Something Darker?

Last Friday (25 February 2011) the Wall Street Journal (digital edition) ran an article by Mitch Horowitz titled “When Does a Religion Become a Cult?” Mr. Horowitz comments, “America has long been a safe harbor for experimental faiths. But the unorthodox can descend into something darker.”

Noting that the term “cult” carries with it some unwanted baggage, Mr. Horowitz nevertheless provides criteria which indicates a group may have crossed the line from merely unconventional, to cult. Mr. Horowitz writes,

“Many academics and observers of cult phenomena, such as psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo of Stanford, agree on four criteria to define a cult. The first is behavior control, i.e., monitoring of where you go and what you do. The second is information control, such as discouraging members from reading criticism of the group. The third is thought control, placing sharp limits on doctrinal questioning. The fourth is emotional control—using humiliation or guilt. Yet at times these traits can also be detected within mainstream faiths. So I would add two more categories: financial control and extreme leadership.”

Mr. Horowitz describes financial control as “levying ruinous dues or fees, or effectively hiring members and placing them on stipends or sales quotas” such as the religious groups once known for selling books or flowers in airports and on street corners. Extremist leadership, he says, is sometimes harder to recognize, but every coercive religious group harbors one telltale trait: untoward secrecy.”

While reading this article I couldn’t help but think about my own church – how does it compare to this list of six criteria that Mr. Horowitz uses to define a cult? As far as I can determine, my church – and my entire personal religious experience – is free from any of these traits.

What about Mormonism? What if we apply these criteria to the history and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

What follows is not to be construed as any sort of in-depth analysis; it’s just a cursory look at some aspects of the LDS religious culture.

Behavior control: Many examples of this could be cited within Mormonism (such as the infamous September Six, or the story of Chad Hardy and his Mormon Missionary calendars), but perhaps, in honor of Black History Month, the experience of Byron Marchant is appropriate to mention. According to The Dallas Morning News, 20 October 1977, Mr. Marchant was excommunicated and fired from his church job because he publically opposed LDS leadership regarding the ban on giving Blacks the priesthood. (See Salt Lake City Messenger, July 1978.)

Information control: Latter-day Saints are often counseled not to read (or watch) anything critical of the Mormon Church. One example: “Elder [Boyd K.] Packer said, ‘They leave the Church but they can’t leave it alone’ (Utah State University baccalaureate address). They publish theological pornography that is damaging to the spirit. None of it is worth casting an eye upon. Do not read the anti-Mormon materials” (Vaughn J. Featherstone, “The Last Drop in the Chalice,” a BYU devotional given September 24, 1985).

Thought control: Though the LDS magazine Improvement Era published this in 1945, it reflects the historic (and current) teaching from Mormon leadership: “Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the ‘prophets, seers, and revelators’ of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy…” (For more information on agreeing with the prophet, see Mormon Coffee post “When the Prophet Speaks the Debate is Over”).

Emotional control: Speaking to members who might keep company with those who criticize leaders of the LDS Church, a Mormon apostle warned that they could be influenced to move away from “the pathway of truth, and if you do not repent you may find when it is too late that you have lost the ‘pearl of great price.’ Because of your selfishness and your blindness you will have been led away, and your loved ones who have given their very lives in order that you might enjoy the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be sorrowing on the other side of the veil because of your weakness and your folly” (George Albert Smith, Conference Reports, April 1937, 34).

Financial control: While encouragement to give a portion of one’s income to his church is common among many religions, within Mormonism a ten percent tithe is required in order for a member to be deemed worthy enough to receive the higher ordinances of that faith — ordinances which are necessary for a person to achieve the best possible eternal life.

Extremist leadership: It is well-understood within Mormonism that the leadership must be obeyed: “Always keep your eye on the President of the church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, even if it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it…” (Heber J. Grant, quoted by Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1960, 78).

Untoward secrecy: Mormons are told that LDS temple ordinances are “sacred not secret,” but that’s not necessarily accurate. Deseret News reported, “While some members will claim that Mormon temples are ‘sacred not secret,’ Bushman said that ‘temples are secret, plain and simple,’ noting that even members ‘don’t speak to each other about it’” (Richard L. Bushman, “Seek understanding, not converts, Bushman urges Mormons,” Deseret News, March 6, 2008).

Mitch Horowitz sums up his Wall Street Journal article with this:

“As opposed to a cult, a religious culture ought to be as simple to enter or exit, for members or observers, as any free nation. Members should experience no impediment to relationships, ideas or travel, and the group’s finances should be reasonably transparent. Its doctrine need not be conventional—but it should be knowable to outsiders. Absent those qualities, an unorthodox religion can descend into something darker.”

