The façade Mormons wear for the world
(I’m obviously not talking about the face we all put on in public when we are asked by strangers how we are doing. Our response is usually a “fine-thank-you-how-are-you?” because we’re not going to go into how the dog died/we failed a calculus test/oh my gallstones/significant other is cheating/broke a nail after a manicure/or whatever trauma du jour we may have.)
I went to a funeral recently for a person whom the world lost to suicide. This individual was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) or Mormon, and as such, so was the ceremony. I sat in the back as I didn't know the person of honor and didn't know anyone else there except my son, who was a friend of the departed.
This person was just about to graduate as valedictorian, had a scholarship to a good university, and was adored by pretty much everyone. Kind and generous, talented and smart, he had the perfect life and the perfect family.
Or so it seemed.
I asked my son if anyone knew why and got the snotty response of a teenager trying to hide his tears at the loss of a friend. "It doesn't matter now, he's dead."
The funeral was typical in many ways: a description of the deceased's life, family and friends. All comments were good, as no one ever says anything bad about the deceased at funerals.
The religious stuff was, at best, annoying. To be truthful, the religious stuff was outright distressing.
The speakers raved on and on about seeing this wonderful person in heaven, but no mention was made as to which level of heaven this person was sent to and how, if he wasn't "sealed" to his family, anyone would find him. What if he got stuck in the wrong level since he wasn’t married? If Mormonism is a "Christian" religion, then according to the Bible all suicides go to hell. But there is no hell in Mormonism; there is "outer darkness". So where did he go?
I alternated between crying for the permanent loss of a good person and wanting to bash my head into the wall repeatedly at this arrogant claim that they all will see him in heaven, writing him and themselves a free ticket to paradise all at once, regardless of any behavior that may earn them the boot from their God. I guess this ridiculous sense of entitlement to shove God off his throne and take over judging is common in many religions.
The thought of an afterlife is appalling. There is no evidence for such a thing. It's a lie humans tell ourselves in a selfish attempt to make ourselves feel better, and it cheapens life itself. People don't care enough about life when they think there is an afterlife of fluffy clouds and no more fighting with siblings.
A small upside to the funeral were the pleas to ask for help if someone feels down enough to hurt themselves. This is a big step, but there's a catch: the Mormon church pushes its own leaders and resources as counselors. These are people educated in the church teachings, but some are not educated in counseling. Not all are trained in suicide prevention, drug addiction, alcoholism, marriage counseling, domestic violence, mental illnesses and personality disorders, family difficulties, war veterans’ issues, or even how to spot liars, gaslighters, and manipulators. However well-meaning they may be, they are not qualified to help, or help enough.
This so-called help
There is a group called LDS Social Services, but their website makes it obvious that problems are only approached from the standpoint of the church. The scope is entirely too narrow. Many of the points I previously mentioned are not included on the LDS Social Services website at all. Never mind that LDS Social Services may not even be available in all areas, in which case people are usually just referred to the bishops who could be of any profession.
(This doesn’t include licensed counselors in secular life who are LDS. I’ve met a few and every one of them is fantastic, though not all people have had my good experience with secular Mormon counselors.)
An ex-Mormon friend refused to see a counselor there more than once because the counselor could only push church ideals and offered nothing of substance to help a shaky marriage.
Another ex-Mormon friend was encouraged to stay in an abusive relationship and take the blame for the abuse. This was nothing short of disastrous for all involved, especially the children.
It goes without saying that Mormons are favored over non-Mormons and apostates in this meddling.
Mormons aren't supposed to have problems anyway. They're all supposed to be perky and happy, families are forever, on and on. The Mormon church actively promotes this illusion of happiness and tries to brush all the ugly things about the church under the carpet (polygamy, racism, Joseph Smith's fraud conviction, baptism of the dead, etc.). It's all about appearance, the appearance of perfection that the Mormon church actively promotes in its silly commercials on YouTube, never mind the scripted presentations by the ever-chipper missionaries pounding the pavement and social media damage control operators. Everything is great, their religion is great, their church is perfect, and they're all about their perfect and happy families. The pressure to maintain this illusion is immense.
