After studying the evolution of the temple ceremony, and learning the truth
about the massacre at Mountain Meadows, I took a long hard look at other Church
doctrine that had bothered me. I began an in-depth study of The Book of Mormon.
Until this point in my life I had only read The Book of Mormon as a history of
the American Indians and a guide for life. I had read it several times from
cover to cover but had only memorized certain verses that had an impact on my
life. I never questioned the truthfulness of the book even though there was no
geographical or archaeological support for its authenticity. I assumed that BYU
scholars and FARMS (Mormon Foundation for Archaeological Research) were
uncovering evidence supporting the book.
Upon close examination and extensive research beyond the circle of Mormonism,
the question of whether American Indians have Hebrew DNA is not even a question
today. They do not! Rather they mainly descend from Asia. All scholarly research
now points to The Book of Mormon being a fictional history conjured up with
interesting ideas and a fertile imagination.
I desperately tried to find holes in the research but soon realized I was just spinning my wheels. The gravity of the situation completely escaped me at first. I had no idea how difficult the next few months would be for my family and me. I took the next few days to sort things out. All the unanswered questions I had been struggling with for so long evaporated when I reached one simple conclusion. Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and The Book of Mormon is not a history about real people. My belief in Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon was the foundation for my belief in Mormonism. When it shattered it took a lot down with it.
I had firmly believed in the Mormon Church. I had not been looking for evidence to prove it wrong. I had been looking for research that could be viewed as supportive. It was a shock to have my beliefs shattered so quickly. I went for days wondering if anything at all that I believed was true. The more I studied and talked with others the worse it got. I finally realized that I had been deceived. I was deeply hurt because I had trusted my leaders and friends. I thought they knew what they were talking about when they gave me information. I was angry with myself for getting involved with such a dishonest and corrupt organization. I was ashamed that I had brought my children up as Mormons. As I studied I realized I had only touched the tip of the iceberg in my research. Information keep coming up that proved to me that the Church had been hiding and changing information to fit their needs. I went into more research that cost a considerable amount of money. We didn't have the money in our budget but I had to know the truth about everything that pertained to the Church. I felt that because of the teachings in the Church about temple marriage, eternal families, and eternal salvation I would lose everything if I were wrong. I couldn't take the chance of being wrong, so I continued the research even with some reservations. The more I studied Church history and doctrine, the more problems I found. All the questions that I had asked so long ago kept coming to my mind, and many more. I took them one at a time. I started to share some of my feelings with Tammy and our children, but the information was not well received. They were angry and hurt. None of them had any desire to hear what I had to say. They probably thought I was losing the spirit or that I was going crazy. I guess in a way I was going crazy: crazy with grief and disbelief of what I was discovering about the Church, and crazy because my family chose to remain blind to the information I had discovered. T. K. Kennett said it well when he wrote: "Those of us who refuse to read material that we think we might NOT agree with are no better off than those that cannot read at all."
My family was content to continue reciting the well-worn testimonial statement, "I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Church is true." There is a name for this particular psychological phenomenon. I read about it in Gerald Paul's book What the Mormon Missionaries Don't Tell You. It's called a 'mime,' a phrase or idea that is capable of reproducing itself with repetition. It may or may not be fact, but when it is repeated often enough, it becomes fact in that person's mind. Mormonism is filled with mimes: "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God"..."I know the Church is true"… "The prophets will never lead us astray"… "It's not for us to question the will of God"…"Don't delve into the mysteries"… etc). After hearing these statements a few thousand times, they are not clichés any longer; they are the truth to the mind of the listener and repeater. The Mormon Church enacts this kind of mind-manipulation when children are barely able to talk. The end result is that you have many people making statements that they know the Church is true because they have heard it said so many times and knowing makes them feel special.
