Some of us LDS folks are often curious about ex-Mormons who become anti-Mormon activists. I wonder why they can’t leave the Church alone, why they feel driven to write books and go on speaking tours criticizing the Church, and why so many aspects of LDS life must be mocked. The anti-Mormons often wish to present themselves as dispassionate, objective seekers of truth who left the Church not because of sin or a rejection of LDS moral standards, but because their quest for intellectual honesty required courageously dropping an errant but beloved faith.
Some Mormons make the sometimes incorrect assumption that those who leave the Church must have other personal issues besides intellectual concern over obscure statements of Brigham Young or over the apparent difficulty of squaring DNA science with popular but naive assumptions about the Book of Mormon. This Mormon stereotype of anti-Mormon apostates is, unfortunately, often reinforced by the behavior of the apostates themselves. Ever since Joseph Smith’s day, a number of influential apostates were excommunicated for or otherwise left the Church over “stupid stuff” like committing adultery, raising the suspicion that their opposition to the Church may have been based on a personal axe to grind or anger at the Church’s standards rather than an objective quest for Christian truth.
Given that, I just don’t understand why one up-and-coming anti-Mormon would tell the world that he’s being excommunicated for adultery, and even admit that adultery took place. Why, why, why? Seriously, this kind of thing rattles other devout anti-Mormons and makes it difficult to keep the debate focused on the real issues. And I just don’t understand why someone who rejects the Church would wait for Church disciplinary action to be taken, allowing an issue like adultery to even enter into the debate. If you reject the Church and want to depart, you only have to write a letter asking for your name to be removed. Even if local leaders know there were moral transgressions involved, they are required (as I understand the current rules) to accept your request and remove your name from the records, if that’s what you really want. So, if for some reason you are planning on a career as an anti-Mormon apostate, please don’t do stupid stuff, or at least don’t admit to doing stupid stuff, and just get your name off the records before any stupid stuff you’ve been doing might become an issue.
Oh, one more thing: don’t show off your profanity, either. I see this from a lot of critical ex-Mormons who seem to revel in their usage of profanity now that they are outside the Church. It’s so immature, and again suggests that the issue was the enticement of sin rather than intellectual concerns. Offensive language is not a sign of an enlightened intellect. Just my 1.8 cents (after tithing).
July 26 update:For the person I was thinking of, upon further reflection, one can credit him for being honest and open about the nature of the disciplinary action against him. And much more positive and important is the fact that he and his wife are back together and hopefully doing well. That’s great. I still would strongly recommend that people who wish to leave the Church simply ask for their names to be removed and not try to make high and public drama out of a private disciplinary council. This person left the Church some time ago. There was no need to wait for a disciplinary council to score some dramatic points. He’s disappointed that the council will deal with the arguably weightier charge of adultery rather than the serious but less weighty charge of apostasy (I offer my opinion on the basis of Alma 39). Maybe it will address both – it could and perhaps should, but it’s not going to be broadcast on CNN as the antis would like. Maybe the Disney Channel, though.
Also, several people have accused me of urging people to lie. Come on. Asking people to keep their dirty laundry in the closet rather than showing it to the world is NOT lying. I did not say to lie about anything, just not to go around telling the world about one’s serious sins. When interviewed by the press, one particular anti-Mormon volunteered the information that he was facing disciplinary action for adultery. It’s now a public story. I think it would have been better to keep that to himself and to never let it be an issue, even in a private disciplinary council, by just asking for name removal long ago. (Or even now — it’s still not too late.) But since this advice has been so poorly received by the anti-Mormon community, I guess I should just apologize for asking for a little decorum. OK folks, if you want to tell the world about your major sins, don’t let me stand in the way.
This post has gotten more traffic than I can handle at the moment. I’ll close comments on this one, at least for now. Sorry!