Why I Left The Mormon Church

With all the recent news about the Mormon church’s stance against the children of gay couples, I thought I’d finally write a blog entry I’ve been contemplating for months.

Earlier this year I had my church membership records removed.  It took several attempts.  First they wanted me to meet with church officials.  I said I had no interest in doing so.  I finally had to threaten legal action.  A few weeks later I finally got a confirmation letter in the mail.  Of course they sent me a letter telling me that I had eternally damned myself.  I guess I’ll deal with that IF the time comes, but I don’t believe in a God that would do that.  He/she/it knows my heart.  And if all we do is rot in the ground and get eaten by worms, then I’m safe.

I chose not to advertise this to anyone.  I spoke with my parents before I took action to make sure it wouldn’t upset them.  They were very loving, understanding, and supportive.  I talked with a good friend of mine, who had years earlier gone through the same process.  He too had not been active for decades before deciding to take action.  I hadn’t been active in the church for over 25 years, but everywhere I moved the home teachers or missionaries tracked me down.  My wife even told them I died at one point.  That kept them at bay for a few years.  I just got tired of the game and decided enough was enough, since they weren’t honoring my wishes.

There have been 108 billion people that have lived on this planet up to this point.  I’m gonna take a guess and assume there have been about 30 million Mormons.  That’s 0.0003% of the people that have lived on this earth that have been Mormon.  Mormon’s believe you must be baptized into the church to obtain the highest level of heaven.  To account for the other 99.9997% of people that didn’t have the opportunity to accept the “true” church, Mormons baptize for the dead.  That’s right.  When you die, Mormons will key off your death record and have you baptized by proxy so that you can accept the church in the afterlife.  I have to assume that the conversion rate will be pretty low.  My iPhone games only see about a 1% conversion rate for in-app purchases.  I don’t believe in a God that would allow only 1.0003% of all humans to enter into the highest level of heaven.  I have no testimony of Joseph Smith.  From my perspective he was a cult leader that founded a religion that became mainstream.

I don’t say any of this to upset my family or friends who are still Mormon.  I totally respect anyone’s perogative to practice any religion they want.  I also respect those who choose to practice no religion at all.  Only 1/3rd of the planet bases their religion on Jesus Christ.  I won’t discount the other 2/3rds or profess that they are wrong in their beliefs.  I only have issue with religion when it causes harm to others, represses women, turns a blind eye to abuse, or causes it’s members to be intolerant.  I don’t think the Mormon church actively does any of the above, although I think there are members who might.  I was always told the church is “perfect”, the members are not.  I’ll at least accept the later part of that sentence.

I don’t agree with a lot of the policies the church has come out publicly against (I don’t think churches should get involved politically).  I disrespect everything they did against Proposition 8.  I don’t agree with the recent decision either.  But here’s my advice… there are PLENTY of religions that tolerate whatever lifestyle you choose.  If you need religion in your life, find the one that best suits you, be loving and God-like in your dealings with others, and don’t push your beliefs on anyone else (unless it’s about a crazy-ass person running for president).  The “pushiness” of the church is one of the reasons I left.

God/Allah/Buddha Bless You!

 

 

Prayers Your Way

One of the nice things about Facebook is being able to support friends who are not near.  One of the ways of doing this is offering up prayers when someone is sick or having a rough time.  I do this quite often.  Those that know me might be saying “But Doug… you aren’t religious and I don’t even think you believe in God… so why are you offering up prayers?”.  Number one… yes I am religious, just not in the traditional sense, and number two… that’s a great question, that I was just thinking about this morning, and thus why I’m writing this.

Why do I offer up prayers?  Because I think the person on the receiving end needs to know they are loved and thought of.  That’s the healing power.  Do I believe my prayer is being transmitted to some omnipotent being, being received, and then transmitted via some “magical power” back down to the person in need?  Absolutely not.  That’s why I think verbalizing it is important and why I think Facebook is fantastic.  I can pray all I want for someone, but unless they know I’m doing it, I personally feel it has the same power as a person at home watching television that thinks they have ANY influence on the outcome of a sports event… which is ZERO.

Ok, I’m probably gonna piss off a few of my friends and family, but this is MY blog, and just a thought I had this morning.  I totally believe in the power of prayer, just not in the traditional way most religious people do.  Self talk is one of the greatest healing powers there is.  I know someone is going to say to me “But… so and so had cancer and we prayed for them and they got well”.  That’s AWESOME!  Unfortunately, I think there are the same number of counteracting stories.  ”We prayed and God didn’t hear our prayers… it must have been their time to go”.  A completely human way to rationalize and deal with a painful experience.

I’ve had many experiences where prayer helped me.  Knowing that my family who was miles away was being supportive of me in times of need was a tremendous help.  I didn’t feel alone.  Have I had those overwhelming tingly feelings when I’ve been overcome by some sort of “spirit”?  Absolutely!  The body is kind of awesome that way.  It’s usually in times of peace and clarity.  It’s helped me make several important decisions in my life.  Do I believe it’s some power being transmitted through space to my body?  I still have a tough time dealing with the science of that.  It’s definitely my body reacting to some chemical change that is produced when I’m in these moments of clarity.  So I take advantage of the signal.

I continue to pray for friends and family (and let them know so).  I don’t pray for “The President” or world situations.  I have absolutely no control over those events, other than how I respond to them.  I also selfishly pray for myself a lot.  Not for worldly goods or for situations to turn out how I want, but mostly for acceptance and strength to deal with whatever comes my way.  If I’m praying for a situation to turn out a particular way then I might just be setting myself up for failure and disappointment.

I still find myself (from years of doing it growing up) reciting this prayer when asked to give the dinner prayer around my family:

“Bless this food that it my strengthen and nourish our bodies”…

All while sitting in front of a plate of something with a large amount of cheese on it.  Nothing is gonna nourish my body no matter how long I pray about it.  What is important is saying something like

“And thank you for bringing us all together to feel each other’s love and enjoy each other’s company”

Now that’s a cool message that you otherwise probably wouldn’t say directly to everyone, but seems somehow easier via a prayer.

Ok… done… prayers your way (in other words… I’m thinking about you and care about you).