Subject: Told my son I don't believe the church is true...
Date: Jun 11 12:17 2003
Author: Joe
Mail Address:

I have been a non-believer for about 9 months now and my wife has known since January, but one of the things we agreed was that I wouldn't share my doubts with our children. We have 2 boys, a 4 year old and 7 year old. The 7 year old is turning 8 soon and is excited about his baptism. My wife and I have discussed who should perform the baptism and have decided a grandpa or uncle would be fine. The other day, my wife told me that our son wants me to do the baptism. She is upset and confused about all of this and she said in a pissed off tone, "You better talk to him because he wants you to do it and doesn't understand why we want a grandpa or uncle to do it." So yesterday while my wife was on the phone I took my son into his bedroom. The conversation went something like this:

Me: You know there are some people that don't believe the church is true?
Him: Yes.
Me: And they are good people, right?
Him: Well, some are.
Me: You have good friends who don't believe it's true and your uncle **** doesn't believe it's true.
Him: (Surprised) Uncle **** doesn't believe it's true!
Me: No. That's why he doesn't go to church.
Him: Oh.
Me: He's your favorite uncle. You still love him don't you?
Him: Well, yeah. But he's bad for not going to church.
Me: Well there are a lot of people that don't believe the church is true and they are still good people.
Him: OK
Me: If you really want to be baptized, you need to be baptized by someone that believes the church is true. I don't believe the church is true.
Him (Surprised) You don't believe the church is true!
Me: No. I go to church because you and your mom go and the people there are nice. But I don't believe a lot of the things they say.
Him: What don't you believe.
Me: One thing is I don't believe we should follow the prophet.
Him: (Surprised) You don't believe in the Prophet!
Me: I don't think we should do anything just because someone tells us to. We all have brains. If someone tells you to do something, think about it first, use your brains and decide if you really want to do it and if it's a good thing to do. Promise me you will always use your brains to make decisions and won't just follow people.
Him: OK.
Me: So do you still want to be baptized.
Him: Oh Yeah.
Me: Who do you want to baptize you. Grandpa?
Him Yes. Well, how about uncle ****(Different TBM Uncle).
Me: OK. We'll ask him. I love you and will always love you. I can still be a good dad without believing the church is true. You, your brother and your mom are the 3 most important things in my life.
Him: (Jokingly) Well, your 99% good. You would be 100% good if you would buy me more Yugio Cards (Digimon type tournament cards that are way too expensive). I always lose during recess because my Yugio cards aren't very good. I need new ones.
With the subject now changed to Yugio cards the conversation ended. I think it went well. I'm waiting to hear what my wife thinks when my son says, "Dad doesn't believe the church is true." But she wanted me to talk to him and I decided to be totally honest.

Subject: You handled it very well, you did a great job!
Date: Jun 11 12:27
Author: esteban
Mail Address:

Of course, the fight with the wife is coming, but you can just say you felt like being totally honest, unlike Joseph Smith. Ha. I think by dropping those little bits of information into their brainwashed little heads, you're doing them a HUGE favor. My 3 kids are slowly understanding that their brains trump dictators.

Subject: He wants the Yugio cards for the same reason he wants to be baptized--
Date: Jun 11 12:30
Author: Aphrodite
Mail Address:

to fit in with his friends. At least he said that the one percent you need to improve on involves buying those instead of going to church! I think he's thinking for himself already. ;)

Your wife probably won't be happy that you told him, but there is absolutely NO reason why she should be able to not only tell them her believes, but thoroughly immerse them in it week after week and day after day, when you can't even tell them what you believe.

At some point, to be fair and minimize the brainwashing to your children you probably should renegotiate with your wife to do something else with the kids every other Sunday. Also, you should talk to them about all the things they're learning, just like you did about prophets. I can't believe your seven-year-old is already so brainwashed, actually. I have a six-year-old I got out of the Morg two years ago, but if we had stayed in, he probably would have been just like your son by now.

Subject: Great approach!
Date: Jun 11 12:32
Author: Kristen
Mail Address:

You did such a great job! Congrats to yourself!

Subject: OK, you've touched on one of my pet peeves
Date: Jun 11 12:37
Author: Mojo Jojo
Mail Address:

A couple of years ago I took my oldest son to a local amusement park. He was 12 at the time. During lunch, I told him that I didn't believe in the church anymore. His response? "That's cool." Bless his heart, he didn't care at all. Of course this is now my 14-year old son who hates going to church, who I talk openly and candidly with about the church, and who I believe will ditch it all as soon as he has the chance. We gave him the choice whether to attend seminary this next school year. He declines, and he is now the envy of his LDS buddies.

My other kids are another story. My oldest daughter loves the church, loves going to church, and is totally into it. Telling her will be harder, and I am waiting longer to do it. My youngest daughter doesn't like going to church and I have real hope for her that she too will bid the church adieu when she has the chance.

