Subject: Telling the Bishop that you donít believe anymore
Date: Oct 16, 2008
Author: MadeGuy

Going to church after discovering the truth about its history can be really difficult, and I donít envy the brave souls that have to do it. The vibes arenít the same as they used to be, and some of the comments members make during meetings can range from pathetic to hilarious. This change in perspective revealed to me the depth of my apostasy. Some of the more stimulating church meetings that Iíve attended were after finding out about Josephís several contradictory accounts of his first vision, statements by the witnesses that no one saw the golden plates physically, and the persistent fact that the Book of Abraham bears no resemblance to the professional translation of the papyri.

I sat in Sacrament meeting gazing about at the glowing faces of the elect, wrapped in the security blankets of their belief that if they do all that is asked of them and work their tails off without complaining they will live with God someday. I know it sounds cynical. I was once just like them. I swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker, and believed the hogwash for a long time. Three years ago, if you had told me the church was the product of nineteenth century magical thinking, and that there never really were any gold plates, I would have thought you some kind of trouble maker. If youíd told me the Book of Mormon was fiction, I would have thought you were in denial, or dealing with some grievous sin, or had gone off your meds. How things have changed.

I used to assume that people wanted to know the truth about life, God, etc, but now I see that assumption was wrong. People want comfort, and if their belief system gives them comfort, theyíll hang on to it. When it gets painful, theyíll endure the pain until finally, they must let go. Like a bird leaving the comfort of its nest, you have to fly on your own, and in so doing, discover the freedom that was always yours for the taking. This sounds like bullshit to true believers who only see you as another lazy bastard who could not keep the commandments.

So how do you even begin to touch on this topic with the Bishop? I have to believe that bishops are true believers. How could a bishop put in so much time, and put up with so much crap if they didnít believe they were speaking for the Lord? If I tell him, ďBishop, I donít believe all that stuff about plates and visions anymore, and Brigham Young was a raving lunatic,Ē heíll think Iím crazy or just plain evil. This is why itís best to keep your beliefs to yourself. Any hint of non-belief or evil speaking of the Lordís anointed will establish you as an enemy to be avoided. Itís pointless to reveal your apostasy except with someone you have to live with, like a spouse.

The closest I came to revealing my total disbelief was to tell the Bishop, in the foyer, that because of recent circumstances in my life Iíd given myself permission to read anything I wanted, and it has really opened my eyes. He squirmed. I shut up.

Some people think they will be exed for revealing their unbelief. I think it depends on how much of your apostasy you expose. If you say, ďBishop, I think my testimony is suffering a little,Ē heíll smile and try to help. But if you say, ďI canít believe I bought into this crap for so long,Ē youíve set fire to the bridge. I donít think they can excommunicate you for seeing through the illusion, as long as you keep your enlightenment to yourself, but if you threaten to infect the ward with your point of view, youíll be quarantined pronto.

 

Subject: While I agree..
Date: Oct 16 02:23
Author: sanity prevailed

...that that strategy may work for you, it doesn't always work for everyone. It depends on your family, the ward and the persistence of interfering parties. Sometimes, people find that they have to say it in a straight forward manner.

I don't think that revealing why you don't believe to people who won't leave you alone or keep bombarding you with their unsolicited testimonies, is "infecting the ward". You can only infect the ward if you systematically try to infect the ward. But setting boundaries in a blunt and honest manner is more than acceptable.

 

Subject: I loved your description of seeing Mormonism
Date: Oct 16 02:28
Author: imaworkinonit

through the eyes of an unbeliever. It certainly IS a different experience.

The thing that blows me away now (8+ years out) is that I used to think that the bishop had a right to know my thoughts/opinions at all. I used to think I owed the bishop some kind of explanation for leaving. I can't believe I used to let bishops ask me all sorts of personal questions that were none of their D&*^ business.


