PostMormon.org Billboard Squelched

PostMormon.org BillboardIn April Mormon Coffee reported on a billboard campaign instituted in LDS areas by PostMormon.org, a group of former Mormons seeking to offer support to others who have left the LDS Church. Last Friday (22 June) the Idaho Falls’ Post Register reported on the “early termination” of the display of one of these billboards. Reproduced at the PostMormon.org web site, the article explains,

“The local advertising campaign for a Web site that caters to former members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has ended prematurely.

“A billboard on U.S. Highway 20 promoting http://www.postmormon.org was taken down more than a week before its contract expired. The decision to yank the sign came at the behest of Dome Technology Inc., a local business that owns the land where the sign’s post is buried.

“Barry South, president of the monolithic dome company and an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said his sons expressed concern about the billboard to Lamar Outdoor Advertising, which owns the billboard space, after an article about postmormon.org was published two weeks ago in the Post Register.”

The executive director of PostMormon.org, Jeff Ricks, believes the actions of the South family were “a form of religious discrimination. At the very least, it’s religious intolerance.”

Dome Technology says it has a policy of neutrality that it believes the PostMormon.org billboard violates. The Post Register article states,

“Dome Technology interacts regularly with customers of diverse religious backgrounds throughout the world, the statement [provided by Dome Technologies] reads, and the company would have expressed the same concern for any advertisement with a negative or positive context toward any religious denomination.”

The PostMormon.org billboard consists of the web site’s URL and a smiley face graphic. Apparently, some people think the very idea of a happy life after Mormonism (as suggested by the billboard) places The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a “negative context.” But there must be more than this concern to justify Dome’s Technology’s willingness to prompt the breaking of a contract between PostMormon.org and Lamar Outdoor Advertising.

Commenting at the PostMormon.org web site, a reader took issue with the allegation that the billboard violates Dome Technology’s policy of religious neutrality. Noting PostMormon.org is not a religion and does not promote any single religious creed, dogzilla wrote,

“This equates, IMHO, to say asking Alcoholics Anonymous to take down a billboard that advertises the resources available for people who have stopped drinking.

“At the end of the day, though, we can all smile and chuckle quietly to ourselves because the bottom line: the action that Dome Technology took just reinforces our point and our reason for having this site in the first place.”

What is it in Mormonism that creates the sort of response against an ex-member support group as was expressed in Idaho? One possibility comes to my mind, though I’m sure there are others.

Since the owners of the land where the billboard stands are LDS, perhaps they are concerned over retaining or renewing their temple recommends. In the recommend interview where an applicant is deemed worthy to enter LDS temples (or not), one question members must answer is this:

“Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?”

The implication is that this sort of affiliation would be frowned upon and count against one’s worthiness. Hosting a billboard advertising a group which questions the claim that the LDS Church is God’s only true church might be understood to fall under the condemnation of the question cited above.

Before you dismiss this idea thinking it too far-fetched, I’ve talked with Mormons who tell me they’ve been warned by their bishops that they might not have their temple recommends renewed unless they stop attending family functions — because someone in the family is outspoken against Mormonism. If a Latter-day Saint’s temple recommend could be jeopardized by eating Thanksgiving dinner with a family member who speaks critically of the LDS Church, why wouldn’t a Mormon naturally fear his good-standing with the Church if his business indirectly supported apostates?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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22 Responses to PostMormon.org Billboard Squelched

  1. John C. says:

    Wait, so Mormonism is an addiction? Mormonism = Alcoholism? Really?

  2. john f. says:

    The temple recommend question at issue really is aimed at preventing Latter-day Saints who wish to participate at the temple from associating with or actively supporting fundamentalist polygamist groups. It is true, however, that some Bishops abuse their authority and priesthood positions, perhaps even in the way suggested by mis-applying this temple recommend question to family members who oppose the Church. Those Bishops cause great hardship in the lives of their flocks and are an unfortunate aspect of humanity.

  3. Neal says:

    So you’re telling me that if this group — http://www.exchristian.net/ — put a sign or other advertising in a property that you owned, you’d be OK?

    Further — I have received and issued temple recommends for many years. Literally, other than some very rare abuse as john f mentioned, the only scenario I can imagine that a priesthood leader would use a temple recommend interview in the way you have suggested goes like this:

    Member: Bishop, I do have members of my family who seem to rail against the church every time we are together. I try to be reasonable, I try to be Christlike, but they won’t let up. It literally ruins all of our get togethers.

    Bishop: Maybe you should consider communicating to them how uncomfortable you are and suggest that maybe you not get together if this is going to be an ongoing issue.

    Most Bishops I have ever known would help a member of the Church find ways to get along and strengthen their family bonds wherever possible.

  4. rick b says:

    Neal Said So you’re telling me that if this group — http://www.exchristian.net/ — put a sign or other advertising in a property that you owned, you’d be OK?

    Their is in my mind a huge difference in being Honest and saying, I will not post this on my property and here’s why, verses posting it, then days before the time expires, pulling it.