Even though my family was upset with me, I continued to study Church doctrine and history. I shared my feelings whenever I felt I could, trying not to hurt them any more than I had already. After I told them about my feelings concerning the Church and saw their reaction, I had to let them find their own truth. And if their truth meant staying in the Church, then I was ready to accept that. However, I couldn't support them in that decision nor could I handle their anger. I had to let it go. I was so tired of the whispers and silent attacks on me. Maybe someday the children will take a serious look at what the Church has done and quit blaming their father, but if they don't, that's okay, too. I can handle it.
After two years of hoping someone would listen, Tammy started her own research. It wasn't anything I said that got her looking into Mormonism, it was a book entitled 500 Nations. She discovered that although The Book of Mormon referenced horses many times throughout its history, there weren't any horses in the Americas during The Book of Mormon time-line. Eventually Tammy came to the same conclusion that I had: the Mormon Church was nothing more than a man-made organization.
When Tammy left the Church it created another dimension of unhappiness, resentment, and anger in our family. I feel like the children blame me for taking their mother out of the Church. Although I may have awakened some unresolved issue concerning the Church, she did not leave because I left. When it comes to truth and honesty, Tammy is her own person and would never give up the Church, even for me, if she thought for a moment that it was true. She would never take the chance of losing our deceased daughter, Cindy, or any of her children in the hereafter. There is a powerful bond between a mother and her child. I witnessed it often while we were raising our family.
When I decided to officially leave the Mormon Church, I felt like I had an
obligation to tell my children how I felt and why I was leaving. I struggled to
find the right words. I sat down and put my thoughts to paper. I then put them
in a letter and sent the letter to my children:
My Dearest Children,
I want to express to you my love, and try to explain my feelings to each of you. I owe you this explanation because I'm your father and I care about you. I feel that you may possibly have felt that I have forsaken you the past two years, and all that we as a family have believed and worked for is lost. That is not the case. I am in hopes that you will read this letter with an open heart and mind. Please try not to judge me. The Mormon Church has created this problem not I. I am only the messenger. Know that I am writing this letter from my heart. I have a deep love for each one of you. I know you do not, and have not understood me and my feelings the past two years. If that is a problem, or a concern in your life, I certainly apologize from the bottom of my heart, especially if it has made your life uncomfortable. Please forgive me!!!
I will try to put my thoughts and feelings together for you, and help you understand me better, for I have not in any way pulled away from you. I have for the first time in my life had time to search out and address some concerns I have had about the Mormon Church and it's doctrine and history. I have been so busy as the family was growing up, as I was making a living and trying to maintain my health so I could support you and be a good father, that I never took the time to do the research, and to search out my own feelings in relation to our Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ, whom both have been, and still do play a very important part in my life.
My deepest gratitude and appreciation goes to our Father in Heaven for giving us all such a wonderful wife and mother. She has blessed my life to a degree that there are no words on earth to express my love and appreciation for her. We have had trying times but those times have brought us closer together and made us stronger as a family. I am not perfect, and do not profess to be. I thank you children for being there and helping me during the hard times with my health. We have gone through a lot together.
The subject I want to share with you is about religion. I have always had a deep commitment and testimony of the Mormon Church. I have never even considered anything else, until after I retired and moved to Manti. I have a very deep love for the Mormon people and some of the Church programs. I no longer believe in the doctrine of the Mormon Church and I know for sure that God the Father did not ... I say it again, did not... start the Mormon Church as we know it. Men who have deceived us started it. I began to gain that knowledge about three years ago.
When I became active in the Church thirty years ago, I never researched its authenticity. I believed friends and Church leaders and I trusted them. I read The Book of Mormon, the Bible etc. I gave it all I had. As my life transpired in the Church I began to realize there were things that were not right. Things that didn't fit. There were questions I had that no one had any answers for. Not even my Church leaders. I was instructed not to delve into the mysteries of the gospel. Both Mom and I had a lot of questions that went unanswered. We were told to have faith and that someday we would understand.
