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The vast but little-known fund of the Mormon Church (wsj.com)
312 points by havella 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 492 comments





Can you imagine the criticism if the investment arm was losing money? The Church does amazing work providing resources during crises. I’ve personally cut trees off of people’s houses with chainsaws provided by the Church and given buckets of sanitation supplies when hurricanes swept through Florida.

There is always a tension in “what do you spend now and what do you invest for later” but I honesty feel like the Church cannot win this argument. Those who are distrustful of organized religion can win if the church is poor (“why didn’t their ‘prophet’ know better”); if they’re rich (“why don’t they give to X”); or if they do nothing (“they teach their own members to save but don’t practice that themselves—the hypocrites”).

I’m a believer so my view is not disinterested, but where is the conversation that they are conservative in their investments; won’t make money from industries they teach against; etc.

There are very few people in the ecclesiastical arm of the church who work full-time and are provided a living stipend. And many of those people were very successful before leaving their professional lives.

The current President (Russel Nelson) was a pioneer in open heart surgery. I’m pretty comfortable assuming he would have made more money in his life had he not accepted a calling to full-time ministry.

To me this article is interesting but the reaction is predictable. People will read into the confirmation of whatever biases they had to begin with.

For my part, I’d rather the church invest wisely than poorly...


> I’m pretty comfortable assuming he would have made more money in his life had he not accepted a calling to full-time ministry.

Two comments.

[1] The Mormon church is a corporation sole, meaning presently Nelson is the sole controller of all assets. He could reasonably set up his family for life with beneficial contacts and contracts. That is worth more than (now probably expired) intellectual property associated with open-heart surgery.

[2] The leadership of the Mormon church tends to come from the same set of Utah-based families. Not 100%, but certainly a high representation. It's a social network that has been extractive on the work and labor of their membership for over a century, benefiting these few families greatly. This doesn't mean the organization hasn't done good -- it has. It's just that good doesn't blot out bad, nefarious, negligence, or other societal negatives.


[1] Yet no one has alleged that anything like that has happened. Also if I was 90 years old and had plenty of money I would much rather live a comfortable retired life than work at the pace he works at.

People have, it just doesn't hit home like seeing the $100B figure.[0]

[0] https://davidvbartosiewicz.blogspot.com/2010/12/lds-apostles...


I don’t know enough about the legal structure of [1] to have an informed opinion. Contacts and contracts are always the gift to children of connected parents. I hope to give the same to my kids... ;)

I’m sure it happens as it does in any family (hello Biden!) but I’m not convinced it’s more prevalent in the Church than any other organization of people. It’s an interesting thought, but I’m not sure how prevalent it is.

I have met several general authorities in various capacities (including Bishop Waddell who was quoted in the article). They are humans and suspect to all the frailties that entails, but they have all been serious minded people who take their roles as stewards seriously. I’m sure some amount of fraud or nepotism happens, but I also have a religious view that suggests that whatever wrong is acquired in this life will be corrected in the next.

I have known people who have done things with Church money that they shouldn’t have. All of them were excommunicated for the same. The Church takes its financial stewardship seriously with required audits at all levels.

I agree with the first half of [2] but not the complaint that follows. It was only recently that more members of the Church lived outside the US. As the Church has grown out of Utah and throughout the US (and outside world) they have done a better job of calling people from more areas.

I think this is part of human behavior as well. It can be frustrating, but it’s hard for someone in Salt Lake to know I could serve in capacity X without knowing me personally. Again, it’s getting better as genera leaders travel more and get to know local leaders, but it’s always easiest to think of the person you know.

This happens in business as well: a new CEO brings “his/her team” — I’d like to see less of it (and fully expect to as the Church continues to grow globally).


[flagged]


Come on, man. You can write better arguments than that. I don’t know anything about that particular legal structure.

You used the ellipse cleverly but I’ve been pretty respectful even when others have spoken poorly of some of my deepest beliefs. The least you could do is be cordial in response even if you hold the opposite view.


[flagged]


Religious flamewar isn't ok here, so please don't post like this, regardless of which religions you're for or against. You may not owe Mormonism better, but you owe this community better if you're commenting here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


One part that was left out of the WSJ article but was released by the whistleblower was the source of these funds. When members asked to donate money to charity, the church said they would happily donate it on behalf of the members. It was then taken from the members and funneled into this investment fund instead of redirected to charity (as they promised).

The church claims that since they are a non-profit that they are therefore a charity (they have also claimed that the purpose for stockpiling $124B was for the second coming of Jesus). While they might be able to make this claim legally... it was obviously not the intention of the members who invested the money. If members intended to fund the church directly, they could have simply paid their tithing or even over-paid their tithing (as many members choose to do) as usual. But they chose specifically to donate to charity, which implies someone other than the church.

Since I am assuming you are a member, you are familiar with the tithing slip. That extra line at the bottom that says "charity:_____" yep, that money never went to charity. It went into this fund that the church kept for themselves. Very honest and Christlike.


It actually says at the bottom: "Though reasonable efforts will be made to use donations as designated, all donations become the Church's property and will be used at the Church's sole discretion to further the Church's overall mission."

If you want your assistance to go straight to those who need it - then walk right to that person and give it to them. If you want someone who is experienced in making said assistance stretch further than just to that one family, ask someone experienced. Complaining seems like you don't trust the person to whom you just put in charge of using your donation wisely. So why was the donation made again?

Obviously one would expect the charity to report yearly on their endeavors - since no aid may be going out at all - however, reporting on each dollar would be a tad difficult to track. So not sure what would be required here.

Emptying out said donations all in one go (to avoid the perception of hoarding say all 100 billion) may not be good either since problems today may be more bearable than problems tomorrow. So not sure what would be required here either.

Probably the best remedy of those who do not wish to trust the Lds charities, would be to stop donating to them.


> Probably the best remedy of those who do not wish to trust the Lds charities, would be to stop donating to them.

And the best recourse for people who spent significant sums of money donating to a charity that misrepresented their charitable actions and has acted more like a for profit business would be to initiate a class action suit for fraud and to remove the fake charity's tax exempt status.


> If you want your assistance to go straight to those who need it - then walk right to that person and give it to them

Meanwhile, people want grand government projects to "help the middle class" but won't give Yang's UBI a shot.


I think the criticism comes from them amassing so much wealth when there is still so much suffering.

There are people who will criticise churches regardless, but there seem to be a lot of reasonable people who look at the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church and determine their wealth is inconsistent with their teachings.

Mormons could probably further their message by selling their golden ornaments and using it to shelter the homeless, for instance.


There’s a reasonable conversation to be had about when to spend and when to save. I don’t pretend to have all the answers there.

But as someone on the inside, I’ll say this: local congregations have very strict budgets allotted to them, but the welfare component of the budget is essentially unlimited. Local leaders are encouraged (and it is part of their mandate) to “seek out the poor”. Most individual welfare happens at the local level, and local leaders are not expected to limit their assistance to the money the local unit pulls in. This is a simplification of the process, but welfare assistance is one of the few places where local leaders are not given explicit caps.

For a very centralized organization they give a lot of leeway to local leaders to let assess local needs.


And yet, with no explicit cap on welfare spending, the church only claims about $40 million per year on charitable giving.

As a percentage of their revenue, that is monstrously pathetic. I have a better chance of feeding the poor by giving my money to a Fyre Festival who will take 95% of the money and skip town but pay 5% to a local vendor who buys shitty bread from a local company who employs a poor person for minimum wage.


Bad comparison when you’re skeptical of an entity investing money in businesses who employ lots of people...

I see you're admitting the church is a business. Too bad that's not how they tell it to their members. I'd be perfectly fine with the church's actions if they would just admit that they're a profit seeking enterprise and charity is only of value for the PR it brings.

At least then I wouldn't have felt swindled when I found out that all that money I spent on tithing while working 80 hours a week as a truck driver to pay my way though college was actually just sitting in an investment fund making a handful of people rich. I would have known from the beginning that that was where my money was going, and I would have no room to complain.


    I see you're admitting the church is a business.
Your argument might be more serious if you didn't weave comments like this into it. It's quite clear that statement hasn't been made or insinuated.

Also, as far as the church spending time teaching its members all the different ways it invests would be quite tangential to a Sunday class. People don't go to church to understand how the church operates but rather why. As far as the church employing individuals who have studied finance and know how to make the church financially sound is logical and right. The church itself encourages higher studies. Employing those who have studied to further the work is being a wise steward.

Now if they are only using the money to make individuals rich, that would go counter to teachings. What handful of people are you referring to?


A membership report is tangential to the topics in general conference, but that was never left out of conference (at least until the church stopped growing).

You don't have to spend time talking about it in church. Publish an audited yearly financial report, and send it to members in the mail.

And yes it does matter. The church operates like a business. Members literally think of tithing as a form of giving to charity. They should have some expectations and understanding of how that money is spent. Would tithing receipts be the same as they currently are if everybody knew the church had hundreds of billions of assets, 15 years of tithing on reserve, and spent less than a percent of it actually helping those that are in need of charity?


I called it an entity that invests in businesses. It very clearly has an investment arm (which I have known about for decades). The Church owns physical assets and I’m okay with that. I’d rather it have liquid assets than struggle to pay its bills like in the 1800s - early 1900s. I’m a fan of financial prudence.

At the end of the day, and as unpopular as it is, I believe Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son. Other things are details. I’m not a naive or ignorant person, but I honestly have no issue with how the Church handles its finances (as an organization). Given that we do not believe that anyone is infallible (including the Prophet) I will stop short of absolute statements of any one particular person. But, as an organization, they handle their finances prudently.

Which I appreciate and respect.


The modern church teaches that you should pay tithing irregardless of living condition, income level, destitution or poverty conditions. I taught this principle to people who were literally starving to death in Honduras. It was extremely hard for me to tell people who didn't even have a cup of rice in their 4x4 corrugated steel shack that they needed to donate 10% to the church before they could buy food for their three kids.

Later I learned that it hasn't always been this way. The church has deliberately misrepresented its own doctrine to extract everything they can from these people.

In 1899 the Church was almost bankrupt. President Lorenzo Snow and the GAs went around Utah shaking the members down. The 1899 General Conference was "the tithing conference" and where Lorenzo gave pivotal instruction about tithing - which defined the church in relation to tithing going forward.

Lorenzo Snow said in the 1899 Conference Address

"...I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child WHO HAS MEANS shall pay one tenth of their income as a tithing..."

Conference Report Oct 1899 page 28 (3/5th way down column 2 on page 28) [http://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1899sa/conferencer...

However, in the 2011 Lesson Manual, in Lesson 12- Tithing, the Church quote this talk as:

"....I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child ... shall pay one tenth of their income as a tithing...."

Teachings of Lorenzo Snow manual, page 160 [https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-ch...]

THE HISTORICAL IDEA THAT YOU ONLY TITHED IF YOU HAD MEANS HAS BEEN REDUCED TO AN ELIPSES.

So yeah...the broke church from the past only asked for tithing from those who had means, but the "prudent" multibillion dollar corporation of the present expects it from people whose children will only grow to 5 feet tall as an adult because their diet consists of rice and yucca and parasite-infected water.

The church is a wealthy corporation today. Sure they manage their finances well. But their coercive tithing policies that are misrepresented by their own modern literature are extremely burdensome to a huge portion of their membership. They don't need their money, and they should stop asking for it and pretending like their salvation depends on it. And if it really is the case that their financial secrecy is hiding their personal enrichment off the backs of those experiencing poverty, I really hope that a hell exists that is as bad as they deserve.


And Jesus praised the widow for casting in all she had. And Elijah took the last of the flour of that one family. The church is hardly unique in Christian theology in asking for sacrifices that requires faith.

Also church policy has changed over time too - the word of wisdom is a prime example of this.

If you want to find reasons to hate the church, you can. I guarantee it. If you believe God doesn't reward tithing, then yeah, it's scummy.

Personally, I believe and don't think it's scummy.


If everybody is paying tithing truly out of faith and it's truly not scummy, there should be no material consequence to financial transparency. If people can look and acknowledge that the Mormon church is a multibillion dollar corporation, and still believe that god wants them to continue donating 10% of their daily pittance in order to build up god's kingdom, then more power to them.

Personally, given what the church claims that they do with the money, I think it's a very simple and pure case of fraud, and I would like my money back.


The whole thread has been rearranged according to doctrine.

When the thread was active, a critical comment was on top the entire time. No one can tell me this is happening without a coordinated effort.


That is just what is uncovered in the investment market with one subsidiary.

They also own 2% of Florida[0], huge land tracts in Argentina, Oklahoma and elsewhere, and attractive urban real estate in most major metropolises including apartment complexes in PA. They centralize donation collection of tithes and good will offerings such that about 8% stays back at congregations (based on personal observation as the finance clerk across several congregations and the analogue of dioceses--wealthy congregations would regularly see $25k/week from 200 congregants and have a budget of ~$8k annually, but this offset with congregations in less affluent areas). They also have massive economic influence over Utah, surrounding states, and often growing suburbs.

They have a very diversified portfolio. As doctrine they take the second coming of Christ seriously and believe they will transform into the world wide government on his return.

For the record I left several years ago, but have many family members still heavily involved. It's an organization which does not allow you to leave with your dignity intact.

[0] https://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/morning_call/2014/03/far...


Just a note on leaving the church: when you leave you leave all the people you have known all your life. Since you spend so much time in church activities fellow members become your extended family. When you leave you understand that the only reason you had contact with your extended family is because of the church. You become the lone man out. It's extremely hard to rebuild relationships outside the church. I don't think most shun you but some will. The members don't work to reach out unless it's to ask you to return to the church. It's very hard to leave.

Why do I feel like you just describe my after college graduation experience.

That's true, as someone who both quit the mormon church, and went was an undergrad for five years and got the full college experience. Right now I actually feel more connected to mormons I grew up with than the college friends, though I have more college friends on Facebook.

In case you're wondering if I really quit the mormon church: note that I'm still calling them mormons when the mormons stopped calling themselves mormons. https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/08/16/lds-church-wants-ever...

Edit: and if you're wondering if I really graduated college - I have no idea where my diploma is and if I've ever seen it. I owed the school a few hundred bucks and didn't get it when I walked, but perhaps I got it when I paid off my account - I don't remember.


Organized religion is a great way to sell people their own family and community back to them.

There's a real point in that statement, but it's overstated, like saying a University sells you your own brain and community back to you. Sure, you can be an autodidact and get quite an education at the library, you might even be able to find one way or another to rub elbows with the members of a community if it didn't host a university, but a good University will facilitate both at a level

Of course, there's for-profit colleges which provide terrible value at an outrageous cost, and even among "legit" universities or courses of study have more value than others. And back at the topic there's real questions about a church that's acquired assets on the scale the LDS church has. What transparency obligations does it have to the membership that contributed those funds? Should there be dues/tithing, or show the assets function as an endowment to support the activities of the institution while mitigating what members are asked to contribute? If an institution claims divine authority and also reaches the point where it no longer requires contributions in order to sustain it, does that mean it can be more careless with the confidence of those members (and if not, what would prevent that)?