I've seen families too tied to the church to ask for unbiased professional and/or legal help for problems with domestic violence, parenting conflicts, substance abuse, marriage troubles, veterans’ issues, etc. Many are under the impression that members who do ask for help risk being viewed as “weak” and “flawed”. Mental illness is a big taboo; such an embarrassment it's not even whispered. Rich parents are able to purchase officials to make the problems and even crimes of their children disappear. How does hiding problems really fix them? Hiding crimes interferes with our secular legal system. But the charade is effective, so effective that friends and families are gobsmacked when problems are exposed.
It doesn't take long to notice the big phony air of perfection some Mormons put on not only for non-Mormons, but for other Mormons as well. It's a disgusting theatre of material wealth, occupational success, the number of children and their activities, and of course all the things they do for the church. It's nothing but a sanctimonious display of "look at me I'm better than you!", and this attitude spills over into everyday life.
The poorest in the ward are often the most snubbed and ridiculed. Fat bank accounts are viewed as “blessings from God”. If God dislikes some people enough to make them poor, then why should church members like poor people? People ask which ward you go to because they are looking to determine your income without asking outright. Wards are assigned based on where you live, so it’s easy to distinguish the poor from the wealthy. Trying to “keep up with the Smiths” can end in bankruptcy.
I have "LDS" (Latter Day Saint) friends who complain about how they're treated by the hypocritical and perfectionist "Mormons" who are the most obnoxious pushers of perfection. Why they stay in the church is beyond me, honestly. (My LDS friends consider these phonies and hypocrites to be “Mormons” to dissociate with them as much as possible.) I’m glad my friends don’t buy into this idiotic notion of perfection, but I wonder how they tolerate it smacking them in the face for several hours every Sunday. So there are “LDS” people who do try to treat all people with kindness regardless of religion, race, status, etc., and “Mormons” who are all about inflating themselves over other people. Even people in the church know this is a problem, which is why they themselves make the distinction between “LDS” people and “Mormons”.
Over the years I’ve thrown attitude right back into the faces of people trying to elevate themselves over me, telling one lady when she informed me that she (thought she) was “LDS” that “I’m not”. I think she misspoke and meant “Mormon”. As I got to know her, I decided I wasn’t going to work for her for long if that’s how the job interview and treatment are going to go. I told another, when she looked down at her ring finger admiring her oversized chunk of
moissanite carbon (I wonder if the bill for that ever crossed the desk of an attorney in a bankruptcy or divorce?) and asked me what ward I went to, quite simply “I don’t”. I do have to giggle at the confused looks on their faces. I guess I was supposed to worship them somehow or try to elevate myself to their imagined level, and I didn’t. Silly non-Mormon, how dare I not buy into their sense of privilege!
It’s just as well that I refuse to convert. Converts, as one pretentious girl informed me, “aren’t worth as much as those born into the church like [her]”. Maybe I should have reminded her that one of her parents was a convert, and that her snobbish comment puts down her own parent.
Marriage is exalted and having children essential to perpetuating the church (face it, converting people to the wackiness of the church is hard) so anything that goes against pushing out children is verboten (that’s illegal, for any non-German speakers). Marriage is so important that the quality of the relationship is irrelevant. Don’t even think about throwing away that temple marriage! Quit school (BYU Dating Service) and push out Mormon babies. Block out the screams of other wives knocking boots with your husband to create Mormon babies. Have Mormon babies.
Divorce is considered a crime against the church and the family. Divorce wrecks their notion of families being sacred and forever, the be-all end-all, the ticket into the highest level of Mormon heaven. Divorce destroys their “sealing” ceremonies, where spouses are bound to each other for time and all eternity, and to their children as well. How does that work when a sealed couple splits, and the parents get sealed to new spouses? Who takes the kids, or are they stuck with both parents and step-parents? Awkwardness must not exist in Mormon heaven. Again, what if the children don’t marry and don’t make it to the same level as their parents?