If we were in the true church, the only true church, why were there so many concerns and unanswered questions? I was confused, with such things as polygamy, to me that was very disrespectful to women... Why weren't the African Americans able to hold the priesthood? I felt that was very strange and racist...Brigham Young's Journal of Discourses, and his life history.... The Mountain Meadows Massacre.... The Akin Massacre.... The First Visions, with several different accounts.... The Blood Oaths and the Law of Vengeance in the Temple ceremony, and the many changes in the endowment. I thought we had an unchangeable God....Blood Atonement....Women not having equal rights....Why would an angel take the Gold Plates away?....Why did so many of the early Church leaders, who were called of God, leave the Church, even after they testified they saw, and touched the Gold Plates?....The Danites or Avenging Angels as they were called. Why would God's church need an army of murderers and thieves?.... Why did the leaders want to exterminate the gentiles from the earth if they would not join the Mormon Church?.... Why were the converts that came from overseas to be a part of God's church lied to about polygamy?.... Why did ninety five percent of Joseph Smith's revelations never come true? One example: "fifty-six years should do up the scene," which meant Christ would come in the year 1892 or so.... In the Book of Mormon we get the story of Laban being murdered by Nephi. He was commanded by the Lord to kill him.... To me that is so wrong. Nephi did not need to kill Laban. He was drunk out of his mind, passed out on the ground. The Lord could have had Nephi acquire the plates in another way. I recall one of the Ten Commandments where it states.... Thou...Shall...Not...Kill. I can no longer believe in the Mormon God that would command one of his children to kill another.... There have been a number of Church books written by Church leaders that have been gathered up and destroyed, or the contents changed to fit the needs of the Church leaders, or information removed that is embarrassing doctrine. Why?.... Joseph Smith committed adultery as early as 1831. What a disrespectful way for a supposed Prophet of God to treat his sweet and dedicated wife, all in the name of God.... What kind of a God have we been worshiping all these years? I could go on and on, there seems to be no end to the crimes and deceptions of Mormonism. Please do not judge me, judge the Mormon History, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. I never created it I just researched it.
As I attended various meetings and classes in the Church, I noticed many others asking questions. I realized that for myself or others to ask questions that did not pertain to the written lesson material was frowned upon. The teachers were instructed to stick to the approved material only. We were only allowed to discuss the material the Church leaders had prepared for us. It was as though we had no right to question. As I was put in various leadership positions I was amazed at the control the leaders had over the members. I witnessed teachers being called to the bishop's office instructing them to stay "only" on Church lesson material and if they did not they would be replaced. Now I understand why.
The Mormon Church has many, many things to hide or cover up, that it does not want its membership to find out about. If members find out, they begin questioning, or leaving. If a member did not agree with his or her Church leaders over something that needed an answer, as to scripture or doctrine, I soon realized that they, the leaders, were always right even if they were wrong. I realized I was not supposed to think for myself. I was being taught to follow blindly.... No Questioning.... I know no one can argue nor debate religion. I am not trying to do that. I just thought you might want to know where your father is coming from. If you ever feel like you want to know more about the Mormon Church, I have lots of books and information here for you. According to the Mormon Church it would be looked at as anti-Mormon literature. I promise that is not so. The material I have is only Mormon Church history, journals and diaries of early Church leaders, such as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, David Whitmer, and many others.
If I would have been introduced to the Church prior to 1896, I would have
never...never... never...joined. The Church and those I trusted have betrayed
me. I feel hurt and angry. I am so very, very sorry for bringing you up as a
prisoner of Mormonism. I can no longer be a member of the Mormon Church. My
intellect, conscience, and spirit will not allow it. I thoroughly respect your
feelings and beliefs. I am not trying to change them. If there ever comes a day
that you want to know more about what the truth really is, call me, and I will
be here for you. I love you all so very, very much. Above all, be honest with
yourself and do not let the arm of flesh deceive you....Follow Your Heart.
After I sent the letter to the kids I thought long and hard about writing a
letter to our Bishop. I knew I would be closing many doors. But I had no choice.