    Also Neil, You might be busy, but your replied to this question, you promised Keith walker a reply, but that is not into the arcives, you told me I was wrong, you would reply, but know your behind I believe 3 question. Will answer them or not? Can you answer them, or not? Rick b

  5. Neal says:

    Rick — I said I would and I will. I am behind, but catching up. This was a quick comment that didn’t require much of me.

  6. Alex D. says:

    If this billboard was pulled due to issue of negativity toward a religious denomination, then why was it ever erected in the first place (or for that matter, why wasn’t it pulled much sooner?) The mere fact that the billboard stood for about 2 months before being pulled suggests that those who spoke out against it only recently decided to have it removed. (Either that, or they couldn’t get it done sooner due to slowness of the legal process. However, if this was the case, then wouldn’t there have been other articles published in that editorial pertaining to this issue?)

    — In response to John C. —
    It should be noted that “Dogzilla’s” comment comparing the current situation to one including Alcoholic’s Anonymous is an expression of his own opinion. While I wouldn’t go as far as calling Mormonism an “addiction” like alcoholism, it goes without saying that most of those who have left that religion did so with great difficulty. After all, the LDS Church requires a great deal from its members, and while not having to worry anymore about paying tithes or not consuming caffeinated liquids could be considered refreshing, the mere thought of being “wrong” about such an important belief in one’s life (sometimes for the majority of one’s life) can be life-shattering. From the perspective of a post-mormon, I am certain that their lives within the Church (compared to their current lives) could be thought of as an addiction (to them).

  7. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    Neal suggests a possible scenario between a Latter-day Saint and his/her bishop during a temple recommend interview. His seems like a plausible situation. But, to borrow a line from an old television program, “There are eight million stories in the Naked City…this has been one of them.”

  8. John C. says:

    Oh, to put it more accurately, this is the vast majority of them.

  9. John C. says:

    “After all, the LDS Church requires a great deal from its members, and while not having to worry anymore about paying tithes or not consuming caffeinated liquids could be considered refreshing, the mere thought of being “wrong” about such an important belief in one’s life (sometimes for the majority of one’s life) can be life-shattering.”

    But wouldn’t this be true of leaving any community in which one had grown up and in which all one’s family members participated? Is leaving the Mormons more traumatic than leaving the Amish, for example? Or declaring oneself an atheist when one is the child of the preacher? We manage to talk about the trauma of those events without evoking addiction, don’t we?

  10. Alex D. says:

    John C.,

    I agree with what you have to say about applying similar circumstances to similar situations in regards to other religions. However, neither you nor I are in a position to say if “leaving the Mormons” could be more or less traumatic “than leaving the Amish,” for neither of us (assuming) have personal experience in that area.

    My intent was not to place Mormonism as the only religion to have the “addiction” situation applied to it. In fact, if you would go back to re-read my post, you should be able to see that I was merely clarifying Dogzilla’s opinion and stating the possibility that one (who has gone through this trauma in ANY religious setting) may be able to look at their experience as an addiction. Had I not seen Dogzilla’s comment, however, it’s highly likely that alcoholism (or addiction, for that matter) would never have entered the picture.

  11. B B says:

    Neal,
    This happened in my part-member family. Though it was understood that the topic of Mormonism was off-limits at family gatherings and everyone abided by this rule, my LDS relative was told by the bishop that his temple recommend might not be renewed because he spent time with Church critics during holidays. Thankfully, he stood up to his bishop and said if he was forced to choose between family and a church that gave lip-service to the importance of family, he would choose family every time.

  12. Neal says:

    B B,

    If what you say is true, your LDS relative was correct and my only point is that something like that situation, in my experience, is a rarity. I never said it couldn’t happen, only that it would be unusual and would be nearly universally condemned in the church.

    As far as the billboard is concerned, isn’t it also possible that the company that owns the property owns many properties, and simply didn’t know for a couple of months which billboard was on that particular property? Corporations that own lots of property don’t always see all of their properties all of the time. Just a suggestion.

  13. Doug says:

    Two points. Neal, I know exactly EIGHT men who either are(related to both of them) or have been bishops or even stake presidents that would adhere to the “don’t associated with the enemy” mentality. Not that uncommon.

    Addiction: I spent almost 3 months in a call in center a long time ago. This place was a place to call where people could call in under discretion to talk about anything they wanted. A lot of suicide callers and addicts. In the training for this position we learned a basic defenition for an addict: someone who cannot walk away from something(be it alcohol, drugs, whatever) The lds church falls under this category and I’ve used it on several occasions when those word of wisdom coversations come about. Everyone has their vices. EVERYONE. When a mormon gets on their “I’m so good because I don’t do this” pedestal, I simply show them their addiction to the lds church. “Walk away then” is usually met with no response.

  14. john f. says:

    Doug, that is a fascinating argument coming from an Evangelical Christian. Surely it is obvious that the same addiction argument applies to Evangelical Christians as well.

  15. Neal says:

    Doug — with all respect — I have associated with literally HUNDREDS of bishops and stake presidents and have been a bishop and served in a stake presidency. I have never said that the things of which you speak don’t happen, I said they are rare. Most LDS Priesthood leaders will encourage tolerance, conversation, etc LONG before they would encourage ending an association, and would only encourage it after other attempts had failed and a relationship was becoming damaging.