I don't fully agree with this characterization. My girlfriend and her brother have left the church and there seems to be zero love lost in the family or their friend group that they grew up with. I know that this does happen to many people but it is not a uniform experience.

The phrase "no love lost" typically means that there is a great dislike or hatred between the two parties. From the context it seems like you're saying the opposite of that?

> zero love lost

That phrase means there was no love in the first place so nothing was lost. Is that what you meant?


It varies incredibly from family to family. The negative version of the story is all too common, though.

> It's an organization which does not allow you to leave with your dignity intact.

This is definitely not true. It may have been the case for you, but my dad and brother/wife all left years ago without any problems at all. We are still on great terms.


I dunno. One has to deal with the random crying, the questions of "Why haven't you baptized your children? I want to spend eternity with my grandbabies!", "They need primary!", etc. Then there's the endless gossip at family activities when you're absent about how you're leading your family to hell.

Wow this sounds eerily familiar as someone who walked away from “nondenominational” fundamentalism years ago. From my wedding, to how I’m raising my kids, to even my daily spiritual life - “we’re praying for you.” Thanks but no thanks.

Maybe anyone that walks away from family norms gets this. Maybe the more extreme/rigid the belief is, the stronger the reaction is?

It’s been a long time for me, and over time most people have accepted it on some level. Christmas time seems to be the worst... probably why I don’t even like the holidays that much anymore!


> I dunno. One has to deal with the random crying, the questions of "Why haven't you baptized your children? I want to spend eternity with my grandbabies!", "They need primary!", etc. Then there's the endless gossip at family activities when you're absent about how you're leading your family to hell.

This is every family, with slight variation.


Yes, this doesn't sound very far from my grandparents who were catholic who loved bringing that stuff up randomly.

Maybe it's harsher and more serious. We were able to just ignore them and "that's just the way they are" type thing.


Again, how do you know that what you are assuming is "common" isn't just a warped perception due to distillation effects of internet fora?

My brother and his wife asked us not to bring up church stuff to them, and like normal humans and family members who respect each other, we obliged. And it's a two way street; when they come visit us we still say prayers for meals and they don't make a bug fuss about it.


And how do you know that your experience is the common one? The exmormon subreddit is an extremely large and active subreddit, with lots of unity in experiences. Its by far the largest known community of ex members of any religion on reddit.

If your experience were more common, the exmormon subreddit would probably be as dead as the /r/excatholic subreddit. Now that is a community that really doesn't give a shit if you decide to not show up to church anymore.


Ex Mormon subreddit participants self select for those who have ex mormom experiences worth discussing.

154k subscribers on a base of 15M --> ~1% that make it through the filters of being able to go online, find reddit, and find enough interest to subscribe. That suggests the experience is common enough to not be disregarded.

That’s because most Catholics never go to church anyway. But they certainly do care if you don’t baptize their grandchildren.

They do, but it's also not uncommon for Catholics to violate any other precept, e.g. divorce. It's a very lax culture, in this age, in the developed world.

I have plenty of Catholic friends who decided not to baptize their children, grandparents weren't happy but it's rarely a reason to truncate relationships.

Edit: anecdotal evidence, of course, YMMV.


I don't go to Mass, but there was no question we were going to baptize the kids. In part, that's because the Catholic youth sacraments happen on a pretty well-defined schedule and it's weird (socially) to get them done off that schedule, so baptizing (and First Communion, which both of my kids also did) preserves optionality.

Mormon's that don't go to church for months at a time are not considered active mormons. I don't know if that's the case for catholics or many religions where much of the focus is on a pastor/bishop giving a sermon. In mormon church's each attendee is called on to do something: give a sermon, teach a class, visit a family, clean the building, etc. There are a lot of things to do. I'd assume that for any organized religion that had the same expectations of it's participants, severing from said religion would be a greater life change than those who just observe.

Which is fine. Families have the right to criticize each other for how they raise their children and to enforce common norms, where they genuinely believe decisions to be harmful. If my brother was raising my nephews/nieces in a way that I felt was harmful you bet he’d get an earful. Families aren’t just federations of sovereign individuals. Kids are community property.

I'm not sure why you think the genuineness of a belief is relevant when it comes to scrutinizing harmful actions based on those beliefs. Lots of people genuinely believe in a lot of harmful things. Some people genuinely believe they need to kick their gay kid out on the street in order for them to learn what's good for them. Some people with great political power genuinely believe that starting an apocalyptic war in the Middle East will usher in the glorious return of their deity. You can genuinely believe that smoking is harmful to unborn children, and you can genuinely believe that leaving the Mormon church will damn your family forever. One of those beliefs is warranted.

Kicking a gay kid out would be a reward compared to those conversion camp things that are so horrible... at least on their own they don't have to put up w/ the parent's abuse, neglect etc... they should though be required to pay the kid child support until they're 25, to make up for being an asshole parent.

> I'm not sure why you think the genuineness of a belief is relevant when it comes to scrutinizing harmful actions based on those beliefs.

Because the substantive truth of the theology isn’t dispositive of whether family members have a right (in the social, not legal, sense) to criticize each other from departing from certain norms and practices.

For example, there is a lot of evidence showing that the supposed harms of moderate drinking during pregnancy are overstated, and the benefits of breast feeding are overstated. The effect of screen time on kids is also overstated. Just because someone might conclude that advice is wrong, does that mean family members are out of bounds for giving that advice? Or that people shouldn’t have to graciously accept it? There are boundaries, sure, but family members are entitled to express their views on how each other live their lives.

Beyond that, there are objective benefits to religion apart from the truth or falsity of the theological doctrine. Studies show that actively religious people tend to be significantly happier and more socially involved: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/31/are-religio.... Is that a sufficient basis for family members to encourage each other to raise their kids within the community religion, irrespective of the truth of the theology?

Also, there are non-falsifiable moral judgments that are independent of but associated with religion. Secular US culture emphasizes individualism, self expression, and personal fulfillment. Many believe that kids should be raised with a strong sense of duty to family, and the expectation that their purpose in life is to work hard and raise families of their own. These ideas are independent of theological truth. Many non-religious people believe these things too. But if you think it’s important for kids to be consistently exposed to those ideas, you’ll find that most of the people who have those beliefs just happen to be either religious (or Asian, or both). Is it out of line for communities to encourage their members to conform to values that they believe are more conducive to a better world? Whether the underlying theology is true or false doesn’t change the answer.


> Because the substantive truth of the theology isn’t dispositive of whether family members have a right (in the social, not legal, sense) to criticize each other from departing from certain norms and practices.

Yes, it most definitely is!

> Just because someone might conclude that advice is wrong, does that mean family members are out of bounds for giving that advice?

No. But "just" because your "advice" is completely unsubstantiated, which you would notice if you cared to exercise a minimum of skepticism, that does mean that giving that advice is out of bounds.

The equivalent of pushing religion is not "breast feeding is healthy", the equivalent is "you should not vaccinate because that causes autism". Outright bullshit is not the same thing as possibly not 100% perfectly reliable science.

> Or that people shouldn’t have to graciously accept it?

We are obviously talking about a situation where someone in the family has made a conscious decision to leave the religion behind. That is obviously not a situation where they should be expected to graciously accept any further pestering on religion, because that is obviously overstepping a known boundary of that person.

(Note that that is different from trying to talk to them about religion, where there is genuine interest in understanding their position, rather than just the intent to convince them to come back--that is perfectly fine as long as the person does not explicitly state otherwise.)


> Families aren’t just federations of sovereign individuals. Kids are community property.

Kids are nobody's property, and parent absolutely have the right to ignore the rest of the family as long as they observe the laws of the land.


It’s a very liberal western viewpoint. The vast majority of humanity would disagree.

Sure, and that is besides the point. Liberal western democracies are not perfect, but they get a few things right and this is one of them.

I believe that children are not cattle, and I would keep believing that even if 100% of everyone else thought otherwise.


I’m thinking you’re reading “community property” more literally than I intended it—with the focus on “property” and not “community.” Obviously children are not property. But children are also not independent adults. They must be socialized. Legal codes all over the world, including the UN Declaration of Human Rights, recognize that parents have a right to choose how to socialize their children. My point is that communities are also entitled to have a say, or at least express their views, in how children in their community are socialized.

(“Community property” is a legal concept in the US where assets belong to both spouses simultaneously, with each spouse having a full, undivided interest. The metaphor is to express that family and the community has an interest in each child, not that children are property.)


I think the words you're using here are --- if not unclear, then at least "not carefully chosen to avoid offending this particular audience", but the point you're making is pretty straightforward, and it's not hard to think of comparable secular parenting decisions that we generally have no trouble criticizing parents over.

But there's also a subtext here, which is that there's a distinction to be made between good-faith, substantive parenting critiques and externally-mandated arbitrary critiques. If there's institutional pressure to ostracize former members of a community, that's problematic. I think you probably have to acknowledge that subtext to really engage on this topic --- which, who could blame anyone for not wanting to really engage on religion on HN?


> If there's institutional pressure to ostracize former members of a community, that's problematic.

I’m not sure, in 2020, I agree. I’m sensitive to the issue. The penalty for apostasy in Islam is death. But I don’t begrudge all the Pakistani cab drivers who try to convert me. They believe they’re doing me a favor. (I’m never the one to bring it up obviously. It always arises awkwardly when I mention that I’m from Bangladesh and then they assume I’m Muslim.)

Leaving religion out of it — nobody has a right to be accepted by a community. In a free society people can leave, but can they really demand a particular sort of treatment?


No thanks. My trashy neighbors from down the street are entitled to exactly zero say in how I socialize my children. They can lump it.

A belief about values cannot be called a "false belief". You should rephrase that.

So?

It’s a minority view that is of little relevance today and which will become even less relevant as Asians, Africans, Chinese, Latin Americans, and Indians rise to cultural and economic dominance.

Latin American here, kids are nobody’s property here either.

As parents we have legal custody of our children while they’re minors, but we can lose it.


> It’s a minority view that is of little relevance today

It's the majority view where I live (European Union) and it is also the law here, and there is little reason to think that this will change in the foreseeable future, so pretty relevant to me, I would say.

> and which will become even less relevant as Asians, Africans, Chinese, Latin Americans, and Indians rise to cultural and economic dominance.

Why does there have to be "dominance"? Can't we all just get along and respect each other? Including our children?


> We’re talking about a social rule here, not a legal one.

Legal rules don't exist in a void, they usually originate from social norms. Of course, social norms evolve, and so do laws.

> Is your family or community entitled to tell you you’re raising your children wrong,

Entitled? Of course not.

> and must you graciously accept that criticism?

Must? No. It is wise of me to consider the criticism of those that earned my respect, as well as it is wise of those whose respect I earned to consider mine. But again, respect is earned. My parents were very nice to me and deserve all of my respect, but unfortunately I have witnessed many situations were parents do not deserve the respect of their children. It's not an automatic status that comes from procreating.

> In almost the entire world, including much of Eastern Europe, the answer is “yes.”

Also in my own culture (Southern Europe) until not so long ago. I know of cases of children being driven to suicide because of such norms. No thanks, I prefer the new norms here.

> That is the better answer.

That is your opinion, but if you care to provide an actual argument I am willing to listen.

> The places where that answer is not true are not only a minority, but are declining in cultural significance. (Arguably, the dead-end detour into a highly individualistic culture is partly responsible for that decline.)

You seem to be obsessed with the collapse of western culture. I'm not sure what this even means. We are all confronting a global existential crisis (climate change), perhaps time to let go of these petty conflicts?


We’re talking about a social rule here, not a legal one. Is your family or community entitled to tell you you’re raising your children wrong, and must you graciously accept that criticism? In almost the entire world, including much of Eastern Europe, the answer is “yes.” That is the better answer. The places where that answer is not true are not only a minority, but are declining in cultural significance. (Arguably, the dead-end detour into a highly individualistic culture is partly responsible for that decline.)

[flagged]


Please don't react to flamebait by going into flamewar. We're trying to cultivate the exact opposite reaction here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Sorry, touched a nerve from my own family experience.


[flagged]


Please don't do this here.

That almost certainly means OP's brother and OP's brother's wife

> For the record I left several years ago, but have many family members still heavily involved. It's an organization which does not allow you to leave with your dignity intact.

I've seen people leave with and without. As to why they've not left with dignity, it's sometimes not one-sided.

Edit: For those who are making many negative guesses and assumptions about my comments. My comment had nothing to do with the OP's personal life at all (as I know nothing about their personal experience). My comment was simply to make a counter-claim to the blanket statement that the church allows no one to leave with dignity.

The OP has since shared more details about their personal experience, which was absolutely a terrible experience in every way. It's awful that they, and their family, had to go through that. If I feel so awful about it, have I ever attempted to reduce the likelihood of such things happening? Yes! I have.

I have also seen people leave the church without any great undue process or negativity—or loss of dignity (in my interpretation of what was meant by dignity).

Edit [2]: There has already been more than 1 other person comment, who has left the church, who didn't experience any of the negative things that the OP did. That doesn't mean that OP is lying, exaggerating, or anything, it's simply my point—OP's experience is not the universal experience, nor the officially designed experience. Is OP's experience more common than it should? Absolutely yes.


Given that we haven't met, dorian-graph, this starts with the assumption that what people like me went through is trivial. For decency sake I ask you to reconsider this as a default position.

In order to get my records at least flagged as no longer a Mormon, thus to keep random visits from local congregations from occurring, I had to get a lawyer involved.

In order for my children to not be repeatedly hounded by some parents at school to come back with their kids over the weekend so they could attend the local congregation, we needed legal action.

I didn't speak out or speak up vocally when I left. I just stopped going to the local congregation. Not a single person there chose to continue friendship. My wife attended a few more years, and had to constantly deal with rumors that I had an affair (I did not). When we moved and I was no longer known to the new congregation, she had to deal with the the local leadership trying to instantiate romantic relationships with widowers and unmarried gentlemen in the congregation because they assumed I was either dead or because since she still attended our marriage was on the rocks.

My story is not unique, and I can say with confidence that the social pressures on the members result in them feeling justified performing actions intended to take away dignity of former congregants ("apostates").


> Given that we haven't met, dorian-graph, this starts with the assumption that what people like me went through is trivial. For decency sake I ask you to reconsider this as a default position.

What indicated that I thought it was trivial? It's not my default position, nor has it ever been my position that it's trivial—I know absolutely that it's not. Speaking of assumptions?

Edit: For others, there's been substantial additions to the parent comment of this comment.


I read it as that as well. It didn't sound like a respectful interaction.

> this starts with the assumption that what people like me went through is trivial.

I did not read it as that, and don't believe that is what his statement conveys.


The part "it's sometimes not one-sided", taken literally and minimally, tells us only that there are some people whose own actions reduce their dignity. Given a sample population of any size, this provides no additional information about the topic under discussion: there are some asinine people everywhere.