This brings to one of my biggest pet peeves. Who the hell assumes the right to tell any parent that she may not or should not share her beliefs with her children?? Anyone who assumes this right is exercising unrighteous dominion. I don't care if this is her spouse, her parents, or her church leaders. Parents have the absolute right to share their beliefs and values with their children. Just who the hell do these TBM spouses think they are demanding that their non-believing mates hide their beliefs and feelings from their children? We may choose to do so, but that is our choice done for our own reasons, not because someone tells us we cannot.

To all the cowered spouses out there, I say stand up for your rights as a parent! If the cost of domestic peace is to deny you your rights as a parent, then you must consider that possibly the price of peace is too high.

Subject: I have come to agree with you...
Date: Jun 11 12:52
Author: Joe
Mail Address:

I am trying to keep the peace with my wife, but I have come to the conclusion that my job as a father is to teach my children the values that I think are important. When my wife told me to talk to my son about why I can't baptize him, it gave me the perfect opening to begin sharing my non-Mormon beliefs with my son. I am pretty sure my wife wanted me to explain it in a more faith promoting way, but I don't know how I could have without lying to him. When my wife asks me what I told him, I will be totally honest with her too. It will give me an opportunity to renegotiate our terms based on honesty and mutual respect for everyone's beliefs. One of the great things about casting aside Mormonism is I am learning to NOT tell people what I think they want to hear or what I think the church wants them to hear. I am learning to tell people the truth. Being honest with people is very liberating. I still slip into 'tell them what they want to hear, don't rock the boat' mode, but I recognize it and work to correct it.

Subject: An alternative opinion.
Date: Jun 11 12:45
Author: Rocannon
Mail Address:

I know where you're coming from on this, you think that for a non-believing Mormon to perform a baptism is a breach of integrity. In a perfect world, it would be. Here on planet Earth, it's an open question with arguments on both sides. Here's my argument that it's okay to baptize your son, even if you don't believe anymore.

The Mormon view of authority is formal and bureaucratic: only an ordained lay clergy can baptize. Your heartfelt beliefs are irrelevant to the ordinance, from their perspective. No integrity problem here.

The Biblical view of authority suggests it comes from the Spirit. None of the Christians doing baptizing were Jewish priests; any peasant could baptize, and God was okay with it. No integrity problem here.

From a secular perspective, a church is just an earthly organization of believers with similar beliefs, and baptism is an external sign of joining the group. The only problem here is if the person joining is coerced, which is not the case. No integrity problem here.

Frankly, the only person that really cares about who baptizes your son is . . . your son. Who gives a crap what anyone else thinks?

If I were you, I'd spring for the Yugio cards too. Sometimes it's the little things that count.

Subject: oxymoron!
Date: Jun 11 13:02
Author: then again
Mail Address:

Rocannon wrote:

> The Mormon view of authority is formal and bureaucratic: only an ordained lay clergy can baptize.

"Ordained lay clergy" - LOL! now that is funny!

Subject: My wife and I talked about this....
Date: Jun 11 13:09
Author: Joe
Mail Address:

Basically we decided I would feel like a hypocrite baptizing him and my wife wouldn't feel comfortable with me doing it either.

Subject: NO WAY!!!
Date: Jun 11 13:30
Author: samuel beckett
Mail Address:

Rocannon wrote:
> Here's my argument that it's okay to baptize your son, even if you don't believe anymore.

Joe wrote:
> Basically we decided I would feel like a hypocrite baptizing him and my wife wouldn't feel comfortable with me doing it either.

...and you would be planting in your son's mind that you implicitly approve of church membership. Any dad that dunks his kids in the water is showing them that church membership is a desirable thing. No exmormon should be baptizing his kids. Rocannon has gone off the deep end in suggesting it.

Subject: what really matters?
Date: Jun 11 21:18
Author: missinglink
Mail Address:

The right answer depends on the situation - there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. I agree with Rocannon, Directmail and skepticnow that there are times when it is acceptable to perform LDS ordinances and still not be making a mockery of things. Even LDS doctrine states that no ordinance is valid w/o the seal of the "holy spirit of promise" and all ordinances ultimately depend upon the worthiness of the recipient, not the one performing it (or so the story goes). Therefore, I went ahead and baptized my youngest a few months after resigning from the bishopric. There will be plenty of time for her to learn that Santa and Joseph's church are both myths.

Subject: Nice!
Date: Jun 11 12:47
Author: Søvnløsener - Insomniac
Mail Address:

I Had/continue to have similar conversations in my house.

The agreement in house home is no church bashing, BUT if (when) I am asked what I believe I can tell the what's and whys.

My 5 year old asked last week, "WHY don't you follow god by drinking beer?"

