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Love the Mormon, hate the Mormonism

I received an email recently from a Mormon friend.  As part of the email, the concern was expressed "I hope I'm not bothering you with this email."  I took this to mean that since I no longer wanted to have anything to do with the church, that I no longer wanted to have anything to do with its members.  I do understand where this concern might come from.  I have been very clear and very decisive in my disapproval of Mormon doctrine and policy.  I would even go so far as to say that I dislike the LDS church and am suspicious of the motives of its leaders.  However, I do not equate the church with all of its members.  As many religious folk like to say "Love the sinner, hate the sin."  It's very possible to separate a person from their actions and their beliefs.

In the hopes of clearing up any confusion or misconception I may have caused, I make the declaration that I still consider to be my friend anyone who was previously my friend--whether they be Mormon or not--even though I have left the church and no longer view its precepts as divinely guided.  If, for example, the missionaries were to knock on my door, I would greet them warmly, I would offer them something to drink, and I would be kind to them.  I would help them in any way that I could.  The same would go for any of my Mormon friends.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, but I am willing to be friends with anyone who wants to be friends with me.  Several people have defriended me on Facebook.  I hope that we can still remain friends outside of Facebook in spite of this, but I am sure there are cases where that will not be possible, and I find that to be lamentable.  I myself have defriended some people on Facebook, simply because they would continually say hurtful things to me or about gay people and I did not wish to continually expose myself to such torment.  If they wish to come back and be my friend, not saying such hurtful things, then I will gladly welcome them back as friends.

Virtually everyone in my family is LDS.  I do not wish to cut off ties with any of them any more than I wish to cut off my own arm.  I have never asked any particular member of my ward nor the leaders of the same not to attempt to contact me.  I understand that some people do this when they leave the church, and I can understand why they would feel that way.  I have no issues with people from the church contacting me, nor do I have any issues with them talking to me about their beliefs.  However, as often as people will talk about their beliefs with me, I will feel it is appropriate for me to do the same.  I have no problems with respecting the beliefs of others, nor with expressing my own beliefs.

If the leaders of my ward wished to assign home teachers to me and send them over, I would welcome them in and I would treat them as any other guest in my house.  If they wished to discuss the church, I would be glad to discuss it with them.  I doubt that they would want the conversation to continue on very long, seeing as our views concerning the church would be so opposite, but I would be willing to continue the discussion as long as everyone involved was polite.  It's very tempting to have the chip-on-my-shoulder attitude, daring them to bring up the church just so that I can unleash all of my knowledge on them, but I'd like to think that I'm not that childish anymore.

I am very capable of setting differences aside.  If I had a Mormon friend who wanted to go bowling together, I would happily go bowling with them and enjoy their friendship just as much as I did when my religious views aligned with theirs.  I harbor no ill will toward people of any religion, race, or political view.  If you want to be my friend, then I will be yours.  If you do not wish to be my friend, I certainly will not attempt to force my friendship upon you.  But I will wish you well in life.

I've been participating in a meditation group in the math department and it has been good.  Just the other day, we did a "compassion" meditation, where we imagined different groups of people--eventually expanding to the whole universe--and wished each person happiness and to avoid suffering.  It was a very positive experience for me.  I do wish happiness to all people.  If being Mormon makes you happy, then I have no issues with you being Mormon.  If being my friend will make you happy, then I will be your friend.  If not being my friend will make you happy, then don't be my friend.  My goal is to maximize the amount of happiness in the world and minimize the amount of suffering.  Anything that I believe will bring about those two ends, I will do.

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