On October 4, 2014, Mormon Apostle Neil L. Andersen said the following, during LDS General Conference:
“We are especially saddened when someone who once revered Joseph retreats from his or her conviction and then maligns the prophet. “Studying the church through the eyes of its defectors,” Elder Neil A. Maxwell once said, “is like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus. Defectors always tell us more about themselves than about that which they have departed.”
Read that again…. A Mormon leader just called me Judas, the man who sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. One of the worst villains in Christian dogma. Why am I Judas? Because I was suffocating in Mormonism? Should I be compared to Judas because my morals of equality, acceptance and love didn’t match theirs of obedience, conformity and faith in men? Did I betray God because I used my intelligence and searched diligently for years to find out if Mormonism was really as it claimed, “The One and Only True Church,” and came away with the answer that it definitely wasn’t?
Apparently the answer to those questions is, “Yes. I am now like unto Judas.”
Here, let’s add one more gem to this discussion. Here is another current Mormon Apostle, Boyd K. Packer:
“Remember: when you see the bitter apostate, you do not see only an absence of light, you see also the presence of darkness. Do not spread disease germs.”Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect,” speech given August 1981 at BYU, Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1981
In summary, according to current Mormon leaders, those who have left Mormonism are Judas and have a contagious disease that causes bitterness and darkness that consumes their soul. Got it.
“I’m so confused about why you left. Your testimony was strong. Please tell me what happened.”
“Y’all leaving really shook me. It made me question things and look closer. I’ve always had my own doubts. What were the biggest issues for you?”
“I’ve also been questioning things but no one knows. Thank you for being so open and public. It gives me the courage to be more authentic and open. Can you direct me to the information you’ve read?”
This was my Dad’s immediate response, after telling him that I had left Mormonism:
“Barry, I know you. I trust you. I want to understand why you’ve made this choice but I don’t doubt that you’re following your heart, mind and doing what you believe is right.”
These statements lead to wonderful discussions, as many of those who cared about us wanted to understand, empathize and listen to our reasons for leaving. It was beautiful.
Many Mormons will start out by saying, “I know all the anti-Mormon propaganda, as I’ve heard it my whole life. There’s nothing new.” Without fail, every time I’ve heard that phrase, which is often, I’ve shared information with them, usually concerning Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, that they were not aware of, because of the Mormon church’s dishonest historical narrative. It has happened literally 100% of the time. (Yes, I know what “literally” means.)
Some of these people have told me this new information has caused them to question their faith and asked me to not share anything more. I respect it and we continue to discuss the more current issues I have with Mormonism, finding common ground. These individuals remain faithful Mormons and I love our relationship.
Others followed their curiosity and are now on their own truth seeking journey. It’s a privilege, albeit heartbreaking at times, to watch people go through this process of discovery and have them confide in me, knowing they can trust the information I share, or the very least, trust my intentions.
Some have left Mormonism, or in the process of doing it, but many still remain active members. However, those who stay will never have the same “testimony” they once had. They say things like, “I don’t know or believe the church is the one true church and I’m OK with that” or “I’m going to live this religion by my own terms. I’ll decide which rules I feel are good and necessary to follow, including laws like tithing, the word of wisdom and chastity. I believe in equality and love. I’ll no longer play Follow The Leader.”
They are taking back their agency, integrity, redefining their morals and carving a path through their personal conscience. They are finding their personal power and authority. Living their life as they see fit, not to be defined by a strict religious dogma that is becoming antiquated with each new sunrise. It’s Fucking Beautiful.
I’m always really clear about one thing when a Mormon wants to talk to me. I tell them, “I’ll respect any decision you make; whether you chose stay or leave Mormonism. My only goal is to help you find the information you are looking for, enabling you to make the most informed decision possible. Where that takes you is completely up to you and no one else. I wouldn’t be any better than the Mormon Leaders who say, I’ve been deceived by Satan, if I didn’t honor and respect your choice. I’m just grateful to be along for the journey. I’m humbled by your trust and value our relationship. Where should we start?”
My wife and I are actively talking to at least 10 Mormons that are questioning and in the varying stages of this wonderful, yet painful, personal discovery. Imagine how many more Mormons would have felt comfortable reaching out to us, if they didn’t believe we were the dangerous Pawns of Satan……
Smart and Effective Strategy, Mormon Leaders. Well played. To this point….
Although, I see cracks in your Weak Foundation. I think your days are numbered. Word is spreading and your members are finding the truth.