I wonder where Mr. Horowitz would put the Mormon Church. Would he say it’s a healthy “religious culture”? Or would he classify it as “something darker”?

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.
This entry was posted in LDS Church, Mormon Culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to Something Darker?

  1. falcon says:

    This is a pretty straight forward article. All a person has to do is take a look at the criteria and see if the group they belong to fits the bill. What it all comes down to is control. In-other-words, how much control does the group have over its members? Generally that relates to control over time, money, behavior and involvement in the group. The control factor is fear. I've read enough about Mormon culture to know its not something I'd dig, regardless of the religious beliefs. There are groups that are very orthodox in their Christian doctrine but who are what we'd call legalistic in nature.
    I don't know if I'd call the Catholic church of my youth a cult but the church certainly had a lot of control over its members. And again, it was driven by fear; most often fear of going to hell if you fell short of expectations. Sometime after Pope John Paul the XXIII that started to fade. I left the church as a college student in the midsixties because I'd had enough. When I stopped being afraid, the church couldn't control me any more. Even within that type of structure, people weren't controlled in the manner and to the degree that Mormons are controlled.
    I'm guessing that once a person gets out of that swath of land were Mormons are plentiful, Mormons aren't inculturated the way they are within that geographic area. For example, where I live, few people even know a Mormon as a Mormon. They just pretty much blend in. The stakes for dropping out aren't as great around here.

  2. setfreebyJC says:

    Well done, Sharon.

    While you have specific examples of each category, many more examples could be given. At a personal level… I suspect that many, if not most or even ALL Mormons have noticed some kind of control exerted by the Church, either personally or within their family or social circle. I certainly did.

  3. Verne Brown says:

    Information and its cousin, thought control are two really big red flags. Both deny members the right/ability to think critically about their beliefs and serve as major barriers to the flow of truth to the cultist. This is not to say that the others are not critical as well, but in the case of mormonism, serve to blind the followers the most and when broken down exposes the rest (financial, leadership, emotional, etc. controls).

  4. f_melo says:

    That´s so true! That´s what the label "anti mormon" is all about, to control the member´s thoughts in such a way that they feel bad about any material that criticizes mormonism.

    I´m completely disgusted at those quotes. How can those men say those things without any remorse… it´s sickening…

  5. f_melo says:

    Falcon, what´s gets me angry when i think about it is that the fear isn´t of Hell because there´s no Hell in Mormonism. They use the fear people have of losing their families in eternity. The family is held hostage. In exchange for an eternal family people will do almost anything the Church tells them to.

  6. wyomingwilly says:

    I don't have a comment on Mr. Horowitz's article, but I think that the statements from Mormon leaders
    that Sharon listed can be evaluated in the light of the New Testament . After all, the Mormon church
    claims to be the New Testament church , restored. The term, "cult" is a hot potato. I feel that to get an
    audience with someone that we feel is in a cult , that it is wise not to use that term towards them etc.
    We need to use a method that keeps the dialog centered on what the N.T. reveals relative to proper
    Christian leaders behavior. There have been far to many groups claiming to represent Jesus, that have
    drifted from the moorings of the N.T. , and indulged in very aberrant behavior in relation to control issues.
    Lastly, I feel that the experiences of ex-LDS can shed valuable light on what exactly the Mormon mind-
    set, and Mormon culture entails. ww

  7. clyde says:

    Very good post Sharon.

  8. Marissa says:

    'nuff said. Now if we could just get our "mormon" friends and family to read this article!

  9. falcon says:

    Let me ask you, isn't there something called "outer darkness" which is basically Mormon hell for Mormon apostates? I've heard that Mormons fear going there. I can see where the loss of the family circle would be a big threat but combine that with "outer darkness" and there's a one-two fear punch.
    Mormons can also fear losing their families in this world as has been seen when the woman gets a divorce and all of a sudden she's got an LDS approved man to marry and be sealed to. Those who leave can be shunned by the close knit Mormon community which can mean the loss of employment or if you own a business, customers. I've also heard that those who leave get hounded to get back into the program.

  10. Violet says:

    Truly I believe this article doesn't go far enough. The mormons I know, will not look at a site on their computer that is not lds-approved. My friend joyously called to announce that she found a retirement calculator on an lds-approved site. I mentioned that there are many sites that have those such as Vanguard or T.Rowe Price. Trust me, she never looked at the sites I mentioned.