After I discovered that Mormonism was built on fraud, entwined with murder,
racism and adultery I wanted nothing to do with the Mormon Church. The Bishop
was kind and concerned when he received my letter; however, the Stake President
was cold and arrogant. He had no respect for my feelings or concerns. He treated
me like I was the enemy. I wasn't. I just wanted my name removed from all Church
records. The following letters are the correspondence between the Bishop, the
Stake President, and me.
Dear Bishop X,
I am writing this letter to request that my name, Larry L. Braithwaite, be voluntarily removed from the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I further ask and request, that this be strictly confidential, in as much as I don't want my wife or my family to know, or be influenced with my decision in this matter. I am a firm believer in everyone being able to believe in whatever or whomever they choose to in this life. They still believe in your church, and still have a testimony of the church. They all know where I stand in my beliefs and they accept my beliefs, and understand as well as can be expected. I want them to have their own free agency in this matter. I have written them all a letter in reference to my feelings and they accept it. I also respect their beliefs.
I have been a member of the Church all my life, and very active in it for thirty of those years. I never questioned anything. I have served very faithful in that time, and have held most all positions in the ward except Bishop. I was a firm believer of Mormonism all that time, paying a full tithing, attending the temple regularly, and working to build up the kingdom as I was asked to do, never faltering or wavering. I did as I was asked and even more. I served on a stake mission for two and a half years; I served in the Manti Temple for two years. I have been a very faithful member and a believing one, until now. I have done my missionary work as was expected. I have regularly attended all my meetings.
There is not enough paper, or time to tell my story, and I will not attempt to do that. I am not trying to run down the Church, nor will I, unless I am asked a question about it, then I will give my answer, and where that information came from, if it were fitting for the moment. I found the Church had taken away my free agency to research the true history of its origin. I have found so much that has been changed or omitted or kept from the Saints, and I was not able to discuss or study that information for fear of being disfellowshiped. There is and has been a great deception on the Mormon people and it is still happening today.
Larry L. Braithwaite
The Bishop sent back a letter requesting an opportunity to meet before executing the final papers.
I met with him and we discussed my many concerns. He said that he had also studied Church history. He was aware of the Mormons participation at Mountain Meadows. He said that he also had family involved in the massacre. But he had come to the conclusion that staying in the Church was best because he didn't want to hurt his wife and his family. I didn't want to hurt mine either, but I couldn't stay. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I did. I knew too much about the deception and lies.
The Bishop contacted the Stake President and I was called in to visit with him. When I accepted the invitation to visit with President X I thought I would be treated with respect and concern. Just the opposite happened. He was arrogant and judgmental. There was no room for reason and common sense. He asked me how my wife and children were accepting my decision to leave the Mormon Church. I told him that I had written a letter to my children explaining my feelings, and that my wife didn't know I was officially leaving. I asked him if he was recording our conversation. He said he wasn't, but I discovered later that he was. At the end of our conversation he pointed his finger at me and said: "You will be back, Brother Braithwaite." I stood up, gave him an unresponsive hug and left his office. If anyone had lost his countenance it was President X.
Four days later the Bishop wrote me a letter letting me know that my name would be removed from Church records unless I contacted the Stake President in writing within 30 days.
I thought my request had been processed and that I could put the whole matter behind me. I was confused and frustrated by the next letter I received. On June 24th 1996, the Stake President wrote me that he had decided to keep my membership on record until "we", meaning the brethren, determine which direction to take. He told me he would appreciate it if I would write back to him and answer the following questions.
1.Your feelings toward the church today.
2.Your feelings about Joseph Smith.
3.Your feelings about the Book of Mormon.
4.Your feelings of our current Church Leadership.
5.What has become of the information and material you have purchased?
I could see no reason to follow up on this letter. Why hadn't the Stake President asked me how I feel about Christ? After all, isn't Christ supposed to be the head of the Church? I didn't respond to the letter, nor did I meet with him again. Once was enough for me. I told him I wouldn't be back, and I meant it! Several days later I received another letter.
