I don’t spend much time reading many Mormon blogs. The primary reason is that it is a depressing exercise. Don’t get me wrong — even some of the worst Mormon blogs have occasional pearls from people extolling their positive church experiences. But such jewels usually receive few comments and little traffic.
The three primary themes of the Mormon blog world are 1)the writers are smarter/better informed/more moral/more up-to-date than the leaders of the Church or 2)the writers are much more righteous than “conservative” or “TBM” Mormons 3)Most Church members are judgmental hicks (unlike the blog writers, of course, who are tolerant and understanding and filled with love for everybody — except for the people they really hate, ie, the other Church members). And, really, if I wanted to spend my time reading that I could always go to some anti-Mormon web site someplace and read the same thing.
I am sadly forced to report that many Mormons who write on Mormon blogs appear to be obsessed with the faults of their fellow Saints and show no real charity toward people they should love. The examples are too numerous to mention, and I am not going to give links to any of these blogs because I don’t think people should be reading them. But in researching this post I looked up the most recent output from about a dozen on-line Mormon blogs, and I found out that people who go to Church are “country club Mormons” who hate gay people, want to oppress women and are overly concerned with what other people wear. In addition, the prophets are old and out of touch, and the Church used to be better a few decades ago. And the Church is really, really bad these days because it does not agree with all of the secular trends that the cool people like.
My advice is: don’t read these blogs. But if you are one of these people who do read those blogs I would like to give you another perspective. This perspective comes from somebody who converted to the Church almost two decades ago, and has gone to church in Brazil, Miami and Colorado, where I live now. I have also visited wards literally all over the world when traveling. Because of my callings over the years, I have gotten to know hundreds of people who were inactive or who left the Church for one reason or another. And I have obviously gotten to know thousands of members. Please keep in mind that as a member of a bishopric and a high councilor, I have had detailed discussions with people about many different issues.
- I can’t recall ever meeting at Church a latter-day Saint who ever expressed a serious concern over the “patriarchy” or the Church’s position on same-sex attraction. I have met people who had questions about polygamy or the Church’s position on blacks and the priesthood. I have met people with questions about the all-male priesthood and the Church’s position on same-sex issues, but none of these people had serious concerns.
- The number of inactive people that I met outside of Church who expressed serious concerns about the priesthood and same-sex issues is a handful, probably less than seven. And most of these were family members.
- The primary reasons people seem (in my experience) to stop going to Church are: 1)Word of Wisdom issues 2)chastity issues and 3)they want to do leisure activities on Sunday. Note: many people will say they are convinced by some anti-Mormon book or another, but they will almost always (in my experience) say their doubts started before they read the book, which is why they read the anti-Mormon book in the first place. And many of them will mention the WoW, chastity and leisure time as preceding the onset of doubt.
- I have never heard a Church member criticize how another person is dressed at Church.
- I have never heard a Church member whisper that visitor so-and-so smells like cigarettes, even when visitor so-and-so DID smell like cigarettes.
- I have never heard a Church member make a racist or homophobic or misogynistic comment. Ever.
- I have never heard a man with the priesthood criticize his wife. Ever.
- Gossip in the wards I have attended has been minimal. Yes, there is gossip and gossiping, but compared to the many places I have worked, there is very little gossiping going on at church.
- I have witnessed Church members engage in incredible acts of kindness more often than I could mention. I have seen everything from missionaries helping a woman change a tire during a blizzard to people who have repeatedly accepted homeless people into their homes.
- The vast majority — at least 99 percent — of the members of the Church I have met are good, humble people who recognize they are imperfect. They are not self-righteous. They try to do service for others. They try to act with love towards those around them, although they, like all of us, very often fail.
To sum up: I trust these people, and I try to love them, and it makes me sick to my stomach to see the constant criticism everyday Mormons receive from the pseudo-intellectuals who crowd into the bloggernacle to complain about them. Yes, the vast majority of latter-day Saints I have known (including those from Brazil, by the way) are “conservative.” They do not like the recent trends in the secular world, and they are concerned about the future and about religious freedom. But they have more true love in their little finger than most of the bloggernacle murmurers appear to have in their entire bodies.
NOTE TO COMMENTERS: I don’t want to hear about your ward or your friend’s ward or some other ward where people really are bad. Such comments will not be published. Try to find the positive in the people around you. Who knows: if you started looking for the positive instead of the negative perhaps your church experience would get better.