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What are your thoughts?

A friend of mine sent this article to me. He's Mormon (all his life) but he's not afraid to admit when things have gone awry. Interesting article; what are your thoughts?

Why I Chucked My Mormon Faith and Became an Atheist

How I joined the record numbers of young Americans who lose their faith each year .
My faith died in a public library.

It was a sunny day -- Perfect weather to have your faith crushed. I had biked the short ride from my house to the San Clemente Library, a small building in one of Southern California's last small towns. With a hand-scribbled slip of paper in one hand, I walked the stacks looking for a book I had read about on the Internet: Fawn Brodie's No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith.  

I sought the book to find confirmation of something that had troubled me for nearly two years. See, as a lifelong Mormon, I understood that the church's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., was martyred by an armed mob in a jail cell in Carthage, Ill. But something I read in a magazine article and later researched online told me I didn't have the whole story. Brodie's book held the answer I desperately needed. 

I was about to join the record numbers of young Americans who are lose their faith each year. Preachers and pastors lament the loss of faith of 30-something and younger Americans. They debate how to best reach out to an entire generation that, for the first time in our country's history, is becoming nonreligious. 

What they don't understand is that we're not just leaving because church services aren't hip enough or because their sermons against homosexuality are just a little too harsh; we're leaving because we've discovered that when it comes to biology, geography and history, our conservative pastors and holy texts are dead wrong. It's important to recognize the role that the Internet plays in our abandoning doctrine for disbelief. 

My own story highlights the role that technology and information play in my transition from faith to atheism. To illustrate that, let me back up a couple of decades. 

I was the first of seven children to two Brigham Young University students. The day I was born, my mother opened up a copy of the Book of Mormon, the most important book of scripture in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and began reading to me. Mom and Dad named me after a prominent local church elder. 

Childhood memories include lessons on Noah and the ark and Wednesday night youth group activities. My family followed church mandates as though they came straight from God himself: my first date wasn't until I turned 16; R-rated movies were banned from the house. 

Okay, well, most edicts were followed -- A dirty VHS tape I found in a street gutter introduced me to pornography and gave my left hand something to do besides flipping scripture pages. (By the way, you kids these days don't know how good you have it with Internet porn.) 

When I left the U.S. in 1996 for a 2-year mission in the Republic of Peru, the Internet was little more than a frivolous novelty. Only once had I gone online, and that was with two high school friends to harass people in a dating chat room. 

In Peru, mission rules forbade us from watching TV or reading newspapers. Official church materials and letters from home were the only source of news. I just happened to be in a barber shop with a blaring television the day Princess Diana was killed in a traffic accident; Otherwise I probably wouldn't have heard the news until I returned home. 

One day, though, Mom sent me a Time magazine article profiling the church's vast media and agribusiness empire. Living in a poverty-stricken country, with children sometimes playing barfeoot or naked in the filthy dirt roads, learning about the church's wealth bothered me. 

But a smaller piece of information in a sidebar grabbed me by the necktie and wouldn't let go: According to the sidebar, when that angry mob burst into Smith's jail cell, he raised a gun and fired back. 

Wait, a gun? What gun? 

 
_Tam_

Asked by _Tam_ at 3:24 PM on Dec. 20, 2010 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 30 (42,083 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (18)
  • It's a real pity, sometimes, that believers DON'T question their church, their leaders, or their "holy" book. There are many mistakes in the bible and, IMO, one mistake should make it a lie. But christians keep on believing. Do mormons know that their book is the SECOND version dictated by Joseph Smith because his secretary's angry wife burned the first version? That his own wife confronted him with the fact that the second version was vastly different from the first one? Had the writing on the golden tablets suddenly changed?? What a waste of life! You might as well descend into hell now rather than have the church control how you dress, what you think and say, what you read and truth in general. The freedom of hell would certainly be better than the prison of religion that mormons suffer every day.
    witchqueen

    Answer by witchqueen at 9:31 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • I have read TONS of books on this religion, and done tons of research. I worked for a mormon family and wanted to learn what I would be hearing every day and where their faith had originated. Anyway, what this guys says is SO true. I have never met a bigger group of sheltered people that believe every word of what they are told within the church but believe NOTHING that is told to them outside of the church. A very misled group... IMO. I would read it just for the information.

    bjojola

    Answer by bjojola at 3:31 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • Wont read the book but those untold stories from church history are what led me to leaving and taking my names off the records(I could have just stayed inactive but I didnt want even my name to be associated with a lie).

