a Being? Only the 8 Witnesses "handled" the Plates.

Again, more ignorance of facts causing people to leave. :P

5- Over 3000 revisions made to the BoM since it's original publication

Give me a break..... Everyone of those changes were because of transcribing errors, printing errors, and simply formating and gramatical changes, as well as conforming later editions to the original where errors had crept in. In otherwords, all changes because of the error of men, not actual (God to Joseph) translation errors.

Ignorant reason to leave the Church.

6- Endorsement of racism by banning blacks from the priesthood and temple ceremonies.

Actually, it was the banning the African race from the Priesthood, as the Scriptures were interpreted. NOT "blacks". For there were plenty of "blacks" of all shades recieving of the Priesthood.

Not to mention there is scriptural president, of only certain tribes (races) having the Priesthood, and even the Gospel itself was "racist", for it was only for Jews, and not Gentiles.

Plus, I believe the ban was in place because of the wickedness of the men of the times (no not Brigham), the world itself. God has taken away his Priesthood before, so I'm sure he had His reasons. I can see clues as to why, but I once didn't.

This is really the only "legit" reason that I see a person having a real problem with the Church, because it's a hard issue for anyone to deal with.

But still again, one doesn't have to leave, if they understand man and God a little more.

7- Similarities between temple ceremonies and freemason rituals

People repeat this over and over as if it's true. The similarities are "cursury".

And still, this religion as commonality with ALL religions of the earth. What's the problem? So Joseph used his environment for inspiration to inquire of the Lord and the Lord restore principles through him. And so Joseph had a thirst for knowledge and understanding.

Hardly a reason to leave the Church.

8- Lack of evidence demonstrating historicity of BoM

Plenty plenty..... I wouldn't be in this Church or especially any Church unless it was so. I absolutely demand it, if it's there.

Again, enough knowledge, one won't leave.

9- DNA evidence against the BoM claim that native americans are decendants of Lamanites

Lamanites have nothing to do with the DNA of the Jews.

Whatever Lehite DNA was, it's long intermixed.

Lamanites were the non-believers of the Book of Mormon, as the Gentiles were the non-believers of the Bible. Nephites were the chosen, Jews were the chosen.

Again, a little more knowledge, and one would understand.

I had debunked Murphy DNA long before his hypothesis even came along. He's a joke at understanding the Church, as all anti's are.

10- Smith's money digging escapades

So he was a kid going treasure hunting once in awhile for fun.

Joseph was different of course, because his Prophethood was manifesting itself, so he saw things sometimes, and thus thought he could make some money doing it, obviously successful a few times. Of course, not successful most of the time.

It was a fad which most people did of the times, means nothing....

Another poor reason to leave.

11- Problems with the veracity of Christianity in general

Well, been there done that..... But the Truth is out there, and it's fullness is in the Church. Again, not a reason to leave if one is knowledgable and spiritual enough to see and understand.

12- Parallels between religious doctrine contained within the BoM and popular 19th century theological trends.

All are very poor parallels. Not a problem with a little more education in the issue.

Thus, not a reason to leave.

13- Contradictions within mormon doctrine (The BoM condemning polygamy while the D&C requires it, for example)

Time and Place, time and place..... More knowledge frees again.

Not a reason for leaving.

14- Inconsistencies with the "first vision"

Ommisions of details from different "accounts" written down by various people, do not a problem make. Important events in my history I often tell different parts and omit much according to the audience I'm speaking too.

Plus, when the final version was finally written down, the entire Church didn't say a word about it, all who knew Joseph. Clearly, other than a few anti's in the last 170 years, some faithful members would have said something from the beginning.

It was well known oral tradition what Joseph saw, not having been written down much, means nothing.

AGain, not a reason to leave. Now, if there were actual "contradictions", then you would have a case, but there are NONE. Only different details.

15- The first presidency's lack of "discernment" demonstrated in purchasing Hofman's fraudulent documents.

What does the Presidency have anything to do with the authenticy of some porported old LDS documents?

That's a scholarly issue..... Nothing to do with the Spiritual aspects of the Church, which the Presidency is uniquly qualified for.

Again, no reason to leave.

16- Evasive answers to simple questions from modern prophets. (Was God once a man?  "I don't know that we teach that")

God being once a man is not official doctrine of the Church. There is no scripture on it. Common belief according to some words of past prophets, but not doctrine of the Church, and is not taught, just as was said. Mentioned once in awhile, but not taught as doctrine. So President Hinckley was correct.

Again, not a reasonable reason to leave.

