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Do unto others II

I wanted to offer some further clarification concerning my post from a couple weeks ago entitled "Do unto others" and expound a bit on that topic.  In that post, I gave several examples of the way people had treated me during my transition out of Mormonism.  I wanted to make clear the reason for having done this, since the feedback I've received has made me think perhaps I didn't express it as well as I originally thought.  In listing all of those things that happened, I did not mean to incite negative feelings toward any of the people mentioned, nor did I wish to elicit sympathy due to the fact that I had undergone any undesirableness.  Nor did I wish to imply that any of those particular things were causes for me leaving the LDS faith.  The sole purpose for sharing those events was to help those who are faithful, believing Mormons see ways in which their actions--as well-intending as they may be--can sometimes hurt people's feelings.

Sometimes, and I know this to be the case because I did it when I was a believing Mormon, Mormons get so caught up in defending the truth and standing for what is right that they believe it's okay to hurt other people's feelings when doing so.  In fact, I have often heard the quote from some prophet (I've never looked to see whether the quote is real, so I can't vouch for its validity) that "I'd rather be right than be a friend."  Also, in response to my "Do unto others post", I had a person tell me "Clarity and honesty show you more love than attempting to spare your feelings."

I have no sense of vengeance.  I have no desire to destroy the church or the faith of any of its members.  Having experienced all of the unpleasantness that I have disclosed here in my blog and in my book, I have no desire to make anyone else suffer those same things I have suffered.  It is because I have felt those unpleasant feelings that I wish others to be able to avoid them, not to experience them.  I don't like feeling cast out.  I don't like the feeling of people judging me and making me feel like a lower life form because I don't conform to their idea of morality.  So, I don't want to return that feeling to anyone else.  I want people to be happy.  If you're happy in your religion, then I am happy for you and have no desire for you to leave it.

The point is that the sentiment of "Clarity and honesty show you more love than attempting to spare your feelings." ignores the golden rule that the Savior taught.  Yes, it is true that it's important to stand up for what is right.  But, it's also important to treat other people like people, and to treat them the way you'd want to be treated if you were in their shoes.  You don't want other people pushing their beliefs on you and telling you that if you don't like it, it's just the devil inside of you rebelling against the truth, so don't say those kinds of things to other people.  You don't want other people ignoring your existence just because you're doing something that they don't like, so don't do that to other people.  That's all I want to say.  Think about how your words and your actions will affect another person before you do them and say them.

I believe in freedom of religion.  I don't think everyone should be forced to believe in one particular religion.  I don't think that people should have to keep their opinions to themselves.  I think all people should have a voice in the public sphere, and all should be heard.  I have had many people try to silence me because of my changed beliefs.  I have had many people tell me to just not talk about the church anymore.  I have had people tell me "I don't go around telling other people their beliefs are wrong, so you shouldn't either."  However, that is entirely untrue.  The LDS church and a lot of its members go around all over the world telling gay people that they're wrong.  They aren't very shy about denouncing homosexuality as immoral.  That is shooting down my belief that it is moral.  That is a direct attack on me personally.  And yet, you do it all the time.  I don't try to silence you simply because your beliefs are an attack on mine.  But you try to silence me.  You say "Leave the church alone" and "Move on" and "Get over it".  You tell me that I shouldn't post things that I find that directly contradict Mormon doctrine.  That is not religious tolerance.

Having a belief inevitably brings with it the exclusion of contradicting beliefs.  Saying "I believe that God exists" is to say "I believe that atheists are wrong".   Similarly, saying "I know that the LDS church is true, and is God's one true church on the Earth" is quite explicitly declaring every other religion to be false.  You attack other people's beliefs all the time.  But, I don't think that's bad.  I think everyone should be allowed to have their own opinions and their own beliefs.  I am confident enough in my own beliefs to allow other people to contradict me and still believe as I do.  I don't have any need to ask anyone who disagrees with me to stop posting such things, to stop voicing their opinion.

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