What’s Easier: Being a Mormon or Being Gay?

Seen at PostSecret:

I believe everything the card says, and yet, being Mormon seems much more acceptable in society — hell, we have someone who could be president despite it.

Plus, while religious groups are slowly becoming more accepting of gay people (not necessarily by choice), the LGBT community has good reason to shun religious groups because of their past/current behavior.

The funny thing is you could replace the word “Mormon” in the postcard with “atheist” and it would still be true. Even though atheists almost always support issues of gay rights, many LGBT individuals don’t embrace atheism. I can’t figure out why they would cling to the religious beliefs — it takes a huge distortion of Bible verses to believe God was perfectly fine with gay people (who act on their homosexuality) — but they do. It’s frightening the hold religion can have on people.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700480741 Joel Sassone

    Cosmic Stockholm syndrome is a powerful force.

  • John F

    Actually the difference noted is easily explainable – the gay friends grievance is just and the mormon friends grievance is unjust. Mormons victimize LGTB people, that is why there is bad blood between the two.

    It’s sort of like: I honestly believe my puppy-kicker friends would be more tolerant of me owning a puppy than my puppy-owning friends would be of me being a puppy-kicker.

    • amycas

       Thank you. This is what I was thinking, but I couldn’t quite make it coherent.

    • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

      The first thing that sprang to my mind was, “I honestly believe my neo-Nazi friends would be more tolerant of my Jewish ancestry than my Jewish friends would be of my Naziism.”  Yeah, yeah, Godwin, etc., but the analogy works: it’s unreasonable to expect the victims of bigotry to be “tolerant” of the bigots.

      • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

        A better comparison is “I think my Christian friends are more accepting of my being a Jew than my Jewish friends are of me believing in Yeshua Messias.” Messianic Jews are culturally and ethnically Jewish (just as I believe most gay people are born so). They carry in their blood all the heritage of persecution any other Jew does, but they have come to believe that Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the prophesies of the Jewish Messiah (Jesus Christ=Yeshua Messias).

        They do not let the persecution their ancestors suffered from misplaced Christian bigotry keep them from believing in Christ when they find themselves so moved. They form as small a minority within Judaism as Judaism forms of the whole world, yet their Jewish brethren often do not let the persecution their same ancestors received keep them from persecuting those few who accept Yeshua Messias.

        I know of one case where B’nai B’rith attorneys ried to put a Frisco, Colorado family of Messianic Jews out of business because they posted Bible quotes on the public reader board and distributed Messianic literature inside. Nobody in the town complained (they thought it added local color), but someone passing through.

        I think that makes a better comparison. Those within the cultural and ideological minority often act with the same bigotry toward their own internal dissident minorities as outsiders direct at them.

  • Wintermute472002

    Considering the money the Mormon church has spent on things like Prop 8, and their purported influence of the anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America, I’d say that the writer’s gay friends have some pretty good reasons to object to Mormonism. When gay folks have enough social and political power to make like hell for Mormons then maybe the writer will have a point.

  • Logan Rockhound

    Something tells me this person equates “tolerance” with “not being criticized”.

  • LesterBallard

    Are these his Mormon friends who gave a shitload of money to help defeat Prop 8 in California?

  • Kodie

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect gay people to all of a sudden not need religion anymore just because religion tends to speak ill of their sexuality. If a person feels like there is something else there, they can choose to still believe it. It is as if religion is just for one certain kind of people and everyone else gets left out – if that’s how they feel, I don’t know how they feel, but growing up with a religion and believing it is true and then being gay doesn’t make those religious hopes or beliefs disappear. It no doubt usually modifies them as one finds a church that is open to it and not closed. If someone wants to know god and still be gay, I don’t think they HAVE TO make a choice or consider it “frightening” that a person doesn’t realize because they’re gay they have to reject what they hope is true or be rational about it.

    That said, I knew a seriously tormented gay Mormon on an internet group I used to belong to. He was self-loathing and suicidal because he did love being a Mormon and he felt his homosexuality was wrong but he couldn’t stop “sinning”. At times he was cool with it, but sometimes it really ate him up. That’s hard to watch, yes, that is frightening. I think on a case by case basis, it can be difficult to watch someone too oppressed by a church upbringing they love and want desperately to belong to and want to go to heaven when they are depressed about who they really are and never free to be just one or the other or both. I think openly gay-welcoming churches and Christians who do not fixate on homosexuality being a sin are probably good compromises, and I do not necessarily agree that it is a state of denial that a gay person would have to be in to still love their church and want to be a part of it, not when so many churches mangle the bible to fit their needs, why not? I mean, what’s so particularly outrageous about it?