17- Polygamy and the idea that God would command something that most people find morally reprehensible.

Yet, it hasn't been "morally reprehensable" for most of history.

The only reason it is today in modern society is because all people think is SEX on the brain. Plural Marriage in the Church had nothing to do with sex.

More could be said, but again, not something to leave over if more is understood about it.

Hey, I should know, it, blacks and women and the Priesthood are the cheif reasons I once left. But I was ignorent, but now I understand more of Gods Works, Wisdom, and His Love. Plural Marriage is about love, not sex.

18- Prophets teaching tenets which are later discarded as "opinion".

Well, the early part of the Church was a little more liberal, you could say whatever you were inspired to say. However, other than the reasons gave for the Priesthood ban, not one thing was every commonly believed or taught in the Church, especially as doctrine. There is much more "lack of understanding" and "misrepresentation" by anti's of past leaders words, rather than things that we actually consider "opinion".

Again, the Saints know what is doctrine or not, opinion or not.

The ignorant outside and those doubting inside doesn't change that fact.

No need to leave again.....

19- Doctrinal silliness- God lives on a giant crystal ball near a star named Kolob?  Come on.

Is that the same kind of "silly" as the exhistance of millions of Planets in Space and likewise of Universes?

If God is really a "Higher Being", it doesn't sound so "silly" to me.

Not a good reason to leave.

20- Incompatibility between church doctrine and modern scientific knowledge.

You might think so, but those of us what HAVE once thought that, realize we were ignorant then.

Other religions maybe, but the Church is beautifully compatable with science.

One evidence of that is an outside study which was once done which show'ed that LDS actually got more "faithful" the more educated they got. Not only that, but LDS in general were more educated than other believers.

So, I don't agree..... Not another reason to leave.

Well...... Every one of the points above can be solved through more knowledge, understanding, and spirit.

So, people don't need to be leaving if they remain faithfully dilligent and wise.

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Can Mormons leave for legitimate reasons?, Who is to judge?

Legit..... Well, that word imply's "reliability". So, I would say NO. Because the Church is literally true, no reason can really be "legit".

However, do they "perceive" legit reasons? Sure, we ALL think we are right all the time, even if we are wrong.

So, they have a right to be dumb, just like we all do sometimes in our lives.

What's sad though, is when they REMAIN dumb, choosing to instead remain hard-headed and hard-hearted, rather than continuing to grow. I'm so glad I was wise enough to let go of my negative judgements, and instead have a more constructive focus. It's what lead me to finally find the truth, which seemed even impossible to ever find, given all the beliefs in the world one has to weed through.

But, as the Gospel teaches..... Faith, Humility, Meekness etc. will lead one there.

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Thanks for an interesting discussion. I'm still a member of the church (attend every Sunday, habitual home teacher) but my beliefs make me an apostate. Don't worry: have a calling which doesn't require me to have a testimony, and I no longer attend temple (although my TR has not yet expired). Still, I enjoy the culture of the church very much. However, I no longer believe its foundational claims. If I still felt the church were true, I believe it's safe to say that there's nothing in my life I wouldn't be willing to give up to follow it.

No, I have obviously never kept all of the commandments so I'm sure you could find some sin in my life to explain my apostacy (he watched the SuperBowl on Sunday one time in his life but that's all it takes!!) but I have throughout my life considered myself worthy to participate fully (served a faithful mission, married in temple, taught Seminary, blessed and baptized my children, held a "PEC calling" for 5 years prior to my disbelief, have always held a recommend, etc).

Until about a years ago, I had never looked at "unfaithful history" but I began while teaching seminary to be very concerned about some of the content of the Standard Works. Not the history or translation of those documents (not initially anyway) but with their actual content. Some of the things I read didn't seem to me like things a "real" God would really say or do. I started thinking about things like the Flood for example and perhaps for the first time in my life concluded that I did not believe in the historicity of quite a bit of stuff. Frankly, to me at least, the God described in the OT, the PoGP, and the Book of Mormon doesn't sound like what I would expect from a "real" God. From there, I began investigating church history from other angles than just the institute manual and I found it to be quite unconvincing. In what I would describe as a "terrible epiphany" I realized one evening that it's just another church like all the rest. I was devastated.

Now, before I go on, you're welcome to criticize me and say "who are you to decide the nature of God" let me just point out that everyone decides the nature of God! You decide there isn't one, or you decide that he's just like the Mormon church says he is, or you decide that he's something else--but you DO form an opinion. You might say "well, obviously you sinned by doing [insert whatever you want here]" but trust me when I say that I've already heard it from my family and my wife's family.

