Randall Bowen at the Churchistrue blog is a very nice guy (practically my neighbor) and he and I have had some very fun run-ins on Facebook and have talked privately about meeting up for some face-to-face discussions. I actually do respect him and what he is trying to do in revising the Church’s positions to try and make Mormonism palatable to Mormons.
But on his review of M. Russell Ballard’s “To Whom Shall We Go” talk at the recent Mormon General Conference, I think that this bridge to nowhere has gone far enough.
The Mormon Church is in denial about its being in crisis
Let’s get on the same page, here: the LDS Church is losing members at a pace that they are not prepared to accept or to publish. There are obvious financial, ideological and public relations motives on the part of the Church to route dissidents and keep those believers in the Church from being effected by the mass-resignation of thousands of Mormons, every year.
Now let us not forget that the power to stem the tide of people leaving the Church is in the hands of the Church’s leadership. If they want people to stay, they need only act. They are not acting and there is a reason.
They don’t want to admit what ‘being wrong’ means
They only need to stop cowardly dodging the problems presented by critics like myself, Jeremy Runnells, John Dehlin and others and address head-on that they have been either ignorant or dishonest about the historical scapegoating, ideological bankruptcy and political special interest activism that the organization has been engaged in.
These men seem to be ill-informed on biology (yes even the doctors and scientists), theology and Constitutional law but I have a hard time believing that they are ignorant of what THEY are doing. There must be a motive to NOT make enlightened changes to their tactic.
They cannot any one of them be relied upon to be accountable because they do not consider themselves to be individually responsible for the actions that they take in committee.
Nonetheless, it is a valid question to ask where Mormon believers can go if they hae come to to realize that the Church is not true and yet have not made the ideological leap to agnosticism and atheism that so many of us have ultimately taken.
The Community of Christ Church
Bowen asks where you can go to find the following:
- the doctrine of Christ contained in the book of Mormon
- what you have felt here
- belief in personal, loving Heavenly Parents who teach us how to return to their eternal presence
- teaching of a Savior who is your best friend and who suffered not only for your sins but who also “suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind so that his bowels may be filled with mercy according to the flesh that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities”
- the plan of salvation gives mortal life meaning and purpose and direction
- a detailed, inspired church organization, a structure through which you are supported by men and women who are deeply committed to serving the Lord by serving you and your family
people who live by prescribed set of values and standards that you should and want to pass along your children and grandchildren
The answer is: The Community of Christ Church. They have all this and have added a very modern egalitarian Priesthood, LGBTQ acceptance and celebration and a broad diversity of theological study. For a Progressive Mormon or Liberal Mormon, it is paradise. It has been a long time since the former “RLDS” believed that The Book of Mormon is a historical document but the hard fact for Bowen and his colleagues is that it has been a while that they have come to a similar conclusion.
It’s not for me but not everyone is like me.
For independent study and a more broad access to materials and groups, there are a wide variety of resources for people in every stage of surviving a Mormon faith crisis. I know the people who put the website together for mormonspectrum.org and I love them. It is too hard to find people with such pure hearts who are not driven by the Simonist greed of churches.
OASIS; A Community of Good
A great resource that is coming up in a broad diversity of places is OASIS communities, which hold gatherings and family events very much like a Church but with more secular sermons and broad interests that would shame any three-hour “block” meetings at the LDS Church.
Why keep “going” to God, at all?
Look: Most people who discover that the Mormon Church lied to them are going to become agnostics at some point. When that happens, there are going to be other interests that take up your time, including helping others who are leaving the Church.
There are abundant Atheist groups out there and as a fairly active member of Utah Atheists and Post-Mormon Atheists and Agnostics, I love them. But there are also Maker Fairs and Golf and Vacation and Adventure groups. There are people organizing to talk about escaping abuse and finding purpose.
And what’s wrong with just taking time off of “going”, anywhere? In my book, I talk about the fact that only a couple of years after returning from my mission, I embraced that I had better things to do with my life than search for God and it was one of the best decisions of my life.
Click here to read The Korihor Argument; A Missionary’s Journey Out of Mormonism
The fact is: it take a fairly pitiful mind to decide that he has to “go” somewhere to find peace within himself.