Sunday, July 21, 2013

I bet certain people in the LDS church are crapping their pants...

This morning, a Facebook friend of mine who is a former Mormon posted this article from the New York Times.  The article is about a Swedish man named Hans Mattson who had served in a very high capacity in the LDS church in Europe, but then started having questions when members came to him with their concerns about the truthfulness about what they had been taught in church.  Members had heard all the usual church approved stuff.  Then they went on the Internet and found other information from some very credible sources which confused them and caused them to have doubts.

Mr. Mattson wanted to reassure the members who were coming to him with concerns.  So he approached the church's leadership.  A senior apostle came to Sweden at Mattson's request, saying that he had an unpublished manuscript that would answer everybody's questions.  But the manuscript never materialized and when Mattson asked the apostle about it, he was told he was out of line for asking.

This lengthy New York Times piece about Hans Mattson is well worth reading.  I was very surprised, however, to read that Mattson hasn't left the church.  Apparently, he and his Mormon convert wife, Birgitta, have tried other churches that haven't done anything for them.  So he stays LDS, despite having massive doubts about the church's truthfulness.  He's not alone, either.

Every single day, new people show up on the Recovery from Mormonism Web site looking for help in making sense of what they've been taught and what they've read about in other, non-church approved sources.  Some of these folks are positively shell-shocked and quite a few of them have to explore their doubts in secret because going public would mean being ostracized.  RfM is full of people who have left the church, but it's also frequented by closet doubters.  Many of these doubters lurk silently for a long time before they finally summon the courage to write their first post on RfM or do something else about their growing disbelief in Mormonism.

After reading the New York Times piece, I visited RfM and someone had posted about LDS.org's new search engine that offers members a way to search the Internet without having to worry about any "shocking" results that might shake their faith in their church.  In other words, if you use the church's search engine, you won't have to worry about stumbling across any pesky "anti" sites or personal blogs written by people with "an ax to grind".  You'll just get nice, safe, "shock-free", church-approved stuff from official church Web sites or other similarly approved sources.  It will be the comforting stuff you've always heard, mixed in with new revelations from the LDS powers-that-be.

The problem with that is that those who have used Google or some other search engine to find information and learning some truths that have apparently been whitewashed or omitted from the church's official teachings can't "un-ring the bell".  They can't forget what they've learned.  And when they go to church officials for clarification, they are chastised for reading things they "shouldn't be reading" or "thinking too much".  They may be initially comforted with promises of a plausible explanation, only to be brushed aside or even threatened with discipline when they persist in trying to find answers.

Instead of being upfront about these issues, talking about them openly, and trying to resolve or take responsibility for them, it appears that the church tries to hide the more difficult stuff under warm fuzzy bullshit.  So when people "accidentally" stumble across information like Joseph Smith's penchant for polygamy and marriage to girls as young as 14, they are shocked and mortified.  And when they find out that information they've found is true, they feel blind-sinded and lied to.  That leads to anger, disillusionment, and crisis... which ultimately can lead people out of the church and, perhaps, even into atheism.

The church's solution to this problem is not to be more forthcoming with its members.  Instead, it invites members to use a special protective search engine that is "safe".  Safe from what?  The truth?  Incidentally, Scientology does the same thing.  They, too, have special church run search engines that "protect" their members from "shock"... and the truth.

Some people will stay in the church even after learning about some of the less savory aspects of how the religion developed and its policies.  Hans Mattson has stayed, even though learning about some of these very disturbing things shook his foundation to the core.  He decided he likes being Mormon anyway.  It sounds like it's just what he is and what makes him comfortable.  And that's fine, as long as his beliefs don't hurt anyone else.  It does seem odd to me that such a formerly high ranking official had to learn about Mormonism from outside of the church and was told he was being impertinent when he asked church officials for the truth.  Seems like someone like Hans Mattson would not be satisfied with Mormonism after hearing the bell ring.  But if he is, more power to him and anyone else who can live with the truth.

Anyway, that New York Times article is excellent and I highly recommend reading it.  I also highly recommend using search engines that aren't run by a church or political organization.  Remember, as Gloria Steinem famously said, "The truth will set you free.  But first it will piss you off."  Sometimes a little shock and anger is the only way to freedom.  