He's just a guy. It sounds like you are pretty perceptive as far as his responses go. I hope you can remove yourself from the meetings soon. It's hard to put up with once you see through it.

 

Subject: Re: Telling the Bishop that you donít believe anymore
Date: Oct 16 02:50
Author: forestpal

The Bishop was the only person I told everything. He had been my HT for years, and after the church received my letter of resignation, he came by my house, and said, "Guess who your new Bishop is." I felt bad resigning when it would be on his record.

This man is very intelligent, and he admitted that he had already heard much of what I said. I was very sad that I found out all those lies. Not mad, or insulting, or agitated--just sad and defeated. I still liked the Mormon neighbors, and didn't get into the abuse--just stuck to Joseph Smith's lies.

I did cover my ass in two ways: I kept repeating that I didn't want to hurt anyone else's testimony--that finding out the truth is very upsetting. I didn't want to be the cause of anyone's family breaking up, or anyone else having to leave. I also kept repeating that I was NOT DENYING THE HOLY GHOST. I still believe in God and Christ and The Bible, and consider myself a Christian. Denying Joseph Smith and the false prophets was not the same as denying the Holy Ghost. I told him I wanted to go to a Christian church (implying that the LDS are not Christian) and follow Christ more right now.

Of course, since I had already resigned, he could not have me excommunicated. Otherwise, even with covering my ass, I would have been a little nervous in telling the Bishop the truth. Nice guy or not, those people follow orders.

I think "threatening to infect the ward with your point of view" would be counter-productive. They'd just close their ears and bear their canned testimony. But, I do listen to the doubts of others. Also, I steer them to the LDS's OWN scriptures. I never, ever suggest any outside reading of "anti-Mormon" literature. It isn't necessary, as the LDS cult shoots itself in its foot at every turn.

Good for you for demonstrating courage. It takes a while to realize that these self-anointed Priesthood leaders have no power at all. No power from God. No power over the law. No power over you.

 

Subject: Re: Telling the Bishop that you donít believe anymore
Date: Oct 16 04:44
Author: Hap E. Heretic

I know it's easy to feel put on the spot when it comes to discussing one's unbelief, and the accompanying evidence with a church member, particularly a bishop.

Just remember, you don't have to explain your position, or lack of attendence to anyone, not even the bishop.

I used to totally buy into the idea that the bishop had a "a mantel" of special authority, and that I had to admit/confess every questionable action to him.

It's not easy to break that conditioning.

But, when all is said and done, what you believe and if and how you worship is just nobody else's business.

You don't have to respond if he summons you to his office for a "chat". He'll just try to pin you down and coerce you to fall back in line and activity.

Remember, the choice is yours. It's an invitation, not a subpoena. You are under no real obligation to jump when he calls you.

If he questions you about your absence or lack of faith, just say, "I'm exploring other options and opinions, and I'll let you know if I plan on reactivating".

Then smile and walk away, or hang up the phone.

Your beliefs and choices are all up to you, from this point on.

Stand firm.

 

Subject: Re: Telling the Bishop that you donít believe anymore
Date: Oct 16 09:07
Author: confused

A lot of it depends on the Bishop. If he's cool, he might help you through it and eventualy give up. Some that I have known have been totally unapproachable. One that I am very famiuliar with turns every doubt or problem into a worthiness interview. Yeah, his kids just love that...

My current Bishop is also a friend. I came out to him about my troubles when he informed me that I was being called as HP group leader. We had a lot of talks and some of them were not fun. But eventually, it became clear that I was not going to be able to change my opinion, or to accept a mere burnng in the bosom as proof against old documents and prophetic utterances.

He's still cool, but there is sadly a disconnect between us now. I am grateful in a way, that instead of trying to kill me, he actually went out and bought Rough Stone Rolling to see what was up. After he lectured my son all through scout camp as an attempt to get us back in line, I turned in my keys, TR and letter asking to be released.