"Sweetheart, god NEVER said to not drink beer, the church said not to, and I don't believe the church"

Sorry, President Holland, I don't have my tent pitched on the fringes of doctrine. I refuse to pay the >10% entrance fee to even get into the doctrinal camp ground.

You go, Joe! Logic and boredom are my strongest allies in the fight to save my children from the evil clutches of Joseph's myth.

best wishes

Subject: A great post, thanks for sharing AND HERE IS SOME very important advice
Date: Jun 11 13:20
Author: tanstaafl
Mail Address:

Yugi-oh packs are much cheaper at costco. ;-)

Subject: For what it's worth: Yu-Gi-Oh.
Date: Jun 11 13:43
Author: Tyson Dunn
Mail Address:

Our neighborhood convenience store has them. I've never looked to see what they cost.


Subject: Outstanding...
Date: Jun 11 14:01
Author: Victor LeNettoyeur
Mail Address:

Dear Joe,

Thanks for an interesting article. You wrote in part...

Him: (Surprised) You don't believe in the Prophet!
Me: I don't think we should do anything just because someone tells us to. We all have brains. If someone tells you to do something, think about it first, use your brains and decide if you really want to do it and if it's a good thing to do. Promise me you will always use your brains to make decisions and won't just follow people.
Him: OK.

You are to be highly commended on this.

I've raised my children this way since they were old enough to communicate, and at this point in their lives (my oldest is the same age as yours) I'm confident that they could resist the most high-pressure sales tactics.

I've used this direct approach you talk about, but I've also been more subtle over the years. When my children have asked me questions about specific issues I've made a point to ask them if they've seen or witnessed anything related to their questions, and have encouraged them to attempt repeatable experiments and to be skeptical of things they have no evidence for. Questions like:
* "Have you ever seen this yourself?"
* "Have you ever been able to do such a thing?"
* "Can you do this now? I'd like to see it."
Have been important tools in my life as a parent.

I think my proudest moment as a parent came shortly before last Christmas. I was alone with my 7 year old daughter on the living-room couch, watching some sappy film on television. Without warning she turned to me and raised her eyebrow a bit to say "You know Dad, Santa Claus is in a lot of movies, but it's asking a lot for me to believe in all this stuff". At that point we had a long discussion about mythology, symbolism and archetypes.

If you keep this up, their membership in this church (or any other organization) will be irrelevant. My children could run off and join the Mormons or any other group, and I probably wish them well and not think too much about it, confident in the fact that they have the ability to take the good out of their own membership while resisting mindless obedience, thinking for themselves and sniffing out ulterior motives.

Happy parenting, and best of luck in your situation. I think you are handling things in the very best way possible.


Subject: I've realized the greatest value I can teach my kids is logical thinking. nt

Subject: Reading this post has been the highlight of my day (or month...?)
Date: Jun 11 14:41
Author: samuel beckett
Mail Address:

This post made my day.

It's so nice to hear that people are having success with teaching their children how to use a rational thought process.

It's also really nice to hear it from the mouth of an actual kid that he's willing to think for themselves rather than listen unquestioningly to the commands of a prophet. Of course, from the kid's perspective, this makes perfect sense. Kids ALWAYS think for themselves and point out the contradictions and faults of arbitrary rules to their parents.

It takes a very strong parent indeed to eliminate the phrase "because I said so" from their vocabulary.

Subject: FOR ALL NEW EXMOS - Promises to support secret combinations
Date: Jun 11 17:09
Author: alex
Mail Address:

As I was vulnerable and on my way out I myself made some promises like you. You wrote, "one of the things we agreed was that I wouldn't share my doubts with our children". I understand how this happens and the dynamics involved. But I think it is dead wrong for anyone to make such a promise unless its "conditional upon the faithfulness and honesty of the church members, leadership and institution". Give them a taste of their own medicine. As exmos we all need to stand up and stop making such oaths of silence to support these secret combinations to help church leaders "get gain".

You are probably going to have a big fight with your wife on the things you've shared with your son and this promise you made a while ago. So you better get prepared!!! I suggest you get out the church's gospel principles manual and look at their chapter on honesty.

Subject: Ordained Son a Deacon this weekend. Told him I didn't believe but
Date: Jun 11 19:24
Author: Directmail
Mail Address:

I still can do the job if he wants me to or he can have Grandpa or anyone else he chooses. Bless his heart, he said why would I want anyone else you've got more power than anyone I know of. So we did it. He was happy and I was happy because he knows how I feel. Strange.