I'm sure it's much easier for people to conclude that I've done something wrong or that personal problems have led me to where I find myself. You could be right--but I don't think you are.

--KY

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17- Polygamy and the idea that God would command something that most people find morally reprehensible.

Yet, it hasn't been "morally reprehensable" for most of history.

Heh, as if MC puts together some semblance of truth . .

This one comment of his alone is told as if to ignore many nations and people around the world. As if whether being right or wrong about morals established by men make any difference to God anyway . . .

The answer to the topic thread is simple . . of course they can leave for any reason they wish . . and most children in primary learn this:

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

And just as obviously, judgement will be established by God.

Assuming you already know and believe this, I'm kinda surprised you even started this thread, Kevin. Following the above, shouldn't we even allow members the same privilege to believe as they wish--right or wrong--as we allow for non-members? Who are we to judge and make example? Aren't we better off to simple ask questions for facts, clarification, or understanding?

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Belief in religion is like tight rope walking the grand canyon.

If you wish to cross the canyon (life) using the tight rope (straight and narrow) you need the assistance of the balance pole (holy ghost). If you are going to throw away the balance pole you should have both feet firmly on the ground first.

I think you'll agree this analagy is better than my original thoughts which were along the lines of "people who are prone to belief in god, fall apart without emotional crutch"

Toolmark.

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I'm not sure if I know of a single case of purely intellectual apostasy.

Gosh you guys. Nobody knows me, and I am a case of purely intellectual 'apostasy'. Surely I cannot be that unique? Maybe you don't want to hear that though, I'm not sure. :P

True, had there been information available to me at the time (this was before the internet), I probably would not have left. It's not the same being out in the 'Mission Field' and having to rely on locals to help you. I seriously do not believe you can relate to my situation and I get the distinct impression that you do not even care to try.

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I'm not sure if I know of a single case of purely intellectual apostasy.

Gosh you guys. Nobody knows me, and I am a case of purely intellectual 'apostasy'. Surely I cannot be that unique? Maybe you don't want to hear that though, I'm not sure.  :P

True, had there been information available to me at the time (this was before the internet), I probably would not have left. It's not the same being out in the 'Mission Field' and having to rely on locals to help you. I seriously do not believe you can relate to my situation and I get the distinct impression that you do not even care to try.

Give it a go Joy. Let's hear your story, on a new thread if you want. I won't have much time to reply today, but I'll be back. I would genuinely like to hear your story.

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This idea--that there is no legitimate reason to leave the church and that those who leave do so because of personal shortcomings-- is one of the most cult-like aspects of the church. 

Etc., etc. And so on and so forth.

A fairly lengthy section of my book Offenders for a Word is devoted to consideration of the word cult, which, in its pejorative sense, appears to have no coherent meaning. It is nothing more than a four-letter term of denigration for a religious movement that one holds in disdain or contempt.

For that reason, as for many others, analyses that purport to illustrate the "cult-like" character of Mormonism fail to impress.

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I seriously do not believe you can relate to my situation and I get the distinct impression that you do not even care to try.

You have no idea.

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A fairly lengthy section of my book Offenders for a Word is devoted to consideration of the word cult, which, in its pejorative sense, appears to have no coherent meaning. 

One of the very few books I held on to in my "purge" in the last five years. I've gone from 6-7 bookshelves to ONE. The necessities of being divorced and having to move so often. Then again I show my bias: I would never throw out anything written by Daniel C. Peterson. BTW Dan, thanks (publicly) for sending me Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon. Not that it will make my belief in the BoM any surer than it can be, but it does have some "helpful hints" (LOL).

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== All right, you asked for it.

Yes, actually. I asked specific questions, to which you answered none of them. I didn't ask for a roll call of your "friends" who left for reasons you felt were not intellectual. Nor did I ask for the bomb squad to come in and reaffirm your experiences as if they also have this mysterious mind-reading capability to determine whether an apostate's claims are genuine or just exmormon lies.

You have not explained what you mean by "personal demons." Apparently this is some catch phrase you use to explain any and all anti-intellectual reasons an apostate may have. You have not explained why you could be so arrogant to include every single exmormon in existence into this neat little faith-promoting cubbyhole. I would have expected both brother's Peterson and Englund to speak out against such arrogance (especially given their readiness to defend any false caricatures of Islam). Apparently ex-Mormons deserve no respect at all, because according to what I'm hearing, not a single one of them has left for intellectual reasons. Nor could they, apparently.