The person who was the Bishop before would have smeared my name all over (probably is any way) with his usual "well, I have to be careful, but you know so-and-so has had some difficulties in the [insert weakness] area, so you see that sin is the only way a testimony can falter" routine.

You can be diplomatic, and you will probably come out better than to barge into the room and say it's all BS-
Authority types can't cope with that.

 

Subject: Even exmo's have a strange preoccupation with the Bishop
Date: Oct 16 10:30
Author: unregistered

Why say anything to the bishop?

I can think of two reasons.

1. You want to be controversial and confrontational. That's a good thing for many people, depending on circumstances.
2. You have a hope deep down inside that he can save you from your unbelief and resurrect your testimony. Frankly when I read your post and many others discussing their bishop I think it falls into this category.

The testimony of the bishop's "specialness" was the first thing I lost as a TBM. Maybe because my dad was the bishop. But even as a TBM, I looked at the bishop no different than anyone else.

 

Subject: Re: Even exmo's have a strange preoccupation with the Bishop
Date: Oct 16 11:19
Author: 3X

I think there is a third reason, and I would argue it trumps the two you listed.

Prior to finally severing the ties, people engage the bishop because they want it recognized that they have thoughtful reasons for leaving. They haven't "fallen away", they haven't "sinned", they haven't "come under the sway of the Adversary", they have simply changed their minds.


Now, is that mormon bishop going to respond with:

1. Sorry you aren't finding what you need in our church, good luck in your search.

or:

2. Is he going throw a tantrum, because he cannot tolerate the notion of a free person making a free choice.

 

Subject: That's just #1
Date: Oct 16 11:28
Author: unregistered

I'm not saying it's wrong.

It's a confrontational thing--confronting the bishop who acts as the authority figure.

 

Subject: No -
Date: Oct 16 11:39
Author: 3X

most of the people on the board who wanted to "talk with the bishop" are specifically _not_ being confrontational.

They want to be recognized for having thought about the matter and reached an honest conclusion that leads in only one direction: out of the church.

[Sometimes I wonder if some fraction of them are also seeking commiseration from the bishop - if so, I doubt that any of them received it.]

 

Subject: Re: Even exmo's have a strange preoccupation with the Bishop
Date: Oct 16 11:47
Author: MadeGuy

I have no doubt of the imaginary nature of the church's founding events. I felt great liberation in discovering the truth about the church. During my investigation into church history I proceeded with some skepticism and allowed the possibility that some evidence would turn up that supported the church's claims. But the more I looked into it, the more I saw the whole thing to be a fraud.

I don't attend anymore. My little talk with the Bishop was after one of my final meetings after my attendance for several months had fallen way off.

There's nothing the bishop or anyone else can say to make me less certain the church is essentially a fraud.
Only evidence can do that, and I haven't seen any.

 

Subject: I never approached him at all...
Date: Oct 16 10:52
Author: Deenie, the dreaded single adult

I had been thinking of "taking a break" for a long time.

The thought of leaving, altogether, was too scary! "Who would be my friends? What would I do for "activities?"--and all kinds of other silly fears kept me from just doing it.

I finally decided I'd "take a break" when I was released from my calling; it seemed like a rational way to do it...so I slogged on, waiting for my time to come.

Finally, one of the bishop's counselors called me into one of the empty classrooms. To make a long story short, he released me--and immediately 'called' me to another position (one that I'd hate, for sure; mounds of paperwork...ugh!). He refused to take "no" for an answer, although I presented him with several very rational reasons: I was finishing a master's project; I was very busy at work; I hadn't been feeling very well (and was later diagnosed with leukemia!)---but he pressed on. I finally wished him a good day, and left. As I walked out the back door, I knew I'd never, ever be back. I felt more free than I had in YEARS!

It was still early--about 10 am--and it was a lovely, warm June morning. The sun glinted off the cars in the parking lot, and a slight breeze was blowing. There was the smell of freshly-mowed lawns in the air, and I felt as if the weight of the whole "gold plates" had just been lifted off my back!