Subject: My husband ordained my son a priest
Date: Jun 11 20:13
Author: skepticnow
Mail Address:

My husband ordained my son a priest a month before we told the boys we didn't believe. My hubby had told me he didn't believe years before. He continued to attend some of the meetings with us over the years. He had finally convinced me it was false during that past year. When we sat the boys down to show them the evidence we had and told them we found out it wasn't true, my son asked him why he had ordained him the month before. We told him the priesthood wasn't real so it didn't really matter that his dad was an unbeliever. In the eyes of the church he still help the authority(We live far away from other family, so grandpa wasn't an option.)

My son just said "Oh, that makes sense."
He never had a problem with it. We left it open to them if they wanted to continue to attend church or not. They all ended up leaving with us.

After that the boys talked me (the mom) into ordaining our youngest who was to be 12 soon to be a deacon. He then ordained the dog. It became a joke for them.
What a sacrilege! We still have fun with it.

Subject: I don't know about that approach. I do think that it is rather mean.
Date: Jun 11 19:53
Author: free
Mail Address:

Being too direct will force them more into the cult, don't you think? If anything, they will think that you are of Satan and your relationship will be hurt.

But, my approach is to be honest if asked. Unfortunately, no one that is TBM dares to ask. I think that deep in their souls they know and can't deal with it.

I was up front and confrontational with my TBM dad and he begged me to stop! I really felt mean. Truly, they can't handle it. For some reason, we are where we are at and they are where they are at. When they are ready, you can teach them and tell them what you know. Until then, just pray that they are happy and fulfilled in their way.

Subject: Kids, unlike grownups, can handle the truth
Date: Jun 11 23:07
Author: Sophia
Mail Address:

And I think Joe did a great job of being honest with his son.

Subject: Silence is better & this means making no promises
Date: Jun 12 08:22
Author: alex
Mail Address:

IMHO silence is better & this means making no promises. But if forced into a corner and demanded to make a promise its best to make the promise conditional. When I lost my belief I was taken advantage of in making promises and commitments I regretted. Remember Steve Benson's story of being put under a promise of silence by Maxwell/Oaks?? This kind of stuff has got to stop being tolerated.

Subject: This is something that has bothered me since I left the church...
Date: Jun 12 00:12
Author: Single Exmo Woman
Mail Address:

I have never understood why someone would promise their spouse they wouldn't tell the kids of their non-belief. Aren't you 50% of the "parenting group"? I'm a middle-aged exmo woman (former convert) who never had any kids, so what do I know? But here's a few thoughts anyway... :-)

I have been coming to this board since I left the Morg two years ago. I have read many, many posts from people who promised their spouses they wouldn't tell their kids of their non-belief. I've always thought, "What the f*ck?!" I mean, these people are a MOTHER/FATHER, not a grandparent, not an uncle, not a friend, not a home teacher...they are a PARENT. What is the role of a parent? Here's Webster's Dictionary's definition of "parenting":

"The work or skill of a parent in raising a child or children."

Notice it doesn't say the skill of the church or the skill of an organization; it says the skill of a PARENT. Parents are human and sometimes make mistakes (sometimes big ones, like teaching belief in the church) and that's okay. Kids need to see that sometimes people make mistakes, but the main thing is to learn from them and move on. So I see nothing wrong with telling your kids the truth. They need to see that even though you don't believe anymore, you're still a good parent just like "TBM Mom" or TBM Dad" is. And I think the younger they're told this the better off they are and the better chance they'll see the church for what it is. My other thought on this is that if you keep up the charade of belief, in effect you're teaching it's okay to lie. I agree it's a touchy situation and I like the alternating weekends idea (one week at church with TBM parent and the other weekend at home (or a walk in the park) with EXMO parent.

But I see no reason or justification for EXMO parent to give up their parenting rights. If that was demanded of me, I'd be sprinting to my attorney's office. As someone (sorry, I don't remember who) recently said on this BB, at least with a divorce you have some parenting rights. You can be GUARANTEED every other weekend (or whatever) and the TBM parent can't force you to attend church with the kids. I'm not advocating divorce, but if the TBM parent can't come to some middle ground, what is the alternative?

One other thing, just because you promised your spouse something at one point, does not mean you can't change your mind about it. That's how life goes sometimes. We say things, then change our minds (many times after giving an issue more serious thought.) Of course, I would tell my spouse what I was planning on telling the children before I actually did it, but to just go along with the spouse's wishes because you "promised her" is the coward's way out. Besides, think about what your kids will think about you if when they finally learn the truth they realize you were lying about your true beliefs all these years?

Anyway, I got off on a rant here, but this is something that has always irritated me. I applaud you for being honest, for being a PARENT to your child. I hope your post gives other parents courage to do what is right for their children, not what is right for the church.

Subject: I refused to perform a single ordinance the 1st year of my mission . . .
Date: Jun 12 00:36
Author: zim
Mail Address:

because I felt dishonest. A few months ago, however, I participated in a baby blessing despite my lack of belief. I didn't like it, but I couldn't come out of the closet or come up with an excuse.


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