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Posted by: Ex-CultMember ( )
Date: March 23, 2013 02:44PM

(This was actually a reply to another thread but thought I'd re-post it as its own thread)

I think I was at least partially responsible for approximately 10 friends and my entire family (parents & siblings).

I may have lucked out but some things to note that I think helped me was:

1) I never came across as angry or bitter. I was always nice, friendly and self assured (but not arrogant or condescending)

2) They all knew I was a "good" Mormon so they were all very curious as to why I left when it wasn't because of being offended or sinning.

3) I did my research. I studied up on all the issues both pro & anti. I was able to intelligently convey to them the historical/doctrinal problems with Mormonisim that they weren't aware of.

4) I made it clear to them to them that it wasn't me trying to find an excuse to leave the church but my SINCERE desire for absolute truth which led me out. I started out reading anti books on my mission so that I would know how to DEFEND the church, but I gradually realized that most of the stuff was actually true and that the church couldn't really be defended. My eyes gradually were opened to the fact that the church may not be what it claimed to be.

5) I NEVER ARGUED with them about the issues with the church. I would share the information I learned, give my opinion, but never got in any kind of heated debate or let emotions get in the way. If they came up with some rebuttal, I would give mine and just say "I guess this is just how I see it." If they engage me long enough just the info I provide to them would begin to sink in even if they wouldn't admit it the time. Deep down they knew the things I was saying about the church couldn't be defended. I never "railed" against the church. I explained what things "bothered" me and made me "question" things, but I never came off as "attacking" the church. I would never use the word "cult." I would never call the leaders of the church names. I never used words like "evil." For example I would say something something like,

"I was very troubled by the fact that Joseph Smith would marry young girls and wives of other men. It just doesn't make sense TO ME why God would command this or tolerate it. I PERSONALLY don't believe this is something God would sanction."

instead of saying,

"Joseph Smith was a lying two timing adulterer and pedophile!"

In talking with Mormons, you have to start out slowly with them. You have to soften your words. Be careful not to put them on the defensive. Do NOT make it so they feel like they have to defend the church.

Once they start to grasp the magnitude of the problems, THEN you can start "telling it like it is." You just have to be careful to not come across as too "anti."

6) I never forced my beliefs or knowledge about the church on them. If they wanted to talk, I would share it with them, but I wouldn't "force my anti-Mormonism" on them. I was open and honest about what I believed, but only when they brought it up.

As many posters here have stated before, Mormons generally have to be "ready" for the truth. Many of my friends or family were active TBM's but they were struggling internally with some aspect of Mormonism, so they were more open to talking about the church and it ended up being easier for them to transition out (than say other more entrenched Mormons).

For the entrenched Mormons (I was actually one of them), they have to have the willingness to FULLY study the historical/doctrinal issues. Sharing with them, in just conversation, some "tidbits" of truth probably won't budge them, if they are hardcore. They would need to actually take the TIME and sit down and do some research and read about ALL the problems about the church. However most uber TBM's will get scared after a few pages and stop researching. Just a couple anti-Mormon arguments will merely put a dent in their armor, but if they are ACTUALLY willing to sit down and read a book like The Changing World of Mormonism by the Tanners, then I'd say they actually have very high probability of de-converting.

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Posted by: Fetal Deity ( )
Date: March 23, 2013 08:51PM

It's all about the approach you take--The Cult would call it "building relationships of trust." ; )

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Posted by: QWE ( )
Date: March 23, 2013 09:11PM

Brilliant post!!!

I totally agree. In the mormon culture they stereotype people that leave the church in a very bad (and usually inaccurate) way in my opinion.

Ex-mormons are stereotyped as people that are angry, bitter, want to sin, have gone crazy. That's how I always pictured them when I was a TBM.

It is our job to prove to them that we are not like that. I understand they are sometimes very annoying, but we need to not stoop to their level. We need to be firm, but without being nasty. We need to show them that we're still nice people. We need to show them that we're very happy.

Even if someone asks you why you left the church, don't bombard them with hundreds of facts about church history from the get-go. It depends on the person you're talking to, but I've found a good way to start is to say "Because I've been in the church 20 years, obeyed the commandments, prayed regularly, went to the temple, and I never once felt the Spirit". That's the best way to start in my opinion. The mormon will usually at this point start listing occasions saying "Didn't you feel the Spirit at X, Y and Z?", to which you explain that the feeling you felt isn't actually the Spirit, it's a standard human emotion that you can feel whenever you want to feel it.

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Posted by: Ex-CultMember ( )
Date: March 23, 2013 10:55PM

"Even if someone asks you why you left the church, don't bombard them with hundreds of facts about church history from the get-go. It depends on the person you're talking to..."

Totally. If they ask why I left the church, I'd say something like,

"Well, I came to the realization that it wasn't what it claimed to be. I did a lot of research into the history and doctrine and gradually came to the conclusion that the church was not true and that Joseph Smith and the succeeding prophets were not inspired men of God."

