Sunday, June 5, 2016

Missionaries looking to add tally marks.

I've often said that it seems like missionaries are more concerned with adding tally marks to their score than actually helping people.  This is a quote in an email I received from a missionary through his mother's weekly updates.

"But we're on the hunt this week! (Jer. 16:16) We have a long 'ole list of potential investigators to go get."

The phrases "on the hunt" and "go get" sure doesn't do much to end that perception.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Great Website

Why I'm Not LDS

Why I’m Not LDS

By Casey Johnson

I’ve often been asked the ridiculous question, “Why aren’t you Mormon?”  Well, rather than just saying, “I don’t believe it,” here is a more detailed list of reasons I’m not and will never be LDS.

Joseph Smith

First, Joseph Smith was not a prophet.  He was a con man.  In fact, he admitted to this while on trial.  He convinced people that he could find treasure and lost property using seer stones.  He later used, you guessed it, a pair of divine stones to help translate the Book of Mormon into English. 

Smith’s story of his first encounter with God has changed several times.  At one point, it was just God.  Then it was both God and Jesus.  Also, the first time he told anyone the story was about 15 years after it supposedly happened.  In that time, he even once applied to join the Methodist Church, despite being told (supposedly) by God that no church on earth was true.

Now, it is taught that Smith was charged with putting the Book into his own words.  But it has previously been taught that Smith was shown the words and letters one at a time.  When his scribe had written the information down, he read it back.  If it was correct, Smith was shown another set of words.  What resulted was the perfect word of a perfect God.  That perfect word has since seen over 3,000 changes.  Many changes were grammatical, because God sucks at commas and stuff.  But some changes altered the meaning of phrases.  The most common was to insert the words “the son of” in front of the word “God,” in order to further the teaching that Jesus and God are two separate beings.  (I honestly don’t care about what you believe about the Godhead.  But will somebody please show me a consistent God?)  Also, the Book of Mormon contains 1 French word.  This is explained as Smith choosing the best word to convey the situation.  But since he was told word-for-word what to write, that would mean that God told him to put a French word in the English translation of a book supposedly written in Old Egyptian.  Finally, the Book of Mormon has several passages that were plagiarized from the King James version of The Bible (including mistranslations).

Smith gave a friend his only copy of the first pages of the Book of Mormon.  The friend then lost those pages.  Smith was unable to reproduce them.  He reproduced the story, as told by someone else (Nephi), but it was not exactly the same.  He said that God would not allow him to have those pages back, as he had been irresponsible.  I think what really happened was this: “Shit.  I can’t remember exactly what I wrote!  I mean, I remember the gist of the story, but I can’t reproduce it word-for-word!”

Smith’s religion has seen other changes, as well.  The most notable is their view on race.  See, in the early days of the church, God told Smith and others that blacks should not be allowed to hold their priesthood.  However, in 1978, God changed his mind.  He seems less and less perfect to me.

There were several people who were allowed to see the plates from which Smith translated the Book of Mormon.  However, one of these witnesses (Martin Harris) later admitted that he never physically saw the plates, but rather saw them in an entranced state. 

Smith prophesied that Christ would return in 1891.  Nope.  It’s been argued that this wasn’t a prophecy.  Later, Smith claimed that God told him that he would live to 85 and see the face of the Son of God.  Well, he certainly didn’t make it to 85.  I suppose he may have seen the face of the Son of God after he died, though. 

There are numerous other false prophecies, but you have Google, so you can search them yourself.

Now, I have to mention one more thing.  The first time I ever saw a picture of Joseph Smith, at a time when I was on the fence about the LDS Church, I had an immediate feeling of distrust.  You know that feeling you get when you see a slimy used car salesman?  (For all the good used car salesmen, I’m not talking about you.  I’m talking about the guys that give you a bad name.)  Anyway, it was like that.  I’ve felt that way every time since.

The Book of Abraham

Okay, I’ll keep this long story short.  Someone found some ancient Egyptian text and brought it to Joseph Smith to translate.  He translated what he called The Book of Abraham, which was Abraham’s account of his time in Egypt.  Years later, Egyptologists translated the same text and determined that it was the incredibly common Book of the Dead, and the Smith’s translation was NOT EVEN CLOSE.  The Church still teaches that Smith’s translation was correct.