What information could the poster have been conveying, then, if not nothing? In context, I think it's clear that the intended update for readers was to raise the possibility that tomrod's indignities were self-inflicted.

It could be that the poster was trying to smear tomrod, or that they were baiting tomrod into responding at length (if so, success!), or that they genuinely didn't consider the implications of their comment, or something else entirely that was too subtle for me to catch. Probably only they will ever know. :)


> Probably only they will ever know. :)

Today's your lucky day ;)

> In context, I think it's clear that the intended update for readers was to raise the possibility that tomrod's indignities were self-inflicted.

It wasn't in reference to tomrod's experience at all. Mystery solved.

> It could be that the poster was trying to smear tomrod

Absolutely not! And I find that suggestion reprehensible.


> In context, I think it's clear that the intended update for readers was to raise the possibility that tomrod's indignities were self-inflicted.

Not at all. You are assuming another's thought process and motive, and doing so without any charity.


Your suggestion that " this starts with the assumption that what people like me went through is trivial" is a non- sequitur.

You made a generalization, the response above simply suggests a more nuanced view. They did not suggest anything about your specific situation.

Edit: Specifically "It's an organization which does not allow you to leave with your dignity intact" was the generalization. When I read this I also thought "that's simply not true. I hope someone points out that it depends on the circumstances and the people involved".


That's a fair critique, because I did not qualify the statement. Let me explain the rationale:

- The Mormon church doctrine is that people who leave have fallen away, and are apostates

- Several messages from the central authority (called General Authorities) have disseminated over the last several decades telling congregants to shun apostates (soft), not listen to them (direct), and similar

- Wealthy parents have been encouraged by the central authority to not leave inheritance to their wayward children, and to use it to keep them adherent to Mormon orthopraxis

- Parents and congregants are often encouraged to be very bold in their attempts to keep wayward congregants adherent (until the congregants admits disbelief). "Ward Council" and similar organizing local leadership sessions are intended to share gossip to identify potential wayward congregants

- quitmormon.com is a pro bono service set up by a former Mormon in Utah and is the only service I've seen that is able to get records removed from the Mormon database records. If one does not remove their records, the central authority instructs local congregations to find people to keep their database records up to date.

These mix together and result in a large variety of experiences, often where the targeted wayward congregant is stripped of dignity and, eventually, respect in the eyes of people they spend substantial time with.

These issues are organization-wide and centrally driven, and hence the organization does not allow you to leave with dignity.

EDIT: I realized I made the "wealthy parent" comment across several comments. This is not connected to my experience, as I do not come from wealth whatsoever, but is something that has been observed in the past few years. I mention solely to point out the systemic issues I see.


I was raised Mormon, no longer believe a bit of it, yet find your characterization does not match my experience at all. I have never felt characterized as "apostate" by family or friends after leaving, and while in the church I never recall any leader or anyone else encouraging not leaving money to family who left the church. I'm sure these things happen to some, just not me.

I found the problems in the church to be more subtle and less obviously cult-like. For example, encouraging you to pay 10% tithing, then squirreling it away in a $100B hedge fund. Propagation of the idea of Joseph Smith as a prophet. Sexism. Belief in God.


> I was raised Mormon, no longer believe a bit of it,

I've been outspoken in this thread, and I have to agree. My immediate family knows, but my extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents) operate on a don't ask don't tell kinda policy. At first when I left there was shunning, but only from my dad. I did have to rebuild that relationship, but there were other stressors in our lives.

> I found the problems in the church to be more subtle and less obviously cult-like.

I have also called the church a cult, in this thread, and I can't agree more. I cannot stand others from the outside telling me how Mormons are the kindest people they ever meet. But they don't know that underneath it all it is with the intention of conversion. I will say, that this comes from a good place and that they are trying to do good, but the church doctrine does a lot of harm itself. There is a very secretive nature to the church that appears to me to be cultish. And I think unless you've been on the inside you don't see the two faces. The church is good at being subtle, and I think the WSJ (and other) article is evidence of how good they are at keeping secrets.


Regarding your edit, I believe I more properly characterize my thought in this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22276276
x1oqw 11 days ago [flagged]

It always surprises me that wealthy churches pretend to take Christ seriously, when Jesus was not very fond of amassing money.

I get why the churches do it (of course they don't believe in Christ), but why do the exploited masses believe them?


Different Christian denominations have different relationships with wealth --- ranging from a "high church" tradition of inspirational grandeur to pseudo-evangelical "prosperity churches", as well as denominations that reject all that stuff, and the LDS relationship is unique and (in a relative sense) pragmatic. I don't think your blanket statement really applies here.

> when Jesus was not very fond of amassing money

I'm guessing you're talking about the moneychangers being thrown out of the temple?

There are examples recorded in the scriptures of tithes and offerings, and also of a people preparing/amassing the relative wealth/supplies (Noah, Joseph, etc).

There are multiple levels of preparedness taught in the LDS church. The lowest, the family, being to only have necessary debt (e.g. university or a house) and to have 3 days of storage for in case of emergencies for your own family (or individual self), or to help others. Then in some areas you have Bishop storehouses. It goes up and up.

> I get why the churches do it (of course they don't believe in Christ)

Why does the LDS church do it?


> and also of a people preparing/amassing the relative wealth/supplies (Noah, Joseph, etc).

Matthew 19:24, direct 'quote' from Jesus: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Seems pretty clear.

> being to only have necessary debt (e.g. university or a house)

I work for a Mormon owned company, this ideology even extends there. It's completely ignorant of why debt exists and how it can be used to offset inflation and improve capital expense flows. As a 'doctrine' it's misplaced at best.

> Why does the LDS church do it?

They cite the parable of the three talents, but I think they've gravely misunderstood that passage. The point wasn't for the servants to make money for themselves, it was to share their efforts and work with the world around them in order to improve it for everyone.

God had given them these gifts and they weren't to waste them, not hoard them for themselves.


> Matthew 19:24, direct 'quote' from Jesus: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Seems pretty clear.

Organizations aren't people. Organizations don't enter the kingdom of God; people do. Wealth sitting around and growing in organizational coffers doesn't belong to any one person.

Jesus praised the widow for paying a 100% tithe into organizational coffers.


> Organizations aren't people. Organizations don't enter the kingdom of God; people do. Wealth sitting around and growing in organizational coffers doesn't belong to any one person.

That's awfully spun. Organizations don't have brains either. They don't "decide" to do anything with that money, people do. Those people do so on the basis of some kind of self-interest. And in practice (I'm sure in this case too, though I don't have LDS-specific numbers to back it up) the people who make decisions for "organizations" tend themselves to be either very wealthy or live very wealthy lives based on that influence.

I mean... I'm an atheist. But if I weren't, and I were hanging my appraisal of my chances at eternal salvation on the fact that technically I run an LLC and that money isn't mine... Yeah, St. Peter doesn't seem likely to buy that excuse.


> > and also of a people preparing/amassing the relative wealth/supplies (Noah, Joseph, etc). > Matthew 19:24, direct 'quote' from Jesus: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Seems pretty clear.

Here’s the full passage from 19:24-26

> 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. > 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? > 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

It’s not evil to be rich. In my mind richness just makes being evil easier. Being rich without God in your life is what Christ was saying makes it impossible to enter the kingdom of God. I have a very wise neighbor who said that richness of the World is a great accelerator for a greater Good or a greater Evil. Here’s a relevant scripture from The Book of Mormon that basically states it’s not evil to be rich, Jacob 2:18-19

> 18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. > 19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

People may not like the Church or what it does for whatever reasons, but it does a great amount of good for people and that good often has nothing to do with money, but with a better outlook on life and an understanding of our place in it. I know those that leave the Church sometimes get a hard time from members. Sometimes people have bad experiences with members of the Church, but the Church teaches what Christ would have us do and sometimes people fall short of that, that doesn’t make the Church wrong. It just means the Church has imperfect members.

The keystone of our religion is The Book of Mormon and it is a beautiful book. The doctrine in it is superb. I believe The Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and that it would enable one to understand the mind, will, and character of Christ. If someone reads it with an open heart and mind they can come closer to Christ. I am far from done learning from it despite having read it over 7-8 times. It teaches of Christ’s and God’s mercy, but also their justice and law. It explains the purpose of life on Earth (2 Nephi 2), and the reason for God’s punishment to the wicked (Alma 42). It preaches repentance which I’ve had explained to me as a turning towards God. It explains that people prosper when they live righteously and that wickedness often leads to personal and societal downfall. It also teaches that the rain falls on both the righteous and the wicked. It explains Charity and love. It teaches pride, doubt, discouragement as antitheses of faith. It teaches humility, virtue, honesty, faith, hope, and diligence. It teaches that sometimes the truth can be hard, like as it was for those who heard Christ’s Sermon at Capernaum and took the words to be hard and walked no more with Christ. The book has a reference to Christ on average every other verse [1]. It teaches of the purpose of agency and why people are allowed to make wrong choices that affect and hurt others. It also teaches of the choice to choose liberty (the freedom to choose that comes only by living the law) and eternal life according to Christ or captivity and death (meaning spiritual death) through the Devil.

Of course knowledge of the truth of something including the character of Christ doesn’t lead one to automatically follow it which is why we all need all the help we can get honestly.

> They cite the parable of the three talents, but I think they've gravely misunderstood that passage. The point wasn't for the servants to make money for themselves, it was to share their efforts and work with the world around them in order to improve it for everyone. God had given them these gifts and they weren't to waste them, not hoard them for themselves. > God had given them these gifts and they weren't to waste them, not hoard them for themselves.

I think God gave them those talents, so that they would build and multiply them. I know you may think the church is the one burying their talent in the ground, but the gift of money is best used if invested and multiplied. Regardless, I believe there to be multiple correct interpretations of that parable and multiple meanings to it, so I’m not discounting the fact that you are supposed to share your talents as well.

My faith in the Church comes fundamentally down to my own personal spiritual witness of the truth of The Book of Mormon and in my testimony of modern revelation, and I firmly believe that Christ leads the Church. As stated in Isaiah 55:8 sometimes God can have a wiser purpose than we see in things this is why coupled with my personal testimony of The Book of Mormon these attacks against the church barely cast a shadow of a doubt about the truthfulness of it in both my heart and mind.

[1] https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1978/07/dis...


I’m very curious about spiritual confirmations of truth. What was your spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon like? How do you know that the spiritual experience came from an external source and was not just generated by your brain?

[Edit: Asking because I wonder often about the provenance my own spiritual experiences. I’m currently leaning toward “generated by the brain,” but I would love to be wrong about that.]


I can only speak for myself, not the earlier post, but I have written about this at length (I hope skimmably), at http://lukecall.net .

> I’m very curious about spiritual confirmations of truth. What was your spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon like? How do you know that the spiritual experience came from an external source and was not just generated by your brain?

I’ve often had very sudden powerful spiritual experiences. I would describe it as a very euphoric sensation. It’s a sudden feeling of overwhelming peace and comfort that can come with force upon both the mind and heart [1]. I’ve had this only after putting in a lot of my own time on spiritual things and on experimenting with the word (Alma 32 [here Alma invites us to experiment on the word and says faith is like a seed and if you plant it and look after it then it can grow]). I don’t always feel it with the same force and power, but sometimes I have to cast my mind on the times that I have had those feelings.

Here’s an interesting 3 part series on revelation [2]. It speaks of three analogies to spiritual experiences. First, it could be like a light-switch instantly changing from spiritual darkness into light (Elder Bednar says this is more rare than common). Second could be like a sun-rise gradually illuminating with knowledge and light (he says this is more common). He also gives a last analogy of revelation in that it can be like walking through a fog with only enough light to know to take a step forward.

Sometimes people describe the Holy Ghost as a still small voice. The spirit teaches us to do good and the spirit allows us to discern good from evil [3]. God and the spirit manifest themselves in diverse ways, but all good things come of Christ otherwise man/woman were fallen (in reference to the fall of Adam and Eve) and no good thing could come of them [4] (this is due to the Justice of God which without the mercy coming from Christ and His Atonement which allows us to repent and be forgiven we would be lost). Most importantly if you are struggling to say is this my own thought ask yourself if it invites you to do good and to partake of God’s love, if it does then it is of God and the Spirit. I think Paul states very well how we can know of spiritual things in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 2:7-14 [5]. I also love what Alma said to Zeezrom when asked how he knew so much about the mysteries of God (Alma 12:8-11) [6].

[1]: D&C 8:2-3

> 2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

> 3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.

[2]: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media-library/video/2012...

[3]: Moroni 7:12-16

> 12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

> 13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

> 14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

> 15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

> 16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

[4]: Moroni 7:24

> 24 And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.

[5]: 1 Corinthians 2:7-14

> 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

> 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

> 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

> 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

> 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

> 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

> 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

> 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

[6]: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/al...


> Matthew 19:24, direct 'quote' from Jesus: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Seems pretty clear.

People have quoted that single verse a lot, and it's often funny to me when someone says something along the lines of "seems pretty clear" in regards to a single verse, especially one which people aren't sure is even translated correctly.

If we read it in context, in my opinion doesn't align with the implied meaning that you can't get into Heaven 'easily' if you are rich. Like many good teachings, they start with a question (ftr I'll be using the KJV version).

> 15 .. Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

Christ then goes on about what people should do to have eternal life, like keep the commandments. Christ said that someone who is simply rich will have a hard time receiving it. Even today in many cultures and economies, we associate wealth with goodness. We often trust more those who have lots of money. We look up to them. The disciples were amazed that a rich person would have a hard time getting in. If we look at other examples (like the widow and her mite), the people often looked down upon the poor. The poor often couldn't worship as the non-poor did.

So it's not the act of being rich, but rather a. what you do with your wealth, and b. if you're asked to give it up, will you? There's example of a young man who was asked to do that in a few verses prior.

For a., you cited the parable of the talents, which is a great addition to this topic. People who are given much, have much expected of them.

But they are using it for members of the church, and non-members. Are they storing money? Sure, but is that inherently bad? Nope. You could store money for a. a rainy day and b. to pay for upcoming things. Does the church do both, they do.

For b., have the LDS members been asked to give up wealth, in order to do good? Yes, they have! At the early days of the church, thousands gave up effectively everything they had. They abandoned their lives and moved across the USA, or across the Atlantic, or other long treks.

> President Brigham Young (1801–77) spoke of the difficulty people face when they accumulate riches: “The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church. … This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth” (quoted in James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer [1971], 122–23).

You quoted my question, but didn't answer why they do it, but simply said that hoarding money is bad. Are they doing it to be bad and watch it be wasted? This reminded me of an interaction in the Book of Mormon, Alma 30:

> 35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain? And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that acauses such joy in their hearts?

> 36 And Korihor answered him, Yea.


I am just me, not a Church leader, but I think it is for several reasons: 1) prophetically-encouraged preparedness, like in the days of Noah (food storage, avoiding debt, save for a rainy day, etc), 2) to best be able, long-term, to fulfill the divinely appointed mission of the Church to spread the teachings and voluntary systems that bring peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.