The Stake President informed me that he was considering taking formal disciplinary action against me. He scheduled a disciplinary council and advised me to attend to defend myself against the charge of being guilty of apostasy.
This time I responded.
I am writing this letter to inform you that I have received your letter stating that I have been found guilty of apostasy. As to our previous conversation, at our last meeting, I informed you at that time that I would not return to your office, based on the treatment that I received from you.
You told me this was the Church of Jesus Christ? I did not feel the spirit of Jesus Christ emulating from you in that meeting. I only asked to have my name removed from the records of your church. I am not in agreement with you at all in telling me that I do not have the right to express my feelings to my children about the other history I have discovered about the Mormon Church. They have a right as my children to know where their father's beliefs lie. You have no right, or does anyone else, to tell me that I do not have that father's right.
I'm sorry that you feel you have to take this action of excommunication. I have served faithfully in the church for 30 years without question, as we discussed in our last meeting. I want to write this letter so that the High Council and your counselors could be spending time with their families and not waiting for me to come to your disciplinary council.
The love that I have for Jesus Christ and my knowledge and understanding of him today allows me to tell you that I forgive you and the Church for the way that you have treated me and others after finding out the truthfulness of the Church, that is no longer in my life, and apparently in the lives of others who no longer believe. What an un-Christ like way of telling us thanks for all those years of support we gave. Go ahead and do what the spirit tells you to do. I will be happy with whatever decision you make. I want you to know that when I sent the first letter to Bishop X, I considered myself out of the Mormon Church and that's where I stand today.
Larry L. Braithwaite
A few days later the Stake President informed me that I'd been excommunicated. He admonished me to repent so that I could enjoy my blessings again. He concluded by telling me he would help me in anyway he could.
On August 20, 2000, four years later, I receive another letter from him inviting me to come back to the Church. He wrote; "You are missed, please consider this an invitation to let me and your Bishop help you, that you may enjoy all the blessings that the Lord has for you and your family." I thought: "Help me with what?" My life was wonderful. I had made peace with my maker. I saw life as an experience of self-discovery. I had put all my fears and unanswered questions to bed. Of course, I declined his request.
I am not the only one to feel the wrath of the Mormon Management Team (the
Brethren, as they are called, who constantly remind the faithful to do and think
as they are commanded). Many others, including several BYU professors, Mormon
intellectuals, scholars and feminists who have dared to speak out have been
victims of the same cruel treatment that I was. For example: Janice M. Allred
was excommunicated from the Church for writing and expressing her feelings about
a Mother in Heaven. Janice made this statement to her priesthood leaders:
"Now I must set some limits as to what I am able to do. I am no longer able physically and emotionally to defend myself and my ideas in an UNEQUAL arena where you have the POWER to JUDGE and PUNISH but are unwilling or unable to engage in an honest and open discussion of the ideas and issues."
From the beginning of the Mormon Church members have been told: "When the Prophet, or the leaders of the Church speak, the debate is over." Those who insist on following their own heart are publicly denounced as apostates, destined for damnation, and made the target of false allegations and innuendoes. I was directly ordered by the Stake President to turn over all the books, journals and information that I had gathered in regard to the Church or face a Church Court. I refused. I was not intimidated by what the Stake President said, instead, I invited the Stake President and his wife to our home to go over the information and then decide for themselves whether the Church was true or not. He declined, saying he would not put his wife through such pain. He also told me that the general membership of the Church need to be led around like sheep, for without the leaders the sheep would go astray.
