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Why can't ex-mormons just "leave the church alone?"

I recall numerous occasions, while I was still active in the LDS church, when I heard the phrase (concerning those who had left the church) "they can leave the church, but they can't leave the church alone."  Of course, I always accepted the premise that this was because they were angry or bitter toward the church and were merely trying to get some sort of sordid revenge.  I am not angry at the church, nor am I bitter.  I seek no revenge.  And yet I've found it surprising difficult to "just walk away", as I have been told to do by so many of my Mormon friends.  It seems like simple enough advice--it seems like a reasonable request to make.  So why is it so difficult?  I've thought quite a bit about that and I'd like to share those thoughts here.

There are a couple ideas very heavily engrained into a Mormon's head through all of the structure and doctrine of the church.  The first is to seek truth (wherever it is to be found--from scripture and from secular knowledge as well) and the second is to proclaim that truth--in particular, the gospel truth.  I feel that both of these are very noble pursuits.  I was taught to do that while I was a Mormon and even now I view both as wise things to do.  There is so much falsehood out there in the world--so much fraud and dishonesty--that the truth is a welcome breath of fresh air whenever it is encountered.  Also, the truth empowers the mind and enlightens the soul.  It brings lasting happiness.  This is why Mormons are taught to (and desire to) teach the truth that they have learned to anyone who will listen.

I hope this doesn't come across as overly critical, because there certainly is a place for correcting people and I don't mean to say that it is universally bad.  But, Mormons do have a tendency to correct each other quite frequently (if not continually).  I believe this is at least in part a side-effect of the desire to seek out and proclaim the truth.  When someone finds another doing or teaching something which is not true, then they feel a need to declare such.  Also, I suppose I should point out the often-quoted passage in Doctrine & Covenants 121:43 which states that there are times when one should reprove with sharpness.  I have seen it happen many times in Sunday School and Priesthood meetings.  Fortunately, I've never seen an outright quarrel in church, but I certainly have seen people harshly correct another who had spoken in error.  Whether this is a character strength or a character weakness, I leave to the interpretation of the reader.  I purport that at times it is necessary and laudable to do so and other times it is reprehensible and unnecessary.

I cannot count the number of times I have had a friend or family member come to me in great enthusiasm explaining some spiritual epiphany that they have had--perhaps they just read a passage of scripture and suddenly it took on a new meaning that it never had before, or perhaps they read a talk from General Conference that they hadn't read before, or perhaps they felt a certain feeling while praying or listening to a talk in church.  At any rate, I have always been impressed by the urgency in them telling me about what they have just learned.  There is a spark in their eye and a smile on their lips.

So, when I declare that I no longer believe that the church is, as it purports to be, God's one true church; when I say that I do not believe that the prophet speaks with God; when I point out the historical incongruencies and anachronisms in the period surrounding the establishment of the church and the record found in the Book of Mormon, I do not do so out of spite.  I do not do so to attack anyone's beliefs.  I do not do so to try to get back at a church that has somehow hurt me.  I do not seek vengeance.  I do not require recompense.  I only wish to seek out the truth and proclaim it as fully and accurately as possible.  In fact, in many of the concerns I have raised about the church, I have not even phrased the concern as an assertion that what the church now teaches is false, but merely as a question.

I had one friend tell me on Facebook that he is no more capable of being objective about the church than of being objective about his own children.  Therefore, if I am to post things against the church's teachings, it will inevitably offend those who believe.  I do not contend this point.  In fact, I have great empathy and even sympathy for all of the pain that it has caused and will continue to cause those that I love so very much.  Yet, as a parent says to his child in need of discipline "this hurts me more than it hurts you".  Also, missionaries are instructed that even when the gospel message is hard for investigators to accept and follow, they should not apologize for the doctrine nor should they allow any room for exception.  The truth is hard and it cutteth to the very center.

I've been very passive about my concerns with the church--posting them only on my other blog--and I mean to continue doing so, hence the reason I remain vague on those matters in this post.  This is because I do not wish to exacerbate those who are offended by the questions and concerns that I raise, nor do I wish to aggravate any injury I have heretofore inflicted (intentionally or otherwise) on anyone.