    I wonder if the person who wrote this postcard is gay but doesn’t have sex, because it was my understanding they are very big on “love the sinner, hate the sin,” where this person would naturally be accepted by their Mormon friends as long as they didn’t “sin”, but hassled by… well just about anyone else for being Mormon. Mormons are an already weird sect that people love to make fun of. I wonder how many of this person’s gay friends are still Christians, and if they weren’t all gay, would still rip on Mormons and their one Mormon friend.

    • Stev84

      Mormonism is really a special case with the extremely high value they place on family. Both theologically and practically, everything in the religion revolves around family. They also treat adult single Mormons as lower than dirt and segregate them into “singles wards” so they can pair up and get married. Only married Mormons can have any real leadership positions or reach the highest level of heaven. To integrate gay people into the religion, they really need to fundamentally change a lot of things, which isn’t going to happen.

      • 3lemenope

        I’m not so sure about that last part. They were seemingly as intransigent about monogamists and black people in the past, and they changed both of those positions. Sure, they changed under cultural duress, but that’s generally how all major social structures change; religions are no exception, and Mormonism is no particular exception.

        • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

          Not sure I understand what you mean about intransigence on monogamists. They were intrasigent on abandoning the practice of polygamy, but few Mormons poracticed it. Essentially a man had to called to practice it, and that was based on having enough wealth to support a second family. Along with that came higher status within the priesthood. If you mean to suggest that monogamists (the vast majority of Mormons historically) were somehow looked down upon, I must dispute that. It would be a spurious correlation. If people practicing monogamy were somehow placed in a lower class the monogamy was secondary to their inferior resources, which put them in the lower social class to begin with.

  • Stev84

    Given that the two are largely mutually exclusive (the whole point of Mormonism is to have an eternal marriage and be reunited with your family in the afterlife. No marriage = no highest heaven), there is a choice to be made anyways. Even straight, single Mormons are looked down upon and there is certainly no place for a gay couple in the church.

  • mike

    Change “be more accepting” to “seem more accepting”.
    Mormons (like many christians) seem more accepting, “love the sinner, hate the sin”, but in reality they may try to subtly or forcibly deprogram you.
    At least the LGBT crowd is honest in their contempt.  And they won’t try to harm you.

    • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

      Well, won’t *try* to harm, but if they’re so fragile that telling them their sky daddy doesn’t exist and they need to stop using him as an excuse for being a jerk hurts their feelings and wounds them emotionally, that’s their fault.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Being gay is easier and I’ll tell you why. I was in a relationship with a man for a year and a half and at no point did anyone demand that I wear special magical underwear.

    • Pseudonym

      I guess it depends. I have gay friends who do that. Well, not “magical” underwear, exactly…

    • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

      LOL! I’ve known gay and straight couples when one partner wants the other to wear special underwear, and they claim it has a magical effect!

  • Bnerd

    As a member and activist in my own LGBT community I’m going to call BS on this. There is of course a lot of anger in the LGBT community in general towards Mormonism, but I seriously doubt the vast majority of the LGBT community would be “intolerant” towards someone who is gay and Mormon. Will some be disrespectful? Probably. I’ve seen it, and I haven’t hesitated to call people out for that. But in general Ive never once seen anyone in the LGBT community shun someone because of their religious beliefs. And that’s because contrary to popular stereotypes, there are a LOT of gay Christians. There are gay Catholics, gay Mormons, gay Muslims, gay Jews, etc. Most of us that identify a LGBT grew up in religious households (as most people around the world likely have). My guess is the person equates tolerance with not being criticized. Sorry, but those aren’t the same thing. I grew up half a mile from a Mormon Temple in my city, and was good friends with many Mormons growing up who haven’t spoke to me in years (and I think you know why.. Not that I care, I’m better off without people who assume I’m inferior to them or defective, I don’t have time for that shit).

