|Subject:||Manifesto of the Apostate|
|Date:||Jun 15, 2002|
|This is an edited version of a Manifesto I originally wrote in 1997.
It was for myself, a form of venting some frustration. What I have deleted here are mainly
many quotes and so forth that I leave the reader to find elsewhere.
"Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity."
"It is possible to believe... that there have been men in the world who persuade themselves that what is called a pious fraud might, at least under particular circumstances, be productive of some good. But the fraud being once established, could not afterward be explained, for it is with a pious fraud as with a bad action, it begets a calamitous necessity of going on.
"The persons who first preached the Christian system of faith, and in some measure combined with it the morality preached by Jesus Christ, might persuade themselves that it was better than the heathen mythology that then prevailed. From the first preachers the fraud went on to the second and to the third, till the idea of its being a pious fraud became lost in the belief of its being true; and that belief became again encouraged by the interests of those who made a livelihood by preaching it."
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
I named this the Manifesto of the Apostate. Oddly, by definition, anyone who joins the Mormon church is an apostate of one form or another.
I feel I have three main reasons for leaving the Mormon church. First, I felt discomfort with it for quite some time before I finally left. (OK, so that may not be a very good reasonespecially to Mormonsbut it does factor in.) Second, I feel the Mormon church has misrepresented itself over the years, and I cannot stay with it as such and still be true to myself. And third, because I do not believe that Christianity is what it claims, I cannot stay with something that claims to be Christian.
From personal experience, I know that many Mormons will immediately dismiss these things as quickly as they are read. I know that these Mormons will think something along the lines of "Oh, the poor, misguided, confused soul. I hope Heavenly Father can help him see the truth." I know from experience that any attempt to explain why I left the church somehow gets twisted into an invitation to shoot me down and drag me back to the fold, despite protests to the contrary on behalf of the inquisitor. This is merely part of the programming of the Mormon church summed up in two basic rules:
Rule #1: we are always right;
Rule #2: if we are ever wrong, refer immediately to Rule #1, gosh darn it.
There are those who will cling to their testimony that the Mormon church is God's One and Only Truth in the Universe. As they do not want me to try to dissuade them from what they believe to be true, so do I not want them to try to dissuade me from what I know is true. The Eleventh Article of Faith of the Mormon church states: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." I see most Mormons use the following interpretation: We allow others the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of OUR conscience, not their own.
Some people are shocked that I would chose to leave the church in which I grew up. But Mormon missionaries use the same argument daily: it should be easy to give up the church in which you were raised because you have now found "the truth." I feel I have found the truth, and the truth has set me free (John 8:32). Or, "The truth will set you free, but it will piss you off first."
There are those who will say that leaving the Mormon church is the easy way out. On the contrary, leaving the church was rather difficult for me. I grew up in it in Utah, the heart of Mormondom, the Zion Curtain. My family is still very involved. Still living in Utah, I am surrounded by it. The majority of the people I work with are Mormon. The Mormon church, especially in Utah, is a large social network.
Some may say that leaving the Mormon church is indicative that I never had a testimony to begin with. This may be true enough. I have come to the realization that I was mainly in the church and active because it was expected of me, an easy thing to do when my family is so involved, having been raised in the church, baptized at an early age, and being surrounded by it constantly. It seemed that I could walk three blocks in any direction in that good little Mormon town where I grew up and be outside the ward boundaries (even stake boundaries one block in one direction), whereas there are some areas around the world where Mormons drive hundreds of miles just to attend church meetings. Being surrounded by it, especially in Utah, of course it's easy to believe it. Your neighborhood friends are the kids you hang out with at church and, by extension, your main contacts at school. Plus, getting "Released Time" from school for seminary furthered the indoctrination.
I grew up very assimilated, saying all of the right things at all of the right times: Standard Dinner Prayer #4; Standard FHE Prayer #1; Standard Sunday School Prayer #9; Standard Testimony, Form B. Of course it's true; if I say it's not, I incur the Wrath of Mother for days, even weeks. I was indoctrinated to believe everyone else was silly because they did not have "the Truth". (Refer to Joseph Smith's First Vision in which Jesus allegedly told him that all the "sects" are "wrong". Discriminating against other religions is built into the foundations of the Mormon church.) But even if they are silly, we are members of God's One and Only Truth, so it is our duty to be "nice."