Go and tell the bishop? No way! I knew he'd try to spoil that wonderful feeling with piles of guilt and "responsibility"--"responsibility" for things I didn't ask for, and was never "responsible" for, to begin with.

I later learned, from a friend, that they had "called" me to the position, anyway, the following Sunday. I figured as much, since the giant manila envelopes of paperwork kept showing up in my mailbox, phone messages kept appearing on my answering machine, and e-mails kept popping up in my inbox.

Not to worry. I ignored them all. I kept all the envelopes in a pile, ignoring them completely, until I finally threw them out, without ever even opening them.

I was done. Completely. Totally. D-O-N-E.

It was months before the mishies showed up at my door, but I politely--and firmly--told them that I knew where the church was, should I choose to attend, but please don't hold their breath waiting and looking for me...

That was it. I've gotten a few cards and "visiting teaching" or "home teaching" messages in the mail--nothing personal; just photocopied conference talks with "this is the (name of month) HT (or VT) message" scrawled in the margin. I toss them.

None of the bishops has ever seriously sought me out. One came to my house, while my dad was very ill (right before he died), and I was recovering from a bone marrow transplant. I was picking up some stuff to take to my dad, and when I told the "bishop" how things were in my family... He asked what he could do to help, so I told him I could sure use some help with the yardwork. (What the heck; I'd put in enough hours, helping other people at church, right?) He said, "Oh yes; sure; we can help you with that..."---and I never heard from him again!

In my experience, that's typical with the church and single people.

BTW, no one from church visited me, when I was in the hospital---although I got a nice bunch of messages from the folks here at RfM! No one from church sent a card or came to the funeral home when my dad passed away, either.

So, IMHO, walking away works just fine. At least, it did for me. (I'm sure things are different if you have a mormon family. I do not; in fact, my family was thrilled when I left!)

Whatever you decide to do--good luck. Remember, you are in charge of your own life. You ultimately do not owe the bishop, or any other church "authority," any explanation for what you do or do not do. They only have authority if you give it to them.

Your family may be another matter...

:^)

 

Subject: My bishop...
Date: Oct 16 11:00
Author: Measure

When I came out to my bishop, I flat-out told him that I didn't believe in God anymore, that I no longer believed that prayer was a valid way of discovering truth.

My bishop disagreed obviously, but I did get under his skin enough that at the next testimony meeting, he got up and testified that he had "Been pondering how to find truth"... unfortunately, he 'discovered' Moroni's promise again, and went with that. Very moving testimony to everyone else, me just cracking up inside...

The bishop did several times warn of "Possible Discipline", but I made it clear to him (almost screaming at him) that If ANY move was made in that direction I would "Send a letter to Greg Dodge at the Church office Building in Salt Lake City and immediately resign from the church!"

(I used as many words as I could fit in the sentence hoping it would make more of an impact.)

Anyway, no action was ever taken against me, and now I don't even attend church anymore, except for going to some activities with the TBM wife.

 

Subject: Re: Telling the Bishop that you donít believe anymore
Date: Oct 16 11:15
Author: Charley

Actually telling the bishop that I don't believe was the best thing I ever did. He came over a few years ago wanting to know why I was refusing to be home taught. I told him I hadn't been to church in 30 years and he wanted to know about that. I told him I'm an atheist.

He was pretty shocked and gave me the but you're fifth generation BIC etc. I figured he'd probably want to ex me, but he didn't and he's now the SP. The new bishop is a cousin of mine who is 20 years younger than me and who acts like I scare him.

I haven't been bothered by mormons ever since. No mishies, no bishop interviews, nothing. It's been great. If there's been gossip about me in the ward I don't know about it and care even less. My family knows I'm never coming back and leave me alone about it too. After all 30 something years is a long time and people get used to my non presence.