    • Pseudonym

      To be fair, it’s probably an easy mistake to make. If you’ve spent your life to be “criticised” by the community in which you grew up (as a cover for plain old bigotry), it must be something of a shock to be “criticised” (however nice the motives might be) by people who are supposed to understand you. You don’t see it as intolerance and bigotry, and you may even be technically correct (“the best kind of correct”, as the Futurama bureaucrat put it). But that’s no comfort to someone who is working through a difficult time in their life.

      You are, as you say, an activist in your local community. That must help a bit, because you can help shape (even if only in a small way) the culture of that community. Other local communities may not be lucky enough to have someone like you.

      Now I live in a country which has very few Mormons and not as much of a culture of blurting whatever little thought comes into your head as you do. Also, I’m probably a little older than you, so my friends might be reporting old news. Nonetheless, several of my friends have some uncomplimentary things to say about how the homosexual community treats anyone who doesn’t fit their “mainstream” idea of what a homosexual person should be, think, or do.

      One friend, for example, is M2F transsexual and a lesbian. I’m sure I don’t have to fill in the rest. You can probably imagine exactly what she must have had to put up with in the late 80s and early 90s. Another friend (one of my closest friends, in fact) points out that the bear subculture arose precisely as a way to include people who didn’t fit into the “mainstream” (read “camp”) gay community.

      I guess what I’m saying is that for every anecdote there is an equal and opposite anecdote.

    • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

      So how many Gay Mormons who live their religion are permitted seats on community LGBT support organizations, or a voice when they want to oppose same-sex marriage?

  • 1000 Needles

    I love Mormons. I just don’t think they should be allowed to marry.

    That’s how love works, right?

    • Bill Haines

      Well, to make the parody accurate, they should be able to marry — just not each other. ;)

    • HughInAz

      Mormons: marriage is an institution between one man and one woman … and a couple of other women and a teenage girl or two.

      • Amanda Tetz

        to be fair, the polygamists are fundamentalist mormons – FLDS.
        actually, when polled moes tend to be more morally opposed to polygamy than they are to homosexuality or abortion. and it’s because the majority of people still associate them with polygamy and it gets them all flustered. the only mormons still doing it are “extremists”. they’re like the “al qaeda” of mormonism. or something.

  • Philo Vaihinger

    You write,
     
    “Even though atheists almost always support issues of gay rights, many LGBT individuals don’t embrace atheism. I can’t figure out why they would cling to the religious beliefs — it takes a huge distortion of Bible verses to believe God was perfectly fine with gay people (who act on their homosexuality) — but they do. It’s frightening the hold religion can have on people.”
     
    Before he discovered Europe and Islam, Bruce Bawer became famous advocating the bizarre idea that Christianity was historically and inherently gay-friendly and modern homophobes had somehow hijacked Christianity.
     
    Maybe he studied theology and history of religion under Shelby Spong and other liberals who argue the exact opposite of the truth, that Christianity is what they want it to be and the religiously orthodox are recent sects of crazy people trying to move in and take over.
     
    And we atheists who say they are wrong are liars or fools but in any case unintentional enablers of conservative religious dominance.
     
    Glad you have kind words for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, by the way.
     
    Sometimes I think people who attack her for her denunciations of Islam would attack Primo Levi – remarks about him by Christopher Hitchens called him to my attention – for denouncing anti-Semitism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/briancposey Brian C Posey

    Actually, I find it fairly easy to understand LGBT folks still being religious.  They simply aren’t literalists.  They are ignoring just one more little rule than the most devout conservative evangelical christian.

    The difference being that they don’t act like they follow every word.

    • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

      They aren’t ignoring a rule if they are actively and devotedly religious. In that case whether they are attracted to men, women, or even porcupines, the abstinence is mroe significant than the predisposition. It differs little than an alcoholic keeping away frm the bottle. Nothing in scripture defines feeling same gender attraction as sinful. Sins are behaviors.

       Mormonism only approves of sexual activity within the bonds of marriage, and considers marriage a strictly heterosexual ordinance (sacrament). Any sexual activity outside of marriage and with anyone but one’s spouse is sinful in Mormonism. True, it has historically considered homosexual behavior worse than heterosexual behavior (it used to mean mandatory excommunication, while heterosexual did not necessarily — I expet that has changed after 40 years as well).

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    The author of that seems to suggest there is no difference between the objections, but there is a big difference between objecting to a group that hurts you and objecting to a group that has never done you any harm at all.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    I can’t figure out why they would cling to the religious beliefs — it takes a huge distortion of Bible verses to believe God was perfectly fine with gay people (who act on their homosexuality) — but they do. It’s frightening the hold religion can have on people.