I was baptized at age eight as are many children in the church. Does an eight year old really know what he/she is doing? Does he/she really understand? I mean, really understand, not just go along with what parents and teachers say to do. The church claims this is the "age of accountability." I feel that children are too young to fully understand the implications of their "choice" to join the Mormon church beyond what familial/social indoctrination teaches them.
If children are able to make the "decision" to "join" the church at age eight, why do members of the church think that a teenager, or even someone in their thirties or forties does "not know what they are doing" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball) when he/she wants to get out? This is contrary to the guidance for leaders found in The Church Handbook of Instruction.
The main reason I went on a mission was because that's what good little Mormon boys do when they turn nineteen. I went to get my mother and my bishop off my back. I did not have a burning desire to serve God and baptize the world. I realize now that whatever I may have felt at the Missionary Training Center was due to the hyper-indoctrination that occurs there: you eat, drink, and breathe the Mormon "spirit". It's just part of the programming, part of the indoctrination.
Looking back on the missionary days, I realize what an ass I was. And, yes, that does translate into what an ass the vast majority of Mormon missionaries are. I recall being falsely nice because that's what missionaries do to each other and do to others to bring them into the gospel. I look back and wonder if I ever really had the "testimony" that all good members, and especially the missionaries, are supposed to have. I listen to the complaints of those in my life now about what total jerks the "youngers" are; they mention that the sisters are not quite as rude and inconsiderate. Of course, we would expect nothing less than rudeness from the Army of Helaman, God's Chosen People, who carry forth God's Only Truth to the heathen nations of the earth. Remember, even genocide is excused if committed by God's Chosen People.
I feel that the fact that I wasn't quite ready to go out as a missionary was a large factor in why I came home early, which many Mormons consider a sin equal in seriousness to denying the Holy Ghost. I thought it odd to meet other missionaries who admitted that they were only on a mission because their parents promised them a new car upon their return. This furthered a sense of confusion.
And coming home early was difficult. I remember wondering, on the flight between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, what would happen if I just opened the emergency exit door. Would I still be conscious when I hit the ground? Would I die of shock while still thousands of feet up? For months, due to the guilt programming of the Mormon church, I felt that every time I left the house I might be stoned at any moment. It seemed that everyone was looking at me, whispering to each other, "There goes that boy who came home early from his mission."
I remember thinking at times that the Mormon church has to be true because it makes so much sense. Well, being assimilated into and programmed by it, it does. We can "program" ourselves by repeating something over and over and over. This is why the Mormon church encourages the frequent repetition of the testimony. But now, stepping back from the Mormon church and honestly looking at it, it does not make sense. Oh, I think on some levels it does make sense to some people, but it crumbles at deeper levels. There is a disparity in the church which does not fit with the claim of being "the only true and living church on the face of the whole earth, with which . . . the Lord [is] well pleased". (D&C 1:30)
I got to the point where I felt uncomfortable with the Mormon church for quite some time. One of the sore points with me concerned the injunction to marry. (No, I'm not gay. Thank you for asking. "Not that there's anything wrong with that." Sienfeld) Every source I came across and every speaker I heard condemned men for failure, yet ratified the dear, sweet sisters. The counsel damned the men for depriving these sweet sisters of eternal blessings without one word suggesting the sisters give the poor guys a chance. In fact, it seemed to indicate that the women didn't have to do anything, just live the GodSpell, live a good life, and the Lord shall provide, whether in this life or the next. But, if you are a man and not married by the time you are twenty-seven, even if you marry later in life, the implication is that you are damned to hell with zero hope of redemption. (Ezra Taft Benson implied this. Brigham Young stated that the unmarried man of the age of twenty-eight is a "menace to society.") And the women scoffed at reminders that "neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 11:11) After all, "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. Get it? A fish doesn't need a bicycle.... I don't care what Paul said." (Although beautiful, Stephanie was very bitter about something. And to think that the class I had with her at BYU was "Preparation for Marriage.") Never mind the counsel to the sisters that they will be condemned if they turn down a reasonable offer. Apparently, that does not apply, especially if the man doesn't wear the right clothes, or drive the right car, which, being interpreted, means he doesn't have the right money to provide for her and her children. It seems that many, many Mormon girls would make perfect Catholic nuns: the only man "perfect" enough for them to marry is Jesus.
I attended and graduated from BYU, mainly because it was close to home. Obviously, I "failed" in my PriestCraft duties because I did not marry and have 3.5 kids and tens of thousands of dollars of debt before graduating.