I'm just really glad I didn't marry that mormon girl I used to date in high school. Then things would be very different.

 

Subject: Why bother talking to the Bishop?
Date: Oct 16 11:22
Author: KonaGold

In all other areas of life, if you have been attending a group function and then lose interest in the subject matter that the group deals with, you simply stop attending. It is not normal to feel like you have to attend the group one last time and tell all the people that you no longer want to be involved with that group.

The normal thing is to just stop going. If you stop attending church, then after a while the Bishop will probably miss you (and your tithing money) and he will contact you to try to get you back.

At that point you can ignore him or you can explain yourself. But you are under NO obligation to ever talk to the Bishop. You can just quit attending. That's what I did at age 17. And nobody from the Church bothered me for two years. Then one day the Bishop contacted me and asked if I wanted to go on a mission. I said no and that was my last contact ever with the Bishop.

 

Subject: Not everyone can make a clean break from the church.
Date: Oct 16 11:32
Author: Measure

Those of us with still-TBM spouses may be pressured to continue attending church, and have to deal with the people that are there.

 

Subject: TBM spouses are just one possibility.
Date: Oct 22 01:31
Author: just another exmo

TBM children, bosses, neighbors, parents--all of these can present problems for those trying to get out.

However, I see no benefit in going to the bishop to tell him that you plan to leave, unless you just like to argue, nitpick, fight, and bible-bash. Nothing other than that will happen.

If you're really leaving, telling the bishop only opens up a new can of worms: reactivation tactics, new callings designed to keep you active, extra home teaching efforts, etc.

I'd just go.

 

Subject: Why do you believe you owe the bishop an explanation? As your Primary Lie Giver, he forfeits
Date: Oct 16 11:28
Author: dja

.........the customary courtesy of quality information exchange.

Only the redundant continue to invite "The Next Lie" from a Pathological Liar.

Once you have qualified Mormonism as "True Lies"......

.....you have ascended - far above the swill they solicit.

 

Subject: You don't have to tell your bishop a goddamn thing!
Date: Oct 16 12:08
Author: Harbinger

If you don't believe, fine. It's none of his g* business; it's not his life, it's yours! He may think that he is the shepherd of his flock, that he is there to protect you; but you might want to explain to him that you are not a sheep!

 

Subject: They can, and might, accuse you of apostasy, ...
Date: Oct 22 10:57
Author: cludgie

...which is an excommunicable offence. The argument didn't work for Simon Southerland (land of Oz), since they wanted to fry him and make an example of him. But I'm only saying that if you have one of those spiteful bishops or stake presidents, they can try to take issue with you for telling others of your disbelief and make a case of your being apostate. If found to be apostate, you must be excommunicated.

 

Subject: Mormonism from the outside...
Date: Oct 22 11:41
Author: C22

I told the sanitized history of mormonism from my flip chart hundreds of times while on my mission.

Fast forward a few years later, as a returning college student I presented a report in a U.S. history class on the two predominant "American Religions" -- mormonism and the Watchtower Society.

My god... mormon history sounded so stupid. A gold digging 14 year old boy seeing god... a line of angelic visitations restoring truth and power. I actually found it embarrassing.

I really enjoy the South Park episode, "All About the Mormons." LOL... dum, dum, dum, dum, dum. People argue about doctrine, FAIR, FARMS, ... whatever... I usually just laugh at the whole first vision and gold plate stuff.

RE bishops - as other posters have mentioned, he really doesn't merit/deserve your consideration. It's not as if we need approval, or closure, for that matter. I've had a couple different bishops call me in; I've explained my position. They look like deer in the headlights, and subsequently bare their testimony. Yawn. I entertained them because I gained the experience of interacting with them; many others don't bother. If anything, those meetings proved to me that they are just ordinary men who commit to a lifestyle that cannot logically be justified.

As for religious leaders, they are a dime a dozen... all having irrational convictions that they feel they need to tell/coerce on others.

 

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