I have collected a bunch of links (official and not) w/ further info, at my personal site, such as at: http://lukecall.net/e-9223372036854578831.html

and http://lukecall.net/e-9223372036854589754.html

and my own thoughts on this and various subjects at http://lukecall.net , such as http://lukecall.net/e-9223372036854587122.html .

ps: It strikes me after many years of general reading & observation that economic up/down cycles would be very reduced or different if we used savings instead of debt, more. And, being in debt leaves one under the control of others, to some degree, reducing independence of planning and action. I'm not saying it is never appropriate, but it also has some somewhat predictable effects.

Edit: I see that others have also posted these links that give some official responses:

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-fina...

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/first-presi...


For what it may be worth, there has been another, longer official response, w/ more good info: https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/use-of-the-... . (It links to reports froml interviews. One of the above links also itself links to other further info.)

The moneymakers in the temple were making money for themselves, profiting off of the nominally faithful. This is very different from saying the church shouldn't acquire wealth.

I would imagine that the moneychangers were paying some amount to the church.

I think the issue was that the church was being used as a place for worldly pursuits.


Here's how I've always understood it. People used to make sacrifices to compensate for their sins. The merchants at the temple were selling offerings to be sacrificed, which was problematic for a couple of reasons. They were profiting off of the guilt and shame of others, they created a system that implied you could straightforwardly pay for the right to sin, and they made a mockery of the system of sacrifice for sin in the first place.

In addition to the money changers (who exchanged local currency for Roman gold or silver), the dove sellers were also expelled. Doves were the cheapest sacrificial creature, and they were gouging poor widows.

The whole point is that the temple authorities were part of and profiting from what was happening. Jesus was dead with 10 days of this event.

There is a lot of depth here and it’s a genuinely fascinating story whether you ascribe to religious belief or not.


The Mormon church tried for years to pretend that their leaders don't make money from the church. That too was confirmed as a lie not too long ago.

Find me the executive team of a multimillion person company with hundreds of billions of assets making the living stipend of the (relatively few) ecclesiastical leaders of the Church and your argument will have more weight.

IIRC, the living stipend for members of the Twelve was around $100k? Or less than the salary of an intern at Google...


What you need to understand is that Thomas Monson, who was an employee of the church (notorious for their extremely low pay) for his entire career, had an estimated net worth of $14m. That is excluding the church owned property that he gets to use free of charge, including private jets, cars, and homes. This is excluding free income sources such as free university for all family and extended family members. Outside of nearly every aspect of his life that was paid for, he was paid a parsonage stipend...untaxed by the IRS.

He was no Jeff Bezos, but that is still miles away from being modestly compensated, as they like to pretend is happening. And remember, they're only admitting to being modestly compensated after a century and a half of pretending they weren't being compensated at all...a lie exposed by leaks, not the mormon church. They haven't been upfront about compensation, and they never will unless they are forced to.


When I was very young I worked at a non-Church-owned bank for a while. Thomas Monson sat on its board, or at least showed up to a nice employee dinner/dance I attended. He had a business career before he was a Church General Authority, was brilliant, and for a time continued serving on various corporate boards, until GAs all stopped doing that.

The GAs I know of personally who did not obtain wealth in their private career are not rich in any worldly sense beyond middle-class Americans, and the few I have met were kind and unselfish (and very bright & capable). I was a also Church employee for a time.

In contrast, I have no experiences or knowledge indicating abuse of power or influence by GAs, except very rarely where I read about it in the news and they quickly were not GAs any more.


Update: I found a page with links to their bios (fairly international, if you read down & click photos), that indicate education & prior careers: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/leaders .

How do you know the bank wasn't church owned or controlled? The church isn't exactly upfront with their holdings. They have been found to use shell companies to obscure their holdings. The fact that he was on the board is actually a huge clue that suggests that the bank was actually owned by the church. He did that with lots of church owned businesses.

https://mormonleaks.io/newsroom/2018/05/30/mormonleaks-compi...


No, it was "commercial security bank", and it wasn't that long after (I think), that they stopped being on boards.

Edit: actually, I could be wrong on that. The Church might have had stock in CSB for all I know. It certainly didn't seem church-owned at the time. Monson did work in the printing industry.


I’ve never found that number substantiated anywhere.

But we agree that the Church is tight with its money. I just argue that’s a good thing...


We only agree that the church is tight with its money with respect to how that money is used to benefit members and the unfortunate that should probably be the beneficiaries of good old christian charity.

But tight with its money amongst those that control it? Neither of us know...because it is a secret. A secrecy that has no benefit but to protect those who control it from scrutiny.

I don't know how you could view either of those things as a "good thing" in the traditional christian understanding of good.


I think you've just described FUD. Asking for more transparency isn't bad though - this would require a change in US law or wherever they operate. Start there. Then all religions might meet the standard you're describing. There are abusers in every organization and transparency would be good.

If they're as benevolent of an institution as they pretend, we wouldn't need such a law. They already can publish financial reports without any law compelling them to do so.

But they aren't a benevolent institution.


The Church, with the Book of Mormon, are far and away the single best influence in my life. I experience peace amid hard health and other challenges, friends everywhere I go, people who help me and are a good influence, personal guidance in quiet but important ways (I see both the good and the bad based on whether I follow that guiet guidance), and I see the same things in long-term multigenerational ways among very many others (in writing and in person). And, based on experience, great reasons for hope of eternal life in the world to come. For those who distance themselves from it, they are loved, we are close, but I have seen that the multigenerational peace and joy are not the same. I am exceedingly grateful for the Church's influence in my life. Further, I have learned for myself, that God is real, helpful, and kind (both just and merciful, actions have consequences, and extremely patient with us as we repent, aka change back to doing things that help us rather than hurt ourselves).

These are things that no amount of hint & innuendo from others can change, because I have personally seen, experienced, and learned.

I have tried to explain more at my web site (which has no sales or javascript): http://lukecall.net . I think I lack the adequate words.


Tried to respond a while back but was blocked, probably due to being nicked on a couple of my comments (probably from those who disagree - that’s fine). Just because an institution doesn’t go out and away to placate a minority’s concerns does not mean it is intentional or nefarious. Probably just means they’re focused on more than paper work.

Demanding they do so, and that others don’t seems rather suspect though. Why treat one religion different than another? There are plenty of people abusing the system. Proposing that all these institutions be placed under the same burden. It would be fair.


I'm curious where this info could come from. Like, cars? The quote I heard from one GA (in a newspaper) was "you give them your life, and they give you a car." I once or twice rode in a Church-owned pool car to go to software-dev meetings in another city. And private jets? I read that the late (and wealthy industrialist) Jon Huntsman loaned his own jet to Pres. Hinckley some during those years (for his travels as President to visit Church members across the world), and maybe after, but calling it free use of "private jets" etc., seems exaggerated (but, for all I know, maybe there is one, and maybe they use it, but I'd be very surprised if there is a "jet pool", and any such thing is not used for pleasure outings. These men have a heavy, hard work schedule until they die, with Mondays off and 2 weeks a year, if I understand correctly. Monson did say he had a home in Midway (? I think: Heber Valley, a gorgeous area), but I doubt the Church owned or bought it. Like, I've been around these people some, and read much, and the tenor of what you are saying just doesn't ring true. One person I know, had some occasional interactions over time, was a GA, and he is definitely not rich (others in his family, also not rich, were offering to pay for new tires for his car, to get him safely back home safely from one reunion, as the tires they saw worried them. Maybe I shouldn't have said that as it was really not my business, but I was there, talked with my dad and/or mom about it, and what you are saying ... just doesn't sound right.)

And how do you know that about free university (and any of it)? I'd be surprised. I'm not asking for a zillion citations, but, I'm skeptical.

Edit: And free use of "private homes"? No idea what you could mean there, unless it is the condo that the president of the Church lives in for security reasons. Pres. Hinckley, a long-time do-it-yourselfer in his own yard & property, said he lived in a "filing cabinet: a condominium! I don't think people were meant to live in condominiums!".



I read some of the beginning. I didn't know who he was at the time, just another commuter to me, but I rode the same UTA bus regularly as Brook Hales to work for a time (it traveled through 2 counties across various towns). No glamour or special treatment there.

In the 2nd link, I believe those individuals, as is common with GAs, had successful careers before becoming full-time Church workers, and are probably wealthy. Elder Ballard worked in a family auto dealership (probably more to it than that, that's what I know), Gong was in international relations, Nelson a ground-breaking, internationally known heart surgeon, etc. When GAs are called, there is usually a blurb online about their previous careers (which they give up), that someone could easily find if desired. So they could easily pay for what they like. It sounds right about the president's apartment, and thankfully so (security/health help). Etc. (As I have now noted elsewhere here, Elder Gay previously founded and was an executive at a private equity firm.)

It is good, though a lot of work, to build something that lasts, which is what these are trying to do. Those good efforts bring long-term peace and joy. I wrote elsewhere here about my personal experience and knowledge of the Church's long-term influence on individuals and families, that I personally know (some more than others), in the hundreds, and of whom I have read their journals, and knowing enough of individuals now, and personalities, to see consistencies in personality and behaviors and culture, to have some confidence there is not deception in the journals that extend back, to Joseph Smith. Regardless of what anyone else says, or the human faults we all do have (I do; and they will be found in any large organization), I have seen and know what I know, both with my human eyes and mind, and in answers to prayer. More, of personal thoughts and experiences, at http://lukecall.net .

Edit: I found a page with links to their bios (fairly international, if you read down & click photos), that indicate education & prior careers: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/leaders .


Do you forget that $100k is a lot of money in most places?

> Or less than the salary of an intern at Google...

It'd be remarkable if their stipend was less than the salary of an intern at nearly any other company. Google is a huge exception


Every first tier software company pays their interns pro-rated 100k+ or they won't get interns. I worked in a 5 year old "startup"/pre-ipo company in seattle with 200 employees and we paid interns 100k and college grads in their first job over 130k annually (not giving the exact amount to preserve a little anonymity). I'm sure faangs give those people 50k of real-value stock per year at least.

They don't get wealthy from it.

Those who work for the church full time (with the exception of missionaries) receive a stipend to cover their living expenses and not much else.


> They don't get wealthy from it.

We have no way of knowing that, because the church keeps their finances shrouded from public view. Not even members that have paid 10% for their entire lives have a view into how the money is spent.

What we do have is a few leaked pay stubs showing actual amounts, and leaked memos acknowledging the existence of, but not quantifying, other forms of compensation. We also have some tangible evidence of the large net worth of various leaders of the church. The typical excuse is that they made lots of money before they were general authorities...but we also have proof of large (8-figure) net worths of people like Thomas Monson, who was a church employee (notorious for lower than market pay) for his entire career.

So what we really have is some leaked proof of a decently sized lower bound on compensation and knowledge that it goes higher than that, with the possibility that it could go much higher. How much higher, we don't know. And we won't until the church decides to actually share their finances.

I know that unapproved critical thinking is looked down on in the mormon church, but if I were a believing member, I would probably be asking why they won't do just that. If they really are responsible and meagerly paid stewards of god's money, they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by being transparent about it. Occam's razor tells me that they're a bunch of liars and secrecy suits them far better than transparency does.


To me, Occam's Razor suggests not that there is a massive conspiracy in the upper echelons of the LDS church where general authorities are glutting themselves on tithes, but rather that Thomas S. Monson had private sources of income outside of his church employment that account for his wealth.

And if it weren't for the fact that there are several thousand known and published leaks of information that the church has tried to cover up and whitewash through "official" media, then that might be a reasonable assumption.

It's not a massive conspiracy. It's a very simple conspiracy: don't tell people what you do with the money they give you, and then they don't have any way to criticize you about how you use it. In fact, the very culture that they've fostered to enable this freedom from criticism (just trust me, I'm a mormon bishop!) has become a problem that others have begun to exploit.

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/official-statement/...


Didn't he grow up in a wealthy family? Multiple homes, etc, back in the 30s?

> They don't get wealthy from it.

Source/citation? My understanding is that salaries and other financials are not public.


As I have noted elsewhere, I have personally known one where I know for certain his family (also not rich, visited their homes for years) was worried about his old car tires' safety for a long drive home, and two others tangentially who I'm somewhat confident were not rich. Another, Bassett, I knew when young, then he made good as a founder/owner in the auto-auction business (where I have a little grunt-level experience). Elder Gay was founder/executive in a private equity firm (quick wikipedia search). The prior careers are available on-line, I'm pretty sure, because there is always some blurb about their prior bios when they are called. Another I knew of in another state who started and ran a locally successful accounting firm. Nelson is widely known to have been a heart surgeon, and it goes on & on.

Edit: I found a page with links to their bios (fairly international, if you read down & click photos), that indicate education & prior careers: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/leaders .


> Why does the LDS church do it?

To go into detail would probably be outside the scope of HN, but if this is a serious question, Richard Dawkins is a good source on how the LDS church was founded.


I find a lot of people invoke Christ, but have little to do with his teachings.

Amusingly, his ideas align more with beliefs held by “the young left” than by “the old right”. (Yesyes, bad terms but you know what I mean) And yet the real-world allegiances are inverted.


You're missing the role of agency (or choice) in your evaluation. Forcing someone to do something vs someone choosing to do it of their own accord is quite different.

I don't think complaints about lack of individual agency fit with some of these Christian attitudes. eg. Someone violates said precious agency? Turn the other cheek. Concerned about excessive taxation? Render unto Caesar.

That’s neither a call for cheek-whipping nor taxation.

Figures you're being downvoted to pieces, when this is among the key aspects of Jesus' teachings. Indeed, the entire Sermon on the Mount is centered around the centrality of the /heart/ as the seat of sin, and the thoughts and intentions of the /heart/ as being the fount from which actions stem. Individual sin is what Jesus demanded repentance from; there is no 'collective sin' in Scripture, though groups of people with common sin may be punished collectively, e.g. the time of the Judges, Israel's captivity, etc.

Given the 'young left' is a collectivist ideology, which seeks to institute a form of 'ancestral sin' - people being responsible for their parents' and grandparents' wrongs, etc. - and which has made physical wealth and attributes the sole measurements of moral integrity, being a purely secular worldview - it is not in any way compatible with the teachings of Christ.

But people don't like to hear that. Self-righteousness is a potent drug, something else Christ taught about quite regularly. :)


I really think you have major misconceptions about social democrat ideology.

Your 'ancestral sin' interpretation could easily be said on capitalists who don't have a problem with people capital fortune being decided mostly a birth. (You're born poor, you are likely to stay poor, you're born rich you're likely to stay rich no matter what you do). Or, You could also easily say that the Protestant morals equate physical wealth accumulation with how moral you are. Because if you do good by God, of you'll get rewarded with prosperoty. In your lifetime.

This is of course nonsense just as your interpretation of social democrat ideology.


None of what you just said aligns with reality.

Being born into wealth lends a significant chance of mismanagement and losing that wealth.

Protestants - not the megachurches that go by the label 'protestant', but believe nothing remotely related to Scripture - have no such conception.