    I believe if the church tells you not to look, think, investigate, study, research, then it doesn't happen. The normal person would say, 'No. That can't be so. Not in America.' Yes. It happens. Their every action, thought, is positive, church lifting experiences. They believe they are the body of Christ and if its not lds, they do not have the time, to look into for themselves. She told me that she was so happy that someone had done the thinking for them (in other words, to protect them from mistakes.) She meant this as a time-saver, not as a 'I don't have to think' statement. But really. She doesn't have to think. The thinking has been done for her.

    How is that NOT a cult? I think the article didn't go far enough. I know they think they are helping Christ Jesus by following the prophet, their leaders, the rules, and everything it entails. I know they are good people. Good people get misled. The problem is when someone in the family knows the church is not true. That's the human rights issue I have. The family turns on them.

  11. Lee Grenier says:

    Falcon, there is something called "outer darkness," but you have to be what's called a "son of perdition" to go there. Sometimes apostates are labeled as such, but generally the feeling is that the apostate simply goes to the lowest kingdom of heaven rather than outer darkness. From my understanding, anyways. So while "outer darkness" isn't generally a worry, except perhaps for the highest leadership, losing the Celestial Kingdom, possibility of Godhood, the ability to constantly be in the presence of God, and most of all losing the eternal family, is definitely a fear factor. Unless, of course, you've realized that the man who made all that up was a false prophet.

  12. clyde says:

    I'm mormon and view this blog quit often. It does wear and tear at my Psyche . I find it interesting because of some of the historical facts. I also find it interesting when they take a subject and twist it to view mormonism in a bad light when some churches have the same problem. It is funny when your friend found 'a retirement calculator on an lds-approved site''. I have heard of some christian doing this too. At times I question my religion but feel stronger about it the more I study. Your friend seems quit comical though maybe you should write about her and give it a comedic twist. You ask "How is that NOT a cult?". Free agency is one reason. It is a shame how someone who leaves is treated but what would you do if you still believed in something and they did not. How are they treating each other? Would you be able to tolerate someone opposed to what you still believe? But you are free to choose and you do have to interact with people and God will probably judge you for that.

  13. f_melo says:

    Outer Darkness is more serious than that. To go there you have to deny the Holy Ghost which from what i´ve learned in Church can mean two things. Doctrine and Covenants teaches that to deny the Holy Ghost is to shed innocent blood. Another explanation is that to deny the Holy Ghost someone must have seen the Lord in person and know beyond faith that He is real and then willfully deny Him. So, based on the second explanation Mormons won´t really be afraid of outer darkness, the only ones who should fear it would be the apostles and prophet, and maybe those seventies and mission presidents who like to infer that they have seen Jesus.

    "Mormons can also fear losing their families in this world as has been seen when the woman gets a divorce and all of a sudden she's got an LDS approved man to marry and be sealed to."

    Absolutely, at the heart of it is Eternal Marriage, regardless if it happens here or after death.

    " I've also heard that those who leave get hounded to get back into the program."

    That´s also absolutely true, because in their heads the people leaving are losing the privilege of becoming exalted gods in the Celestial Kingdom, so mormons get very concerned that those people won´t try to achieve their highest potential(that´s part of their way of thinking in these matters, i´m not kidding).

  14. f_melo says:

    Clyde, how so?

  15. falcon says:

    Say Violet,
    Here's a good question for you and anyone else who wants to take a crack at it; your friend seems to be happy and thriving in Mormonism so how can Mormonism be a cult?
    Well why does a woman stay in a relationship with an abusive man? Or why does someone who's married to an alcoholic get a divorce from that person and then turn around an marry another alcoholic? I think that one of the answers is that people do what's comfortable or what, to them, is normal. Why do some people live in cluttered homes. They're comfortable with the mess. If the home wasn't cluttered it wouldn't, to them, be home. I'll drive by some houses out in the country that are a total mess. There are old cars up on blocks, rusted out farm machinery in the yard and animals wandering about. If someone went in and cleaned it up, the place would be a total mess again within a month. It's comfortable, normal and familiar to the people living there.
    It's this perception of what is "normal", I believe, is what keeps some people in cults. They don't mind, what for most of us would seem intrusive, controlling and a "mess". The cult provides structure, a belief system, a sense of belonging and an odd sort of security.
    So your friend has a perception of what is normal with her involvement in Mormonism. You look at it and scream, "What's wrong with you. Get out of that mess." Your friend looks around and says, "What mess?" She doesn't see it Violet and without some sort of jolt or ah ha experience, she'll never leave the comfort and security of the cult.

  16. clyde says:

    Oh historical stuff and how she stated things to make her argument.