Now you flat out accuse every ex-Mormon alive for lying about their reasons. So what if you know some apostates who left for "personal demon" reasons. Does that mean everyone has? Not one LDS here has had the decency to stand up against this type of psychobabble that lumps an entire group of people into one category. Now, are there exmormons who make it obvious that their reason are not really "knowledge? Sure. Of course there are. And those are the ones we usually hear about. Those are the ones who left the Church for social reasons, probably because they joined the Church for social reasons. Those are the nimrods hanging out on these webforums badmouthing Bishops they hated and try to give LDS apologists a hard time. But what about those who slipped away into inactivity and then quietly moved away without informing their Bishop?

We sit back and make up reasons why they must have left. Oh they probably didn't want to abide by the law of chastity. Or maybe the Word of Wisdom. Or maybe 3 hours every sunday cut into the Dad's football watching schedule. Or maybe they were tired of repenting. All of these reasons fall under the same umbrella: They were not spiritual enough!

I used to do this too, but then I grew up. This is doing nothing less than judging people you've probably never met.

RAY: == But we must distinguish between fact and perception.

What has this to do with the fact that people can leave the Church for intellectual reasons?

== To leave the church "for intellectual reasons" is a mighty big supposition

How is that? I gave a simple example with the horses. How is that not based on knowledge?

== it supposes that ALL the answers are known and that the person is justifiably leaving on concrete, solid grounds of fraud and deception.

It does no such thing. One doesn't need to believe "ALL the answers are known" in order to leave due to "knowledge." Where do you come up with this stuff?

For instance, faithful LDS might feel inclined to hold out for future evidence, and in the meantime rely on the "its still plausible" rationale. That's fine. But others may not. This does not discount the fact that a person leaving the LDS faith because horses have been proven not to have existed in the Ancient Americas, are doing so based on "knowledge." Whether you agree with that knoweldge is irrelevant. Nobody has any business recreating reality by saying it isn't because of knowledge, and Beowulf's excuse via psychoanalysis of thousands of people, based on limited experiences of a few friends, is a pretty outrageous "supposition" in itself.

== This is actually quite laughable, because no one has this final absolute knowledge.

You're not making any sense. If one cannot leave the Church with knowledge, then one cannot remain in the Church with knowledge. You can't have it both ways. To throw your hands up and say anything is plausible since we don't really "know everything," appears to be nothing more than a cop-out; and an anti-intellectual one at that. But at least apply the standard evenly.

== One makes such decisions on current knowledge, and often supposes that no other knowledge will come forth to confound that current understanding.

You're lumping all faith concerns into a nice little package that is easy to explain, but this only works if all things are equal. Not finding horses is one thing that one might be able to toss aside into the "but anything is plausible" bin. But finding out, for exampole, that a prophet of God believed a silly tale about Indians changing color after they converted to the gospel - and then preached it at General Conference as if it were divine truth - is something no future evidence is going to wash away. That damage was done. It was an embarrassment. It undermined our missionary claims that our prophets and leaders teach truth unavailable to other Churches. I can understand why some LDS might have serious issues with this. If someone leaves the Church because of this - as some have - then we can accept it or we can delude ourselves into thinking they probably left because of "personal demons." The latter is most certainly the way to go if you're looking to turn someone's apostacy into a self-serving faith-promoting experience of your own. To me there is something extremely sad about this.

I can also understand why many have issues with the BoA dilemma. Currently, LDS apologetics is taking a huge hit on this topic since the Church refuses to print the color photos that our critics already have! We're left to trust in people like John Gee and Hugh Nibley who have access to all the available material. But what they have produced thus far is nothing short of embarrassing. Their theory of a missing roll is all but destroyed, and other LDS apologists like Tvetdnes are coming up with other ad hoc explanations as to why the text doesn't translate into English the way Smith translated it. If someone feels the Rosetta stone proved Smith couldn't translate via inspiration, are they leaving because of "personal demons" or knowledge? Let's face it guys, many of our apologetic explanatiosn would never stand up in a court of law. So if these things are not beyond a reasonable doubt, then how can we sit back and say all of these people are leaving for non-intellectual reasons?

== That's why IMO it's always best to approach these problems agnostically and admit why you are really leaving.

Which is what? What's the "real" reason Ray? Are you going to join Beowulf and propose another massive psychoanalysis of thousands of people just because some idiots on the "Recovery board" complain about personal "demons"?