Lastly, you're moving what I said, narrowing the scope to 'democratic socialists'.


I don't believe your claims entirely really true:

1. It's very hard to lose wealth while in management. Networking and clique play a big part of the manager eco system. Plus, in the startup area, if you are an entrepreneur that his startup failed you are not considered a failure, far from it. It is also more likely for you to bean entrepreneur if yoy have a strong financial background.

2. This 'True Protestant Ideal' isn't relevant. This 'false Protestant' developed from a Protestant mindset, through a natural evolution of ideas. Plus, I think you'd find that a similar part of these so called 'True Protestant' make claims like those I made point with.

3. The only relevant left in the west, is social democratic. Maybe in the US less so, only Sanders could fit that description. But, I'm not from the US, so my default meaning of left is social democratic. Which left we're you speaking of?


Have you read the full bible? The Jesus stuff might be more on the liberal end but Christianity in general is very much socially conservative.

Especially the old testament.

In genesis whenever god made a covenant (like made Abraham the main dude) it always came with God giving them great wealth (sheep and an abundance of land) as well as leadership of entire areas. At least the early stuff, the leaders/prophets were hardly the poverty stricken Jesus story.

A lot of that poverty narrative became a greater part of Christianity with Saint Francis of Assisi in the middle ages which help push the helping the poor angle as mainstream image of the church.

But otherwise you can find plenty of evidence of great wealth leaders in Christian history. Not just in the centuries of mass wealth accumulation in the Holy empires and the Catholic church.


> The Jesus stuff might be more on the liberal end but Christianity in general is very much socially conservative.

“Christianity” is about Christ, not something else.

> Especially the old testament.

The old testament is context for the NT, but with a very small number of exceptions (and with the exceptions of potential general applicability to Jewish Christians, which were common in the first Christian communities but rare today) the dictates of the OT law expressly are superceded by the “Jesus stuff” for Christians.


Yes this is exactly it. And just like the circumstances we are discussing now, Jesus found himself and his following in conflict with existing leaders who had amassed wealth and power, and who tried to delegitimize him by saying that his teachings (of charity and anti-wealth gathering) were just an assault on the legitimate god-given power of the existing church.

Jesus was a radical hippie immigrant refugee, and his teachings are of course co opted now for the exact opposite effect.


That's an even worse modern day caricature than what the other guy was pushing. The immigrant thing especially considering he was born in Canaan/Israel within walking distance from Jerusalem.

I highly recommend reading: "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" https://www.amazon.com/Zealot-Life-Times-Jesus-Nazareth/dp/B...

He was far from a hippie immigrant. He fit a pattern of many men before him claiming similar sanctity and happened to be at the right time and right place in a warn torn Israel for it to really find an audience.

But I wasn't even talking about the man himself from a historical perspective, just the general religious and historical environment from which his legend grew. The man-of-the-poor and anti-wealthy narrative was very much a later development in the history of christianity and was always floating on the sidelines of their work, especially in terms of how it was adopted, not merely what was written in the decades and centuries after he died in the bible.

Like all religious works there are plenty of room for interpretation and holy but great wealthy leaders are plentiful in the history of christianity. It's hardly a new thing. It's even more established in the Koran through the various prophets and leaders in their canon, all of whom held great power and leadership in their local areas.

Even today the works of Mother Theresa are very controversial. Especially in terms of their long term ROI (ie, helping the poor stay poor by accepting their place and not developing the skills or industry to escape such die situations, which to me is not something to be revered).


How can it be a later development by other people when Jesus supposedly directly said it? https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Matthew-19-23/ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

I’ve been explaining this concept to my Christian fundamentalist family members for a long time. They look at the right-wing as more faithful to the tenets of their religious literature, but I don’t see it. What I see is more of a left leaning set of ideals, that aligns with the teachings of Jesus. I think the population of people that are left leaning and Christian practicing is low and they don’t tend to be as influential on the national stage as the religious right.

> They look at the right-wing as more faithful to the tenets of their religious literature, but I don’t see it

On the wealth issue specifically, you can certainly read it that way. I mean, I think it's wrong, but it's not like there aren't things that can be viewed, in isolation, as just as emphatic support for the prosperity gospel as other passages can be viewed as a mandate for asceticism.

> I think the population of people that are left leaning and Christian practicing is low and they don’t tend to be as influential on the national stage as the religious right.

The left-leaning Christian types tend not to wave Christianity around like a cudgel in political discussions, which makes them less visible as Christians in those contexts, even when they are quite visible.


Usually the right winger types are pretty heavily into prosperity gospel and feel that their faith entitles them to whatever they are into. Many of the loudest folks are associated with unaffiliated parishes, where there is no higher earthly authority to reign in the pastor.

You also see a lot of extreme behavior tied to single issues like abortion or birth control. In short, people very passionate about an issue will often veer (or be steered) into an ends justify the means type philosophy.


> Usually the right winger types are pretty heavily into prosperity gospel and feel that their faith entitles them to whatever they are into.

Citation? Not my experience at all.


Many "Christians" follow more Moses than Jesus - and ignor Jesus teachings - and would better be called Mosians. Though amassing gold was also not Mosianic.

I see more parallels between pop Christianity in the USA and Mithraism or the Roman imperial cult. It was shocking years ago to read the gospels and realize they are not following the actual teachings of Christ at all. In some cases those teachings are radically different and opposed to what most American Christians seem to advocate, especially on things like economics and militarism.

The parallels are particularly strong with the Roman imperial cult now that so many seem to want to worship a Caesar. I see this trend as independent of Trump per se. I saw it around Bush II, but IMHO it didn't take there because Bush did not want to be emperor. I get the impression that Bush actively rejected that role, especially seeing the quiet life of apparent personal recovery he has pursued after the presidency.


IMO this phenomenon reflects the struggles that society has with communications. Mass communication is both miraculous and horrifying, and as controls weakened with deregulation in the 80s, and disappeared with the internet, we’re faced with a world where any idea can spread.

You have places like HN that fill a certain purpose for the audience, but you also have places where neonazis and other repugnant fringes can do their thing.


I can't speak for more faiths, just what I saw in the Mormon faith. Basically, they literally believe they are the only church that has authority to act for God on earth, it was given to them, and they will be the world wide government during the millennium (a time period kicked off when Jesus Christ returns, in their view).

[flagged]


Neither Islam nor Judaism is monolithic and it makes me uncertain of the accuracy of the comment to see them each treated that way.

They both think, like Christianity, that their religion is the only path to god. Islam kills for it too.

A lot of what the Mormon Church teaches is not based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Mormonism and Christianity are two separate things much like Christianity and Judaism are separate.

For example, Christians and LDS have different answers for these 3 fundamental questions:

Who is God?

LDS: God was once a man, who became a god There is more than one god, but only one god that we have to do with.

Christianity: There is only one God, who is the creator of all other things.

What happens when you die?

LDS: If you are truly evil, you will go to the bad place. If you are generally ok, you will go to the ok place. If you follow LDS teachings your whole life and perform the required temple rituals, you will eventually become a god.

Christianity: Heaven (eternity with God) or Hell (eternity without God)

What must you do to be saved?

LDS: You must perform many good works, including temple rituals.

Christianity: There is no good work you can perform that will save you. You have to trust Jesus and put your faith in Him. Good works are possible evidence that you have done this.


Your example covers a large plurality of Christianity but does not define the umbrella of Christianity.

For the record, Mormons consider themselves Christian, and are considered part of the Christian taxonomy. As an example, the first line of "Mormonism" wiki article says:

> Mormonism is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity started by Joseph Smith in Western New York in the 1820s and 30s.[0]

More info at [1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restorationism


It's beyond dispute that Mormonism is derived from Christianity and considers itself to be the restored, correct form of it.

Still, I think you'd find very few theologians who would consider them to be Christian. Their beliefs are largely based on the Christian scriptures but significantly depart from the traditional form of Christianity outlined in the early creeds. And that's the point of restorationism: Everyone else got it wrong, and those differences REALLY matter to the point where God gave a new revelation to fix it.


I think the key difference is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't adopt the creeds (like Nicene ... in wikipedia) of the early centuries after Christ. We definitely do believe in the divinity and essential role of Jesus Christ as taught in the New Testament.

For actual teachings, the Book of Mormon (with the Bible) is all about Christ. I believe one can search by topics, at, for example, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/general-conference?lang=... . I have written more on what I know and how I know it, at my personal site: http://lukecall.net .


> We definitely do believe in the divinity and essential role of Jesus Christ as taught in the New Testament.

Most Christians would disagree with the notion that Elohim and Jesus/Jehovah are two distinct beings and that this unity is found (albeit, not explicitly) in the NT. Furthermore, Jesus' role in the the Mormon Plan of Salvation is a significant departure from the soteriology people usually derive from the NT. I understand one can argue otherwise and people do (e.g. Swedenborg's soteriology), but it's an extreme minority position even among the schismatic mess that is Christianity. You can argue that the Mormon movement got these right where everyone else got it wrong because Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets were given revelation to correct the errors. Accept the truth of that or not, it's more evidence that the Mormons are something significantly different from what we'd normally call Christianity. From that perspective, perhaps the Mormon movement is the true Christianity and the rest are something else. But there is a huge difference no matter what side you take.

> For actual teachings, the Book of Mormon (with the Bible) is all about Christ.

But is it the same Christ? The Mandaeans have scripture that teaches about Christ. But in these scriptures, he's evil. Islam's Quran also talks a lot about Christ. But he mostly exists to disavow doctrines about him that Islam considers heretical. And even confining ourselves to the canonical gospels, the Christ of John and the Christ of Mark are noticeably different. You can certainly argue that if the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth" and it reveals aspects of Christ omitted from or distorted in the traditional Christian scriptures. So it's the same Christ, represented more accurately. But if you reject the Book of Mormon as inspired, it's easy to see the Mormon Christ as something else with significant differences.


Thanks for that thoughtful and interesting comment.

I am very grateful that the Book of Mormon promises that we can find out for ourselves if it is true, if we do it His way. Then, one has independent knowledge and can use it to go forward, and increase the knowledge with more & more applied experience. :)


Two groups of people who are worshiping different gods, who have a different concept of the afterlife, and who do not agree on how life should be lived - they are in fact two different groups. It doesn't matter what one group or the other believes about themselves. This does not mean that one group or the other is bad or better.

> If you follow LDS teachings your whole life and perform the required temple rituals, you will eventually become a god.

Do I get a planet?


This is true of virtually every religion under the Christian umbrella.

Yes, I’m asserting that they are mutually exclusive.

That could hardly be farther from the truth.

The church does have extrabiblical volumes of scripture, which also testify of Christ and go into more depth, but every doctrine of the church is in harmony with the Old and New Testaments. Members believe it is only by faith in Christ and by good works that they can be saved.


IANATheologian but I think many if not most Christian denominations teach that people are saved exclusively by faith. Works are interpreted as a sign of faith in some Protestant denominations, which lead to the concept of the Protestant work ethic.

IAANATheologian (I am also not a theologian), but I suppose those other Christian denominations conveniently skipped chapter 2 of James, where it says:

"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."


I think the Protestants focused on that last sentence, taking it to mean that you are saved by faith, but you can assess if someone does truly have faith by their works. So you are not saved by the works, but if you don't have works, your faith is questionable.

Ok, IAANAtheologian, but I do read a lot and believe this aligns with most Protestant doctrine (faith+grace yields salvation which yields faith which yields works), but not with LDS or Catholic doctrine which essentially teach that works yield salvation, and if you lack works, you will not be saved.

This is confusing, because there are many different passages that highlight different things. It seems easiest to look at it as a process that begins with salvation through grace and continues as you grow in faith.

You're not saved by faith alone. You do need a small amount of faith to believe in the first place, but then it is grace (the unwarranted forgiveness of your sins) that saves you, but only if you accept it and repent (reject/renounce/turn away) from your sins:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph 2:8)

As you grow in faith, you will produce works, and if you do not, then your faith is dead. (the aforementioned James 2, which was really aimed at believers, not those who hadn't yet accepted Christ.)

So, it goes like this:

(little) faith -> salvation by grace -> more faith -> works

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9)

But if you die after salvation and true acceptance of your guilt and sin and repentance, you still go to Heaven, even if you are the most vile murderer on death row, because that's what grace is: completely unwarranted forgiveness.

But, if you stay alive and truly have faith, you will naturally produce works (that is, doing good things). If you don't do that, your faith is dead.


Interesting. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' perspective is similar, but (in my opinion) a little more straightforward. Faith leads a person to do good works (because faith helps one understand God's love for us, and we in turn want to share that), but neither faith nor good works alone will give us salvation (we can't save ourselves, which is why Jesus Christ is the key).

Salvation requires Christ to atone for our sins, and that forgiveness and atonement is granted on the condition that our works be in line with what Christ taught. So:

Faith -> Repentance -> Baptism (+ continuing to repent and improve yourself daily through faith and good works) -> Salvation through grace.

The Book of Mormon clarifies this belief (which is consistent with the teachings of James):

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." [1]

[1] https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/2-...


Both Mormons and Protestants get this passage wrong most of the time. I don’t know about Catholics.

Entry into the earthly Kingdom of God is based on the ancient suzerainty covenant, the covenant you as a citizen of a kingdom make with the ruler. You are accepted into the kingdom by swearing “faith” (eg fealty) to the suzerain. In return you are promised the protection of the suzerain; you receive the rights of a citizen in the kingdom.

The key insight here is that the meaning of the word “faith” has changed from “to have loyalty to” to “to have belief in”.

From the moment you swear fealty (“faith”) you are a full member of the kingdom. However, if you do not fulfill the obligations of a member of the kingdom (“works”) you can absolutely get yourself kicked back out.

So:

1) you are “saved” from the moment you enter the covenant, eg express loyalty to God; and you remain saved as long as you remain in the covenant. 2) works are not optional. They are the wages required to remain in the covenant.


Thanks for the insight. A lot of the difference seems to arise from a different interpretation of the word salvation. In some contexts, that does (as you mention) refer to a covenant relationship with Christ. In other contexts, salvation (as understood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) may refer to our desired state after this life, also known as exaltation or eternal life, which is to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and dwell with Them forever.

Or as John put it: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)


"A lot of what's in the SGML spec isn't in the XML spec. SGML and XML are two separate things much like XML and HTML are separate."

> but why do the exploited masses believe them?

my favorite book on the subject of why is "Robert Cialdini's Influence": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influence:_Science_and_Practic...


Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading.

If anybody asks you "what would Jesus do?", remind them that turning over tables and whipping money lenders is within the realm of possibility.

That was in the context of people cashing in on religion, selling their wares in front of the temple. It'd be like him going to a religious bookstore and trashing the place. It was not an indictment on lending money.

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God."

-Jesus

Matthew 19:24


I see this quoted a lot whenever there is discussion of wealth. However, as with all verses, the context is important as well as the follow up verses. This is not in defense of.

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:17-26 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%2019:17-...