  17. Sarah says:

    Can I ask a question about how Eternal marriage is taught?

    What is taught about your eternal family in Mormonism? For instance —

    Your parents are sealed for time and all eternity, and their children and family is sealed to them as well. But then the daughter gets sealed to her husband and their children.

    The person — the daughter — what family is she with for all eternity in the celestial kingdom?

  18. f_melo says:

    All the people who will become gods will live together on this earth, because the earth will be "celestialized" and become their inheritance, and that means she will be with both families. So, technically the daughter didn´t have to be sealed to her parents, nor do parents have to be sealed to their children. Also even if the entire family is sealed together and the daughter refused to get married in the temple, she still would not be able to become a god in the celestial kingdom, she would be a servant angel to whoever god she was appointed to. The only exceptions being if the daughter died before she was old enough to be married or if she didn´t get that chance in this life in which cases she would be assigned as one of the secondary polygamous wives of one of the exalted gods if there were no single men available in the same conditions as hers.

    In short, the sealing is just something you have to do to earn godhood, and you have to do it with your spouse, because it doesn´t count to do it just with your parents.

  19. f_melo says:

    " "How is that NOT a cult?". Free agency is one reason

    Clyde, Free Agency is one thing, but how is someone´s free agency being respected when you try to persuade people to believe you by twisting the facts? That´s not giving people a chance to choose, that´s deception. You have to lie to people to get them to believe as you do, otherwise they would never be involved. People work real hard at Church and make real sacrifices believing that they are doing it to please a real god that in reality is fake, it was invented by Joseph Smith – that´s why so many people get so angry when they find out the truth about the Church´s history.

    Also, if your Church is all about free will, why is it so hard to leave? Why can´t people leave without breaking family relationships and going through severe emotional damage?

    The Mormon Church isn´t a place of freedom, its actions are more similar to what Communists do to keep the "masses" under control. Yes, people are free to worship and do whatever they want, yet they should be educated and prepared against the manipulations employed by various organizations(wolves in sheep´s clothing) in order to control them to further their power and political agenda. The MRM is doing a great job at that. Then if they still want to be Mormons, let them be…

  20. falcon says:

    I can see where forming an attachment to a cult like Mormonism starts with some subtle brainwashing techniques combined with emotions masquerading as a spiritual witness. For those born into Mormonism the process starts with kids repeating the Mormon mantra over and over again i.e. JS is a prophet, the BoM is true, and so forth. For the recruit, the missionaries have a set of cleverly designed techniques used to seduce (the recruit). The entire presentation is set-up to get the prospect to begin associating feelings with a witness from the Holy Ghost. So with the ground plowed and the seed planted, when the prospect reads the BoM and feels something, it is interpreted as God speaking and testifying to the truth of (the BoM). From that point on, all questioning must stop.

  21. falcon says:

    When I had to deal with chronically misbehaved students I would always ask one question, "What's the pay-off (for this behavior)?" I find myself asking the same question regarding folks trapped in the cult of Mormonism. That is, "What's the pay-off?" What are they getting out of their membership. There appears to me to be a whole lot of giving on the part of the member. In-other-words, they're slaves to the Mormon church. So what do they get out of it? This is especially so for the person who's about 60% out the door but is still hanging on.
    For some, I'm sure there are those pressures already mentioned; job, family, community, status. For others perhaps it's a motivator like fear. I've heard it said that fear of loss is more of a motivator than desire for gain. I'm guessing that as the pay-off shrinks, there's little that can hold someone in a cult like Mormonism. I remember hearing a woman who had left a polygamous Mormon cult say that she didn't figure hell could be any worse than the life she was leading as a plural wife, so she left.
    I'm guessing that personal integrity must play a role in some folks leaving. They just can no longer support what they don't believe in. One thing about the leavers; suddenly they have a bonus of more time and more money. They also get to have a life defined on their terms rather than by the cult.

  22. We are always hearing from the LDS that we dont know what were talking about. Well since they are keeping quit on this issue, I'm guessing it is spot on.

  23. clyde says:

    f-melo,You have the ability to accept what a person says and discern what he is telling you as the truth or lies. When a person talks about the church he wants to establish certain facts. His presentation is the key. A friend of mine once told me about a movie once. From the way he talked about the movie I thought it was a comedy. It wasn't. He told the story correctly and did not lie. It was the way the movie was shot-Music ,picture and dialog that was a turn off.
    It is sad how people are treated if they leave the church but what do you do when someone is opposed to your beliefs? To say it is like communism is to radical for me. But we don't fight wars over whose God is better any more.