Is that what we have become, a herd of sheep (sheeples) that can't find our
way, can't reason nor think for ourselves? All ancient kings thought of their
people as sheep to be pastured, with themselves as the shepherds. Sheep are
ideal followers, for they do not think for themselves but will blindly follow
anyone without question. This is truly admirable behavior for animals, but
extremely unwise for humans. Have we become robots in a religious culture that
teaches free agency, and yet denounces it at the same time? If this is true we
have lost a great deal more than I am willing to accept. Isn't there some basic
natural part of us that is good? Do we need some religious organization
controlling our lives and checking on us with threats of eternal damnation, and
loss of family if we don't follow them and their teachings? If we have lowered
ourselves to this level, I fear for all of humanity.
TELL THE TRUTH
After 31 years of dedicated service in the Mormon Church, and my fairly recent review of my membership in it, as well as the historical and scientific discoveries I made, there is one overwhelming, screaming-at-the-top-of-its-lungs problem that the Church has above all others. It's a problem for which there is a solution so simple that it is the same advice I have given to each of our five children since birth: "Tell The Truth, Just Tell The Truth!"
Why can't the Mormon Church do that? Tell the truth about the problems with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Address up front the hundreds of scientific, archeological, geographical and historical problems. Who cares what anyone thinks? If a prophet is an invalid, say so. The following are some thoughts by Steve Benson, grandson of the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson.
"In an episode that helped write the final chapter in my escape from
Mormon madness, I went to the press to inform it of my elderly grandfather's
deteriorating physical and mental condition. The church knew of his situation
but chose to mislead its members into believing he was still mentally alert and
performing his daily prophetic duties. Based on my own direct observations, I
knew the opposite was the case. He was largely confined to his recliner in his
apartment, where he spent his days dressed in a jumpsuit and diapers, wrapped in
a blanket, being spoon-fed by his nurses, incapable of speaking more than a few
words and unable to recognize visitors. When publicity shots were required to
reassure the faithful that he was leading the church, his office staff would
dress him up in a suit, prop him up like a dime store mannequin and take his
picture, making sure the camera didn't catch the feeding tube up his nostril.
Even my young son could see through the charade. One Sunday morning over
breakfast, he asked, "Dad, why do they call great-grandpa 'prophet' when he
can't do anything?" That simple question prompted me to call an Associated
Press reporter and lay out the facts. He warned of the repercussions that would
follow. He was right. Mormons denounced me as a tool of the devil and an enemy
of righteousness. I was chastised for lacking faith to believe in miracles. I
was reminded that if God could part the waters for Moses, he could make Ezra
Taft Benson rise, walk and talk. (That would have been a persuasive argument to
me, had it not been for the fact that God never parted the Red Sea). Some drew
their own cartoons and sent them to me anonymously. One of my cousins went on
local radio to insist that her grandfather was in fine shape, running the church
like God wanted him to, as demonstrated, she said, by the fact that the last
time she visited him, he squeezed her daughter's toe. Family members wrote
letters accusing me of being a pride-filled publicity hound. A sister lamented
my spiritual blindness.
Even my father called to warn me that the media was the enemy of the church. I reminded him that I was a member of the media. Well, then, he said, if I ever again went to the press about his father's health, he would see to it that I would be barred from ever seeing my grandfather again. (So much for that good ol' Mormon family togetherness). A few weeks later, my wife and I left the church. Our Mormon bishop soon called, asking if we would be interested in selling him our house, since he was in the market and figured we might want to move out of the neighborhood. We weren't and we didn't. Word soon hit the Internet that my real reason for leaving Mormonism was because I had fathered an illegitimate child by a young woman in Utah and was running from excommunication. (Actually, I was a virgin on our wedding night and my bride was the first and only woman I have ever kissed, not to mention made babies with. It sounds almost as unbelievable as Mormonism itself, I know, but I swear on a stack of Thomas Paine pamphlets that it's true).
A few months later, my grandfather died. Shortly after his passing, I received an anonymous call from a man in California, claiming to be carrying a message to me from my grandfather from beyond the grave. He said my grandfather had appeared to him in a dream and commanded him to tell me he wanted me back in the church. I figured if my grandfather had regained enough of his senses in the afterlife to communicate with someone in California he didn't even know, he sure as hell could have contacted me himself. After all, he had done it plenty of times before.