Oh, but there is a “cancellation of a temple sealing”. This means that the sealing can be undone so that members are free to be sealed to future spouses, along with a regular divorce through civil courts. Children are not to be sealed to anyone else, but the “Lord may choose with which parent the children will go”. What is not mentioned here is that ex-spouses are involved in allowing people to be sealed to new spouses, and some petty people make sure that their exes aren’t allowed to be sealed to anyone else.
Another reason that divorce is avoided in the church is that women leave school before getting degrees to have babies. This leaves them uneducated and unskilled, and unable to provide for their children on their own. So many unhappy families just bite the bullet and keep their big phony smiles of perfection plastered across their faces.
I've seen the church interfere in secular matters by trying to skirt court orders regarding families split by divorce. They are so intent on "helping" families, and so inept in determining who the trouble-makers really are. The meddling of the church is completely out of control, especially in state matters. If they choose to interfere in secular and legal matters, especially if they try to pay members’ legal fees, I do hope they lose their tax-exempt status. Maybe they should anyway, but I digress.
Divorcees, much like poor people, aren’t treated well in church. Divorce and undersized bank accounts somehow make people defective. But it can get worse, and it does.
The elephant in the room
By now we've all heard about the controversial views and new rules of the church regarding gays. This is deplorable, and even many Mormons and LDS disapprove. Again, this pushes people into living lies of perfection because approval from the church is ultimately more important than sentient human beings. It is so sad that the church considers gay couples who adopt children to be fake families. Being gay isn't perfect, after all. Breeders are perfect but gays aren't, even if they provide safe and loving homes for otherwise homeless children.
Here is the tragic story of Harry Fisher, a church member who lost the battle to reconcile his faith with being gay. There is so much animosity toward LGBT people in the Mormon church that even his own mother felt that homosexuality is “a challenge to be overcome by celibacy”. This woman is so blinded by “church doctrine” that she couldn’t love her son unconditionally. Now he is gone forever.
Elder Bednar had the gall to claim that there are no homosexual members in the Mormon church and equate the “challenge” of homosexuality with “being good-looking”. This is unbelievably obtuse. He claimed that all people are children of God and aren’t defined by sexuality. If people aren’t defined by sexuality in some aspects of their lives, then why does the Mormon church reject homosexuals? He also tried to shrug off his bigotry by making a distinction between desires and actions, and babbled about how no one should blame him for scripture, that spirits are male and female only, marriage is only between one man and one woman, on and on. The excuses were really quite despicable, ignorant, and bigoted.
His idiotic assertion begs the question: are there heterosexuals in the church? There must be since heterosexual is the only recognized and approved type of relationship in the church. Again, why reject homosexuals, since church dogma is all about families created by heterosexual relationships? Isn’t the church defining members by heterosexuality and breeding capacity by focusing so much on families? Aren’t gay church members the children of heterosexual church members? I can’t imagine anyone converting to a religion that openly despises them, so we can safely rule out gay converts to the Mormon church.
The church’s attempt to distinguish desires from actions is explained here. It boggles the mind how church leaders can try to force gays into “perfect” heterosexual relationships and cheat the spouses in these disingenuous relationships of honest and sincere partnerships. Forcing people to play heterosexuals to please the church doesn’t actually make them heterosexual. How should the spouses of fake heterosexuals feel, knowing that they are not the object of desires or fantasies? There is no “fake it until you make it” with sexuality.
By obsessing about people's sexuality, theists (not just Mormons now) are saying that what people do with their genitals with consenting adults is ultimately more important than their intellect and capacity to make worthwhile contributions to humanity. It's creepy enough to obsess about others' sex lives, but to deny humans the opportunity to lead happy and productive lives is deranged and cruel.
How do the counselors at LDS Social Services deal with homosexuality? Oh. They can’t, as that doesn’t fit in with their notion that the only valid relationships are the ones that create more Mormons. This horrid “conversion therapy” attempt doesn’t count as help, and neither does this despicable reference to demonizing those who don’t do the “natural use of the woman”.
If nothing else, gay people could
feed the pig pay tithes. This could help the church’s dwindling membership.