6 comments:

  1. I think Hans is justified in saying there just isn't another church with enticing credentials. There are the free for all 'anything goes' churches but they are quite a dime a dozen. I was a Mormon as Mormon himself from birth to mid-30's. Back in 1987 I ended up in the First Presidency's office from my many unanswered questions (different ones than the Swedes had... much to do with Isaiah, the 2/3rds of the plates story ["where are they"], the "greater revelation to come" touted over and over in Mormon scripture)... anyhow after about 15 minutes of Brother Harvey (Assistant to the 1st Presidency) listening to me, he stopped me with the words "you can't be a member of this church and believe those things you are saying" (which were quotes from Isaiah, Ezekiel, Mormon, 3rd Ne. D&C 85 and etc)to which I replied "well, I might be in error in my interpretation, so what do these passages mean then (mostly referring to Isaiah and Ezekiel's denouncements of those who call themselves "of Ephraim" and those who "cometh unto a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me ... I will cut that man off and the prophet..." )? Brother Harvey did a most wonderful and honest thing, which I'll be eternally grateful, he looked me straight on and said "I don't know and I don't know who does know ... I've wondered those same things myself." I hugged him and went on my way with a heavy weight lifted -- feeling free to rely on my understandings of Isaiah. I went in search of that "greater record to come" Mormon emphatically spoke of. In 1991 a co-worker who had just returned from a tour in Desert Storm, came packing that "greater record" to me, exclaiming "I've found that book you were looking for." I replied that I had looked in all churches and it didn't exist, to which he replied "well, that's because it doesn't belong to any church. It doesn't belong to any organization and, really, no one knows for sure where it came from. The Urantia Book ... printed in 1955 but it's inception was from the 1905 to 1945 (almost 100 years to the dates of J. Smiths works). To my surprise, it's Library of congress catalog number is 55-10554 ... which are the numbers of the date I was born--Oct. 4, 1955. It was a like a huge magnet drawing me to it. The events surrounding how I went to work for the franchise wherein the co-worker had a copy was quite ironic. What a blessing. The Urantia Book (The Earth Book) combines Science, Religion and History into a perfect "duh" harmony. In the search of truth, science and religion should be on the same page. IN the UB, they are.

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  2. My experience after 1991 and since has been NOT associated with any organized religion. Rather, a student of Melchizedek's Teaching Mission--"the Correcting Time" as being archived on www.mansionworldteachings.org There is nothing to join. Nothing to pay. No guru to follow. It's a course about personal change through the celestials orchestrated daily living, and enlightenment between a soul and his creator-Father. "If anyone lack wisdom, let him ask of God" now has a whole new meaning to me.

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  3. Thanks for the comment. I have invited some folks who might be able to relate to have a look. I am not a Mormon and never have been. My experiences are just as the wife of an ex convert.

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  4. As a web programmer, I think you've misinterpreted lds.org/search. Maybe it will one day blossom into what you are talking about (I for one wouldn't be surprised, but I think they are more likely to use proxy servers and encourage all members to direct ALL their internet traffic through those proxies to deter & filter "inappropriate" internet use, including lewd media & any knowledge that mormons don't like).

    But, at the moment, it's just a multi-site search bar. Those are very common for any business. It isn't meant to be a way to search the internet, but just their sites.

    Think of it similarly to a chain of book stores in your state. Let's say you hear on the radio that Author X is coming for a reading, but they forgot to say which store. So, you go to their site & search for his name to get more details. If you just searched for the Author's name in Google, you'd get myriad unrelated results (especially if the book store chain is relatively unknown).

    But the Hans Mattsson stuff is dead on. He's a very brave individual, & his wife has been surprisingly supportive (a rare tale among those who leave the church).

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    1. Possible I have. My comments about "shock free" searches came from a PR article about the new search bar that was discussed on RfM.

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  5. I would venture to say most on this site are sincere truth seekers. I invite you to a website of most unusual teaching www.mansionworldteachings.org

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