I gradually discovered that everything I needed to know I hadn't learned in Mormon kindergarten. The lies, distortions and cover-ups began leaping off the pages the more I studied, and biting me in the brain. I found myself reacting strongly to the Mormon thought police who were trying to squeeze the life out of my intellectual growth and individual freedom.
I tried going through the motions. At work, I still drew the obligatory Easter cartoons. I still attended church, but would bring along an interesting book to tuck between the pages of the hymnal. Finally, I gave up. My heart--and head--just weren't in it, so I decided to start my own church. It would be the church of my own mind. I concluded there was no hope of compromise between reason and religion. The two had been, and would forever be, at war. I had to either follow my head and my conscience, or surrender both to the dictates of little minds whose feet were forever sunk in the concrete of arrogant absolutism, unable to move along the path to new discovery. No longer would I let my true self be smothered by a church that had for so long held its tablets of stone over my head like a swatter over a fly, warning me that if I took off, I would be flattened. Once I decided to act, I found that for all their formidable appearance, the stones were made of Styrofoam. Religion can have only as much power over your mind as you allow it.
As a newspaper editorial cartoonist, I work in the world of journalism, where lying, hypocrisy, intolerance, bigotry, self-righteousness, abuse of power, corruption, and downright stupidity are regularly exposed and reported. Sadly, those doing the deeds often wrap themselves in the vestments of the church. We must never retreat in the face of threats or punishments dispensed by theocratic terrorists more interested in protecting their power and indulging their vanity, than in advancing the human condition. If, as the true believers claim, the word "gospel" means good news, then the good news for me is that there is no gospel, other than what I can define for myself, by observation and conscience. As a freethinking human being, I have come not to favor or fear religion, but to face and fight it as an impediment to civilized advancement. Historically, it has been the so-called "men of God" who have committed all manner of evil in heaven's name.
Recall the memorable scene of the special star from Pinocchio, eloquently
described here by Mark Pinsky, of The Orlando Sentinel: "The old man
(needs) a miracle, a dramatic intervention to give life to his little boy,
slumped motionless in the corner of the room. So the watered woodcarver (does)
what might be expected under the circumstances: He (drops) to his knees, folds
his hands and turns his eyes to heaven. Then, in his soft Italian accent, he
(does) not pray. "Instead, Geppetto (wishes) upon a star. "The
transformation that (ensues is) miraculous but not traditionally divine. As the
old man (sleeps), a winged, glowing spirit, the Blue Fairy, (advises) the
marionette to 'let your conscience be your guide,' to 'choose right from wrong,'
so he (can) earn the gift of life." There you have it. Let your conscience
be your guide--not that of some fiery god or foaming clergyman pretending to
speak in the name of deity. Using your powers of will, you be the judge. Using
your powers of intellect, you choose right from wrong. Using your powers of
reason, you make your decisions in life. That is the humane way. That is the way
to freedom and moral justice. That is the gift of life."
I just wish the Church leaders would put all their cards on the table, and let the chips fall were they may. Stop controlling and deceiving your members! Tell it like it is. Don't claim that Joseph Smith translated ancient Egyptian papyri from a first hand account by the prophet Abraham when the truth was exposed as a hoax in 1967 when the original documents turned up and were identified by Egyptologists as common funeral texts for embalming the dead before sending them off to their next life. Don't hand me the line that it will affect testimonies. Tell the members what's what. Don't sanitize history to make it more palatable. Like one student of Mormonism said, "Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."
I say this without the least bit of personal judgment against the people who do this. That's not my call. But what is my call is what is best for me, and I have got to make a personal judgment on that issue. I couldn't care less if someone wants to be a Mormon, Krishna, Baptist, Buddhist, or whatever. If it works for you, great, I wish you well. But when you lie, cover up and hide, then say ignore this or don't read that, or change historical texts and justify it, it makes you look ridiculous. Then you have the audacity to accuse me of having been deceived by the 'Father of Lies' (Satan). For heaven's sake, Mormon leaders, tell the truth. Let the record stand for itself. That puts the burden on the individual soul where it belongs.