Actually, based on the way I was raised, I was rather "stand-offish" with regard to women. I know this is due to the Culture of Guilt perpetuated by the Mormon church. I came home early from my mission, so somehow I'm not worthy enough. Also, I'm sure there are several girls who refused a second or third date with me because they probably thought "Well, he didn't even try to hold my hand, so I guess he doesn't like me." I was indoctrinated to the point that I was very slow about approaching a girl in a physical (Dare I say sexual?) manner. There was always something in the back of my mind that said "Holding hands leads to sex and sex is bad," so I didn't even try to hold hands. But I did have a couple of girlfriends who pushed enough to get me to hold hands and even kiss.
There have been times I've looked back and felt a twinge of "Oh, too bad things didn't work out with so-and-so." But then I really think about it and realize that if things had worked out with her I would be miserable: I would feel trapped in the Mormon church and, by extension, trapped in a marriage with her. Now, mind you, some of these girls really wouldn't have been so bad to be "trapped" with. But knowing myself much better now, I know it was for the best that things did not work out with this girl or that girl.
In March, 1994, I noticed a full-page ad in Psychology Today for the Rosicrucian Order. Something about it caught my attention. I requested the information packet. As I read through the booklet, I noticed it concerned things that have always interested me throughout my life, things that some would call metaphysical. I also felt it was along the same lines as one of the popular trends in the self-help/psychology section at the bookstores, outlined in Mormon 9 with the explanation that we perceive God is not a God of miracles because we do not believe he is a God of miracles. Put simply, we create our own reality; we have the power within us to change our lives.
I joined the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). As I studied the lessons, I made comparisons with the Mormon church, noting what agreed with the Mormon gospel, what explained why we do certain things in the church, and what expounded on some of the things we do in the church. Then I began to notice slight differences. I knew in my heart and in my mind that certain things I was studying were true and correct but wondered why we did not discuss such matters in "the Lord's true church".
Studying with AMORC and a developing friendship with a coworker, James, piqued an interest in magicknot the illusions so popular as entertainment, rather how we use the power of the Universe to better our lives and the lives of others. One day, while browsing the magick section at Golden Braid Books in Salt Lake City, I could feel the energy, the power, flowing around and through me, and I instinctively knew it was true. I wondered why the Mormon General Authorities warn us to stay away from such things if such are correct principles for using our natural abilities to work with the Universe. As I drove away from the store, I received my answer: they tell us to stay away because they know it's true and recognize the potential for abuse. (And probably because they don't want anything to compete with their GodSpell. Reread Paine's statement about the tyranny of religion.) Yet we are using these principles every day whether we are aware of it or not. Magickal practitioners warn that magick is like fireit can burn your hand as easily as cook your favorite meal. It is impersonal. It is neither black nor white, good nor evil, for the Universe is neither good nor evil. It is all in how you use it. The intent of the practitioner determines whether the result appears "good" or "evil".
One of the things that really helped me question the Mormon church was joining Freemasonry. I noticed the similarities between the Fraternity and the Mormon church. And anyone who tells you there are no similarities is lying. After going through the Scottish Rite in November 1994, I said to James, "Joseph Smith was full of shit." I don't recall exactly the specific things which led me to say that, but, being in the Fraternity, I know Smith borrowed extensively from Freemasonry. This may not be bad in and of itself, but to claim the temple ceremony is revelation from god, period, end of discussion, is a different matter.
I went "inactive" from the Mormon church in March of 1995. Much of it was due to a feeling of "What good little Mormon girl would want someone who studies mysticism and occult philosophy and who doesn't know how he feels about the church anymore?" I tried to read the Bible, to consider myself a Christian because I grew up with what I feel are Christian beliefs; but I kept going back to the Mormon definitions. I felt that if I were to remain a Christian, I might as well return to the Mormon church.
Then I read a few books which shattered my concept of Christianity. I learned that Christianity is merely new faces and new names superimposed on universal myth.
During the Spring and Summer of 1995, I felt rather drawn to a study of WitchCraft. I read some books that showed me the goodness of the Craft. I also felt attracted to the idea of formulating my own religion. Hey, Joseph Smith did it; why can't I? I felt the Goddess calling to me.
