Mormons: Ex, Post, Anti and New-Order


Do you occasionally visit anti-Mormon websites? I do. Every few months I Google Mormon, Mormons, Mormonism, LDS, Latter-day Saints and Latter day saints. Note the slight variations in the search terms. You get different results with each one. I just love the new Google feature which brings up the most popular search terms as you type. That provides valuable information.

I am intensely interested in how the online community finds information on the church and our people. The searches have improved dramatically over the past year since I started blogging. After you Google Mormon, click on Video, News or Blogs to find a world of information that just didn’t exist a few years ago. It’s a miracle. Really, it is. But is it helping or hurting?

For example, in the news today under Mormon we find that the Reverend Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, once again called Mitt Romney a cult member. He must have gotten so much mileage out of that statement the last time he used it when Mitt was running that he decided to try it again. Doesn’t he realize that Mitt Romney is no longer the hot news topic?

Recovery from Mormonism

Today I paid another visit to one of the sites that continues to remain on the front page of any Google search for Mormon or Mormonism – the Recovery from Mormonism forum. In there I discovered that Flat Lander’s disciplinary council has been delayed until after the Nov election. Readers are having a field day with this one. It’s so sad to read some of the comments there.

If you have read any of the stories on the RfM site you may ask why I would go there or spend any amount of time there. Yes, many of the letters and comments are poorly constructed and filled with anger but in just a few minutes you can find common themes. I find it helpful to understand where ex-Mormons are coming from as many of them write comments on my blog.

The most common theme is deception. Many who write there report that they just didn’t know certain things about church history and were shocked when they discovered them. That to me is clear evidence of a need to teach our history better. Our youth and new converts need a friend who can help them deal with the warts that they will discover. We all know that they exist.

Post-Mormon

Compared to the Recovery from Mormonism site, Post-Mormon is a relatively new site, but is gaining in popularity. With 569 posts, you can also see that Flat Lander is not the “High Priest in good standing” that he claims to be. I’m not saying that participating in Post-Mormon makes you an apostate, but it’s clear that his problems with the church began long before Prop 8.

If you live in the Intermountain West you may have seen their billboards. I noticed some on a recent trip to Utah and looked them up when I got to a computer. The site is professionally done and seems to be well run. I’m sure many of you know a lot more about those who run this site. It is registered to Jeff Ricks out of Logan, Utah. You can read more about him in the Deseret News.

The tenor of letters and comments on Post-Mormon is mostly a step up from what you’ll find on RfM, but not much. There are still many that write for shock value, and seek sympathy for their particular case. Each exit story is unique, but again, all seem to have a common theme of loss. The result is a loss of faith through a perceived deception or some offense, real or imagined.

Anti-Mormons

Labels in general are not good because they are never accurate or precise enough or even fair. However, the term anti-Mormon has been around a long time so I’m going to stick with it. For the most part, I find anti-Mormon sites to be run by Christian ministries, as opposed to former Mormons. This is not always true, but most of them focus on bringing Mormons to Christ.

I like that. We all need to focus more on Christ. I love the comments I receive from those who are working hard to remind me that true religion, at least the Christian religion, is centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I engage in dialog with someone from one of these sites, I am almost always delighted to conclude the dialog with a new-found friend as we talk of Christ.

Two of the most popular online ministries to the Mormons are CARM and MRM. I have written about CARM previously and have enjoyed my dialogs with Matt Paulson, who seems to be the most active in reaching out to people like me. Take a look at the Mormonism Research Ministry, especially this: “Aren’t you just a bunch of biased and hateful bigots who persecute Mormons?

New Order Mormons

I’ve written about New Order Mormons previously, but wanted to mention them again. One might be tempted to categorize them in with the Ex-Mormons and Post-Mormons, but I keep them separate because they do not advocate leaving the Mormon Church. Their focus is on helping those who no longer believe the doctrine to remain a part of the LDS community.

Another unique thing I like about the NOMs is that they introduced me to an idea that was just totally foreign to my way of thinking growing up in the Mormon Church – that it’s OK to doubt. Now don’t go thinking I’ve lost my testimony because I haven’t. It’s just that I never imagined that you could be a Mormon and not believe the doctrine. They call it being a cultural Mormon.

If you survey your own ward, I am confident that you will find several regular members who are cultural Mormons. They come to church regularly or semi-regularly but just aren’t interested in the doctrine. They come because they were raised in the church or their spouse participates and it contributes to a happier marriage. They probably don’t even know that they are NOMs.