More False Prophecy

Blacks will get the priesthood in the “far distant future” and “on some other world.” –Joseph Smith, Jr.  The ban on blacks receiving the priesthood was lifted in 1978 right here on Earth.

By 1882, Mormon Missionaries will be as much thought of as kings on their thrones. -Brigham Young.  Still waiting for that one.

Brigham Young will become President of the US. –Heber Kimball.  Nope.

The Civil War will not end slavery. –Brigham Young.  Wrong.

I am always right. –Brigham Young

Adam is God.  –Brigham Young.  Yeah, I’m not buying that.

You can google any of these to get the full details.


To go to heaven, you have to be a polygamist. –Brigham Young

When a member of the church is given a calling, they don’t have a ton of choice.  If they don’t accept, they are disappointing God himself.  But when one of them does something stupid or illegal, they are called “volunteers” by the church.  Now, those callings come to the bishops from God.  So why have there been times that God has put a child molester in charge of the kids at church? 

Arbitrary Rules and No Free Agency

Don’t go see R Rated movies, says the church.  My problem with this?  Movie ratings are completely arbitrary.  They’re decided by a group of people who may or may not be qualified to make such decisions.  Members are encouraged not to judge for themselves if a movie is something they should see.

Don’t drink hot drinks.  Why?  Well, nobody can give a consistent reason.  It says that you shouldn’t in the Word of Wisdom.  At one point this included hot chocolate, but that’s okay now for some reason.  Also, why is iced tea frowned upon?  It’s not hot.

Don’t use alcohol, tobacco, etc.  Why?  Because Joseph Smith’s wife was tired of cleaning up after the disgusting men and complained to Joseph.  He prayed about it, and TA DA!  New rule!  In fact, it started as a joke.

Speaking of the Word of Wisdom, it was originally a commandment.  But then, due to the popularity of the things banned, it was changed to a general suggestion, which Joseph Smith consistently neglected.  Now it is a commandment again.  Except for certain parts of it, such as eating meat except for in times of famine.  If you break (certain parts of) the Word of Wisdom, you can’t go to the temple.  (But seriously, why would you want to?  The rituals are the creepiest damn thing I’ve ever heard of or seen in my life.  I even have one friend that is a former member who told me that after he went through the first time, he had nightmares about it for weeks.)

The Church is big on free agency, but its members really have none.  They follow rules blindly, and if they don’t, they are disappointing God himself!


The LDS Church has a well-documented history of racism and sexism.  I don’t need to say any more about this.  But I will.  (I said a little above.  Some of this repeats that.)

Blacks were not allowed to hold the priesthood until 1978, when God changed his perfect mind about them.  Additionally, certain passages in the Book of Mormon have been changed so that they no longer appear to be talking about skin color. 

Not to mention the numerous quotes from so-called prophets that are clearly racist, including those that state that if people of color (whether black, Native American, Polynesian, Asian, etc.) convert they will become white (either on earth or in Heaven). 


The LDS Church is a non-profit organization.  Well, apart from its ranches and malls. 


A church really shouldn’t be telling its members how to vote.  If you ask almost any Mormon, they’ll tell you that the church doesn’t.  But I’ve had members tell me that they had their bishops tell them who to vote for, and they did this during sacrament meeting. 

Additionally, the LDS Church’s opposition to Proposition 8 was really inappropriate.  In addition to encouraging people how to vote, they donated money to fund the campaign. How exactly is the LDS Church still tax exempt?

What’s funny is that the LDS Church’s teachings about free agency and such totally fit with the Democratic Party.  And in fact, for a long time, members generally voted Democrat.  But in the ‘70s, a member wrote an article saying that Mormons should vote Republican, and everyone decided to do what he said.  (I sincerely wish I could find again my source for this information.)


People pay the church 10% of their earnings.  Poor people even do.  They receive extra blessings for it.  So the members are being told that they can buy the grace of God.  Bullshit.  And how is that money spent?  Look at the GD temples!  Ridiculously lavish.

Lying about Numbers

The Church claims to have 14 million members.  But a huge portion of those members wouldn’t count themselves as members.  The Church loves inflating their numbers, therefore, it is quite difficult to get your name removed from their membership.  Missionaries will even tell you that in certain areas, you know that your converts will likely never attend church again.  It’s all about putting that tally mark on the wall.