    In my experience, it’s not that most LGBT people cling to orthodox religion. They don’t, but they’re no more likely to be skeptics than the general population. They still assume the existence of a supernatural realm, and they just prefer to believe in nicer versions of the prevailing cultural mythology.

    Much like liberals in general. They may not believe in the biblical god at all. They’ve invented their own god, called it “God,” and decided to embrace the kinder, gentler aspects of religion. Heaven, but no hell. God, but no devil. Guardian angels, but no demons. That sort of thing. It’s incredibly common where I live, in the San Francisco Bay Area, to find people whose approach to religion is the salad bar type. Most of my friends and family fit into this category.

  • I_Claudia

    The statement could very well be true. I’m guessing that there must be plenty of Mormons who, whatever the doctrine, quietly don’t think being gay is a big deal.

    However it’s a mistake to assume that it’s merely anti-Mormon bigotry (which does exist) that informs intolerance of Mormonism by GLBT people. The Mormon church has taken a very active role in proactively trying to make the lives of GLBT people worse. The bigoted stance of the Boy Scouts on gay members can be traced directly to the large Mormon influence, and there is a widespread understanding that the Mormon church poured millions of dollars into California to rescind their right to marry, in addition to dispaching thousands of Mormon volunteers to spread misinformation about what these rights entailed. The LDS Church has caused tangible, measurable harm to gay people and they know it.

    Now, it could be argued that Mormons do not neccesarily agree with LDS doctrine. After all, saying you’re Catholic would probably not get you quite the same reaction as saying you’re Mormon. The thing is, everyone understands that there are “cultural Catholics” and that many Catholics deeply disagree with their church on a variety of issues, so that we know not to assume someone self-identified as Catholic is neccesarily an anti-choice, anti-gay bigot. But Mormons present as much more uniform in their opinions, so that it’s not assumed crazy to suppose that if you’re Mormon, you agree with many of their stances, including their anti-gay bigotry. This could be totally mistaken, but just as liberal Catholics have done the hard work of teaching people that they exist and should be counted, liberal Mormons need to do the same, or they should resign themselves to be assumed to be conservative if the identify themselves as Mormon.

  • Molly Mormon

    I seriously doubt if you were born and raised an Atheist in Utah, as I was, you’d be asking that question. That’s like asking someone who lives on the Upper East Side if WASPs have it hard.
    Not only do the majority of Mormons in Utah enjoy the benefits of
    skipping through the fields with their white privilege, upper middle
    class to lower upper class socioeconomic status, and heteronormative
    conformity in tow, but being Mormon in this state affords them all sorts
    of nepotistic advantages that an Atheist such as myself or any other
    marginalized non-Mormon group here can do nothing but sit and sneer at.

    A friend of mine who is non-religious but whose family is Muslim works
    at a property management company. She has watched many members of the
    company president’s ward be hired and then promoted more quickly than
    non-Mormons who are not only more qualified, but have seniority. This is
    a norm here.

    A friend of a friend is a member of the prominent Huntsman family, she
    didn’t get her high school degree, technically, due to being a
    monumental fuckup, and yet somehow now attends a prestigious private
    college.

    I realize I pretty much ignored the question of who has it harder,
    Mormons or gays.  I did this because the insinuation that Mormons have
    it hard at all, exceptions aside, is infuriating to me.

    • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

      When you grow up Mormon outside of Utah it can be quite different.

      • Molly Mormon

        As I said, exceptions aside.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/47IDX2QAR6VU6ZAILFU6I23ACQ Joseph

    There’s no question that Mormons are looked down upon by other members of the religious community, who consider the LDS to be nothing more than a cult. But their “persecution” pales in comparison to what gays and atheists deal with — the latter in particular, who are down there with child molesters and rapists in the popularity polls.  And you know damn well that even the most ardent Evangelical would rather hold his nose and vote for a Mormon political candidate than to even consider a gay or atheist one. 

    • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

      Their current persecution maymeet that standard, but what they are taught about the historical group experience growing up does not. There was actually an order for extermination of all Mormons in Missouri on the books until about 1973. The church heavily and with prejudicial bias drills into young Mormons’ heads how much their forebears suffered for their faith. The persecutions in Missouri are likely the most extreme example. There were actually understandable (though not justified) secular political reasons for it, but all kids ever hear about it is that the persecution was because of what they believed.