  24. clyde says:

    Good observation. One thing to note is that there religion forbids to take the route out when it comes to marriage. A relative of mine had an alcoholic father and once asked her mother if she had to do it over again would she marry him. The mother said yes -she was catholic.
    You wrote–It's this perception of what is "normal", I believe, is what keeps some people in cults.
    That also is true of people with addiction or other (for want of a better word) abnormal Behavior. Look at Mr.Sheen.

  25. wyomingwilly says:

    In going through a book I have , " Collected Papers of the Rockford Conference on Discernment
    and Evangelism " [ 1992] , in a presentation by John David Lehman, he lists the same four criteria
    that Mr Horowitz mentioned in his article that are used by those who observe cult activity.
    1. Behavior control : group leaders that by controlling behavior, expect that hearts and minds will
    eventually follow, and that , " spiritual maturity as measured in terms of loyalty to the leadership."
    2. Thought control: if information is perceived as critical to the group, it's leaders then a wall goes
    up as this is perceived as the lies of Satan.
    3. Information control : leaders conceal information from members about, " it's history,it's inner
    4. Emotional control: " guilt and fear are used to control and to produce compliance." This may
    include guilt " of not doing all that he can do…"

  26. Violet says:

    Steve Hassan explained it this way. If you 'quit the organization, religion, etc.', then 'teeerrrrrriiiiiiiiibbbbbllllllleee. . . things will happen. Really. Its a lot of good karma, having special blessings, being literal spiritual children of God in the pre-existence. Its a chosen people, elite group. I would stay in it if I believed I was chosen, and my whole life, the reason I was special, was because, I was mormon. How does someone change their whole life and their entire family's core belief? Unimaginable.

  27. Nida Lloyd says:

    I agree that telling someone they are in a cult is not the best way to start an open and productive dialogue, even if it is true. But we must be aware that all sects of Mormonism fit the definition of a cult. One marker not mentioned in this article is that a Cult centers around a man, not God. In Mormonism, Joseph Smith is believed to hold the key's to heaven and people have to go through him, not Jesus, to get into heaven. Also current teaching supercedes previous teaching in mormonism, the living prophet's word is scripture. If it contradicts written scripture or the teachings of previous prophets, the new teaching cancels out the old.
    Another way to identify a cult is "the mathmetical formula" add, subtract, multiply and divide: A cult adds to the teachings of the bible, it subtracts from the deity of Christ, it multiplies the requirements for salvation and divides it members from the Body of Christ or the rest of humanity "We are the ONLY True Church, all others are false; in apostacy"
    As someone who was raised in a generational LDS family, I believe the New Testament is the best piece of "Anti-Mormon literature" there is. A careful study of the NT, without an LDS "study-guide" to add to it, or an LDS "bible dictionary" to redefine terms, should be sufficient to prove Mormonism a false Gospel.
    The new Testament warns us that there will be false teachers and false Christs. It tells us NOT to get caught up in endless geneologies. It uses baptism for the dead as an example of false teaching. It tells us there is no marriage in heaven. It warns us not to receive another gospel, even if it comes from an angel. it warns us that Satan can appear as an angel of light. These are just a few examples that come immediately to mind.
    Most importantly the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of Mormonism are not the same person. Even late LDS prophet Gordon B. Hinkley admitted so publicly in an interview with Larry King. The Jesus of the Bible is God become flesh. The Jesus of Mormonism is The "Spirit Brother of Satan (and us) Begotten by a god of flesh.

  28. Nida Lloyd says:

    I hosted a call-in radio show in Salt lake City in the early '90's. One night the discussion turned to religion. within minutes we got callers saying that we had no right to criticize Mormonism and "Shake peoples testimonies". My response, was that if someone's testimony could be shaken by 15 minutes of me on the radio, it wasn't much of a testimony to begin with. This is a common attitude in Utah, LDS people believe that society as a whole, must guard Mormonism and that anyone expressing an opposing point of view is committing the crime of leading members astray.

  29. wyomingwilly says:

    It's interesting to note that Mormon leaders have resorted to the above four types of control
    in a significant way. I personally do not use the word, " cult" in my dialogs with the Mormon
    people , in my opinion it's a word that conjures up to much negative imagery to them — think
    Jim Jones etc. I believe the Mormon people need to be constantly reminded that Jesus warned
    us all to beware of false prophets which would be especially active in the last days(dispensation).
    Examining the claims and then the teachings of Mormon prophets reveal them to be false prophets
    even though they live a moral lifestyle. The Mormon people need to think that through , as following
    nice men who teach inaccurately about God and salvation, will not lead to eternal life.