As an atheist I love reading these passages.. it is amazing how people in this day and age are trying to find "meanings" from a book full of the stories of one person... who lived 2000+ years ago.. imagine if someone tried to find meaning in Beckhams biography 2000 years from now...

There's actually not real evidence that Jesus even existed. The "official" gospels were chosen in the council of Nicaea in the year 325. There were lots of other gospels wildly contradicting each other, which were arbitrarily dismissed. Even the chosen gospels contradict each other. The writers of the gospels were born between 50 and more than 100 years after the alleged story they're telling. No roman or jew historian of the time even mentions Jesus, and some mentions usually used to claim otherwise are either a medieval addition, or not really a mention of Jesus. I won't go through all otherwise this post would be extremely long. The myth of Jesus' life has many parallels with other mythical figures, like Mythra, Amon Ra, and others, which probably influenced and converged into the figure of Jesus. It was probably considered to be mythical until someone decided to make it historical for political reasons. There were also lots of "Messiah's", which was more expected to be a political and military leader to raise the Jews against the roman oppressors. Even if there was a man with a life similar to what is described in the gospels, minus the miracles, it wouldn't have been god anyway, so it doesn't really matter, but there's absolutely no evidence of that, so most likely there wasn't.

The writers of the gospels were Jesus’ contemporaries.

And I guess you’ve never heard of Josephus? He’s only the most well known Jewish historian since Moses.

Jesus most certainly lived, no serious scholar of history claims otherwise.


To be fair, Josephus has only two quotes about Jesus, and one is definitely a forgery, although it is debated if it is a full or only partial forgery. The other quote is considered authentic, but just mention "James, the brother of Jesus". So not a lot to go by.

But you are correct that historians generally consider Jesus to be historical. It is not so much due to Josephus though, but more due to critical reading of the Gospels themselves.


The quote you claim as a forgery has been a subject of much debate, but I'm relatively certain it's not been proven to be so and many consider it to be at least partially authentic.

Regardless, Jesus was absolutely a historical character. No serious historian debates this.


The passage outright states that Jesus was the Messiah, which means it is obviously a forgery - Josephus wouldn't have written that since he wasn't a Christian. But the question is how much of the passage that have been altered.

The discussion has generally been that some people think that statement was added. There’s quite a bit more to it though, and that’s certainly not the only possible - or even obvious - conclusion.

What do you find the obvious conclusion?

I don't take an "obvious conclusion" position on it. We simply don't know.

Jesus is a known historical figure. Pretending otherwise is silly. The end.


The gospels were not chosen at Nicea. That myth originates from the novel The DaVinci Code. The book is fiction by the way.

You are espousing the Jesus Myth theory. That is a fringe theory which have generally been rejected by historians. The similarities with Amon etc. are pretty superficial except for the universal resurrection theme. Don't believe the websites with long lists of unsourced parallels.


I have learned for myself that God is real. I tried to explain how I know, not that it is proof for someone else necessarily, but (no sales or javascript, hopefully skimmable), for what it may be worth: http://lukecall.net/e-9223372036854587400.html .

I guess you could say the same about people that look to stoicism or people that believe in res publica.

There’s lots of wisdom in old texts. Plato is 2000+ years old. Heroditus. Confucius. Rumi is almost a 1000.

Beckham is a football player and isn’t known for writing down (or saying) wisdom. But I can definitely imagine people reading Marx and Darwin and Hayek 2000 years from now. Biographies and published text.


There's things just as thoughtful that were written in the past 10 years.

The things you cited are famous for being famous, like some celebrity of the ages.

Just like the Mona Lisa was famous for getting stolen and returned, then this was forgotten about but it remained famous, but now just because it was famous previously.


Perhaps, but this is the first time I’ve heard someone refer to Hayek as “famous for being famous.”

I’m not sure if you’re arguing that there’s nothing old that is wise. Or if people are really smart now. Or all knowledge is just repeated over and over.

I don’t think it’s very productive to argue that the Mona Lisa is the most beautiful painting. But I certainly find it pleasing and beautiful. Are there recent paintings as beautiful? Maybe, but I’m not aware of them so they don’t help me.

Maybe there are recent books as useful as Origin of Species or Republic. But I, and many others, haven’t read them so they are potentially useful if discovered and used. While objectively true is the fact that these historical books have been discovered and used.

So I’m not surprised that people find wisdom in historical books or that books that many find useful remain popular for centuries and millennia.

I don’t think this is a reason to not search for additional wisdom. And I certainly wouldn’t claim they are the ultimate in wisdom.


And how much Plato and Herodotus have you read? Nearly all of Western intellectual history pretty strongly disagrees with your argument.
tomohawk 11 days ago [flagged]

Jesus makes several truth claims, that if true, are extremely compelling for why someone may want to pay attention today. One of these is His claim to be God. You can either dismiss Jesus as a lunatic, dismiss Jesus as a liar, or accept Jesus for who He claimed to be. If Jesus was merely a good man, He would not have claimed to be God. That is not something good people do.

We have no first hand accounts from Jesus himself. We have a couple of first hand accounts from followers. Most of them don't reconcile with each other very well. And even if they did, humans have a long history of collectively believing and participating in supernatural bullshit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbCzb_FWpi4

Lots of people have claimed to be god. Some are even widely recognized as good people. Do we need to give them all our attention? Cause I'm pretty content living my life without believing in wild fairy tales.


The problem with this argument is we don't have first hand accounts of most historical events and people we accept as having occurred and existed.

Does your belief system require you to be so disparaging to people who believe differently?

If you don't want to pay any attention to the claims of Christianity, then by all means don't.


No, but I'm pretty happy with seeking its demise. Christianity, along with the rest of the abrahamic religions, are a corrupting plague on our planet and society. That which is good about it is not unique to it, and that which is unique to it is not good. We are stagnant in our progress as humans to the degree that we still believe in it.

So, intolerance is the way forward?

It's not intolerant to state that you do not believe in somebody else's religion. Nothing above is even "disparaging", even that fairy tale remark. It's not disparaging to state that, without good evidence, you believe fantastic stories from thousands of years ago to be fairy tails.
guidance 10 days ago [flagged]

> 'It's not intolerant to state that you do not believe in somebody else's religion.'

Stating that you are, quote, "seeking its demise", is the very definition of intolerance.

> 'Nothing above is even "disparaging", even that fairy tale remark. It's not disparaging to state that, without good evidence, you believe fantastic stories from thousands of years ago to be fairy tails.'

This is the very definition of disparagement.

If I were to refer to your atheistic beliefs as 'the ignorance of children, raised by a wicked society that is under the influence of psychopathic demons', would you view that as disparaging? Of course you would.

The difference between that way of viewing things and your way of viewing things is simply a matter of perspective. The difference is, one viewpoint is based on knowledge, whereas the other is based in ignorance.

Source: I used to be an atheist also. As a teenager. In the Bible Belt.


> Stating that you are, quote, "seeking its demise", is the very definition of intolerance.

Evangelizing atheism is no more intolerant than evangelizing your religion. Personally I have no particular interest in doing either, but if you get bent out of shape over somebody doing it, that's on you. If you don't like somebody disagreeing with your beliefs then move to a theocracy where such things are forbidden. The "intolerance" you describe is in fact an expression of the bedrock of liberal society.


Intolerance of bad ideas, not intolerance of those who hold them.

A fourth option is that he never actually claimed to be God.

This can be read as meaning that your wealth will be left behind when you die, so you are no longer rich.

Actually, I think a more apropos saying is:

Unless the children were looting their elder's estate before the burial, there's no U-Haul behind a hearse.


"It is easier for a rich man to enter Heaven seated comfortably on the back of a camel than it is for a poor man to pass through the eye of a needle."

- Supply Side Jesus, https://imgur.com/gallery/bCqRp


Also if he who is first shall be last, then isn't it a pretty conservative choice to be middle class in wealthiness?

That comic is hilarious!

“All things (e.g., a camel’s journey through a needle’s eye) are possible, it’s true. But imagine how the camel feels, all squeezed our, in a long bloody thread from tail to snout.”

I’ve seen this attributed to C.S. Lewis, but I’ve never tracked it down.


For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

- Matthew 13:12

^-- which should not be interpreted as rich people are "righteous" and poor people are "bad," but rather people tend to worship the rich and abuse the poor.


It’s “the eye of the needle”. It was a very narrow gate into Jerusalem, which camels had difficulty traversing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_a_needle#Gate

> The "Eye of the Needle" has been claimed to be a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed. This story has been put forth since at least the 15th century, and possibly as far back as the 9th century. However, there is no widely accepted evidence for the existence of such a gate.[7][8]


And it is hard for a rich man to pass through because they have many possessions.

These are things you can't take to heaven. These are things you should not covet. This and many other of Jesus's teaching demonstrate that to be holy and good is to focus not on the material, but on helping your fellow man. There's nothing saying you will get barred from heaven if you're rich. But there's plenty that says you should give away your wealth and spend all your time helping others. You know, kinda like what Jesus did...


According to the text, Jesus was an itinerant carpenter or stone mason (depending on the vagaries of translation). He wasn’t a billionaire philanthropist. And by the telling of Acts, his followers lived in communal poverty.

The problem with much of mainstream American Christianity is that it tries to reconcile the greed and amorality of Capitalist wealth accumulation with its own teachings and they are fundamentally irreconcilable. Or, if you want, by its own scripture:

“No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”


This. The imagery is that a rich person carrying too much stuff would have difficulty going through the gate whereas a poor person wouldn’t.

More reflection is required for a deeper understanding.


Why do you think it's more difficult for a rich person? Does giving a tithe encourage or discourage the behaviors that make it difficult to make it to "Heaven"?

Think on it.


Jesus never advocated giving tithes or even churches for that matter.

What about The Widow's Mite or

Matthew 22:21 Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."?


I'm not part of any religion.

But can you provide some citations that show that is Jesus's own opinion rather than people's interpretation of something?

IF you're talking about the "leave your money and follow me" thing, I doubt he was talking about the money itself there. He said it was harder for a man to enter heaven with all his riches – but what if someone's virtue rose so high that they were able to enter heaven and then they encountered money – it would not have been true that they were virtuous if the money itself is capable of corrupting them. It's like saying that water corrupts someone. Wrong education (environment) does. Wrong education means that they stopped handing down the truth which was revealed by philosophy, lost the ability to make students able to see reality, and came to spread falsehoods, stories, logical derivations, and people's thoughts instead.


> (of course they don't believe in Christ)

Mind reading. Would you like me to tell you what's going on in your head? I'm not a Christian, BTW. But this isn't the place to make inflammatory statements.


This comment also has been flagged recently. It has never been flagged during the active period.

Christians in general all denounce socialism --even it seems democratic socialism.

Christ taught: Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, give all you have to those in need then come follow me, else there's no path to heaven if you're a shallow rich person.

I'm no expert on Marxism, but I think there's quite a bit of crossover in ideologies.

But the point of my argument is most church's don't practice what Christ preached, they're essentially anti-christian churches.


I think the issue that many folks take with this perspective is that you’re prescribing one particular implementation (socialism) of what Jesus taught. We can debate what he taught, but you must acknowledge that you’re advocating for your favored implementation. There are plenty of ways to “Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, give all you have to those in need then come follow me, else there's no path to heaven” that don’t involve or require your particular implementation at all.

Jesus taught that we should do that.

He did not teach that the government should force everyone to do that.


There's a difference between socialism and charity. Christ didn't say much about governments or governmental systems beyond "pay your taxes."

[flagged]


I won't address your other points since that's not what HN is about, but the person you responded to didn't say tithing. He said amassing money. 100 billion is an absolutely massive amount of cash to keep on hand for any purpose, and I imagine a good number of people think the money would mostly be going towards charitable causes or something of the sort. Tithing doesn't necessarily entail stockpiles that can buy out entire countries.

I thought it was $100B in assets and investments, not cash on hand. Did I understand wrong?

You're right, but that doesn't seem to be GP's core point.

One is a lot more defensible than the other. Having $100B cash on hand would just be stupid. Having invested $100B could be seen as more like an endowment if they produce income.

Did the parent significantly revise their comment? Because in its current incarnation, it doesn't argue against tithing nor that those who tithe are being exploited. It seems like you're responding to the wrong comment. For posterity, here's the original comment at the time that I read it:

> It always surprises me that wealthy churches pretend to take Christ seriously, when Jesus was not very fond of amassing money. I get why the churches do it (of course they don't believe in Christ), but why do the exploited masses believe them?

And here is your response:

> The concept of tithing is absolutely taught in the Bible. If you believe Christ to be the God of the Old Testament then He absolutely taught it. You seem to be under the impression all religious people who give tithing are merely being exploited. I can promise you are wrong there. The mentality of "I've had no such experience with God so everyone who claims they have is a kook" is quite ignorant. Perhaps you could learn something from those who have.


> For the record I left several years ago, but have many family members still heavily involved. It's an organization which does not allow you to leave with your dignity intact.

A lot of people are trying to counter this. As an ex-Mormon I do want to share my experience. Not for the people of Hacker News, but because I know this issue is hard to talk about and I want others to know that they aren't alone.

I first off, do want to start with that I was a true believer. I was winning seminary competitions and happy to defend my love for god. But then my mom died. This was terrible in itself, but my dad quickly remarried and did so to a grade A manipulator. I would talk to my best friends about the issues and ended up actually staying over at these friends several nights because of the issues with that step-parent (she did a lot of horrible things, but this story isn't about her or my family). My friends' parents, who were Mormon, were very aware of what was going on. My dad actually stopped me from seeing these friends and so they kinda just faded away (I am no longer friends with these people today, sadly). But then in class (Mormons have 3 parts when you go to church, I will say class for non-major-congregation stuff for ease) I started to question things. Why was there no steel found in the Americas? Elephants? These maps don't make sense. Why don't we pray to our heavenly mother? And it just grew and grew. Some answers I got back were nonsensical, some were "have faith", others were down right misogynistic. So I stopped showing up. This caused a lot of contention in my family of course, one that hasn't fully healed to this day. But after a few weeks something interesting started to happen. The bullies (who were Mormon) who would pick on me, started inviting me to their houses (the popular kids in my school were Mormon, no I didn't grow up in Utah). It only took going once to realize that I was there because of the parents. All kinda of people would start reaching out to me. When I told them of the abuse that was going on, they all told me that it was part of god's plan. Then rumors started and those same bullies were glad to let me know what their parents thought. I found an old journal (something Mormons are highly encouraged to keep but now I'm afraid to because it was definitely used against me) and I just thought that I believed for far too long. I believed even when I first stopped going. But I can't say that the church has the moral high ground.

So why did I leave? It wasn't so much the nonsensical parts of the scriptures. It was because the people were willing to stand by and watch abuse. They preached all day about how we need to help one another but they would only do it if it was easy (like giving food to a needy member). They protected that abuse and then they participated in it. That is why I left.

In addition, I want to add that the church does have some pretty messed up believes. I do believe that the OP's comment is true even for those that left more easily (which does not seem to be as common).