After studying the origins of Mormonism from primary, documented Mormon sources, it became clear that I had been deceived. The Mormon Church is flawed at every turn. My studies helped me understand how man can deceive man. It became obvious that my personal belief system, Mormonism, was the product of Joseph Smith's highly imaginative mind, and continues today because the Mormon Hierarchy suppresses, deletes, and covers up the truth about it. And because men and women have not chosen to stand on their own two feet, so many of us depend on others to tell us who we are, what we should believe, and what we should do with our lives.
I am no longer dependent on someone else's notion of who God is. I kicked the suppressive emotions of unnecessary guilt and fear out the door. What a welcome relief! Once I discarded the emotional attachment-bond to the traditional beliefs and superstitions, I could embrace logic, reason, and common sense. After the resurrection of my common sense I thought about how the obituary of Common Sense might read in the newspaper.
Today we mourn the passing of an old friend by the name of Common Sense. Common Sense, also known as "C.S.," lived a long life but died of heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic and religious red tape. He selflessly devoted his life in teaching such lessons as, above all else to thine own self be true, eliminate religious bigotry, courage is daring to take the first step on a different path, and no one was ever hurt by the truth; but he who persists in self-deception and ignorance is.
For decades C.S. encouraged folks to live without foolishness, fear, or fanaticism. Religious dogma, petty rules, silly laws and frivolous beliefs held no power over C.S. He was credited with cultivating such valued principals as, you either get it, or you don't, a life lived in fear is a life half lived, you create your own experience, and life isn't always fair.
C.S. lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adults are in charge, not the kids), and don't believe everything you hear and read.
A veteran of America's freedom of religion, the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Technological Revolution, C.S. survived, religious, cultural and educational trends.
But his health declined when he became infected with the threat of... "If you want to be with your family in the next life you must do as your told," or "When your leaders speak, the thinking has been done," or "You must follow your leaders and live by faith" virus.... In recent decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing charismatic religious leaders. He watched in pain as religious zealots and fanatics, acting in "the name of God," ruled good people. His health rapidly deteriorated when moral and intellectual reasoning was replaced with false promises, lies, illusions, mystical secrets, and occult rituals.
Finally, C.S. lost his will to live as churches became billion dollar businesses controlling their members through guilt and fear. When C.S. realized the enormous damage that has been done to our fragile planet and the human species by religious ignorance and superstition, his heart could take it no longer.
When C.S. was told that millions of innocent men, women and children, have been burnt, tortured, imprisoned and murdered, all in the name of God he breathed his last breath.
C.S. was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife,
Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and sons, Reason and Logic.
Three stepbrothers, Rights, Tolerance and Patience, survive him.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
As I continue on my journey through life I am more content and confident with faith in my own feelings and thoughts. I have no need to place any faith in imaginary, mythological deities and demons. I am not concerned with such religion-based questions as how the world got here, where I came from, why I am here, and where we go after this life. I find the answer to these questions in religious myths and legend to be nice stories, but lacking in any real substance.
My soul is not hungry for fame, fortune, or power. Those things create almost
as many problems as they solve. My soul is hungry for meaning, in the sense that
I have learned how to live so that my life matters. Ultimately, I'm in hopes
that the world will be at least a little bit better for my having passed through
Larry L. Braithwaite
Updated Feb 12, 2004 www.exmormon.org
Note: Copyright 2003 Tammy and Larry Braithwaite. Please do not copy or reproduce this electronic book without the express written permission of the authors. The authors do wish to hear from readers of their story. They also offer a printed copy of this book. You can order the book at: http://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/bookdisplay.asp?bookid=20358
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