      • ara

         don’t all Christians tend to beat the message of persecution into each other? not just Mormons…?

        • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

          For Mormons in the United States it is a more immediate experience. The lessons of persecution against Christians centuries do not carry the same impact in a contemporary majority Christian society as do the persecutions suffered by great-grandparents in what continues a minority religion. I also see this in the extreme Catholocity of Mexican Catholics, which culture experienced extreme persecution in the 1920s. Contemporary Mexican-American Catholics are so dedicated in part because they are at most one generation removed from the days when Mexican leaders summarily executed priests and hung cadavers of martyred Catholics from telegraph poles along rail lines.

  • Wild Rumpus

    I don’t hate Mormons, I just hate the Mormon Church.

    Also, I don’t hate Gays, I just hate… um… well…

    …I think the Christians are losing ground in the general public religious philosophical discourse,  so they are now accepting any sect that believe in Christ, whereas they used to be able to exclude all other sects that don’t agree with their flavour of Christianity.

    • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

      Your second paragraph is insightful and significant, since in many ways Mormonism is more akin to Islam than to the body of Christianity. Mormonism implicitly rejects the rest of Christianity from its foundation. According to the account of Joseph Smith’s first vision, Jesus himself told Joseph Smith that he considered the creeds of every church then in existence (1820) “an abomination”. It recognizes no other church’s baptism as valid (Many Mormons do not realize that many other churches recognize baptism’s outside their own denomination as valid baptisms).

      Baptism in Mormonism requires asserting that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is the only true and living Church” on Earth. Both Mormonism and Islam assert that Jesus’s work was not permanent (Islam, he didn’t finish it, Mormon he did not leave disciples capable of making it last), requiring a new prophet to restore what was lost and finsih the work. Both subordinate existing Biblical scripture to do this, supplanting it with new scipture, allegedly correcting the old.

      So I agree that it is indeed remarkable that the American Evangelicals should now so readily accept as sufficeintly similar to their own beliefs that two decades ago they considered heretical. I guess having a Mormon millionaire promising to pull 12 million jobs out of his hat — or perhaps the same part of his anatomy through which he speaks — greases the skids a bit.

  • MargaretWhitestone

    Maybe that’s because your Mormon friends have spent inordinate amounts of time and money trying to take away your gay friends’ civil rights. 

  • The Vicar

    Well, let’s see. Being gay is not something gay people made a conscious choice about. People don’t wake up in the morning and say “you know, not only do I want to spend the rest of my life having sex only with people I do not find attractive, but I want lots and lots of people to hate me and exclude me for no very good reason”. People are homosexual because that’s a part of who they are. They can’t help it any more than they can help being unable to fly.

    Now: is it acceptable to blame someone for something they can’t help? No. Christians know this, which is why a major component if Christian teaching on the subject of sexuality is that you can choose your sexual orientation. If they were to admit that it is not changeable, it would be admitting that blaming people for it is unfair.

    Being Mormon, though? Well, if you’re an adult who hangs around gay people, then you have had ample time to think about your religious position. If you’re still a Mormon, it means you have chosen to be one — and that means you need to accept the consequences of your decision. Only spoiled brats make decisions without consequences, and given the (already noted by others) ways the Mormon church makes life difficult for gay people, a consequence of being Mormon is having gay people think less of you.

    • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

      I have to dispute your assertion of one who is raised Mormon having a choice of being Mormon when older. When raised Mormon one has a clear and definitive world view that frames and interprets everything to favor and support that worldview. Getting out and seeing the world serves insufficiently to counter that. In fact, when exposed to the big wide world from within that framework it reinforce the framework — which has a lot to do with why the Church sends young men out on missions when their world view mightotherwise undergo post-adolescent transformation.

      It takes a serious crisis, and even more likely a wave of serious crises, to cause most people to have to reconsider their complete scema of the universe. Until then it is easier to accept that something you do not fully understand about your worldview explains seeming inequities and contradictions. Self-serving and confirmation biases play very strongly and at the root of the way one weighs new information. The alternative to continuing belief despite reservations is to let go altogether without having any idea what to believe — a terrifying place for person raised in faith to be.