A psychotic level of control
From Brigham Young University itself:*
They are talking about pre-marital heterosexual sex here. Homosexuality isn’t even acknowledged, much less taken into consideration as potentially valid relationships.
Can I take a moment to ask how hating and ostracizing gays is “doing right by your fellow man”? Do you feed the hungry only if they’re straight and “white and delightsome”?
If Mormons must concern themselves with the genitals of others, might I suggest they let the secular authorities put pedophiles and rapists behind bars without questioning the history of the victims. Sex offences are NOT worthwhile contributions to humanity. While they are at it, they should also rescue the poor girls stuck in the FLDS camps. Yes Mormons, that's your tribe too.
By demanding to dictate every aspect of members' lives, the Mormon church is cheating its members out of happiness, proper mental health and legal services, personal freedom, the love and support of friends and family, their entire families and homes, and in extreme cases, their very lives. How many more people have to commit suicide for the church to update their policies to let people make personal decisions for themselves? How many more people must die feeling like miserable failures for not living up to the church's unreasonably high “standards” and illusions?
Lies and more lies
Perfection is a lie. Lies take energy to maintain, and extreme effort is required to maintain consistency in the lies. Maintaining the illusion of perfection causes a lot of stress. The rules are so rigid in the church and roles for men and women so strictly defined that the church actually encourages people to live this lie of perfection.
Perfection doesn’t allow us to be human. It is this kind of dehumanization process that enables people not to care about others, to the point of allowing harm to come to others while turning up their noses and saying to themselves, “they deserved it.” This attitude is psychopathic, and sadly common to many religions.
Perfection makes us lie to our families and to ourselves. This does not create healthy people and stable relationships.
Critics are just “mad at the church”
Not so, Mormon church. I have no reason to be mad on a personal level. Even my friends get upset and try to discredit all criticism as just coming from people who are “mad at the church”. They don’t understand that not everyone will endure the suffering to stay in the church as some choose to do, or choose to join in the first place. They understand that people have the right to form their own opinions based on their observations, but don’t apply that right to speaking out about their supposedly perfect church.
Criticism of your institution goes back to the beginning of Mormonism and the lies Joseph Smith told to support his megalomania and perversions. We know that there is no such thing as “reformed Egyptian”, DNA proves that Native Americans are not some lost tribe of Israel, and the National Geographic does not claim to have found evidence of some ancient battle between races that never existed (Nephites and Lamanites). You demean, patronize, and excommunicate women who ask for leadership roles. Your tax-exempt status that covers your for-profit entities really needs to be reevaluated by the IRS. The list goes on… but I don’t see any reason to be mad. I can even get past your “lying for the Lord” policy.
As a humanist, I find your policies against different people distressing. I can see how these policies of rejecting fellow human beings are harmful, despite your best attempts to explain away the bigotry. It’s the hurt you cause members and non-members alike that inspires me to speak out.
So now what?
Your move, Mormon church. How many suicides will it be? Which is more important? Your façade of perfection, or actual human beings? Do you feel that all Mormons who lose family members to suicide really care about your bigotry? Or do you think that some may secretly care more about their lost family members? You do promote the importance of family, do you not? Why are gay family members unimportant? Why, if having children is sacred, do you reject your gay children? How do suicides really affect your “eternal” families?
I suggest if you really value your children, Mormon church, that you stop trying to cram them into little boxes of perfection. Love them and let them love as they see fit.
After the funeral I ran into an acquaintance who happens to be LDS. We discussed the dearly departed and agreed that since everything seemed to be going his way, we doubted he would have been taken seriously had he asked for help. We suspected he likely would have been ridiculed, or at least blown off. Utterly tragic. No one may ever know what was so horribly wrong in that brilliant and kind young man's life that he felt the need to end it. It seems the weight of the perfect world came crashing down and snuffed out a life, and there was no way for him to call for help.
* Source cited and posted under Fair Use
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255
Info for those interested in leaving the church
On Twitter find @MamaDragons and @TrevorProject for suicide prevention help