Growing up with these beliefs is hard to undo. I grew up going to stake events. Would spend summers at several family members (while mom was sick). Went to church camp. I constantly saw these beliefs reinforced over and over, __it was not just my ward.__ The way women and people of color were treated like second class citizens. The toxic masculinity that they taught (we each had our "place"). The foundation of secrets always reminded me of the Romulans. How the church treats gays. How the church talks about non-members behind their back (I know, "Mormons are the nicest people!" Please stop saying this). And when you leave, they follow. I left over a decade ago, have moved all across the country, and this is the first year missionaries have not shown up at my door (and I'm guessing that's because I occasionally play boardgames with a member, who knows my distaste).

They say that the difference between a religion and a cult is that a cult is that a cult has a charismatic leader or living prophet and participates in brainwashing and abuse. I am not afraid to say that a spade is a spade.

And to those that left or are thinking of leaving. It is hard, but I promise you that it is worth it. Reach out to others that have left (you are welcome to reach out to me). And for the love of god, talk. I know we were taught to keep these feelings to ourselves, and really we had to, but please do find someone that you can open up to. It is healthier and freeing to just be you. You are not alone.


Thanks for sharing. I hope you find this cathartic and can find connection to people in your new life. I have to think there must be millions of people silently suffering who left various groups like this, be they religions or now political party / belief-systems.

Thank you for sharing. Your experience has similarities to mine.

Seeing you share helped me share. It helps me feel less alone, so thank you.

Thanks a lot for sharing this. Never had any experience like yours, but I know of a few friends who experienced similar things with the Catholic church.

You either participate in your church for theological reasons or you participate to be a member of a club. It seems like your friends attend church to be in a club.

It's really crummy that you had to go through that. My wife joined at I think 32 and left at 36 without grief. Granted, she only kept up consistent contact with one friend from the church, so there isn't as much pressure compared to having family still in the church.

> It's an organization which does not allow you to leave with your dignity intact.

This is definitely not true. As a Utah native and one who left for my own reasons and still has family in the church, I would say that this statement is completely false. The Mormon church does not practice nor endorse any doctrine relating to shunning or harassment. Just because you left with some personality conflicts and bad terms with members doesn't mean anything. Statements like these generally do no good for anyone, and only further radicalize opposing views instead of urging people to engage in an meaningful discussion.


I have a close friend who experienced this. Just because the church has no official policy doesn't mean it doesn't happen. People showing up at your door for years when you've repeatedly asked for it to stop happening, including new addresses you move to after asking not to be contacted again (I've witnessed this personally, and it is deeply distressing and invasive), is harassment no matter what the intention behind it. And of course there is no official policy of "shunning," but individuals among your friends and family can be counseled that contact with you seems to be interfering with their faith and should be curtailed for their own spiritual good.

I can second this. I left over a decade ago. I've moved through four states, and probably a dozen addresses in that time. This is the first year where missionaries have not shown up at my door. I always had the same conversation with them: "Elders, I left the church for a reason and have no desire to come back. If you ever need water or to use the restroom, you are welcome to come by. I understand that what you are doing is hard, but you are not welcome to teach." I would never see the same elders twice.

(I also detailed some of my leaving in hopes that it helps others)


I can third this. I left about 7 years ago. I have moved from Wisconsin, to North Carolina, to Virginia, to Texas, and then to Washington. The Mormon church managed to find me each time. (I briefly moved to Pennsylvania for work for about 6 months between living in NC and VA, and that was the one time they never found me).

I have always rejected all attempts to "re-activate" me. I have never provided notice of my leaving, and I have never as much as attended church once in any of these locations. Several of the moves I didn't even leave forwarding addresses or change of address at the post office. Heck about a year ago I missed some important documents from the IRS, because even they didn't know my new address. They were contacting a previous address, yet the Mormon church had already visited me (against my requests) a total of three times at that new address.

The Mormon church in fact does encourage harassment of ex members, they just don't advertise it as harassment. I am assuming the top comment in this feed that claims they never promote harassment is probably from a current member. The church promotes and encourages members to visit ex-members "out of love" to "save them". It even goes as far as assigning certain members to "re-activate" specific lost members as a task or chore that they must report back progress on.

So the members are harassing, but they do it under the guise of "love" and "salvation". The leaders of the church teach this twice a year in their worldwide broadcast conference (General Conference) where they tell stories (generally fictitious but claiming to be true-to-life) about how active members have gone to ex-members' homes and pushed and prodded for months and years to get members to re-activate. They will hail these persistent efforts to ignore the privacy requests of the ex-members and to push them even despite threats, because according to the story it eventually worked. They will laugh and say that "the spirit" will eventually get through to these ex-members if you just push them hard enough. This is all harassment. Yes, it is done naively from brainwashed members who think they are helping, but it is indeed harassment.

Imagine breaking up with a significant other who then continues to say they know you were meant for each other. They keep showing up at your work and at your house trying to get you to fall back in love with them. They are convinced that if they insert themselves back into your life that you will feel that love again. But you want nothing to do with this person. That person feels like they are doing something out of love, but to you it is harassment.

I've watched countless families destroyed over mormonism. It is toxic, but in the most crafty ways possible. Looking back, I did it all. I harrassed exmembers and gained pleasure from it. I thought I was truly helping them. We would laugh afterward at the threats we got. It was harrassement but I did it... i was brainwashed without realizing it. I am sick to my stomach for admitting it, but I was guilty of these acts for 30 years. My perspective has changed with many years out of the church. But trust me, it is part of the Mormon culture. I speak from experience. I am guilty of harrassing hundreds of people against their will as a Mormon.

Further, it is worth noting that according to Mormon doctrine, someone who is an active member and leaves the church is "an apostate". Depending how far they went through the ladder of Mormonism (such as going through the temple or even working at the temple) this actually destines someone to a future life in "outer darkness". This is a place reserved for basically only apostates (people that left the church). The mormon church has even taught terrorists and hitler will be able to seek forgiveness in the next life and go to a lower form of heaven, but not as low as outer darkness. This literally puts people who leave the church as worse than mass murderers.


Thank you for sharing. And this is part of why I shared. Because I feel that I myself harassed and enabled this abusive behavior. It is weird, of all the places to actually feel welcome talking about this, it is Hacker News. When I talk about this with friends I'm often met with "Mormons are the nicest people I know." I'm sure others experience this too.

> The mormon church has even taught terrorists and hitler will be able to seek forgiveness in the next life and go to [the Telestial Kingdom [0]], but not as low as outer darkness.

For those that think this is hyperbole (though I heard you only went to outer darkness [Hell] if you had active proof of god and rejected him), I have heard the exact same teachings and have never lived in any of the states jacurtis mentioned. This belief is also why when you're a Mormon, you feel the need to save those that left.

[0] (this says that those that leave are on the __same__ level as mass murders) https://www.mormonwiki.com/Celestial,_Terrestrial,_and_Teles...


FWIW, my friend was able to have her name completely removed from the membership rolls, and she was never visited after that except by random missionaries who didn't know who she was. Nobody she talked to in the church told her of the existence of this process, even when she was directly begging to be completely forgotten and never bothered again, which makes it sound like a conspiracy theory or an urban legend, but it exists, and it works. My guess is they had to set it up to comply with a law or fulfill the terms of a settlement. You'll have to look for it online, because I forgot the name of the process and who helped her with it, but any of the online ex-Mormon support groups should be able to point you in the right direction.


Is the potential forgiveness of "terrorists and Hitler" all that surprising? The story of Saul of Tarsus is at the core of Christian theology; the whole concept of the religion is sort of premised on the universal availability of forgiveness.

No it isn't surprising, but that's also not the point of the comment. If what you're taking away is "anyone can be saved" then you're __REALLY__ missing the point.

Educate me? I'm trying to understand.

The church (LDS) has 3 kingdoms of heaven (see link wiki I provided above). The lowest tier of heaven is where Hitler would go were he to accept Christ, in the afterlife. Presumably someone would do a baptism for him and he would have to accept it or not. The post is saying that those that leave the church would be placed into the same grouping as Hitler (tier 3).

My actual understanding, having grown up in the church, is that ex-members would actually go to the Terrestial Kingdom (tier 2). Though it depends on how you interpret "rejecting the gospel". The distinction depends on if I rejected the gospel or was a good person who was blinded by the evils of the world. The church is a little vague on the subject and I can easily understand an interpretation of ending up in the Tellestial Kingdom (tier 3). It can entirely be interpreted that I rejected the gospel and so am placed into the same category as mass murderers.

In my upbringing it was taught that the only people that went to hell were those that outright rejected the gospel with knowledge, so that puts a lower bound. See Doctrine and Covenants 76[0].

[0] https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-test...

Side note: You can only get into the Celestial Kingdom (tier 1) if you accept the Mormon doctrine while on Earth (there are also 3 subdivisions of the Celestial Kingdom that you can move through within the afterlife, but you are not able to move kingdoms).


> Side note: You can only get into the Celestial Kingdom (tier 1) if you accept the Mormon doctrine while on Earth (there are also 3 subdivisions of the Celestial Kingdom that you can move through within the afterlife, but you are not able to move kingdoms).

This just isn’t true that you have to be a Mormon on the Earth to receive the highest degree. We believe you have to have a body to receive your ordinances, but there’s a reason people visit the Temple after they have done their own ordinances and covenants and that is, so they can do temple work and baptisms for those who have passed, and they do this as proxies for the deceased much like Paul taught baptisms for the dead(1 Corinthians 15:29).

> It can entirely be interpreted that I rejected the gospel and so am placed into the same category as mass murderers.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad place though. (Also if you choose to never accept Christ until the final resurrection then that’s your choice, but I don’t think you’re doomed to it). Here’s a quote from that D&C 76 about the tier 3 as you called it or the telestial as it’s called there:

> 89 And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial , which surpasses all understanding;

> 90 And no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it.

So, the glory itself exceeds all understanding it reminds me a lot of 1 Corinthians 2 particularly 9 & 10.

> 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

> 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

I think we’ll all come to see God’s and Christ’s great mercy at the Judgement seat.


I guess I'm saying, there are mainline Christian denominations where this would also be the case: Hitler would have to agree to be saved, and the ex-member would have to in some way renounce the faith, but the outcome is the same, right?

I'm not trying to make the point that there isn't pressure on people to stay in the church. I know nothing whatsoever about the LDS church. People that say there's pressure, I believe them. I'm just making a nerdy theological point about "Hitler-salvation" as a threshold.


The point was the contrast: "Killing a few million people? Forgivable" vs "Leaving the church? Unforgivable". IE, there's a very severe built-in "don't you dare leave us" mentality.

Very much this.

Here is a comment where I detail the organizational trends that I believe justify my comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22276276


This sounds like a situation where no one can win 100% of the time. Some people who are left alone after leaving the church complain that they're "alienated" by their neighbors, while those whose neighbors try to keep them involved are victims of "invasive harassment". And those who are content don't mention it, so no one hears about them.

Any time I've heard of someone wishing not to be contacted, I've seen members of the church respect that desire. Of course that doesn't stop everyone (because not everyone may be aware of that desire). Instead of looking to criticize, please try to understand that people are usually just trying to be friendly and respectful, even if it doesn't always seem that way.


> Of course that doesn't stop everyone (because not everyone may be aware of that desire).

This is only true to the extent that the church is extremely efficient at tracking down ex-members and sharing this information with local congregations and extremely inefficient at remembering that people have requested multiple times with multiple authorities never to be contacted again.

People are visited by members of the church, acting as members of the church, introducing themselves as representatives of the church, visiting an address given to them by the church, and asking for a person they've never met by name, at an address the person has recently moved to after leaving the church. Again, I've witnessed this firsthand, in front of my own eyes.

Think of the effort it takes to pull that off. It's not an innocent oopsie.


"...visiting an address given to them by the church"

If that person is really an "ex-member" (meaning they had their name removed from the church's records), then this simply could not have happened, at least not in the name of the church. I've seen firsthand what happens to a congregation's records when someone removes their name (no surprise - their name, address, etc are removed from the list, and there's no conspiracy of tracking people behind their backs as you seem to imply).

That said, it's certainly possible that someone was operating on old data or otherwise mistaken (maybe the person visiting just asked another neighbor about the person who lived there, not knowing the history, but trying to be friendly?), but I can assure you that the church would not give someone a name and address of an ex-member who's had their name removed from the records.

ADDED: To respond to a couple of replies here: I suspect the church's central records (in SLC) may retain some data about ex-members (I have no firsthand experience there one way or another) - at least where permissible by local privacy laws, but I've dealt with records at the congregation level for years (which is what missionaries or other members would use to contact someone), and I can definitively say that ex-members' info is removed from those records (not just marked as "inactive" or otherwise). Does that mean you will never be contacted by a member of the church again in your life? Absolutely not (for reasons explained above that have nothing to do with the church's records). You will have the same chance of being contacted by a well-meaning member or missionary as anyone else in your vicinity (which is more than many people realize).


In my friend's case, the process of removing her name from the records was something she learned about online in an ex-Mormon support group. Nobody in the church told her about it despite contacting multiple people in the church multiple times to ask to stop getting contacted. When she heard about it, her first reaction was that it was probably an urban legend, since nobody from the church even told her it existed, much less suggested it as the right way to accomplish what she was asking for. She was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a legit thing.

How can you keep doubting that this happens consistently and by design? When my friend connected online with other people who left the church, she heard lots of stories identical to hers. They're not crazy people. They're just people who wanted to leave the church.


> If that person is really an "ex-member" (meaning they had their name removed from the church's records),

This is the issue. The names don't get removed. Everyone that leaves is just "inactive". Tell me you don't see that. Tell me you don't see people talking about how to get them active again. Because I've been to a lot of wards and seen that discussion in every single one. "They are just inactive".

I've told members to their face that I left, and they have responded "oh, you you're inactive?" I guess not attending church for over a decade and having a bad taste in my mouth isn't leaving, it is inactive.

We don't do this in normal society. If you stop showing up to play sports with your friends, you aren't considered a team member anymore. Especially after you tell them "I don't want to be on the team anymore." How would you feel if everyone on that team just kept saying "oh, they're just taking a break. They'll come back." You know, decades after you left...


> The names don't get removed. Everyone that leaves is just "inactive". Tell me you don't see that.

I don't see that. If they're removed, they're removed, at least from any lists that local leaders, members or missionaries could see.


> If they're removed, they're removed, at least from any lists that local leaders, members or missionaries could see.

This is exactly the kind of dishonest bullshit line that local leaders use when people ask to be removed and not contacted again. I don't know how these "lists" work internally in the church, but local leaders can happily say, "Sure, we'll remove you from the list. Done! No more visits!" knowing that they haven't done what the person requested, knowing that the church will continue to send people to that person's home, even if they move hundreds of miles away. They believe this is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for a believing Mormon, which is why it's so important to call it out in public. The only way they will back off from this kind of behavior is if it harms the public image of the church.


Exactly this, and I thought I was clear with my analogy with the sports team. I have told at least a dozen missionaries and a handful of bishops to not contact me. Yet here we are.