I snapped back to the Mormon church mid-September 1995. I think I needed the social interaction. I was not back in full activity, but I attended some meetings, mainly to meet people. One day during Sacrament Meeting, I made a conscious decision to live the lie: to all outward appearances I would be a good little Mormon boy; on the inside, I would believe as I will. But, within two minutes, I realized that I could not do that. I felt that I could not lie to myself in this matter. I also felt that I would not be able to lie to that special someone who is supposed to be my eternal companion. Granted, I could explain my library away by saying it is research material to strengthen my testimony of the church. But it would still be a lie.
I have heard that there are many in the Mormon church who do not believe, yet they stay for various reasons. One of the church leaders said,"there is no middle ground." I, for one, cannot get comfortable in that middle ground and still be true to myself. That is why I left. I could not lie to myself about it. I do not like the idea of having to lie to that "special someone" about my beliefs. James once told me, "All a Mormon girl cares about is getting married in the temple. She doesn't care what you really believe." As far as I'm concerned, she had better care what her eternal companion believes. If their beliefs are substantially different, there will be problems, despite the fact that they are members of the Mormon church, faithful attendees of the same, and married in the temple for time and for all eternity.
For the first part of January 1996, my prayers consisted of "God, help me find the path that is right for me, and help me make a decision, one way or the other, about the Mormon church." Interestingly enough, I found the Church of Religious Science (CORS) through tithing. I was familiar with where CORS meets in the Salt Lake area through my association with the local AMORC group. Mother had mentioned something about tithing, about how, for some reason, it really does work. I wanted a non-Mormon viewpoint on the subject. I remembered having seen booklets on tithing at CORS. I went there one afternoon in January, 1996, and picked them up. (They are not CORS publications, but they do explain the universal concept of tithing rather well.) I felt impressed to purchase The Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes, the textbook outlining the philosophy behind CORS. As I leafed through SOM, I noticed that this was a basic explanation of what I had been trying to study for the past few years. I attended a CORS service and felt very good about it.
After that first service with CORS, I attended my last Sacrament Meeting with the Mormon church. The Stake President wanted to talk to us about three things. One, "get married, especially you men." Two... "Now understand that these other two items are Church policy; and because they are Church policy, we know this is the mind and will of the Lord." Two, if you are over thirty-one, get out of the singles ward and attend the family ward where you live. Three, if you do not live within the boundaries of this stake, you must obtain written permission to attend this ward from the bishop and stake president where you live. There were several people who were very upset about these declarations. They want us to get married, yet they ban us from a source of meeting our potential eternal companion. Many people had no other family outside that particular ward. As I looked around at the sobbing people, I realized that this was, in part, an answer to prayer. From previous experience, I knew that I had to replace the Mormon church or I would find myself going back. I had found a new home with SLCORS.
In March 1996, when I told my mother about my decision to leave the Mormon church, I fully expected a lecture as she is wont to do. Her reaction came as a pleasant surprise. She mentioned that she had felt for a couple of years that things were not quite right with me and the church. She said, "I won't presume to preach the Gospel to you because I know you know it better than I do." She was rather accepting.
Obviously, mother informed my siblings. My brother, Mark, confronted me with the matter. I mentioned how any attempt at explanation seems to be an invitation to shoot me down. He insisted that was not his intent. I told him I just don't believe it anymore. Then he tried to entrap me, possibly into some guilt, by asking, "Does that mean you did believe it at one time?" I replied with "Because I'm leaving, some would say I never really had a testimony to begin with." "Well, now you're talking in circles." I just shrugged. He asked if I thought Religious Science was the true church. When I replied no, he gave me funny look. Mormon programming has what I call "Highlander" Syndrome: "there can be only one" True Church (adapted from the "Highlander" movies and television series). Mark suggested I consider having my name removed from the membership records of the church to avoid further condemnation. Gee, if I believed such a thing, then I had better stay. The main reason I requested my name removed was to make a psychological break for myself. The overall feeling I got from Mark was "How dare you leave THE True Church?"