Sometimes they'd panic at this point, quickly bearing their testimony and change the subject. I would simply say, "I know you believe it. I did too at one point." And then I would respectfully drop the subject too. If they asked what I discovered in my "research," then I'd go into more detail and give them bullet points of all the major problems (BoA, blood atonement, polygamy, etc). Obviously there's a lot of material to cover so I'd offer to provide it to them, "There's so much I discovered that I really can't tell you all of it off the top of my head. let me know if you want to read up on my research."

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Posted by: QWE ( )
Date: March 24, 2013 07:49AM

Yeah, that's a good way to do it. I think it's important that it's the mormon that initiates a conversation about church history. Firstly, because it means they'll be more likely to actually listen to what you have to say, secondly, because it puts you at an advantage in the conversation, and thirdly, because then it doesn't come across that you're angry/forcing your beliefs onto them/etc.

Sometimes just saying things in a humorous way can be good as well. It's just a joke, so less likely to offend anybody, but might make people actually think about what you said. Like the other day I was talking to some mormons, and they were saying how it's good how the youth and YSA have dances they can go to where they can socialize without the risks that non-mormons have at their counterparts (e.g. getting pregnant young, etc.). I said, in kind of a joking way, that these things happen at mormon dances too, and then I pointed out that lots of them get married in an instant after going to these dances and that I know a LOT more mormons that get pregnant as teenagers than I do non-mormons. The mormon I was speaking to kind of stumbled and said "Oh yeah. Well, they're married at least". I could tell she was thinking it through and realized her views were a bit hypocritical. It's not much, but it's a small seed I planted at least, and the conversation just carried on, it wasn't confrontational at all. I was actually really happy, to see a mormon taking off her rose-tinted lens and actually seeing some level of fault in mormoinsm. A lot of mormons aren't able to accept that their religion is anything less than perfect.

It's often good to let mormons get to the conclusions themselves, giving them little nudges along the way, rather than sitting them down and telling them everything you can think of trying to get them to leave the church.

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Posted by: XX-Man ( )
Date: March 23, 2013 11:07PM

I left the church very much for the same reasons you did, just really looking for nothing but the truth. The more I studied, the more it became obvious the truth would be going against what I had believed my whole life.

I ended up knowing that the church just was not true and thus I could just not live a lie and profess belief in something that I no longer could believe. Cost me my marriage after nearly 40 years married and that ended up really hurting. Most of my siblings (I come from a very active TBM family in Idaho) just do not want to even look at or consider the possibility that the church is not true and we just don't talk about it, but they continue accept and love me. I have 6 children and most of them are out or not active at all. I resigned from the church nearly 6 years ago in my 60s.

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Posted by: Mateo Pastor ( )
Date: March 24, 2013 05:43AM

When trying to change a Mormon's mind, it's probably better to be sincere than belittling. I never argued much with them, instead referring to the internet. And I've always provided links to decent, civilized critics (Richard Dawkins, Qualiasoup on youtube) rather than foaming-at-the-mouth madmen venting their frustrations.

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Posted by: Topper ( )
Date: March 24, 2013 03:14PM

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Posted by: Exmosis ( )
Date: March 24, 2013 04:32PM

I have never wanted to convince them (TBMs) of anything but I have wished and hoped that a few of them would "see the light" and discover the truth themselves so I'd have company at family gatherings, instead of being outnumbered by Mormons.

But - that said, what many TBMs tend to do is they create situations where it's hard to sit back and be silent. They say and do mean things, judging harshly and/or being massively ignorant and behaving as though they alone are the only ones with access to truth. They malign us, and our kids, yet have never stopped to think about what they are doing themselves.

This causes some of us to feel the need to bring to their attention just what is wrong with Mormonism. For example, if they shun or act like we're Satanists - you just want to scream and get them to open their eyes to the truth which anyone can find through just a little research and introspection.

It's very annoying that they think that they alone are the "chosen ones" - really? A "church" organized by a pervert-prophet who was run out of town repeatedly? Now focused heavily on primarily real estate and enterprise?

All former Mormons just left to be able to drink? Really? They can't stop for a minute to think that maybe some of their church's teachings are a bit flawed. I know, it doesn't compute for many of them, and for those who do realize there are problems, they are too scared to act on their doubts. What does that spell? C u l t.

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Posted by: jesuswantsme4asucker ( )
Date: March 24, 2013 05:19PM

The issue I have run into is that the TBM's I have shared anything with don't want to know the truth. They are 100% cetain that they already know the answer so they have no reason to ask the question (any question). I can gently share factual information but to them if its even slightly negative about the church they pretend its a lie, or say that there are some things we wont understand till the next life, or make some excuse (ala apologetics). As stated the critical element is communication the inforamtion in the right way to a person, but the person has to be open to new info. Many TBM's are open to new info, they just need courageous Ex-mo's to approach them correctly and share good info with them. On the other hand many, many TBM's have no room in their life for truth, or anything that might shake them from their comfy world of lies, so all the facts, the best presentation, etc will not matter. Never the less I think its always worth trying, and these suggestions are great.

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Posted by: mly ( )
Date: March 24, 2013 05:37PM

Somebody should come up with Golden Questions in reverse. We know that there are plenty of Mos out there who are teetering on or near the edge. It would be a worthy effort to winnow the golden exmo wheat from the TBM chaff.

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