Summary and Conclusion

Some may be offended that I have written about these sites that provide an alternative voice to the official LDS church point of view. It is not my attention to offend. Alternative views are a fact of life, especially in today’s Internet society. Our kids and grand kids know all about these sites and it should not be a shock that they exist. We can’t hide our heads in the sand.

You may feel that this is doing the Church a disservice by bringing light to these sites. I disagree. I have always felt that opposing viewpoints are good and that we can learn from everyone, no matter how much we may feel they are wrong. It has been my experience that those who create and write on these sites really just want to be understood and accepted.

The gospel is being spread through the Internet in a big way these days. Almost everyone turns to the Internet after being first introduced to the church by a friend or by the missionaries. It behooves us to know what they will find and be prepared to answer their questions. Besides, you might learn something that will strengthen your faith in what you will find. I know I have.

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Note: Post-Mormon billboard courtesy of Jeff Ricks, but without specific permission

14 Responses

  1. As a simple summary, this is very good. I really appreciate the description of NOM’s or “cultural Mormons”. I know quite a few people who self-identify in that manner (not convinced of the Restored Gospel but want to be involved with the Church), and I appreciate their willingness to participate and belong despite doubts. I engaged with the more extreme groups and individuals for years, but I personally have gotten tired of answering the exact same cut and paste diatribes over and over and over again. The arguments haven’t changed since I first started addressing them actively over twenty years ago. I generally limit my interaction now to those who are interested in real and productive discussions. I like sites that offer multiple perspectives within a generally tolerant and respectful atmosphere. I can’t do it anymore, but I admire you for your willingness to communicate with people in all groups.

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  2. Thanks for posting these. I was searching too and it brought me to your site. I like how you group all the major ones together. I myself am ex-Mormon (with a dash of anti) and the more I can find others who are facing the same thing, the better. Thanks again.

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  3. We live in an age where there is a flood of information and misinformation. There is no shelter from it. Therefore, it is best to be informed citizens of the Church. We need to be scholars of our scriptures and our theology. If we do not, then the flood will overrun us.The Church has always emphasized education. Ignorance will not carry us through the challenges we now face.

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  4. Anonymous,Thanks for visiting my blog. You just confirmed for me something that I have long suspected – that the desire for understanding and acceptance within a community is a strong motivational pull. It causes us to reach out to others. I am pleased that you are searching and hope you find acceptance among others who can understand what you are going through. I am grateful and know I am blessed to have found answers and community within the church. God bless you in your journey.

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  5. Tim, you should check out Seth Payne’s paper. http://www.mormonstudies.net/html/payne/strangers.htm

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  6. Very thoughtful and insightful post, Tim. I think Joseph Smith’s statement to the effect that no man can be saved in ignornace applies here. Rather than trying to be selective in what we present to the world, let’s get it all out there from our own point of view. That way, when the contrarians and the critics assalt us with their views, the non-members and members alike will already have the alternative perspective in mind. Please continue to offer us this type of clarity.

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  7. The sad thing is that a few years ago there were some nice discussions at some of the linked sites and their predecessors. But now they seem to be frequentd by a strange collection of blockheads that believe any stupid thing posted there. If someone posts “My bishop told me Fords were of the devil and I need to sell my Ford and buy a Chevy,” a dozen people will chime in with “How dare that *#@* bishop tell you what kind of car to drive!”Flat Lander is just the latest clown act to get his 15 minutes worth of online attention — frankly, they give Ex-Mormonism a bad name.