== In my case my then knowledge, which has significantly broadened since then, was a contributing factor to many other factors, like getting tired of the LDS lifestyle, or just regimentation and ritualistic church attendance, or just wanting more freedom! (That beer tastes so darn good) Dishonesty sometimes enters our explanations and admission as to why we leave, and here's the funny thing - we, more than anyone else, convince ourselves that we're really leaving because the gospel is a fraud, or we've been "duped", when in fact it's a complex number of factors motivating us, some that even consciously elude us.

I think it is best to speak for yourself. You shouldn't project your own self delusions onto thousands of people you know nothing about. And I have no earthly idea why other LDS are supporting this ignorant bliss. I know it is apologetically convenient to think this way of all apostates, but when we make such arrogant proclamations, it really says more about us than it does them.

Wade == At the risk of being thought "arrogant" by the ever humble and open-minded Kevin Graham. My observations from personal experiences with siblings, other family members, and close friends, echoes that of Beowulf and Dr. Peterson and Ray A.

Let's stick to the issue. The claim was simple. Ex-Mormons do not leave the Church because of "knowledge." None of them do. Ever. This is the most absurd statement, as I see LDS apologists trying to hijack the concept of "knowledge" for themselves.

And nobody has addressed the Kevin Barney scenario. In the past he was asked - either on this forum or ZLMB - what it would take to prove to him the Church was false. The discussion was on this very same topic: "Could any amount of evidence convince a TBM that the Church was not true." Kevin was one of the first to jump on this and he said flat out that if historical evidence came forth that Joseph had pretended to have found gold plates before the vision, that "that would probably do it."

Now, suppose this happens. I suspect most here - including me - would run to the "anything is plausible" refuge. We're used to that. But if Kevin leaves the Church based on this historical finding, who here is prepared to say to him that he is leaving, not because of "knowledge," but because of his own "personal demons"? I think everyone knows and respects Kevin a great deal. The point is, not everyone who leaves the church is some lifelong inner critic of the Church who finally decided to explode out with his or her "demons." Some of them spend a great deal of their life dismissing some of the challenges anti-Mormonism lays before our feet. Many spend a great deal of time defending the Church as well (Tolworthy?). This is agony for a great many and I think it is safe to say that anyone who does this, it is because they want the Church to be true, not because they want it to be false. Think about that.

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Hi kevin,

I read your reply but don't have anymore time tonight. Catch you later. Your questions do have answers, but you just have to determine that you will not be closedminded.

Do some more research on Horses in America. I'll send you some links later. The horse, according to some experts, out on the "fringe" (of course, how else would they be?) have suggested that the horse may have existed to the 2nd millenium. Don't discount it. This is what openmindedness is all about, and anti-Mormons are NOT openminded.

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We'll catch up later Ray, it is 3am my time so I will hit the hay as well. I seriously doubt that you can throw anything my way on horses, that I haven't read twice over, but I'm just using the horse scenario as an example, not because it is something I'm personally concerned about.

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I would have expected both brother's Peterson and Englund to speak out against such arrogance (especially given their readiness to defend any false caricatures of Islam). Apparently ex-Mormons deserve no respect at all, because according to what I'm hearing, not a single one of them has left for intellectual reasons. Nor could they, apparently. . .  Not one LDS here has had the decency to stand up against this type of psychobabble that lumps an entire group of people into one category.

(1) I don't read all posts on all threads, Kevin. And I comment on far fewer than I read.

(2) To insinuate that I believe that "ex-Mormons deserve no respect at all" is an outrageously false and offensive caricature justified by nothing that I've written here or anywhere else. Ever.

(3) Sometimes, frankly, it seems to me that you have some sort of deep inner need to demonize others and to pick fights. I'm not normally into what you term "psychobabble," but I'm really not sure how else to read it. And, please, don't suddenly profess to be offended. Not after the insulting accusations you made, both implicitly and explicitly, just above.

We're left to trust in people like John Gee and Hugh Nibley who have access to all the available material. But what they have produced thus far is nothing short of embarrassing.

I'm not embarrassed. I suppose I'm just too stupid. Can't follow the arguments. Don't know when I'm being humiliated.

Their theory of a missing roll is all but destroyed.

I guess I must have missed that.

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DCP said

I'm not sure if I know of a single case of purely intellectual apostasy.

Not a single case, eh? Perhaps you could let us know the personal demons that led Tal Bachman and Bob McCue away from the truth. Arrogance? Marital infidelity? (I know Bob has been accused of both). If I'm not mistaken, you've corresponded with Mr Bachman for some time- maybe this communication has given you unique insight into his true reason for leaving the church.

Personally, I believe both of them when they say they left the church for purely intellectual reasons. But then, that's the advantage which the believer enjoys- taking primary sources at face value.

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