He is a "fringe-Mormon" and is active to keep his family together

Eric's note - I have many similar letters. This one is one of the kinder ones. Many Mormons no longer believe in Mormonism and they continue to be involved because if they dropped out, it would hurt their families.

I know the church is true......blah, blah. Ha, ha, just kidding.

I was born a Mormon, raised in "Happy Valley" (Utah County), served an honorable mission, graduated from BYU, and married my wife in the temple. While I don't consider myself to be a post-Mormon, I guess I am what you would call a fringe-Mormon.

Questions first began to surface in my mind regarding polygamy (during my mission), but have since expanded to questions about blacks and the priesthood, women and the priesthood, gays and the church, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, etc., etc. I have tried to keep my misgivings and doubts to myself because, if I didn't, the pain that would be caused in my immediate and extended families could reverberate for years. The Mormon church offers a stabilizing influence in this tumultuous world that we live in, and I am grateful for that. My children are taught morality, assiduousness, and compassion; and I'm willing to allow the Mormon folklore intermingled with those principles.

Your page has given me an outlet or a connection with others who have sentiments similar to my own. Thank you very much. As I have read your compiled stories from various individuals, I have laughed at their experiences with dogmatic members, and the banal responses offered by those members to answer legitimate questions about church doctrine. I laugh because I too would often spout the same propaganda to others (probably in an attempt to answer the questions in my own mind).

I will probably receive harsh criticism from your other readers for not "being true to myself and others", explaining to those I love my current beliefs. However, it's just not that easy when almost everyone I know (excluding co-workers) is and has been a faithful LDS member and proponent their entire life. A common thread in most of your published stories was that the respective authors were either converts or came from "less active" LDS homes. As a staunch member from birth, imagine the incessant indoctrination and cultural morass I have had to overcome to reach this point in my life. It hasn't been easy! I've basically had to reject my childhood experience, and it's taken years to get to this point in my life. So, take it easy on me!

Anyway, I'm sending this message to make the following point: It startles me the ease with which some of your readers infer that the Bible is complete, truthful, and unsullied theological text. While I am not a scholar of ancient near-eastern writings, I find much of the Bible (especially the Old Testament) laced with Jewish folk tales, and steeped in tribal mentality. Can a thoughtful, scholarly person really believe that the earth's continents were once entirely engulfed in water, that a prophet (with God's assistance) called a she-bear out of the woods to eat taunting children, that a woman turned into a pillar of salt, that city walls crumbled to the ground from sonorous trumpeting, etc., etc.

Whatever belief system a post-Mormon has taken on, I feel that the same analytical approach applied towards Mormonism should be used to test the veracity of any belief system. In my mind, a major portion of the Old Testament (and parts of the New Testament) is mythological, metaphorical, or symbolic in nature, and should be viewed as such. It seems silly to me to try to use the Bible to disprove the Book of Mormon (while serving my LDS mission, I knew all the biblical references that proved the emergence of the Book of Mormon was foretold by prophets of old).

While many historical references in the Bible have been proven by modern anthropologists, it would be a non sequitur to say, that, because of the historical finds coinciding with parts of the Bible, that everything contained within the Bible is infallible. The Book of Mormon refers to a "narrow neck of land", and we realize that would be current day Panama, but that fact alone does not make everything else in the book true.

The Bible is a compilation of many writers, written over a span of thousands of years, and has been translated and re-translated into what we read today. Christianity is an evolved belief system (forced by Rome's Constantine onto "Pagan Europe"), and to a Muslim, Zen-Buddhist, or Atheist probably appears just as ludicrous as does Mormonism to Mainstream Christianity. I would just caution your readers and contributors to use an open mind when viewing any piece of information.

Remember, it was the strident, authoritarian, patriarchal system promulgated within the Mormon culture that kept us questioning for so long in the first place. Mormonism's roots are firmly entrenched in the Anglo-Saxon Protestant Christianity beliefs so prevalent in Joseph Smith's era. Many similar questions that I have had about Mormonism can easily be transposed to Mainstream Christianity.

Anyway, these are just thought provoking ideas. They are not intended to offend, simply to stimulate open discourse.

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