      • NewAtheist

        I have to disagree with you, Peter John. Not only was I raised mormon, but my ancestors blazed the plains, settled SLC & Idaho, and established the Mormon Corridor. Where I spent much of my life. I went to HS just south of BYU-Idaho, spent a year as a student at BYU, was “waiting” for a missionary… and am now a very happy atheist, married to an atheist, with only two *gasp* children. There was no “serious crisis” nor “wave of serious crises” paving my path to atheism. I did get out and see the world, that good parents weren’t mormon, that non-mormons had integrity, that good things happened to non-mormons, which widely diverged from everything I’d ever known. Then my father, former missionary, father of 7 kids, one of 8 boys, from pioneer stock, came out of the closet and was immediately excommunicated, persecuted and shunned by his ward at the behest of the stake president. Talk about a wake-up call! But no, my experiences, and others like me (from my own HS, even!) did not have a catstrophic event shake our world view, just a small series of things started to make sense and send os on a mission to seek the truth.

        • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

          If I understand your post correctly you describe one major crisis (your father coming out) and a series of smaller crises (experiences outside the box that diverged from anything you’d ever known). A crisis need threaten nothing but a way of thinking. New data challenges the viability of existing explanatory models until little adjustments here and there no longer suffice to sustain the model. Only completely replacing it with another model then suffices to accomodate new and irrefutable data. Consider it an application of the principles Thomas Kuhn lays out regarding paradigm shifts in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”

          It also sounds as if your first major foray into the outside world was not as a missionary. This experience can radically impress the acculturated norms and LDS worldview of young men in particular (because women go at an older age) through escalation of commitment at a time when they might otherwise question their cultures traditional values (about the same age that Amish youth are expected to go out and question their values before committing for life).

          My own experience was from growing up in the East in the 1960s and 1970s where the experience can be as immersive, but with the added pressure of being a cultural minority. One of my first small crises was how disappointing I found Salt Lake City when I first went there a few days before enterung the MTC. While I would not have had a word for it at the time, it seemed much more a culture of appearances then fit the Promised Land image with which I had been raised.
          Had you told me in 1988 —  when I began rebuilding my value system from the ground up (beginning with about six to nine months of considering myself lacking any reason to believe in God at all) — had you told me then that 14 years later I would be back to considering Mormonism again, I would never have believed you, but I now know that the conditioning can go so deep that it can even influence processing through overt exclusion from consideration. In my case it wasn’t over until I rejected it in direct confrontation. It was insufficient to set it aside while obejectively experimenting with other ways to think for a dozen years.

          I am curious to what degree Mormonism may still culturally influence you, as I expect extended family remain active — and if you still live in a heavily Mormon populated area you likely must navigate the culture every day.

      • Kodie

        One doesn’t have to get out and see the world to become an atheist. Although internet access does help a lot, it’s not necessary either. Even in the most tightly woven religious sect communities, atheists exist because they think it through. I’m not saying it’s that simple, just that it’s not impossible. Instead of believing what they’re told, they say (maybe just to themselves), “oh really?” and “that doesn’t seem right.” Of course, they may feel isolated and weird, they are aware of the penalties for asking the wrong questions or going against the crowd, and getting led back to the faith. And maybe some of them do find too much comfort in a way of life that is traditional and familial and familiar to them, and it’s just easier.

        I would definitely say religion is a choice. When one is shown another way, when they know that option is out there (among options to just believe a different religion), when they contemplate that it may be actual, and resist, they are making a choice, and I would say atheism is a choice. Some people disagree that once you realize it, you can’t really go back, but it has to be a choice someone can make from a position of faith to look at it, to see what it says. Religions account for disbelief by saying only a fool would deny god. And religions account for disbelief by saying you have free will. What they do is a desperate scheme to make the option of belief the wisest choice – you will not be considered a fool by everyone else! and, you can choose to go to hell. So it’s a choice to disregard these warnings, and if you are raised in fear of exploration beyond what you’re given to believe, it may be difficult, but you can hardly stop your own thoughts from wondering, if they are leading you away, why does this all sound so crazy? Why does everyone believe it? Where is the proof? Why is everyone else so sure?