The Church claims to support the family above all else.  Well, all else except for themselves.  I have heard numerous stories of people who were encouraged by church officials to divorce their spouses if they would not join the church.  I have a non-LDS friend who is going through this very thing now. 

Dude, 8-year-olds

At 8 years old, members are forced (“encouraged”) to make a lifetime commitment to the LDS Church.  That’s fucked up, and there’s no other way to say it.  What 8-year-old can even begin to comprehend what they are committing to?  Have they ever had a chance to consider any other choices?  Or are they just being forced…er…I mean “encouraged” by their parents?

This kind of behavior continues through to adulthood.  Members are basically never given a chance to consider anything else.  It’s birth, baptism, priesthood, mission, Marriage. 


If you read the Bible, there are cities, societies, battles.  And you can find physical evidence of these.  You can go to the cities.  Archaeologists have found weaponry, written language, coins, etc., from those times.

The Book of Mormon talks about people in the Americas that had these things.  Yet, no evidence has been found that match.  No coins.  No written language.  No weaponry or other evidence of battles that supposedly took place.  Nothing.  Not a Goddamn thing. 

There is, however, evidence to refute the BoM stories.  There is genetic evidence, which I won’t go into because I’m assuming anyone reading this already knows about it.  There is even a list of animals and plants that were mentioned in the BoM that were not in the Americas at the time.

Alone in a Godless Universe

Any religion, including the LDS Church, will tell you that if you want to know about God, you should pray. 

Well, I’ve prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.  More than any who know me realize. 

What answer did I receive?  Silence. 

People have told me that sometimes you don’t get the answer you want.  What if the question was, “Are you there?”  With a genuine yearning I asked that question in various forms.  Nothing.  No warm, fuzzy feeling.  No voice inside my head.  Nothing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Interesting Links

Most of these are from the same blog.  Just thought they were interesting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

12 Painful Realities I Have Faced...

12 Painful Realities I Have Faced Growing Up and Living as a Non-Mormon/Non-Christian in Utah County

Please understand that this article is not meant as an attack to anyone. It is rather an account of some of my experiences. My close friends, LDS and not, know about most of this, and they know where I stand, and they know why I stand where I stand. If you are someone likely to be offended by my relating stories of things that have happened to me, and my interpretation of them, don't read this. But you should know that you have probably offended me more times than you realize.

ALL comments will be deleted without being read, so please don't leave any.

ALL PMs and emails regarding this will be ignored and deleted, so please don't write any.

1. Conversion Attempts

 I recently found a birthday card from an old lady claiming to be my primary or Sunday School teacher. It had been giving to me on about my 4th or 5th birthday. The note basically said that I should come to church whether my parents like it or not. Way to support family, lady!

Anyway, the conversion attempts have never stopped. I have received numerous Books of Mormon (Book of Mormons?) from people who knew very well that I wasn't interested. I've had friends talk me into visiting the aptly named Visitors Center and force me to watch movies that actually did more to dissuade me from joining. I’ve had friends send missionaries to my house after I specifically asked them not to. For those who don’t know this, that is offensive. Very.

2. "Your beliefs don't matter. In fact, they may not even be your beliefs!"

When I was in high school I had a conversation with my old 3rd grade teacher. In this conversation he learned that I was not LDS. His response? "You should just join. You're pretty much normal, anyway, right?" Yeah, no regard to the fact that I don't believe in the church.

This was not an isolated incident. I've had several people tell me that I am a "Dry Mormon" and that "All [I] have to do is get wet." I've even been told, "You're more Mormon than my son that is on a mission!" Okay, fine. Except that I'm not, because I don't believe in the LDS Church.

More recently, I've been told that the only reason I haven't joined the church is that I like being a holdout. Yeah, that and the fact that I don't believe it. I had a couple people ask me what my beliefs are. When I told them that I was an atheist, they said, “No, you’re not,” as if they know what my beliefs are better than I do.

 3. "Thinking for yourself makes you an asshole."

Okay, that isn't the exact quote.

Also, this isn't really a Mormon thing so much as a Christian thing.

When I was about 8 years old, my mom read to me the story of Moses parting the Red Sea from some illustrated Bible stories book. I questioned how Moses could do such a thing. She said that he did it with the power of God. My response? "That doesn't make sense."