In posting anything I have posted concerning my disenchantment with the church, I have no intent of attacking anyone's religious beliefs.  All that I have posted has been empirical in nature--concerning only fact and not opinion.  Anything that is spiritual, religious, or faith-based in nature, I cannot address, nor do I wish to.  If there is a way of knowing those types of things, then it is certainly something along the lines of what religions teach--that such things are knowable only through some supernatural power, such as the Holy Ghost.  Therefore, I cannot and will not debate such things (for example, whether God exists or whether the Atonement covers the sins of all those who repent).  Also, in any assertion I have ever made (concerning fact, not belief or opinion), I have always made the invitation for anyone with more information to share it, so that if I am in error I may be corrected.

I do not see how declaring something that I sincerely believe is true (and verifiable fact) can be construed as attacking a church or someone's beliefs.  If it is true, then it is beneficial for me to share it with others so that they can learn the truth and let the truth "set them free", as the Bible states.  If it is false, then it should be easily exposed as such.  I have not yet had one single person attempt to show me how any assertion (of fact, not opinion) is false.  In fact, I have had people concede the points that I have made.  I have had people tell me that I just need more faith or that they're disappointed in how I could leave the church of my childhood, but I do not see how that relates.  No matter how much faith I have, I cannot change fact.  No matter how much I love my church or my scriptures, I cannot deny the truth.

So, I say that the reaction I am getting from some of my Mormon friends, namely that I should just shut up about all things related to the LDS church, is inappropriate.  I do not ask any of my friends to remain silent about their convictions in believing their faith, so why should I remain silent in my disbelief?  I propose the following reactions that I feel are more appropriate.  1) Ignore what I have to say about the church.  I would say that a vast majority of my friends (and family) have been doing this.  Maybe they're hurt inside and they don't want me to say what I'm saying, but they either don't know what to say to me or don't feel a need to silence me.  2) Contend with me--not on a spiritual level or on matters of belief or opinion, but on matters of fact.  Address any concerns I have raised.  Answer questions I have asked.  Cite sources and attempt to prove me wrong through verifiable fact.  If I am wrong, I would like to know it so I can correct myself.

There are those who have stated that I have been invasive about my statements concerning the church.  In answer to this charge, I place my level of vocality concerning what I have declared side-by-side with the level of vocality of the LDS church (in declaring the gospel to the world) for an objective comparison in invasiveness.  If I am found to be more invasive than (or even as invasive as) the methods employed by the church, then I will back off and be less vocal.

So, what have I done in voicing my findings concerning the history of the church and its origins?  1) I have made a blog to detail all of my findings.  I have made an open invitation on that blog to any who wish to counter any point that I have therein made.  I have not pushed that blog in any forum other than mentioning it in one post here on this blog.  2) I have posted a small number of "I'm and ex-mormon" video links on my Facebook wall and one here on my blog.

Now, what has the church done in voicing its own beliefs around the world?  They have television ads that they air all over North America (and possibly other places, I'm not sure).  They have a channel on YouTube with hundreds of videos teaching people about Mormonism and its doctrines.  They encourage members to make their own YouTube videos and blogs and to talk about their beliefs on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites.  They created, where members of the church can go and set up a profile so that people of the world can know that Mormons are just "everyday normal people", not freakish weirdos that some people paint them as.  They have multiple fan pages on Facebook--for the church itself, for various church leaders, for the Mormon Tabernacle choir, the Book of Mormon, and many other aspects of Mormonism.  Most invasive of all, though, is the missionary effort.  The church has over 50,000 proselytizing missionaries worldwide who every day knock on people's doors and attempt to teach them about their own beliefs in these people's homes.  Missionaries are trained to be very tenacious in their follow-up with the contacts that they make (their investigators).  They call often--sometimes daily--to check up on their progress in studying about the church, they visit regularly, they encourage their investigators to attend Mormon worship services.  They are anything but silent about their own beliefs.

Now, with this in mind, does it seem fair to accuse me of being overly vocal?  Of being too invasive about my concerns about the veracity of the church?  Is it really unreasonable of me to post about my post-Mormon life?  About my feelings and experiences after having left the church?  Is it unreasonable for me to post the findings I have made concerning actual historical records, actual Egyptian symbols, and other verifiable facts?  Note that I am only posting on my own Facebook wall and on my own blog. I am not being predatory in my vocalization by posting on other people's walls or on forums or knocking on people's doors to inform them of the message I have to share.

So, in conclusion, what I really want to say is that the real question should be "Why can't Mormons leave ex-Mormons alone?"  That is, why does it seem that those who have questions about inconsistencies in the church's history and teachings are persecuted by (some--not all, in fact from my own experience it's not even a notable percentage) Mormons and asked to remain silent about those concerns?  If the church really is true and it has nothing to hide, then let people say whatever they will--of what consequence is it to you?

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