    Its not easy leaving the church and you are shunned and made to look like you are bitter and "anti" or never had a testimony,etc when you do leave(which is NOT the case in many instances...like mine). Many are bitter but there are others, like me, who just leave and dont bear hard feelings or ill will against or on the church. My entire family for generations back are LDS and are still active. I served a mission and all that too.

    Its good to note that many who leave the church do end up athiests but not all.

    Amaranth361

    Answer by Amaranth361 at 3:36 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • It is a common practice for specific denominations and religions in general to omit or alter historical accounts to make it suit their liking and their beliefs rather than to tell the true historical accounts. Most exclude whatever bad their own party was guilty of and highlighted the bad of the "other guy". It doesn't limit itself to just religion but also politics and history regarding wars etc. There is alwyas a downplay of mistakes made by "your" side and a focus put on the other side as teh "instigator".
    KristiS11384

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 4:18 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • I don't think we have a lack of information today we are inundated with information, unfortunately most of it is completely polarizing instead of being a thoughtful impartial examination of an aspect of human society there's only one point of view going in. This would be fine if we could balance it with more neutral journalism.  I like reading books that are balanced with more then one point of view and evaluated by a less biased historian or expect but they're harder to find.


    RyansMom001

    Answer by RyansMom001 at 6:39 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • well, i will probably read Fawn Brodie's book eventually b/c im working on my Masters in history and she's written a lot of books (tho not all respected works) and religion is one of my 2 areas.

    but what gets me about this article is that just b/c one specific church lied to him he gave up believing in God all together...i never understand that (ive heard others say the same things about other denoms). did he try other churches? did he think for himself or only take other ppl's words? did he ask himself the tough questions or just flat out say "uh...the LDS church lied to me so um...God's not real". it just seems lazy if he did. did he research non-Abrahamic faiths, other ideas on the Abrahamic God? seems a little shallow to "blame" his Atheism on the Mormon church lying to him.

    and i agree that the internet is largely to reason most ppl are leaving religion behind...they just cant hide their lies anymore.
    okmanders

    Answer by okmanders at 4:01 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • I would never read this book and you have to becarful about man made religion
    tinamarie1972

    Answer by tinamarie1972 at 4:31 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • Very interesting to see what the breaking point is for another person. For me it was the book "The History of God." It upset me so badly that I tossed the book clear across the room and those who know me, know that I respect books to the extreme and tossing a book is just not done. I've very interested in reading this book, but it's not going to be on my top list any time soon. I've got a back log to work though first.
    isabellalecour

    Answer by isabellalecour at 4:37 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • It's interesting when faith is founded on absolutism... if one thing is proven false, the whole thing can tumble down.
    Freela

    Answer by Freela at 4:44 PM on Dec. 20, 2010

  • Even though LDS arguably get more religious training than lay-persons of any other faith, it’s naive to assume that every fact about the religion is disseminated in Church-approved texts in the standard Sunday School setting. The logistics of teaching such a plethora of information in such a limited amount of time force the use of discrimination. Also, the class that the author mentioned (the one he taught) is attended by LDS who have been a part of the faith anywhere from one to 50+ years. In order to appeal to everyone the teacher must often teach to the lowest common denominator.
    Personally, as an LDS, I do find it sometimes frustrating that this is the case – I long to discuss the finer points of the faith. But I don’t let that stop me from studying on my own. Nor am I surprised when I find additional information about the Church. I know I don’t know everything about my faith and I probably never will.
    TikiWiki33

    Answer by TikiWiki33 at 5:02 PM on Dec. 20, 2010