Later that night, my dad was complaining about how terrible his kids were. His exact quote that I overheard when he thought I was asleep: "And we have one asshole in there that doesn't believe in the Bible!!!" Damn straight. I wish I had gotten up and said something about that if an 8-year-old that hasn't been brainwashed since the day he was born can see that it's bullshit, what does that say about it? Of course, if I had, and knowing where my dad was in his life at that time, I have no doubt that he literally would have beat me to a pulp.

4. Exclusion

In first grade, I couldn't figure out why I was the only one who didn't know the songs we were singing. Little did I know they were primary songs, and that the expectation that I know them was the first time I was ever excluded due to my non-membership. (By the way, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to teach about Jesus in a public school, Mrs. Wallace. Also, punching the students is probably not the best idea, either.)

People ask why I don't like BYU. Well, in a way, part of the answer comes to exclusion. I didn't feel like I should, because somewhere in my mind I knew at a very young age that BYU and the LDS Church were related. So to me, if I'm not a member of said church, I should not cheer for BYU.

Why didn't I participate in Scouts? Well, I wasn't welcome there. It was sort of a "We'd love to have you come to Scouts...if you'll come to church" deal. For those who don’t know, Scouts is not an LDS only organization. But in Utah, it sure is presented as a Mormons Only club.

As a teenager, several non-members and I were invited to play basketball in the LDS Church's program. For once, we were being included! However, when we won the Stake Championship, we were essentially stripped of said championship because we had non-members on our team. So much for the idea that visitors are welcome. (My brother even won the free throw contest several times, but never received his trophies because he was told he'd have to come to church to get them. If you’re going to exclude us, just exclude us. Don’t use it as a way to get us to come to church.)

I just spent four days working with colleagues at my school. About 80% of the conversations we had that weren't school related (when we got off topic, during lunch, etc.) were about church. Guess who wasn't involved in the conversation? And yes, it's like this ALL THE TIME at my school. There are people at my school who literally cannot have a conversation if it isn't about church. Which means I am a social outcast in many ways.

The bottom line here is that there are so many situations that shouldn’t be church related are or become church-related in Utah, even when that is technically illegal.

5. Assumptions

In Utah County, it is assumed that everyone is a member. So people talk freely, and, yes, even bash non-members, in my presence. Way to spread good will, guys!

I once even attended a Family Home Evening of a lifelong friend's family. They spent the entire conversation making fun of non-Christian religions. Yes, you read that correctly. What's funny is that everyone there knew I wasn't LDS. But they didn't seem to care. It was assumed that I was okay with non-member bashing. (See #2.)

One of my favorite stories was when the father of our band's producer asked another band member and me if we agreed that his son (our producer) should cut his long hair. He was asking the wrong people, because we were the two that would most likely say that his son should do what he wants. We were then asked, "Don't you think he should do what his Bishop says?" We both said that we didn't think so, because we didn't believe the Bishop had a right to tell him how to wear his hair. It was quite humorous to watch him struggle to figure out how there were people in the world who didn't believe in the teachings of the LDS church.

6. Forced to Participate

The best examples I can think of for this is prayer. Specifically, times I was asked to lead the prayer.

My favorite example is when I was put in charge of my school's Faculty Christmas Party. Yeah. My first principal put the non-Christian in charge of a Christmas party. Genius. Don't worry. I was usurped early on. The only thing the committee would allow me to do was welcome everyone to the party. When I welcomed everyone, I said something like "Thanks for coming. Eat up!" I heard several cries of "What about an opening prayer?" (Yes, this was in a public school library and a place of work.) My response? "If you guys want to have an opening prayer, go right ahead, but I'm not leading it."

By the way, there have been opening prayers at about half of the faculty parties I've attended.

7. "The Indians' culture being wiped out by white men was terrible, but the Indians had it coming because they didn't believe in Jesus."

That one speaks for itself. An otherwise intelligent, adult teacher said that.

 8. Dating

There are three sides of this one.

A. Where do non-Mormons meet other non-Mormons in Utah County? Bars. I don't drink, so I'm screwed.

B. Most Mormon women would be willing to date me, but would not be willing to go any further (i.e., marriage) unless I joined the LDS Church, as they have been taught that they can't go to Tier 1 of Heaven unless they are married/sealed in the temple to another member.

C. I was recently told that it would be okay for a Mormon woman to marry me, as long as I'm okay with the kids being raised Mormon. That is what we call a double standard. (See #2: Your Beliefs Don't Matter.)

