John Dehlin’s Comprehensive List of Reasons He Doesn’t Believe in the LDS Church

John Dehlin“Doubt those who encourage you to doubt your doubts” — John Dehlin on his Facebook page, attacking President Uchtdorf’s talk. Mar 25, 2014

John Dehlin recently put together a comprehensive list of what he sees as all the issues with the LDS Church. He of course titled it “A Comprehensive List of Reasons Why People Leave or Stop Believing in the LDS Church” so as to position it as a helpful attempt to teach the Church how to stop people from leaving. However, as I read through the list, it’s not really clear to me how this document could ever be helpful in that regard since it makes no helpful suggestions at all and simply reads like an anti-Mormon tract.

Consistent with my policy of not advancing anti-Mormon tracts – intended or otherwise – like this, I am not going to be linking with it. Normally I make an exception for John because I at least believe he is well intended in what I see as a desire to reduce pain in the church through reduced ‘exclusion.’ (I am intentionally using that term the way John uses it – which really means fewer people feeling uncomfortable and therefore making their own adult choice to no longer participate with the LDS church.) But I’m still not really in favor of collecting every potential faith-breaking issue all in one place like this. I do, after all, still believe in the importance of belief itself when it comes to religion.

Does John Encourage Disbelieving the LDS Church?

I know John claims he is not trying to get people to disbelieve. I think this is true in limited a sense. If you really want to believe, I have no doubt John will not push you personally towards disbelief. And I think John doesn’t really see belief as in-and-of-itself some sort of evil. Continue reading

The “Open Letter” to the Prophet of the Mormon Church

LetterAndrew Ainsworth on his Facebook page had a link to something called “An open letter to President Thomas S. Monson: Prophet of the Mormon Church.” Andrew adds, “Hoping this will lead to positive results.”

If what Andrew is hoping for is further dialogue on the subjects the letter brings up, then I’m about to give him some (small) positive results. However, I’m going to make the case that this letter is more destructive then constructive and that Andrew is wrong to support it.

I am not going to link to the letter because, frankly, I don’t want to raise its Google ranking. But it’s easy enough to find if you’re curious. I am going to analyze this letter and ask some question and encourage comments. I am going to make the case that this letter is being specifically written from (and can only be read as) a non-believing view point and that it is primarily a stunt at anti-Mormon publicity rather than a serious attempt to resolve the problems it outlines. I will do this by outlinging the specific claims the letter makes and making brief comments. Possible extended future points for discussion will be mentioned.

Who Is Writing this Letter?

The letter claims it represents “We are a part of a community of thousands of current and former members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Continue reading

Morality and Coercion

I have been working on a series of posts about morality for a while now. In some previous posts I talked about the following:

  1. The human perception of morality is not rationally justifiable and can’t be justified without an appeal to some supernatural Something-Like-God.
  2. That any attempt to explain objective morality will always end up being a religion, for religions are what you get when you assume morality to be objective and then come up with an explanation of how that can be.

In one of my older posts I mentioned in passing that morality is (almost) always non-personal and is perceived as applying to everyone. In fact, it so strongly applies to everyone that it even applies to people long dead. Continue reading

Why Did You Resign (from Mormon Matters)? – The Question of “Balance”

In my first post I gave a bit of my history on Mormon Matters and explained the players that were there when things began. I also covered my previously mentioned reasons for quitting, which included feeling like my interest and the communities did not match and also feeling like Mormon Matters played a certain important role that I was personally disrupting by my presence.

Was Mormon Matters Balanced?

I had come to the conclusion that Mormon Matters was not intended as a true open discussion about Mormonism. (i.e. it claimed to be a “one stop shop” but in fact wasn’t.) I believed that it was (as I said in my previous post)…

… a friendly place to ‘let off steam’ for those that didn’t believe in the LDS Church’s defining beliefs any more (sometimes still practicing, sometimes, not) while still allowing them to interact with a certain kind of Mormon that still believed, but was sympathetic to their concerns. This belief-with-sympathies approach really only worked if the believers were willing to not strongly challenge the post Mormons on their new beliefs or on their concerns.

To explain why I had come to this conclusion, I’m going to post about a number of related subjects. While I doubt I can convince anyone of my position, if I can at least get you to say “yes, I can see why you’d draw such a false conclusion” I’ll consider these post as having wildly exceeded my expectations. Continue reading

Why Did You Resign (from Mormon Matters)? – Was I Disrupting Mormon Matter’s Real Purpose?

In my last post I gave some background on my stint on Mormon Matters and then talked about some of the important players.

When I left Mormon Matters my dear friend, DougG, was the only person that really noticed I had disappeared. He was also the only person that actually asked me to return. When I talked with Doug on the phone (that was when he asked me to come back) this is what I told him.

I said I felt like Mormon Matters played an important role of being a friendly place to ‘let off steam’ for those that didn’t believe in the LDS Church’s defining beliefs any more (sometimes still practicing, sometimes, not) while still allowing them to interact with a certain kind of Mormon that still believed, but was sympathetic to their concerns. This belief-with-sympathies approach really only worked if the believers were willing to not strongly challenge the post Mormons on their new beliefs or on their concerns.

So I had come to wonder if my presence there — where I would directly challenge a former members new beliefs — was disrupting that purpose. Was it possible that I was even causing people to quit by my presence?

We had several post Mormons quit within my short stint due to “too many posts supportive of the LDS Church.” After they quit, John Dehlin quickly utilized his post-Mormon network to find new replacements — and this took all of 30 seconds in most cases. And not a single post Mormon that quit ever said “I quit because I don’t like how Bruce is challenging me too much.” It was generally just the existence of too many “pro Mormon posts” that caused the problem. On at least one occaision, we had a blogger quit because she was upset with how Hawkgrrl had moderated a comment. (If you know how permitting Hawk is with comments, you will laugh at that last statement. You have to be cussing and threatening some GA before she’ll consider cutting the comment. Yet it was true that this angered at least one blogger that then quit.) Continue reading