        I think plenty of people have had their crises due to this alone. Fear of their own thoughts, fear of breaking the illusion, fear of going to hell, that’s accounted for within belief – they want you to be afraid to search for answers and they want you to ask pastors or ministers if you ask anyone so they can lead you back to faith. I do think the internet makes this much more accessible for people who are seeking different answers than the locals give them, it’s anonymous and confirming for them, but it still starts working in their own brain, counter to what they’ve lived in, before they do their first internet search. This is not counting people who may be converted to atheism after searching for atheist groups to hassle with their judging, witnessing and bad logic. And of course this does not account for a lot of people who stick with their beliefs, but they know other beliefs are out there, so it’s still a choice, a choice to ignore any new information that shatters their framework or disrupts their families. I do think the idea of abstinence before marriage and only marital sex means almost definitely that people marry too young and find it difficult to justify disrupting their families once they realize they don’t believe what they used to believe, sometime later.

      • The Vicar

        This sounds an awful lot like “Mormons are too stupid and lazy to examine evidence or challenge assumptions, unlike every other religious group, and can only be shaken out of their complacency by force”.

        • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

          There is a big difference between being stupid and lazy and being conditioned and acculturated to compartmentalize and isolate information you need to know that conflicts with the dominant paradigms of your world view. Just believing that this phase of your life is a passing and intentionally cloudy experience within a personal self-existence co-eternal with God affects how you process things differently from believing that you never existed at all — had no deing or conciousness whatsoecer — until your conception. The two views enable or facilitate radically different ways of considering data which conflicts with what you’ve been taught.

  • Keulan

    In the United States, where the presidential candidate of one of the two major political parties is a Mormon, I’d say it’s easier to be a Mormon than to be gay. I’m willing to bet that we’re not going to see an openly gay presidential candidate of a major party for quite some time.

  • Agnostic

    It is not easy to live in this world at all whether you are Mormon, gay, religious, non-religious …..anything you are there are always people against you or make up stories against your kind. Mormons will generally hold their believes to themselves and do not disturb others so it is easier to ignore. The trouble is that gays tend to flaunt their sexuality in front of others. It irks me to see gays pawing and kissing each other, but then I also get irritated by people of opposite sex displaying such behavior in front of me.

    • Kodie

      1. Mormons go out in pairs and stop people in the street or go door to door trying to get converts to LDS.
      2. Mormons vote against marriage equality. They don’t keep to themselves.

      Gays do not flaunt their sexuality any more than straight people do, so if that sickens you, that’s your personal problem. Gay people should not have to hide just to keep you from getting sick.

      • Agnostic

        Read carefully…My problem is anyone flaunting sex in front of others not just gays…. People who do that are selfish and have no regard for others who are often in the majority. How would you feel if someone plays music which you don’t like in front of you when you are on a crowded train and still have a long way to go? As people living in communities we have to regard how others feel… So does it mean that it is only about YOU and no one else?

        • Kodie

          Irrelevant to this discussion then. If you don’t like to see public displays of affection from anyone, it doesn’t argue any points for or against gay people in particular. What you said is that Mormons don’t bother anyone (yes they do), and that gays flaunt their sexuality while then you mention it just bothers you anyway that anyone does that. Are you singling them out or not? You say not, but you brought it up at first. So, just drop it and file your grievances about PDsA and loud music elsewhere. That’s my advice.

      • Agnostic

        I have never been stopped by any Mormans so I can’t say I know what you mean. As for voting, isn’t it true that they have as much right as any other citizen to vote. Are you saying only you have knowledge of the truth and those who disagree with you don’t?

        • Kodie

          Where I live, I see missionaries regularly. Best I can figure out is they have a long-term lease in the main center of my neighborhood (a colony maybe!), disperse in pairs all over Boston. They chaperone each other so they don’t go wild and fall away from the church on their otherwise first unsupervised trip from home (as far as I’ve been able to understand) but when they get on the bus they sit apart so they can witness passengers they sit near and bother twice as many people. Jolly. They also loiter on the sidewalk so if I’m going to the post office or something, they try to stop me. Easy to spot: they are young but dress like squares and wear nametags (Elder _____ for males and Hermana _____ for females). I live in Boston so that’s pretty far from Utah.