  30. Nida Lloyd says:

    Most LDS have been mislead and misinformed by their Church regarding Christianity as well. My LDS sister studied "Christianity" at BYU. She thinks she knows all about my faith (and that it is some kindergarten version of her post-graduate level of "Christianity') She is completely ignorant about true Christianity or The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  31. Violet says:

    Its not staying with an abusive husband, its being married eternally to the most holy, sacred, sweet, kind, wise husband for eternity. We are not even in the same ballpark. If there is a question about anything, its 'Well, my husband says this, thinks this, does this.' Its knowing she is in the safest hands of the church and her husband who all have her best interests at heart. Which is really a fabulous way to live actually. She is manically busy with having children, baking her own bread from hand-ground wheat, to staying active in her church, it really is a wonderful life and actually, having such a straight-line direction seems fabulous actually. Where I have a human rights issue is this:

    Her two oldest children. Eldest daughter, genius. Eldest son, sweet, loving, not as smart. Both of their lives are already mapped out. Eldest daughter, as much education, college degrees as possible. Then will be a stay-home mom. Because John and Abigail Adams said, that girls should have college degrees so that the women may teach their children and the husbands work. Perfect. Her son will be a doctor, and at 8 years old, he knows he will be a doctor. Fine. But what if the daughter wanted to be a doctor, and the son do something else. Impossible.

    Its not all like the, 'I am a mormon.' commercials. With moms not cooking and dads skateboarding. Its a lot of really, beyond really traditional roles where the girls are expected to make straight A's, go to college and marry a doctor or a lawyer and have very large families. Her friend had four children, then twins, then wanted more children because God told them too. Which is great. But what if something happens to the lawyer husband? This very young woman now has seven children. Then the church would step in to help but for how long?

    My friend has no cable (fine), no newspaper (fine), no radio to break in with news alerts (fine), and only watches tv for sesame street and the morning weather alerts. It really is 'the world is satan' and we must remain pure. Remaining pure is not associating with the outside world.

    Her biggest disappointment in life is that her children (her mom's disappointment) is that the kids are not homeschooled. And when she chooses only to have five children, her mom reminds her of the Duggars (who have 19.)

    I am not kidding. She is perfect but there is always a higher bar to reach. More kids, more purity, more education, straighter A's, more organic food, be more green, save more money. Its exhausting typing all this truth.

  32. Violet says:

    I answered 1000 favors. I never asked her for a favor. She was maxed out and I was this lazy christian so I have lots of time to help because I am a stay-home mom with only two children while she had four. I cannot possibly tell you the time, (my house became a public park with no boundaries at all), to burnt dinners, to not talking to my husband when he came home from work for two hours while I spoke to my friend at my house and watched out kids play. I cannot tell you when her husband came home, they all dropped their things and ran. I would not stay at her house for one minute if her husband walked in the door, but she stayed at my house for hours while my husband would cook dinner and we would keep talking (sometimes she was almost manic about talking). I am completely like a sponge that has been wrung dry. I could not give enough and there was always more. Just yesterday she called to ask to put out her trash cans while delivering her baby in the hospital. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her. But I also wouldn't ask favors because I want to be a good friend to her too. She still doesn't get it. Favor giving is not true friendship. Its sometimes just using people because you know they won't say no. I won't say no because she really needs somebody.

  33. wyomingwilly says:

    Nida, welcome to Mormon Coffee. It's a blessing to here from another former Mormon. I like what
    you said about a study of the New Testament without using LDS "helps" etc. The Mormon people
    need to dismiss their prophet, and replace him with THE prophet— Jesus. Heb. 7:25.


  34. f_melo says:

    ~f-melo,You have the ability to accept what a person says and discern what he is telling you as the truth or lies.

    What, is that some kind of excuse? Does that justify intentionally leaving out not faith-promoting truths to convince people that the Mormon Church is what it claims to be? Again, that's deception and deceivers seek to prevent people from being able to discern between truth and error.

    "A friend of mine once told me about a movie once. From the way he talked about the movie I thought it was a comedy. It wasn't. He told the story correctly and did not lie. It was the way the movie was shot-Music ,picture and dialog that was a turn off.

    That's an incredibly lame example and it's still not an excuse to intentionally mislead people.

  35. f_melo says:

    "It is sad how people are treated if they leave the church but what do you do when someone is opposed to your beliefs?"

    I do what Jesus did. Preach the Gospel and they can either listen or they can turn their backs on Him, i'll move on, i don't harass anyone, my faith is in Jesus, and this is His work, He'll will do what He sees fit – all i can do is to pray and preach.