9. Inconsistent Answers to Questions

Over the course of the last 15 years or so, I've had quite a few questions for my Mormon friends about the teachings of their church. Some of these questions seem to have different answers, depending on who is being asked. I’m not pointing out these inconsistencies to be critical, but rather to tell of my experiences.

A. What's the deal with the three-tiered heaven? If I'm in tier 3, can I see my friends and family that are in tier 1?

 "No. You are stuck in tier 3, and they are stuck in tier 1."

"Yes, because tier 1ers can visit tier 2 and 3, and tier 2ers can visit tier 3."

I believe the second is the official answer. The first is the answer every missionary I've asked has ever told me. (It kind of scares me that the people who have been entrusted to teach the world about their church are teaching things said church doesn't believe. I even recently had a former missionary tell me that the problem of missionaries teaching things that aren’t church doctrine is quite rampant.)

B. Why aren't you allowed to drink coffee and tea?

"Because of the caffeine." (Coke and Chocolate are okay, because they have less caffeine. So some caffeine is okay. I'm not sure what the limit is.)

"Because there is another chemical in them that is bad for you." (I’ve been told that the mystery chemical is tannin, which can’t be right, since coffee contains far less tannin than fruit juices. For the record, I have no idea if tannin is or isn’t good for you.)

"Because the Word of Wisdom says not to drink them." (As an outsider, I actually like this answer best. It’s about obedience. But if I were an insider, I would hate it.)

“Because we are told not to drink hot beverages.” (Similar to the above, but hot chocolate, non-alcoholic cider and wassail are okay for some reason.)

"Because when you are going into the temple for the first time, you are asked if you drink coffee and tea specifically." (I’m not really writing this to judge, but this answer feels like a loophole kind of thing to me.)

C. Why aren't you allowed to drink alcohol and smoke? (Note: I do not do these things simply because they aren't good for me.)

"Because they are bad for you." (Me, too!)

"Because it says so in the Word of Wisdom."

"Because Joseph Smith's wife was tired of cleaning up after the men, so he wrote it into the WoW after praying about it."

10. "We'll get you, whether you like it or not."

So many of my friends have told me that they'll get me eventually. Again, it doesn't matter what I believe. Eventually, I'll be worn down. I feel like there is an unspoken competition for my membership; that whoever converts me is the winner, and gets to put that all important tally mark on their wall. (This doesn't help the image that there is more focus on getting people to join than teaching what the LDS Church believes.)

"...And if you don't join during your life, we'll just baptize you after you die."

Please don't.

11. "Only Mormons understand prayer."

Even my LDS friends think this is bullshit. Yet, there have been several times I've heard this.

The first was a mom at our school who was trying to get donations. When she did, she asked another teacher and me if we were Mormon. When she found that I wasn't, she turned away from me, excluding me from the conversation (See #4), and preceded to talk about how they got it because of prayer.

The second was when a staff member at my school sent an email. In the email, he asked for prayer for someone he knew. Here is an excerpt:

"But those of us who are LDS understand the power of prayer, and fasting and know that those who work together with the lords help can accomplish mighty miracles. We have put his name on the temple prayer roll and ask that he be in your prayers at home."

So, yeah. If someone isn't LDS they cannot understand the power of prayer or working together. Also, I'm pretty sure there are other religions that believe in fasting. The LDS Church does NOT have a monopoly on prayer, fasting, or believing in the power of God.

12. “You’ve lived here all your life, so you are (or should get) used to it.”

Yeah, I get that a lot. Here’s the thing: no matter how many times you are told that your beliefs don’t matter, that you are not welcome in what are supposed to be non-church social situations, that you are an idiot or an asshole because your beliefs are different, that you don’t know anything about spirituality because you aren’t Mormon, or that asking questions makes you an asshole, you NEVER get used to it. It is painful, and it bothers me far more often than you might think it does.


I guess my only conclusion here is that people need to be aware that not everyone around them has the same beliefs that they do, and they can't assume that anyone does. It has been a painful reality in my life that I do not feel welcome in my own home.

Sometimes people wonder why I sometimes have a negative view of the LDS Church and even Christianity in general. My answer to that question has a lot to do with the above experiences.

Again, this article is not meant as an attack on anyone, but rather an account of my experiences.