    I’m also uncertain where you are going with your idea about addiction. Are you suggesting that there is a standard that is too difficult, simply walk away? Try making the same argument regarding a standard that YOU believe to be important. If you had a acquaintance that was a young Christian, perhaps new to the faith or struggling. Perhaps she has a boyfriend she feels attached to who is pressuring her to become more intimate and she believes that she should be chaste, yet she loves this boy. Not an uncommon scenario, right? Now how would you feel if this young Christian girl confronted with this choice met someone who said “Look, get off of your ‘I’m a Christian so I just don’t do that’ pedestal. Clearly you are addicted to your Christianity and you need to walk away. Everyone has their vices”. How do you like your argument now?

    [Ad hominem statement removed by moderator.]

    …Certainly we all have vices. Part of mortality is to work to overcome those. As a Christian, you would NEVER encourage another Christian struggling with their own vices to simply walk away. You would teach them of the perfect love of Christ, of his atonement, of the joy that you feel by walking His walk. As a Christian and a member of the LDS Church, I would do the same. High standards are sometimes hard, but it doesn’t make them wrong. Mistakes are common to all mortals.

  16. Jeff says:

    Can we all just agree that anything you are highly engaged in, be it physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually damaging, is hard to “walk away” from. It would be hard for a Christian to walk away from the Christian Church as it would be hard for an LDS to walk away from the LDS church as it would be hard for an alcoholic to walk away from the bottle. Why is this even an argument, its common sense?

    I’m assuming but also asking, is the reason the LDS members don’t like this article is because it talks about an organizations offer to help people walking away from the Church, and because they strongly believe that they are walking away from the only true Gospel? I’m guessing it is. It also talks about corruption within the Bishopric of stakes. Every organization of a considerable size will have it’s “black sheep”. It’s rather unfortunate that some members of the LDS church are denied a temple recommend from one Bishop, when another Bishop would have granted it. Perhaps the LDS church should come up with a standard way to deal with problems that its members have to overcome in order to get a temple rec., more specifically the cutting off of communication between member and church antagonist. If a Bishop is found to have gone against the majority view of the church, he should be stripped of his position.

    Just a thought…

  17. RaeLynn says:

    Do you really have nothing better to do with your time than post negative articles concerning your tainted views on mormonism? I really don’t get it. There must be a lot of anger and/or bitterness inside you for you to take it this far. Most ex-catholics or ex-lutherans don’t feel the need to start up a website to justify their reasons behind their decision. Who are you trying to convince here? Yourself or the rest of the world?

  18. rick b says:

    Raelynn said Do you really have nothing better to do with your time than post negative articles concerning your tainted views on mormonism? I really don’t get it. There must be a lot of anger and/or bitterness inside you for you to take it this far.

    From what the Bible teaches, the Veil was torn in two,

    Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

    Mark 15:38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

    Luke 23:45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

    So we no longer need temples. But if were hateful people for pointing out what Jesus and the word of God teaches, then I guess just like the Bible teaches, some people will depart from the faith and follow false teachers and fables, and will call good evil, and Evil Good. Rick b

  19. Marc says:

    rick b, for your information, your conclusion that those scripture quotes mean “we no longer need temples” is wrong and I suggest you do some research into the symbolism of the veil.

    Thanks,
    Marc

  20. John C. says:

    Jeff,
    It is not the argument that is objectionable, but rather the suggestion that Mormonism (or religion in general) is an addiction, which I believe always carries with it a negative connotation. Other than that, I have no problem with these people and I hope they find peace and happiness.

  21. rick b says:

    Marc said: rick b, for your information, your conclusion that those scripture quotes mean “we no longer need temples” is wrong and I suggest you do some research into the symbolism of the veil.

    Please support the LDS view of temples from the Bible. Show me what you guys use the temples for and such, with scripture. Show me where we must enter to be saved, or that we must enter for marraige, or any other thing you guys do. rick b

  22. Ralph says:

    I have always been taught that the question in the recommend interview is asking if we actually give support by any means (ie time, money, signing petitions, etc) for groups whose teachings are in direct contradiction to our church. For example giving support to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (I’m and Aussie and I don’t know of any equivalent in America). Others would include arguing for the rights of gays and lesbians to be treated as a family, or allowing brothels into the area, etc. Because these are wrong in the sight of God we must do what we can to oppose them, not support them. As a Christian most of you would agree with not supporting something that is against your standards/teachings.

    As for the cases of the bishops saying to stay away from family, I don’t know the context of the stories that have been given so I cannot speak for or against them. If it was a straight out case of the bishop opposing the individual’s relation with the family member then the bishop was incorrect and his position in the church should be looked at. However, (and I know some of the ex-/non-Mormons on this site may have issues with this but remember its from a Mormon perspective) maybe the member is not strong in the church and the bishop, concerned for the individual’s spiritual welfare, is giving them the advice to keep away from an improper influence. I don’t have any problem with that last scenario. To my way of thinking it would be the same thing any of you would do with a new Christian – advise them to keep away from ‘anti-Christian’ material until they are strong enough to cope with it.

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