    "But we don't fight wars over whose God is better any more."

    I don't remember fighting about that since there's only one real God, and His name is Jehovah. All others are man-made.

  36. Sarah says:

    Hi Nida! Welcome 😀 I have a friend who is similar. She took religious studies classes at BYU and says often that she is well-educated on the subject. The most interesting part of that argument to me is that all professors at BYU must be "worthy" Mormons. How can you claim to have a comprehensive education about something when all your education has been one-sided?

  37. clyde says:

    My friend didn't lie. And that is my point.

  38. clyde says:

    Along time ago wars were fought over peoples beliefs. Study history.

  39. falcon says:

    Abuse can take many forms Violet. A person doesn't have to be smacked around or be the recipient of a torrent of verbal profanity and intimidation to be abused. I'm back to talking about controlling another person. I've referenced the book several times, "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse". The author had experience counseling sexual abuse victims. He reports that he was surprised to find the same type of emotional fall out with victims of both sexual and spiritual abuse.
    I think I read your report correctly of the neighbor who was, as I see it, taking advantage of you. Something doesn't seem quite right to me.

  40. falcon says:

    In some ways knowledge is the enemy of cults. I would also say emotion because of its strength is perhaps even stronger. Cults sell their program on both false knowledge and created emotions.
    In terms of false knowledge, Mormonism is full of it. The basic idea of a "lost" and then "restored" gospel is laughable. It's laughable on several levels and one is the gigantic conspiracy theory. This Mormon conspiracy theory is spun in such a way that the Mormon believer is taught a little ditty that they repeat. The slogan goes like this: "The Bible was copied and recopied so many times that information was lost." Just a little checking and that myth can be debunked (without much effort).
    Also Mormons are about the worst Biblical scholars in the religious world. If they would take the time to read the first eight verses of chapter one of the Book of Acts they'd find some very revealing information. In it we are told that Jesus appeared to His disciples over a period of forty days and through the Holy Spirit gave the apostles orders. He also spoke to them about the kingdom of God. He told them about the gift that the Father had promised, the Holy Spirit.
    Now a couple of points; Jesus told the apostles a lot of stuff. Several of the apostles made written accounts to the Church. God's Holy Spirit will not allow these things to be lost or corrupted. They are God's Word. God's revelation remains pure and unadulterated. Within these eight verses we also see the nature of God on display. We have mentioned Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. The other Mormon myth that the Council of Nicea made it all up is a farce as can be seen right here in God's Word.
    Lastly, the apostle Paul who was not among the original twelve had a powerful experience with Jesus. Jesus revealed the gospel message directly to Paul. Paul explains in his letter to the Galatians how, fourteen years after his conversion, he went to Jerusalem and submitted what he preached to the apostles. They gave it the seal of approval.
    I guess if we could get the Mormons to "feel" the truth maybe we'd have a better chance of springing them from the cult.

  41. clyde says:

    You have got her Violet. I know it might seem like your wrestling a grizzly bear but you got her. One of these days she going to realize how good a friend you really are. You seemed to have done a better job at being a mormon than she has. And you're not even a mormon!!! You might want to step back and take a deep breath. Try to view things outside of what you yourself see. See what she can possibly do for you. Be careful the road is suppose to run both ways.

  42. Violet says:

    falcon. I am sincere when I say, 'You are genius.'

    Re-read your comment. And after lots of thought, decided this comment has been a missing puzzle piece in my quest of 'Why? and 'How?' Your comment is simple and in a strange way, completes the circle of my journey of 'Why?'

    Its the only answer. My dad is a collector. Comfort and security to him, is stress and claustrophobia to me.

    My friend's exhaustion, stress, having no spending money, etc., etc., etc. all makes sense now. I knew she was happy but thought how can she be if she doesn't truly understand Grace. She said 'I hope I am worthy.' when a loved one died. My understanding too is that mormons don't actually study the bible on Sundays. And when they read the bible, its not in context with the entire bible and they use language of today instead of in context of the time the bible was written. To them, the bible backs-up the bom. See, esau and jacob regarding difference of interpreting the Be Attitudes.

  43. Violet says:

    Thank you Clyde. You are alright in my book.

  44. Enki says:

    Clyde, The LDS church is quite cultic in how they treat members who have left. One might also be bumped out and suffer economic and severe social penalties for violation of some belief or practice of the church. To my knowledge only cults have this sort of 'power' in operation.