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  8. The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion This article helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity’s theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.• Baptism: . Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified. http://www.imj.org.il/eng/exhibitions/2000/christianity/ancientchurch/structure/index.htmlThe Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them. • The Trinity: . A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: “There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one.” Scribes later added “the Father, the Word and the Spirit,” and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. . Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts. • Theosis Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God.” . The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him. (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS agrees with Athanasius and Thomas regarding theosis. • The Deity of Jesus Christ Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless. http://www.adherents.com/misc/BarnaPoll.html • The Cross and Christ’s Atonement: . The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind. • Definition of “Christian”: . But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer. It’s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian http://sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/207/2070037.htm , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . Please refer to: http://NewTestamentTempleRitual.blogspot.com If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.• The Parallel with the “Rise of Christianity”Rodney Stark in his book “The Rise of Christianity” found parallels with the rise of Mormonism:A similar growth rate (40 percent for Christianity, and 43 percent for Mormonism) for both nascent religious movements. Conversions proceeded along social networking lines, primarily. While Christianity retained Jews’ belief in the Old Testament, Mormonism retains Creedal Christians’ belief in both the New and Old Testaments. The Romans martyred the Christian leaders, the mobs in Missouri and Illinois martyred the Mormon leaders. In both cases, they expected the fledgling movements to fail without their leaders.• The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church: The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this: “There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.) Martin Luther had similar thoughts: “Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,…unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation.” He also wrote: “I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among those who should have preserved it.”The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession. * * *• Christ-Like Lives: The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group): 1. Attend Religious Services weekly2. Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life – extremely important 3. Believes in life after death4. Does NOT believe in psychics or fortune-tellers 5. Has taught religious education classes 6. Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline 7. Sabbath Observance 8. Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith9. Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily 10. Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen (very supportive)11. Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality LDS Evangelical1. 71% 55%2. 52 283. 76 624. 100 955. 42 286. 68 22 7. 67 408. 72 569. 50 1910. 65 2611. 84 35 So what do you think the motivation is for the Evangelical preachers to denigrate the Mormon Church? You would think Evangelical preachers would be emulating Mormon practices (a creed to believe, a place to belong, a calling to live out, and a hope to hold onto) which were noted by Methodist Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean of the Princeton Theological Seminary, as causing Mormon teenagers to “top the charts” in Christian characteristics. (see http://MormonTeenagers.blogspot.com) It seems obvious pastors shouldn’t be denigrating a church based on First Century Christianity, with high efficacy. The only plausible reason to denigrate Mormons is for Evangelical pastors to protect their flock (and their livelihood).

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  9. Bot I just copied what you have written; so if you see it posted or written somewhere else you knowwhere it came from.About 15 years ago I worked at the Salt Lake City homeless shelter. While working there I would take one of the vans and take people to church. They went to the same church building I did just a different ward. One day someone at shelter asked me if I would take him to the 4 square church or did I just take Mormons to church? So I took him. When the members of the congregation found out I was a Mormon they flocked around me wanting to know why I was there, and did I know how wrong the Mormons were. There was a practice at the time of passing out a tract with 7 or 10 reasons why the Mormons were wrong. I took the pamphlet and felt moved to tell them the tract they gave me was false and the truth could be found in the bible. They said “the Bible not the book of Mormon”; I said “Yes.” I went home no internet; no LDS library CD’s but I had the spirit and the bible in hand. I was guided by the spirit to many scriptures for each and every point refuting the teachings in the tract Biblically. I took what I was shown and told them this is the truth. The only reason I’m telling you this is because my knowledge of the bible was extremely limited. I knew Genesis was in the front and Revelations in the back but I had no idea how many days Moses was on the arc with all those animals. (That was a joke.) I know the truth of the Church. I know the power of the Lord and I know with him anything is possible. It was just nice to be used as a teacher instead of the bad end of a parable. 

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  10. You are welcome to copy my post (and any of the subsidiary posts – http://MormonTeenagers.blogspot.com or http://NewTestamentTempleRitual.blogsot.com. I’d guess you are from Texas in the midst of Southern Baptist country

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  11. Great post Tim. This was fantastic.

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  12. Thanks for finally putting a name to the face of the New Order Mormons. As you, I’m confounded by the mindset of the regularly active but spiritually apathetic. With a casual glance at my own ward, I usually spot the NOMs in the halls during Sunday School or in the activities committee.

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  13. I think there is one aspect of being a NOM that is being missed. Being a NOM does not equate to being (as david t. put it) “spiritually apathetic.” In my experience it is quite the contrary. I understand that members of the church tend to try to see things as black and white, but you can’t just chose a handful of labels and be able to accurately describe everyone. Testimony does not come instantly and completely. Line upon line, right? If I have problems with some aspects of orthodox doctrine I can either ignore it and rely on the testimony of others, leave the church, or admit to myself that I don’t have a testimony of that aspect and study and pray that I can be blessed with an answer for it.I think if you are choosing to ignore your questions and rely on others study and testimony you are being intellectually and spiritually dishonest with yourself and will ultimately have to take accountability for your testimony in the life to come.

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  14. [...] of the contributors there or at least by those who read their site and others like it such as Ex Mormon and Post [...]

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