When someone says "I'm out of here" you don't follow them around the country, calling them by name "Hey, so are you ready to come back?" To put it in other words "No means no." following people around like that is harassment and borderline stalking.


You're welcome to your own opinions, but I actually work with church records at a local level, and this is the truth. I have siblings and neighbors who have left, and there's absolutely no remaining evidence (that I or my local leaders can see) of their info or that they were ever members of the church.

It comes down to what you're specifically asking. If you ask a local leader to remove you from a list, they may remove you from (for example) a local list of members who are open to being visited. That list would not represent your membership record in the church. In most cases, the removal from a local list like that is both appropriate and what the person actually expects (after all, it's not like your contact info was obtained from a spam list or something; you would have to have been baptized in the church, professed to believe in the church's doctrines, voluntarily consented to being a member, provided personal data, etc, so a retraction of all that is a relatively serious decision).

On the other hand, if you want to remove your record from the church as a whole (the entire organization), you'd need to be clear about that with your bishop (local leader), and they are instructed to give you details about how to go about removing your record from church headquarters.

If you asked specifically about removing your record completely, and a bishop didn't tell you how to do that, that would be a (frustrating) mistake, and I believe that leader should be corrected (it's in their handbook of instructions). It's rare enough that some leaders may just not be as familiar with the process.

In either case, it sounds like you had a bad experience with that, and your frustration is understandable. People in similar situations have been very vocal about that kind of thing, but I know that in the majority of cases (many that I've seen firsthand), those kinds of mistakes are rare and local leaders will help however they can.

EDIT: The line about you volunteering information (or your parents doing so on your behalf) isn't meant to place blame, but rather to simply point out that significant, deliberate effort was put into creating your record in the church. In that light, it would be crazy for a local leader or member to knock on your door, hear you say "remove me from your list", and interpret that as full authorization to remove your record completely. You certainly have the freedom to do that, but an offhanded remark at the door isn't really appropriate for that level of action.


> On the other hand, if you want to remove your record from the church as a whole (the entire organization), you'd need to be clear about that with your bishop (local leader), and they are instructed to give you details about how to go about removing your record from church headquarters.

This is exactly how my friend was treated at every step of the way. They pretended that she hadn't actually asked for the right thing in the right way. It's shameful. She asked over and over not to be contacted ever again, by anyone, by any part of the church, in any locality. And to this day, people just like you pretend that it couldn't have happened that way, that she must have done something wrong.

"Gaslighting" is a word that I think is used way too lightly these days, but that's what the church did to her. It started before she left and was the reason she left. Every time she talked to people inside the church about the things that were happening to her, the reaction was, "Are you sure it didn't actually happen this other way?" They rejected her story of what happened and believed their own version instead.

> those kinds of mistakes are rare and local leaders will help however they can

I'm sorry, but I don't believe that even you can even pretend to believe that without it hurting a little bit.


I'm sorry about your friend. If it's a case of abuse (as it sounds like), I'm truly sorry, and I don't know anyone - inside or outside the church - who would think that's okay. If she wants her name removed (and it hasn't already been done), that can definitely be done - she just needs to talk to the bishop or stake president and formally request it to be removed (it's really not a complicated process).

Those stories should be heard, and there absolutely needs to be transparency. It does come with the side effect of making those cases sound disproportionately "typical", when they really aren't. I've never experienced or known a victim of abuse in the church (that I know of), but it does break my heart to hear about it happening, and I would encourage people to speak up when it does happen (especially to higher-up leaders who can do something about it).

Bad people slip through the cracks (as they do in any organization). It's unfortunate, but the church is doing a lot to help prevent those wrongs and mistakes. I absolutely still stand with my assertion that "mistakes are rare and local leaders will help however they can".


It's a little bit more complicated than what you're hinting at, but this REALLY misses the point:

> I don't know anyone - inside or outside the church - who would think that's okay

Nobody who was complicit in how she was treated ever decided it was okay or would have stood by the reality of what happened. All they did was have enough faith in the church to feel sure that the actual situation must have been different from the way she described it. That's how virtually every around her felt (or pretended to feel,) not just a few miscreants who slipped through the cracks. Even her parents. They retreated into a fog of believing they didn't know what happened. They had faith that if they heard the complete truth it would vindicate the church, so to this day they believe they haven't heard the truth about what happened yet.


> you would have to have been baptized in the church, professed to believe in the church's doctrines, voluntarily consented to being a member, provided personal data, etc, so a retraction of all that is a relatively serious decision).

*at 8

Remember, you get baptized __at 8__. If you're a male, you get the priesthood at __12__. You're talking about consent and volunteering that information. There's a reason we legally don't allow people that young to give consent. The way you are framing this conversation to me is rather disgusting. You are saying that it is my fault that the church has my information. The church has my information because __I was born into it__. Yeah, I believed at 8. I even believed at 16.

This also doesn't explain how the church has continually had my address as I've moved hundreds of miles across the country multiple times. And the issue is that every time these missionaries come I tell them I don't want to be contacted. I've talked to several bishops about being removed. They all said I won't be contacted. Then I move, and it starts over. So forgive me if I feel like I'm being stalked. I know many ex members who share this experience.

So if you agree that we should be removed, don't blame us. Maybe, instead, there is a systematic problem. Because as it stands, every time a missionary knocks on my door saying "Brother Godelski", I hate the church a little more. I don't blame missionaries. They are welcome to food, water, and to use my bathroom (they have a tough job). But I tell them there is no teaching (and I don't try to pressure them out either).

So what do I do? Do I be hostile to the messenger? (I don't have that in me) Because this has been happening for over a decade, over 4 states, and over a dozen residences. So forgive me if I don't take your message lightly. I don't know how to be more clear.

Edit (in response to your edit):

> In that light, it would be crazy for a random hometeacher/ministering member to knock on your door, hear you say "remove me from your list", and interpret that as full authorization to remove your record completely.

To me, this sounds crazy. No means no. No does not mean maybe. No means no. If someone wants to call me and say "Hey, the missionaries said that you wanted to be removed from the records, is that true?" I'd be okay with that. But saying that "no means maybe" is spitting in the face of those trying to leave.


> No means no.

Local leaders don't have direct control over the removal of someone's membership record, and that's a reasonable safeguard against local leaders/members (deliberately or accidentally) performing such a significant action on behalf of potentially hundreds of other members. Most companies operate under similar safeguards when it comes to data security and deletion requests (requiring some kind of procedure rather than hearing you just say the magic words "delete my account" and not even verifying your identity). I imagine the church is legally required to keep some of that data for tax and reporting purposes, so it's not quite as straightforward as it might sound.


> Most companies operate under similar safeguards when it comes to data security and deletion requests (requiring some kind of procedure rather than hearing you just say the magic words "delete my account" and not even verifying your identity)

Under GDPR most companies have a button you can press. Sure, might stay cached for 90 days or whatever, but essentially you are just telling them. There are ones harder, where you have to email them (like going to a Bishop...). The worst are that you have to verify your identity with legal document.

And I'm not saying the church doesn't have to expunge all records of you existing within their institution. I just want something akin to a Do Not Call list. Right now I feel that the church respects me just as much as the telemarketer that I ask to take me off their list (they're legally required to btw, but they usually don't. I worked in one of these centers, they tell you to ignore "customers" like that).


It actually doesn't remove it from Missionary records. Missionary records are intentionally kept separate from church records. I was a missionary and we visited people who have left the church (and had their name removed) many, many times. We have left their records behind after we were told to fuck off for future missionaries to continue to contact. If the threats get violent enough a missionary might choose to remove it from missionary records (we did this only once during my two year mission, after someone threatening to kill us and posting pictures of us at our apartment). Other threats were just shrugged off and I guarantee missionaries that came behind me re-visted that member again and probably still are to this day.

What "missionary records" are you talking about? I'm not aware of any official, separate missionary records. I was also a missionary and the only records/lists we saw were those kept by local wards. Were they perhaps (unofficial) manually-stored paper records kept by previous missionaries or something?

Each mission area has an official notebook of paper records that are maintained by the two missionaries that cover that area. These records were never synchronized with other data sources.

Occasionally missionaries might receive a request to locate an inactive member whose active family doesn't know where to find them (I only saw this once in two years, and nobody involved seemed to take a moment to think about the bigger picture of what they were doing).

There are personal info data brokers e.g. Acxiom. Maybe the church is incorporating such sources when tracking down "lost" members.


> Occasionally missionaries might receive a request to locate an inactive member whose active family doesn't know where to find them

I've seen that too, though as I understand it, those only come from (standard membership) records that are moved from a previous ward (not removed) and the leadership doesn't know which new ward the person should geographically belong to (they might only have a rough geographic idea). The intention is one of trying to help provide assistance and support to people who are - at least in terms of the official records - still members of the church. That won't happen with people whose records have been officially removed from the church.

As for a "notebook of paper records", unfortunately there's very little that can be done to completely avoid inaccuracies in those, but the church has been working to make more of those things happen electronically (which would solve the issue of not being synchronized). It may not be in place everywhere, but that's the direction it's going, so it will definitely improve.


> This sounds like a situation where no one can win 100% of the time. Some people who are left alone after leaving the church complain that they're "alienated" by their neighbors, while those whose neighbors try to keep them involved are victims of "invasive harassment".

You're getting downvoted because both can be true.

How would you feel if your closest friends and/or family stopped talking to you because of how they voted? Or if they didn't stop talking, if they only talked about how you voted wrong (you know, basically Thanksgiving dinner but more frequently). What people miss is their friends and family. And in the end, do you really want a friendship back if you were only friends because you shared the same religion? That's what these people are saying. I say that as someone who went through it.

As far as the missionary problem, dkarl explained that pretty well.


I've had something similar happen to me. My brother left the church and ever since the only thing he wants to do is talk to me (and my kids) about how I'm wrong to stay in the church. I don't recall us ever having a religious conversations prior to his exit so it's been a bit jarring. I get that he possibly feels he's got to share his point of view, but at some time (especially after he's made his point) he's got to let me live under my own understanding. And anyways I'd just like my brother back, he was fun.

I'd have to disagree it doesn't necessarily enforce or push shunment but there is enough 'only way to heaven' talk that it makes family relationships with those still in perilous, and if you're underage and mentally out... gl trying to convince parents to let you resign without getting kicked out of the house.

I left and told my wife I was going to but still it's been a bit of a stressor in our relationship, but I couldn't no longer be part of such a malicious organization that causes so many suicides inside the state of Utah and has such a horrific history of racism.


I live in Utah. When I resigned from the Mormon church the entire ward shunned me and I was ostracized by my family. My home teacher told me that the bishop told the men in the priesthood not to associate with me.

My experience leaving was as follows. I don't feel bad nor bitter but it did have some negative repercussions.

I knew at 13 I did not believe and didn't want to follow but was forced to continue attending and forbidden to speak about my lack of belief to siblings. Come 18 I was suggested to move out which I happily did. My father sort of eventually accepted but would try to slip in religious sermons when he could. My mother on the other hand freaked completely out. Parents took all pictures of me down in the house leaving pictures of siblings. They gave a piece of property my non-Mormon grandfather left me to my brother with my mother calling and explaining they were doing this because I had left the church and she had never forgiven her mother and brother from leaving. Pretty rough but I got over it. Luckily I never built much social identity around the church so that was less of an issue. Also I left young and at 18 who cares what your parents think because they are stupid anyway :).

I don't think ostracism or social punishment is official policy but it is there in practice and likely very pronounced for some people.

I still have a sister and brother who are very and irrationally hostile towards me but the other siblings are friendly enough and seem ok. I don't talk about church nor discourage their belief, I simply don't participate. Mom never did get over it and we were never close again until her death. Sometimes she would call me saying crazy things but I didn't hate or resent her for it, I understand where they are coming from, in my belief they are mistaken and deluded and behaving improperly but hey people do that in many venues.

I felt like my leaving was a threat to a carefully constructed fragile synthetic narrative for people close to me who chose to remain. Even though I never actually argued against nor condemned the religion.

I suppose I should feel worse about the whole incident but what I really feel is a sort of pity. Like someone would feel for an alcoholic or drug addict desperately rationalizing their destructive behavior. I don't hate the church nor resent the behavior of family members. I understand, besides what they think has little bearing on my world at this point. Very happy I left early though. I imagine the process as an adult married with kids even is quite an emotional slap. I don't want to tell others what to do. If people are happy claiming to believe those things I'm ok with it. But I won't do any such thing even if it means social problems.


Ostracizing ex-members occurs in nearly every tight knit social group, especially ones predicated upon adherence to some ideology. It’s a basic tenant of human tribalism, and religions are perhaps the most tribal social groups we have ever invented.

I can't speak for the LDS church, but my brother left Christianity 5 or 6 years ago. I similarly left a few years later. Initially telling my parents was extremely uncomfortable, which stands to reason. They come from a tradition where parents are made responsible for their children's continued participation and adherence to the church, with eternal consequences for anyone who leaves.

Every time we see my parents they say goodbye as if it's the last time they'll see us. They continue to speak as if we're still participating in the church, and they cry every time my brother, who lives 3 hours away, leaves to go home.

A month ago my parents' church sent my brother a letter threatening him with damnation if he didn't return to Christianity and guilting him for not following in his parents religion. It then suggested he would be excommunicated (which has specific meaning in the denomination, it's not exactly shunning) if he didn't tell them where he was attending, or he could resign. It was sent as registered mail, and written in a way that was meant to be humiliating. My brother wrote back that he happily resigned.

I expect at some point I might receive the same communication. In the Reformed church this is both old and new. The idea of excommunication had existed since before the church came over from Europe. But in recent times churches have found it a useful, quasi-legal way to enforce conformity and allegiance. If that environment is as totalizing a force in your life as the church intends to be, you will find it very difficult to leave. That threat will worry you. But once you've left it often just feels hurtful and vindictive. It doesn't have the reformative effect it is intended to effect.


You are both making broad statements about the church and using anecdotes to support those statements. Why should I believe either of you?

I'll support tomrod. Because his experience, though not exact, reflects mine. You can see many others coming out of the woodworks too. People that were taught to hide their feelings because that's the only way they can amend their relationships with their families. Eventually enough anecdotal evidence is just data. I'll give support to tomrod.

This was my experience as well (Utah native). I did not experience any shunning when I left, nor have others in my extended family.

Any shunning I have seen was due to other factors than merely leaving, such as the reasons behind leaving (one of my cousins was shunned for drug dealing and running from the law, not for leaving).

The Mormon church has a lot of experience with people leaving and appears to handle it pretty well in general. Of course leaving a religion is a hard and often agonizing decision and is painful personally, and people sometimes project these feelings onto others.


> As doctrine they take the second coming of Christ seriously and believe they will transform into the world wide government on his return.

I think this was the role of the Council of Fifty, which as been defunct for a long time. The last known member, President of the Church Heber J. Grant, died in 1945.


Tax payer (since they use all the benefits of all of U.S. taxpayers without contributing a dime.) funded real estate for private church ownership.

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