    I don't understand what is 'free' about agency. In reading from the Book "The moral Landscape" the topic is addressed, and makes a very good point that 'free will' or 'free agency' is an illusion, but a very powerful one. Another major premise of the book is that highest moral developement will never be achieved with the belief in the supernatural. I am sure I am a lone voice in this blog space on that point.

  45. Violet says:

    Its a whole lot of 'control' issues too. The church is controlling. The word 'free' as in 'free agency' seems almost polar opposite to me. Even to resign is a controlling mess. Its been about a year since I took a stand and put a stop to it (her controlling me). I still am 'in touch' but in more of an acquaintance sort of way. The love-bombing thing went directly into friends forever, then I had to back track when I learned of doctrine and theology.

    Once I learned the Jesus' and Gods' ('s) were polar opposite, grace, manuscript evidence, everything is false, then I had to ask myself. I was being fed a lie about the church. Maybe she doesn't know exactly what they believe, more of a we are a good, social organization, but the truth is Christianity's Christ Jesus is God, while theirs is 'the literal living God, and his literal son,' see James White You Tube video regarding mormonism with a clip from General Conference, I was being led away from biblical Christianity. My kids were getting confused too.

  46. Kate says:

    I was born into a generational mormon family and have just had my name and records removed from the LDS church. I think for those of us born into mormonism, it's just a way of life. You don't know any different. Mormonism is such a culture and it's woven into your very being from birth. It's so hard to get out of. It took me 4 years of research and study. The first year was pure hell. I thought I would certainly be struck by lightning if I even dared look at something that wasn't "church approved". I think the hardest part about leaving is the fear of being ostracized by family and friends. Where I live, everyone is mormon and I know that I will be losing friends and family. I just can't go on following a false prophet to please the people around me. There is such freedom in Christ! The part that is bothering me now is that I've been "out" for 2 months and I've already had the full time missionaries at my door 3 times! Mormons like to repeat a quote made by one of their leaders that says " They can leave the church, but they can't leave the church alone". Really??? I just want to be left alone so I can move on!

  47. falcon says:

    These cults, like Mormonism, follow a pretty typical pattern or path. There's a super duper leader type who claims that he has had a new vision from God. The old revelation was in error and now God has seen to raise up this new prophet who will straighten all of this out. These folks typically have some sort of miraculous vision that produced this new word from the Lord and "legitimatizes" the seers proclamations. It takes extraordinary faith to accept this new revelation and only special people, call them the spiritually gifted and talented group, can grasp it, understand it and be willing to suffer for it.
    In Mormonism, when Smith started really feeling his oates, a bunch of the folks left the fold. It's interesting that whenever there was a threat to Smith's leadership, his original vision became more embellished. Hence there are several versions of the all important first vision.
    Why do people believe this stuff? Hard to say. Why do people flock to the bathroom of an auto parts store in some town in California because someone claims to have seen a vision of Mary or Jesus in the floor tiles. It all comes down to the desire to believe something. I can think of a time in my life when I may have been vulnerable to all sorts of spiritual mischief. Fortunately God has always protected me and kept me on course. Why has he done this? Again, I don't know but I'm happy that He has.

  48. clyde says:

    You're a good person Violet. And so are the people here even though they have a twisted sense of logic. ( that is my point of view} We are all asking the question Why and are not being able to answer the question in writing. Our own version of hell may be God sending us to a room together and having us figure out the why. I can just imagine us saying 'Oh you did explain it right!' " I wish I hadn't said that" and ' Oh, I understand now!'

  49. f_melo says:

    and people here have a twisted sense of logic… yeah, i guess that´s the case alright.

  50. f_melo says:

    " makes a very good point that 'free will' or 'free agency' is an illusion, but a very powerful one"

    and that´s what Christianity teaches, that spiritually we don´t have any free will, we are always in rebellion against God until we are born again.

    " Another major premise of the book is that highest moral developement will never be achieved with the belief in the supernatural. I am sure I am a lone voice in this blog space on that point.

    You´re right about that considering that the people running this blog are all Christians and the ones contributing with the discussion are for the most part either Christians or Mormons with rare exceptions. To accept that point of view we´d all have to rule out the supernatural and to do that we would have to deny Jesus Christ.

    Another problem with that though, is that you can´t account for morality without God. You might deny God and still be a good person but that doesn´t exlcude God from the picture. Any time you talk about morality you have to account for it based on a standard, you have to determine what´s good and what´s evil and you have to be able to objectively prove that(subjective opinions/feelings don´t count), and a world view without God that explains the world as being the result of random changes can´t in any stretch of imagination determine what´s good and what´s evil in a way that corresponds with reality.

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