          Yes, they have the right to vote, but no, they do not have the right to change government to suit their religious preferences. I’m not sure what happened in California but it sounded kind of shifty as far as getting the Mormon vote repealing the right for gay people to marry in the legal definition. They don’t have the right to stack the residency of states so they can vote down laws they don’t like. And while they do have the right to vote legally, like I said, their vote is based on preferences based on an imaginary deity’s preferences which conveniently agree with them. That’s obstructive to civil rights. Mormons officially bother people by voting against their civil rights. If some block of believers voted to take away one of your major rights, I think you would consider that to be bothering you, especially if their votes were contingent on a belief in a fairy tale to prefer some humans get rights and other humans get no rights. I would prefer they vote rationally or become rational – yes. I would not stop them from voting, but at some point (who knows how long from now) it will be a Supreme Court issue and all states will have to comply, but I would still allow that no churches have to comply.

          Are gay people messing up their religion and imposing homosexuality on Mormonism? No. Why should Mormons impose their beliefs on homosexuals or anyone else?

          • Stev84

            Prop8 wasn’t so much about Mormons voting, but them funding the campaign with millions of dollars. And not in any grassroots way, but ordered and coordinated from the very top.

            See the documentary “8: The Mormon Proposition”

            • Kodie

              Thanks for the info. 

  • Agnostic

    I suspect most of the people criticizing Mormons do not know what the real Mormons teachings are. It is more likely that what they see as Mormonism is practiced only by some fringe sect. I can’t say I know but I doubt that those who criticize know either.

    • Stev84

      Mormon theology is crazy enough even without polygamy and marrying teenage girls. Then there is the absurd history and the fact that it’s simply a con job.

      There is also plenty to criticize with the cult-like way the church is run, including the extreme pressure and demand for conformity. There are more than enough readily accessible stories out there by people who lived it.

    • Molly Mormon
  • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

    These comments have a lot of truth. The fact there is an openly gay (obviously living in abstinence) serving in an LDS bishopric ( http://www.mitchmayne.com/ ) supports this. Part of the cultural backwash on this has been in the lack of hearing gay voices opposing gay marriage. Plenty are there, but the intellectual elite promoting gay marriage within support networks dominate the discussions.

    They have been very successful at framing the discussion as religion versus secularism, and tolerance versus bigotry — despite the fact that the most controversial and argualy most prominent openly gay philosopher in the U.S. right now opposes gay marriage for completely secular reasons (Lee Harris, “The Future of Tradition” http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/8020 ). The media have been confederate in this, as I have yet heard reference to this argument in any coverage or discussion — despite its prominent and authoritative publisher (Stanford University’s Hoover Institution). The media always show religious leaders opposing it and intellectuals — gay or not — supporting it.

    In addition there are many gay Americans – religious and not — who oppose gay marriage but either remain silent for fear of octracism from their support networks, or suffer disregard because they oppose it for religious reasons.

    • Molly Mormon

      In the same way I’m sure there were intelligent blacks who opposed desegregation, no?

  • NewAtheist

    Being mormon in a non-mormon community is hard, because none of your peers understand you and/or make fun of you. Being mormon in a mormon community is hard, because if you put one toe out of the doctrinal dogma everyone knows and will shun you or make fun of you. If you’re gay and mormon, there is no safe place to turn. Ask my dad.

    • http://about.me/peterjohn411 Peter John

      I would argue that the statement “Being mormon in a mormon community is hard, because if you put one toe out of the doctrinal dogma everyone knows and will shun you or make fun of you,” describes a crisis of trust — especially since the reaction people have when we acknowledge ourselves less than perfect and admit the very nature of our imperfections, so clearly conflicts with what we are taught to believe about forgiveness.We have to decide if we are wrong to believe in being nonjudgmental and accepting, or if that is more important than a seeming merciless application of doctrine.

      I expect that since your father’s coming out he has had a several friends from within the church contact him about issues or behaviors with which they wrestle, because they know he will not judge them. It’s like the LDS kid who gets in drunk car crash and calls his Catholic uncle instead of his parents because he knows the uncle is the only one the family is more disappointed with than him.

      • Molly Mormon

        Just
        want to point out, even though you’re talking about within the Mormon
        community, if in Utah you say to non-Mormon who had to go to high
        school here as a minority that Mormons are nonjudgmental you’ll be
        laughed out of the room. Mormons are notoriously judgmental. Here, at
        least. And don’t mistake the high school comment as an indication only immature Mormons were that way, their parents were the worst
        perpetrators. Perhaps you mean ideally? Or if everyone followed the
        scriptures perfectly?


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