I realized something else about Mark's attempt to entrap me. I used to believe that there were monsters living in the closet. Also, I recall one summer when my sister Linda filled the travel time on vacation with tales of Jerbils, little creatures who live in holes in cliffs and eat wet noodles. Later that summer, she woke me saying the Jerbils were having a party. I ran out into the dining room to find nothing. Linda said that they had heard me coming and left. I was mad; I was sad. As I recall, mother chastised my dear sister, and that was the end of the Jerbil stories. I no longer believe that monsters live in the closet. "But, Marek, you did believe at one time; how can you be sure they are no longer there?" I recognize the tales of Jerbils, punctuated with Linda pointing out the Jerbil "homes" in the rocks we saw, were the invention of an active imagination. "But, Marek, you saw where they live, and you did believe at one time; how can you abandon your faith now, especially in light of the family portrait' of a Jerbil family Linda had?" This illustrates how "belief" can change. And as I mentioned above, Mormons fully expect people to abandon the faith and belief they grew up with because they have now found "something better."
About mid-96, Celeste insisted that Fort Union Boulevard at the intersection with Highland Drive (in the Cottonwood area of Salt Lake) is 7200 South. It's actually 7000 South. Granted, Fort Union becomes 7200 South farther west. How can it be 7200 South at Highland when the next intersection south on Highland is 7200 South? Yet she insists because she worked on that street, and her family has lived in the area for several years. "Well, we know the Book of Mormon is true because we have the 1981 edition in our grubby little hands." Huh? "The Hill Cumorah is in New York." It's only called Cumorah because the Mormon church bought it and called it that. Besides, I read some books that talk about Paris, New York, London, and even Montserrat. Does that mean that Robert Ludlum's works are true stories? We can hold them in our hands; he talks about "real" places; so they must be true. The Celeste problem illustrates how "belief" may be incorrect.
In September, 1996, I wrote a letter to the bishop of the ward where I live. When I mentioned this to Sandra Tanner, she suggested I follow up on it because the Mormon leaders are notorious for ignoring such things. So, I wrote a two-page epistle. The bishop contacted me, saying he hadn't gotten back with me sooner because he had been researching the matter. He visited me, mainly to make sure I was adamant about the request. He filed the paperwork, and a few weeks later I received a letter from him, informing me that my name had been removed, but I would have 30 days to recant in writing. After the 30 days, I would have to go thru the process of being baptized, et cetera.
In April 2000, I got a little miffed at the way the teachers/deacons were pounding on my door and yelling, "Come on. Open up!!!" while their little friends snickered. I contacted the bishop of the ward. He agreed that they were indeed out there collecting money as official representatives of the church. He agreed that what they had done was inexcusable.
I then discovered that I was still on the records of the church. I spent a few years thinking I was out. I gave copies of the abovementioned letters to this bishop, and he promised to really, really follow up on it this time. He phoned to inform me that he had sent the paperwork to church headquarters. A few weeks later, I received a letter from the Membership Department.
My Manifesto goes on to discuss various Mormon and Christian issues:
the Mormon temple ceremony with it's Masonic influence; the changes made in something god had revealed (sounds like god couldn't get it right the first time, so he had to send out an errata sheet);
the issue of the blacks receiving the Mormon PriestCraft;
the polygamy issue; Woodruff receiving a revelation that they must continue then receiving a revelation that it must go away (So, "God" could not prepare a way for his people to fulfill "His" commandments?); not a "current" dogma;
Brigham Young's Adam-God thing (God's chosen prophet has spoken.); Smith's "men on the moon" statement being an essential part of someone's patriarchal blessing;
B.H. Roberts rejecting the Book of Mormon as an invention of Joseph Smith, yet retaining a belief that Smith was a prophet (According to the Mormon church, you must accept both.);
a vengeful god; a god who is "petty and cruel"; a god who is jealous when "the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil";
god-ordained genocide (just read the exploits of the Master Race in the Old Testament, fighting everyone to expand the Fatherland); the utter destruction of Midian; Jesus admitting he "came not to send peace, but the sword"; too many people believing as fact in a mythology which demands there be global conflict centered on Jerusalem before their god can come and save them;
different genealogies for Jesus; questionable origins of Christianity; Jesus and his GodSpell a replay of older myths; astrological mythology.
And so I left the Mormon church. I am still waiting for the "skin of blackness" to come upon me. (2 Nephi 5:21) I'm still waiting for a Danite to wake me in the middle of the night to inform me that I must atone for my sins with my own blood as he pushes a knife through my heart.
My mother says that she knows I will return someday, that I just haven't found my spiritual niche. I think I'm carving out my spiritual niche: I'm singing more at church; I think I'm supposed to be in Utah to help with the spiritual climate here.
Let's see how far the rabbit-hole goes.
al-marek, escapee from the Morg Collective